MorDance, a 501(c)-3 organization, aims to be recognized as a company of distinction in the dance community and a leader in performing arts outreach programming that serves those in need. Our mission is to embody excellence in the performing arts through the creation of new works, live performances, and extensive outreach that nurtures and empowers at risk youth in our community.
MorDance seeks to broaden the base of support and foster a greater appreciation for ballet. The organization explores the use of athleticism to modernize and innovate the art form, while still honoring the grace and beauty of classical ballet. MorDance also removes the paradigm that classical ballet should be performed to 19th-century classical works. Using up-and-coming composers and contemporary orchestrations as the backdrop for our classical choreography, MorDance presents original choreography designed to attract today’s audiences.
MorDance was launched in 2013 by Morgan McEwen, ballerina-turned-artistic director. Over the past five years, the company has performed at venues including the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, New York Opera Exchange, and the Sheen Center, where MorDance was the first company to perform in their brand-new black box theater. MorDance has also been invited to perform at numerous festivals, including Dance at Socrates, Counterpointe Project, and Sounds of the City; and granted space residencies at the Silo at Kirkland Farm and Mana Contemporary. In 2016, MorDance was named the resident dance company of the Sheen Center in Lower Manhattan and is a 2016-17 recipient of a CUNY Dance Initiative Grant from City Center College. MorDance annually presents works-in-progress, public performances, and educational outreach through partnerships with Art Start and STEM From Dance. The company was a 2017-18 recipient of a CUNY Dance Initiative Grant, as well as a Kaatsbaan UpStream Residency. In 2019, MorDance will celebrate its fifth season.
As an organization we have grown our budget from $14,000 in our inaugural season to exceeding $75,000 in our 2017/18 season. More importantly we have been able to create new highly regarded works of contemporary ballet, reach new audiences, and employ over a dozen of the world’s finest dancers and musicians. In addition, we have expanded our outreach programing and touched the lives of countless under severed youth and adults in our community.
Our 2017/18 season began in September of last year with an extensive rehearsal period and a “Works in Progress” showing at Martha Graham Studios. At the “Works in Progress”, we gave over 100 audience members a look into the creation of three ballets that would premiere in 2018. During this period, we also had the opportunity to work with young women from STEM From Dance, an organization who uses dance to grow the number of under-represented minority girls who are STEM college-ready. During our workshops in September and October we had the opportunity to dance for several groups of young women and assisted them to create their own originally choreographed dances.
In January of 2018, MorDance embarked on a CUNY Dance Initiative Residency (CDI) at City Center College for the Art’s Aaron Davis Hall. CDI is a residency program that is awarded to professional choreographers and dance companies. CDI supports local artists, enhances the cultural life and education of college students, and builds new dance audiences at CUNY performing arts centers. During this residency I was commissioned to create a ballet set to music by legendary Harlem jazz composer and musician Fats Waller. I had the opportunity to collaborate with composer Benjamin Galina who wrote several additional pieces of music for the program and served as musical director for six musicians who performed on stage with MorDance in February at Aaron Davis Hall to an audience of approximately 250 people.
Additionally, during this residency the company had the opportunity to work with students from The Mott Hall School. A group of approximately 30 students took a ballet class with the company and then had the opportunity to watch the company perform and rehearse. MorDance also welcomed a group from Art Start into rehearsals at Aaron Davis Hall. Art Start is an organization that nurtures the voices, hearts and minds of New York City's underserved youth through consistent creative workshops inside homeless shelters, alternative incarceration programs, and partnering youth agencies.
In March of 2018 MorDance began to embark on their fifth anniversary season performance that culminated in performances at Aaron Davis Hall. During this period, MorDance held extensive rehearsals to create two new works and revive a work from the company’s inaugural season. The company also traveled to the renowned Kaatsbaan International Dance Institute where they were a recipient of a prestigious Kaatsbaan Upstream Residency. During this week-long period, the company honed the ballets prior to the MorDance anniversary season performance. In addition, open rehearsals and an informal performance to a group of about 150 audience members rounded out the successful week. In April, MorDance held a free class, outreach performance, and question and answer period at City College for The Arts’ Aaron Davis Hall. The company partnered with Art Start, The Mott School and The Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Sciences Charter School for this day of outreach and had approximately 75 students in attendance. Finally, MorDance presented two public, ticketed performances at the Aaron Davis Hall on April 27-28 to a total audience of just under 600 people. For these performances, MorDance also provide free tickets to homeless and underserved, youth, families, and seniors from Harlem Arts Alliance and the West Harlem Residences. The April 27, 2018 performance also included a pre-performance talkback, enabling audience members to ask questions of MorDance’s Artistic Director and production team. Additionally, MorDance partnered with Queens Vocational and Technical School in the design and execution of their season programs; providing students with actual on the job experience. The company also conducted several additional education outreach activities from March to May 2018 at local New York City Public schools.
