December 17, 2018

Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance announces next round of Caroline Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence

Souleymane Badolo, Shannon Gillen, Jessica Lang, Jennifer Nugent and Paul Matteson, Olivier Tarpaga, and Raphael Xavier receive support for the development of new work on the Princeton University campus

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance at Princeton University announces seven artist residencies in the second round of the Caroline Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence Program. Souleymane Badolo, Shannon Gillen, Jessica Lang, Jennifer Nugent and Paul Matteson, Olivier Tarpaga, and Raphael Xavier will spend anywhere from a week to a semester in the Lewis Arts complex studios at Princeton this spring and next fall. The purpose of Hearst program is to bring prominent choreographers and dancers in conversation with Princeton students through a variety of engagement activities while supporting the development of these choreographers’ work. The residencies planned for each of these seven recently named choreographers are aimed at maximizing that potential engagement.

The Caroline Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence Program fosters the Program in Dance’s connections with the dance field. It provides selected professional choreographers with resources and a rich environment to develop their work and offers opportunities for students, faculty and staff to engage with diverse creative practices. The program is supported through a gift from Margaret C. and William R. Hearst, III.

“By bringing our students into direct conversation with today’s ground breaking choreographers, we hope to create rare opportunities for learning that equally benefit the Hearst artists and the Princeton dance community.”

Susan Marshall, Director of the Program in Dance

Many of the choreographers in this round of residencies will be rehearsing in Lewis Center studios with their professional dancers to further their work on current creative projects. Princeton students will be invited to showings and open rehearsals, with a number of these events open to the public. Each choreographer will also be guest-teaching in classes and inviting their professional dancers to join the classes to dance side by side with students. Other engagement activities include students apprenticing as choreographic assistants; dinners and conversations between the choreographers and students; advising student projects; and sharing informal showings of works-in-progress.

In 2017, the inaugural year of the residency program, four artists were chosen as choreographers-in-residence – Ralph Lemon, Abigail Zbikowski, Karen Sherman and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. The Hearst Program supported the presentation of A Love Supreme, an evening-length work by De Keersmaeker and Salva Sanchis, which was part of a four-day festival to celebrate the opening of the Lewis Arts complex. Currently in-progress are commissions of new dance works from Lemon, Sherman, and Zbikowski. Zbikowski taught at Princeton this semester and choreographed a work with student dancers, and Lemon and Sherman anticipate being in-residence over the coming year.

In announcing this second round of choreographers-in-residence, Susan Marshall, Director of the Program in Dance and MacArthur Foundation Fellowship recipient explained, “In contrast to the inaugural choreographers-in-residence, who are mounting large works over a two- to three-year period and conducting showings and talks with students in intervals before they premier the work at Princeton, this second round of choreographers are in residence for shorter, more intensive time periods with the emphasis being the gift of a devoted and supported rehearsal period for them and multiple points of engagement with our students in courses and special events.”

Princeton students perform a work by one of the inaugural Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence, Abby Zbikowski, at the 2018 Princeton Dance Festival. Photo by Larry Levanti.

Known informally as “Solo” and based in New York since 2009, choreographer/dancer Souleymane Badolo was born in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. He began his professional career performing with a traditional African dance company before founding his own Burkina Faso-based troupe in 1993, Kongo Ba Téria, which fuses African traditions with western contemporary dance. He danced with the world-renowned company Salia ni Seydou, which appeared at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 2002. Since relocating to New York, he has received two New York Dance and Performance Awards (Bessies) and numerous commissions and residencies, and he has been a guest instructor at The New School, Bennington College, and University of North Carolina Asheville.

Shannon Gillen is artistic director of the New York City-based dance company Vim Vigor and the in-house choreographer for contemporary women’s fashion line Phelan. Prior to founding Vim Vigor, Gillen was a full-time company member in the Johannes Wieland Company at the Staatstheater Kassel, Germany and as a choreographer received Third Prize at the International Solo-Tanz Competition in Stuttgart, and was commissioned by the Mainfranken Theater Würzburg and through Choreografische Werkstatt at the TIF Theater in Kassel. She was selected as a Think Big choreographer-in-residence with the Staatsoper in Hannover, creating a piece that premiered at the TANZ Theater International Festival. Gillen was also the recipient of Hubbard Street’s International Commissioning Competition. Vim Vigor’s work and educational offerings have been presented across the United States, Canada, Central America, South America and Europe with commissions from L. A. Dance Project, Lobero Theatre/DANCEWORKS, PRISMA Festival in Panama, Ruvuelo in Concepcion, Chile, Treffpunkt- Rotebuehlplatz, b12 Festival in Berlin, Springboard Danse Festival, New York Live Arts, Judson Church, PULSE Art Fair as part of Art Basel, NYC’s River to River Festival, Bryant Park Presents, HERE Arts Center, Festival Oltre Passo in Italy, and Steps Repertory Company for the The Joyce Theater and Jacob’s Pillow. Gillen received her B.F.A. from The Juilliard School and her M.F.A. from Tisch School of the Arts/New York University. She holds faculty positions at SUNY Purchase College and is a regular guest teaching artist at The Juilliard School, Barnard College, The Hartt School, New York University/Tisch School of the Arts, and at the b12 workshops in Berlin.

