In 2014 Adam Rose was one of four recipients for a $15,000 Lab Artist Award from the Chicago Dancemakers Forum (CDF). By combining these grants with mentorship throughout the research, development, and performance of new work, the Lab Artist Program fosters innovation in dance and builds relationships between dance artists, audiences, and organizations.
According to Adam, his Lab Artist project “Against Being” places dance within the context of the philosophical debate between being and becoming. “My project defines itself negatively, in terms of what dance is not: dance is not a language; dance is not a visual art form. It examines how the conceptualization of dance influences the act of dancing—and conversely how dance evades conceptualization.”
I spoke with him about his experience drafting the Lab Artist proposal as well as where he is now in his project year.
How does the Lab Artist grant play a part in realizing your upcoming project “Against Being?”
The Lab Artist grant has provided a structure for the concepts and development of “Against Being.” It has allowed me to have conversations with people [the CDF Consortium members] I otherwise might not have had a chance to talk to.
The grant has a different scale than other grants for choreographers I know of. It seems designed to have a transformative effect on a choreographer’s practice. It provides funding, a one year timeline, and a community of support that allows a choreographer the time, space, and trust necessary to do intensive research and development in relation to dance.
Given your past experiences applying for—and winning—these grants and residencies, can you share some strategies for artists thinking about applying for funding?
I don’t think you should follow a formula when applying for something (grant or residency). I try to state my ideas in the most specific terms possible, and then tie them to a specific practice. When applying for something like a residency that necessarily involves process, you can’t know for sure what your final outcome will look like. So imagine a plausible scenario, or the best possible outcome you can currently imagine, and describe that.
Is there anything else specific to the Lab Artist award process that you can elaborate on—how is it different from other grants? How does that affect your approach to the application or your expectations of receiving the award?
The Lab Artist grant provides funding for research, and that makes it unique for me, in terms of funding for dance. The grant seems designed to raise the stakes for a choreographic practice. It also raises expectations.
In some ways, arts funding works as a pure sacrifice: to invest money in dance means to invest resources in pure expenditure of energy, without hope of return. In an economy of overproduction, this can have a positive value. Dance carves out a space for the body to become valued as an end in itself.
Dance, even though it deals with the most material thing, the body, has a strange immateriality to it. We can view it as mindless activity, or as a body practice that deals directly with concepts (time and space).
Similarly, we can value dance and dancers in various ways: we can give them bread and water and an empty room to run around in, or we can give them funding. Giving funding to a dancer to do research sounds like an interesting experiment to me.