IPAY Perspectives: 2019 Rye Fellows

IPAY Perspectives : 2019 Rye Fellows

We have opened applications for  2020 Jim Rye Fellowships  and  Colleen Toohey Porter Artist Development Award.  As we begin our search for the next emerging leaders of our field, we asked the 2019 Rye Fellows to share their perspectives on circus & dance for young audiences, the focus of Kindling 2020.

Marisol Soledad
Viktoria Lange
Jenna Nilson
What excites you most about circus, dance, or interdisciplinary work for young audiences?

"I  think of how John Berger describes translation when I see interdisciplinary work like circus and dance. A true translation is not just a binary affair between languages. What the translators want to do is to gather a quivering almost wordless "thing" behind the language. There is something pre-verbal there. For me, that's how I feel about circus, about dance, about physical theatre. It offers its audience a door to move with its poetry without the emphasis on words, which makes me think about my experience of being a non-native English speaker. I am a playwright, but I space out in staged plays all the time. (English, ah...) When I turn to interdisciplinary work, I find myself fully engaged and find a sense of belonging. The joy of theatre-making. It's beyond language, returning to the pre-verbal. "

I-Chia Chiu, 2019 Jim Rye Fellow

"I am jazzed about circus and dance works that feel immersive and participatory.  I love the broadening concept of what dance might be, and I especially appreciate dance that celebrates and includes artists with a diversity of body types and abilities."

Marisol Soledad, 2019 Jim Rye Fellow

"I am so excited about dance theater in general, but dance theater aimed at young audiences in particular. I find that they can't have an ounce of pretension, especially to be successful and really land with young audiences and their families."

Viktoria Lange, 2019 Rye Fellow

"When I saw Gravity and Other Myth's A Simple Space at the 2019 IPAY Showcase, I was completely blown away. The Australian acrobatic group's ability to engage with the audience and include them into their world of play and absolute stunning physical feats was truly incredible. Gravity and Other Myths exemplified that Theatre for Young Audiences can reach all ages, and that fun and exhilaration can draw all audience members into the story."

Jenna Nilson, 2019 Jim Rye Fellow

"Circus is the art of the possible, right at the edge of the impossible. It asks the question, "Yes, but could we do THIS...?"-a constant practice of questioning what is and dreaming of what could be. As an artist and educator, I am always inspired by the high-stakes artistry and inevitable interdependence of circus arts. Circus inspires wonder and buoyancy and a sense of possibility, even in the darkest times."

Marisol Soledad, 2019 Jim Rye Fellow

Malena Dayen
Blake Edwards
I-Chia Chiu

Who are some i nfluential  womxn in your career?

"Courtney J. Boddie and Lindsey Buller Maliekel, both of New Victory Theater Education fame.  They are both such inspiring game changers and innovators in the fields of TYA, education, and audience engagement.  I've also been inspired by artists Pina Bausch and Anne Bogart and Shona Reppe and Emma Rice.  Seriously - can someone introduce me to Emma Rice? I love playwright and actor Nambi Kelly, who I met last year at IPAY, and also look forward to seeing Curious Seed and Christine Devaney's work someday soon. Christina Gelsone of Acrobuffos and Camilla Pessi of Compagnia Baccala are two brilliant, beautiful clown women."

Marisol Soledad, 2019 Jim Rye Fellow

"Oh wow. So many. The IPAY womxn I encountered last year are up there! My favorite playwright is Sarah Ruhl. There are those wonderful womxn bringing a lot of devised work to the so-called mainstream in NYC which I think is an interesting and challenging endeavor: Rachel Chavkin, Amber Gray, Mimi Lien...oh and Julie Taymor. Wow wow wow has she had a major influence on my artistic life. Pina Bausch, Sasha Waltz. But really if I think about it, it is mostly the womxn behind the scenes, or maybe they are in the spotlight but not a huge "name." Like all the womxn behind Sesame Street! And all of my amazing teachers and mentors in high school, undergrad and grad school."

Viktoria Lange, 2019 Jim Rye Fellow

"The first womxn I thought of as inspiration are Kristin Marting, Beth Morrison, Kim Whitener and Jecca Barry who created and run the Prototype Festival every year in New York city. They opened (and keep growing) a creative space that is a hotbed for composers and musicians, dramaturges, directors, performers and designers."

Malena Dayen, 2019 Jim Rye Fellow

"The most influential womxn in my career are the ones I've been fortunate enough to encounter in my graduate studies. Jennifer Schlueter, Mandy Fox, Jeanine Thompson, Stephani Etheridge Woodson, Kristin Hunt, Mary McAvoy, Pam Sterling, and many others have helped crack open new concepts for me and have pushed me to investigate them in my own work."

