Cynthia Oliver ( creates performance collages that move from dance to word to sound and back again toward a postmodern nouveau dance theatre. A Bronx born, Virgin Island reared performer, she incorporates the textures of Caribbean performance with African, and American, aesthetic sensibilities. She has been awarded and/or commissioned by the Franklin Furnace, The Puffin Foundation, The Jerome Foundation, Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund for Minority Artisits, NYSCA, 92nd St Y Harkness Center for Dance, Performance Space 122, Dance Theater Workshop, The National Performance Network, Creative Capital, The Rockefeller MAP Fund, The University of Illinois Research Board, and the Illinois Arts Council. In 1995/96 Cynthia won a New York Dance and Performance Award (a Bessie) for her evening length work "Death's Door." In 2000 she was called, "Outstanding Young Choreographer" by reviewer Frank Werner in the German magazine Ballet Tanz. She was featured in Dance Magazine's April 2002 article on Artists who balance academe and the professional arena and in 2007 she appeared in Arts Across Illinois, a series presenting Illinois artists and their work on local Public Television stations.

Her work has been has been performed in New York at The Public Theatre's “Haphazard Cabaret,” The Pauline Oliveros Foundation's Live Letters Festival, the 92nd Street Y, University Settlement, The Kitchen, Performance Space 122, Dance Theater Workshop, DanSpace at St. Mark’s Church, and Aaron Davis Hall. In New Orleans she has been presented at NOCCA, in Illinois at Links Hall and the Hot House in Chicago, the Doris Humphrey Academy of Music and Dance in Oak Park, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana-Champaign, in Utah at The University of Utah, and in Seattle at the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas. Her choreography for theatre has been performed at La MaMa Etc., Minnesota's Penumbra and Pillsbury House Theaters, New York’s Syncronicity Space, and Harlem's Aaron Davis Hall as part of the 1997 African American Performance Art Festival. In 2004 Cynthia collaborated with German Filmmaker Marcus Behrens of European arts channel Canal Arte to adapt her evening length work AfroSocialiteLifeDiva for film which has aired on Canal Arte in 2005 and Germany, Austria and Switzerland’s 3Sat Arts Channel in 2006.

She has danced with Theatre Dance Inc. and the Caribbean Dance Company of St. Croix, Virgin Islands. In New York she has danced with independent choreographers Janine Williams, Andrea E. Woods, and Patricia Hoffbauer and with many companies including the David Gordon Pick Up Co., the Prowess DanceArts Collective, Ronald Kevin Brown/Evidence, and currently with Bebe Miller Company. As an actor Cynthia has performed in works by Greg Tate, Ione, Laurie Carlos, and Ntozake Shange.

In addition to Cynthia's performance work, she holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University. Her scholarly work has focused on performance in the Anglophone Caribbean. She has taught at New York University's Department of Drama, Tisch School of the Arts, The Newcomb Summer Dance Intensive at Tulane University, Florida State University, Bates Dance Festival, and the University of Utah. She is Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


Nehassaiu deGannes — Trinidad, Canada, U.S.A. (Trinity Rep Conservatory Graduate Acting Program; MFA, Brown University; MA African American Studies, Temple University;) Regional Theatre credits include: "Rose Rose," Cider House Rules; "Catherine" Proof; "Lisa Body" Preface To An Alien Garden, “Gladys” Skin Of Our Teeth (Trinity Rep); "Virgilia" Coriolanus, (Shakespeare & Co); “Griselda/Jeanine/Nell” Top Girls, “Anna” Closer (The GAMM); "Maydee" Jar The Floor, “Adela,” House of Bernarda Alba (Providence Black Rep); “Dinah” in Theatre of The Two-Headed Calf's The Cataract and “Roberta Charles” in Room For Cream at LaMaMa Etc. Awards include the inaugural Cave Canem Fellowship at Vermont Studio Center, the 2008 Poetry Fellowship from The Rhode Island State Council on The Arts, The Philbrick Poetry Prize, and several grants and awards for her original one-woman show, Door of No Return. Nehassaiu is currently Assistant Professor of Theatre at Rhode Island College and lives in Harlem, NY.

A’Keitha Carey
“Day to day eyes are open, ears alert listening to the inhalation and exhalation of the dancers creating their own accompaniment as hips sway. Pulsating, percussive and vibrato; Legato and sinewy undulations juxtaposed. Find your pelvis and release your back"! These are some of the themes and variations that enticed me into the world of dance. I was born in Freeport, Bahamas, grew up in Miami, Florida, attended Florida International University where I completed my B.A. in Dance and later received an M.F.A. in Dance from Florida State University. I worked at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center as the Dance Director and the Artistic Director of the Winds of Heritage Performing Arts Dance Company. I have danced with The Moving Company (lyrical jazz), Dialu Dance Company (West African), and was the soloist for Sosyete Koukouy (Haitian) for two years. My dance experience extends beyond these forms. I am also influenced by experiences in Afro Cuban, ballet, and contemporary dance styles. I am currently teaching CaribFunk, a style which I developed which fuses contemporary (ballet and modern) with traditional dance forms (West African, Haitian, Afro-Cuban, and Caribbean) and layered with my dynamic and sensual rhythmic tones.

