February 5, 2019
Meany Center's Creative Fellowships Initiative Announces Full Roster

The University of Washington has announced the complete roster of artists who have been selected as Creative Research Fellows as part of its first three-year Creative Fellowships Initiative.  Funded by a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the interdisciplinary initiative will advance the field of performing arts by supporting artists in the development of new works and by integrating the performing arts disciplines into a broader context – academically, artistically, and socially.

“Research is absolutely imperative in the arts, as it is in the sciences,” says Catherine Cole, Divisional Dean for the Arts. “The Mellon Creative Fellowships Initiative is an exceptional opportunity for the University of Washington to create and hold space for the kind of interdisciplinary, open-ended arts research, which is the lifeblood not only of arts advancement, but that also has the potential to have unique implications in the scope of a major research institution like UW.”

The Initiative, a partnership between the Department of Dance, Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXArts), the Schools of Music and Drama, and spearheaded by Meany Center for the Performing Arts, supports exploration by guest artists in the fields of dance, theater and music through one- to three-year residencies, which incorporate a multitude of commissions, collaborations and performances. Guest artist Fellows have been handpicked by the University from today’s immense output of innovative individual artists and ensembles, all of whom operate at the cutting edge of contemporary performing arts, with an emphasis on cross-disciplinary art. As another point of consideration, each Fellow also has displayed remarkable experience and achievement in creative development, outreach, and education.

Meiyin Wang – School of Drama
Brian Brooks – Department of Dance
Ngô Trà My/Jos Zwaanenburg – School of Music
Brian Brooks – Department of Dance
JACK Quartet – School of Music
Daniel Alexander Jones – School of Drama

Spring 2019
Bill Frisell – School of Music

Fall 2018
JACK Quartet – School of Music
Brian Brooks – Department of Dance
Shannon Scrofano – School of Drama
Meiyin Wang – School of Drama

Spring 2018
Ma-Yi Theater Company – School of Drama
Margarita Bali – Department of Dance
Garth Knox/The Six Tones – School of Music
Daniel Alexander Jones – School of Drama
Erik Ehn – School of Drama

Fall 2017
BANDALOOP – Department of Dance
Daniel Alexander Jones – School of Drama
Erik Ehn – School of Drama

Spring 2017
Ma-Yi Theater Company – School of Drama
JACK Quartet – School of Music

Fall 2016
BANDALOOP – Department of Dance

The Initiative offers Fellows the opportunity to design their residencies around their own body of work and artistic goals. Residencies may take a variety of formats, depending on the nature of work, and may range from closed incubation primarily for the guest artist/Fellows’ personal artistic development, to open incubation in full view of students, and some as creative work involving student participation, either as contributors to the Fellow’s work or as pedagogy, teaching residencies, or commissions and public premieres. The Initiative encourages creative inquiry between the fellows and scholarly counterparts in other fields and disciplines, both within the university and the local community. Faculty members within the partnered departments and schools also have the opportunity to advance their own laboratory work through these residencies.

Because the Creative Fellowships Initiative largely investigates arts research in a public framework, visiting artists are engaged with local area artists and other community partners. Through this exploration, Meany Center for the Performing Arts is evolving the concept of how arts presenters can serve their local, artistic, and academic communities.  On the basis that artists are creative experts, arts presenters are uniquely positioned to catalyze not only ongoing experimentation in research and education, but to expand audiences for new creative work, thus engaging and uniting diverse populations. 

As a leader among national and international performing arts presenters and educators, the University of Washington is well situated to influence other institutions to implement projects, opportunities and practices based on this pilot.

“I am definitely very happy with the outcome of my Mellon residency. Seen in retrospect I now think my research project was very ambitious: choreographing, filming and editing a 20-minute site-specific work in 25 staircases distributed all over the campus and the city of Seattle was a big challenge. It put me in the situation of having to think fast and dedicate my full time to that one objective, a big luxury and not a usual situation in our real daily lives as working artists.  I appreciate very much Meany and the Dance Department in organizing a complex team: a very efficient production manager, a knowledgeable camerawoman and a really interesting spectrum of dancers, students, professionals, and teachers. It was also a discovery for me to get to know in depth the work of composer Carlos Sanchez Gutierrez, a difficult but very inspiring score on which to build and edit my new video.  The arts, sciences, and technology are not that far removed, for me at least, and coming back from Argentina to apply this concept was not only professionally rewarding but also personally very emotional.” -Margarita Bali

