Next Steps image

Next Steps for Boston Dance

A Boston Foundation, Aliad Fund and Movement Arts Creation Studio partnership 

With a mission to strengthen the field of dance in Greater Boston, Next Steps for Boston Dance provides multi-layered support for Greater Boston’s choreographers and Circus Artists.

This grant program supports choreographers and circus artists creating original work in any dance genre to move forward and take a “next step” in their careers by providing:

  • $5,000 of paid rehearsal space that can be used in a wide variety of venues
  • Five consulting meetings with expert advisors in areas of need and/or interest to the artist including artistic, technical, communication and planning
  • $6,000 in implementation funds to create or complete a project or take a “next step” in an artist's work or career
  • Cohort meetings to connect choreographers and allow them to share and learn from each other
  • Access to ongoing support for grantees that continues post the grant period: includes project funds, advice, and workshops
  • Grant value is over $12,500.00


The 2024 Next Steps for Boston Dance grantees were announced in February 2024. Click here to read the press release.

Information about 2025 grants will be made available in the Fall of 2024.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Artists must have choreographed and presented work in a public [non- educational institution] setting [on line presentations accepted] within the last 3 years.
  • Candidates must be creating original work; there are no genre-restrictions.
  • Candidates' primary residences must be located inside the Boston Foundation Catchment area.
  • Post-Secondary students currently seeking and working toward dance and related degrees are ineligible to apply.
Movement Arts Creation Studio logo


The Boston Foundation and the Aliad Fund

welcomed new program partner Movement Arts Creation Studio (MACS) in 2021. Support from MACS allows Next Steps to provide additional grant funds for new and previous grantees, expanded programming, including a focus on building the field of circus arts and movement arts in Greater Boston.


Meet the 2024 Next Steps Grantees:

Alexander Davis

Alexander Davis (He/Him/His) is a homosexual, maker, performer, and fiber artist (@KnitDaddy) currently based in Boston, Massachusetts. Alex and his primary collaborator Joy Davis create and perform together as The Davis Sisters (@SistersDavisThe). Most recently Alex has been working on a durational performance art piece where he tries to get his boyfriend Marc to propose to him. It is going ok. Learn more at and

Follow on Instagram: @SayAnythingAlex

A man, Alex Davis, performs onstage.
Photo credit: Derek Fowels

Savannah Dunn 

Savannah’s choreography often explores feminist themes and integrates sound design and text. Her unique voice has been recognized and funded by numerous institutions, residencies, and presenting festivals throughout her career including the Ann & Weston Hicks Choreography Fellowship at Jacob’s Pillow, Carmel Dance Festival’s Dance & Choreography Fellowship Program, The Greater Columbus Arts Council Choreography Fellowship, the Illinois Arts Council, Surel’s Place, Dance Camera West Film Festival, and recently The Boston Foundation's "Next Steps" grant program.

Savannah has set work in professional and pre-professional settings including Columbus Dance Theater’s Dancers Making Dances, Hubbard Street Professional Development Program’s Mid-Year Showcase, Butler University’s Dance Program for the Indianapolis Arts Festival, and Deos Contemporary Ballet in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Savannah has received choreographic mentorship from renowned choreographers and mentors such as Dianne McIntyre, Risa Steinberg, Adam Barruch, Lillian Barbeito, and Alex Ketley. You can learn more about Savannah on her website at

Follow on Instagram: @dunnsavannah

A woman, Savannah Dunn, dances onstage, she faces sideways and crouches in a lunge and touches one bicep with her opposite hand.
Photo credit: Gregg Mizuta / @greggmizuta

Alissa Feller 

Alissa is a Boston-based, multidisciplinary artist specializing in dance trapeze and partner acrobatics, captivating audiences with her distinctive blend of dance, acrobatics, and storytelling. With a background in fine arts, painting, gymnastics, and capoeira, Alissa discovered circus arts as a natural extension to integrate her diverse artistic skills. She underwent professional training at the renowned New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, VT. Since then, Alissa has graced stages across the globe, sharing her love for acrobatics and aerials through engaging performances and teaching endeavors. Drawing inspiration from her personal journey and artistic explorations, she seeks to unite humanity through her art, connecting deeply with her audiences near and far.

