March 21, 2019

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance presents Informal Showings of Works-in-Progress by Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance at Princeton University will present a series of informal showings of new works-in-progress by the 2018-19 Caroline Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence Shannon Gillen, Jessica Lang, Paul Matteson and Jennifer Nugent, and Raphael Xavier. The showings, being held between March 25 and April 19 at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus, are free and open to the public.

The Caroline Hearst Choreographer-in-Residence program, made possible by a gift from Margaret C. and William R. Hearst, III, is designed to foster 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, now in its second year, is designed to be flexible enough to create meaningful interaction between artists and students. Each Hearst artist develops engagement activities in coordination with the dance faculty in order to align with students’ interests and course work. The Hearst choreographers and the professional dancers in their companies have several points of contact with students over the course of their residencies.

“The Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence has been a game-changer for our program,” said Susan Marshall, Director of the Program in Dance. “Every semester we have the dance field’s most exciting and sought-after choreographers in our midst, and we are able to observe their companies at work and see real processes. Students can often dance side by side with these diverse professional dancers and get a chance to sit and talk with them informally, perhaps over a dinner. Many times, we are able to have these artists visit multiple courses and, in this way, develop a more program-wide collection of experiences that accumulate and support our curriculum. It’s been thrilling!”

On March 25 Shannon Gillen will present a showing of a new dance piece-in-progress along with members of her company VIM VIGOR. The performance will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Hearst Dance Theater at the Lewis Arts complex.


Shannon Gillen. Photo by Arnaud Falchier

Gillen is the founder and artistic director of New York City-based dance company VIM VIGOR. Gillen is a sought-after choreographer and has received commissions from a number of national and international venues. Recent work and educational commissions include the B12 Workshops in Berlin, the Ruvuelo International Festival in Chile, with New Dialect in Nashville, the Lines Training Program in San Francisco, the University of Michigan, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Springboard Danse Montreal, Manhattanville College and VIM VIGOR’s summer program. This past year she created new work for Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project and at the B12 Festival in Berlin. Gillen danced with the Johannes Wieland Company at the Staatstheater Kassel, Germany as a full-time company member. While dancing in Germany, Gillen receiving third prize at the International Solo-Tanz Competition in Stuttgart and commissions at the Mainfranken Theater Würzburg and the TIF Theater in Kassel. She was also selected as a Think Big Choreographer-in-Residence with the Staatsoper in Hannover, creating a piece that premiered at the Tanztheater International Festival. In fall 2014 she returned to the United States to found VIM VIGOR and has since toured the world with the company. Gillen has choreographed 40 new works since 2010 with notable commissions as the recipient of the International Commissioning Project for Hubbard Street, with Treffpunkt-Rotebuehlplatz, Springboard Danse Festival, Dance Theater Workshop, Dance New Amsterdam, HERE Arts Center, Judson Church, Tangente Theater with the Montreal Fringe Festival, Pulse Art Fair as part of Art Basel in Miami, with Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Sitelines Series as part of New York City’s River to River Festival, Bryant Park Presents, Festival Oltre Passo in Italy, Beach Sessions and Steps Repertory Company for the The Joyce Theater and Jacob’s Pillow, among others.

On April 5 at 4:30 p.m. Jessica Lang and members of Jessica Lang Dance will present a showing of work they will be touring this spring. The performance will take place in the Roberts Dance Studio at the Lewis Arts Complex.


Jessica Lang. Photo by Kazu

Lang is the Artistic Director of Jessica Lang Dance and leads the creative vision of the organization which has garnered acclaim since the company’s founding in 2011. Under her artistic leadership, the company now offers more than 50 performances annually at some of the world’s major performing arts centers. Noted for her dedication to educational activities, Lang developed a unique curriculum for Jessica Lang Dance called LANGuage, which is offered as part of the company’s programming on tour and locally in New York City, focusing on the Queens community. Lang choreographs and teaches throughout the world. She 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, among many others. Lang has also worked in opera on the production Aida, directed by Francesca Zambello, for San Francisco Opera and Washington National Opera. She is the recipient of a 2014 New York City Dance Performance (Bessie) Award and the 2017 Arison Award. Lang grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and has a diverse dance training background. She is a graduate of the Juilliard School under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy and a former member of Twyla Tharp’s company THARP! Last fall Lang presented her 2015 work Tesseracts of Time at McCarter Theatre, created in collaboration with architect Steven Holl, designer of the Lewis Arts complex.

On April 18 Jennifer Nugent and Paul Matteson will present a dance work-in-progress created through collaboration. The performance will take place at 6:00 p.m. in the Murphy Dance Studio at the Lewis Arts Complex.

nugent and matteson

Photo courtesy Paul Matteson and Jennifer Nugent

Nugent and Matteson have been presented by Danspace Project, Symphony Space, Dance Theater Workshop and most recently by the American Dance Festival. They both danced with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and David Dorfman Dance and have each worked with many inspiring choreographers and dancing visionaries. They 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 full-time faculty at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

The final event in the series on April 19 will feature Raphael Xavier as he presents a showing of a newly choreographed piece. The performance will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the Roberts Dance Studio at the Lewis Arts complex.


Photo courtesy Raphael Xavier

Xavier is an award-winning artist originally from Wilmington, Delaware. A self-taught Hip-Hop dancer and Breaking practitioner since 1983, he has forged a unique approach to improvisation. Brenda Dixon Gottschild deemed Xavier a “fine movement technician.” As an innovative movement conceptualist, he creates new ways to expand the vocabulary of the dance form. He draws 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. As an active alumnus of the world renown Hip Hop dance company, Rennie Harris Puremovement, his solo and ensemble choreographic dance works have been performed worldwide. Xavier is also a 2013 recipient of a Pew Fellowship, a 2014 MacDowell Fellowship, and a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship. He currently lives in Philadelphia.

Photo courtesy of Olivier Tarpaga

In October, Olivier Tarpaga  will perform his “When Birds Refused to Fly” with his company. In February, Souleymane ‘Solo’ Badolo, a Brooklyn-based choreographer and dancer born in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, presented a new work-in-progress. His Burkina Faso-based troupe, Kongo Ba Téria, fuses traditional African dance with western contemporary dance and continues to tour internationally. Both are also among the group of artists awarded this year.


Photo courtesy Souleymane Badolo

The first round of commissions through the Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence are currently being developed by Ralph Lemon, Karen Sherman, and Abby Zbikowski.

For more information on the Program in Dance 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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