Recognizing Excellence in Modern Dance Choreography – Posted 5/9/17

Stephanie Nerbak, of Lake Hiawatha, an adjunct professor of dance at County College of Morris (CCM), recently won two choreography fellowships – one from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and another from Jersey NEW Moves! – in support of her preeminent performance work.

“I was ecstatic when I heard I’d won these two fellowships,” says Nerbak. “I recently moved back to New Jersey and haven’t been in the dance community here for very long. To be welcomed into the community in this way was overwhelmingly joyful, but also a strong motivation for me to press forward as an artist.”

Nerbak was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship Award for $12,000 from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The awards are open to New Jersey artists in 12 different disciplines, which rotate each year, and are granted based on an anonymous panel review process focused exclusively on artistic quality. The program is carried out in partnership with the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. This year’s award winners were artists working in the categories of choreography, music composition, poetry and sculpture.

“It was exciting to learn that this year was the first year that nine choreographers were selected for fellowships; it’s usually a very small cohort,” says Nerbak. “That so many were selected speaks to the high caliber of choreographic work that is being done in New Jersey. To be included in that group is an honor.”

She will use the fellowship to create new work and market herself through a website and other branding. “I like to create work that is multidisciplinary,” she says.

“I like to cross into other artistic disciplines so dance can combine with the fields of theater, visual arts, music and technology. I’m currently working on a piece that will be premiered at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) this June at the Jersey NEW Moves! emerging choreographers performance.”

Jersey NEW Moves!, the second fellowship Nerbak won, is offered through a partnership between NJPAC and Dance New Jersey. The third annual edition of this Garden State showcase will feature New Jersey’s best up-and-coming choreographers. After an open submission process, selected artists will be mentored by four of the modern dance world’s leading choreographers and share their work for the first time with NJPAC audiences. The two-year fellowship allows choreographers to present their work at NJPAC once a year, two years in a row. Winners receive an honorarium of $1,000 each year to offset the cost of creating new work.

A dance professional for more than 20 years, Nerbak joined the CCM faculty in January 2016. She previously worked for dance and theater companies across the country including the Heidi Duckler Dance Theater in California, the West Virginia Dance Company and the Clear Space Theater Company in Delaware. She holds a bachelor’s degree in dance performance from Point Park University in Pittsburgh and a master’s of fine arts degree in dance from Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

“I couldn’t have won these fellowships without the support of CCM,” she says. “I had the use of the studio at the college for the past year. That space is primarily where the work I submitted for these fellowships was generated, and I am very grateful to CCM for that. Space is always difficult for dance artists to come by, but is so essential to our work.”

Learn more about the Dance Program at CCM.

Photo: Stephanie Nerbak, adjunct professor of dance at County College of Morris, with one of her dance classes at the college. Credit: John Hester