A woman, Alissa Feller, is suspended in midair for an outdoor trapeze performance.
Photo credit: Cameron Kincheloe

Kimberleigh Holman

Kimberleigh A. Holman is an artist working at the intersection of dance and theater. She is Artistic Director/Co-Founder of Luminarium Dance, and the founder of Human Movement Lab. With Luminarium, Kim’s work has been shown at Boston venues of all sizes, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Opera House, and three Boston Public Libraries. Through such opportunities as two recent Live Arts Boston grants and the Boston Dancemakers Residency, she has had the privilege of immersing on two large projects—Contradictions + Casual Self Loathing, and Common Circus while in residence at the Boston Center for the Arts. Amidst many noteworthy grants and awards, Kim is most interested in making dance accessible to as wide an audience as possible, often outside the stage space, and utilizing performance as a tool to make conversation and small scale change. More at or

Follow on Instagram: @kholman @luminariumdance @humanmvmtlab


A woman, Kimberleigh Holman, smiles for a headshot photo.

Simon Montalvo

Simon Montalvo (they/them) is a non-binary/transgender movement artist, researcher, and archivist born on the land of the Coahuiltecan and Karankawan peoples. They’re currently living on the land of the Massachusett and Pawtucket peoples and are grateful for the generosity of the land that holds them. Simon is interested in movement research that explores the human condition and sociopolitical themes such as gender identity, sexuality, and family dynamics within the home. Through movement exploration, humor, and community, they strive to create work that shares a living history directly from the communities they work with. Simon holds a BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and is currently in residency with the Boston Center for the Arts for their project a house with no walls: first floor.

Follow on Instagram: @simonlikestomove

A person, Simon Montalvo, dances outside a stone building. They have one leg straight and the other bent and held up to chest height with their arms circled in front of their hips. They have short dark hair.
Photo credit: Stephanie McLaughlin / @stephaniemclaughlinphoto

Alexandria Nunweiler

Described by Dance Informa as “grace with power,” Alexandria Nunweiler creates community by uncovering true stories (whether that be in the classroom, on stage, or on the yoga mat) through ethnography and collaborative reflection. She works within The Click in projects for stage, screen, and augmented reality app, as well as devising her first evening-length work Edge of Aquarius that premiered in January 2024. Alexandria creates duet stage works and co-heads a curation series with Ashlea Sovetts, a collaboration that spans the east coast, and has recently performed in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival (2021), DanceNOW Boston (2022), and BOOM Charlotte (2022), among others. A lifelong learner, she earned her BA in Dance from Winthrop University (2014), MSc from Hult International Business School (2017), and 200-hour RYT (2021).

A woman, Alexandria Nunweiler, poses for a headshot photo. She is a white woman with shoulder length wavy brown hair and very short straight cut bangs.
Photo credit: Liam Kean / @runawaycamera

Cassie Wang

Cassie Wang is a Cambridge-based multidisciplinary artist exploring various mediums within the framework of contemporary dance performance. Originally from Kansas City, she received her B.A. from Pomona College in Computer Science with minors in Dance and Media Studies. In her choreographic work, she is interested in exploring moments of chance existential intimacy. Cassie is currently developing new work as a Dance Lab Resident at the Boston Center for the Arts and as a MIDDAY Rough Drafts artist. Her work has also been presented by NACHMO Boston, Dunamis, and Resilience Dance Company. As a performer, Cassie is a principal dancer with KAIROS Dance Theater and a movement researcher at the Partnering Lab.

Follow on Instagram: @cass_creating

An intentionally artistically blurry photo shows a woman, Cassie Wang, dancing, she is turned to one side with her knees slightly bent and arms stretched out forming a diagonal.
Photo credit: Olivia Moon Photography / @halfasianlens

2023 Grantees

Victoria Lynn Awkward dances in front of a bright yellow background. Her feet are spread apart and her torso is bent so she is leaning to one side with her arms extended vertically
Photo by Olivia Moon Photography

Victoria Lynn Awkward

Recently awarded 1 of 15 Artists of Color making an impact in Boston by WBUR, Victoria is the Director of VLA DANCE. She aims to celebrate the talents and artistries of Boston through contemporary dance. Originally from Massachusetts Victoria L. Awkward trained at Impulse Dance Center by LuAnn Pagella and worked with Boston-based artists such as Karen Krolak. She then graduated from Goucher College with honors in Dance, Visual Art and Education. Alongside running VLA DANCE, Victoria is a freelance choreographer and performer and is an active member of teacher training organization, Midday Movement Series. 

