The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) has just announced the COLLECTIVE Cohort for the 2021 COHI/MOVE program. The twenty-five companies that make up the cohort will receive $41,000 over the next three years continuing the support from the IABD that it has provided for the past 30 years. COHI/MOVE is supported in part by gifts from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

The acronyms COHI/MOVE stand for The Comprehensive Organizational Health Initiative/Managing Organizational Vitality and Endurance. They are in partnership with NFF, a Nonprofit Finance Fund and designed “to improve the structural and financial health of dance companies.” COHI/MOVE prioritize “peer learning and evaluation that delivers methodology and resources to strengthen the financial and organizational health of the IABD Membership,” while NFF provides the analytic basis, requisite data, training, and planning that addresses “the financial capacity and capitalization needs for long-term stability of these critical dance organizations.” Together NFF and IABD will provide financial coaching, feedback and guidance to these dance companies in order that they utilize what they have learned over the course of the four-year period.

Atlanta Dance Connection - Photo by Scott Robbins, Geek With A Lens

Atlanta Dance Connection – Photo by Scott Robbins, Geek With A Lens

“IABD remains committed to supporting the organizational and financial health of these important and critical dance companies,” said Denise Saunders Thompson, president and CEO of IABD. “The 25 companies comprising THE COLLECTIVE cohort truly represent the depth and breadth of the Black Dance sector, and the loss of any of these companies would be devastating to the dance community. This cohort will continue to build upon the capacity building and capital deployment methodologies utilized since 2018, with the intent of creating more adaptable organizations that carry on vibrant artistic programming. We are excited to nurture and witness the growth of these companies, especially during these challenging times.”

According to the IABD, these dance organizations were chosen to participate based on certain central factors. Those factors included: commitment to collaborative participation and engagement with IABD, NFF, program consultants, and cohort companies, the depth of community relationships, demand for local based programming greater than the organization’s ability to provide, engagement and demonstrated support of local artists and the local arts community, demonstrated loss for the community if this organization no longer existed.

The twenty-five dance organization selected are based throughout the country; three from the state of California. Those companies include: A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham | New York, NY; Atlanta Dance Connection | Atlanta, GA; Ayodele Drum and Dance | Chicago, IL; Ballethnic Dance Company | Atlanta, GA; Dance Iquail! | Philadelphia, PA; Danse4Nia/ Phoenix Danse4Nia | Philadelphia, PA; Diamano Coura West African Dance Company | Oakland, CA; Dimensions Dance Theater | Oakland, CA; Eleone Dance Theatre | Philadelphia, PA; Forces of Nature Dance Theatre | New York, NY; Garth Fagan Dance | Rochester, NY; Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet | Brooklyn, NY; Joel Hall Dancers and Center | Chicago, IL; MODArts Dance Collective | New York, NY; Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago | Chicago, IL; NAJWA Dance Corps | Chicago, IL; Red Clay Dance Company | Chicago, IL; Robert Moses’ KIN | San Francisco, CA; SOLE Defined | Washington, DC; South Chicago Dance Theatre | Chicago, IL; Spectrum Dance Theater | Seattle, WA; Threads Dance Project | Minneapolis, MN; TU Dance | St. Paul, MN; Urban Bush Women | Brooklyn, NY, and Wideman Davis Dance | Columbia, SC.

Robert Moses is an alumni of California State University, Long Beach where he received a BA in Dance. He founded Robert Moses’ KIN in 1995 in San Francisco and in addition to the high praised works Moses has choreographed for his company, he has set works on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, San Francisco Opera (La Forza del Destino, 2005), Philadanco, Cincinnati Ballet, Eco Arts, Transitions Dance Company of the Laban Center in London, African Cultural Exchange (UK), Bare Bones (UK), Oakland Ballet, Moving People Dance, and Robert Henry Johnson Dance Company, among others. Prior to creating his own company, Moses performed with Twyla Tharp Dance, ODC/San Francisco, Long Beach Ballet, Walt Disney World Productions, and Gloria Newman Dance.

Robert Moses' KIN - Crystaldawn Bell - Photo by RJ Muna

Robert Moses’ KIN – Crystaldawn Bell – Photo by RJ Muna

Since founding Robert Moses’ Kin, Moses has collaborated with a number of prominent dancers, musicians, composers, sculptors, authors, poets, and designers, as wells as commissioned works from leading choreographers including Terence Marling, Latanya Tigner, Julia Adam, Alonzo King, Sara Shelton Mann, Margaret Jenkins, KT Nelson and Robert Henry Johnson. The company has toured both nationally and internationally. In addition to several IZZIE Awards, Robert Moses and the company have also been awarded a Bay Guardian Outstanding Local Discovery Award in Dance (Goldie) and a San Francisco Weekly Black Box Award for Choreography.

Dimensions Dance Theater - Photo by Edward Miller Photography

Dimensions Dance Theater – Photo by Edward Miller Photography

Based in Oakland, California, Dimensions Dance Theater (DDT) is led by Artistic Director and co-founder Deborah Vaughan. The company is widely known for both its traditional and contemporary choreography which is drawn from African, Jazz, and Modern dance forms, and for its collaborations with composers, musicians, and singers such as Hugh Masekela, the Edwin Hawkins Singers (gospel), Street Sounds (a capella spirituals and blues), Cab Calloway (jazz), Chanticleer (a capella spirituals), Omar Sosa (Cuban jazz pianist), and Anthony Brown and Fifth Stream Music .  DDT has toured both nationally and internationally including Nigeria, Jordan, Germany, Zimbabwe, and Cuba.

Diamano Coura West African Dance Company - Photo courtesy of the company

Diamano Coura West African Dance Company – Photo courtesy of the company

Also based in Oakland, California, Diamano Coura West African Dance Company was founded in 1975 under Director Dr. Zak Diouf and Artistic Director Naomi Washington. The company incorporates West African music, dance, theater, and culture. The company has toured nationally and internationally including Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Mali. in 1990-91, Diamano Coura West African Dance Company toured the Netherlands and Belgium, collaborated with San Francisco Ballet’s Val Carniporili on Lambarena, a collaboration of West African dance and European style ballet to the music of Johan Bach and traditional music of Gabon. The company transmits its vision via ongoing workshops, performances, youth program, touring, lecture demonstrations, community outreach, and creative partnerships with other renowned artists and companies.

Congratulations to all twenty-five companies!

To learn more about the International Association of Blacks in Dance, click HERE.

To learn more about The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, click HERE.

To learn more about the Nonprofit Finance Fund, click HERE.

Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: Dance Iquail – Photo by Scott Robbins, Geek With A Lens