Pictured: Renee Copeland, Photo: Tim Rummelhoff

McKnight Fellowships for Choreographers and the McKnight Fellowships for Dancers provide fellowship awards to individual mid-career choreographers and dancers who reside in Minnesota. The McKnight Fellowships for Choreographer and Dancers are designed to enrich and strengthen our community by acknowledging the accomplishments of individual choreographers and dancers and providing for their artistic growth.

The McKnight Foundation funds individual artist fellowships in 11 program areas. The Cowles Center For Dance & The Performing Arts is the administrative home for the McKnight Fellowships for Dancers and the McKnight Fellowships for Choreographers. Support for individual artists has been a cornerstone of The  McKnight Foundation’s Arts program since it began in 1981. The foundation recognizes that the arts cannot flourish or enhance community life without the ideas, energy, and drive of individual artists, and that artists cannot make these contributions without unfettered creative time.

Six Minnesota dance artists have been selected for 2019 McKnight Fellowships for Choreographers and Dancers


2019 McKnight Choreographer Fellows:

Paula Mann

Ashwini Ramaswamy

Deborah Jinza Thayer 


Choreographer Selection Panel:

Charles O. Anderson, Choreographer/Head of Dance UT Austin (Austin, TX)  

Yolanda Cesta Cursach, Independent Curator, Artistic Director of High Concept Labs (Chicago, IL)  

Sam Kim, Choreographer (New York, NY) 

Kathleen Spehar, Director, The O'Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University (St. Paul) 


2019 McKnight Dancer Fellows:

Erin Thompson

Joseph “MN Joe” Tran  

Elayna Waxse  


2019 Dancer Selection Panel:

Ronald K. Brown, Artistic Director, Evidence, A Dance Company (New York, NY)    

Kaleena Miller, Dancer, Choreographer and Artistic Director of Twin Cities Tap Festival (Minneapolis, MN) 

Victor Quijada, Choreographer, Artistic Director RUBBERBANDance Group (Montreal, Canada)  

Chitra Vairavan, Artist, Dancer/Choreographer (Minneapolis, MN) 


Guidelines for the 2020 McKnight Fellowships for Choreography and Dance will be available in Summer 2019 at www.mcknightdancechoreo.org.




The McKnight Fellowships for Choreographers and Dancers annually awards three $25,000 fellowships to Minnesota choreographers and three $25,000 fellowships to Minnesota dancers. The awards are unrestricted and can help an artist set aside periods of time for study, reflection, experimentation, and exploration; take advantage of an opportunity; or work on a new project.




The McKnight International Choreographer program invites one international choreographer each year to spend time in residence in Minnesota, collaborating with Minnesota dance artists and showcasing new work. International Choreographer residencies are offered by invitation only. Applications are not accepted. 

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National Residencies

 McKnight Choreographer Fellows may apply for a choreographic residency with one of our five national partners.

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Through the SOLO Commissioning Program each McKnight Dancer Fellow selects a choreographer to create a new solo work expressly for the fellow.

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