Participants announced for inaugural New American Dance Residency

Four dance-makers will work in Memphis for two weeks in April 2019

MEMPHIS, TENN. (February 18, 2019) – – – BALLET MEMPHIS is pleased to announce the participants in its inaugural Ballet Memphis New American Dance Residency. Supported by generous funding from the ArtsMemphis Enhancement Grant, the Ballet Memphis New American Dance Residency is a unique program aimed at dance-makers who are interested in exploring the intersection of art and community. Ballet Memphis community partner the Urban Arts Commission graciously sponsored the online residency application.

The four participants were vetted by a juried panel (Steven McMahon, Associate Artistic Director, Ballet Memphis; Theresa Ruth Howard,, facilitator of The Equity

Project; Whitney Hardy, Founder and Director Young Arts Patrons and Director of Entrepreneurial Programs for Epicenter Memphis; Rachel Knox, Hyde Family Foundation; Anne Hogan, Dean of Communication and Fine Arts, University of Memphis; and Dr. Charles L. Hughes, Director, Lynne and Henry Turley Memphis Center, Rhodes College) from a pool of 35 national applicants, according to McMahon, also the program’s curator. The residency will run April 15-26, 2019 culminating in a final presentation to the community at Ballet Memphis during the final weekend.

“We were thrilled with the response to this new residency, one that aims to give dance-makers the opportunity to learn from and consider the city in which they are creating work.The residency will highlight the power of creating thematic, research-based work that is at the core of Ballet  Memphis values,” McMahon said. “Participants will live in Memphis for two weeks and have the opportunity to visit with a variety of cultural institutions and experts on a wide range of subjects. Throughout these learning sessions, dance artists would be exposed to the significant contributions of Memphis and the region to the global community.”

(Shown left to right) selected residents are:

  • Valerie D. Alpert (Chicago, Ill.)

Alpert is the artistic director of VADCO/Valerie Alpert Dance Company. According to her artist’s statement, VADCO produces highly artistic and imaginative dance programs that have been commissioned by regional companies and presented in several festivals both nationally and internationally. Alpert has choreographed and presented works on numerous stages around the United States including, most recently, at the Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival; Austin (Texas) Dance Festival; and the American Dance Guild Festival (N.Y.). Alpert earned a Ph.D. in dance from Texas Women’s University as well as an MFA in choreography and technology from The Ohio State University.

  • Tommie-Waheed Evans (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Evans is based in Philadelphia, Pa., where he is a visiting assistant professor in dance at The University of the Arts. His onstage experience includes Philadanco! (principal dancer), Complexions Contemporary Ballet (ensemble), Radio City Christmas Spectacular (ensemble) and Lula Washington Dance Theater (ensemble). He has created works for Boston Conservatory, Philadanco!, Verbs Ballet, Eleone Dance Theater and Smoke Lillies & Jade, among others. Evans is the recipient of numerous awards including Ballet X Choreographic Fellow, the Billy Penn/Knight Foundation Who’s Next: Arts Award, Howard Gilman Foundation Fellowship at Jacksonville University, and the Philadelphia LGBT Society Lights Award for Outstanding Achievement, among others. He earned an MFA in choreography from Jacksonville (Fla.) University.

  • Michael Medcalf (Memphis, Tenn.)

Medcalf currently is an assistant professor of dance at The University of Memphis. He has more than 30 years of arts-related leadership and performance experience including serving as director of Alabama State University’s BFA/Dance program, vice president/president-elect of the Alabama Dance Council, and as part of Dance/USA’s Dance Institute for Leadership Training. As a professional dancer, he has been a member and/or guest artist with numerous companies including Ballethnic Dance Company (Atlanta), David Taylor Dance Theatre (Denver), Groundworks Dance Theatre (Cleveland), and Ohio Dance Theatre. He was the founder/artistic director of Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre in Ohio and the Greene/Medcalf Movement Project, also in Cleveland, Ohio. Currently, he develops solo and duet projects for the stage and camera for Michael Medcalf/INVENTIONS. He earned an MFA in dance from the University of Iowa.

  • Crystal Michelle Perkins (Dayton, Ohio)

Perkins currently serves as the associate artistic director of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company in Dayton, Ohio, as well as an assistant professor of dance at The Ohio State University, from which she earned an MFA in dance. She has been a guest artist at numerous institutions including Ohio Wesleyan University, Wittenberg University, and at the Ohio Black Dance Festival, OhioDance Festival and Great Lakes Dance Festival. Perkins is the recipient of the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, the Josie Award (a peer-selected dance award in Dayton, Ohio), and two research funding initiatives to study in Trinidad and Burkina Faso. She has spoken at TEDx (Dayton), on the dance podcast “Movers and Shapers,” at the Collegium for African Diaspora Dances at Duke University, and at the International Association of Blacks in Dance conference in Los Angeles. Perkins has choreographed numerous works for the stage as well as created several oral history/archival pieces including a short documentary “Destined” on the history of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.

“Through this Memphis-centric dance residency, historically underrepresented dance artists with a strong curiosity for disrupting the status quo of traditional dance will explore the unique aspects of Memphis’ historical, political and global reach in conjunction with Ballet Memphis’ method of creating art that impacts communities,” said Amelia Thompson, director of development and strategic advancement at Ballet Memphis who is curating the residency with McMahon.

“It’s also an ideal opportunity for our audience to understand the method we use in producing new works by seeing and hearing from dance-makers who have been asked to be thoughtful and attentive to our city and how that vision will be realized through their own choreographic lens.”

For more information on Ballet Memphis or the Ballet Memphis New American Dance Residency, follow at, on Instagram @balletmemphis, or on Facebook @balletmemphis.

About Ballet Memphis ( In its 32nd season, Ballet Memphis serves as a

creative resource to the nation through its innovative neoclassical and contemporary

repertoire, as well as production and training of the highest caliber. Founded by Dorothy

Gunther Pugh in 1986, Ballet Memphis employs 22 dancers with a more than $4 million operating budget and has performed around the world to audience and critical acclaim. The combined programs of Ballet Memphis–dance company, ballet school, educational enrichment and Pilates Centre–serve more than 80,000 people each year.