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New Works

The 2023 New Works artists will be announced soon

Thanks to all those who applied!

About the Program

Synapse Arts invites proposals from choreographers/directors who wish to take part in New Works, a program that supports independent dance-based artists by commissioning them to make original performance pieces.

This Chicago-based program reflects the founding principles of Synapse Arts, connecting artists with one another to share resources and develop their voices through the creation of unique artworks. Since its beginning in 2007, New Works has commissioned 23 original dance-based works.

The 2023 cycle will begin in March, with final performances, screenings, or works-in-progress showings as part of Chicago Dance Month in June 2023.

New this year, artists may select whether they plan to create work that is for live performance in a theater, virtual performance, site specific live performance, or dance film/video. The program will be shaped based on the artist's needs, with flexibility for COVID-19 related issues taken into account.

Two choreographer/director positions are available by application. Applicants should be independent artists who are developing their body of work and are interested in learning how to self-produce, or who are taking their work in a new direction. Proposed pieces may be created for any number of performers, including solos, and can be part of ongoing projects.



To apply, please fill out the form (click either button, above or below) BY MIDNIGHT CDT on SUNDAY FEBRUARY 5, 2023. Please note that late applications will not be reviewed as it overextends our small staff.

Information for Applicants


The selected choreographers/directors will receive:

  • A $500 stipend which can be used to pay oneself and/or to pay for costumes, additional rehearsal space, collaborator fees, etc.
  • Free rehearsal space at our Chicago Park District locations (schedules allowing)
  • Mentorship from an outside person selected in collaboration with the artist, who receives a $100 stipend
  • Support from the staff and collaborators of Synapse, including a work-in-progress showing and rehearsal visits, if desired
  • Hands-on experience in performance production
  • A place in a final performance or showing or screening, produced by Synapse Arts with public relations & marketing
  • Professional photos and video of their work in performance

This minimal and flexible structure is intended to organize a process that provides balance and direction without restricting creativity. New Works can be a step in your artistic evolution; we are interested in helping move focused artistry forward.

We are attempting to be as transparent as possible in explaining this program and what we are asking for in your proposal. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out via email. Since our staff does not work full time (we are all part time workers) we do not have an office number and prioritize written communication that can be answered during our work hours. Transparency is a way of de-bundling the power we acknowledge exists within the relationship between an organization and an applicant, please know that we are artists ourselves and have experienced all the parts of application processes.

All respectful questions are welcome.

Please note:

  • Applicants who have not worked within the New Works program previously will take priority.
  • Artists cast their own works - think along the lines of self-production with support.
  • Synapse is an artist led organization that works to co-support art makers, we are not a production company or repertory company.­
  • Preference is given to professional artists, not currently enrolled in a degree program.



A recorded information session from a panel of former New Works artists, including Maria Blanco (of LOUD BODIES), Chris Knowlton, Amanda Ramirez, Megan Rhyme, and Nora Sharp is viewable here:

Please email to request a transcript of the closed captioning.


Do I cast my own work, if I want to work with other dancers/performers/collaborators?

Yes, you set up your team. You are welcome to ask any of the Synapse collaborators to be a part of your project, but we do not provide a cast.

If I plan to co-create my project with one or more collaborators, should we submit one application together?

Yes, please send us a collaborative application and include a bio and/or resume for each co-leader of the proposed project.

If I want to make a live performance, what happens if we have COVID-19 related complications?

This is an important consideration for rehearsals/creative process as well as any culminating presentations. We are leaving it up to the artist to tell us what kind of format works best partly because we have all been through cancellations and postponements due to COVID. If you want to have a live performance, consider if it needs to be in a traditional format that places an audience in one grouping, indoors.

Do I need to know everything about my piece to apply?

Definitely not. This program emphasizes process over product. How you investigate your proposed ideas may change how you make work, and how you want to share it with others. The resources of this program are more about space, time, learning by doing, and having supportive sounding boards. The modest stipend is intended to help you along your way, not set an expectation.

Who is on the review panel? How does the panel evaluate proposals?

Panelists include former New Works artists, former New Works mentors, and Synapse stakeholders. At least 50% of the panel will be individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ and a minimum of 25% identifying as BIPOC. Panel members are not publicized simply because we haven’t asked them if we can be public about that before, and wish to respect their privacy. Depending on how many applications are received, panelists are placed in small groups and read 5-7 applications. Each group brings their top choices to a review meeting with the full panel. Panelists discuss the most fitting applicants using criteria such as:

  • Does this artist sound like they would benefit from the New Works program at this moment in their career?
  • Has the applicant demonstrated an interest in learning more about how to self ­produce?
  • ­Has the applicant presented their own work before? ­If not, could they manage this program with its responsibilities and limitations?

Who at Synapse manages this program? What about Synapse’s ethos influences New Works overall?

Please consider how your work intersects or aligns with the Synapse Values before applying. The program is directed by Rachel Damon with support from Kait Dessoffy and other Synapse staff.

2023 Application Update

The submission dates for New Works 2023 has passed. If you need assistance with a submitted proposal or have further questions, please email Thank you!