Ithalia Forel is from Liverpool, UK and began training in dance three years ago, she has recently completed the Professional studies program at The Limon Institute, NYC, where she worked and performed with NYC choreographers Alan Danielson and Geraldine Cardiel. During her training Ithalia has danced with Zurich Choreographer Anne-Sophie Fenner and other European choreographers including Nutkut, Liz Lea and Darren Suarrez. Since training in dance, Ithalia has been teaching and creating work with schools and youth groups within Liverpool, utilizing dance as a tool to address current issues affecting Youth today. Ithalia is a singer, and was previously a member of a Gospel Choir, and recently performed in NYC with a small Jazz quartet.

Caryn Hodge
I was born and raised on St. Croix US Virgin Islands from a long line of Caribbean peoples. Who knows where my passion for dance came from but it's here and doesn't seem to wander far. I began dancing like most at a young age. I took it very seriously until I was about twenty-one when I joined the Caribbean Dance Company. By twenty-three I was married with the first of two beautiful children on the way. By thirty, I was haunted and came to New York to train at Ailey, attend the Gallatin School at NYU, dance with Mamadou Dahoue. I am thrilled to dance with Cynthia and add this as one of life's highlights.

Lisa Green began her dance career in Toronto, Canada, where she trained and was company member of Ballet Creole Dance company. Lisa credits Ballet Creole for igniting her passion for African and Afro-Caribbean dance, she has been trained in other dance styles such as jazz, modern, Afro-Brazilian and hiphop. She has performed with a number of dance companies Ballet Creole, Dance Immersion, Errol Grimes dance group, Bambara drum & dance group, Grupo Corpo performing arts company and Viewsic Expressions where she is currently assistant artistic director. Alongside dance, Lisa's other passion in life working with children. Lisa has an educational background in Child & Youth Counseling where she has worked with a number of at risk children and their families. The skills Lisa has acquired in her field as a counselor has informed her work as a dance instructor and performing artist, which has led her to develop and implement dance programming for children that focus on their social and emotional growth through dance. To add to her credits Lisa has also become a certified Pilates & Yoga instructor.

Rosamond S. King is a TriniGambian creative and critical writer and performer. Her original work and guerrilla performance art have appeared in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and throughout the USA. She has recently delved into butoh and circus arts, and has extensive training in West African, ballet, jazz, and modern dance forms. In addition, King's poetry has been published in over a dozen journals and anthologies. She holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature and teaches literature, creative writing, and performance at Brooklyn College – and through Eating Artist Services King helps artists and writers build creative careers. Thanks to Cynthia, and love to all of the extended families. King's Rigidigidim performances are dedicated to all of the doctors who said she would never dance again, and to all the physical therapists and nurses who said she would.

Philadelphia-born percussionist Jason Finkelman specializes in the berimbau, an Afro-Brazilian musical bow, and performs on a wide variety of African and Brazilian instruments, many handcrafted by Adimu Kuumba. His artistic concerns have focused primarily on the performance of improvised music and composition for dance, theater, and film. Jason’s interest in exploring improvised music with unusual instrumentation led to the Urbana Champaign-based projects Ferrocene3 and Nu Orbit Ensemble, as well as the New York-based ambient, avant world trio Straylight. Noted collaborations with choreographer Cynthia Oliver include the dance film /AfroSocialiteLifeDiva/ (2004), and the evening length performance /SHEMAD/ (2000), in which Jason along with Straylight's members Geoff Gersh and Charles Cohen were awarded a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award, as well as the wondrous adventures in parenting their son Elias.


Marcus Behrens | Film Director & Editor, Video-Artist, Author, Presenter

Radio was his first love, but definitely not his last. Starting to work for the local radio station at the young age of 16 made Marcus Behrens a “radio-addict” until the present day. After developing a weekly television series focussing on young and upcoming art and artists throughout Europe in the late 1990ies, he moved on to produce and direct documentaries and “dance’n’motion”-pictures for the pan-European arts-TV-Channel arte. Working as a news and current-affairs editor and project-manager for the German Public Radio and Television Network (ARD) for the past years, Marcus Behrens also recently finished a documentary film on international dancers living and working in the German capital Berlin, due to be released in early 2010. His collaboration with Cynthia Oliver, creating “video-moments” for Oliver’s new stage performance “Rigidigidim” is a first for him, working with motion images outside of television.

Amanda K. Ringger (Lighting Designer) has lived in New York for the past 12 years designing locally, nationally and internationally with artisits such as Laura Peterson, Faye Driscoll, Julian Barnett, Alexandra Beller, Kota Yamazaki, Deborah Lohse, Cynthia Oliver, Clare Byrne, Antonietta Vicario, Darrah Carr, Karen Love/Umoja, and Mark Jarecke, among others. She received a BA from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD and an MFA in lighting design from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.
This presentation of Cynthia Oliver Co. Dance Theatre (COCo) was made possible in part by the MetLife Community Connections Fund of the National Dance Project, a program administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts. Major support for the National Dance Project is also provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. COCo is funded in part by the National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund, co-commissioned by the Painted Bride Arts Center in partnership with the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas, the Dance Place, Danspace Project, and Bates Dance Festival. COCo is also funded by the following: the Multi-Arts Production Fund - a program of Creative Capital, which is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation; The Edwards Foundation Arts Fund; and the Dance Department at University of Illinois, The University of Illinois Research and Creative Research Boards. This tour of COCo is made possible by a grant from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program. Additional tour support was received from the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts.