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New American Talent/Dance finalists - where are they now?

I always wonder what happens to those contestants on reality TV shows such as Project Runway after their 15 minutes of fame has passed. Do they really go on to make it in their fields or do they continue to struggle to succeed? This got me thinking about our previous New American Talent/Dance (NAT/D) finalists.

Thaddeus Davis was the winner of the NAT/D 2006 top Jurors’ Award. In fall 2006, Thaddeus choreographed The Monologue Project for Ballet Austin II, and it toured widely in Central Texas for the next two seasons. While Thaddeus was working here, I also had a chance to see a work called The Bends of Life that he choreographed for his own company, Wideman/Davis Dance, which is based in New York City. This piece travelled all over the US and attracted a huge audience at the Carver Museum and Theatre in East Austin. Interestingly, two BAII dancers who originated roles in The Monologue Project now dance in Wideman/Davis Dance.

The winner of the NAT/D 2008 top Jurors’ Award, Viktor Kabaniaev, returned to Austin last spring to choreograph a fabulous contemporary piece for Ballet Austin II called Phrases, which they performed in April 2009. I’ve always loved Viktor’s work because it can be so liquid and athletic at the same time, and because I love watching him move when he works. Viktor is the Resident Choreographer for Diablo Ballet in the San Francisco Bay area, and he is constantly commissioned to choreograph work all over the country and the world.

Also located in the Bay area are Sonya Delwaide, who received the 3rd Place Jurors’ Award in 2006, and Amy Seiwert, who received the 2nd Place Jurors’ Award in 2008. Sonya Delwaide is currently the Chair of the Dance Department at Mills College in Oakland, California, and she continues to choreograph for companies such as OCD/Dance in the Bay area.

Amy Seiwert is the Artistic Director of Im'ij-re and Choreographer-in-Residence for the Smuin Ballet in San Francisco. In fall 2009, she won the Capitol Choreography Competition’s People's Choice Award for On the Frail Wings, which she choreographed for Sacramento Ballet. She is a much sought-after choreographer and often participates and competes in nationally-recognized events such as NYCB’s prestigious New York Choreographic Institute.

New York fosters a lot of dance and choreographic talent. In addition to Thaddeus, two of our youngest NAT/D finalists, Sidra Bell and Thang Dao, also call NYC home. Sidra was the winner of most of the NAT/D Audience Choice Awards in 2008. She recently choreographed work for Ailey II, The Juilliard School, and participated in national and international choreographic workshops and competitions such as the National Choreographers Initiative at my alma mater, the University of California at Irvine, and the International Solo Dance Theatre Festival in Stuttgart, Germany.

Thang, who won all of the NAT/D Audience Choice Awards in 2006, is the finalist that has returned to Ballet Austin the most since he competed in NAT/D. In addition to forming his own dance company, Thang Dao Dance Company (which includes a Ballet Austin II alumnus), shortly after winning the competition, he has also created three new works for Ballet Austin II. Printemps Perdu was performed by BAII in That Spring Thing 2007. In spring 2009, thanks to a Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship, Thang created the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto for BAII, and currently he is working on Quiet Imprint, for which he was awarded the 2009 Princess Grace Special Project Award.

I’m so impressed when I take a step back and look at all that our past NAT/D finalists have accomplished. I couldn’t even describe a tenth of everything that they have done – there’s just not enough room here to do it! But you can always Google them online to see what they are up to. They are talented, prolific choreographers, and we’re going to hear about them for a very long time to come! Even after their 15 minutes of fame was up, they succeeded in creating lasting careers as choreographers for themselves.

For more information on New American Talent/Dance, click here.


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