C Thomas Young

Colleen Thomas-Young

Chair & Professor of Professional Practice in Dance  

Colleen Thomas-YoungProfessor of Professional Practice, Dance is a New York-based choreographer and performing artist. She is the director of Colleen Thomas Dance, co-director of Bill Young/ Colleen Thomas Co., and co-curator for LIT (loft into theater).  Her work has been seen throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Asia, and South America. Her recent research includes: a new work with artists from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and USA (premiered at La MaMa Theater in May 2019), a recent published scientific study looking at brain activity in contact improvisers with Dr. Andrew Goldman (Goldman, A., Thomas, C., & Sajda, P. (2019). Contact improvisation dance practice predicts greater mu rhythm desynchronization during action observation. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/aca0000255.), and a new dance premiere slated for March 2020 and postponed till September 2021 at New York Live Arts looking at women artists during fascist times. 

Thomas-Young’s classes at Barnard include advanced modern-dance technique, contact improvisation, and advanced composition/collaboration and the creative process. She is also the director of the Barnard Dance in Paris program.

  • B.A., SUNY Empire State College and SUNY Purchase
  • M.F.A., University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

  • Modern dance
  • Composition
  • Contact improvisation
  • Ballet

In The News

Take a look at graduating seniors’ projects from the departments of Art History and Dance.

May 13, 2024

The dance professor and prolific choreographer reflects on her past five projects, including the critically acclaimed light and desire, which she conceived and directed.

November 14, 2022

After a two-year hiatus, faculty guided students through overseas programs ranging from Sustainable Communities in Ecuador to Translating Theatre in France. 

July 18, 2022

Explore graduating seniors’ projects from the Departments of Dance and Art History.

May 17, 2022

In celebration of 2022’s Women’s History Month (March), read about the work of 22 Barnard community members who champion feminist and gender issues.

March 7, 2022

Professor Colleen Thomas-Young reflects on “the body in protest” and how dance helped her through the first 100 days of the pandemic.

July 13, 2020

Light and Desire

7:30 p.m. Sept 15–18
Purchase tickets



NY Live Arts Presents World Premiere Of Colleen Thomas' LIGHT AND DESIRE

The international cast of women includes actors from Venezuela, Hungary / Germany, Poland and more.

by Alexa Criscitiello Aug. 12, 2021  


New York Live Arts' (Live Arts) Live Feed creative residency and commissioning program presents the world premiere of Light and Desire, a new evening-length work by the NYC-based dancemaker and professor Colleen Thomas, featuring an ensemble of acclaimed international female performers and artmakers.

The piece - anchored by a short film by the award-winning filmmaker Carla Forte - looks at how women artists cope under unjust and manipulative power structures, especially in the wake of a global pandemic. Light and Desire will be presented at New York Live Arts Studio (219 W 19th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10011) from Wednesday, September 15th through Saturday, September 18th; all performances at 7:30 pm.

Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at https://newyorklivearts.org/event/light-and-desire-2021/ starting on August 19, 2021. There will be a Stay Late discussion following the September 16th performance moderated by a special guest to be announced.

Light and Desire calls upon family history, social politics, and personal experience to tell and uplift the narratives of women who have resisted oppression by creating their own forms of radical expression. The central question it addresses is how women hold, embody, and express power. Conceived and directed by Colleen Thomas, who also performs in it, Light and Desire features dancer and filmmaker Carla Forte (Venezuela); dancer-choreographer Ildiko Toth (Hungary / Germany); dance curator, dramaturg -, and choreographer Joanna Leśnierowska (Poland); dancer, and choreographer Ermira Goro (Albania/ Greece); and professor, dancer, and filmmaker Rosalynde LeBlanc (USA).


Additional performers include a group of women from the NYC dance community (Eleanor Altholz, Nadia Halim, Garnet Henderson, Emily Giovine, Falls Kennedy, Morgen Littlejohn, Sadi Mosko, Nicole Rondeau, Carolyn Silverman, Kennedy Thomas, and Madeleine Wood) who act as a chorus of women's protest. Light and Desire features lighting design by Stacey-Jo Marine, intricate floral masks designed by Rebecca Makus, and original music composed by Robert Boston, with Jo Morris as a vocalist.

The New York Live Arts "Our Season of Anniversaries" - celebrating 10 Years of Live Arts and 40 Years of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company - emboldens commitment to artists at every stage of their career: artists notable for their conceptual rigor, formal experimentation and active engagement with the social, political and cultural currents of our times. This presentation is part of Live Arts' Live Feed creative residency program, a laboratory for the development of new commissioned work directed toward the Live Arts theater. The Live Feed program is supported in part by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and Partners for New Performance. This work is made possible by the generous support of the Trust for Mutual Understanding, Barnard College, Miami Light Project, and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.