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

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

January 31, 2019

Caitlyn Canty
Caitlyn Canty (Photo credit: Olivia Blaisdell) 

Boston – The Boston Foundation and Aliad Fund today announced the seven grantees chosen as recipients of the 2018-2019 Next Steps for Boston Dance grants.  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. Now in its third year, Next Steps has awarded more than $200,000 in grants and support for a growing group of dance artists.

“Through Next Steps we seek to support the development and growth of Greater Boston's incredibly talented dance makers along the paths they have chosen, and to build and strengthen connections in the local dance community,” said Allyson Esposito, Senior Director for Arts and Culture at the Boston Foundation. “We’re thankful to all the dance studios who have partnered with us to provide significant rehearsal space and artistic homes for our artists, allowing for deep artistic research and practice.”

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. 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 individual artists developing their work outside traditional nonprofit arts groups.

“The quality of this set of grantees underscores the robust ecosystem that is developing for dance in Boston,” said Amy Zell Ellsworth. “By supporting performers, educators and choreographers from across cultures and disciplines, we continue to foster growth.” 

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

Caitlyn Canty is a performer, teacher, and dance maker living in Somerville, MA. Her dances are concerned with the relationship between form and narrative, and the potential for performance to be intimate, alive, and exuberant. Her work has been presented at The School for Contemporary Dance and Thought, The Dance Complex, Third Life Choreographer’s Series, Colorado College, and Young Choreographers New Work at The Bates Dance Festival. She received her education at Colorado College, and since graduating has performed in work by Ruckus Dance, Jenna Pollack, and Dance The Yard.

Junior Cius is an artist residing in Cambridge, Mass. He began dancing at the age of 16 and shortly after graduating high school, started training intensively in urban choreography, hip-hop, dancehall, and a few other street styles. He attended the University of Massachusetts Boston, studying Theatre Arts and Dance. In 2015, Junior Cius established his own urban dance company called "CrewNex". Soon after College, Junior became an alumni of the Monsters of Hip Hop Dance Convention, where he travels and assists many world renowned choreographers. In 2016, he was signed as an actor and dancer, represented by Clear Talent Group-NY. Junior Cius now focuses on being a voice in the black community by creating projects that both uplift and bring awareness to the issues that are often overlooked.

Joy Davis is a dance artist and educator steeped in Countertechnique, improvisation, and performance. Joyproject is her collaborative framework for the creation of performance which elegantly and humorously contemplate our place in the universe through dance, theater, design and installation. Joy completed an MFA in Choreography and Performance from Smith College, and was certified to teach Countertechnique in 2012. She is an Associate Professor at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.

Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga is the founding Artistic Director of the OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center and the founder of ShapeUp with Shaumba, Inc. - a non-profit organization whose mission is to utilize dance, fitness, nutrition spoken word and writing to heal communities. Ms. Dibinga has extensive training, teaching and performance experience in all areas of dance and theater and has been writing poetry and plays for over 25 years. OrigiNation was founded in 1994, produces innovative and dynamic performing arts programs which motivate, challenge, and inspire youth to be the best they can be.  OrigiNation offers quality dance, theater arts, and African history education through its 5 youth arts programs. The company has also toured internationally to South Africa, England, Senegal, Ghana and Trinidad & Tobago.

Shawn Exilus is a choreographer for the dance group Trend N Motion. He has performed throughout the Boston area as well as the Apollo Theater in New York. He is also a freelance videographer that plans to implement creative film making into his dancing career. His mission is to inspire others with the beauty of dance and film. He strives to not only be good, but to BE GREAT.

Betsy Miller is based in Salem, MA, where she is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Salem State University. Her current project, american / woman, seeks to platform women dance artists from each state in the country, and to explore, through a dancer's lens, what it means to be a woman in America. 

Papa Sy is a dancer, choreographer, and dance teacher from Senegal, and the principal member of 5 Dimension Company. After professional dance training in Senegal's National Dance Academy, Papa Sy joined Germain Acogny’s Écoles des Sables and Jant-Bi dance company. Working there opened Papa Sy’s artistic spirit, and he founded the Pasytef Ballet Theatre de Dalifort dance company in Dakar and the Pasy Dance School from a passion for sharing his knowledge with young dancers and contributing to their artistic education. He has created, produced, directed, and starred in over twenty shows. He is currently an I-ARE artist in residence and dance teacher at the Dance Complex.

For photos and more information, including past recipients, visit Next Steps for Boston Dance.

Editors Note: This press release was edited after publication to correct for the omission of Junior Cius from the list of recipients.