Cynthia Oliver

Professor, Dance


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Creative/Performing Interests

I am interested in secrets, in the spaces between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. Intrigued by women’s worlds and the ways we negotiate complicated lives, I investigate these interests physically through movement that explores gesture and the transitory spaces between departure and arrival. My movement is vigorous, sometimes quirky, yet always fully embodied. I use voice and sound in experimental and guttural ways. In my work, choreography and text are intricately intertwined. One cannot exist without the expression of the other. They are a poetic mix of physicality and spoken word, and together they complete a picture.

My aesthetic voice is one located between borders, between and across social, political, economic, gendered, and national boundaries of blackness, of Caribbean-ness, American and African-ness, of womanhood, and the complicated navigation of the human condition. My work plays with the negotiation of the world in which we live from multiple perspectives. Topics I have explored range from the metaphysics of Afro-Caribbean belief and reality, race and the language of fashion, death and mourning, to madness, womanhood, transnationalism and Caribbean mythology. The Caribbean figures greatly in what I do, as it is often the source of my inspiration. It is the place where I became a woman and an artist. It is a place of fascinating contradictions and diversity.

Because of the diversity of people, ideas, and issues in my life and work, I am committed to interdisciplinarity. I am interested in total theatre and inclusivity. I work with a diverse group of artists. They are part of the rich world in which I live and are what make my work rich. I believe the job of art is to express points of view that cause one to pause, to consider and reconsider one’s position/s, and especially to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. I believe art, in its clearest expression, demonstrates a difference and simultaneous unity of experience. I want to get dirty, acknowledge demons, hail the angels, tell secrets, question and celebrate conflicted, complicated, glorious lives fully lived.

Office Address

Dance Department
907 1/2 W Nevada
M/C 039
uiuc campus mail, IL 00001

Office Phone

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Research Output

They Say it is Heaven

Oliver, C., Mar 5 2018

Research output: Other contributionCreative work


Weaver, D. D., Allen, J. & Oliver, C., 2017

Research output: Non-textual formPerformance

Epiphanic Moments: Dancing Politics

Oliver, C., Mar 2017, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Politics. Kowal, R. J., Siegmund, G. & Martin, R. (eds.). Oxford University Press, p. 99-116

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • Laurie Carlos’ Breath Dance

    Oliver, C., 2017, 2 p. Girls Like US.

    Research output: Other contributionCreative work

  • Virago-Man Dem: World Premiere

    Oliver, C., Oliveiro, V., Cyrus, D., Gonzalez, J., Jones, N. N. & Whitson, NJ., Oct 2017

    Research output: Non-textual formPerformance

  • Activities

    • 4 Oral presentation
    • 1 Participation in workshop, seminar, course
    • 1 Editorial activity
    • 1 Invited talk

    On the Creative Impulse and the Artist

    Cynthia Oliver (Invited speaker)

    Activity: Talk typesInvited talk

    Calypso: An Agent of Caribbean Diasporic Communion

    Cynthia Oliver (Invited speaker)
    Mar 25 2011

    Activity: Talk typesOral presentation

    Stay Late Discussion: Her History - Her Present - Her Future

    Cynthia Oliver (Speaker), Leslie Cuyjet (Speaker), Jaamil Olawale Kosoko (Speaker)
    Oct 24 2014

    Activity: Talk typesOral presentation

    Come Early Conversation: Sequencing Non-Linear Narratives

    Nia Love (Speaker), Cynthia Oliver (Speaker)
    Oct 23 2014

    Activity: Talk typesOral presentation

    Examining Black Masculinity

    Cynthia Oliver (Speaker), Jaamil Olawale Kosoko (Speaker)
    Oct 27 2017

    Activity: Talk typesOral presentation

    Press / Media

    Virago-Man Dem entangles through love

    Cynthia Oliver


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Press / Media

    Cynthia Oliver on Virago-Man Dem

    Cynthia Oliver


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Press / Media

    Cynthia Oliver in conversation with Leslie Cuyjet

    Cynthia Oliver & Leslie Cuyjet


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Press / Media

    Together in the Fierce Tender – notes from October ’17

    Cynthia Oliver


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Press / Media

    Honors & Recognition