Blake Edwards, 2019 Jim Rye Fellow

Curious Seed, 2020 Showcase Artist
La Llave Maestra, 2020 Showcase Artist

What thoughts or questions do you have about circus and dance for young audiences?

"A lot of contemporary theatre is emphasizing the live nature of the art form, and circus and dance are no different. A live, unmediated circus performance can be thrilling because the audience knows the performers are operating without a net - not only the literal net, but also the metaphorical net of the editing room. Circus and dance are bringing a much-needed sense of thrill and danger back to live performance, and in an age when so much is presented to us on a screen, our visceral reactions to live performance connect us to the performers onstage and to the other members of the audience."

Blake Edwards, 2019 Jim Rye Fellow

"I am always curious, in the realm of dance and circus, how we communicate ideas without telegraphing them to audiences, particularly young audiences. Both movement forms demand a more evocative approach, at least the ones I enjoy, and yet there is still of course a desire for a thread to follow. How do these artists pursue those threads and make them clear to an audience?

I am so excited about dance theater in general, but dance theater aimed at young audiences in particular. I find that they can't have an ounce of pretension, especially to be successful and really land with young audiences and their families."

Viktoria Lange, 2019 Jim Rye Fellow 

2020 Jim Rye Fellowship Applications Open

Applications Due November 1, 2019, 11:59pm

The International Performing Arts for Youth's Jim Rye Fellowship offers an outstanding opportunity for graduate students and emerging professionals in the fields of directing, performance, management, and education for young audiences to be involved in the inner workings of a major Performing Arts for Young Audiences conference. 

How does IPAY support the Rye Fellows?
  • one year-long membership to IPAY
  • Showcase registration and SPARK Pre-Conference registration
  • an opportunity to host a conversation in the Kindling program alongside Colleen Porter Residents
  • $250 stipend (for those students not located in the host city) to help toward travel expenses
  • mentors that help the scholar navigate the conference and facilitate the student's introduction to other professionals in the field
What does IPAY ask of the Rye Fellows?
  • attendance for the length of the entire showcase
  • engaged conversation with each other and showcase attendees
  • feedback to IPAY on their showcase experience and the Rye Fellow program
  • fellows may also be asked to assist the conference organizers on small projects during showcase
Who is Jim Rye?

The late Jim Rye was the Artistic Director of the Birmingham Children's Theatre. Jim served on the Showcase Committee for many years, his company performed and exhibited, and he served as a mentor for many professionals in the field. We honor him by supporting today's emerging professional in the ever expanding field of performing arts for young people.

Here's what Samantha Provenzano, 2017 Jim Rye Fellow, has to say about her experience:

"Experiencing the IPAY Showcase for the first time as a Rye Fellow helped me gain a fuller understanding of the professional world of Theatre for Young Audiences. We had conversations with makers and producers discussing trends, ideas, and tensions shared across our field. The exposure to national and international work at Showcase was inspiring and a joy to experience with colleagues."
Colleen Porter Artist Development Award
2020 Call for Applicants

Applications Due November 1, 2019, 11:59pm

IPAY is proud to continue to support development of artists in the field of performing arts for young audiences with a facilitated residency opportunity in honor of Colleen Toohey Porter.  Thanks to many individual donors, this program continues into its seventh year!

What is the Colleen Porter Artist Development Award?

This juried award supports artistic development and is linked to the annual Kindling focus at IPAY Showcase. The experience is a year-long residency between IPAY Showcase 2019 and Showcase 2020.  Part of the intent with the framework is to provide discussion points and support that exists beyond Showcase that may develop into a longer-term support network for artists.

How does IPAY support the Colleen Porter Residents?

The selected Porter Resident will work with veteran international arts professional, Tony Reekie (Scotland), and performance maker Amanda Pintore (United States), who will assist in facilitating the Showcase experience and intersecting with the artists and presenters each day, to discuss how the experience may be relevant to their own practice, to share ideas, to facilitate development and to help establish connections. IPAY will support the cost of Showcase registration and provide travel support and accommodation for Showcase 2020 and Showcase 2021. 

Who can apply for this award?

Interested artists, who have been in the field for at least 3 years; can demonstrate a need for financial assistance; are able to attend the full IPAY Showcase Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, January 21-25, 2020 should submit their application by November 1, 2019.

Who is Colleen Toohey Porter?

Since the launch of the Colleen Toohey Porter Artist Development Residency in 2013, we have supported eight artists dedicated to making performing arts for young audiences in memory of long time IPAY Board member, Showcase three-time host, sector leader and friend, Colleen Toohey Porter.  
We honor her memory every year by providing residencies to early career artists making work for young audiences.  Through this distinguished honor, Colleen's innovative, generous, and nurturing spirit will live on in the artists of the future.

International Performing Arts for Youth
For questions about how IPAY uses your information online, please email

Like us on Facebook