ChrisMastersDance is a Brooklyn-based contemporary dance company built by a team of interdisciplinary collaborators and directed by Chris Masters. Founded in 2012, the organization's philosophy in dance making is that the work should function as a container, seamlessly blending movement invention, theoretical investigation, and character-driven theatricality. Like a container, the work can be unpacked in myriad ways, allowing for greater accessibility and connectivity to diverse audiences. The New York Times notes the work is "psychologically driven... you might want to be in a mindful state." The primary objective is to create an empathetic avenue for dialogue between performer, witness, and community. The organization's body of work includes over 20 dance works, ranging from solos to ensembles, from shorter, site-adaptive projects to evening length site-specific performances.
Recent highlights include invitations to present work at Danspace Project, a sold-out run at La MaMa Moves! 2014, and ongoing professional level classes at Mark Morris Dance Center, and the construction of a commissioned evening length immersive dance theatre work in Beijing, China in 2015.
Shot in Fleischmanns, New York
A series of four music videos for Ex-Fiancée's debut album, A Feast That Never Comes, interrogating the relationship between technology and constructed identity, nostalgia, and the constant performance of the everyday.
Premiere: April 2015
Fengchao Theatre, Beijing, China
Commission by North Park Theatre Culture Co., Director Meng Jinghui
A 2.5 hour site-specific immersive dance theatre work built in collaboration with the cast, focusing on the terse relationship between veneer and intent.
Premiere: December 2014
Triskelion Arts, Brooklyn, NY
Commission by Triskelion Presents for the inaugural season in their new space
An evening-length concert work paralleling the phenomenology of black holes to submerged identity, this work is designed to incorporate members of the local dance community wherever performed.
Premiere: May 2014
La MaMa ETC, New York, NY
An evening-length quartet built in collaboration with the original cast, investigating the relationship between self-exploitation and self-empowerment, focusing on welcomed parasitic relationships, featuring live performance by resident CMD composer, Sven Britt.
Premiere: December 2013
Triskelion Arts, Brooklyn, NY
Split Bill Commission
An evening-length ensemble work built in collaboration with the cast and composer Jon Anderson, exploring the relationship between youth-driven culture and time, through the lens of Peter Pan.
Premiere: April 2011
Public Space One, Iowa City IA
Reconstruction: January 2013
Irondale Center, Brooklyn, NY
Initial configuration as a movement installation, later reframed for an evening length, in the round, dance work, exploring the phenomenology of loss, using as phantom limbs as underpinning.
Chris Masters has been making dance work for over ten years, and is currently director of ChrisMastersDance. His work has been presented at Judson Memorial Church, Salvatore Capezio Theatre, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Danspace Project, 100 Grand, Triskelion Arts, Irondale Center, and Dixon Place in NYC, as well as Detroit Opera House, Music Hall Performance Space (Detroit), Boll Theatre (Detroit), The Iron Factory (Philadelphia), Fengchao Theatre (Beijing), and the organization has held creative residencies at Public Space One (Iowa City) and 555 Gallery (Detroit). Masters has performed the work of Martha Clarke, Coleen Thomas, Stephanie Liapis, Jana Hicks, Keith Thompson, Doug Elkins, and Jan Erkert, among others. Most recently, Chris performed with Third Rail Projects' Then She Fell, recipient of a 2013 New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Award. As an educator, Masters has served on the faculties of The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, The University of Iowa, the American College Dance Festival, Dance New Amsterdam, 100 Grand, Gibney Dance Center, Mark Morris Dance Center, Peridance Capezio Center, and American Ballet Theatre's Summer Intensive. Chris completed a BA in Finance/BS in Dance from Wayne State University and a MFA in Choreography from The University of Iowa, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow.
Sven Britt is the resident composer for ChrisMastersDance, completing scores for several works, including Exit Strategies (Triskelion, 2014), Mausoleum (Work-In-Progress) (Danspace, December 2014), and A Willful Host, (La MaMa Moves!, May 2014). His compositional work for dance has been shown in Philadelphia, The University of Hawaii, and the Fengchao Theatre in Beijing (as an immersive dance theatre work created with CMD). He accompanies all dance classes taught by Chris Masters, and has played live for many other teaching artists in New York City and elsewhere. He works on solo music under the name Ex-Fiancée, and was previously in a Brooklyn-based electronic soul duo, Stranger Cat, whose debut album In The Wilderness was released in April 2015 via Joyful Noise Recordings (Son Lux, of Montreal, Sisyphus).
