The Akatonbo Fellowship is awarded to artists to create and perform original works in dance and music, with special attention given to collaboration across cultures.

2019 Recipient

Michelle Dorrance, Dorrance Dance
Michelle Dorrance is a New York City-based tap dancer, choreographer, director, and teacher, and is the founder and Artistic Director of Dorrance Dance. Most recently Michelle served as Vail Dance Festival’s 2017 Artist-In- Residence, curated Tireless: A Tap Dance Experience at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and collaborated with Nicholas Van Young on Works and Process at the Guggenheim Museum’s first site-specific commission for the Guggenheim Rotunda. Michelle’s choreography is performed throughout the world and has been featured at countless venues including a choreographic commission for The Martha Graham Dance Company. She is a 2018 Doris Duke Artist, 2018 Capezio Award Winner, 2017 Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow, 2016-17 New York City Center Choreography Fellow, 2016 United States Artists Award Recipient, 2015 MacArthur Fellow, 2014 Alpert Award winner, 2013 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award winner, 2012 Princess Grace Award winner, 2012 Field Dance Fund recipient, and 2011/2015 Bessie Award winner. The Omomuki grant funds Michelle’s original work Destination Moon, the world premier of which was performed at the 2019 Fire Island Dance Festival by Michelle, Dorrance Dance, and Tony Award nominee and former New York City Ballet principal dancer Robbie Fairchild.

2018 Recipient

Jeffrey Cirio, Cirio Collective
Cirio Collective, founded by American Ballet Theatre principal and choreographer Jeffrey Cirio and Boston Ballet Principal Lia Cirio, was created in the summer of 2015 to explore and develop new choreography, with a special focus on bringing dancers and other artists together to create and collaborate. They have performed at Vineyard Arts Project, Cape Dance Festival, Hudson Valley Dance Festival, Dance at Socrates, and the Joyce Theater Ballet Festival, among others. Jeffrey Cirio is the recipient of the Jadin Wong Award of the Asian American Arts Alliance; and Joffrey Academy’s 6th Annual Winning Works Choreographic Competition, which recognizes the talents of emerging choreographers of diverse ethnic backgrounds. He has been commissioned to choreograph works for Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and the Joyce Theater. The Omomuki grant funds in part Jeffrey Cirio’s original work Tornerai?, the world premier of which was performed at the 2018 Fire Island Dance Festival.

2017 Recipient

Alexandre Hammoudi & Manuel Vignoulle, Makers Dance Company

Makers Dance Company was founded in 2017 by American Ballet Theater (ABT) soloist Alexandre Hammoudi. It is currently comprised of members of ABT Corps de Ballet dancers from China, France, Japan, and Korea. Makers Dance Company is combining the beauty and bravado of ballet with modern ideas and movement. Its repertoire is inspired by historical tales, fictional stories, and non-fictional events. The Omomuki Foundation commissioned Makers Dance Company’s inaugural work Tatakai, which was choreographed by Manuel Vignoulle and premiered at the 2017 Fire Island Dance Festival in New York.

2016 Recipient

Fang-Yi Sheu & Artists

A native of Taiwan, Ms. Sheu is a former Principal Dancer for Martha Graham Dance Company. She has been praised by the New York Times as the finest present-day embodiment of Martha Graham’s technique and tradition. She has received numerous awards including the 2005 President’s Order of Brilliant Star (Taiwan), the 2007 National Award for the Arts (Taiwan), and Ballettanz Magazine’s 2008 Outstanding Female Dancer. She was the first Asian artist-in-residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. She is the founder of Fang-Yi Sheu & Artists, through which she expands her passion for performing arts and shares her experience with upcoming generations of performing artists. The Omomuki grant funded Ms. Sheu’s July 2016 Creation Week in Taipei, which brought together twelve dancers from Taiwan, China, Korean, and Mongolia and resulted in two night’s of performances in November 2016 at Beijing’s National Performing Arts Center.

2015 Recipient

Nao Nishihara
Mr. Nishihara is a sound designer, sculptor, and performer whose artwork and sound performances have been presented in Japan, South Korea, and Germany. Mr. Nishihara finished his undergraduate studies as a sound engineer. When he entered the M.F.A. program at Tokyo University of the Arts, he met Phil Niblock, a minimalist composer and multimedia musician, and the director of the avant-garde foundation Experimental Intermedia based in New York City. Since then, Mr. Nishihara has been integrating sound and sculptural objects. The Akatonbo fellowship subsidizes a grant from the Asian Cultural Council and will enable Mr. Nishihara to work with the 82-year-old Niblock to further explore sound and interdisciplinary media, and bring his experiences back to Japan.

What is Akatonbo?

It is a red dragonfly. It is also the name of a popular Japanese folk song, which recalls nostalgia for one’s home, family, and past. The Akatonbo emblem was graciously designed and donated to Omomuki by Kate Saliba and Deb Bastien. We thank Mr. Koichiro Wakai for the akatonbo concept, and for his guidance in developing this program.