The Center Sees 45 Percent Increase in Applications from Previous Year in its Largest Application Round to Date

The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University (CBA), an international research institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences, today announced the 12 fellows for the 2020-2021 academic year. These distinguished individuals represent a wide range of disciplines and were selected among CBA’s largest-ever applicant pool.

The 2020-21 cohort includes: art historian Meredith Martin; dance artists Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener; musicologist Martin Scherzinger; composer and writer Andy Teirstein; composer and sound artist Aiyana Braun; choreographers Tommie-Waheed Evans, Sarah Foster-Sproull, and Aguibou Bougobali Sanou; filmmaker Alex Reuben; and music ensemble Kathryn Lockwood and Yousif Sheronick. These fellows will explore themes as wide-ranging as community and belonging to the theory of quantum entanglement. (See full list of bios and project descriptions below.)

Entering its seventh year, the CBA Fellowship Program invites scholars and artists to The Center to develop self-directed projects that expand the way we think about ballet’s history, practice, and performance. Fellows come from a multitude of disciplines and bring a breadth of experience to the residency. They are not required to be experts in ballet. The program encourages fellows to engage with people and ideas beyond their core disciplines and to take risks in their work without the pressure of a finished product.

Previous fellows have included art historian Claire Bishop, writer Alma Guillermoprieto, critic Marina Harss, harpist Bridget Kibbey, choreographer Lauren Lovette, designer Jean-Marc Puissant, historian Janice Ross, choreographer Pam Tanowitz, singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, and filmmaker Frederick Wiseman.

Note: Should Fellows be required to work remotely, projects and expected outputs may change.

Aiyana Braun
Interdisciplinary Source Through Collaboration for Composers and Choreographers

Aiyana Braun. Photo by Jiacheng Xiong.

Aiyana Braun is a composer and sound artist who has been commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Berkeley Symphony, members of the New York City Ballet and Minnesota Opera Orchestra, and Jon Deak and Eric Bartlett of the New York Philharmonic, among others. Braun is the recipient of honors and awards from the BMI Foundation, American Composers Forum, the Berkeley Symphony, and more. She comes from a family of dancers (her father studied with Martha Graham, Matt Maddox, Luigi, and Jack Cole) and frequently collaborates with choreographers, dancers, and visual artists. Braun was a Teaching Artist in the New York Philharmonic’s “Bridge” Composers Program and holds a B.M. from the Curtis Institute of Music.

At CBA, Braun will create an interdisciplinary source for composers and choreographers which addresses the specific challenges of collaborations of this nature. She will document the process of creating several new works with musicians, choreographers, and dancers in the form of a video series/blog, which will explore both specific and general obstacles facing collaboration across the arts.

Tommie-Waheed Evans

Tommie-Waheed Evans is a recipient of the 2019 Princess Grace Honoria Award in Choreography. He has created works for BalletX, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, PHILADANCO, Verb Ballets, Ballet Memphis, The University of the Arts, and Boston Conservatory at Berklee, among others. In 2006, Evans founded his Philadelphia-based company, waheedworks. He has received various honors including BalletX 2017 Ballet Choreographic Fellowship, Joffrey Ballet Winning Works 2019, Ballet Memphis New American Dance Residency 2019, and was selected nationally as an emerging leader by Dance/USA.

HOME examines race and marginalization in the city of Philadelphia. His project explores the discomfort, abandonment, and strife of segregation and social injustice through the voices of African Americans and LGBTQ members in Philadelphia, one of the most diverse yet most segregated cities in the country.

Tommie-Waheed Evans. Photo by Marcus Branch.

Sarah Foster-Sproull
Knot / Unknot

Sarah Foster-Sproull. Photo by Dean Carruthers.

Sarah Foster-Sproull is a choreographer in residence at The Royal New Zealand Ballet. She is a Creative New Zealand Choreographic Fellow (2017 – 2019) and Senior Lecturer in Dance Studies at the University of Auckland Dance Studies program with a focus on choreography, creative practice and contemporary dance technique. Foster-Sproull is the Artistic Director of Auckland-based dance company Foster Group. She was the 2019 Director of Choreography at The World of Wearable Art. She is a graduate of the New Zealand School of Dance and holds a Master in Dance Studies from the University of Auckland Dance Studies program.

At CBA, Foster-Sproull will develop a pas de deux (Knot / Unknot) inspired by physics and theories of quantum entanglement. The project explores how ‘entanglement’ might be physically explored to develop a gender-neutral choreographic language within ballet pas de deux.

Kathryn Lockwood and Yousif Sheronick
Symbiosis - The Interwoven Connection Between Musician and Dancer

Kathryn Lockwood and Yousif Sheronick's music ensemble duoJalal explores a range of global music from Classical to Klezmer, Middle Eastern to Jazz. Lockwood is a classically-trained violist from Australia who manipulates the viola to sound like instruments such as the medieval rebec and the Shakuhachi (Japanese flute). Sheronick employs the sounds of instruments ranging from the Egyptian tambourine and ancient frame drums to the Peruvian cajon.

At CBA, Lockwood and Sheronick will work with two dancers from Pilobolus on a new work. Their goal is to create a musical score and choreography with the dancers, and to explore the possibility of improvisation during a performance.

Kathryn Lockwood and Yousif Sheronick. Photo by Jeremy Tressler.

Meredith Martin
Reviving the Ballet des Porcelaines

Meredith Martin. Photo by Joshua Kwassman.