It opened my mind space.  I felt it was the first week I'd ever had to fully be a writer, an artist, though I'd been a theater artist for 15 years.  I met with students at UW, talked about the state of theater and Asian American theater.  I also taught a class on individual voice to a group of non-theater majors, taking a playwriting class. The depth and breadth of the residency has shaped how I've approached every residency since.  The Meany residency gave me permission and taught me how to be an artist and make the most of my days delving deep into the world of the play, walking the outside and inside of it. It left an indelible effect on my growth as a playwright.  I am eternally grateful.” -Deepa Purohit, Ma-Yi Theater Company

“The Mellon Fellowship took the form of four convenings. The first: Who are we and what are we doing? A meeting with the Mellon team, potential local partners, and an articulation of potential conversations. Outcome: a proposal for a retreat center, and a mission for it. The second: That conversation embodied – a convening of local and national artists taking on the questions: What are our rooms (the actual spaces we use; the conceptual spaces we furnish or are hosted in). What are our resources? We used the project proposal from Meeting One as a case-in point, exploring intersections with our aggregated answers. The third: Deepening practice – a collaborative retreat, facilitated by Todd London (then head of theater) and myself, on Whidbey Island. The fourth: a meeting of partners new and old – part reunion and part reinvention, a sum and a sending. How have we and our projects moved? Through these meetings, my mind became clearer, my heart more open, my partnerships more committed, and my hopes higher.” – Erik Ehn



Department of Dance

Margarita Bali is a choreographer, video dance and video-installation artist and teacher. Together with Susana Tambutti, she has co-directed the Argentine contemporary dance company Nucleodanza for twenty-five years and toured her choreographic work in over 100 venues in Europe, North and South America, India, Korea and Australia. In the last fifteen years she has concentrated her interests in the production of multimedia and interactive works, site-specific architectural video performances and sculptural video installations for museums, galleries and alternative performance spaces.

Born in Argentina, Bali attended the University of Buenos Aries departments of Physics and Biology and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California at Berkeley. She continued her education in other fields with studies in contemporary dance, choreography, design, sculpture, interactive technologies, video filming and editing at institutions in the U.S. and Argentina such as: University of Washington, Dance Theatre Seattle, Ballet del Teatro San Martin, The Factory of Visual Arts in Seattle, Rodolfo Hermida Video School, and many video, dance interactive and telematics workshops including Hypermedia Lab in Buenos Aires, Arizona State University Dance and Technology seminars, Dance Forum Monaco and Nottingham Digital Cultures Lab.

Research Project
Margarita Bali’s main project, Escaleras Sin Fin, is a new video-dance on the subject of bodies on stairs. Inspired by Seattle’s many staircases and the art of M.C. Escher, her work plays with his ideas of puzzling perspectives and infinity patterns. Other inspiration includes Argentine writer Julio Cortazar’s short stories Instructions on how to climb a stair, and the more poetic and philosophical counterpart Instructions on how to climb a stair backwards. Her work considers how staircases, beyond their practical architectural function, have in many civilizations represented power, status, a climb for knowledge, and also a more spiritual reaching for the gods; during her residency in April 2018, Bali worked with local dancers and artists and premiered a video on the subject at the Northwest Film Forum. She also presented a site-specific video installation at Meany Hall adapted from works related to the ocean (El Acuario Electrónico), dancers in galaxies (Homo Ludens Espacial) and human birds (Vuelo Rasante).

Department of Dance

A pioneer in vertical dance performance, BANDALOOP seamlessly weaves dynamic physicality, intricate choreography and the art of climbing to turn the dance floor on its side. Their work has been described as “bracingly original” by the Oakland Tribune.Founded by choreographer and artistic director Amelia Rudolph, BANDALOOP’s indoor/outdoor work has been presented in theaters and museums, on skyscrapers, bridges, billboards and historical sites, in atriums and convention halls, in nature on cliffs, and on screen. BANDALOOP honors nature, community and the human spirit by bringing dance to new audiences, activating public and natural spaces, and re-imagining what dance can be.

Research Project
Artistic director Amelia Rudolph, of dance company BANDALOOP, developed a new work, Strings, with a score by composer Gabriel Prokofiev, whose work in merging classical with electronica has been recognized as being “in the vanguard of redefining classical music conventions” by the Financial Times.  Through dynamic dance and rigging systems where the rope itself becomes a character, the new harness-based work makes visceral the normally hidden ways we affect and are affected by one another. Strings had its world premiere at Meany Hall in October, 2017 and was praised by the Seattle Times as  “…heady, beguiling…Music, movement and relationship dynamics all fuse into a perfect package.”

