July 25, 2020 was scheduled to be the 17th annual performance of the National Choreographers Initiative (NCI), founded by Artistic Director Molly Lynch who is also the Chair of the Dance Department at University of California, Irvine (UCI). NCI is a three-week workshop which takes place in the UCI dance studios and culminates with a one night only performance at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. Due to the COVID-19 Lynch and the NCI Advisory Committee made the difficult but correct decision to postpone the workshop and performance until next year, 2021.

When creating NCI, Lynch drew upon her years of experience creating, producing, and presenting dance, and by tapping into the wealth of professional connections that she formed during the time she was Artistic Director of Ballet Pacifica (1988 to 2003).  You can find more about Lynch and NCI by reading my interview with Lynch last year.

In an email to me, Lynch wrote that she, the Advisory Committee, and the participating venue felt that postponing the NCI project and performance to next summer was “the best course of action to protect the health of our dancers, choreographers, and audience members”. The Irvine Barclay Theatre had already cancelled all performance through the end of August 2020 and the choreographers and dancers who take part in the three-week workshop reside in the UCI Irvine dormitories and that campus is closed.

National Choreographers Initiative 2019 - Photo courtesy of NCI

National Choreographers Initiative 2019 – Photo courtesy of NCI

In her usual style, Lynch has already announced the four “stellar” choreographer for NCI 2021. They are Sean Camon (Texas), Mari Meade (New York), Kate Skarpetowska (New York/Poland) and Eva Stone (Seattle). All for artists were scheduled to take part in NCI this summer and have agreed to attend in 2021. “We are thrilled and look forward to working with them next summer!” Lynch wrote.

Althrough NCI will not be hosting the dancers and choreographers this summer, they will be sharing highlights from the past 16 years of the NCI. Keep an eye out for their newsletters (sign up here), YouTube videos, Instagram and Facebook post over the next couple of months (especially in July).

Here is some news on choreographers who participated in past summers at the NCI.

Garrett Smith - Photo courtesy of NCI

Garrett Smith – Photo courtesy of NCI

Garrett Smith (NCI 2014 Choreographer)

Garrett Smith had the world premiere of his new work, “Complete”, danced by Les Grands Ballets (Montreal) February 19-23 to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. From the GB website: “Drawing inspiration from the differences and singularity of each of us, Smith creates a piece celebrating the power that can result from acceptance of our individuality and the excitement stemming from the discovery of our uniqueness – an ode to the freedom regained when our masks come off.”  Watch Garrett’s behind the scenes interview about this piece HERE.

Amy Seiwert - Photo courtesy of NCI

Amy Seiwert – Photo courtesy of NCI

Amy Seiwert (NCI 2008 Choreographer)

Thanks to the research from Amy Seiwert, and steps taken by other dance organizations including Boston Ballet, New York City Ballet, the Dance Data Project, more opportunities and programs have been created to encourage gender parity in the choreographic sphere. Read full article HERE.




To learn more about the National Choreographers Initiative, click HERE.

2016 Interview with Molly Lynch, NCI Artistic Director

Written by Jeff Slayton for LADC, May 19, 2020.

Featured image: National Choreographers Initiative (NCI). Photo courtesy of NCI.