Meet Our 2023/2024
Erinn Liebhard, Local Visiting Guest Artist, 2023/2024 season
Erinn Liebhard is a Twin Cities-based dance artist making opportunities for people to experience the reflective and connective power of groove through performance and education. Having grown up dancing socially at her dad’s rock band’s gigs, she discovered young the exhilaration of playfully experiencing groove alongside others. Guided by this inspiration and a fondness for jazz and American social dance ideas, she’s worked with creatives as varied as hip-hop dance theater artist Rennie Harris and the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers Appalachian clogging company. In performance, she makes and performs new staged works and presents those of others through her company Rhythmically Speaking, and performs freelance and as self-created character “Nerdette” for St. Paul Saints Baseball’s Entertainment Team. She also creates new works for high schools, colleges and professional companies. Her creative works emphasize groove, interaction and improvisation and are inspired by both social and concert dance movement while often driven by contemporary jazz music. In education, she works as a Teaching Artist for The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts and serves on their Advisory Council, is on faculty at several area arts high schools and universities, conducts educational outreach through her company and is an active writer, residency artist and conference presenter. She is driven to help connect people to themselves, one another and the moment through rooted and innovative embodiment of groove. erinnliebhard.com | @erinnliebhard.danceartist
Darrius Strong, Local Visiting Guest Artist, 2023/2024 season
Darrius Strong is a Twin Cities-based choreographer, dancer, and educator known for his innovative work in the world of dance. As the founder and artistic director of STRONGmovement, he has created captivating performances showcased at renowned venues like the Walker Art Center. Strong was also the Curator for the 51st Choreographers Evening event hosted by the Walker Art Center, demonstrating his leadership and curatorial skills in the dance community. Additionally, he serves as the Movement Director for 'Alice in Wonderland' at the Children's Theater, further expanding his impact on the theatrical landscape. Strong's expertise extends beyond dance as he has served as a Movement Director for theater organizations, including the Guthrie Theater and Ten Thousand Things Theater. With an impressive list of collaborations with esteemed dance companies such as TU Dance and James Sewell Ballet, Strong's choreographic talents continue to push boundaries. As an influential educator, he has brought Hip Hop knowledge and technique to Anoka Middle School for the Arts for the past seven years. Recognized for his artistic excellence, Strong is a recipient of the Jerome Hill Fellowship and the Choreographer McKnight Fellowship, solidifying his position as a trailblazer in the dance community.
Meet Our Past Visiting Choreographers
Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner, National Visiting Guest Artist, 2022/2023 season
Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner is a choreographer and dance educator committed to inclusion, representation and social consciousness in both pedagogy and creative practice. She received her B.F.A. at the University of Minnesota, and her M.F.A. as an Advanced Opportunity Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. She has served as the Choreographer in Residence for the Minnesota Dance Theater and is a four- time winner of the Arizona Choreography Competition’s Professional Division. Original works by Gutierrez-Garner have been commissioned by numerous colleges and universities across the U.S. Additionally, she has enjoyed commissions by professional companies including the Minnesota Dance Theater, Dulce Dance Company, Eclectic Edge Ensemble, Zenon Dance Company and Los Angeles based Jazz Antiqua. Gutierrez-Garner’s work has seen support from organizations such as the Jerome Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Walker Art Center, the Arizona Commission on the Arts and Lane Arts Council. She is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Western Oregon University and is the Artistic Director of Company Movimiento, based in Eugene, OR. Cynthia will be premiering her new jazz work Holding Pattern created for Concerto Dance this season.
Steve Rooks, National Visiting Guest Artist, 2022/2023 season
Steve Rooks began his dance training in Washington D.C. with Jan Van Dyke and Greg Reynolds. After graduating with honors from Dartmouth College, he continued his training in New York City as a scholarship student at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. Mr. Rooks has danced and toured with the Greg Reynolds Dance Quintet, the Mary Anthony Dance Theater, Peter Sparling, Dancer's Eye, and the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, where he performed classic works by Ailey, Donald McKayle, Talley Beatty, and Ulysses Dove. He joined the Martha Graham Dance Company in the summer of 1981, and was a Principal Dancer with the company until 1991. In October 1989, Mr. Rooks solo, Outside was selected to be presented in the New Choreographers series during the Graham Company's fall season at the City Center Theater in New York, and one of his works, Cool River became a part of that company's 1996-1997 Repertory after its World Premiere at Lincoln Center in August 1996. Mr. Rooks is currently Resident Choreographer and Associate Professor of Dance at Vassar College, and was a founding faculty member of the Dance Degree Program at Howard University. He is also a Guest Instructor at the Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham Schools of Dance. He was a 2001 Artist-in-Residence at the North Carolina School of the Arts, and has been a member of the International Association of Blacks in Dance. Mr. Rooks has taught internationally at several dance festivals and as a guest instructor for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Dallas Black Dance Theater, Florida Dance Masters, the Masterworks Festival, Ballet Nacional de Mexico, the American Academy of Ballet, the Houston Ballet, and the Symposium on Dance at Yale University. Mr. Rooks will be premiering a new modern work set to music by composer Alberto Ginastera on Concerto Dance this season.