The mission of Philadelphia Dance Projects is to support contemporary dance through Projects that encourage artists and audiences to more fully participate and engage in the experience and pursuit of dance as an evolving form.
2013-14 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Theresa Westwood, Chair
Chris Deephouse, Treasurer
Joan Myers Brown, Emerita
THE HISTORY OF PDP
Philadelphia Dance Projects (PDP) was begun as a three year mentoring project (1993-95) under the aegis of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. In 1996 we transitioned out of that mentoring program with The Pillow and established our independence as a non-profit organization. PDP’s core program has been informed by our experience of what Projects were most effective and most needed in our community. Today, Philadelphia Dance Projects serves the regional dance and performance community. Through PDP presentations, a general audience of all ages can delve into the artist’s world, often seeing a range of contemporary styles.
In 2009 Philadelphia Dance Projects inaugurated a new dance presenting series featuring performances, workshops, and “informances” by independent dance artists and companies, Philadelphia Dance Projects Presents to showcase adventurous dance programming by pairing rising Philadelphia talent with visiting choreographers.
Our aims with Philadelphia Dance Projects Presents are to continue to build and sustain an audience for contemporary dance in Philadelphia and provide opportunities for audiences to experience new work from local artists along with their national and international peers. This series provides a much-needed presenting platform for independent dance artists and small companies.
Our accomplishments since 1996 include presenting scores of PDP Dance Classes/Workshops which have served artists and aspiring artists with practical professional development opportunities. Some of the most talented and respected guest artists of our time, from emerging artists to innovative pioneers from a variety of cultural expressions have led the classes and workshops including among many others: Ronald K. Brown, Chris Aiken, Min Tanaka, Bebe Miller, Dan Froot & David Dorfman, members of the Trisha Brown Dance Co., Deborah Hay, Cathy Weis, Jazz dancer octogenarian Norma Miller, Carmella Vassor Johnson, Miguel Gutierrez, and Ellen Fisher. (View Chronology)
PDP Studio Access Project offers low-cost rehearsal space at Philadanco Studios in West Philly for independent dance artists and small companies, weekdays only, Monday through Friday, 10AM- 4PM at $8/hr. To reserve time please contact PDP well in advance of time needed. 215.546.2552 or infophiladanceprojects [dot] org
PDP has participated in artist exchanges including the US Japan Choreographers Exchange ’05, where a local artist was selected to work with artists from New York and Kyoto and then perform with peers in all three cities, and the SCUBA, National Touring Network for Dance. SCUBA (www.scubadance.us) is a co-operative enterprise between Velocity Dance Center in Seattle, ODC Theater in San Francisco, The Southern Theater in Minneapolis, and Philadelphia Dance Projects. The goal of the consortium of sister cities is to support the growth and expansion of the country’s next generation of contemporary dance artists, with the intent of SCUBA to be an on-going project that fills the increasingly large gap between locally established and nationally recognized artists. The PDP SCUBA residency includes open classes, student outreach and performances This project is ongoing since 2006 and is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Since 2002 PDP has presented an annual dance film mini-festival Motion Pictures co-curated by Gretjen Clausing, Executive Director of PhillyCAM and the PDP Executive Director. This is a unique exciting series that often includes artist talks and/or panel discussions, performances, and workshops. For example, the panel on “Envisioning Dance on Film and Video” was led by critic and writer Elizabeth Zimmer in 2004. Pooh Kaye and Carmella Vassor Johnson have both given technique workshops in capturing dance on video. In 2007, with support from the NEA, PDP provided three workshop participants free sessions in editing at Scribe Video Center as a workshop follow-up. The upshot of this was that Anastasia Wilder made a documentary film of Leah Stein’s site specific work “Gate” at the historic Pennsylvania Penitentiary, and Gabrielle Revlock made a humorous short about the workshop itself which was screened in Motion Pictures ’08. PDP has provided commissioning support for dance films, “Jose Limon, A Life” by Ann Vachon and “HERE” by Niki & Jorge Cousineau. Motion Pictures is now part of PDP Presents.
Also since 2002, PDP has placed an educational project, a Guest Dance Artist Residency in a public high school each year. Schools that have participated include Olney High School, West, Martin Luther King, Jr. Promise Academy, and Girls’ High. The Project provides students the opportunity to study contemporary dance techniques with some of Philadelphia’s finest professional dancers and choreographers and to take field trips to see professional dance performances. For many young people it has been their first foray into dance, both through interaction with creative artists as well as attending a performance in a professional theater. In tandem with our educational efforts, PDP convenes a DanceTAG - begun in 2007. DanceTAG (Teaching Artists Group) is a collegial gathering of teaching artists for movement ideas, information, discussion, and networking. We invite artists at all stages of their teaching - rookies, veterans, people currently working or those looking for work, and especially artists in schools or community situations who consider teaching to be an integral part of their artistic work.
Other accomplishments have included commissioning a collaborative dance work by Rennie Harris and Grisha Coleman, producing a photography exhibit “Philadelphia Dance By Philadelphia Photographers” which was exhibited as part of the 2000 Feet Festival of World Dance (’99), presenting a full day forum celebrating the Millennium in 2000 on Technology and Dance, and the “Post Judson Journey” a full season (2001-02) highlighting the Post Modern legacy of the Judson Dance Theater of the 60’s with artists Yvonne Rainer, Lisa Kraus, Tere O’Connor, Douglas Dunn, John Jasperse, Vicki Shick, and Irene Dowd.
PDP has been catalytic to community actions. PDP Surveys have been a resource for various community initiatives. A 2006 survey was used by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts Program to develop their Resource Directory for Artists. PDP held a community planning session in 2000 with Archivist Mary Edsall to gather information that was used to construct a feasibility case statement for establishing a Philadelphia Dance Archive, and PDP co-sponsored community-wide meetings and forums which built towards creating a new dance advocacy organization, DanceUSA/Philadelphia. In 2007, the PDP Director organized and established DancePASS, discounted tickets to dance performances for dance professionals.
Dance artists are engaged in a “time sensitive” transitory art form that merits support and response in the present. PDP will continue to support contemporary dance through Projects that encourage artists and audiences to more fully participate and engage in the experience and pursuit of dance as an evolving form.
The programs highlighted here from PDP’s history illustrate a responsiveness to community and a dedication to consider the value of all dance forms, with an emphasis on contemporary exploration. Its programs have been developed in collaboration with its artist and presenter constituency. It serves artists, audiences, and students in various locales throughout the city. The projects greatly enhance the capacity of dancemaking, and the presence of dance in Philadelphia, thus fulfilling our mission.