Lisa Thurrell, Co-Artistic Director Kanopy Dance Company (director, choreographer, teacher, dancer) trained and danced with Martha Graham Dance Company 1987-1995. Honored to be among those who reconstructed some of Martha’s early works, she performed Graham’s NYC City Center Gala, Season and the Spoleto national and international Festivals 1991-1994. In 1995 she became co-director of Kanopy Dance with her partner Robert E. Cleary. She has worked extensively, performing, choreographing and teaching in companies, schools, and universities throughout U.S. and Denmark.
Embracing modern founders’ philosophies, she has also studied and performed Asian theater and physical theater. Nominated for Bonnie Bird International Choreography Award, her choreography has been described by critics as “...a Hieronymus Bosch painting, spilling onto the floor of the theater . . . stresses fragility of the human body and self-reflection.” As a performer, critics call her “...pure power and vulnerability at once.”
Thurrell holds postgraduate certificate from Professional Trainee Program, Martha Graham Dance Company, NYC. (3yr full time, technique, repertory, history, composition, pedagogy) She holds an MFA-Dance & Asian Theater from University of Wisconsin-Madison (1987). Mentors include Yuriko, Carol Fried, Denise Vale, Ethel Winter, Peggy Lyman, Pearl Lang, Zena Rommett, Phyllis Lamhut, Sankaran Namboodiri, Hanya Holm and others. Thurrell has been awarded numerous government grants, foundation, private grants and awards for Kanopy.
Recently, Ms. Thurrell’s choreography has been presented in curated showcases: [email protected](Martha Graham Dance Company), NUVU Festival(Miki Orihara); and she has performed in Modern Rebels (Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble)in NYC May 2018. She is invited regularly as guest faculty to teach at Martha Graham Dance Center in NYC (9/18,1/19, 8/19); and choreographer for Wozzeck for the Des Moines Metro Opera Festival July 2019.
Examples of her teaching alongside her role at Kanopy include: Chair of Dance at Idrætshøjskole, Oure, Denmark (1997), faculty at Academy of Russian Ballet, Denver, CO (2001-2004); Illinois State University, Normal, IL (2005.); Ballet Minnesota, (1998 - to date); Visiting Professor, University of Nebraska Lincoln, NE (1992,1994), guest teacher University of Wisconsin Madison ( 2004, 2017, 2019), guest faculty at the Martha Graham School (2018 to date), New York City.
Examples of her performance and choreography presented: as co-director of Kanopy Dance in its Seasons from (1995-2004) in Madison WI theaters, and since 2004 as Resident Company of the Overture Center for the Arts in Kanopy’s home theatre in Madison WI (2004-date). Her choreography has been presented in New York City at The Field, Dance Space, Laban Center, Goodson Theatre (1989-1994), Jazz at Lincoln Center (2013-2016), [email protected] (2018), NUVU Festival (2018), Modern Rebels (2018). In Chicago at the Ruth Page Center (2010, 2013) and Links Hall (2017). In Minneapolis at Minnesota Dance Festival. (2014, 2016) among others. Special Projects include choreographer for Madison Opera’s Florencia (2018) Madison, WI, Des Moines Metro Opera’s Wozzeck (2019) Des Moines IA, and others.
Robert E Cleary, Co-Artistic Director Kanopy Dance Company (director, choreographer, teacher, dancer) was company member and soloist for Minnesota Dance Theater, danced for Bebe Miller, Bill T. Jones, Danny Ezralow, Paula Mann, Carolyn Brown, Susan McGuire, Maria Cheng, Wendy Hambidge; and was a Principal Dancer for Ballet Minnesota, among others. In 1995 he took directorship of Kanopy Dance with his partner, Lisa Thurrell. He has toured, performed, choreographed, and taught throughout the U.S. and in Denmark. Influenced by ballet, postmodernists as well as the modernists, he is in constant exploration of relevant dance expression. An extraordinary movement artist, physical theater fits him like a second skin. Critics call him “fiery and riveting, Inspired, wicked dancing, an astonishing performance...” As a choreographer, his work has been called by critics “quirky… oozes nonlinear narrative… classic gut-centered. 20th century modern dance” and “riotously pleasurable… intense, richly satisfying.”
Mr. Cleary received his Bachelor of Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography and a Bachelor of Arts in History, 19th Century Europe, from the University of Minnesota. He trained intensively at American Ballet Theatre and with Susan Klein in Klein Release Technique in New York. Some of his mentors include David Voss, Mary Hinkson, Frank Bourman, Loyce Houlton, Bonnie Mathis, Susan McGuire, Maria Cheng, and Tisha Von Burpee, and others. Cleary has been awarded numerous government grants, foundation, private grants and awards for Kanopy.
His most recent commissioned choreography, This is Not America, was performed in March 2019 by the Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble in New York City.
Examples of his teaching alongside his role at Kanopy include: Faculty in Dance at Idrætshøjskole, Oure, Denmark (1997), guest faculty Illinois State University, Normal, IL (2005.); Mankato Ballet, Ballet Minnesota (1991-2004) Minnesota; guest faculty Southwest Texas State, Texas (1998), among others.
Examples of his performance and choreography presented: as co-director of Kanopy Dance in its Seasons from (1995-2004) in Madison WI theaters, and since 2004 as Resident Company of the Overture Center for the Arts in Kanopy’s home theatre in Madison WI (2004-date). His choreography has been presented in Denmark at several Arhus and Copenhagen Dance Festivals (1997). In Chicago at the Ruth Page Center (2010, 2013) and Links Hall (2017). In New York City at Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble’s Season (2019). He was soloist in Nini Theilade's Ballet Schubert, created originally for Massine's Ballet Russe (1997) Copenhagen, Denmark. He annually performs as guest soloist for Ballet Minnesota in Nutcracker (1994 to date), as well as High Brahmin in La Bayadere (2008), and most notably, lead role created on him for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (2008, 2018).