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The SURGE Coastal Community Fellowship is a two month residency program that accompanies Boston Dance Theater's SURGE performance. The program has been designed for a group of BIPOC movement artists residing in coastal communities that are vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise. The SURGE Fellowship provides the opportunity for Fellows to reflect on the impacts of local climate events, build on existing narratives of resilience to climate change, and to envision a thriving future for the community through artistic presentation. During six meetings Fellows are guided through a creative art+science+climate activism process designed by Jessie Jeanne Stinnett (SURGE Project Lead & Choreographer), Dr. Larry J. Pratt (Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) , and the BIPOC Core Members of BDT. Fellows will learn about recent trends in Boston-area sea level rise research, Stinnett/Pratt's strategies for art+science collaboration, gain access to resources for climate activism and continued learning through the Climate Reality Project (founded by former US Vice President and Climate Activist Al Gore), and will have the opportunity to share their artistic contributions alongside Boston Dance Theater's performance of SURGE


The Boston Foundation has provided support to BDT to launch the pilot SURGE Fellowship in East Boston in Spring 2022, in partnership with The Trustees of Reservations.


The SURGE performance is a participatory dance work by BDT of approximately 45 minutes in length. Audience members mingle with performers and a scientist to witness dance and engage in dialogue about the climate crisis, current sea level rise science, and coastal impacts to come. The work was initially funded by the Boston Dancemakers Residency award in 2020, but the creation was cut short by COVID-19 cancellations. In partnership with The Trustees of Reservations, SURGE will premiere in East Boston at Pier’s Park in July 2022 with a subsequent presentation at deCordova Sculpture Park in late summer 2022.

Trustees + Boston Foundation logos.png
Trustees + Boston Foundation logos.png

SURGE Fellowship



Who should apply? 

BIPOC performing artists with a strong movement background. These artists must demonstrate experience of creating and performing their own work. Experience with the art+science process is not required, but an interest in making work that is at the intersection of dance, spoken word, and climate justice is a must. The selected artists will demonstrate an interest in using their work to cultivate local community resilience with respect to climate change.



Six residency sessions will take place every other week during March, April, and May 2022. The final performance will take place in July 2022.



Residency sessions will be in person, indoors at a community venue in East Boston. Performance will be outdoors at Pier’s Park.


Selected artists will receive a $50 hourly stipend payment for residency meetings (15 hours) and $140 per performance (3 shows). Additional performance stipends are available if the selected artists wish to include a collaborator.


DEADLINE EXTENDED to March 1, 2022 11:59pm (ET)


Jessie Jeanne Stinnett
Project Lead, Choreographer

Stinnett is a Climate Reality Leader trained by former US Vice President Al Gore as well as a dancer, choreographer, and the founder and co-artistic director of Boston Dance Theater (BDT). Her current project, SURGE, is created in collaboration with ocean scientist Dr Larry J. Pratt of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the BIPOC dance artists of Boston Dance Theater. SURGE addresses the crisis of sea level rise, and the role that arts + science collaboration can play in creating a sustainable future.  


She received a BFA in Dance Performance from The Boston Conservatory and an MFA in Creative Practice: Dance Professional Pathway from Trinity Laban Conservatoire, in conjunction with Independent Dance/Siobhan Davies Dance. Most notably Jessie has performed for the Metropolitan Opera, Tate Britain (UK), Prometheus Dance, Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (Vienna), The Boston Baroque Opera, and Bard College’s SummerScape Festival. 


Her choreographic work has been described by Hannah Chanatry of WBUR as “conceptually driven performance that unpacks the complexities of being female, and pushes the academic boundaries of choreography” and has been sustained in part by grants from The Boston Foundation with support from The Barr Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, Assets4Artists at MASS MoCA, and Fidelity Charitable. 


Some of Jessie’s recent choreography commission credits include: Boston Ballet School, Dean College, Keene State University, Providence College, Endicott College, Goethe-Institut Boston, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, The Trustees of Reservations, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, and Emmanuel Music. She is the recipient of the 2020 Boston Dancemakers Residency grant award and was the 2020 Choreographer in Residence at Boston Center for the Arts and Boston Dance Alliance.

Dr. Larry J. Pratt
Lead Science Collaborator

Dr. Pratt is a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He holds a B. S. and M. S. from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  


Dr. Pratt’s research interests include theory and modeling of ocean and marginal sea circulation and mixing, mesoscale and submesoscale instability and turbulence,  sea strait hydraulics, abyssal circulation in deep canyons, and the use of dynamical systems and chaos theory to understand mixing and stirring at various scales.


He has collaborated on a number of dance, photography, and ocean science projects and public workshops in Boston and New York with choreographers Riley Watts, Courtney Peix, Jody Sperling, Mariah Steele, Alissa Cardone and Jessie Jeanne Stinnett. His extended arts and science projects have been presented at the Boston Science Museum, New Bedford Art Museum, Keck Futures Foundation (Washington, DC), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Boston Arts Academy, often with support from the National Science Foundation.


Beyond 2022

The SURGE East Boston Fellowship is part of an intended multi-year project lead by Stinnett to engage multiple coastal communities in the New England area that are vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise.

Want to work together?

Do you think the SURGE Fellowship might be a good fit for your community? Drop us a line!

Thanks for getting in touch!

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