Over the last five years, MorDance has successfully embodied our mission to achieve excellence in the performing arts through the creation of new works, live performances, and extensive outreach that nurtures and empowers at risk youth in our community.
MorDance maintains a professional company that is a classically based ensemble dancers.
MorDance continuously seeks to expand its outreach programing. Striving to make ballet accessible to a community that doesn’t regularly have access to the art form.
MorDance has a diverse repertory of original choreography rooted in ballet.
MorDance looks to engage audiences and promote the support of ballet.
MorDance ensures fiscal stability by maintaining strong governance and stimulating community support.
MorDance conducts business in an ethical manner and provides a positive and respectful environment for both internal and external constituents.
MorDance promotes diversity in all areas of the organization.
January 1, 2017 - December 11, 2018
Corporate Donation 10,114.88
Foundation Grant 30,085.00
Merchandise Sales 320.22
Program Ads 205.00
Sales of Product Revenue 31.37
Ticket Sales 9,471.16
Total Revenue $96,232.56
With a smaller operating budget versus some of the bigger dance companies in the area (coupled with operating in the most expensive media market in the country), our marketing is heavily digital.
We have built a solid e-newsletter subscriber base that we reach out to during the course of our performance season and annual fundraising campaign. To encourage attendance at performances, we rely on digital display advertising and online listings on dance- and New York City-specific websites.
Our social media presence continues to grow season after season with accounts on four platforms so that we may reach different audiences. We carefully curate content that pertains specifically to MorDance with beautiful photography and engaging videos while also showcasing our expertise in the field by sharing and commenting industry articles.
MorDance does still hold on to traditional forms of fundraising during our annual campaign with a direct mail piece including a letter of appeal from our Artistic Director and brochures on our programming and outreach.
Despite MorDance’s stature as a small nonprofit ballet company, we have seen gradual growth from Season I to VI. While our growth has allowed for more opportunity, it has also required more resources to manage. To keep pace, we rely technology and our network to scale our growth.
We have invested in technology to help us meet our revenue goals which has helped to streamline the work and it allows for multiple employees to perform the same tasks so we always have coverage.
As a startup dance company, we have relied on our network of colleagues, friends, and family to act as ambassadors and as patrons. They attend performances, raise funds, share information, get their employers invested in our mission, and offer low cost or pro bono professional services.
Detailed Plan for Award Money
MorDance would seek to use funds from this award to further develop and expand our fundraising, marketing, and grant writing sectors. As a young nonprofit without strength in these areas we can not expand and grow our outreach and performance offerings which are the face and reason for the companies existence. More specifically MorDance would hire a grant writer and fundraising expert to increase company revenue as well as increase hours for our already contracted marketing director.
How I Define Myself as a NY Small Business Owner
As a young female choreographer and artistic director I seek to promote broader gender equality in the field of ballet. Traditionally, roles of directors and choreographers in this art form are held by our male counter parts and I pride myself of representing females in my field. Additionally, I seek to be a pioneer and innovator of ballet choreography in the 20th century. I have been sighted by the New York Times as having “an eye for shaping the arc of a dance as carefully as the transitions and details within it.” Finally, it is my goal to make this art form I am so passionate about more accessible to all by expanding outreach programing and providing complimentary tickets to our performances to people who don’t have the means to otherwise see a ballet performance. I believe that these cornerstones - equality, innovation, passion, charity - are integral to and define some of New York’s most cherished small businesses. As a person born in NYC, a resident for the last decade, and an owner of a business based in Manhattan I am proud and honored to call myself a New York small business owner.