The Barnard College Department of Dance welcomes award-winning choreographer, filmmaker, performer, and curator Gabri Christa as she joins the faculty in fall 2016 as Assistant Professor of Professional Practice. Born and raised in the Caribbean island nation of Curaçao, Christa describes herself as a member of a “crossroads culture” and her impressive body of work for stage and screen dramatizes the politics and poetics of intersecting races, rhythms, and histories.
Following her graduation from the School for New Dance Development in the Netherlands, Christa’s career took off in Cuba as a performer and choreographer for the renowned national dance company Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, and as one of the founders of the experimental dance company DanzAbierta. A brief return to the Netherlands found Christa choreographing De Steen, an evening length work, and then on to Puerto Rico which led to an invitation to present her work at Dance Theater Workshop. Shortly after, Christa joined the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company where she danced roles in the company’s eclectic repertory, including the controversial Still/Here, of which she was an original cast member. Christa left to create her company Danzaisa. Her dances have been presented in the US, Europe, and Latin America, and won her the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography (1999).
One of the prevalent themes in Christa’s work is the negotiation of personal memory against and alongside historical record and material artifact. The compelling historical sensibility of her work was developed while she earned her M.F.A. at the University of Washington, where she focused her research on ritual music and dance of the Afro-diaspora. She has published her research on dance and film in several journals, including an essay about the making of another building series in The Scholar & Feminist Online published by the Barnard Center for Research on Women. She also contributed an essay about Afro-Curaçaoan dance in the influential volume Caribbean Dance: from Abakuá to Zouk (winner of the de la Torre Bueno Prize) edited by Susanna Sloat (BC ‘65).
In 2002, Christa began to explore dance for camera, an experiment that quickly led to a string of award-winning film projects she has produced and directed. Her first dance film, High School, won the ABC TV award for Creative Excellence. Kasita (2014) relays the story of a young girl and a lost dog amidst the extant slave huts dotting the shores of the Caribbean island of Bonaire. The film won best short at the Harlem International Film Festival, and was Jury selection in the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival, Trinidad Tobago International Film Festival, Screen Dance Miami, and Cinedans. Her current film projects include a documentary about her yoga teacher Leo Floridas, which will premiere in 2016-17 and an environmental thriller for young adults.
In addition to her impressive career as a performing and creating artist, Christa is an arts advocate. Her service to the dance field includes a position on the Advisory Board of Dance/NYC, an organization that promotes the knowledge, appreciation, practice, and performance of dance in the metropolitan area. In 2015, Christa was appointed to the Cultural Advisory Committee by New York Mayor de Blasio, where she will serve a three-year term.
Most recently, Christa has served as Artistic Director of Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center, where the performance and artist in residence series PASS (Performing Arts Salon Saturdays) was among the programs she developed and curated. In the spring of 2017 Christa will premiere “The Invitation,” a solo dance presented in private living rooms, an intimate context for exploring biographical themes of immigration and belonging.
For more information see www.gabrichrista.com