SALLY ROUSSE, Unlimited
Sally Rousse has built a distinguished, multi-faceted life in dance that includes performing, teaching, curating, advocating, choreographing, and writing, with noteworthy honors and grants. She is a two-time recipient of the McKnight Artist Fellowship for Dancers (2001 and 2014) and received a 2013 Sage Award for Outstanding Performer. Named “Artist of the Year” (City Pages, 2010), she began dancing in Barre, Vermont, going on to train at the School of American Ballet and with David Howard before performing as a leading dancer with Ballet Chicago, the Royal Ballet of Flanders, and James Sewell Ballet (JSB), which she co-founded in NYC in 1990. In addition to many roles in the classical and Balanchine repertoires, Sally has danced works by Maurice Béjart, Jiri Kylián, and more than 100 new works created on her by contemporary choreographers. The Cowles Center and JSB honored Rousse with a tribute and retrospective in 2014.
In 1994, Sally began studying and performing Improvisation and Contact, primarily with Patrick Scully, Chris Aiken, and Hijack, aiming to draw upon a larger movement palette to extend the definitions, aesthetics, and relevance of ballet and ballerina. She initiated JSB's Ballet Works Project and was its chief curator for 10 years, developing and presenting works by local and New York-based choreographers that broadened the scope of the ballet idiom to include vaudeville, post-modern, aerial, theatrical, and West African. Grants awarded by the Jerome Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board helped her delve deeper into the state of ballet and her place in it.
Rousse's work as a choreographer has been supported by diverse venues and organizations: the Southern Theater, Walker Art Center, VocalEssence, Marshall Field's, Harvard's American Repertory Theatre, the Cartoon Channel, Nickelodeon, Omaha Ballet, JSB, 3-Legged Race, the Jerome Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation. While Artist-in-Residence at the American Swedish Institute from 2013-14 she co-created Kom Hit! – a roving, immersive dance/theater work with Noah Bremer.
Sally continues to work with several diverse dance entities in the Twin Cities and around the world, among those most recently, Hijack, Penelope Freeh, and Hong Kong’s Kanta Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren, Ph.D. She serves on several Boards and panels, awarding grants, fellowships, honors and opportunities in the performing arts that help shape the local and global cultural environment. She lives and raises her two children in Minneapolis, Minnesota.