Next Steps image

Next Steps for Boston Dance

A partnership between the Boston Foundation and Aliad Fund


Note: Applications for 2019-2020 grants are being accepted now!

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.

This grant program aims to support Greater Boston choreographers creating original work in any dance genre and at any career level, post-college, to move forward and take a “next step” in their careers by providing artists with:

  • 250 hours of flexible rehearsal space over 18 months* (see our partners list below)
  • 6 consulting meetings with expert advisors in chosen areas of need and/or interest to the artist including artistic, organizational, technical, marketing and communication, or strategic/business planning
  • $5,000 in implementation funds to create or complete a project or take a “next step” in work or career
  • A series of cohort meetings to connect choreographers, build relationships and allow for co-learning

  2019-2020 Application Timeline

Application deadline:  November 4, 2019

Decisions announced: December 2019

Scroll down for application information and schedule of upcoming information sessions.

Click here to access the application portal

2019-2020 Next Steps for Boston Dance

Six grants will be awarded, with an emphasis on including a variety of genres. Artists will be selected from across career stages, from artists who are just beginning a professional career to those who are mid-career to those who are well-established. We strongly encourage all artists to apply. Eligibility Requirements and Funding Restrictions

To be eligible to apply, applicants must meet each of the following criteria:
  • Be creating original work in any genre of dance;
  • Have choreographed and presented work for an audience in a public setting within the last 24 months. (The event could have been ticketed or free for a general or specific audience, but cannot have been work created or presented while the artist was an undergraduate or post-secondary student);
  • Have a primary residence within the Boston Foundation’s catchment area; and
  • NOT currently enrolled in an undergraduate or post-secondary program in dance or a related field.

We will accept applications from artistic collaborators. Should you be considering completing a joint application, contact Director of Next Steps Ruth Birnberg at vfKt0ti+GCYDSjeK6EPTEVRVj2Pov5RKisXlQ142Awp/cIzWvqAp/c1DVtXhKiUbxQrmWEUR/3c5cg9G89yazqVPtFABfNeD45JxXYZ+18Mu7Jgud9qzZYouEPsVHLURpJYak11vXOS9IScCVy8/+Op5TwVerXuBIiIPb45BHPM/5wcZuIP09vYXS6f0DJI4lA3aI3CzdN6ss02Ot46ytaCu31IF644tvpRUj4sQbJw= first to discuss your application in advance of submitting.

PLEASE NOTE: Artists may apply both to Next Steps for Boston Dance and Live Arts Boston grant programs and will be eligible to receive funding from both in the same grant cycle. Current Next Steps grantees are not eligible to apply to Next Steps in this cycle but may apply to Live Arts Boston. Current Live Arts Boston grantees may apply to Next Steps this cycle.

Timeline and Process:

Launch Date: September 17, 2019
Application Deadline: November 4, 2019
Decisions Anticipated: December 2019
Grant Period: Funds must be spent between January 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

All applicants must complete the Next Steps application onlineTo access the application form, click the button below. The application period begins September 17.

  Information Sessions

Sunday, October 6
4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

The Dance Complex
536 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge

Hosts: TBF and The Dance Complex
Click here to register

Wednesday, October 9
6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Hibernian Hall

184 Dudley St., Roxbury
Hosts: TBF and Hibernian Hall
Click here to register

*Friday, October 11
12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
New England Foundation for the Arts

145 Tremont St., 7th Floor, Boston
Hosts: TBF and New England Foundation for the Arts
Click here to register

*Please Note: The session at the New England Foundation for the Arts(NEFA) will also include a brief presentation about grant opportunities at NEFA for Boston Dance Artists. Lunch will be served. Limited to 30.

Light refreshments will also be provided for both the October 6 and 9th sessions.

Registration is highly recommended. While walk-ins are welcome, registering for your chosen session helps us plan ahead.

*Rehearsal Space Site Options

As a component of Next Steps, awardees will select a rehearsal venue to work in during the 18-month grant period paid for by the Next Steps Fund. We welcome the following studios/venues as site partners.

  • Boston Ballet
  • Green Street Studios, Center for Movement and Dance
  • Deborah Mason Performing Arts Center
  • Hibernian Hall
  • Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre
  • Lyric Stage (available for Boston Dance Alliance Members)
  • Studio 550
  • The Dance Complex
  • Tony Williams Dance Center
  • Urbanity Dance

We will work to accommodate any awardees currently working in a space not listed above who wish to remain in their current or preferred space. We will gladly speak with the directors of any space to work out a partnership.

Information Sessions

Want to learn more about the grant, what is needed to submit a good application, and what the first round of artists has learned? The Foundation and the Aliad Fund invite all interested applicants to learn more about Next Steps and ask questions at a series of upcoming information sessions.  Please register at least 24 hours in advance of each session.

2018-2019 Grantees

Next Steps for Boston Dance is pleased to present the following grantees for 2018-2019.

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.


Meet the 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.