Recognizing the achievements of BC dance artists.

The Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award

Supporting the work of emerging dance artists

The Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award was established in 2002 to support and promote innovative emerging choreographers in British Columbia.

On the occasion of the celebration of the life of Iris Garland, her husband James Felter and friends, colleagues, dance enthusiasts and professionals from around North America gave generous donations to mark Iris Garland’s significant contribution to the development of contemporary dance and her involvement in this field in British Columbia and in Canada.  These donations form the core of this biennial Award.

Recipients to date are Amber Funk Barton (2005), Chengxin Wei (2007), Sara Coffin (2009), Shannon Moreno (2011) Vanessa Goodman (2013), Deanna Peters (2015), Julianne Chapple (2017), Jamie Robinson (2019) and Shion Skye Carter (2021).

About the Award

The Award is valued at $5,000 and is presented every two years to a senior dance student or emerging dance artist between 19 and 35 years of age who demonstrates exceptional choreographic ability and the potential to realize a future in the creative realm of dance.

The Award aims to complement existing resources that a dance artist has for a proposed work. It will invest up to $5,000 into the chosen work to be used specifically towards the creation and/or production costs of presenting the work in the Faris Family Studio at Scotiabank Dance Centre. These costs can include but are not limited to: up to $1,000 as a honorarium towards payment of a mentorship opportunity (optional), allowing developing choreographers to receive feedback from a senior choreographer or from a senior dance artist who has been working in dance for many years; and up to $4,000 towards production costs (costs may include: rehearsal and presentation space rental, artists’ fees, technical support, marketing), based on the requirements of the work.

The process will provide a forum for artistic debate; the idea being to help new choreographers overcome practical and artistic problems often faced at the early stages of their career. The award will include the opportunity for the artist to be mentored and supported by the experienced staff team at The Dance Centre in areas of project management, marketing and production. The successful applicant must also demonstrate that there is additional support available for the project either through the BC Arts Council and/or the Canada Council for the Arts – or through other sources.

The Award relies entirely upon the generosity of people who want to support new choreographic work. Those wishing to contribute should send their donations to The Dance Centre, specifying the gift be used for this purpose. All donors will be issued charitable receipts.  If you would like to make a donation please email development[at] for details.

Application Guidelines

1. The Aim of the Award

In setting up the award the Trustees wished it to:

  • encourage the aspiring and emergent choreographer in the early stages of their development;
  • be open to all possible ways of achieving the above, taking into account the ever changing circumstances of the world of dance;
  • encourage creative emerging dance artists to be more articulate;
  • contribute to the building of a strong confederation of dance authors to develop alongside and thereby reflect the wealth of dance talent in British Columbia;
  • raise the quality of contemporary dance  in British Columbia by attracting newcomers to the field who reflect the changing circumstances of the dance world and contribute with their innovative thinking to the evolution of the art form.
2. The Purpose of the Award

The Award is given to undertake any project which the choreographer believes will contribute in a vital way to forwarding his/her development as a choreographer and/ or a dance author. All forms of dance are welcome, at the same time proposed projects are encouraged to focus on contemporary thought, positioning the art of dance and its interaction with other art disciplines within more global contexts.The purpose of the Award is to assist with the creation/production of the work specifically by offering the production opportunities at Scotiabank Dance Centre and to present the resulting work to the public at that venue. The Award also entitles and encourages the emerging choreographer to choose and work with a mentor for a set period of time.

3. Eligibility

Applications are welcome from dance artists working in all styles of the art of dance. However, special encouragement is given to projects that contribute to the dancer’s own evolution as an author and to the evolution of the art of dance.

Applicants should be:

  • Full Artist members of The Dance Centre
  • choreographers who have not yet received regular/substantial funding;
  • residents of British Columbia for at least 12 months at the time of application;
  • senior dance students and/or dance artists between the ages of 19-35 with choreographic accomplishments of at least 10 -15 minutes each
  • able to prove that there is already some additional financial resource available for the realization of the project (sources include but are not limited to: Canada Council, BC Arts Council, other financing opportunities as part of project funding including private donations, partnerships and in-kind support);
  • able to demonstrate the ability to pay collaborating artists and others involved in a professional way.
4. Exclusions

Applicants discouraged from applying are:

  • dance artists with a regular presentation outlet for their work;
  • Artistic Directors of Revenue/Fixed Term funded companies (on operating grants);
  • students in full-time education without any prior choreographic achievement presented in a public space;
  • recent graduates without any prior choreographic experience and with no public presentation  of prior works;
  • postgraduate students with proposals related to their ongoing research program;
  • works that have no matching funds in place at time of application;
  • where there is no assurance that collaborating artists and others involved in a professional manner will be paid.
5. Priority

Whilst the Trustees wish to be as flexible as possible in responding to merit, it should be noted that their priority is to assist dance artists early in their professional career.

Any choreographer with more than 5 years’ professional choreographic record will be required to present to the trustees why their project deserves to be considered; this should be done at the time submissions are made – and outlined in a separate letter of interest.

However, the Trustees emphasize their commitment to welcoming applications from more experienced choreographers, with a genuine case to be made for projects seeking assistance towards a MAJOR change in their creative thinking.

6. Importance of personal development

The applicant is encouraged to take time to ensure that their application makes clear precisely how the described activity will benefit their development as a dance artist at this point. The applicant is encouraged to ensure that the Trustees are provided with arguments as to its special developmental potential related to their ongoing career.

If the application is for rehearsal or production time, the applicant needs to ensure that the Trustees are provided with arguments as to its special developmental potential related to your ongoing career. (This is proposed in the eventuality that the received applications do not meet the requirements of a production; or, it may be considered if there is sufficient funding to respond to such a need in addition to the production costs; or, perhaps the applicant already has funds in place for production but lacks the means for additional rehearsal space to complete creation. The fund is flexible in this regard – the condition being that the work is presented at the Scotiabank Dance Centre in the Faris Family Studio, and that any rehearsals and creation funded by the Award take place in this facility.)

7. Importance of timing

Before sending in an application, the applicant is encouraged to review their application to make sure that the Trustees have a clear understanding of why NOW is the time for them to respond to the applicant’s proposal.

8. Importance of clear-thinking

The selection panel will place considerable emphasis on evidence of the thinking behind the applicant’s proposal being clearly demonstrated.

9. Importance of track record

The successful candidate will have to demonstrate distinct ability through relevant experience gained in work already produced/ presented.  A full Curriculum Vitae to back up the application is essential.

10. The Outcome

The successful applicant will be notified by a letter and a formal presentation to the Award recipient will be made, at a location and date to be confirmed.  The Award recipient will be required to attend a preliminary meeting with the Trustees prior to the presentation.

The recipient is required to write a short one page report for the Iris Garland Trustees at the end of the Award period. This must be submitted within one year of the recipient being informed of their Award. The resulting work will be presented at the Faris Family Studio in the year following the Award announcement.

The recipient is expected to work with The Dance Centre staff to position the work to the public, to provide input into marketing and PR activities, and to work in areas of outreach related to the project.

How To Apply

The next call for submissions will be published in fall 2022.

Not a Dance Centre member? In addition to the opportunity to apply for this Award, Full Artist members have access to a host of valuable programs and benefits, for the equivalent of less than $7 a month.

Learn More