School of Drama

P. Carl is a nonfiction writer and Distinguished Artist in Residence at Emerson College, in Boston. He completed his B.A. in English and M.A. in Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society at the University of Minnesota. Carl writes widely on theater, gender and inclusive practices. The co-founder and past director of HowlRound, a think tank, journal and knowledge commons committed to building community among international theater makers, he stands at the forefront of creating innovative knowledge platforms and cultural transformation models for arts organizations. 

In 2018, Carl was awarded The Berlin Prize, and in 2017 he was awarded a prestigious Art of Change Fellowship from the Ford Foundation. He was named Theater Person of the Year in 2015 (National Theater Conference), as well as an Alumni of Notable Distinction (University of Minnesota). He has served as Co-artistic Director of ArtsEmerson at Emerson College, Director of Artistic Development at Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, and Producing Artistic Director at The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. Recent contributions as a dramaturg and producer include Claudia Rankine’s new play, The White Card, Melinda Lopez’s Mala (2017 Elliot Norton Award Winner for Outstanding New Script), Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen’s How to Be a Rock Critic, and Deborah Stein and Suli Holum’s The Wholehearted.

Research Project
P. Carl is writing a memoir entitled, Becoming a White Man. After a twenty-year career in the American theater as a queer, white woman, he underwent a gender transition that not only changed how he was perceived physically, becoming a white man in the era of #MeToo and the white supremacy of the Trump White House, but changed his own relationship to understanding the effects of discrimination and body trauma. The book reflects a kind of double vision, seeing the world from two sides of a gender binary in a political time where the physicality of bodies is an American obsession, putting lives at risk and dividing a country that just may be on the brink of the next social war over who gets to be counted as human. 

School of Drama

Erik Ehn is a playwright whose work includes The Saint PlaysNo Time Like the PresentWolf at the DoorTailingsBeginner10,000 ThingsCloverIdeas of Good and Evil (linked operas with composer Lisa Bielawa), and Soulographie (17 plays re:genocide). Soulographie scripts include Maria KizitoHeavenly Shades of Night are FallingYermedea, and Drunk Still Drinking. His works have been presented in San Francisco (Intersection, Thick Description, Yugen), Seattle (Annex, Empty Space), Austin (Frontera), New York (BACA, Whitney Museum, La MaMa), San Diego (Sledgehammer), Chicago (Red Moon), Atlanta (7 Stages), Los Angeles (Cal Rep, Museum of Jurassic Technology, Automata), Belgrade (Dah); Oslo (Fyrhusset); Providence (Wilbury Group); elsewhere. He has taught at the University of Iowa, Naropa, University of California, San Diego, University of Texas, Dallas, and Cal Arts (graduate); University of San Francisco, San Francisco State, Santa Clara and Skidmore (undergrad); he has taught workshops with the Belarus Free Theater in Minsk and Mashirika in Rwanda. He served as co-artistic director of Tenderloin Opera Company in Providence, Rhode Island, generating new works of music-theater by, for and about people who are homeless or homeless advocates. Ehn is a graduate of New Dramatists and serves as head of playwriting at Brown University.

Research Project
Ehn is following the thread running through contemplative practices, creative practice, and compassionate social action. The premise: contemplation makes for imaginative freedom; freedom availability enables inclusive methodologies; an esthetic based on ecological, interdependent exchange promotes justice; justice is foundational to beauty (Scarry). He has been leading silent retreats modeled on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises for artists from diverse disciplines for twelve years and is exploring collaborations that would offer these retreats year round.

School of Music

Over the years, Frisell has contributed to the work of such collaborators as Paul Motian, John Zorn, Elvis Costello, Ginger Baker, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Suzanne Vega, Loudon Wainwright III, Van Dyke Parks, Vic Chesnutt, Rickie Lee Jones, Ron Sexsmith, Vinicius Cantuaria, Marc Johnson (in "Bass Desires"), Ronald Shannon Jackson and Melvin Gibbs (in "Power Tools"), Marianne Faithful, John Scofield, Jan Garbarek, Lyle Mays, Vernon Reid, Julius Hemphill, Paul Bley, Wayne Horvitz, Hal Willner, Robin Holcomb, Rinde Eckert, The Frankfurt Ballet, film director Gus Van Sant, David Sanborn, David Sylvian, Petra Haden and numerous others, including Bono, Brian Eno, Jon Hassell and Daniel Lanois on the soundtrack for Wim Wenders' film Million Dollar Hotel.

