Tere O'Connor

Tere O’Connor is Artistic Director of Tere O’Connor Dance and a Center for Advanced Studies Professor of Dance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, splitting his time between New York and Illinois. He has created over 40 works for his company and toured these throughout the US and internationally. He has created numerous commissioned works for other dance companies, including the Lyon Opera Ballet, White Oak Dance Project and solo works for Mikhail Baryshnikov and Jean Butler.  

O’Connor received a 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, is a 2009 United States Artist Rockefeller Fellow, and a 1993 Guggenheim Fellow among numerous other grants and awards. His work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts/National Dance Project, The MAP Fund, the New York State Council on the Arts and many others. He has received three  “BESSIES”, New York Dance and Performance Awards. In October 2014, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

An articulate and provocative educator, O'Connor has taught at festivals and universities around the globe for 30 years.  He is an active participant in the New York dance community mentoring young artists, teaching, writing, and volunteering in various capacities. In recent years he created two large works for 12 dancers. BLEED, premiered at BAM’s Next Wave Festival in December 2013 and toured across the United States through March 2015. The second work, entitled The Goodbye Studies, premiered at the Kitchen in December 2015.

Living Legacy Artist | September 18 - 30, 2022


Illinois and New York City-based choreographer Tere O’Connor returned for his fifth MANCC residency since he first visited in 2005, to develop a new work entitled Rivulets. In this project, O’Connor works to diffuse the unison/non-unison binary present in most choreographic presentation, to redefine non-unison movement as a rendering of freedom as opposed to “chaos.” He foregrounds these concepts in this dance, delving into the unfettered, intuitive pathways of deep consciousness to shape the structures of the work.

While at MANCC, O’Connor constructed what he calls the “movement magma” for the new work. This is a term he has coined to describe a web of bodies circulating in space to create a first layer and an underlying movement system. Careening along non-grid pathways, movement magma diffuses the rectilinearity presumed of stages to create a mobile canvas. O’Connor describes it as an embodied template of dimensionality, not moving towards the development of semaphore or signification, but promoting a circular scaffolding out of which more intimate “events” can swirl. It also falls under the heading of “shaping ephemera,” a way in which O’Connor describes choreography, setting aside the word abstraction.

O’Connor used this residency to continue to develop movement with his eight dance artists/performers to create distinct material in line with his concept of movement magma. Due to Hurricane Ian, O’Connor was not able to share his work-in-progress and postponed a class discussion with School of Dance students and faculty.

  • Mac Twining and Wendell Gray II play with partnering during the residency
  • Twining, Jordan Morely, Leslie Cuyjet and Jordan Lloyd work in duos in the studio
  • Gray, Cuyjet, and Lloyd dance during the residency
  • Twining and Emma Judkins engage in movement in the studio
  • Twining and Cuyjet engage in the process in the dance studio
  • Gray and Twining go through movements in the studio
  • All the dancers - Cuyjet, Morley, Twining, Judkins, Lloyd, Gray, Jessie Young, and Tess Dworman -<br>engage in the choreography in various groups in the studio
  • All the dancers move through the choreography in the studio
  • Lloyd and Twining engage in movement with partners in the studio
  • Tess Dworman and Jessie Young experiment with movement during the process
  • Cuyjet, Twining, Judkins and Lloyd experiment with movement during the process
  • Gray and Morley dance in the studio
  • Twining and Tess Dworman experiment with hand gestures in the studio
  • Twining and Morley perform choreography together during the residency
  • Young, Lloyd, Morley, and Dworman dance in the studio
  • Lloyd and Morley move in the dance studio
  • Young and Dworman experiment with movement in the studio
  • Twining experiments with movement during the residency
  • Lloyd and Twining experiment with levels during the residency
  • Morley and Judkins go through movements facing opposite directions in the studio
  • Judkins and Morley move through choreography in the dance studio
  • Judkins, Lloyd, and Young partner up in a trio to perform interconnected choreography in the dance studio
  • Tere O'Connor watches the dancers move through choreography whilst holding hands and interweaving<br>their bodies
  • All the dancers group up in trios and hold hands as part of the choreography
  • Judkins moves through the choreography with Cuyjet and Morley following behind
  • All the dancers discuss the process with choreographer, Tere O'Connor, in the dance studio
Collaborators in Residence: Wendell Gray, Tess Dworman, Mac Twining, Leslie Cuyjet, Jordan Morely, Jordan Lloyd, Jessie Young, Emma Judkins [Performers]

