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1st Annual Ballet Audition for Women of Color

Video by Renata Mond



WASHINGTON, D.C. – The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) President and CEO, Denise Saunders Thompson, today announced a $500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant is part of the Foundation’s Comprehensive Organizational Health Initiative, designed to strengthen the organizational health of small and midsize arts institutions through comprehensive financial analysis and capacity building financial support. The project will provide a phased initiative to begin in-depth pilot planning that will inform subsequent phases to strengthen IABD’s infrastructure and its member organizations capacity-building over an extended time frame.

Phase I of the initiative, includes an in-depth field diagnostic and educational program, as well as capacity building and financial sustainability for IABD itself, resulting in immediate infrastructure and operating support to develop a business model. Thirty-five (35) member organizations will also participate in a sector landscape study to include a financial diagnostic, needs assessment analysis, and presentation of findings.

As part of the overall initiative, IABD will also partner with the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) to pilot a capitalization project that moves beyond a conversation regarding the importance of equitable funding practices into strategy and action. NFF, with assistance by IABD President and CEO, Denise Saunders Thompson and Baraka Sele, Independent Arts Consultant, will conduct a collaborative program to deliver methodologies and resources to IABD members to strengthen their organizations. Analytical data, training, and planning for an inclusive and comprehensive blueprint to address long-term stability and capitalization needs will be provided by NFF for these critical dance organizations.

“I am excited about the potential and long-term effects this strategic gift will have on IABD and the Black dance community. For decades, Black dance companies, small to mid-sized, have been marginalized by an arts funding paradigm that was not accessible. The financial challenges these organizations have faced to keep their doors open continue to be significant and now IABD is uniquely positioned to change the course of the tide. We are grateful for The Mellon Foundation’s support and belief in our efforts to move the conversation forward, with action,” states Saunders Thompson.

IABD was founded in 1991 as a direct result of an artistic development grant to Founder/Artistic Executive Director, Joan Myers Brown, of Philadanco!, The Philadelphia Dance Company. Ms. Brown felt that a gathering of the Black Dance Community would serve not only her needs, but also needs of other Black dance professionals. The Founding Members of the Association, Conference and Festival include: Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Philadanco, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, and Lula Washington Dance Theatre.

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29th Annual International Conference and Festival
of Blacks in Dance
Honoring Robert Battle, Alvin Ailey's Artistic Director

Robert Battle

DALLAS, TX - The 29th Annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance returns to Dallas, Texas for “Boundless Excellence in Dance,” where they are honoring dance industry trailblazer Robert Battle, Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Robert Battle is the recipient of the prestigious Founder’s Award to be presented during the conference’s Awards Luncheon where he will deliver the keynote address. The conference and festival takes place January 25 - 29, 2017 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, 400 North Olive Street, Dallas, Texas. Following the Awards Luncheon Battle will take part in a panel discussion.

The Founder's Award is given to an individual who is one of a kind and consistently explores new and ground breaking approaches to dance in our community. The award recognizes exceptional choreography, performance, and uniqueness of the Dance Artists creative voice. This award recipient has demonstrated a genuine commitment to the mission of IABD and its philosophy which emphasizes the continued responsibility of "carrying the torch" by preserving and promoting dance by people of African ancestry or origin.

Robert Battle became the Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in July of 2011. He is only the third person to head the dance company since its inception in 1958. Battle was a frequent choreographer and artist-in-residence at Ailey since 1999, where he set many of his works on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II and The Ailey School. Mr. Battle also instituted the New Directions Choreography Lab to help develop the next generation of choreographers. Battle founded his own Battleworks Dance Company in 2002. He was honored as one of the “Masters of African-American Choreography” by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2005. Battle trained at The Juilliard School. Battle has successfully continued to push boundaries and expand the conversation around what defines the Black Dance experience. He has done so by exposing audiences to an eclectic and non-traditional range of choreographers that have set commissioned works on the Ailey company. Robert Battle's diverse career as a performer, choreographer, artistic director, philanthropist and visionary make him an ideal speaker for the multigenerational dance artists of color that will have the privilege of experiencing his keynote address.

More than 700 participants worldwide are expected to attend the 29th Annual International Conference and Festival that is designed to meet the needs of professional, advanced, and student dancers as well as dance administrators and instructors/educators. The conference and festival is filled with master classes, lecture/demonstrations, panels, workshops, and performances.

Dallas Black Dance Theatre has hosted this international conference and festival seven times during its 29-year history and it is a part of DBDT's 40th Anniversary Season. The conference and festival headquarters is the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, 400 North Olive Street, Dallas, Texas 75201. For more details and conference registration information, visit http://www.iabdassociation.org/conference.

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