This work has established Frisell as one of the most sought-after guitar voices in contemporary music. The breadth of such performing and recording situations is a testament not only to his singular guitar conception, but his musical versatility as well. This, however, is old news by now. In recent years, it is Frisell's role as composer and band leader which has garnered him increasing notoriety. 

Research Project
Bill Frisell joined Indigo Mist for a 5-day residency at Meany Center January 9 to 13, 2019. During these days the group explored different ways of making music from improvisation, starting with completely free explorations–much in line with Indigo Mists’ style–and then using some of Frisell’s pieces as canvas to create a longer improvised piece. This process was on for the first three days of the residency and on day four a recording engineer joined the project, recording all the improvisation sessions of that day and the concert at on Sunday, January 13. An album including the works created during this week is being produced and will be published in the fall of 2019.

School of Music

Comprising violinists Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell, JACK is focused on new work, leading them to collaborate with composers John Luther Adams, Chaya Czernowin, Simon Steen-Andersen, Caroline Shaw, Helmut Lachenmann, Steve Reich, Matthias Pintscher, and John Zorn. Upcoming and recent premieres include works by Derek Bermel, Cenk Ergün, Roger Reynolds, Toby Twining and Georg Friedrich Haas.

JACK operates as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the performance, commissioning and spread of new string quartet music. Dedicated to education, the quartet spends two weeks each summer teaching at New Music on the Point, a contemporary chamber music festival in Vermont for young performers and composers. JACK has long-standing relationships with the University of Iowa String Quartet Residency Program, where they teach and collaborate with students each fall, and the Boston University Center for New Music, where they visit each semester. Additionally, the quartet makes regular visits to schools including Columbia University, Harvard University, New York University, Princeton University, Stanford University and the University of Washington.

Research Project
The JACK Quartet’s previous collaborations with UW faculty in DXARTS and Music Composition have led to highly successful concerts and CD recordings. During this extended residency, the JACK is collaborating with composers Juan Pampin and Richard Karpen, along with several neuroscientists and a team of research staff from DXARTS and Music. This project focuses on the exploration of brain and nervous system sensing methodologies as extensions to master musicians' performance practice using traditional instruments. Portable EEG and wearable muscle neuron sensors make it possible to consider much more complex integrations of brain and body signals into the domains of artistic performance.

School of Drama

Daniel Alexander Jones’ body of work grows in relationship to a wide range of audiences. Duat premiered at Soho Rep in 2016 to critical acclaim. His other performance pieces and plays include RadiatePhoenix FabrikBlood:Shock:Boogie, and Bel Canto; also, the musical, Bright Now Beyond, made with composer Bobby Halvorson and director Will Davis; and his multi-chapter series of solo autobiographical performances, The Book of Daniel, made with musician Walter Kitundu and director Tea Alagic. Daniel was named a 2015 Doris Duke Artist, in recognition of his risk-taking practice, and a 2016 USA Artist Fellow.

Research Project
Daniel Alexander Jones explored the concept of Afromysticism as an anchor for his residency. This exploration included the development of a contextual framework for a volume of collected writings, a new music theater piece, and a series of performance writings. Rooted in civic, practical and esoteric processes, ideas of Afromysticism engage a holistic approach to art-making geared toward creating emancipatory and transformative experiences. Jones’ residency included a presentation of his work Night Flowers: An Evening With Jomama Jones in partnership with On the Boards, and a public reading of his book-in-progress BLUE at the University of Washington, both in October, 2017.

School of Music

Garth Knox is at the forefront of the new music scene in many fields. Drawing on his vast experience as viola player of the Arditti Quartet and the Ensemble intercontemporain, and his close collaboration with many leading contemporary composers, Knox explores the possibilities of the viola d’amore in new music, with and without electronics. His CD D'Amore (EMI New Series 1925) features old and new music for the viola d'amore.

More recently, thanks to his interest in the viola d’amore and the medieval fiddle, his repertoire has opened up to the music of the past (medieval, baroque) which he persuasively brings into the present, and his Irish/Scottish roots enable him to dialogue with traditional Celtic music without complexes. He has always felt at home as an improviser, and now more and more so as a composer also, deploying his musical ideas as innovative instrumental theatre.