A black and white photo taken at the perspective of the ground shows Anthony Burrell dancing with his legs spread and arms held wide above his head.
Photo by Tarrice Love

Anthony Burrell

Philadelphia-born Creative is a recent MFA graduate of Hollins University, currently a Full-time Associate Professor of Dance at Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Known for his work with International recording artists such as Mariah Carey, and Beyonce, he's the winner of the 2016 MTV Video Music Award for Best Choreography for Beyonce's "Formation" as well as a "Peabody Award" winner for his contribution to "Lemonade." Anthony's a two-time gold medalist and the 1998 National Gold Medalist for the NAACP ACT-SO competition. While attending the University of the Arts, he was hand-selected by Judith Jamison to join Ailey II and later Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Alexis Hedrick, a circus performer, stands onstage in a spotlight, she is jumping through a large hoop.
Photo by Ernesto Galan

Alexis Hedrick

Alexis is a Boston-based circus artist known for her powerful, captivating performances. Inspired by circus shows she saw as a kid in California, she left competitive gymnastics at age 11 to perform with Splash Circus and then the San Francisco Youth Circus. Alexis attended the National Institute of Circus Arts in Melbourne, Australia, specializing in cyr wheel and aerial rope. She has performed all around the world with P&O Australia and AIDA Cruises, Shanghai Circus, and Flynn Creek Circus. Locally she frequently performs with the Boston Circus Guild and Circus 617, a contemporary circus collective that she co-founded in 2020.

Wendy Jehlen poses for a photo, she is standing outside in front of a lake.
Photo by Gabriel Rizzo and Golden Lion Photography

Wendy Jehlen

Wendy Jehlen was born and raised in Somerville and grew up in Boston’s theater and dance communities. Her work questions the boundaries that we imagine between ourselves and seeks to break down these imagined walls through an embodied practice of radical empathy. Her choreographic approach incorporates elements of Bharata Natyam, Odissi, Capoeira, Kalaripayattu, Butoh, and a wide range of Contemporary movement and theater forms. She has created and performed in the US, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, China, Italy, India, Japan, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Rwanda, Palestine and Turkey. She is a Fulbright Scholar, a Fulbright Specialist, an Arts Envoy of the Dept of State, and was one of the first Brother Thomas Fellows.

Rachel Linsky dances with her feet spread apart as she bends backwards with one hand nearly touching the ground and the other arm bent by her face.
Photo by Noel Valero

Rachel Linsky

Rachel Linsky is a Boston-based contemporary dance artist. She directs and choreographs ZACHOR, an ongoing series that seeks to preserve the words of WWII Holocaust survivors through dance. She has presented work at venues throughout Boston including New England Conservatory and the Boston Center for the Arts and has presented dance films in national and international festivals. She has been awarded funding by NEFA, The City of Boston, CJP, The Russell J. Efros Foundation, The Beker Foundation, and is currently a Community Creative Fellow through JArts and CJP. In addition to her choreographic work, Rachel dances with KAIROS Dance Theater and The Click and teaches with Koltun Ballet Boston. 

Olivia Moon holds onto a vertical bar with one hand at the bottom and one to the top, lifting her body sideways so her head is in the middle of the pole and her legs are spread to form a triangle with the pole and floor
Photo by Jesse Costa, WBUR

Olivia Moon

Olivia is a Boston-based, multidisciplinary artist interested in pole dance, photography, and videography. Originally from Los Angeles, her passion for dance led her to Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Upon graduating from Boston University in 2020, she began her business, Olivia Moon Photography. Across her creative practices, she centers her self-identity to challenge the concept of what is considered normal in today’s society. Through pole dancing, Olivia hopes to engage people in a way that opens paths to their own journey to self-love. This year, WBUR highlighted Olivia as one of 15 artists of color leaving an imprint on Massachusetts. 

A group of three dancers perform onstage, on the left and right side dancers stand upright with arms at their sides and in the center a dancer is kneeling
Photo by Charles Daniels’s performing arts group is comprised of Black, Brown and White artist/educators who create original performances, talking circles and workshops utilizing modern and hip hop dance with Spoken Word. The organization has a long history of collaborating with diverse musicians, filmmakers and composers to create original pieces that have been presented in renowned theaters but also on basketball courts converted into open-air theaters in economically challenged neighborhoods. The company has toured extensively throughout New England, the South and Midwest with the support of the NEA, The Boston Foundation, NEFA, the Mass Cultural Council and The Boston Dance Alliance.

2022 Grantees

Oliver Burns
Photo: Shawn Exilus/Xile Media

Oliver Burns IV

Oliver Burns IV has been dancing since a child and choreographing since attending Regis College. Although he performs many styles from contemporary to Latin, his main focus is Hip Hop. When he is not dancing, Oliver is building a media and event production company, Trend Stream, with a full array of audio/visual event services. He also co-founded the Hip Hop troupe Trend N Motion, which hosts interactive performances for local schools, concerts and community events. He joined in 2017 as a cinematographer and choreographer to continue using the art platform to address social issues our neighborhoods face.

Jinyi Duan
Photo: Bao Pham

Jinyi Duan

Jinyi is a Chinese-American dancer, illustrator, musician and the co-founder of The Flavor Continues, a nonprofit organization that serves the street and club dance community. First and foremost a community builder, their main focus is to address and transform inequities that may exist in spaces. They believe that social change is often achieved through a complex combination of variables - but that street and club dance communities are at the forefront of this movement. 

