Commissioning opportunity from EMPAC

Hélène Lesterlin, dance curator of EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has sent out a call for proposals for the 2008 DANCE MOViES Commission. Last year was the first year of this amazing and innovative program to commission 3-5 new videodance pieces by North or South American artists. I know of only one other commissioning program of this type in the Americas, and that is Bravo FACT! in Canada, which is only open to Canadian artists. EMPAC is filling a great need for the videodance community, and hopefully it will become a model for other funding organizations to emulate.


The competition is tough (last year only 4 proposals out of 163 were chosen), however the rewards are great including a cash grant, screening opportunities, and in late 2008 when their new building is complete artists may also receive valuable creative residency time using their state of the art facilities. The deadline for proposals is February 15, 2008. Guidelines and information are below:


Troy, NY–In 2007, its inaugural year, EMPAC’s DANCE MOViES Commission received more than 150 applications from dance-filmmakers in North and South America. As the first major commissioning program available to dance-film artists in the United States, the DANCE MOViES Commission represents an important opportunity for those working at the intersection of the moving body and the moving image. Selected artists receive awards ranging up to $50,000.

EMPAC (the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) is now accepting proposals for its 2008 commissions. The deadline for the proposals is February 15, 2008.

This year, with the opening of the EMPAC building in the fall of 2008, artists may apply to create their DANCE MOViES works in conjunction with the Artist-in-Residence program.  Works commissioned may take advantage of EMPAC’s spaces and technology, using infrastructure such as computer-controlled rigging or large-scale immersive studio environments.

Backed by the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts, the DANCE MOViES Commission supports works for the screen including film, video, installation and other audio-visual formats. The works may be narrative in nature or abstract; they may range in length (up to 20 minutes); they will certainly vary in style, technique and expressive intent.

The four commissioned projects in 2007 included a poetic film based on the autobiographical account of an U.S.-based African choreographer returning to dance in Zimbabwe; a work featuring American veterans of war; an Argentinean video interlacing pure movement, form and architecture; and a piece in which a contemporary Russian dancer is viewed in the aesthetic context of a post-Soviet surveillance society.

The DANCE MOViES Commissions may present movement of the body in direct or in allusive ways. They may take advantage of a variety of tools, such as computer processing, motion capture, simulation, animation, image processing and post-production technologies. Some may not portray “dance,” per se, at all. All will, however, reflect or refer to the power of movement unfurling in time.

The DANCE MOViES Commission is intended to support experimental works in which the onscreen images are crafted by, or in collaboration with, a choreographer or movement-based artist. The commission was not created to support documentaries, feature-length films or commercial films that feature dance.

DANCE MOViES Commission application process
The EMPAC DANCE MOViES Commission is a competitive open proposal process, in which eligible artists submit a project proposal.  The initial proposals are reviewed and a small number of artists are invited to submit a detailed proposal to an international panel. The panel assesses the quality and feasibility of the proposed project and submits its recommendations to EMPAC. The commissions are awarded by EMPAC after review.

Upon awarding of the commission, the artist or collaborative team has one year to complete the project, at which point the work is premiered at EMPAC, shown at dance film festivals around the world, and credited as an EMPAC DANCE MOViES Commission.

The deadline for the proposals is February 15, 2008.

For more information on EMPAC and the DANCE MOViES Commission, or to download the guidelines and application form, please visit the EMPAC website:

To download press ready images of EMPAC and a press kit:

EMPAC – the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center – is a place and a program where the arts challenge and alter our technology and technology challenges and alters the arts. Founded by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, EMPAC is an arts institution that draws strength from being part of a great research university. It operates nationally and internationally: attracting innovative artists, both renowned and emerging, from around the world; offering artists, researchers, and audiences opportunities that are available nowhere else under a single roof; providing unsurpassed facilities for creative exploration, and for research in fields such as visualization and movement capture; sending new artworks onto the global stage.

About Rensselaer
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is the nation’s oldest technological university. The school offers degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, management, and the humanities and social sciences. Institute programs serve undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals around the world. Rensselaer faculty are known for pre-eminence in research conducted in a wide range of research centers that are characterized by strong industry partnerships. The Institute is especially well known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace so that new discoveries and inventions benefit human life, protect the environment, and strengthen economic development.

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