Cynthia Oliver

Cynthia Oliver

 

Biography

Cynthia Oliver grew up in the US Virgin Islands and came into art via a childhood filled with black bodies moving in Afro-Caribbean time, space and form and the incongruous mixture of European dance dramas and site-specific improvisational performance via the tutelage of Atti van den Berg (a former Jooss dancer/performer). Moving in this way led her to a career in NYC and abroad in the world of performance art and experimental dancing. She has danced with many companies, including the David Gordon/Pick Up Company, Ronald Kevin Brown/EVIDENCE and Bebe Miller. In the black avant garde theatre world, she has performed in numerous works including plays by Laurie Carlos and Ntozake Shange. Her own work, a meìlange of dance, theatre and the spoken word, incorporates the textures of Caribbean performance with African and American sensibilities. Named “Outstanding Young Choreographer” by German magazine Ballet Tanz early in her career, Oliver has since received numerous grants and awards including a New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Award, an Illinois Arts Council Choreography Fellowship, a Creative Capital award, a Rockefeller Multi-Arts Production grant, a CalArts Alpert Award nomination and most recently a University Scholar Award from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she is a professor of dance. Oliver holds a PhD in performance studies from New York University and is the author of Queen of the Virgins: Pageantry and Black Womanhood in the Caribbean.