Jinyi has competed and placed in various House, Krump, and open styles competitions. Starting their freestyle dance journey in 2016, they have traveled across the world and nation to exchange with other dancers, compete, train, and teach in various styles. They have received the Boston Opportunities Grant and the Institute of Nonprofit Core Program Certificate. They are also a part of the NAS Creative Community Fellows, Giving Tuesday Starling Fellows, and HBS x American Repertory Theater ACOM cohort.

Avery Gerhardt
Photo: Aliza Franz

Avery Gerhardt

Avery Gerhardt (she/her) is an independent choreographer and freelance performer from Houston, Texas. She was born in Rockport, Maine, a former home to the Wabanaki Peoples, in 1997.  

Avery began her pre-professional training at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts and later graduated from the Boston Conservatory. She also pursued studies at Accademia dell’Arte in Arezzo, IT, and obtained a BFA in Contemporary Performance and Composition in May of 2020. 

Her long-term research project “loadbearing” (withstanding the weight carried by a structure), stimulates and situates itself in accordance with the ecofeminist movement. The project began in 2019 with collaborators Talia Stern and Tshedzom Tingkhye and serves as the base for her current documentary project, F.F.P.S. 

Avery has created and directed three evening-length works; 1134: A Study on Loadbearing (2020), What's the Point (2018), and COCKEYED (2018). Original works How does it feel knowing you will remember my face for the rest of your life (2017) premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and Falling by the Wayside (2016) at MATCH Midtown Arts Center in Houston. Her latest solo work, Massa (2019), premiered in Arezzo and was most recently performed by India Hobbs at Krakòw Dance Festival, Poland. Avery is honored to include the acknowledgments of the arts communities in awards such as the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant (2021), the City of Boston’s Arts and Culture Opportunity Fund (2021), The Boston Foundation’s Next Steps for Boston Dance Grant (2022) and a Mass Cultural Council Fellowship (2022). She currently remains in Boston, where she continues to build a body of repertoire, alongside her practice as a performer, dramaturg, archivist, and writer. 

Sophia Herscu
Photo: John Beckley

Sophia Herscu 

Sophia Herscu is an artist and educator based in Boston, MA dedicated to creating opportunities for learning and performance in circus arts and aerial dance. Whether in the classroom or on the stage, she has always been interested in pushing athletic rigor, exploring human perspectives, and telling stories in three-dimensional space. In 2011, Sophia was awarded a Watson Fellowship to conduct a year-long study of social circus, a circus education movement where the artform meets social justice, in seven countries around the world. Impacted by this study and the power of social circus she decided to run away to the circus! She auditioned for and attended the accredited Professional Training Program at Frequent Flyers in Boulder, Colorado where she developed her choreographic voice under the mentorship of Nancy Smith and later with Iluminar Aerial under the mentorship of Emmy Moon. Sophie received BAs in Theatre/Dance and Sociology from Colorado College in 2011 and earned her Ed.M. in Arts in Education from Harvard University in 2015. 

As the owner and co-founder of Commonwealth Circus Center and as a board member of Circus Up, Sophia is committed to increasing access to high-quality circus arts education across the city of Boston. She also hopes to create impactful evening-length shows that inspire conversation through her artistic direction work with the Boston-based Circus 617 and with the northeast-based Spoke Movement Ensemble. Sophia is also currently a Live Arts Boston Grantee and will be presenting work alongside her Circus 617 colleagues in early June 2022! 

Ashton Lites
Photo: Sarah Seymour

Ashton Lites

Ashton Lites, also known as Stiggity Stackz, is regarded as one of Boston's most renowned veteran freestyle dance specialists. With 15+ years of intensive training in many different street styles and classical dance forms including Krump, Popping, Locking, House, Hip Hop, Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern, Afro- Haitian, and beyond. Lites is an experienced event organizer, instructor, and choreographer, and well-traveled in the underground Hip Hop competition circuit. Beyond dancing and instructing, Ashton has established himself as a creative inspiration specialist and life coach through his journey of activism and public speaking in the city of Boston, focusing on improving artists' finances, health, spirituality, purpose, and creativity. He believes that if artists can succeed in these aspects of their own life, they can be of better service to their community. 

