In the first proposal of creating a national choreographic center, Carolelinda Dickey and Susan Sheppard stated: “Every important project originates in a confluence of ideas, need, and opportunity. The National Center for Choreography (NCC), which is now known as The Maggie Allesse National Center for Choreography (MANCC) was set in motion by Florida State University’s Dance Department administration and faculty in order to explore the definition of “research and development” within the field of dance, as well as to investigate the need within the national dance field to develop new models that support the creation of dance”.
For nearly seventy years, Florida State University has supported and encouraged the growth of its dance department and its role in progressing creative research in the field. In 2002, the President of FSU and the Dean of Visual Arts and Dance invited Libby Patenaude, former Chair of the Department of Dance, to begin searching for ways to initiate the creation of The National Center for Choreography (NCC) as a “Center of Excellence”, which would be associated with FSU, a Research I university.
After interviewing various national dance leaders, Patenaude became aware that such a choreographic center would be vital in making progress in the field. With this realization came an understanding of the challenge she was about to undertake, so she proposed hiring a consultant team to assist in the planning and structuring of the NCC. After measuring the viability behind the project proposal, several pilot projects, which grew out of discussions with European national choreographic centers, were presented to clarify the company’s mission statement and structure, and Jennifer S.B Calienes, former Director of the National Dance Project (New England Foundation for the Arts) was hired as the Director.
After $17 million worth of renovations to the original 1920s gymnasium that housed FSU’s original Department of Dance, and the National Center for Choreography in the works, Montgomery Gym was revitalized in October 2004 to become one of the nation’s leading dance facilities. FSU alumna Maggie Allesee endowed the choreographic center which was renamed as the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC). “Maggie Allesee is a 1949 FSU graduate in English, journalism, and education, who now lives in Detroit. She was head cheerleader on the first FSU cheerleading squad, and the first woman to earn a varsity letter at Florida State”. Allesee’s endowment assisted in making the plan of MANCC a reality.
Today, MANCC is a choreographic center that promotes experimentation through an emphasis on the creative process. MANCC’s mission aims to alleviate the pressure of producing a final product that choreographers constantly confront in the dance world. This mission allows artists to focus solely on the process of choreographic investigation. The various MANCC programs geared toward fulfilling this goal are:
- Choreographic Fellowship Program
- Free to Rep Program
- Living Legacy Program
Each of these programs offers a unique opportunity in choreographic development. Choreographic Fellows are nominated, Free to Rep requires an application process, and Living Legacy is curated. In 2004–05, artists included Tere O’Connor, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Chuck Davis, Dan Wagoner and Chunky Move. In 2005–06, artists included Uri Sands, Bridget Moore, Take Ueyama, Adele Meyers, Adia Whitaker, Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer, K.T. Neihoff, Yasuko Yokoshi, Ben Levy, Eiko and Koma, Philadanco, Anouk Van Dijk, and Jill Sigman. 2006–07 artists included Miguel Gutierrez, Monica Bill Barnes, David Neumann, Tania Isaac, Yanira Castro, AXIS Dance Company, Alex Ketley, Kate Weare, Shinichi Iova-Koga, Isabel Croxatto, Urban Bush Women and JANT-BI.
The most recent visiting artists include Margaret Jenkins, Luciana Achugar, Nami Yamamoto, Yannis Adoniou, Deborah Hay, Kate Weare, Limon Dance Company, Neta Pulvamacher, Ellen Cornfield, Collin Conner, Dean Moss, Nora Chipaumire, and Urban Bush Women and JANT-BI.
MANCC “Entrypoints” enable the students, staff and faculty, Tallahassee community and the National Dance field to engage with the research in process. From MANCC's artist applications "Participating artists are encouraged to explore innovative entrypoints into the work beyond those of performance and the historical menu of master class, lecture demonstration, workshop and setting of repertory. Although the center recognizes the value of this menu, it supports artists in redefining the language and structure of how work is made and shared. MANCC seeks to provide a lens into the creative process of choreographers as it varies with each artists, piquing the audience's curiosity and investment into the process and eventual product". Through exposure to such a vast group of artists, the faculty and students at FSU are able to reach a broader perspective on choreographic aesthetics in dance. The uniquely supportive environment at MANCC is devoid of the pressure to create a final product, and because of this, artists visiting MANCC continue to explore the creative process and advance the form, expanding the possibilities for contemporary dance’s future worldwide. To read more about MANCC history, artists, and updates, watch video podcasts, or look at photographs, visit the Maggie Allessee Nation Center for Choreography’s website.