Nico Li’s range and adaptability stems from her global exposure as an acclaimed artistic youth performing throughout China, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the U.S., where she eventually earned her BFA from SUNY Purchase in 2009. As a collaborator, she brings her intellect and experience whole-heartedly into the creative process, immersing herself in dance, improvisation and physical theater. Currently Nico is a senior company member of SYREN Modern Dance (2009-), performer and movement collaborator of Chris Masters Dance (2013-), as well as a frequent guest artist of Maurice Fraga’s Ekilibre Dance Co. and Dance China NY, through the NY Chinese Cultural Center. Recent teaching credits include Beijing Dance Academy, University of Utah and Brigham Young University and Grosse Pointe Dance Center in Detroit. Supplemental to her research of the body, Nico is also a certified Gyrotonic trainer and invests in a daily meditation practice. In April 2015, Nico was accompanied by Chris Masters & Sven Britt on a cultural exchange with Meng Jinghui’s famous Beijing Feng Cao Theater. This daily creative and teaching residency culminated in the production of Veiled Threat, a brand new two-and-half hour immersive dance theater work that has since been performed over 80+ times. And she’s in love with lighthouses!
Paul Vickers began his dance training in the suburbs of Chicago with Forum Jazz Dance Theatre, performing both nationally and internationally. He graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with a BA in Dance and a minor in Business Administration. In 2012, the American College Dance Festival Association and Dance Magazine presented Paul with the Outstanding Student Performer Award. He has danced for Holly Johnston’s Ledges and Bones Dance Project and Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre. Paul worked intimately with Benjamin Levy and Sidra Bell while dancing with San Francisco’s LEVYdance and currently dances for Mike Esperanza's BARE Dance Company and Gallim Dance.
Kayla Farrish was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina into a dance loving family. Local dance studios and school programs inspired her to begin choreographing early in her training, allowing her to find a creative voice at a young age. She graduated from The University of Arizona in 2013 summa cum laude. She was also granted the Gertrude Shurr Award for excellence in modern dance. During her time there, she had the opportunity to perform works by Martha Graham, Larry Keigwin, Amy Ernst, Douglas Nielsen, Sam Watson, and others. Since moving to New York, she has had the opportunity to work with wonderful choreographers including Bryn Cohn and Artists, Aszure Barton and Artists, Elena Vazintaris, Lane Gifford of LaneCo Arts, Jessica Taylor of Damagedance, Steve Vaughn of 13 Main Movement, Emily Schoen, Matthew Westerby Dance Company, Gallim Dance, BODYART, Ashley Lindsay, Bare Dance Company, CEMA Dance, Bennyroyce Dance and Artists, Helen Simoneau Danse, and Dante Brown/Warehouse Dance.
John Raffles Durbin hails from Katy, Texas. He attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, as well as graduating from the University of Arizona with degrees in both Dance and Biomedical Engineering. Additionally, Raffles was named a National Merit Scholar in 2011 and an Amgen Scholar in 2013. Pursuing his dance career in New York City, Raffles has worked with Neville Dance Theatre, TAKE Dance, and ChrisMastersDance, among others. Dance is one of the few activities that can pry him away from esoteric activities like science fiction, calculating thrust-to-weight ratios, and juggling mana production with creature summoning.
Kate Vincek received her BFA in Dance from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan in 2010. Kate has performed extensively throughout her college and professional career in works by Chris Masters, Nicholas Leichter, Sean Curran, John Zullo, Faye Driscoll, Jan Van Dyke, Julie Johnson, Jeff Rebudal, Jessi Patz, Alison Woerner, Sonya Tayeh, and Lauren Adams. Kate’s work has been presented at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and continues to teach, choreograph, and dance in NYC.
Ross Katen is originally from Oregon, and has been trained at Westside Dance Academy, The Portland Ballet, Arts & Communication Magnet Academy, The Juilliard School, Nashville Ballet, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and at the Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance. Ross graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2013 with a BFA in Dance. After graduating, Ross joined the Limón Dance Company performing works by Jose Limón, Carla Maxwell, Seán Curran, and Rodrigo Pederneiras. Other credits include work by Alex Ketley, Mark Morris, Donald McKayle, John Magnus, Iain Rowe, Chase Brock, Chihiro Shimizu and Chuck Wilt.
Caitlyn Johansen began her training at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts, and continued to receive a BFA in Dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Over the years, Caitlyn has had the opportunity to perform the work of Andrea Miller, Alex Ketley, Chuck Wilt, Take Ueyama, Paul Taylor, Jerome Robbins, Larry Keigwin, Jessica Lang, Dwight Rhoden, Robert Battle, Nathan Trice, Matthew Rushing and Christopher Vo. She is currently dancing for Ellis Wood and ChrisMastersDance, and holds a Mind Body Dancer 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Certificate.
Amy Lynne Barr is an independent dance performer/artist/choreographer with an MFA in choreography from The University of Iowa. Amy is an adjunct professor at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, IA and Richard Stockton College, in Galloway, NJ. She has worked with Martha Clarke, Jennifer Kayle, Doug Neilsen, Randy James, and Charlotte Adams to name a few. Her work has been shown in Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Iowa, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. She currently lives in Philadelphia, PA, dances with Tori Lawrence & Co., Alie and the Brigade, teaches contemporary dance, and makes her own work.