Assistant Professor, Department of Dance
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"Performance Studies has influenced my work tremendously. Ways of complicating issues, theorizing notions around identity and performance has created a layered aspect to my work that I don't think would have existed had I not been exposed to such incredible
people and concepts."
Cynthia first became involved in Performance Studies as a student of the Gallatin Division at New York University, where she studied African performance with Ndukaku Amankulor: "Memorable moments were of working in the archive with other women who were both training me and introducing me to the department. There was so much activity in there. We ended up being informal therapists, comic relief for all the folks in deep stress, and had a great time. It was where I met many people who I have become very fond of. I also remember moments in Marcia Siegel's class when she was trying her damndest to teach us a concept and we were knuckleheads. She would be beating her little drum and ordering us around the room and we would be doing it all very tongue in cheek." Cynthia completed her dissertation, titled "Queen of the Virgins: Queen Shows, The Popular Women's Theatre of the US Virgin Islands," in 2003.
Cynthia joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2000, where has taught classes such as Intermediate Composition and Black Dance in American Culture. In addition to choreographing and teaching, she has danced with the David Gordon Pick Up Co. and Ronald Kevin Brown/Evidence. Cynthia's original dance and performance works include because she was (2001), Shemad (2000), Unremoveable Jacket (1997), Wake (1995), and the Bessie Award-winning Death's Door (1996). In January 2003, Cynthia premiered her newest work, AfroSocialiteLifeDiva, at the Dance Theatre Workshop's Carnival Season for which she was awarded both a Dance Theater Workshop/Bessie Schoneberg First Light Commission and a Creative Capital grant.