Ucross and Houston Ballet have joined forces to establish an exciting new resource for choreographers and dancers, the Lauren Anderson Dance Residency at Ucross. The new fellowship will provide Houston Ballet choreographers and performers with four weeks of uninterrupted time and space at the acclaimed artist residency program in northern Wyoming.
The partnership was announced at the ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication of the Lauren Anderson Dance Studio in the Koehler Performing Arts Center at Ucross on December 17. It is funded by a generous donation by Deborah and Edward Koehler and the Raymond Plank Philanthropy Fund.
Constructed as part of the Ucross 40th Anniversary Campaign, the state-of-the-art studio and performing arts space is connected to the Ucross Art Gallery through a glass vestibule. While the building’s exterior design reflects the iconic profile of the Big Red Barn, the new construction offers several unique features. Large accordion-style glass doors open onto a concrete patio, allowing artists to cross between the sprung-floor dance studio and the open air. The patio, which provides a stunning view of the Bighorn Mountains, doubles as an outdoor viewing area for public performances. A green room, private bathroom and second-story observation room are also part of the 2,200 square-foot performing arts building.
Lauren Anderson and Deborah and Edward Koehler, all of Houston, Texas, were the eponymous honored guests at the dedication.
The first Black principal ballerina at Houston Ballet, Anderson performed leading roles across the world to great critical acclaim from 1983 to 2006. Today, she conducts master classes and gives lectures for Houston Ballet’s Education and Community Engagement program. Anderson will help select recipients of the residency named in her honor.
Deborah Koehler, as executive director of the Raymond Plank Philanthropy Fund, provided a generous $1.175 million leadership gift to the organization as part of the ongoing Ucross 40th Anniversary Campaign to support the construction of the new building. Koehler is a former trustee of the Ucross Foundation. From 2019 to 2022, she served on the board, helping the organization envision and launch the 40th Anniversary Campaign.
“We are so excited to dedicate this beautiful new rehearsal and performance space in honor of our favorite dancer and world-class prima ballerina, Lauren Anderson, and announce a new partnership between Ucross and Houston Ballet,” Koehler said. “The Lauren Anderson Dance Studio and residency will provide first-class facilities and resources to allow Ucross dance and choreography residents to fully explore and develop their talent and creativity.”
Anderson said she was thrilled about the groundbreaking new space, as well as the unique opportunities that the residency will provide.
“If you want to dance, there has to be a special place to do it,” Anderson said. “And now there is a place, and a space, and the means. Dancers don’t always have the means to do this type of thing. And now they will.”
The Lauren Anderson Dance Residency at Ucross will be awarded annually. In addition to private access to the state-of-the-art dance studio, the selected fellow will enjoy four weeks of uninterrupted time, living accommodations, meals by a professional chef, staff support and the experience of the majestic High Plains on Ucross’s 20,000-acre ranch in northern Wyoming. The award also includes a stipend provided by the Houston Ballet.
“Ucross is greatly honored to work with Lauren Anderson and the Houston Ballet on this partnership, which comes at a key moment in our residency program’s history,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “For the past 40 years, Ucross has been known for its outstanding studios for writers, visual artists and composers. Now, with the addition of this stunning new dance studio and performance space, Ucross will attract more world-class dancers, choreographers and multi-disciplinary groups.”
Applications are now open to the Ucross dance residency in Fall 2023, due March 1 at 11:59 p.m. MT. Learn more.