Research Project
The presence at UW of the complete set of original Harry Partch instruments not only provides unique opportunities to present authentic performances of Partch’s music played on his own instruments, but also makes possible an extension of their repertoire and the creation of new pieces which explore their unrivalled sound possibilities. Garth Knox’s pioneering work on extending the range and repertoire of the viola d’amore, one of the most colorful and exotic members of the string family, takes on a new dimension in the confrontation and exchange with the Partch instruments. This project involved exploring and combining the modern string resonances and micro tuning possibilities of one group of the Partch instruments with the expressivity and baroque grace of the viola d’amore and it’s sympathetic string resonance. The series of residencies culminated in the composition and performance by Garth Knox of a piece specifically written for viola d’amore and five Partch instruments called Crystal Paths in May 2018.

School of Drama

Ma-Yi Theater Company recently enjoyed great critical and popular success with Hansol Jung’s Among The Dead, A. Rey Pamatmat’s House Rules and Nandita Shenoy’s Washer/Dryer. The New York-based company won the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for its critically-acclaimed production of The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!, which recently made its international premiere at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila. Founded in 1989 and now celebrating its 28th season, Ma-Yi is a Drama Desk and OBIE Award-winning, Off-Broadway not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers. Ma-Yi Theater is under the leadership of producing artistic director Ralph B. Peña and executive director Jorge Z. Ortoll.

Research Project
Ma-Yi Theater Company is sending a rotating contingent of playwrights from their Writers Lab to the University of Washington. Playwrights are participating in one-week teaching residencies, two-week developmental residencies, and/or month-long writing residencies. Participating artists to date include: Kyoung Park and Deepa Purohit for teaching residencies, Dustin Chinn for a one-month writing and research residency, and M.T. Kamath and Nandita Shenoy for two-week developmental residencies that culminated in public readings featuring UW Drama undergraduates during the 2017 – 2018 academic year.

School of Drama

Meiyin Wang is a producer and curator of live performance based in the Bay Area. She is currently the director of La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls Festival, a site specific and experiential performance festival. She was most recently the co-director of Under the Radar Festival and the director of the Devised Theater Initiative at The Public Theater in New York. Current producing and consulting projects include Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Sower by Toshi Reagon with Bernice Johnson Reagon, directed by Eric Ting; and Pig Iron's A Period of Animate Existence with directed Dan Rothenberg, composer Troy Herion and designer Mimi Lien. As a director, she has worked at Singapore Repertory Theater, Joe’s Pub, La MaMa, Women’s Project, HERE Arts Center, Museum of Chinese in America, American Repertory Theater, Long Beach Opera and Brava Theater. Meiyin serves on the board of Theater Communications Group and an associate artist of Singapore Repertory Theatre. She holds a B.A in Political Science and Theater Studies from Yale University and an M.F.A. in Directing from Columbia University. Meiyin was born and raised in Singapore.

Research Project
Meiyin Wang is investigating notions of space that have been cracked open by developments in virtual, augmented and mixed reality, and the role that live art plays within this new vocabulary.  A symposium which highlights the fruits of her research is slated for May 18, 2019.

School of Music

The Six Tones is a platform for an encounter between traditional and experimental cultures in Asia and the west. The core of this practice is, since 2006, an ongoing project of mutual learning between musicians from Vietnam and Sweden. The Six Tones is a group that plays traditional Vietnamese music in hybrid settings for Western stringed instruments and traditional Vietnamese instruments, and improvises in traditional and experimental Western idioms. The Six Tones also commission new works in collaboration with artists in Asia and other parts of the world.

The Six Tones are two Vietnamese performers, Nguyễn Thanh Thủy (who plays đàn tranh) and Ngô Trà My (who plays đàn bầu), and the Swedish guitarist Stefan Östersjö (who also plays many other stringed instruments). 

Research Project
Over the past eight years, The Six Tones has been collaborating on several large scale projects with composer Richard Karpen. Ever since the music theatre production Idioms (2010-11), they have jointly been developing artistic methods for interdisciplinary and cross-cultural collaboration. In an extended residency, the group has explored how the legacy of the American composer Harry Partch—and in particular, how the unique set of instruments which he constructed—may constitute a vehicle for such cross-cultural encounters. Many of Harry Partch’s instruments were created from inspiration taken from South East Asian models. In Ode, the new composition by Richard Karpen, The Six Tones bring performance practices from South East Asia back to these instruments, creating novel sonorities beyond traditional Vietnamese music and American experimentalism.


Meany Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Washington fosters innovative performances that advance public engagement, cultural exchange, creative research and learning through the arts. Meany Center provides opportunities for diverse artists, community, students and faculty to connect in the discovery and exploration of the boundless power of the arts to create positive change in the world.

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