Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale


The Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale is awarded to dancemakers, and will support an individual choreographer and/or dance artist by offering an 18-day or 25-day residency at Ragdale along with a cash stipend of $500, the creation of a brief video documentary/interview, and the presentation of a public program. The residency may be awarded to a collaborative duo if they share a live/work studio. Open to emerging and established practitioners. 

The Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale began in 2016 and is given annually by the Morrison-Shearer Foundation. 

LIST OF RECIPIENTS:

RENA BUTLER

Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale: 2019

The 2019 fellowship was awarded to Rena Butler, a multi-disciplinary artist based in Chicago and New York City. Having trained at the Chicago Academy of the Arts and studied at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, she received her BFA from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance in New York. MSF Trustee Shayne Bullen, Chair of the Sybil Shearer Fellowship Committee, reports, “Rena best fit our criteria for representing MSF and the Fellowship at Ragdale. It was our pleasure to review the candidates, as they all exhibited a high level of talent, skill, and artistic expression.”

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RENA BUTLER

Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale: 2019

The 2019 fellowship was awarded to Rena Butler, a multi-disciplinary artist based in Chicago and New York City. Having trained at the Chicago Academy of the Arts and studied at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, she received her BFA from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance in New York. MSF Trustee Shayne Bullen, Chair of the Sybil Shearer Fellowship Committee, reports, “Rena best fit our criteria for representing MSF and the Fellowship at Ragdale. It was our pleasure to review the candidates, as they all exhibited a high level of talent, skill, and artistic expression.”

Rena Butler hails from Chicago, IL. She has danced in companies such as Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, David Dorfman Dance, Manuel Vignoulle/M-Motions, and The Kevin Wynn Collective. Butler trained at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, studied overseas at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, and received her BFA from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. Butler's choreography has been presented at The The New Orleans Museum of Modern Art in collaboration with Academy Award-winning jazz composer, Terrence Blanchard, CHTV Stories in Switzerland, and more. Butler currently serves on the Consortium for Chicago Dancemakers Forum. In addition to dancing in the company, Rena is HSDC’s Choreographic Fellow, and is a 2019 Princess Grace Award Winner for Choreography.

www.hubbardstreetdance.com/dancers/rena-butler/

BRITTANY HARLAN

Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale: 2018

The Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale was awarded to Brittany Harlan, dancer/choreographer and founder of Chicago Urban Dance Collective.

Brittany Harlin is the founding artistic director of Chicago Urban Dance Collective and 2017 recipient of the Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award . Her influences are Hip Hop and Modern Dance Pioneers. In addition to company work, her dancing and choreography has been featured at Ragdale Foundation, Links Hall, Elastic Arts, Aragon Ballroom, DRAMA Duo Music Productions, Black Ensemble Theatre, and Hip Hop International. Brittany’s focus is Hip Hop, Modern, Funk Styles, Waacking, and House, combined with growing knowledge of somatics and kinesiology, all through the concert dance lens. Her goal is to bring dance education to a place of complete body awareness, spiritual expression, and connection. Brittany hopes to establish her practice in expressive therapy, creating opportunities, and inclusiveness.

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Brittany Harlin is the founding artistic director of Chicago Urban Dance Collective and 2017 recipient of the Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award . Her influences are Hip Hop and Modern Dance Pioneers. In addition to company work, her dancing and choreography has been featured at Ragdale Foundation, Links Hall, Elastic Arts, Aragon Ballroom, DRAMA Duo Music Productions, Black Ensemble Theatre, and Hip Hop International. Brittany’s focus is Hip Hop, Modern, Funk Styles, Waacking, and House, combined with growing knowledge of somatics and kinesiology, all through the concert dance lens. Her goal is to bring dance education to a place of complete body awareness, spiritual expression, and connection. Brittany hopes to establish her practice in expressive therapy, creating opportunities, and inclusiveness.

Her teaching artist pedagogy & philosophy are weighted in respecting the integrity of the vernacular movement, by sharing what she’s been taught from respected community members - and stopping exactly there. She relates those concepts to personal natural movement, and the energy of the dancers she’s working with. Her goal is to create solidarity between diverse backgrounds, conducive to the essence and intention of The Hip Hop Socio-Political Movement. Harlin’s passion in dance extends to her community as she has launched her most recent endeavor of teaching professionalism and industry standards to aspiring professional dancers. When Brittany isn’t dancing, she is supplementing her work with her passions for poetry and songwriting. She’s been referred to as a fawn and a hippie on multiple, separate occasions.

www.facebook.com/ChiUrbanDance

J'SUN HOWARD

Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale: 2017

MSF awarded a Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale to J’Sun Howard, a Chattanooga native and Chicago-based dancemaker and poet. At the conclusion of his residency, J’Sun wrote, “I’ve had a productive time doing movement research and creating a solo for a larger project, ‘Working on Better Versions of Prayers,’ which is about radical hope, intimacy between men, and joy. The dedicated time and space provided by the Sybil Shearer Fellowship through Ragdale has been valuable and meaningful, especially as I am discovering ways to balance, challenge, and invent choreographic methods that incorporate poetry into my artistic practice.”

