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Last modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fran Snygg 2011 arts award recipients announced

New York City-based modern dance artist Nicole Wolcott to instruct IU students, area youth for ArtsWeek 2011

Feb. 1, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs has announced the winners of the Fran Snygg Grant for Artistic Collaboration and the Fran Snygg Endowment Fund. This year's recipients are Elizabeth Shea, Gwendolyn Hamm, and Selene Carter from the Department of Kinesiology at the Indiana University School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER), and George Pinney from the Department of Theater & Drama in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Elizabeth Shea

Elizabeth Shea

The two awards were established in 1988 and 2002, respectively, in memory of Fran Snygg, professor of modern dance at the School of HPER and associate dean of the faculties. Snygg also founded IU's ArtsWeek, which she guided through its first 10 years. ArtsWeek 2011 marks the celebration's 27th year.

Fran Snygg Grant for Artistic Collaboration

Elizabeth Shea's proposal supports the project "Developing Creativity in Young Dance Artists" in keeping with the theme of encouraging creativity and imagination among young people for ArtsWeek 2011. New York City-based modern dance artist Nicole Wolcott will visit Bloomington for a week to work with both local and IU modern dance students. Her time will be split between the Bloomington-based Windfall Dancers youth company (ages 9-18) and modern dance majors at IU.

Nicole Wolcott

New York City-based modern dance artist Nicole Wolcott will instruct IU students and area youth during ArtsWeek 2011.

While working with the Windfall youth, Wolcott will provide instruction in modern dance technique, improvisational methods, and introductory choreography. The workshops will culminate in an improvisational piece that will feature the youth's own creative work. Bloomington-based musician Joseph Galvin will accompany (using percussive instrumentation) Wolcott during her workshops with the Windfall youth company, as well as provide an original musical composition for the students' improvisational performance.

When working with dancers from IU, Wolcott will teach modern dance technique and will demonstrate her acclaimed choreographic work "Straight Duet" to the dancers. Her residency will culminate in a shared open rehearsal/informal showing with both the Windfall youth and IU dancers at the Windfall Studios on Saturday, Feb. 19 from 2-4 p.m. as part of ArtsWeek 2011 events. The project will be overseen by Elizabeth Shea, director of contemporary dance at IU, and Lauren Frederick, director of the Windfall Dancers youth company. To learn more about Wolcott, see

Shea is clinical associate professor and director of contemporary dance at the IU School of HPER. She has received numerous grants and commissions to create dance works. Her choreography has been chosen for performance by the World Dance Alliance, the National Dance Association, the American College Dance Festival Association, the International Computer Music Association, Regional Dance America and for other national and international venues. Most recently, her work was shown at Dance Theatre Workshop in New York, N.Y.

She has served as faculty and as a guest artist at many American universities, dance companies and dance schools. Shea was also an Artist-in-Residence for the State of Florida, and in May of 2006 she traveled to China, teaching master classes and presenting choreography.

Shea also sits on the national board of directors for the American College Dance Festival Association and earned the 2009 School of HPER Teaching Award at IU. Shea recently received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to direct the reconstruction of Bella Lewitzky's Suite Satie at IU and served as a guest artist at New Mexico State University, setting her work Taking Flight on the Contemporary Dance Theatre. She has also just been awarded a fellowship with the IU Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities.

Fran Snygg Endowment Fund

Gwen Hamm's proposal is in support of the staging of Rainbow Etude. This project provided an opportunity to perform a masterwork by Donald McKyle, an African American dance icon, and collaborate with the African American Arts Institute Choral Ensemble. Rainbow 'round my shoulder' is a stylistic dance reminiscent of men working on a prison chain gang in the American south. Choreographed in 1959, McKayle sought to provide a social commentary on the exhaustive, de-humanizing, and brutal aspects of prison life.

Composed of four different songs, Etude utilizes the original work as its inspiration, both in theme and movement. Hamm re-staged the work on 13 dancers (three casts), which was performed at the Faculty Contemporary Dance Concert. Read more about the performance at

Hamm is an associate professor and director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Kinesiology at the IU School of HPER. She has presented at state, regional and national conferences, including the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, the National Dance Education Organization, the American College Dance Festival (Mid-Atlantic Region) and the Bill Evans Summer Institute of Dance.

Hamm has been the recipient of grants and awards, including the IU Bloomington New Frontiers Visiting Visionary Grant, the HPER Cross-Disciplinary Research Program Grant, and the NEA American Masterpieces Dance-College Component in collaboration with Selene Carter.