Meredith Martin is associate professor of art history at New York University and the Institute of Fine Arts. A specialist in French art and architecture from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, she is the author of Dairy Queens: The Politics of Pastoral Architecture from Catherine de’ Medici to Marie-Antoinette (Harvard University Press, 2011), and most recently, with Gillian Weiss, The Sun King at Sea: Maritime Art and Galley Slavery in Louis XIV’s France (forthcoming from Getty Research Institute Publications). She is currently working on an exhibition on the 1720 Mississippi and South Sea bubbles with The New York Public Library, and a study of porcelain rooms from the seventeenth century to the present. Dr. Martin is a founding editor of Journal18.

At CBA, Dr. Martin plans to research, write about, and organize a restaging of the Ballet des Porcelaines. In its own time, the ballet exemplified a European fascination with Asia and an interchangeability between persons and things. Performed today, it will hopefully bring alive the magic and mystery of eighteenth-century porcelain for contemporary audiences, particularly when placed in dialogue with porcelain displays in museum settings.

Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener

Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener have created dances together since 2010. After working in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, they began developing adaptive systems for choreography in response to shifting environments. Their work incorporates technology and digital strategies from a perspective that questions the dominance of new media in performance.

At CBA, Mitchell and Riener will work with a shifting group of ballet and contemporary dancers on improvisational structures, algorithmic scores, and game-based ideas. They will document the work using analog tools, written descriptions, and digital technologies, generating an archive of materials and experiences that can be accessed and arranged in physical or digital space.

Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener. Photo by Michael Williams.

Alex Reuben
Trumpet Voluntary

Alex Reuben. Photo by Iso Attrill.

Alex Reuben has a background as a DJ and in art and design. Reuben made three choreo-geographic movies for cinema, each characterized by improvisation, sound, and social cognition. Routes (48’, Arts Council England, 2008) – a dance road-movie in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – was selected in the ‘Top 20 Movies of the Decade’ (Geoff Andrew, British Film Institute). His awards and commissions include Sadler’s Wells, BBC and British Council. His latest film, Gingerella (RockaFela) (66’, Wellcome/ACE, UK 2018) – filmed in the Amazon and Europe during the rise of Populism – is an improvised essay about improvisation.

Reuben’s CBA Fellowship project is based upon the short story Trumpet Voluntary by James Lasdun.  It will explore ideas around cognitive, choreographic poetics for a synchronized film about synchronization.

Aguibou Bougobali Sanou
Talking to my mum


Aguibou Bougobali Sanou is a dancer, choreographer, musician, and storyteller. In 2016, he was a semi-finalist on “Africa’s Got Talent.”  He has created work with support from the Institut Francais de Paris, Facets Choreographer residency in India, and the U.S. State Department Fulbright Scholarship. Born in Burkina Faso and raised in Burkina Faso and Mali, Sanou’s work is a mix of West African Mandingo traditional dances, Brazilian capoeira, and theater expressions drawn from his experiences with European stage directors. He designed an African dance curriculum at Naugatuck Valley Community College 2018-2019 and created a dance program at the civil prison of Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina Faso).

At CBA, Sanou will develop an artistic work that combines dance, live music and digital art. The work pays homage to Watta Dembele, Sanou’s mother. She said to her sons: “There is no job reserved for women and others for men. Everyone must and can do everything, so boys in the kitchen. Today we will all learn how to cook rice with djabadji sauce (vegetables) mandingue or saga-saga (sweet potato leaves).”

Aguibou Bougobali Sanou. Photo by Jacob Y'Israel Photography.

Martin Scherzinger
Toward a Global History of Music’s Choreographic Beat

Martin Scherzinger

Martin Scherzinger is a composer and associate professor of media studies at New York University. He works on sound, music, media, and politics of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Primary areas include the musical and choreographic traditions of Europe, Africa, and America as well as global biographies of sound and other ephemera circulating in geographically-remote regions. Scherzinger’s research includes the examination of links between political economy and digital sound technologies, copyright law in diverse sociotechnical environments, relations between aesthetics and censorship, sensory limits of mass-mediated music, mathematical geometries of musical time, histories of sound in philosophy, and the politics of biotechnification.

Scherzinger’s CBA Fellowship project considers the history of music’s choreographic beat in a global frame. The research shows how a Newtonian conception for time-reckoning influenced conceptions of rhythm and meter in music theory, composition, and dance. In a scholarly article and a ballet score, Scherzinger aims to contrast this conception of time with pre-colonial music and dance traditions in non-western, notably African societies.

Andy Teirstein
The Folk Influence on Ballet and Contemporary Dance

Andy Teirstein’s music is inspired by the folk roots of modern culture. A student of Henry Brant, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim, Teirstein has received awards from Meet the Composer, The NEA, NYFA, and ASCAP. His work has been heard at Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Joyce Theater, Dance Theater Workshop, Lincoln Center, and internationally. Teirstein’s background includes acting, clown work, and performance art, and has led to collaborations with many choreographers, including Donald Byrd, Liz Lerman, and Stephen Petronio. Teirstein is an Arts Professor and Director of the New York University Global Institute for Advanced Study Working Group Translucent Borders, which explores the role of dance and music at cultural and geographic borders.

At CBA, Teirstein will look at the relationship between traditional folk influences and contemporary choreography. He will work on a written piece and on a new dance film with a score combining banjo and chamber ensemble, with sung text from Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories and choreography drawing on Appalachian clog dancing.


Andy Teirstein. Photo by Andy Teirstein.

About The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University
The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University (CBA) is an international research institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences. It exists to inspire new ideas and new dances, expanding the way we think about the art form’s history, practice, and performance in the 21st century.

The Center is made possible by founding and ongoing support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and New York University and additional support from The Charles H. Revson Foundation, The Doris & Stanley Tananbaum Foundation, Fishman Family Fund, an advised fund of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, and Ford Foundation. We also extend a special thanks to individual members of CBA’s Center Circle for their essential support.


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