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Columbia dancers awarded NEA grant

Wideman Davis Dance of Columbia was approved for a $20,000 grant Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the dance company’s immersive and interactive Migratuse Ataraxia.

This project will fund a three-month residency, followed by four public performative installations. Wideman Davis Dance will use the residency and performative installations to develop and test a community-oriented residency curriculum that introduces, integrates, and expands the themes of “Migratuse Ataraxia.” Wideman Davis Dance’s project is among 1,073 projects across America totaling nearly $25 million that were selected during this first round of fiscal year 2021 funding in the Grants for Arts Projects funding category.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support this project from Wideman Davis Dance,” said Arts Endowment Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. “Wideman Davis Dance is among the arts organizations across the country that have demonstrated creativity, excellence, and resilience during this very challenging year.”

“The National Endowment for the Arts Grant not only supports a performative experience of “Migrartuse Ataraxia, but also residency activities and facilitated sessions with community groups, including students from Allen University and Benedict College and seniors from the Columbia Housing Authority residential programs. We are excited to receive NEA support to assist us in our art making and our efforts to engage the Columbia, SC community,” co-director, Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis said in a statement.


Project Description

The original performance, which was workshopped at Columbia’s Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens in April of 2019, centered on the humanity of enslaved Africans in antebellum homes despite the oppressive bondage under which they lived. In 2021 Migratuse Ataraxia intentionally shifts, exploring the journey from spaces of enslavement to those of Black liberation and empowerment through a mobile performative intervention that moves from the antebellum Hampton-Preston site to the former home of Modjeska Monteith Simkins, South Carolina’s most notable civil and human rights activist. Participants will travel a route where they will encounter the artists’ responses to historic structures through large scale projections, sonic environments, and live performances that speak to Black futurity.

By focusing the energy on this temporal and physical migration, WDD reclaims the representation of Black bodies and narratives, creating new visual, emotional, and intellectual entry points in an immersive, interactive setting. In addition, the spatial shift will allow the artists to redirect the focus from the interior architecture of an antebellum site to an expanded exterior magnification of the physical labor of Black bodies – centering these performative practices on a celebration of radical Black female space.

For more information on projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.


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