Ends on

2020 Lab Artists Program
Up to six mid-career dancemakers will each receive $20,000 along with a year of mentorship to aid in the research, exploration and development of a new work. The Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artists program is the most significant, sustained source of support for individual choreographers working in Chicago, which has an open call process. The program fosters excellence and innovation while also building relationships among dancemakers, presenters, audiences and supporters. 

Applicants to the Lab Artists program must have a developed and distinctive trajectory in their work and be well positioned to participate in a year of creative research and dialogue with their Chicago Dancemakers Forum peers. The Lab Artists program supports individual dancemakers no matter the context in which they create work (solo practice, partnerships, companies, collectives and collaborations). A competitive application demonstrates a body of quality work, clear artistic vision, compelling area of inquiry, firmly grounded work ethic, and readiness to create work of greater depth and scale.

Past Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artists are diverse in age, gender, race and dance discipline, working in tap, Bharatanatyam, footwork, dance for the camera, voguing, contemporary, modern dance, and more. Many of these artists have built national audiences and international recognition since receiving support from Chicago Dancemakers Forum and, collectively, emanate the distinct character and power of new dance made in Chicago. 

The preliminary application is open now with a deadline of Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at 11:59PM Central. There are no fees to apply. Artists selected to proceed as finalists will be invited to submit expanded proposals for consideration for a second round in spring 2019; finalists will meet individually with Chicago Dancemakers Forum staff to receive critical feedback and one-to-one support in developing their full proposals. While rigorous and competitive, the Lab Artists selection process is also designed to be educational and energizing for all who participate. Even those who are not selected as Lab Artists describe the application process as a constructive, informative experience and opportunity for professional development.

  • February 4, 2020: Deadline for preliminary applications
  • March 2020: Chicago Dancemakers Forum invites select candidates to submit finalist proposals
  • March–April 2020: Finalists meet with Chicago Dancemakers Forum staff
  • April 2020: Deadline for applications by invited finalists
  • April/May 2020: Chicago Dancemakers Forum announces the 2020 Lab Artists
  • July 2020: Chicago Dancemakers Forum Awards Celebration and a retreat for the 2020 Awardees


Chicago Dancemakers Forum invites dancemakers living in Chicago and vicinity who identify with the following statements to apply: 

  • I am currently and actively engaged in dancemaking in the greater Chicagoland area.
  • I have a developed and distinctive trajectory in my work.
  • I am ready to take my work to the next level and am well positioned to participate in a year of creative research and deep inquiry.
  • I have the capacity and the time to benefit from, and contribute to, an environment of artistic interchange from July 2020 to July 2021.
  • I can effectively make use of my time for independent research and to work with consortium members and my fellow Lab Artists.


  • Lab Artists' primary residences must be located in the greater Chicago metropolitan area during the duration of the Lab Year (July 2020 - July 2021). Applicants with dual-residency will not be considered.
  • Students enrolled in degree programs at the time of application are not eligible for the Lab Artists program.
  • Artists previously funded through the Lab Artists program are not eligible to apply. 

A competitive application demonstrates...

  • QUALITY: A body of quality work. 
  • DISTINCTION: Clear artistic vision, distinctive artistic voice, and compelling area of inquiry.
  • TIMING: Readiness and capacity to create work of greater depth and scale during the Lab Year. Good point in their career to make work of greater depth or scale. Firmly grounded work ethic.

A panel consisting of local and national dance leaders, alongside former Lab Artist awardees, selects choreographers through a two-round process. The Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artists program is designed for a dynamic group of artists representing the breadth of Chicago’s diversity of geography, artistic experience and practices, dance aesthetics and genres, races, ethnicities, and expressions of gender. 

PRELIMINARY APPLICATION DEADLINE: February 4, 2020 at 11:59PM Central. You WILL be able to save and return to a partially completed application, but to guard against potential technical glitches we recommend that you compose and save your application materials offline and copy them into the online form to submit when they are complete. 

​If you have questions about the Lab Artist Program, please contact Shawn Lent, Program Director, via email at shawn@chicagodancemakers.org.​

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.