Columbia’s Wideman Davis Dance selected for South Arts program

‘Momentum’ to help build touring capacity

Momentum program director with Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman-Davis.

Momentum program director Nikki Estes (left) meeting with Thaddeus Davis (center) and Tanya Wideman-Davis (right) of Wideman Davis Dance in Columbia, South Carolina prior to “Migratuse Ataraxia,” a multidisciplinary reimagining of antebellum homes


South Arts, a regional nonprofit arts organization, has announced the five Southern dance companies selected to participate in Momentum. This new three-year project, funded with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will allow the selected companies to build their capacity for regional and national touring.

South Arts“There is remarkable dance occurring in our region,” said Nikki Estes, program director with South Arts. “Southern artists are pushing boundaries and telling important stories through this art form. Yet, they are often overlooked in favor of their counterparts in other parts of the US. Through Momentum, we aim to address that gap and raise the profile of Southern dance companies across the region and country.”

Over the course of three years, each company will receive professional development, residency opportunities, and touring grants to fund their work. Participants will also showcase at the Performing Arts Exchange booking conference to share their work with arts presenters and programmers.

The selected companies are:

  • Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami, Miami, Florida. Jennifer Kronenberg, Artistic Director.
  • Helen Simoneau Danse, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Helen Simoneau, Artistic Director.
  • New Dialect, Nashville, Tennessee. Banning Bouldin, Artistic Director.
  • staibdance, Avondale Estates, Georgia. George Staib, Artistic Director.
  • Wideman Davis Dance, Columbia, South Carolina. Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis, Artistic Directors.

The five companies were selected from an application pool of 37 companies by a national panel of leaders in the field of dance presenting and touring, and show exceptional promise both in their artistic quality and potential for expanded touring. The panel included:

  • Neil Barclay (CEO, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History),
  • Christy Bolingbroke (Executive/Artistic Director, National Center for Choreography at The University of Akron),
  • Laurie Eisenhower (Founding Artistic Director, Eisenhower Dance),
  • Christopher Heacox (Executive Director, Auburn University Performing Arts Center),
  • Sophie Myrtil-McCourty (President, Lotus Arts Management),
  • Martin Wechsler (Former Director of Programming, The Joyce Theater),
  • and Ichun Yeh (Vice President/Director of Booking, Sozo Artists).

“Momentum is the next incarnation of our Dance Touring Initiative,” continued Estes. Through the Dance Touring Initiative, nearly 30 performing arts presenters throughout the Southern region have received professional development and funds to strengthen their work with touring modern dance and contemporary ballet companies over the last ten years. “We recognized that—even though we were working with Southern arts organizations—Southern dance companies were often not being engaged for tours. We began designing Momentum as soon as we identified this need.”

The companies selected for Momentum will convene at the 2019 Performing Arts Exchange conference in Orlando, Florida to begin their professional development, and will participate in a series of webinars throughout the program addressing pertinent topics to the field. Additionally, they will be partnered with Dance Touring Initiative presenters for residencies to develop their work and touring capacity. South Arts will make grants available to present these companies in upcoming seasons.

“Momentum is deeply informed by our new mission statement: advancing Southern vitality through the arts,” said Susie Surkamer, executive director with South Arts. “One of our goals is to support the artistic and professional growth and success of artists in the South, and Momentum represents new steps for our organization in that direction.”

To learn more about Momentum as well as South Arts’ other programs supporting artists, arts organizations, and communities throughout the South, visit www.southarts.org.


About Wideman Davis Dance

Tanya Wideman Davis and Thaddeus Davis, Artistic Directors

Wideman Davis Dance, founded in 2003, is deeply committed to revealing social and political issues through an African American perspective. They make work that is inspired by and engaged with current issues including race, social class, gender, and location.

Viewing education as essential, Wideman Davis Dance connects with communities of all ages through residencies and by increasing their awareness of these social and political issues, and the ways in which those issues play out in today’s world. When designing residencies, they create environments for participants that cultivate their potential and empower them to change. The company works in an egalitarian way, in collaboration with artists, scholars, and students, implicitly shifting the traditional company model and leveling the hierarchical structures that typically exist within the arts field and its pedagogy.

Wideman Davis Dance make dances that have the capacity to tell the truth and move the spirit, giving voice to the people who both perform and view them. They create a space for truths to be told, rupturing the silence of denial, and retelling history about the African American experience. Through their work, they catalyze an artistic ripple effect: their dances—and this shared history—resonate emotionally within the artists who perform it and ultimately within the audiences who view it. Ideally, artists and audiences are motivated to tell their own truths in their own voices: they remember and discover things about themselves and about their own history. Telling such truths can foster a range of reactions, from inspiration to discomfort, from inquiry to debate. In their artistic encounters, the company highly values the exchange that occurs with their audiences as they respond.

The company draws from a strong lineage of dance forms they have studied, artists with whom they have worked, and socio-historical issues that they illuminate. Through both choreography and performance, they embody a range of aesthetics, including ballet and contemporary movement. They have created and performed with legendary companies and artists, including Dance Theater of Harlem, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, Donald Byrd/The Group, Ballet NY, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Most influential is the lineage of ideas, history, and social structures that inspire their work and influence the world in which they—and their audiences—live.

Artist Statement

Wideman Davis Dance moves audiences, through the dances we create and perform, dialogues we lead, research we conduct, and movement experiences we share.

We invite audiences and communities to engage: With ideas. With history. With the world around us. With honesty.

Our artistic vision reflects truths from our shared lives. Our lineage draws from our long careers with leading professional companies in ballet and contemporary dance. Our model for working with audiences reflects decades of collaborating with communities around the country. Our track record of working with—and delivering to—presenters, colleges, and communities shows lasting results, as told through the stories from our collaborators.


About South Arts

South Arts advances Southern vitality through the arts. The nonprofit regional arts organization was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value and power of the arts of the South. For more information, visit www.southarts.org.


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