2020 Western New York
Choreographers’ Initiative

Grant Applications Now Available
Deadline: Dec. 4, 2019 – 5pm EST

For More Information/Questions: WNYCI Coordinator Lois Welk – loisapril9@gmail.com

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

Who We Are Looking For

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

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 (preferred – not required)
  • demonstrate a commitment to developing their artistic profile within their WNY community, rather than relocating elsewhere, over the next five years

Applicants will be evaluated on:

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


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


  • Application Deadline: Dec 4, 2019 – 5pm EST
  • Awardees Announced: week of Jan 27, 2020
  • Planning sessions/project design with Program Coordinator:
    Feb 1-Mar 15, 2020
  • Project period: Apr 15, 2020 -Dec 31, 2020

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 WNY for a minimum of three years, and not be a student at the time the application is submitted.

Dancers and mentors must be New York State residents.

Proof of residency for the applicant is required in the form of two different, current documents. Details can be found on the application form (link at the bottom of this page).

What Is Provided

  • Choreographer stipend – $2,500
  • Mentor stipend – $1,500
  • Up to $7,000 in support for dancers’ fees, studio rental, & travel

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

What Is Expected

  • The model for the project is 24 hours of an artist-driven choreographic lab that can be structured as one, two or more work periods, at least 12 hours of which must be in the home community of the choreographer. The rehearsal plan is designed by the choreographer with support from the WNYCI Coordinator. The final plan needs to conform to budget restrictions and approved 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, rather than preparing a work for performance. A performance is not required.
  • Each choreographer will select and engage the services of a mentor for one planning meeting and two site visits. The mentor should have a well-documented track record and reputation within the New York State dance community. A signed letter of intent from the mentor with proposed dates is required. The mentor is subject to approval by the WNYCI Coordinator. Candidates are strongly urged to consult with the WNYCI Coordinator regarding choice of mentor at the beginning of their grant-writing process.
  • Choreographers will select dancers from anywhere in New York State for the residency. Letters of agreement with dancers do not have to be submitted until after the choreographers are selected.
  • The choreographer cannot be one of the dancers.


  • Download the application form here.

For More Information/Questions, contact WNYCI Coordinator Lois Welk: loisapril9@gmail.com