The Dance Center receives prestigious 2012 Joyce Award

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Supporting new work by Choreographer Reggie Wilson                                         


CHICAGO, IL —The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago has received a 2012 Joyce Award to commission choreographer Reggie Wilson to create the evening-length dance-theatre work (project) Moseses Project. The Award’s $50,000 grant also will support Wilson’s research residency in Chicago and a two-week community engagement residency for Wilson and three dancers to involve Chicagoans in the creative process.

The Dance Center is being honored with this prestigious award for the second time, one of only three organizations—and the only dance organization—to receive two Joyce Awards in its 10-year history. The Dance Center received a 2004 Joyce Award to support commissioning fees, presentation costs and associated community engagement and audience development efforts for Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan’s Wild Cursive, created by Artistic Director Lin Hwai-min. The piece received its American premiere in October 2006, presented by The Dance Center at the Harris Theater in Chicago. 

(project) Moseses Project is the working title of a new performance piece by Wilson exploring the interfaith mythical, biblical, ethnographic, historic and global references of Moses. Initial inspiration for the work came from Wilson’s rereading of Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Moses, Man of the Mountain, which retells the Moses story as a Southern folk tale in Southern African-American vernacular. The work is progressing to look at Moses as prophet, priest, soldier, law-giver, leader, man and husband. (More information in this two-minute video.) 

Residency Activities 

In addition to direct commissioning support, the Joyce Award enables The Dance Center to host Wilson for two residencies:

  • During the 10-day Artist Research Residency, to take place in spring 2012, The Dance Center will connect Wilson with Chicago church leaders across several faith-based traditions to help him gain a deeper understanding of leadership issues in churches, synagogues and mosques—all viewed through the lens of Moses’ stories.
  • During the summer 2012 two-week Community Engagement and Choreographic Development Residency, Wilson will engage further with faith- and community-based groups, then take what he learns and directly embody those ideas on dancers from his company Fist & Heel Performance Group. 
Reggie Wilson and The Dance Center enjoy a long-standing relationship.  In 2003, Wilson was in residence for a three-week teaching engagement.  During a second three-week teaching residency in 2006, The Dance Center afforded Wilson the opportunity to conduct preliminary research for a new work in development, The Good Dance – dakar/brooklyn.  Finally, in March 2011, The Dance Center presented The Good Dance as the culmination of a one-week audience engagement and performance residency. 

Reggie Wilson

Reggie Wilson is indisputably one of America’s leading choreographers. He was born and raised in Milwaukee after his family moved north from the Mississippi delta. In 1989, he founded his Brooklyn-based Fist & Heel Performance Group. Drawing from the movement languages of the blues, slave and spiritual cultures of Africans in the Americas, Wilson adds post-modern elements and his own personal movement style to create what he calls “post-African/Neo-HooDoo Modern dances.”

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