Discipline: Interdisciplinary Art – movement

Cynthia Oliver

Discipline: Interdisciplinary Art – movement
Region: Urbana, IL
MacDowell Fellowships: 2022

Cynthia Oliver creates performance collages that move from dance to word to sound and back again toward an eclectic and provocative dance theatre. A Bronx-born, Virgin Island-reared performer, she incorporates the textures of Caribbean performance with African and American aesthetic sensibilities.

She is a New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Award winning choreographer, a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2021 United States Artist, and Doris Duke Artist awardee. She has toured the globe dancing with David Gordon Pick Up Co., Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Bebe Miller Company, and Tere O’Connor Dance, and as an actor in works by Laurie Carlos, Greg Tate, Ione, Ntozake Shange, and Deke Weaver.

She earned a Ph.D. in performance studies from New York University, and has recently served as associate vice chancellor for research and innovation in the humanities, arts and related fields at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she is a professor in the dance department with affiliations in Gender & Women's Studies and African American Studies.

During her MacDowell residency, Oliver began a book project tentatively titled Circling Back; Circling Black. It will be a memoir/historical document about her choreographic process, her life as a dancer in the works of others, and personal experiences aligned with significant world events.

Portrait by Lyosha Svinarski


New Hampshire

Cynthia Oliver worked in the New Hampshire studio.

New Hampshire Studio, originally named Peterborough Studio, was given to MacDowell by Mr. and Mrs. William Schofield, Mrs. H. A. Chamberlain, Mrs. Andrew Draper, and Miss Ruth Cheney. The studio was renamed in 1943. The Gilbert Verney Foundation established an endowed maintenance fund in 1990, and a bequest in memory of MacDowell Fellow Victor Candell underwrote the…

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