The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts is excited to announce the four artists/collectives commissioned to create new works


Four choreographers/dance collectives selected to present work at next year’s festival

Minneapolis, June 8, 2016 – The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts is excited to announce the four artists/collectives commissioned to create new works as part of the Momentum: New Dance Works Festival in 2017. This year marks the 12th Momentum festival, which offers an exciting look into the next generation of promising choreographers in Minnesota. The awardees are:

//CATHEDRAL\\ (Dolo McComb, Kimberly Lesik, and Scott Stafford)
Deja Stowers, BLAQ
Darrius Strong, STRONGmovement
Fire Drill (Emily Gastineau and Billy Mullaney)

Artists were selected by a panel comprised of Momentum partners: Michèle Steinwald (Program Director and Producer, Momentum), Philip Bither (Performing Arts Senior Curator, Walker Art Center), Barbara Bryan (Executive Director of Movement Research, NYC), Damon Runnals (Executive Director, Southern Theater), Lynn Von Eschen (Executive Director, The Cowles Center), and 2017 ad hoc panelist, choreographer Pramila Vasudevan (2013 Momentum artist).

“Each of the four awarded artistic projects is considering the politics of the body in movement as the starting place for their 2017 Momentum commissioned performances. Individually, they are committed to deep investigations on what it means to be human in our society. This common goal takes on incredibly distinct aesthetics and richly varied approaches dependent on their unique perspectives,” says Michèle Steinwald, Momentum program director and Community Engagement consultant for The Cowles Center.

Each artist will perform a new half-evening length work (30-40 minutes) over three nights in July, 2017. The series is presented by the Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts, in partnership with the Walker Art Center and the Southern Theater with support from the Jerome Foundation.

About The Selected Artists

//CATHEDRAL\\ is the collective creative endeavor of Dolo McComb, Kimberly Lesik, and Scott Stafford. As a collective, they seek to create transcendent dance-based experiences--merging the contemporary, antique, and indigenous facets of the Self. They first united in 2014 under McComb’s direction as part of the Red Eye Theater's Works-in-Progress Series. Since then they have performed together in the Walker Art Center's Choreographers’ Evening 2015, a self-produced performance-party evening, and will present an evening-length event at the Red Eye Theater New Works Festival this month.

Deja Stowers is a Black artist who uses dance, poetry and theater to explore the many bridges to and from Black America and Africa. She has studied dance at Howard University and with master dancers from Senegal and Guinea. She is also a graduate of Penumbra Theatre’s Summer institute program where she has honed the skill of art for social change. She continuously explores body image, language, culture, and modes of oppression. Her most recent work includes BLAQgospel where she debuted her newfound dance company BLAQ. BLAQ consists of seven Black women who are unapologetically themselves. BLAQ thrives off four main pillars: Dance, Writing, Discussion, and ASL (American Sign Language). BLAQ’s mission is to strive for freedom and aspire to embody the true reflections of themselves and their vast communities. 

Darrius Strong is a Twin Cities based dancer, choreographer, teacher whose creative work has been chosen for the Walker Art Center’s Choreographers’ Evening, Rhythmically Speaking, The American College Dance Festival, The University of MN Dance Theater, and was featured in the New Griots Festival at the Phoenix Theater, Minneapolis. Strong has created works for Threads Dance Project, St Olaf College, St. Paul Conservatory performing Arts, Southwest High school and a shared evening of work titled, “Ipseity.” Strong graduated from the U of MN, Twin Cities with a BFA in Dance in 2015. He has performed in works by Uri Sands, Carl Flink, Paula Mann, Penny Freeh, Kenna Cottman, Larry Keigwin, Joanna Rosenthal, Gregory Dolbashian, Maurya Kerr and the Martha Graham dance company. Strong is currently a member of West African Dance group VoC (Voice of Culture) and contemporary dance company Black Label Movement. Strong performed works by legendary jazz choreographers Clarence Teeters and David Voss in the 2015 production "Lost Voices in Jazz." He has taught and creating work on students at South West High school in 2015 for their student concert. He is on faculty at St. Paul Conservatory Performing High School, TU Dance Center, and Eleve Performing Arts Center, where he focuses on teaching young dancers how to connect their identity to movement.  Strong set his own work on TU students for their spring concert in addition to setting work on Alternative Motion Dance Project and Flying Foot Forum. He is interested in working with movers of all experience levels in hopes of developing a broader supportive community, creating his own dance company, STRONGmovement. 

Fire Drill is the collaboration of Emily Gastineau and Billy Mullaney. Based in Minneapolis, they create contemporary performance works that intervene in the poetics and politics of spectatorship. They conduct pseudo-empirical investigations into the nature of attention and accelerate the effects of contemporary capitalism on the body. Fire Drill’s work has been presented at the Walker Art Center, Red Eye Theater, Bryant-Lake Bowl, the Ritz Theater, Skewed Visions, and the White Page in Minneapolis, and along the Central Corridor in Saint Paul. Their work has been curated in New York City, San Francisco, Portland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Chicago, and they have hosted artists from many of those cities in Minnesota as part of an artist-driven touring network for contemporary performance.

About Momentum

Momentum was launched in 2001 as a partnership between The Walker Art Center, the Southern Theater, and the now defunct Dance Today (formerly Minnesota Dance Alliance) to commission and present new works from promising and innovative Minnesota dance-makers. The Jerome Foundation has generously supported this series from its inception. With the Foundation’s support, the series has become one of the most important programs for emerging dance artists in Minnesota.

Since 2001, Momentum has enabled the creation and presentation of new work by artistically and culturally diverse emerging artists that have continued to make significant contributions to the local and national arts scene, including Mathew Janczewski (2001), Aparna Ramaswamy (2004), Jason Noer (2004), Morgan Thorson (2005), BodyCartography Project (2006), Karen Sherman (2006), Maia Maiden/Ellena Schoop (2008), SuperGroup (2013), and Nic Lincoln (2015), among others. The original impetus for creating Momentum continues to drive the series today. The Twin Cities remain a home for a generation of emerging dance and dance-theater creators. These artists have honed their choreographic skills and made Minnesota a national hub for contemporary dance.

About The Cowles Center

The Cowles Center for Dance & The Performing Arts is the Twin Cities’ flagship for dance in Minnesota. Centrally located in downtown Minneapolis, The Cowles Center includes the refurbished 500-seat Goodale Theater; the former Hennepin Center for the Arts, home to 20 leading dance and performing arts organizations; the state-of-the-art Target Education Studio, housing The Cowles Center’s innovative distance learning program; the Illusion Theater; the James Sewell TEK Box; and the U.S. Bank Atrium. The Cowles Center is a catalyst for the creation, presentation, education, enjoyment and celebration of dance and the performing arts in the Twin Cities.

Momentum: New Dance Works Festival
Week 1: July 13 – 15, 2017

Fire Drill and Deja Stowers, BLAQ

Week 2: July 20 - 22, 2017

//CATHEDRAL\\ and Darrius Strong, STRONGmovement

Southern Theater
1420 South Washington Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55454