Momentum: New Dance Works


In partnership with The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts

Momentum New Dance Works

The 2020-21 Momentum artists, clockwise from top left: Gabrielle Abram photographed by Bill Cameron; Arneshia Williams photographed by Portrait Innovations; Averie Mitchell-Brown photographed by Reid Jarvi; Aneka McMullen photographed by Anthony Harlin; Yoni Light photographed by Afrikan Sniper; and Leanna Browne photographed by Nyantee Asherman.

Momentum: New Dance Works is a hugely respected platform for commissioning and presenting original contemporary Dance of all genres, featuring works created by emerging/early career choreographers/choreographic collaborations based in Minnesota.

As our collective intuition calls us all to invest and trust in Black People, Momentum’s goal is to centralize the needs of the Artists and create a sustainable model for the future. We are dedicated to establishing a process-based cohort model that investigates what rebuilding and healing look like alongside Dance creation.

Motivated by love and the belief that all Dance creatse deep and sincere human connections, Momentum is committed to working together towards mutually beneficial relationships rooted in respect, while generously holding one another accountable in the process. Our aim is to provide an exchange free of oppressive biases including racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, ableism, ageism, bullying, and classism.

In addition to providing financial commissions, the 14-month process combines career development and creative process exchanges to strengthen the artistic and professional futures of the awarded Dance makers. For the 20th Anniversary festival, Momentum: New Dance Works 2020-2021, led by Program Director DejaJoelle, is excited to support an expanded cohort of six Twin Cities-based choreographers. 

As Momentum shifted into the model of providing direct funding to more Artists, they were moved to cut other budget spending, and are now asking for mutual aid and community support. Please contact Momentum Program Director, DejaJoelle, at or 763-337-4467 to contribute; see full wish list below.


Promotional photography
Studio space
Event photography
Knowledge exchange (designers, company Directors, ASCAP, music production, touring, taxes, budgeting, etc)
Food/relief resources
Retreat space/travel funds if outside the Twin Cities
Discounted tickets to performances
Access to sound studios
Healing/trauma-informed services
Intersections with other programs
Opportunities to share work




Gabrielle Abram is a Gary, Indiana native. She is a self-taught, multi-lingual Hip Hop artist and has received training in Ballet, Modern, West African, and Jazz at The Perpich Center for Arts and Education, TU Dance Center, and ARENA Dances Summer Intensive. Abram attended Columbia College Chicago and returned to the Twin Cities to work as a professional Dancer, Choreographer, and Producer. As an active artist in the Twin Cities' Hip-Hop community, Abram has danced in productions such as Mixtape Vol. 1; Mixtape Volume 2; and Rooted: Hip Hop Choreographers' Evening. Gabrielle is a member of STRONGmovement, directed by Darrius Strong and Atlantis13 Dance Collective, directed by Peace Madimutsa and Jonathan van Arneman. In 2018 Abram co-produced Listen, at The Lab Theater as part of a collective of nine choreographers sharing Pan-African perspectives and personal stories of Black identity. 

Leanna Browne holds a BA in Psychology and Special Major in Dance & Black Studies from Swarthmore College. She has danced with various artists/companies such as Erinn Liebhard, Leslie Parker Dance Project, and BLAQ. Leanna also shares her passion for dance with children and youth as a teaching artist in different after-school programs. In 2017, she received her M'Singha Wuti training certification in Umfundalai, a contemporary African dance technique. Leanna believes in the power of dance for social change. 

Yoni Light is a Dancer, Musician, Actress, and Activist from St. Paul, Minnesota. She is a co-founder of the Hip Hop dance crew New Black City, a crew dedicated to using dance to make social change. Their motto is “changing the world 1 booty cheek at a time.” Yoni has also been a part of both S.H.E and Atlantis13 collectives. Both are dedicated to Blackness, expression, and social change. She has collaborated with multiple artists/platforms in the last year, such as TPT “Art is…” featuring PaviElle, Controlled Burn with DejaJoelle, Abandoned Outlines with Al Taw’am, and many more. Yoni’s work is dedicated to the art of healing, self-expression, and soul/body awareness. 

Aneka McMullen is a performer, choreographer, and educator who hails from Minneapolis, and holds a BFA in Dance from The Ohio State University. Her extensive dance experience includes  Hip Hop, West African, Modern, Afro Modern, Jazz, and Ballet. McMullen is a co- founder and artistic director of Epitome-No Question, an open, Old Skool Hip Hop, dance ensemble dedicated to celebrating the community conscious roots of Hip Hop culture, through dance theater. She is currently a member of BLAQ, an Afro Modern Observance based dance company in the Twin Cities and has recently completed five seasons as a performer with the Minneapolis-based Threads Dance Project, as well as, a teaching residence with the Ordway’s Dance to Learn program. Her work has been featured in Lori Carlos’s Late Nite Series, Choreographers’ Evening (Walker Art Center), and most recently the 2018 16 Feet: Splashes of Dance choreographers’ evening. 

Averie Mitchell-Brown has always found ways to entertain herself through art. After first dancing on stage at the age of 11, she strived to make any aspect of dance her life, taking classes in ballroom, West African, break dancing, jazz and contemporary. She has worked with well known artists like Al TAW’AM - The Twins, and as a crew member for Best Ensemble Sage Award winning group S.H.E - She Who Holds Everything, as well as working with Kenna Cottman in Voice of Culture drum and Dance company, Aneka McMullen in Epitome-No Question, Bboy J-Sun, Leah Nelson, and many more. 

Originally from Stillwater, OK, Arneshia Williams is inspired by her experiences of family, care, and rhythm to focus on traditions of the African Diaspora and contemporary dance in her work. This genre provides a rich arena for the study of decoloniality, contemporary aesthetic practices, and spirituality. Arneshia recently received artistic support from The Cowles Center’s Generating Room, Breck Create, and Red Eye Theater. 



Since its inception in 2001, Momentum’s program has been funded by the Jerome Foundation. Thanks to the vision of its founding partners (Walker Art Center 2001-present, the Southern Theater 2001-2017, the now-defunct Dance Today/formerly Minnesota Dance Alliance 2001), and additional partners (The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts 2014-present, Movement Research (NYC) 2014-2019, Springboard for the Arts 2010-2019, The O’Shaughnessy 2018-2019), Momentum: New Dance Works has become one of the most important platforms for emerging dance artists in Minnesota today. 

Momentum: New Dance Works is supported by a grant from the Jerome Foundation.

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Email to be in touch directly with Momentum Program Director DejaJoelle.

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