Jackie O'Riley and Rebecca McGowan 
Photo: Louise Bichan

Jackie O'Riley and Rebecca McGowan

Jackie O'Riley and Rebecca McGowan are a duet specializing in old-style traditional Irish dance, recognized for their unique synchronicity and musicality. Originally drawn to the grace, musicality, and subtlety of older steps, they have been dancing and creating together for the past 12 years. With original choreography and interpretation of traditional steps, Jackie & Rebecca’s work magnifies the intricate movements and musical connections of traditional dance, bringing music and dance back together. Jackie & Rebecca have performed around the US at festivals including Catskills Irish Arts Week, CCE Musical Arts and Dance Week, and Mississippi CelticFest. Their visual album “From the Floor” (2019) was called “audacious, groundbreaking, and brilliantly realized” (Irish Echo) and was shown at the Utah Dance Film Festival, St Patrick’s Film Festival London, Motion State Dance Film Series, Leitrim Dance Festival, and others. They were recognized as 2022 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellows in Choreography, and have received support from Next Steps for Boston Dance, Live Arts Boston, and NEFA, and recently had work selected for Dance Documentation in Isolation at the BCA; Dance Complex’s Fest of Us; and the Boston Celtic Music Festival.

Laura Sanchez
Photo: Mickey West

Laura Sánchez

Laura Sánchez is an award-winning flamenco artist, creator, choreographer and educator originally from Cádiz, Spain. She began her flamenco education as a child and received professional training from the Dance Conservatory of Madrid. Laura holds a Professional Certificate in Expressive Arts Therapies from Lesley University where she developed an emerging therapeutic dance practice, Expressive Flamenco©. She facilitates workshops, presents this work internationally, and continues to serve annually as Guest Professor for the Lesley University Expressive Therapies Master’s Program. Her most recent research work was published in the Journal of the American Dance Therapy Association in 2021. 

Laura actively performs as a soloist in flamenco venues in the Eastern U.S., and placed 3rd at the 2016 Flamenco Certamen USA, an international competition that takes place in NYC annually. She works as an independent choreographer for organizations including Boston College of Fine Arts, Massachusetts Government, Bridgewater University, and Kingston Theater. Laura works as an independent producer and has presented several flamenco shows over the past few years in Massachusetts. In her last production, Flamenco at Starlight, she brought the flamenco community back together to perform for the first time in Cambridge since Covid-19. 

During the pandemic, she created an award-winning short film called AFTER DARK to tell the resilience stories of a community affected by the Covid-19 global pandemic. In 2021 she has received several national and international grants, including the Live Arts Boston grant from the Boston Foundation, and was honored to be a member of Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana Professional Consorcio Flamenco, a group dedicated to growing flamenco on the national stage in 2020. In 2022, Laura is working to present her most recent experimental work of Expressive Flamenco at the Mills Gallery in June 2022, as part of the Boston Dance Makers Residency at the Boston Center for the Arts.

2020 Grantees

Ian Berg

Ian Berg

Ian Berg is a Boston-based tap dancer originally from Chicago, Illinois. Ian has been dancing since an early age and has training and performance experience in tap dance, ballet, modern dance, jazz, contact improvisation and a variety of other styles and approaches.

In high school, Ian trained at the Joffrey Academy in Chicago while also dancing with the renowned Chicago based tap company MADD Rhythms, of which he is still a member.

Ian is also a musician as well as a composer and arranger of music and an alum of The School at Jacob’s Pillow and the Boston Conservatory with a BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance. He is currently living in Boston, Massachusetts where he is the director of tap dance company Subject:Matter.

Natalie Johnson

Natalie Johnson
Photo: Olivia Moon Photography

Natalie is the Artistic Director of Natalie Johnson Dance, a fiscally-sponsored company founded in 2015, whose mission is to present original movement that evokes universal experiences through individual histories. Balanced with her love of choreography and concert stage dance is Natalie's relish of language, literature, and poetry. Natalie graduated from Bowdoin College, where she earned her BA in English and Dance, and this fascination with language is one of the most pervasive themes in the company repertory. Natalie has presented her choreography throughout NYC, Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia, Chicago, and North Carolina.

In 2017, Natalie completed a yearlong residency in NYC which supported her creation of the evening-length work, Sleeptalking. She is a three-time commissioned artist of Simantikos Dance Chicago, and received an artist grant from the Belmont Cultural Council in 2019 to support her evening-length production, AGEN. Natalie is currently looking forward to completing an artist residency with The Mauser Foundation in Costa Rica in June of 2020, researching solo movement to inspire her newest work. 

Ana Masacote

Ana Masacote
Photo: Roberto Matteo Photography

Ana Masacote is an award-winning Latin dance specialist, educator, and womanpreneur who passionately believes that through dance, we can facilitate social change within communities. She is a co-founder and partner of Masacote Entertainment and has spread the salsa bug to more than 30 countries across five continents. Ana is also the producer and executive director of Yo Soy LOLA, a movement to reclaim the Latina narrative through artistic platforms and a scholarship initiative for Latinx artists in Mssachusetts, and the founder of Dance to Power, LLC, an online Afro-Latin dance academy dedicated to educating and uplifting womxn and allies around the world through Afro-Latin dance.