Jessica Lang is Artistic Director of Jessica Lang Dance, founded in 2011 and offering more than 50 performances annually throughout the world. Noted for her dedication to educational activities, Lang developed a unique curriculum for the company called LANGuage, which is offered as part of the company’s programming on tour and in New York City. Lang has created original works for companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the National Ballet of Japan, and Joffrey Ballet, among many others. Lang has also worked in opera on a production of Aida, directed by Francesca Zambello, for San Francisco Opera and Washington National Opera. She is the recipient of a 2014 New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Award and the 2017 Arison Award. She is a graduate of The Juilliard School under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy and a former member of Twyla Tharp’s company THARP! Her piece, Tesseracts of Time, a collaboration with Lewis Arts complex architect Steven Holl, was recently performed at McCarter Theatre.

Jennifer Nugent and Paul Matteson have been presented by Danspace Project, Symphony Space, Dance Theater Workshop and most recently by the American Dance Festival. They both danced extensively with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and David Dorfman Dance, and a long list of other acclaimed choreographers. Each has received New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards for their body of work as performers. Both artists have taught at numerous festivals, colleges, and universities. Nugent is currently on faculty at Sarah Lawrence College and regularly teaches at Gibney Studios and through Movement Research. Matteson is a full-time faculty member at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Olivier Tarpaga is artistic director of Nomad Express International MultiArts Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; founder and artistic director of the internationally-acclaimed Dafra Drum and Dafra Kura Band; and co-founder of Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project. He danced with David Rousseve/Reality from 2006 to 2009. In 2008, Tarpaga was commissioned by Zig Zag Ballet to choreograph Visage at the Rich Forum Stanford Center for the Arts in Connecticut. He is currently a senior lecturer at the Department of Dance of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and has taught in the Program in Dance at Princeton University, the School of Music of The Ohio State University, the Department of Drama and Dance at Kenyon College, Ohio, the Department of Dance at Denison University, Ohio, the University of Iowa, and the World Arts and Cultures Department at University of California Los Angeles. Tarpaga has performed and taught dance in more than 50 countries throughout Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia. He performed as part of the Festival of the Arts that opened the Lewis Arts complex in October 2017.

Raphael Xavier is an award-winning artist and self-taught Hip-Hop dancer and Breaking practitioner since 1983. Described by Brenda Dixon Gottschild as “a fine movement technician,” Xavier creates new ways to expand the vocabulary of the dance form drawing not only upon the culture but also his visual background as a Hip Hop magazine photographer and musical artist. His extensive research in the Breaking form has led to the creation of Ground-Core, a Somatic dance technique that gives the practitioner a better understanding of the body within all dance forms. Xavier is an alumnus of the world-renowned Hip Hop dance company, Rennie Harris Puremovement. Xavier is a 2013 Pew Fellow, a 2014 MacDowell Fellow, a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2017 United States Artists Fellow, and a 2018 resident artist in the Live Feed program at New York Live Arts.   

Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence are chosen yearly through a nomination process and include choreographers at various stages of their careers exploring a wide range of aesthetics, including those who may not otherwise fit easily into the Dance Program’s curriculum.

Under Marshall’s guidance over the past nine years, the dance faculty has grown from two full-time faculty and four adjunct professors to five full-time and nine adjunct faculty. The number of dance courses have also increased from nine to 23 and the curriculum includes introductory courses, courses suited for dancers at the pre-professional level, as well as courses in dance studies and interdisciplinary contemporary practices. Acclaimed artists who have visited campus to work with student dancers include choreographers Bill T. Jones, William Forsythe, Dean Moss, Robert Battle, Jessica Lang, Miguel Gutierrez and Pam Tanowitz and dancers Lil’ Buck, Ana “Rokafella” Garcia, Robert La Fosse, Heather Watts, Damian Woetzel, and Silas Riener, Princeton Class of 2006. Riener, whom The New York Times called “one of the superlative performers of our day,” explored dance for the first time as a Princeton undergraduate and went on to dance with Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and now works as an independent choreographer and dancer.

The presence of more than 20 extracurricular dance companies makes Princeton a particularly lively environment for dancers, choreographers, and their audiences.

Students in the Program in Dance earn a certificate, similar to a minor, in addition to their major area of study. These certificate students are deeply committed young artists who often create full-length works as part of their senior thesis projects. The guest artists made possible through the Hearst Choreographer-in-Residence program contribute significantly to an environment focused on creativity, risk-taking and process. Increased access to respected working artists in the program is also expected to raise the curiosity of introductory-level students and students in other disciplines.

“Our students are exceptionally curious, open, and committed. Their ability to find connections between their other academic interests and their dance pursuits creates unusual and inspiring alchemies,” notes Marshall. “By bringing our students into direct conversation with today’s ground breaking choreographers, we hope to create rare opportunities for learning that equally benefit the Hearst artists and the Princeton dance community.”

For more information on the Program in Dance, future events related to the new choreographers-in-residence program, and the more than 100 other performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts and lectures offered each year by the Lewis Center for the Arts, most of them free, visit

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