From Jared Morrison, Director of Performing Arts
Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Individual Artist Fellowship in Dance, Music and Theater. This year’s winners are thematically linked as creators of works of performing art, as our newest Fellows were selected from the categories of Choreography, Composition and Playwriting. Here’s a little about our winners.
Rebecca Steinberg (Dance – Choreography) describes herself as having “a voracious curiosity and fascination with people.” Heavily influenced by her time at Marymount Manhattan College and her study with leading dance artists in Israel, her process begins with collaboration rooted in writing. “The dancers follow their own trains of thought in response to a question I pose about their memories, lived experiences, and/or relationship to a particular idea or concept,” she says. “When I begin to unfold these, I can uncover relationships between characters and relationships in space and time. It is this unfolding that allows the environment to become a living, fully engrossing entity.”
Christopher Farrell (Music – Composition) draws inspiration from his experience as a professional violist with both the Nashville Symphony and the Alias Chamber Ensemble. ”As a performer, I frequently premiere new works,” he states. Being exposed to so many new compositions has helped Farrell develop his own unique musical aesthetic, one that he describes as approachable with diverse influences shaping his melodies, harmonies and rhythms. One such piece was Farrell’s IAF submission Newfound Gap, a work which combines 6-string electric violin and looping pedal with a traditional acoustic string quartet to depict a sunrise in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the Newfound Gap Road.
“I have been a literary poet for decades, declares Peggy Douglas (Theatre – Playwriting). “However, over the last eight years, I have written and produced five rhythm-driven plays of poetic monologues with musical interludes where the sheer thrill of language is the dominant force behind the performance.” Douglas’s work is fundamentally rooted in her Tennessee Roots. “Growing up in Chattanooga with parents who came of age in the 1940s and my own childhood in the 1950’s and 60s, issues of gender, race and social class have been a huge part of my history.” Her winning submission, Steel Toes and Hired Hands, reflects upon her own history as a mill girl in recounting the story of a textile worker with brown lung disease. Says Douglas, “The play strives to find the levity in bittersweet and sometimes tragic experiences of the 1950s working class.”