Ana was a recipient of the 2015 New England Salsa Music Award for lifetime achievement in dance, an alumna of the 2015 Goldman Sachs 10KSB National Program, a recipient of the SBA’s MA Minority-Owned Business of the Year Award, and holds a bachelor's in Management Science from MIT in Cambridge. She began her formal dance training with folkloric dance at age 5 and salsa at age 15, and she has been a judge and guest of honor at salsa competitions and festivals worldwide.

Jeff Jean Philippe

Jeff Jean Philippe

Jeff, as a versatile artist, is one of New England’s premier Hip-Hop dancers, educators and choreographers. While pursuing his artistry, Jeff felt compelled to create a family-oriented group to travel, perform and grow with. In 2012, Jeff took this aspiration and gave it life by founding, directing, and choreographing for the internationally touring company, The Expressive Movement. Jeff’s high-energy and self-evolving classes strongly focus on Hip-Hop technique and contemporary elements inspired by Gaga movement; the Gaga technique is the influence for a style which Jeff coined, “TempHOPical,”  the fusion of contemporary, hip hop and lyrical. As an innovator, Jeff also began developing "Kimpada," a ballroom/partner dance related to and inspired by other Caribbean and Latin styles like Bachata, Salsa, Pasada, Kizomba, Lindy-hop, and Swing. Jeff continues to teach classes at studios, workshops, conventions and colleges across the US and internationally. In addition to teaching, he often is invited to judge at competitions, such as Nexstar and Step Up to Dance. 

Jeff's passion is not restricted to any specific type of dance, feeding his overall fascination with movement. Jeff’s dance experience includes studying with America’s top original Hip- Hop teachers, including Super Dave, Jamar Hopkins, Brian “Footwork” Green, and Henry Link. Jeff has trained in styles including hip hop, dancehall, break-dancing, Chicago footwork, house, popping, locking, whacking, Afro-house, Krump, ballet and contemporary. Jeff's performance career includes working with numerous Boston-based dance companies, appearances in commercials (such as Twix, Skippy Peanut Butter, Nestle Inc., Nerf and iTunes) and television shows (SYTYCD season 12, top 30). Other career highlights include The Nutcracker and Hairspray, and back-up dancer for Ryan Lewis, Macklemore, and Jillian Jensen.

Destiny Polk

Destiny Pope
Photo: Jonathan Tata

Destiny "Divine" Janai Polk, whose name means "That which has been firmly established, God has answered, Dance", is an Afro-indigenous choreographer and producer, space holder, art educator and founder of art-activist platform Radical Black Girl.  RESIST(D)ANCE, her original three-part performance premiered at the OBERON Theater in 2017. Her annual interactive performance, “Black Woman Is God” presents over 20 Black Women Artists each year, celebrating Black Women’s contributions to life through dance, music poetry and visual art. Destiny has shared her choreography at conferences, festivals, museums, on intimate and grand stages. Her recent choreography work was presented with OWLL at Imagining America, a national conference on decarceration and liberatory practices. 

Destiny’s performances and dance films combine her poetry and choreography for internal and collective processing of emotions, trauma and memory. In addition to leading workshops at universities like the Harvard School of Public Health, Destiny is an invited speaker on panels for social and global impact in art and moderates community conversations. She has presented an original dance short film “When The Sea Rises” produced by 3arly July at ILLUMINUS 2018. Most recently, Destiny has presented a workshop “Being The Change Through Art" at SXSW 2019  and upon her return to Boston, began her traveling artist residency to develop an original multi-media work “My City, My Body or If Concrete Could Talk or For Those Who May Be Traumatized. She was the Boch Center’s 2020 Youth Arts For Social Change Summit Keynote on Representation In The Arts. 

The Wonder Twins - Billy & Bobby McClain

The Wonder Twins
Photo: Sophie Browne

Billy & Bobby McClain started dancing at the age of 8, and by 9 years old they were doing their "WonderTwins show" for family events such as cookouts and barbecues. At age 10,, they won their first dance competition which was judged by the legendary rapper KURTIS BLOW and were recruited to join Boston's first professional street dance crew "The Funk Affects", a group that influenced and inspirational toi the early success of New Edition and New Kids on the Block. They spent 7 years with the company,  gaining recognition by opening up concerts for big artists like Run DMC and LL Cool J. By their early teens, they were giving monthly hour-long shows for the community with acts such as New Kids on the Block, with whom they would later co-choreograph elements of their Magic Summer Tour and produce a song for their album.

