What My Teacher Taught Me: Colleen Thomas

Thomas in rehearsal

Colleen Thomas credits two strong women from her early dance career in helping steer her future as a choreographer: Her childhood teacher, Jean McDonald, and New York City choreographer Nina Wiener, who gave Thomas her first professional job. Thomas still feels their influence—her latest piece, created for Barnard College and Columbia University dance students, explores the strength and vulnerability of being a woman.

“Jean was the first person to suggest that there was something  special in me that I wasn’t aware of. Even though I was a kid, she started my desire to choreograph—she let me make a dance and show it in a theater. Nina showed me the possibilities for a woman in the dance field. Her process was really collaborative, and she inspired me to continue to choreograph and teach and make decisions and have my own voice.”

Thomas will premiere Her(e) Again Untitled as part of Barnard/Columbia Dances, November 21–22, at New York Live Arts in NYC.



Photo by Michael Discenza, courtesy of Thomas

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