This year, three Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF), National Artist Fellows have been named the inaugural Western Arts Alliance (WAA), Native Launchpad award recipients. Congratulations to Christopher Kau’i Morgan (2013 – NACF Dance Fellow), Allison Warden (2018 – NACF Music Fellow) and Anthony Hudson (2018 – NACF Artistic Innovation Fellow).
Native Launchpad is a development program for professional Indigenous artists who seek guidance and support to work with presenters and to break into the touring market, providing them with tools and resources needed to further their careers and introduce them to the world of arts presenting and management. The three-year award provides each artist with professional development, a seasoned mentor, and travel and touring funds. It also includes the opportunity to stage their work at the annual conferences of WAA and the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) in New York City, both platforms for performing artists of all backgrounds to showcase performances to performing arts presenters and booking agents from around the world. As part of the WAA’s Advancing Indigenous Performance Program, Native Launchpad was made possible by a lead grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation.
Thus far, the three recipients showcased their work this summer at the WAA annual conference in Las Vegas, all to rave reviews. In January of 2019, they will showcase their work at the APAP annual conference, which welcomes 3,600 colleagues and peers from the US and more than 29 countries for five plus days of professional development, networking and the world’s largest performing arts marketplace. It is a rare opportunity for these artists, whose work often goes unrecognized in the greater performing arts world. It is opportunities like these, in front of national and international arts brokers, that leverage the voices of Native artists to address issues of Native aesthetics, identity, visibility, narrative change and social justice through their practices, representing their respective communities and the issues which affect us all globally. Audiences will be treated to excerpts from Portland, Oregon-based performance artist Anthony Hudson, who recounts growing up as a queer Native kid in a small town in an autobiographical solo show and hilarious sendup of pop culture stereotypes. Incorporating video and dance, and invoking Anthony’s drag clown persona, “Carla Rossi,” drawing from a songbook stretching from Disney’s Pocahontas to Cher’s Half-Breed—to the infamous blond, blue-eyed Indian “princess” Tiger Lily in Mary Martin’s Peter Pan. Washington, DC based artist, Christopher K. Morgan will present elements of Pōhaku, recipient of both a National Performance Network Creation Fund and New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project, a unique modern dance and hula performance with live music by choreographer/performer Christopher, electric cellist Wytold and Hawaiian chanter/percussionist Elsie Kaleihulukea Ryder. The show tells the story of Hawaii’s colonial past through the choreographer’s personal story of his ache for the land he is from, but never lived in. Anchorage based multi-disciplinary artist, Allison Warden, will perform pieces of her circumpolar hip-hop repertoire, which ranges thematically from decolonization to the effects of global warming on Alaska Native communities, and incorporates innovative performance art and theatrical techniques.
You can catch their performances on Sunday, Jan 6, 6:10 pm – 7:10 pm at Alvin Ailey at City Center– 405 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019 (ticket info forthcoming).