In 2007, Mr. Short organized his first initiative, Dissonance Dance Theatre, and financed the performance group’s productions though his personal resources. The organization uses dance to challenge what audiences assume about the human experience, and develops contemporary and classically trained artists. The company serves as Mr. Short’s laboratory to explore contemporary dance that reflects reality through narrative, movement and formal acting elements. It is a vehicle that helps him to fulfill his personal mission of inspiring contemporary artists who are looking to use their talents and develop their professional skills.
Since its inception, Dissonance has been nominated for several awards by the local dance organization, Dance Metro DC; debuted in New York at the Brooklyn Arts Exchange; was recognized by the Capital Fringe Festival as one of the “Top 5 Performances to Watch”; and has been fiscally sponsored through the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) since 2009. Additionally, for the last two seasons, Dissonance has performed for sold-out audiences at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, the only dance company in Washington, DC that possesses this accomplishment. This year, Dissonance is working to develop a national presence through Presenter engagements while, also, continuing to enhance its brand recognition with local performances throughout the metropolitan DC area.
It is through NYFA that Dissonance is now able to receive tax-deductible contributions, and access to national arts funding and grant opportunities. While NYFA’s sponsorship affords Shawn Short and Dissonance Dance Theatre the ability to receive tax-deductible contributions, as Dissonance concluded its fifth season, Mr. Short realized the need to develop a nonprofit dance training institution under his governance that would serve as a vehicle to solicit and acquire financial resources through this means.
As the momentum from Dissonance’s patrons steadily increases and Shawn Short’s educational following expands rapidly—in part, as a result of his prominent post as Ballet professor at Catholic University of America—it is now evident that the community supporting Mr. Short and his endeavors is committed to his work, and large enough to launch an education institution with him as its Founder and Artistic Director. In 2012, Shawn Short incorporated Ngoma Center for Dance in Washington, District of Columbia. Because of the strong following and the outstanding reputation of his first initiative, Dissonance Dance Theatre, Mr. Short decided to bring Dissonance under the governance of Ngoma as its professional company and premiere performance group. Dissonance will work synergistically with Ngoma and the variety of programs it will house to increase the number of professionally-trained, African-American dance artists while, also, enhancing their authorship, literacy, and entrepreneurship skills. Ngoma Center for Dance will provide African-American children and youth, and their enthusiasts, with a deeper understanding of dance as an art form and a discipline. Given the well-documented deficiencies in dance vocabulary comprehension, body conditioning, and proper diet among individuals within Black communities, Ngoma will work to implement a “high art” vision with community sensitivity, and to develop artists who are people who can communicate effectively through words, through gestures, and through dance.