J’Sun Howard is a Chicago-based dancemaker, writer, curator, and administrator who was awarded an inaugural 2020 Esteemed Artist Award from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and is an Asian Cultural Council Fellow.

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J'SUN HOWARD

Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale: 2017

MSF awarded a Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale to J’Sun Howard, a Chattanooga native and Chicago-based dancemaker and poet. At the conclusion of his residency, J’Sun wrote, “I’ve had a productive time doing movement research and creating a solo for a larger project, ‘Working on Better Versions of Prayers,’ which is about radical hope, intimacy between men, and joy. The dedicated time and space provided by the Sybil Shearer Fellowship through Ragdale has been valuable and meaningful, especially as I am discovering ways to balance, challenge, and invent choreographic methods that incorporate poetry into my artistic practice.”

J’Sun Howard is a Chicago-based dancemaker, writer, curator, and administrator who was awarded an inaugural 2020 Esteemed Artist Award from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and is an Asian Cultural Council Fellow.

A Links Hall Co-MISSION Fellow, a Ragdale Foundation Sybil Shearer Fellow, 2017 3Arts Make A Wave Awardee, and 2014 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist, J'Sun has presented his choreography at venues as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Links Hall, Art Theatre Dance Box Kobe (Kobe, Japan), Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Sonotheque, Lincoln Square Theatre, Insight Arts/Center for New Possibilities, Epiphany Church, Rumble Arts, California Institute of the Arts, Oakton Community College, Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery, Patrick's Cabaret (Minneapolis, MN), Danspace Project (New York City), The Arts Club of Chicago, California Institute of the Arts, Art Institute of Chicago, Center for Performance Research (NYC), Detroit Dance City Festival (Detroit, MI), New Dance Festival International Festival (Daejeon, South Korea)—where he won Best Dance Choreographer 2019—and World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific’s International Young Choreographers’ Project (Kaohsiung, Taiwan).

J’Sun has performed for several choreographers including Malcolm Jason Low, Asimina Chremos, Sara Wookey, Paige Cunningham-Caldarella, and Selene Carter, but most extensively with ongoing collaborators Darrell Jones, Damon Green, and DJ Justin Mitchell in their research of (e)feminized ritual performance, which received a 2013 Juried Bessie Award for Hoo-Ha (for your eyes only).

J’Sun has been commissioned by Northwestern University, Columbia College Chicago, World Dance Alliance, and Art Institute of Chicago. Additional awards include Illinois Arts Council Agency’s Individual Artist grants, City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist Program grants, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation USArtists International. A 2018 Bests New Poets nominee, J’Sun’s poetry is forthcoming in the visual art catalog Eclipsing: death and transformations and I Can’t Breathe: A Poetic Anthology of Fresh Air. His poems have appeared in The Matador ReviewWusGoodThe Shade JournalCalamus JournalBird’s Thumb, and Propter Nos.

www.facebook.com/jsun.howard

www.chicagodancemakers.org/role-member/jsun-howard/

JESSICA CORNISH

Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale: 2016

The 2016 fellowship was awarded to dance artist Jessica Cornish. At the conclusion of her residency in September she wrote to MSF in part: “My time at Ragdale is unlike anything I have experienced before and was challenging in all the best ways. It is opportunities like this that make such a wild career sustainable. I was able to work with an incredible musician, and new collaborations with some of the writers and artists here at Ragdale have sprung up...Thank you again and again for everything you do.”

Jessica Cornish is a dance artist based in Chicago Illinois and has shown work in China, Hong Kong, India, Berlin, Italy, Amsterdam, Chile, Louisiana, New York City and Chicago. Along with her solo practice, Cornish works with a wide range of collaborators in different disciplines and uses her ever-changing environments as sustenance to create.

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JESSICA CORNISH

Sybil Shearer Fellowship at Ragdale: 2016

The 2016 fellowship was awarded to dance artist Jessica Cornish. At the conclusion of her residency in September she wrote to MSF in part: “My time at Ragdale is unlike anything I have experienced before and was challenging in all the best ways. It is opportunities like this that make such a wild career sustainable. I was able to work with an incredible musician, and new collaborations with some of the writers and artists here at Ragdale have sprung up...Thank you again and again for everything you do.”

Jessica Cornish is a dance artist based in Chicago Illinois and has shown work in China, Hong Kong, India, Berlin, Italy, Amsterdam, Chile, Louisiana, New York City and Chicago. Along with her solo practice, Cornish works with a wide range of collaborators in different disciplines and uses her ever-changing environments as sustenance to create.

Since graduating from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign in 2012, Cornish has been the recipient of awards and residency opportunities such as; Freeman Foundation Theatre Award, Beverly Blossom Talented Student Award, Beverly Blossom Alumni Award, LinkUp Residency, Guest Artist in residence at UIUC, Place Residency in LA, Krannert Center for Performing Arts at the University of Illinois Residency, A Morrison Shearer Fellowship for a residency at Ragdale and was one of 12 dance artists in the Chicago area to participate in New England Foundation of the Art’s Regional Dance Development Initiative.

www.newmusicusa.org/profile/jessica-cornish/