NYCI will award up to five fellowships of up to $15,000 per year to support an emerging choreographer working with a ballet company. It is an extension of NYCI's current sessions, which give young choreographers the opportunity to "experiment in privacy," as NYCI's co-founder and artistic director Peter Martins noted at a press conference at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's new headquarters.
This year's fellowships will be awarded to choreographers working with Carolina Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, and Washington Ballet.
Martins noted that the Institute was "never meant to be an arm of [New York] City Ballet," the company of which he is ballet master in chief. Dancers from the company and from its school, the School of American Ballet, work with NYCI's choreographers in its twice-yearly New York sessions. The new fellowships cover only choreographic expenses; the New York sessions include, in addition, collaborative information on music, conducting, lighting, and costumes, and choreographers have the opportunity to work with composers from the Juilliard School.
Robert Lipp, chair of the NYCI advisory council, announced that the trustees of the Irene Diamond Fund have given the organization a matching gift of $5.5 million, which, with the matched funds raised by NYCI, brings its endowment to $16 million and assures that operating expenses are now covered in perpetuity. The additional funds enabled NYCI to expand into its new fellowship program.
Diamond, with an initial donation of $5.5 million, founded the Institute with Martins in 2000. She died in 2003.
Because of NYCI's emphasis on allowing choreographers to working away from the public eye and without the pressure of a final performance, today's press conference was the first, and the Institute's first public event, in its five-year history. It included a screening of a short documentary film by Catherine Tatge about the work of the Institute. After the press conference, a discussion about choreography was held, featuring Martins along with Reid Anderson of Stuttgart Ballet, Monica Mason of the Royal Ballet, Kevin McKenzie of American Ballet Theatre, Mikko Nissinen of Boston Ballet, and Helgi Tomasson of San Francisco Ballet. Alexey Miroshnichenko, a choreographer who has participated twice in NYCI sessions and who was featured in Tatge's documentary, also took part.