2021 Western New York
Choreographers’ Initiative

Grant Applications Now Available
Deadline: Oct. 28, 2020 – 5pm EDT

The WNY Choreographers’ Initiative (WNYCI) is a program of the NYS DanceForce, in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). The WNYCI was designed to help WNY resident choreographers, in all genres, develop their choreographic skills by providing them with appropriate resources that are generally unavailable or unaffordable. These resources include a $2,500 stipend, a minimum of 24 hours of creative time with professional dancers of their choosing, and the guidance of a professional mentor, also of their choosing.

Who We Are Looking For

The goal of the WNYCI is to develop choreographic talent in the region. Applicants must show evidence of commitment to producing original choreography, in any dance genre.

Applicants will be evaluated on:

  • artistic excellence
  • project excellence
  • potential impact of this opportunity on the artist’s development

Preference is given to those applicants who:

  • have produced one full evening of work and three or more shared bills within the past five years
  • demonstrate a commitment to developing their artistic profile within their WNY community
  • select a mentor who is a New York State resident


  • Restricted to choreographers who reside in the 17 westernmost counties of NY (see Residency Requirements below)
  • Current NYS DanceForce members are not eligible to apply as choreographers; they can participate as mentors
  • Former WNYCI grant recipients are not eligible to apply for two years subsequent to their award year


  • Application Deadline: Wed Oct 28, 2020 – 5 pm EDT
  • Awardees Announced: week of Dec 21, 2020
  • Project period: Apr 15, 2021 -Dec 31, 2021

Residency Requirements

This program is open to current residents of New York’s 17 westernmost counties: Chautauqua, Niagara, Erie, Cattaraugus, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Allegany, Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, Yates, Steuben, Chemung, Schuyler, Seneca (see map). Applicants must have resided in one of these counties for a minimum of two years, and not be a full-time student at the time the application is submitted.

Proof of residency for the applicant is required in the form of two different, current documents from the list below. All documentation must contain the individual’s name and address.

  • Telephone Bill
  • Credit card and/or bank statement (name and address page only; financial and account information should be blocked out)
  • NYS or Federal Tax form (first page only; social security and financial information should be blocked out)
  • Current lease or mortgage agreement listing the artist’s name and showing a NYS address
  • NY State Driver’s license or NY State ID card
  • Voter’s Registration Card

All project participants (except for the mentor) must be New York State residents.

What Is Provided

  • Choreographer stipend – $2,500
  • Mentor stipend – $1,500
  • Up to $6,000 in support for dancers’ fees, studio rental, documentation & travel expenses

Specific budget details and expenditure procedures will be explained after the choreographers are chosen.

What Is Expected

  • The basic model for the project is 24 hours of an artist-driven choreographic lab. The lab/rehearsal plan is designed by the Choreographer with support from the WNYCI Coordinator. The Choreographer’s sessions with the dancers and with the mentor may be in-person, virtual, and/or a hybrid, contingent on the status of Covid-19 at the time of the project. The final plan needs to conform to budget restrictions and is subject to approval by the WNYCI Coordinator.
  • The choreographer is expected to take full advantage of this process-oriented rehearsal time to dig deeper or move in new directions. A performance is not required.
  • Each choreographer will select and engage the services of a mentor for a minimum of 4 consultations/rehearsal visits. The mentor should have a well-documented track record and reputation. A signed letter of intent from the mentor with proposed dates is required. Candidates are strongly urged to consult with the WNYCI Coordinator regarding choice of mentor before they begin their application.
  • Choreographers may select dancers from anywhere in New York State for the residency. Letters of agreement with dancers do not have to be submitted with the application.


  • Deadline: Oct 28 2020, 5pm EDT
    Click Here for Online Application Form
    Proof of residency (2), resumes (2) and Mentor’s LOI are required attachments. They are described on the application form.

    For More Information/Questions:
    WNYCI Coordinator Lois Welk