Recently returned from sabbatical in the fall of 2014, Cynthia Oliver worked on projects that included a combination of activities: two essays for publication—one for the visual artist Kehinde Wiley's Los Angeles exhibition on Haiti and the other for a forthcoming book on dance and politics—and continued appearances with Tere O'Connor Dance in two pieces she performed with his company, BLEED and Sister, a duet with David Thomson.
Cynthia Oliver’s new project,Virago-Man Dem,a group work examining the complexities and nuances of black masculinities in the diaspora, was originally commissioned in the summer of 2015 in a partnership between Paloma McGregor's Dancing While Black organization and Makeda Thomas's New Waves Institute in Trinidad and Tobago. Oliver began in Trinidad, exploring material with a workshop cast of local and nonlocal men. She continued this research in multiple residencies at the Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) in Guilford, Vermont, with U of I alum Niall Noel Jones and local black Vermonters, slowly incorporating material gathered in this and numerous interactions and engagements over the course of two years, as she built the complex work. She continued to explore the material with residencies across the country at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography in Tallahassee, Florida, the University of Illinois, New York’s Abrons Arts Center at Henry Street Settlement and Gibney Dance. Her cast has grown to include Duane Cyrus, Jonathan Gonzalez and Ni’Ja Whitson, and collaborators Jason Finkelman (music), John Jennings and Stacey Robinson of Black Kirby (visuals), John Boesche (projections), Susan Becker (costumes), and Amanda Ringger (lighting). The rich and provocative work,Virago-Man Demwill premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival 2017, and will go on to tour the country over the next two years.