Selene Carter

Selene Carter

Selene Carter is the recipient of grants for two proposals The first supports the project "Contemporary Klezmer and Contemporary Dance." As part of the IU Contemporary Masters concert, Carter choreographed an original dance to live Klezmer music. This type of music is played by Klezmorim (Jewish troubadours) who perform at simchas (joyous events) and is inspired by secular melodies, popular dance, Jewish prayers, and wordless melodies. It embodies Yiddish culture in the Jewish Diaspora and in recent years has experienced resurgence in popularity and appeal among global music communities. The original score was composed and played by IU graduate and acclaimed local musician Kevin MacDowell.

Carter's second proposal is in support of completing certification in the Bill Evan's Method of Laban/Bartenieff-Based Modern Dance Technique. The Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) system studies movement through the elements of the body, effort, space and shape. It is practiced and applied to many settings involving the study of movement such as ergonomics, rehabilitation and movement re-education in physical and occupational therapy, athletics and dance pedagogy and choreography.

Carter's work centers on dance improvisation and site specific performance. An avid dance historian, she presented research on American choreographer Lester Horton's Hoosier origins to the Society of Dance History Scholars. As a guest lecturer in the Contemporary Dance program, in the Kinesiology Department, she created site-specific dances in the Monroe County Courthouse and the Jordan Hall Biology building.

In Chicago, she received the city's highest honor for dance, the Ruth Page Award. She is completing certification in the Bill Evan's Method of Laban/Bartenieff-Based Modern Dance Technique. The article "Aging Artists and Embodied Technology" in collaboration with IU colleague Andrew Bucksbarg is forthcoming this year in Bodies, Identity, Performance and Technology: Practices of Empowerment, Embodiment and Technicity (Palgrave Macmillan).

George Pinney

George Pinney

George Pinney's proposal is in support of a project titled Oil. The piece is intended to have people reevaluate their dependency on oil and the role of fossil fuels in their lives and in the future. Orchestrating a cast of 23 singers and dancers, and two children, the story began with white suited "corporate" men a cappela singers partying into the night, only to have symbolic black silk ribbons (of oil) magically appear from the seams of sleeves and other unexpected points in the suits.

Many strings that appear on stage join the populace together in a madly fun-fueled, oiled maypole dance. Twisting, turning, going up and over, the dancers weave a mosaic, a fatal premonition of the future. As the dance heightens, the black ribbons become thicker, larger sheets of silk pouring out of the white suits entangling the revelers, giving up control. The suits turn to black, as well as all else on stage. People attempt to escape, but the more they struggle the more they are caught in the "oil" slick trap. Choreography is based on horrific images of struggling birds, reptiles and animals caught. Music subsides into the lonely sound of wind and waves as two young frightened girls dressed in white approach in despair reaching out to the audience for help. Oil was performed at the Faculty Contemporary Dance Concert.

Pinney is a professor of Theatre and Drama and head of the B.F.A. in Musical Theatre at IU. Nominated for a Tony Award and National Broadway Theatre Award in choreography, Pinney received an Emmy Award for outstanding choreography for the PBS broadcast of "blast." He has directed and/or choreographed over 150 musical theatre productions for national and international tours, regional and university theatres. Recognized as a master teacher, he was awarded the Friedrich Herman Lieber Award for Distinguished Teaching, five Indiana University Board of Trustees Awards for Excellence in Teaching and membership in the Faculty Colloquium of Excellence in Teaching.

Fran Snygg biographical information

Professor Fran Snygg chaired the Arts Coordinating Council and shepherded ArtsWeek from its beginning in 1985 through 1994. She supported talented artists at IU and in the Bloomington community until her death in 1996 at age 53.

Snygg began studying dance seriously in her native state of New York with American modern dance legend Erick Hawkins. She came to IU to study dance with Jane Fox and earned her undergraduate degree in physical education with a dance specialization at IU in 1967. She attended the Tisch School of Fine Arts at New York University, completing a MFA with a focus in dance theatre, in 1971. Snygg returned to IU that year and began teaching as an assistant professor of modern dance in the School of HPER's Department of Kinesiology, becoming a full professor in 1990. She joined the school's graduate faculty in 1982 and became associate dean of faculties in 1984. In addition to being a professor at the School of HPER, Snygg was also an associate professor in the Jacobs School of Music and in the Department of Theatre and Drama.

For more information on the endowment fund or grant, see or e-mail