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Company | Modern Connections Collective

CONNECTIONS DANCE THEATER

​Having spent the past 13yrs, teaching and consulting on several Boston based companies and projects, Jenny decided to embark on her own artistic endeavors. Realizing that her vision for what dance could be was a unique one to her she reached out to people whom she believed would be able to support and bring to life her vision and began Connections Dance Theater. CDT ​Is a newly formed Dance Collective deriving from the Modern Connections dance class that Jenny has been teaching since 2014.

 

The mission of the collective is to create research-based choreography reflecting themes/ideas constructed from the Indigenous Diaspora & socio-political events of today, that contribute to the fabric of the American perspective.  By actualizing a route towards philanthropy through the fortification & support for marginalized communities, CDT aims to be the vessel of hope to all audiences.

CDT has recently been named one of two inaugural awardees of the Boston Dance Makers Residency 2018-2019. This residency is a resource collaboration through the Boston Center for the Arts and the Boston Dance Alliance. Designed to support experienced dance makers in the development of original ensemble work over the course of a year, CDT is honored to receive the recognition from these organizations. To read more about the residency click here.

CDT ​also was a 2017 New England Dance Fund recipient from the New England Foundation of the Arts (NEFA) in support of the creation "Dife An Andan Li" formerly titled "Erzuile." This piece was presented during the 2017 We Create Festival.

 

THE ARTISTS

*Photos by The Diahann Project

Stacey Badgett Jr. is a Cambridge native graduating from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, where he rediscovered his love of performing. He has participated in the Reach Summer Program at Boston University and Jose Mateo’s Ballet Summer Intensive in addition to taking dance and theatre during the school year. He received a dance scholarship from Harvard University allowing him free unlimited non-curricular dance classes. After high school, Stacey received a Certificate in Dance Theater from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy Conservatory program. Since his completion he has worked for Disney Cruise Line as a Character Dancer, danced as the Nutcracker Prince among other roles in the Urban Nutcracker and danced in Racines Black Dance Festival in Adrienne Hawkins’ choreography. Most recently Stacey has traveled to NY to perform in the Collective Thread Festival with Connections Dance Theater.

Erin Chiesa is an 8th grade Science teacher and mom to an amazing young girl. Having over 30 years dance experience, she’s trained and performed with the Daytime Dancers under the direction of Adrienne Hawkins, a repertory work of Christopher Huggins’ and an original work with Kelley Donovan and Dancers. While at UMass Boston she choreographed for the University’s Dance Program. In 2016 she attended the DanceLife Retreat Center Jazz Intensive working with Rhee Gold, Joe Tremaine, Jackie Slate and Derrick Shrader. Erin hopes to continue to inspire young minds to think critically and creatively about the world around them, to be a strong female role model for her daughter and to dance for the rest of her life.

Jenna Davidson-Catalano is a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography and a Bachelor of Arts in The Arts in Education. She studied Modern and African dance forms under professors Donna Davenport, Kelly Johnson, and Michelle Ikle. While in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa she trained and performed with choreographer Bonwa Mbontsi.  Raised in Acton, MA she began training with Jenny Oliver in 2015 when she moved back to Boston after college. Jenna joined Connections Dance Theater in 2016. She is currently a public elementary school teacher and works to integrate the arts into the general education setting. Students in her classroom use movement and dance to express their understanding of academic concepts. It also gives them an additional outlet for social and emotional learning. 

Amanda Jones is a graduate of Keene State College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography and a Bachelors in U.S. History. While at Keene she had the opportunity to study under artists such as Monica Bill Barnes, Candice Salyers, and Heidi Henderson.  Most recently, Amanda has performed work with Angie Moon Dance Theatre, Kelley Donovan and Dancers, and Intimations. She is currently a dance teacher and personal trainer in the Boston area. Amanda joined CDT in 2018 and is grateful to be continuing her performance career with such an inspiring group of artists.  

Ndubuisi (Ndu) Ofoegbu began his formal dance training at age 17 at the Boston Arts Academy. In 2009 he was part of the original cast of “Speak” by William McLaughlin premiering at “Ergon X2.” Ndu went on to attend UMass at Amherst completing a B.S. of Civil Engineering. While at UMass he appeared in “New Second Line” by Camille Brown, “Pictures at an Exhibition”by Adrienne Hawkins, and “Passacaglia” by Doris Humphrey (Re-staged by Jennifer Scanlon & Paul Denis). Ndu has worked with Pioneer Valley Ballet (PVB), Vacanti Ballets, and many pieces choreographed  & staged by Adrienne Hawkins of Impulse Dance Co. He currently works as a Superintendent for Turner Construction, an international construction management company out of the New England Business Unit. Working with Jenny Oliver since 2016, Ndu plans to continue growing in the various techniques of dance and sharing his love of the art form on a global scale.

Fridien Tchoukoua is a performer who studied biochemistry and dance at Sewanee: The university of the south, TN. While in college, he worked as a dance instructor for the Sewanee Dance conservatory and proceeded to lead the student-run dance company called Perpetual Motion. Aside from performing for renowned artists such as Bill Evans, Fridien's artistic work has been featured on several performance stages, including the American College Dance Association (ACDA). In 2017, his dance thesis project, NOIR, received the highest award at ACDA.  While working diligently to become a dancing-doctor, Fridien currently performs with Connections Dance Theater. As an artist, he strives to turn the hatred of this world into an art-form that speaks volumes and sparks conversations.

Rachael Thomas is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College where she double majored in Psychology and Dance. She pursued dance training throughout the Five College Consortium in various styles, including jazz, contemporary, tap, West African, and ballet. She performed in student and faculty pieces each semester and had the opportunity to work backstage as a crew member and assistant stage manager for several performances. Rachael recently completed her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston and is currently in the process of completing her Clinical Fellowship. She has been dancing with Connections Dance Theater since 2016 and works as an assistant to Jenny Oliver’s Modern Connections classes.

GUEST ARTIST

Amy Caine trained at the State Ballet of Rhode Island under the direction of Herci Marsden and Ana Marsden Fox, Festival Ballet Providence, Alvin Ailey Extension, Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre and Liz Lapuh at UMass Boston. She is currently dancing for Lorraine Chapman the Company, Lynn Modell and now Connections Dance Theater! When she's not dancing or twerking, she is a movement and strength coach in the Boston area. After receiving her certificate from the American Academy of Personal Training, she now spends her time rehabilitating clients of all ages and walks of life. She has worked with clientele after surgeries or injury rehab, before and after pregnancies, assisted with functional movement and strength and overall wellness. Marrying her love of dance and helping others couldn't be a more rewarding life! 

APPRENTICE

Ih'San Ellis is a current high student at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. She is a member of the Cambridge Youth Dance Program under the Direction of Deborah Mason and studies many disciplines of dance at the Deborah Mason Performing Arts Center in Somerville. Ih'San has had the opportunity to dance with Ebony Williams, Adrienne Hawkins, Tyce Diorio & Leslie Woodies as part of her training. Off the stage, she is an ambassador for the Massachusetts non-profit organization Project 351 whose mission is  to develop a rising generation of "community-first" leaders. She looks forward to continuing her dance career as well as pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer.