Critical Dance Writing Fellowship

2021 Call for Applications: Critical Dance Writing Fellowship

In response to the need for new and emerging dance critics and emergent forms of dance writing, See Chicago Dance is opening a call for applications to anyone interested in writing about dance from a critical perspective.

Now in its second year, the SCD Critical Dance Writing Fellowship is a three-week writing intensive produced in partnership with the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, a world-renowned festival taking place in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa for over two decades. JOMBA! 2021 will focus on “border crossings,” a major theme of this exclusive dance writing opportunity with Chicago’s sister city.

“The JOMBA! Khuluma Dance Writing Residency, initiated in 2010 by veteran South African arts journalist and critic Adrienne Sichel, has become core to the JOMBA! platforms with its intention to nurture and grow young dance writers and offer tools and skills for the decoding of dance performance,” says Durban-based dance scholar Clare Craighead, who facilitates the intercontinental partnership. “In 2020, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, our festival went online, thus enabling Khuluma to become a three-continent collaboration. We were joined by our partners in the U.K., through Dr. Sarahleigh Castelyn and her students in Urban Dance Practice at the University of East London, and in Chicago, USA, through See Chicago Dance.  Having learned and grown through the experience, we will be continuing the collaboration in 2021 and we will be joined by our newest cohort of young writers from Dubai, through Lauren Noble and her Co|laboratory.”

From Aug. 16 – Sept. 5, 2021, approximately eight SCD Dance Writing Fellows will participate in workshops, practice and feedback sessions in conjunction with the JOMBA! Festival. This intensive environment maintains a specific focus on festival reporting, criticism and cross-cultural dialog. The workshops, writing practice and critical discussions will help develop each participant’s voice, deepen their skills through real-time feedback and provide historical and cultural context through independent research and a diverse range of special guests and mentors (to be announced in the weeks to come).

“Chicago dance and dance writers are richer by this unique partnership, which provides a window to the wealth of dance happening outside our city,” says SCD senior editor Lauren Warnecke. “I was personally and professionally changed by attending JOMBA! and working on the Khuluma residency in Durban several years ago. It is a silver lining of the pandemic that we’ve been able to continue a collaboration online and provide an in-depth, intensive experience for aspiring dance writers.”

Isinthu Sethu in isiZulu means ‘our humanity’ and it is through our collaborations and border crossings with a broader global dance community that we find our shared humanity,” says Craighead. “Our interprovincial and international collaborations and exchanges through the Khuluma platforms are vital in nurturing this shared humanity through dance and dance writing.”


Eligibility and Application Criteria:

  • Applications are due June 30. The cohort will be announced by approximately July 15.
  • Eligible applicants needn’t have specific experience in dance or dance writing. They should have some familiarity with and interest in dance and be able to demonstrate a clear, concise writing style.
  • The ideal candidate will have some experience in journalism, communications or criticism, though this is not a requirement.
  • If you are interested in seeking college credit for your participation, please so state in your application.
  • Interested parties should submit a cover letter, resume and three writing samples via hyperlink (Google doc, Share Point, online publication, etc.) through this form. Writing samples needn’t be published work. Included in the cover letter should be a statement regarding relevant experience and why you are interested in the fellowship.

Expectations and Requirements:

  • Critical Writing Fellows should be available Aug. 16 – 20 from 8-10am, CST. Daily writing and performance viewing takes place Aug. 24 – Sept. 5. Performances typically stream at noon, CST. Additional morning workshops may be scheduled during the festival, with a wrap-up session on Sept. 5.
  • Workshops take place on Zoom. Performances are streamed via YouTube. All workshops will be spoken in English. Some performances may include text, which may include languages other than English. If you require accommodations for accessibility purposes, please express your needs in your cover letter or reach out to
  • Fellows are requested to write at least three pieces: two reviews and one article of choice in another style (preview, interview, feature or reflection piece).

Compensation and Future Opportunities:

  • There is no cost to participate in this fellowship. Any author that is published by See Chicago Dance during the fellowship will receive a $50 honorarium for each piece published on our website.
  • Upon completion of the fellowship, SCD may extend additional invitations for paid writing for our online publication, moderating audience engagement events or participating in other curatorial efforts.


CLICK HERE to apply for the 2021 Critical Dance Writing Fellowship

2020 Critical Dance Writing Fellows:

  • D'onminique Boyd
  • Tristan Bruns
  • Ash Davis
  • Emma Elsmo
  • Sydney Erlikh
  • Hattie Jean Hauser
  • Felicia Holman
  • Gregory King
  • Jordan Kunkel
  • Laura Paige Kyber
  • Jean Osberger
  • Mariah Schultz

See Chicago Dance reviewed more than 30 applications for the fellowship, which was intended to be an in-person opportunity in partnership with presenting organizations in Chicago. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, most live events are cancelled and the benefits of meeting as a group were outweighed by the risks.

Fortunately, the virtual nature of our reimagined workshop allows us to reach far beyond Chicago. See Chicago Dance is collaborating with dance scholars and writers in South Africa and the United Kingdom to center our fellowship around the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, an annual festival held in a sister city: Durban, South Africa. Due to COVID-19, this year's festival will be a digital presentation.

In addition to writing workshops and performance review assignments, SCD fellows will participate in discussions about the contemporary dance landscape and history of the form in South Africa and the nature of criticism in various cultural contexts.

In addition to their writing appearing in See Chicago Dance, fellows are eligible for publication in Khuluma, a festival magazine produced by JOMBA! and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and Hotfoot, a publication of One Dance UK.

For 2020 this will be a four-way partnership between the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban, South Africa), University of the Witwatersrand–The ARTchive (Johannesburg, South Africa), See Chicago Dance (Chicago, USA) and the University of East London (London, UK).

Group sessions with writers from three continents will gather over the two weeks of the festival (Aug. 25 - Sept. 6), with contributions from the following distinguished guests:

  • Bimbola Akinbola, Northwestern University (USA)
  • Dr. Sarahleigh Castelyn, School of Arts and Creative Industries, University of East London (UK)
  • Clare Craighead, JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience & Drama and Performance Studies Programme, University of KwaZulu-Natal (SA)
  • Sharon Hoyer, Newcity Magazine (USA)
  • Dr. Mario LaMothe, University of Illinois at Chicago (USA)
  • Dr. Lizzie Leopold,  Dance Studies Association (USA)
  • Dr. Raquel Monroe, Columbia College Chicago (USA)
  • Kerry Reid, Chicago Reader (USA)
  • Tal Rosenberg, Chicago Magazine (USA)
  • Rachel Russell, Northwestern University (USA)
  • Tammy Ballantyne Webber, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (SA)
  • Tara Aisha Willis, Museum of Contemporary Art (USA)

This program is made possible by support from the National Endowment for the Arts and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events