Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Dance 2008

Sarah Michelson

A portrait of Sarah Michelson crouching on the floor in front of a white painted plywood wall. She has black curly hair, a tattoo of a word written in script on her forearm, and wears a white button up shirt, grey striped shorts, a white bracelet with the chanel logo, and gold high heels.
  • 2008 Grants to Artists
  • Dance
  • Choreographer
  • Born Manchester, England, 1964
  • Lives in Brooklyn, New York

I managed in 2008 to complete the work Dover Beach in Cardiff, Wales that would have been impossible without the money from this award… There is no way I would have been able to afford this in-depth study without the FCA award… Being able to decide to use funds to develop work without any pressure on a result has meant I have made a work that I love and that I would not have otherwise made.

- Sarah Michelson, January 20, 2009

Artist Statement

What is a dance? Why would I make one? How does a dance evolve? How do performers develop according to influence? How do genre and pedagogy create folds of thinking and how do those folds divide and unite members of the dance world and affect the way dances are created? Is this a subject?

I strive for truth and beauty as a dance maker, attempting to make work that risks rejection based on its aesthetics and at its deepest structural core denies safety in favor of trying to understand through action, honestly questioning what is the very nature and value of my dance-making. I am in a deep, loving argument with myself and with my community of peers about how to honor the form of dance in our time.

As a maker I seek both an unbridled experience in the theater and a deepening relationship to the emotional mathematics of form both on the stage and in our culture. I am also dedicated to working with youth, especially girls.

Serving the dance community for about a decade as a curator (now at The Kitchen) continues to be a deeply symbiotic relationship with making dances.

- December 2007


Choreographer and performer Sarah Michelson has been making work since the early 1990s. Her works integrate movement, architectural space, sound, and the natural environment. She is interested in understanding how performers are influenced and how the aesthetics of dance change in specific historical and cultural contexts.

Michelson's 2008 Grants to Artists award supported her work Dover Beach (2009), which involved working with three eleven-year-old girls from Cardiff, Wales. She sought to create lead roles for the girls without addressing their age. The New York premiere of the work was held at The Kitchen in 2012. Michelson's work has also been performed in the United States at venues including Performance Space 122, On The Boards, Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church, and Movement Research at Judson Church. Her work has been presented internationally at Die Pratze Dance Festival, Tokyo; La Porta, Barcelona; and Chisenhale Dance Space, London. Her work has been commissioned by the Lyon Opera Ballet, Walker Art Center, and the Next Wave Festival at Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Subsequent to receiving her 2008 FCA grant, Michelson was honored with a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2009), a Whitney Biennial Bucksbaum Award for her work Devotion, Study #1 (2012), and a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award in Dance (2012). Her work has been supported by National Performance Network (2010), Rockefeller MAP Fund (2010), and New England Foundation for the Arts (2013); she has been a Resident Artist at On the Boards, Montclair State University, and Walker Art Center. Prior to her 2008 Grants to Artists award, Michelson had won three New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Awards for Group Experience (2002), Shadowmann Parts One and Two (2003), and Dogs (2008).

Michelson received a B.A. in Literature from London University in 1984, a Performance Diploma from Trinity Laban in 1985, and an M.F.A. from Mills College in 1991. She has served as Associate Director of Movement Research, editor of Performance Journal, and as Associate Curator of Performance at The Kitchen.

Two performers stand in a line within a darkened room. They are hunched over with their right leg lifted directly in front of them and their left arm lifted parallel to their leg. They wear their hair in braids and have costumes of red leotards, white shorts, and black tights.
FCA-supported Dover Beach, 2009. Photo © Paula Court.
A close up image of a performer dressed in a red shirt with ruffles at the neck and white shorts. They stand in the middle of a darkened space, looking intently at the camera.
FCA-supported Dover Beach, 2009. Photo © Paula Court.
A performer wearing a black leotard and gold hoop earrings lunges within a geometrically patterned cage. Within the cage, there is also a green neon outline of the head of a person with bangs and long hair. Outside of the cage, there are two green structures composed of a rod connected to a circle at top and adorned with silver mechanical objects. Beyond these structures, there are two performers, dressed in red.
FCA-supported Dover Beach, 2009. Photo © Paula Court.
Two performers stand with their hands near their waist and their hips bent. The face of one performer is visible and they have an expression of determination. Mechanical objects attached to a lime green object obscures the view of the other performer's face.
FCA-supported Dover Beach, 2009. Photo © Paula Court.