The Boston Foundation and Aliad Fund award Next Steps for Boston Dance grants to seven projects

Grants include rehearsal space, advisory services and funds to create, complete projects

February 27, 2018

BostonThe Boston Foundation and Aliad Fund today announced the seven 2017-2018 recipients of grants through the Next Steps for Boston Dance program. Next Steps for Boston Dance provides multi-layered support for Greater Boston choreographers creating original work in any dance genre and at any career level, post-college, enabling them to take a “next step” in their careers.

The seven recipients each will receive 250 hours of rehearsal space, along with targeted advisory services and $5,000 each in implementation funds to create or complete new projects. “The Next Steps for Boston Dance program removes barriers that prevent choreographers from developing their talents and practices,” said Allyson Esposito, Senior Director of Arts and Culture programs at the Boston Foundation. “With the crisis for affordable practice and performance space, the program’s 18 months of paid rehearsal space and other support allow grantees to dig in and devote the time necessary to grow artistically.”

2017-2018 marks the second award cycle of Next Steps for Boston Dance. Former dancer/choreographer Amy Zell Ellsworth (Aliad Fund), a donor at the Boston Foundation, partnered with the Foundation’s arts and culture staff in the development, design and investment to bring the effort to life.

The Next Steps program is designed to respond to critical needs outlined in recent research into the Greater Boston arts community, which has found dance programs and artists receive less funding than their peers in other disciplines. Next Steps grants are awarded to artists directly, but the benefits reach beyond the awardees as they develop repertoire and create paying opportunities for countless other artists who work with them on their projects.

Next Steps grantees also benefit from the program’s structure, which creates a funding stream for artists developing their work outside traditional nonprofit arts groups.

“I think it’s a critical time for art—especially for choreographers and dance—in Boston,” said Amy Zell Ellsworth. “I’m feeling real change in the air—and so the timing of Next Steps for Boston Dance is just right. It has the potential to move things forward in a way that has not been possible in many years.” 

The 2017-2018 Next Steps for Boston Dance cohort includes:

Jordan Jamil Ahmed and Claire Lucy Johannes, Co-Artistic Directors, power//PLAY

Jordan Jamil Ahmed is a Cambridge-based dance artist and writer whose interdisciplinary work interrogates otherness, nostalgia, and intimacy. His work has been shown throughout Boston and recently he was awarded the Bessie Schonberg Boston Fellowship at The Yard with his collaborator Claire Lucy Johannes as power//PLAY. Claire is a Boston-based dance artist and co-artistic director of power//PLAY. She earned her BA in dance and performance studies from the New School in 2013 and has since shown her work throughout New York City and Boston. Claire is currently studying the Alexander Technique at The Boston Conservatory.

Callie Chapman, Artistic Director, Zoe Dance

Callie is a choreographer with Zoe Dance company, dancer with Prometheus Dance, freelance graphic designer and projection designer, as well as founder/owner of Studio@550 in Cambridge.  As a choreographer she has presented her work locally, regionally, and internationally. As the core of her work, Callie integrates digital environments with performance and dance.

Michael Figueroa, Choreographer/Director, Ruckus Dance

Michael Figueroa is a Cambridge based performer, anti-choreographer teacher, and director of Ruckus Dance. His dances deal with rule breaking, rote memory, and improvising inside of choreographed situations. Michael teaches weekly classes as part of the Midday Movement Series ( Michael holds a BFA from the Boston Conservatory.

Meghan McLyman and Kristen Duffy Young, Co-Directors, Accumulation Dance

Accumulation Dance is a partnership between Meghan McLyman and Kristen Duffy Young, whose mission is to create original work that expresses the human experience through dance and performance. These artists were drawn together by their shared interests in somatic-based dance education, collaborative dance making, and the investigation of their identities as feminists and mothers. Meghan (MFA, MA) is the Chair of the Music and Dance Department and Professor at Salem State University. Kristen (MFA, CMA) is the founder and Director of the Colleges of the Fenway Dance Program and an Adjunct Professor at Emmanuel College. Their work has been presented at Boston Center for the Arts, Movement at the Mills, The Somatics Conference and Performance Festival, The Southern Vermont Dance Festival, Green Street Studios, The Dance Complex, Salem Arts Festival, Trident Art Gallery, Goddard College, College of the Holy Cross, and Hollins University.

Marsha Parrilla, Artistic Director, Danza Orgánica

Award-winning choreographer Marsha Parrilla is the founding Artistic Director of Danza Orgánica. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, her productions include several evening-length company concerts, as well as the award-winning annual festival: “We Create! Celebrating Women in the Arts.” She was recently featured at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Inside/Out Festival. She is the founder of the Dance Research Online Forum, a site dedicated to free and progressive dance education. Parrilla is a recipient of three Boston Foundation awards: Live Arts Boston (2016); Brother Thomas (2017), and Next Steps for Boston Dance (2017). 

Catherine Siller, Choreographer/Multimedia Artist

Artist and performer Catherine Siller works with projections: projected images and text, projected societal ideals, projected versions of the self. She has performed throughout New York and New England and in Brazil and the UK. She holds degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design and Harvard.

J. Michael Winward, Dancer, Choreographer, Founding Director, Steps in Time

J. Michael Winward is an independent dance artist based in Boston. With influences in American-style ballroom, ballet, contemporary and somatic dance practices, his work places a strong focus on building connection: connection to one’s body, one’s self, one’s audience, connection between dance partners, connection within and across communities. Through his program, Steps in Time, he brings social ballroom dancing to senior and elder care facilities throughout Greater Boston.


The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, brings people and resources together to solve Boston’s big problems. Established in 1915, it is one of the largest community foundations in the nation—with net assets of $1.1 billion.  In 2017, the Foundation and its donors paid $135 million in grants to nonprofit organizations. The Foundation is a close partner in philanthropy with its donors, with more than 1,000 separate charitable funds established for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. It also serves as a major civic leader, think tank and advocacy organization, commissioning research into the most critical issues of our time and helping to shape public policy designed to advance opportunity for everyone in Greater Boston.  The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), a distinct operating unit of the Foundation, designs and implements customized philanthropic strategies for families, foundations and corporations around the globe.  For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit or call 617-338-1700.