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SOPAC Partners with NJ Arts Council for Moving into the Future: New Jersey Choreographers' Festival

originally published: 03/20/2024

SOPAC Partners with NJ Arts Council for Moving into the Future: New Jersey Choreographers

Photo Credit: Steve Vaccariello, from his exhibition Just Dance in the Herb + Milly Iris Gallery.

(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is thrilled to partner with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to present Moving into the Future: New Jersey Choreographers' Festival celebrating the dynamic and diverse artistic visions of 14 of the 2023 Arts Council's Individual Choreography Fellows.  This festival will take place April 2-4, 2024 on SOPAC’s Mainstage.

The 2023 Arts Council Individual Choreography Fellows featured in this festival include: Eun Hee Ahn of Korean Traditional Dance of Choomnoori, Heidi Cruz-Austin of DanceSpora, morgaine ann de leonardis, Loretta Fois, Cleo Mack, Gomathi Manoj, Kevin McEwan, Sameena Mitta of MeenMoves, Samuel Pott of Nimbus Dance Works, Ramya Ramnarayan Tirumalai, Ariel Grossman of Ariel Rivka Dance, Charly of mignolo dance, Amber Sloan, and Estrell x Supernova. SOPAC’s 2023 Paul Bartick Emerging Artist Award winner, high school senior Simone McCrear, will also perform.

Performances take place on Tuesday, April 2 at 6:00pm; Wednesday, April 3 at 6:00pm; and Thursday, April 4 at 6:00pm, with five performers on each evening.  Tickets start at $20 and are available for purchase online. South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is located at One SOPAC Way in South Orange, New Jersey.

Moving Into the Future: New Jersey Choreographers’ Festival is a co-sponsored project of SOPAC and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

These award-winning choreographers are talented artists whose work highlights the diversity of human experiences and the simultaneous grace and athleticism of the human body.

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“We are excited to celebrate this impressive group of 2023 Choreography Fellows at SOPAC,” said Allison Tratner, Executive Director at the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. “It is a longstanding priority of the Council’s to not only support New Jersey artists, but to help ensure their work is experienced by communities and audiences across the state.”

Choreographers in this showcase will work in dance styles that include the traditional Indian styles of Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam, Kuchipudi, and Kalaimamani; Korean Traditional Dance; Modern; Lyrical; and others.

“SOPAC is proud to be selected by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to host its choreography showcase. The 14 Individual Choreography Fellows presenting their work at SOPAC represent the impressive creativity, breadth, and diversity of New Jersey’s choreographers,” commented SOPAC Board Chair Douglas Newman.

The New Jersey State Council on the Arts’ Individual Artist Fellowship program awards choreographers every two years. Choreographers must submit samples of their work to an independent peer panel, who selects fellows based solely on artistic quality.  Recent fellowship winners have received awards between $12,000 – $32,000 to be used towards furthering their artistic goals.  To learn more about the Arts Council’s Individual Artist Fellowship program, conducted in partnership with Mid Atlantic Arts, please click here.

The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, created in 1966, is a division of the New Jersey Department of State and a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Council was established to encourage and foster public interest in the arts; enlarge public and private resources devoted to the arts; promote freedom of expression in the arts; and facilitate the inclusion of art in every public building in New Jersey. The Council believes the arts are central to every element we value most in a modern society including: human understanding; cultural and civic pride; strong communities; excellent schools; lifelong learning; creative expression; and economic opportunity.

The South Orange Performing Arts Center offers audiences exhilarating and diverse arts entertainment in its intimate venue, serving as the cultural heartbeat of the greater South Orange/Maplewood region and contributing to the economic and social vibrancy of its highly diverse community.

SOPAC is an accessible cultural destination that presents world-class artists in an intimate and welcoming environment. The Jennifer & Tony Leitner Performance Hall is a 439-seat mainstage theatre with superb acoustics, sight lines and seating. Audiences remark that performances in this space are like having their favorite artists right in their own living room. Artists acknowledge that the atmosphere encourages conversations with audiences. The Loft at SOPAC is a 2,185 square-foot multi-purpose space used for performances, rehearsals, classes and special events.

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The unique architecture of SOPAC’s building, which includes a stunning 3-story glass-enclosed atrium, is also home to the Herb + Milly Iris Gallery. Beyond the building, SOPAC co-produces local events such as South Orange Summer Nights and serves students and schools through its arts education programs.

SOPAC is invested in arts education. SOPAC serves students and schools in our region through a School Performance Series, performing Arts Residencies and annual juried art exhibits entitled INSPIRED MINDS: Young Artist Exhibition and INSPIRING MINDS. SOPAC also collaborates with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts each year to host the Region 5 Poetry Out Loud competitions. The Seton Hall University Arts Council presents a diverse range of events at SOPAC with seasoned professionals, students and faculty.

Nearly ten years in the making, SOPAC first opened its doors in 2006. South Orange Village Trustees, in partnership with Seton Hall University, envisioned SOPAC as the center of an ambitious redevelopment plan. Through visionary leadership and an unwavering commitment, SOPAC has become a cultural centerpiece for the region, an economic driver for the community, and a catalyst for artistic opportunity. 



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