The Wonder Twins have headlined at Jacob’s Pillow's "Unreal Hip Hop" & Inside/Out Dance Festival, Brooklyn Dance Fest, Rochester University, Southern Vermont Dance Festival, Colby College, University of Rochester, Eastern Connecticut College, Wesleyan University, University of Saint Joseph, ICA Boston, NYC Town Hall, UraGano Italy, Concepto Vimen Mexico, TedxBoston, David White's Tap The Yard, DanceNOW Boston, DanceNOW NYC, Joe's Pub, Dixon Place, The Dance Hall, The Music Hall Loft, Cape Dance Festival, the Museum of Fine Arts, the House of Blues and Lincoln Center. They are also six-time winners of "Showtime at The Apollo" and performed a record 16 times at The Apollo. They have also toured the USA and internationally as Bobby Brown’s "Don’t Be Cruel" tour dancers and as choreographers/songwriters for New Kids On The Block. 

2018-2019 Grantees

Caitlyn Canty
Caitlyn Canty (Photo credit: Olivia Blaisdell) 

Caitlyn Canty

@caitcanty on instagram

Caitlin 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 from Colorado College, and since graduating has performed in work by Ruckus Dance, Jenna Pollack, and Dance The Yard.

Junior Cius
Photo credit: Thang Ho

Junior Cius

Actor & Dancer/Choreographer

Instagram: @junior.cius

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
'Consider the Star' by Joy Davis, photo by Robby Sweeny, courtesy of Fact/SF, 2018

Joy Davis


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 M. Dibinga
Photo credit: Eroc Arroyo-Montano

Shaumba-Yandje M. Dibinga

Founder and Artistic Director
OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center

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

Shawn Exilus


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
Photo credit: Jonathan Hsu

Betsy Miller

Betsy Miller Dance Projects

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
Photo credit: Caitlyn Klinger

Papa Sy

Choreographer and Artistic Director

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 their 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

2018-2019 Judging Panelists

We want to take a moment to thank our 2018-19 panel of judges for Next Steps for Boston Dance:

Steven Skerritt-Davis, Program Director, Maryland State Arts Council

Sara Juli, Choreographer, Performer and Fundraising consultant

Theo Martey, Director, Akwaaba Ensemble

Shoshona Currier, Director, Bates Dance Festival

2017-2018 Grantees

Callie Chapman

Aristic Director, Zoe Dance; Choreographer

Callie Chapman
Photo Credit: Lumyr Derisier

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

Photo Credit: Anna Maynard

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. 

Kristen Duffy and Meghan McLyman
Photo Credit: Eric Fisher

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. Meghan and Kristen also serve as board members of the Massachusetts Dance Education Organization.


Marsha Parrilla

Artistic Director, Danza Orgánica; Choreographer; Dancer/Performer

Marsha Parrilla PhotoCredit Ernesto Galan_
Photo Credit: Ernesto Galán

Award-winning choreographer Marsha Parrilla is the founding Artistic Director of Danza Orgánica. Born and raised in San Juan- Puerto Rico, she moved to NYC where she pursued a Master's degree in Dance Education from New York University. Parrilla is a proud recipient of several grants from the New England Foundation for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Boston Foundation- among others. She is currently a resident artist in the city of Boston, through their unique Boston AIR (Artist in Residence) program. Parrilla is also a Luminary artist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where she is now a commissioned artist. In addition, she is a Dance Ambassador at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Most recently, Parrilla was awarded a Creative Development Residency at Jacob's Pillow, and was recently featured at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Inside/Out Festival. Parrilla is a recipient of three Boston Foundation awards: Live Arts Boston (2016); Brother Thomas (2017), and Next Steps for Boston Dance (2017).  She is the founding producer of the acclaimed annual festival: We Create! Celebrating Women in the Arts.



Catherine Siller

Choreographer/Multimedia Artist

c siller Are Yo uBuying Documentation
Photo Credit: Eric Rosenbaum

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 of Steps in Time

J Michael Winward
Photo Credit: "Ten Thousand Scales on a Fish" by Peter DiMuro/Public Displays of Motion, photo by Sally Cohn, courtesy of The Yard, 2017

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.


Other Past Grantees

Jean Appolon

Co-founder and Artistic Director of Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE), Jean Appolon is a choreographer and teacher based in Boston and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. JAE is a Haitian contemporary dance company that combines Modern technique and Haitian folkloric dance. With its dynamic repertoire and dancers from diverse backgrounds, JAE educates audiences about Haitian culture, traditions, history and current issues.Jean Appolon received his earliest training and performance opportunities in Port-au-Prince, and continued his dance education in the U.S, where he graduated with a B.A. from the Joffrey American Ballet School. He teaches regularly at The Dance Complex and the Boston Ballet, among others. In 2006, Appolon founded a free annual summer dance course in Port-au-Prince that serves young, aspiring Haitian dancers; his vision is to expand the summer course into a year-round program.

