Two UCR dancemakers receive national award

Author: Sandra Baltazar Martinez
January 30, 2019

The Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York City released their list of 18 award recipients for 2019. The list includes Department of Dance Assistant Professor Taisha Paggett and master’s in fine arts student Julie Tolentino. 


Paggett received the Merce Cunningham award. She is an interdisciplinary dance artist born in Fresno. The award recognizes Paggett’s individual and collaborative work that brings in specific Western choreographic practices with the politics of daily life and questions fixed notions of Black and queer embodiment, desire, and survival. 

taisha paggett
Taisha Paggett

As a dancer, Paggett has performed, toured with, and has made creative contributions to many choreographers, artists, and performance projects including Yael Davids, Every House Has a Door, Victoria Marks, Kelly Nipper, David Roussève/REALITY, and Meg Wolfe.


Her work has been presented throughout the United States, including at Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles; Danspace Project, New York; DiverseWorks, Houston; Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and at Audain Art Museum, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


When Paggett began dancing more than 20 years ago, she came from a place of political passion – from a desire to understand the world that surrounded her as a Black, queer, working class woman. 


“Dance, however, proved to be as reflective of that limited purview as it was a site of refuge so, alongside art history studies, it would become a site of analysis for imagining practices of freedom,” Paggett said. 


MFA student Tolentino received the Performance Art/Theater award. Tolentino is a Filipina-Salvadorean artist born in San Francisco. Her work explores durational performance, movement, and sensual practices. 


Tolentino’s work has been presented in national and international spaces, including Thessaloniki Biennial, Thessaloniki, Greece; Manila Contemporary, Makati, Philippines; Tramway, Glasgow Scotland; Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles; and The Kitchen, New York. 

Julie Tolentino
Julie Tolentino

Tolentino is the provocations co-editor for “The Drama Review,”and since 2008 has hosted one-to-one and small group artists and writer residencies at Feral House Studio in the Mohave Desert. 


Tolentino contributed to the group-published essay “The Sum of All Questions: Clit Club”in “GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies” in preparation for a book of recollections of the Clit Club entitled “Guard Your Daughters - Clit Club 1990-2002” and is featured in the 2019 Visual AIDS Duets: Kia Labeija and Julie Tolentino. 


“The anxious, sensate body, and its palpable non-monogamous, fail-baiting markers, remains my academy,” Tolantino said. “Offering time as a method of production along with sticky materials, improvisation, and live action as threads, I hope to open into shared space as host, comrade, participant, and provocateur.” 


Their awards come at the heels of UCR's Department of Dance's 25th year anniversary of its doctoral program in critical dance studies. To commemorate the department is hosting a day-long celebration on Saturday, Feb. 9. The UCR community and the general public are invited to attend the free talks and performances, all scheduled at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts in Downtown Riverside. Full details: