Choreographer and Composer Residency on Rabbit Island

Choreographer and Composer Residency on Rabbit Island

Open Call

Dec. 20, 2018
Calumet/United States
Deadline Feb. 15, 2019
Residency, Other
Activism, Conceptual, Other, Performance, Sound, Residencies...
Open for applications

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Choreographer and Composer Residency on Rabbit Island


The Rabbit Island Foundation and Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts at Michigan Technological University announce a new 2019 residency opportunity specifically for choreographers and composers. This three week residency will embrace collaborative possibility in a profoundly wild setting by offering time, space, and financial support to explore modern environmental ethic via the mediums of dance and music. One individual choreographer and one individual composer will be selected—it is highly likely that they will not have met or worked together previously—and a new collaborative work will be created. The duo will be given a two week residency period on the island, and one week of studio time on the adjacent Keweenaw Peninsula mainland. After the residency, the work will be developed by the composer-choreographer duo with assistance by the Rozsa Center staff, and premiered as part of the Rozsa Center Presenting Series season in 2020-2021.

The residency will take place over a three week period between June 21st–July 17th, 2019. Along with accommodation, the awarded choreographer and composer will each receive a $2000 USD unrestricted honoraria to be used as they see fit (travel, materials, provisions, etc.). The Rabbit Island Foundation will provide transport to and from Rabbit Island. An administrator from the Foundation will provide orientation to living and working on the island during the first 24-48 hours in residence.

While the island is largely undeveloped wilderness, there are three simply built structures on the island providing space for living and working. These are an Adirondack-style shelter at Main Camp; the Sauna Studio, just a short walk to the north; and Andrew Ranville’s Perch (Rabbit Island) installation—an open-air tree platform located on the opposite side of the island. Additionally, there are many areas of shoreline that feature flat sandstone surfaces.

Once back on the mainland the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts will host the awarded residents, providing transportation and lodging in the nearby city of Houghton, Michigan. Following their time on the Island, the residents will have access to the full Rozsa Center facility, including the support of the Rozsa production team (George Hommowun, Production Manager, and Mary Jennings, Director). The Rozsa Center will also provide an opportunity to connect with local and regional artists, performers, and musicians.

Over 2019-20, the Rozsa Center will support the development and production of the new work remotely. Should the work require multiple performers and players, local and national networks of dancers and musicians may be available through the Rozsa Center and Rabbit Island communities. Additionally, residents may propose to include their personal and professional networks. Based on the conversations with the residents during the development process and scope of the completed work, the Rozsa Center will provide up to $10,000 USD support for production of the finished work inclusive of return transportation and lodging, as well as labor, crew, and marketing for the performance. Additional support obtained through grants by the Rozsa Center, Rabbit Island, or the residents may increase this funding amount. The choreographer and composer will return to Houghton, Michigan, for a week-long residency to set and premier the new work at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts as part of the 2020-2021 Presenting Series season.


Rabbit Island is a 91 acre wilderness island partitioned from the mainland by the largest body of freshwater in the world, Lake Superior. As such, the location provides artists a remote contextual challenge to create works which will add to the evolving contemporary conversation of art and the environment.

Historically, environmental considerations were uncommon fodder for composers and choreographers for one simple reason—environmental consciousness is a contemporary phenomenon. A rearward view by composers and choreographers often dictated romantic or antiquated subject matter be chosen for these mediums.

Then, as the mediums of choreography and composition evolved in the 20th century, works moved away from the narrative and spilled increasingly into the abstract. Subject-less dance pieces and compositions were produced and celebrated. Venues housed these works focusing inward, on individuals; or backwards, on classic narratives reinvented in new styles.

We contest this status quo. Rabbit Island exists to encourage the creative community to focus intensely on the most fundamental narrative of our age—the environment and the human relationship to it. We challenge applicants to take risks and create bold work challenging the assumptions of the cultural landscape created by previous generations of choreographers, composers and thinkers. We presume that there exists more meaningful ways to contextualize music and dance to the evolving understanding of ethics within the Anthropocene. This residency offers time, space, and context to take a shot at precisely this.

The environmental discussion is universal and not limited to gender, race, age, etc. We therefore encourage broad application, yet intentionally position a single limitation— applications should propose work that is concept-responsive to any contemporary environmental issue. Please note that this does not have to be a site-specific or region- specific work. Strong applications will appeal to ethics, emotions, and logic that make up the contemporary environmental conversation.


Rabbit Island is 91 acres of forest and sandstone located in Lake Superior—the largest body of freshwater in the world, four miles east of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. The island is composed of a native ecosystem standing upon solid bedrock and has never before been developed or subdivided. It is a unique wilderness environment home to a variety of flora and fauna including large white pines, red maples, bald eagles, nesting birds, salamanders, and much more. A number of fish including salmon and native lake trout swim in the waters surrounding the island. The weather is palpable and can vary day-to-day, creating beautiful vistas and humbling experiences. A conservation easement assures the ecosystem will remain healthy in perpetuity. The island serves as a platform for contemporary art, science, and conservation.

Since 2013 the Rabbit Island Residency open call for all disciplines has received over 1000 applications from 45 countries. The Choreographer and Composer Residency marks the first focused residency and first collaboratively created residency with the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts at Michigan Technological University.


Opened in October 2000, the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, located on the campus of Michigan Technological University, is the premier performing arts venue in the region. At 80,000 square feet and with 1,067 theater seats it is the largest performing arts space in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. With the annual Presenting Series season, nationally and internationally renowned performers are brought to the geographically isolated Keweenaw Peninsula, dramatically expanding the regional arts scene. The Rozsa Center audience crosses boundaries of race, gender, age, and sexual orientation, creating a welcoming community where individuals can engage with world-class performances that are thought provoking and enriching.

The Rozsa Center first collaborated with the Rabbit Island Foundation in 2016, bringing the Helsinki Chamber Choir to the region on its first US tour. The choir performed State of the Union, a contemporary opera about environmental, economic, and social concerns created by 2015 Rabbit Island residents, composer Eugene Birman and librettist Scott Diel.


Download the full application guide and apply online at


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