Rebecca McGowan and Jackie O’Riley

Rebecca McGowan and Jackie O'Riley are a duet specializing in old-style traditional Irish dance. Originally drawn to the grace, musicality and subtlety of older steps, they have been dancing and creating together for the past eight years. They have performed traditional and original work at the Catskills Irish Arts Week, the Institute of Musical Traditions and the Lowell Folk Festival, and are the recipients of the 2017 Next Steps grant for Boston-based choreographers through the Aliad Fund and the Boston Foundation. Independently, Jackie and Rebecca have both followed a long path of studying and spending time with masters in the tradition, including Patrick O’Dea, Michael Tubridy, Aidan Vaughn and Kieran Jordan.Both direct and teach unique, non-competitive Irish dance programs for youth and adults, and have been on the faculty of festival dance programs including MAD Week, the Augusta Heritage Center's Irish Arts Week and the CIAW.

Kathleen Nasti

Kat Nasti is the Director of Kat Nasti Dance and the Executive Director of Green Street Studios.She was a NYC-based dancer for many years and worked with Radio City Christmas Spectacular, American Dance Machine, Lisa Giobbi and Alyce Finwall, among others.Her choreographic work and teaching has been presented at venues across the East Coast.She holds an MFA from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MBA from Lehigh University, where she was a Graduate Teaching Fellow and President of the National Association of Women MBAs.

McKersin Previlus

Growing up without the means for dance classes, McKersin overcame his troubled environment, persevered and became the dancer that he is today. With Ethnic-Haitian dance already in his vocabulary, he started building a bigger arsenal with Hip-Hop, Jazz and Tap. In college, he started trading work hours for classes and started studying ballet and modern intensively. Now, he is leading workshops throughout various parts of the country orientated towards social justice and, the roots of African American culture and movement. Out of his many projects and goals, his main and current project involves building up men in the inner city to become emotionally intelligent while being agents of social change within their community with the creation of a program called, Bridge 4 my Brothers.

Emily Beattie

Emily Beattie is a radical dance artist, performer and educator based in Somerville. Her current collaborations with media artists Cari Ann Shim Sham and Eric Gunther of all real machines, each explore the place of an embodied female experience in an overtechnologized world. Both projects are supported by New England Foundation for the Arts and The Boston Foundation. Her performance work for stage, site and screens have been shown by the Boston CyberArts Festival, the ICA Boston, Gloucester New Arts Festival, Design Boston, Ammerman Center for the Arts, the Waterfire Festival in Rhode Island, Los Angeles’ Fowler Museum, experimental Pieter Performance Space, the Hammer Museum, UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance department, New York’s Spoke of the Hub performance space and Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery | Staller Center for the Arts, and internationally in Quito Ecuador and Kyoto, Japan for the Kyoto Renku Festival. Emily is grateful to have completed national tours with David Rousseve/Reality and Lionel Popkin Dance Project. She holds a BFA from the Boston Conservatory and an MFA from UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance.

Alexander Davis

Performer, choreographer and fiber artist Alexander Davis is a graduate of Keene State College where he received a B.A. in English: Writing, and a B.A. in Theatre and Dance: Choreography and Performance under the mentorship of William Seigh. Alex is currently a company member at Urbanity Dance (Best of Boston 2015), as well as a performer with Ryan Landry's Gold Dust Orphans (Best of Boston 2016). Alex is also a passionate arts administrator, a published memoirist, a sexual consent educator and an okay comedian. He is currently knitting a wedding dress. For more information and upcoming performances please visit @SayAnythingAlex.

Peter DiMuro

Peter DiMuro is a performer, choreographer, director, teacher, facilitator and arts engager, touring and teaching internationally. His creative umbrella is Peter DiMuro/Public Displays of Motion, a company currently focusing on large spectacles and miniature-scaled occurrences of dance/theatre. The company is a resident artist at the Boston Center for the Arts, and Peter was a recent recipient of the Boston Dance Alliance’s Rehearsal and Retreat Fellowship.Current creative projects include a revival of “Gumdrops and the Funny Uncle,” which looks at multiple definitions of family in an alternative to a holiday Nutcracker experience, with an intergenerational cast of professionals and LGTBQ community members combined, and continuing to serve as the Executive Director of The Dance Complex in Cambridge.Originally from Round Lake, Ill., he is the youngest of three children, the son of the Chief of Police (Dad) and a machinist/gal Friday (Mom). He has a niece named for the Crayola crayon, Sienna.