Three Leeway dance grantees receive PennPAT funding

Three former Leeway grantees have received funding from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation during the 2011-2012 fiscal year on behalf of Philadelphia Performing Arts on Tour. Kùlú Mèlé African Dance Ensemble directed by Dorothy Gordon Wilkie (LTA ’07), Leah Stein Dance Company directed by Leah Stein (WOO ’02, ’99), and Pasión y Arte directed by Elba Hevia y Vaca (ACG ’08, WOO ’04),have received a combined total amount of approximately $10,000 to support tours of their dance performances. The three are among 43 total PennPAT projects funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF).

About Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation

MAAF develops partnerships and programs that reinforce artists’ capacity to create and present work, advance access to and participation in the arts, and promote a more sustainable arts ecology. The Foundation was created in 1979 and is a private non-profit organization that is closely allied with the region’s state arts councils and the National Endowment for the Arts.

PennPAT, a MAAF initiative, increases opportunities for a pre-selected roster of artists in dance, music and theater to obtain successful touring engagements. More than 100 Pennsylvania-based professional performing artists and groups are on the 2012 Roster. All have been through a rigorous panel review process considering both artistic merit and touring readiness.

About Kulu Mele African Dance Ensemble

Founded in 1969 by master drummer Baba Robert Crowder, Kùlú Mèlé presents and preserves African dance traditions rooted in the cultures of the African diaspora. Led by Artistic Director Dorothy Wilkie for more than 20 years, its repertoire draws upon the music and movement forms of Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Brazil, Haiti, Cuba and the Senegambia region, as well as African-American vernacular traditions. For many in the audience, a Kùlú Mèlé performance strengthens the sense of cultural identity; for others, it offers a look at the rich traditions and heritage of Africa.

Kùlú Mèlé performs West African-based original and traditional communal dances that celebrate life passages, such as birth and marriage, and everyday scenes such as children at play. While all dances are authentically costumed and choreographed, the company infuses traditional dance with contemporary flair. Complementary activities include in-school performances and residencies, workshops, and lecture/demonstrations with audience participation.

About Leah Stein Dance Company

LSDC creates innovative, evocative and resonant works for the stage and other environments that leave a lasting impression on audiences. Known for its signature site-specific projects, LSDC’s dances entice audiences to look again, to see more deeply and to make connections with the environment. The company is a dynamic and diverse group of dancers whose lush and powerful dancing expresses a clear individuality as well as a cohesive connection as an ensemble. Dance Magazine wrote “Like good Haiku, her work allows the audience to ponder… Stein ranks among the best of Philadelphia choreographers.”

Touring programs include Battle Hymns and creative residencies to develop site-specific work. Complementary activities include workshops and master classes in the site-specific process, choreographic process, repertoire, improvisation and technique.

About Pasion y Arte

Deeply rooted in the flamenco tradition and with a stellar corps of dancers, Pasión y Arte has achieved a reputation for staging ground-breaking contemporary dances. Founded in 2000 under the artistic direction of Elba Hevia y Vaca, Pasión y Arte is an all-female company that creates and performs new works of contemporary feminist flamenco dance. Noted for highly innovative choreography and precise footwork, the company “personifies modernity,” wrote Dance Magazine, and constantly pushes the boundaries of artistic genres.

Repertoire includes El Duelo (The Wake); Poder de Una Mujer (Strength of a Woman); El Cuerpo Recuerda (The Body Remembers), featuring six female dancers; and La Lunda de Par en Par (The Moon Wide Open), which explores the female psyche through the dance experience. Complementary activities include lecture/ demonstrations, workshops and master classes in flamenco, traditional Spanish sevillanas and flamenco guitar or toque.

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