Living Legacy Artist | August 31 - September 15, 2016

Undersweet/Transcendental Daughter

While at MANCC, Tere O’Connor focused on the development of two dance works. He worked on choreographing a new trio for seasoned dancers, titled Transcendental Daughter, which is intended to examine the spectrum between information overload and meditation. The trio sought to test the boundaries of how much information a body can cope with and process. This investigation is a metaphor for how much information a dance viewer can take in as they softly let go of any hopes for “comprehension” and begin to process information in a different way. O’Connor is drawn to such complexity as a key component of dance poetics and, interestingly, a key aspect of consciousness. Moreover, he worked to develop an embodied practice, moving towards meditation, that might soothe the audience and simultaneously look to absorb the complexity into that practice. He also further developed a duet titled Undersweet that originally premiered in 2015 at New York City’s American Realness Festival. Undersweet explores sexual repression and closeting, working from the supposition that formalism might result from repressed sexual desire. The work is a choreographic meditation on how this paradox finds expression in dance, or possibly even generates it.

While in residence, O’Connor met with Dr. Wen Li, an FSU Neuroscience faculty to explore internal motivations of movement, messaging in abstraction that has weight (less aggressive, slowness, silence) and how memory is housed in the body. O’Connor hosted a conversation with students about trends in choreography and offered a work-in-progress showing at the end of the residency.

Both the duet and trio were performed as part of the NY Quadrille curated by Lar Lubovitch at The Joyce Theater in NYC, October 4-9, 2016.

  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> rehearsal
  • Silas Riener
  • O'Connor directs Silas Riener
  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> rehearsal
  • Eleanor Hullihan
  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> rehearsal
  • Natalie Green
  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> rehearsal
  • O'Connor and his collaborators talk with FSU Neuroscientist Dr. Wen Li
  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> showing
  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> showing
  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> showing
  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> showing
  • <i>Transcendental Daughter</i> showing
  • Michael Ingle and Silas Riener
  • <i>Undersweet</i> showing
  • <i>Undersweet</i> showing
  • <i>Undersweet</i> showing
  • <i>Undersweet</i> showing
  • O'Connor leads discussion with students about his work
  • FSU dance student engages O'Connor on his work

Collaborators in Residence: Natalie Green, Eleanor Hullihan, Michael Ingle, Silas Riener [performers]

Visiting Artist | July 29 - August 17, 2013


Tere O'Connor returned to MANCC in August 2013 to develop Bleed.   Expanding on methods derived from his 30 years of choreographic exploration, this new full-length work was created by blending three distinct dances - Secret Mary, poem and a duet called Sister- into one work. The layering and assemblage of the source works will create a new logic that demonstrates the seeds of syncretism in choreographic thinking.  Bleed is the result of an 18-month development period with the initial three works performed in different venues from July 2012-June 2013.  This celebration of process and product continues O’Connor’s collaborations with James Baker, Michael O’Connor, Julie Larson and Roger Hubeli of Aptum Architecture, and includes extensive audience interaction designed specifically for each tour venue.  

While at MANCC, O’Connor rehearsed the full cast of the new work with an eye toward the creation of set elements.  During the third week, the set designers and lighting designer joined the residency to explore different iterations of the set. The design team was able to utilize Florida State University's Facility for Arts Research, preparing models of the set that can be assembled in different ways for a range of venues. O’Connor has created a process blog in association with scholar Jenn Joy to chronicle the process of making Bleed - bleedtereoconnor.org.

