TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Carla Peterson, director of the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography housed in the School of Dance at Florida State University, has dedicated her decades-long career to supporting and promoting artists from around the world working in the fields of contemporary dance and performance.
For her efforts, Peterson was presented with the insignia of Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) in a ceremony at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York City.
The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres was created by the French government in 1957 to honor eminent artists and writers, and those who help further the arts throughout France and the world. Recent American recipients of this prestigious award include renowned musician and composer Ornette Coleman, composer, choreographer, singer and performer Meredith Monk, filmmaker Wes Anderson, actress Meryl Streep and author and director Paul Auster.
“To be able to do the work one loves day to day in support of creative artists is already both a gift and privilege,” Peterson said. “One doesn’t expect more.”
Bénédicte de Montlaur, the cultural counselor of the French Embassy, presented Peterson with her medal Nov. 23. Before the presentation, de Montlaur recognized Peterson’s dedication in bringing French artists working in dance and theater to perform in the United States while she served as artistic director for Dance Theater Workshop and New York Live Arts in New York City.
“(Carla) … has long been at the forefront of some of the most exciting revolutions in the world of dance,” de Montlaur said during the ceremony. “Carla, your decades of experience in dance reflect your profound love for the art. You are much more than a dance enthusiast, however; you are a cultural activist. For you, the value of the performing arts is uncontestable. As the leader of major dance organizations, you have passionately advocated dance, and all that comes along with it: funding, space and talented performers.”
Peterson was touched by the recognition and de Montlaur’s kind words.
“To be recognized in such a beautiful ceremony hosted by Bénédicte de Montlaur, surrounded by friends, colleagues and many of the artists with whom I have worked, was beyond moving,” Peterson said. “I am and will be forever grateful for this moment.”
Since arriving at Florida State in 2014, Peterson has continued to champion dance and choreography at MANCC, a nationally recognized research center that promotes the value of the creative process. MANCC annually hosts between 12 and 15 acclaimed choreographers and collaborators in one- to three-week residencies to research ideas both in and out of the studio, and to develop new work.
While in residence at MANCC, artists have the opportunity to push their creative investigations further by engaging with academic scholars, students, faculty and experts outside FSU through meetings, group discussions, field trips, lecture/demonstrations and work-in-progress showings for the FSU and Tallahassee communities.
Many of the works that have been developed at MANCC have premiered at prominent venues in New York City including BAM, Danspace Project and the Whitney Museum of American Art, and around the country at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., On the Boards in Seattle, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.