In October 2013, O’Connor returned to FSU as part of Seven Days of Opening Nights to perform poem and Sister.  Prior to the performance, O’Connor discussed and reflected on his summer residency at a School of Dance Forum. The discussion illuminated the choreographic process and contextualized the work for the audience by illustrating how traces of the different works show in and influence future works.

Bleed premiered in December, 2013 at the new Brooklyn Academy of Music Fisher Building as part of the Next Wave Festival.

This residency was supported, in part, by Big Tree Productions, and through a Production Residency funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

  • O'Connor's collaborators rehearse <i>Bleed</i>
  • O'Connor directs duet with Silas Riener and Ryan Kelly
  • Green, Oliver, Thomson, emory and Ingle rehearse
  • Heather Olson, Tess Dworman and Cynthia Oliver
  • Natalie Green, Michael Ingle and Mary Read
  • Ryan Kelly and David Thomson
  • <i>Bleed</i>
  • Ryan Kelly and Natalie Green
  • Tere O'Connor
  • Tere O'Connor and collaborators
  • Tere O'Connor, Architects Julie Larsen, Roger Hubeli and Lighting Designer Michael O'Connor
  • Architects Julie Larsen and Roger Hubeli and Lighting Designer Michael O'Connor consider set design
  • Larsen and Hubeli discuss scenic elements with O'Connor
  • Larsen and Hubeli work with Ashley Ivey of FSU's Facility for Arts Research
  • Experimental set pieces for <i>Bleed</i>
  • Early set design draft for <i>Bleed</i>

Collaborators in Residence: Tess Dworman, devynn emory, Natalie Green, Michael Ingle, Ryan Kelly, Oisin Monaghan, Cynthia Oliver, Heather Olson Trovato, Mary Read, Silas Riener, David Thomson [performers], Michael O'Connor [lighting designer], Julie Larsen, Roger Hubeli [architects]. Slideshow photos by Chris Cameron

Visiting Artist | July 30 – August 16, 2009

Wrought Iron Fog

O'Connor's investigations into the philosophical potential of dance have transformed his work, resulting in a stripped down form where choreography is the protagonist. During this residency O'Connor and his performers focused on a core drama in dance - the tension between fixed states and constant change. As one image contextualizes the next, ‘change’ becomes a central contributor to the creation of meaning in dance. O’Connor noted prior to the residency an interest in "bringing the experiential qualities of watching dance into this investigation embracing audience perception as an element of change." In imitation of this he incorporated the performers as audience as the work was built, embracing their subjective projections, normally embedded in nuanced interpretations, into the making of the dance. Each dancer could alter the material in his/her own way in a back and forth editing dialogue with O'Connor. The final result was a braiding of all these single investigations, which O'Connor shared as a work in progress at the 2009 MANCC FORUM.

Wrought Iron Fog premiered in November 2009 at Dance Theater Workshop.

Collaborators in Residence: Hilary Clark, Heather Olson, Matthew Rogers, Erin Gerken and Daniel Clifton [performers]. Slideshow photos by Kathryn Noletto Felis. 

Visiting Artist | January 16 – February 5, 2005


O'Connor was one of the first artists in residence at MANCC. The residency was structured to provide support for O'Connor's research without consideration for what would be produced as a result of his investigations. During the residency, O'Connor opened up rehearsals for students and faculty to observe and reflect with he and his dancers. Participants in a composition class were offered the opportunity to build upon some of his ideas with the performers. This early residency was rich wtih possibility thanks to the generosity of O'Connor and his dancers.

O'Connor credits the residency as helping develop BABY, a continuation of his deep immersion into the poetics of dance exploding the metaphor of "time passing" into a dynamic, contemporary work of art.

BABY premiered at Dance Theater Workshop in March, 2006.

Collaborators in Residence: Hilary Clark, Erin Gerken and Matthew Rogers [performers]

Featured Artist

Faye Driscoll

February 22 - 24
Carolina Performing
Arts, UNC Chapel Hill


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