Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Dance 2001

Tere O'Connor

A close up portrait of Tere O'Connor in front of a patterned blue and white background. He has shoulder length curly black hair and a goatee and wears a dark shirt and rectangular black glasses.
  • 2001 Grants to Artists
  • Dance
  • Choreographer
  • Born Rochester, NY, 1958
  • Lives in New York, NY
  • Additional Information

With the funds... I was able to augment the budget for Winter Belly and start my new non-profit company Big Tree Productions... I am very grateful for this inordinately large sum of money. It has very much enhanced the last two years of my creative life.

- Tere O'Connor, May 21, 2003

Artist Statement

For years I have worked to create a dance language of my own invention, using highly stylized physicality to represent ideological concerns and to filter these through the artificiality of the proscenium stage. The path of my work has gone from my early dances, which were abstract with a theatrical sensibility, to later dances, which included text necessitated by my need to engage in direct social commentary. The next phase will be a blend. Direct reference will be replaced by an abstraction that reexamines the tone of issues within the context of a dance language.

As an artist, I sift through a deluge of disparate ideas. The art of choreography is the attempt to capture their errant relativity. The motor of my work is the disinclination of these themes towards each other's natures. Seeds of the movement concepts for this next period involve divesting my body of dance training in an attempt to rid my work of scholastic body languages and locate a form of expression that is pre-linguistic.

- 2002


Tere O'Connor is a choreographer, dancer, and educator. He performed in Rosalind Newman and Matthew Diamond's companies and began choreographing his own work in 1982. He is the Artistic Director of Tere O'Connor Dance and frequently collaborates with composer James Baker. His creates highly varied works that defy cogency and subvert default movements.

O'Connor has created over forty works for his company and has toured these pieces throughout North and South America and Europe. His works prior to receiving his 2001 Grants to Artists award include Heaven up North (1988), The Death of Generous Henry (1994), Greta in the Ditch (1995), Mother (1996), House (1998), The World Is a Missing Girl (1998), Hi Everybody! (1999), and Choke (2001). O'Connor's 2001 FCPA grant funds supported Winter Belly (2002), which premiered at Danspace Project.

Since his 2001 Grants to Artists award, O'Connor's most recent works include Cover Boy (2011), Bleed (2013), undersweet (2014), and Giverny (2015). He premiered Bleed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and it went on to the Walker Arts Center, American Dance Festival at Duke University, and Danspace Project. Bleed is the culmination of a two-year project during which O'Connor created Secret Mary (2012), poem (2012), and Sister (2012), and collapsed these three pieces into a fourth work. Each piece had an entirely different cast and drew from different source material, so that echoes of the previous dances resonate in Bleed but are layered, remembered, and forgotten. 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.

After his 2001 Grants to Artists award, O'Connor was awarded Multi Arts Production Grants (2003, 2005, 2006, 2012), a New York Foundation for the Arts Building Up Infrastructure Levels for Dance Grant (2006), a Creative Capital Award (2009), a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship (2009), a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award (2013), and repeated grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. O'Connor was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Arts and Sciences in October 2014. Previous to his 2001 FCPA grant, O'Connor received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1993), and three New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Awards—one for Heaven Up North (1998), one for Sustained Achievement (1999), and one for Frozen Mommy (2004).

In 1979, O'Connor graduated with a B.A. from State University of New York at Purchase. O'Connor has taught at festivals and universities internationally, including the Bates Dance Festival, American Dance Festival, Colorado Dance Festival, Ohio State University, University of Minnesota, ImPulsTanz, and the School for New Dance Development in The Netherlands. O'Connor was a ballet instructor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts from 1990 to 1999. He is a Center for Advanced Studies Professor of Dance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has been on the Danspace Project Artists Advisory Board since 1989.

Three performers wearing light blue clothes stand in a black space and face the camera. In front of them, two other performers wearing darker blue clothes are blurred. The performer on the left leans forward and the performer on the right leans backwards.
Performance still from FCPA-supported production of Winter Belly, 2002.
A performer wearing a short blue patterned dress lays on the floor of a dark stage with their arms above their head, their right leg bent at the knee and their left leg extended long on the ground. Two other performers dance together and hold hands in the background.
Performance still from FCPA-supported production of Winter Belly, 2002.
A performer wearing a black tank top stands in the foreground, bending their head down and extending their arms long behind them. In the background, three other performers face the camera and hold out their arms. The performer in the middle holds their arm in a curve at shoulder length in front of their face. The performer on the right holds their arm in front of them and points downwards.
Performance still from Bleed, 2013. Photo by Paula Court.
A performer wearing a green dress spins in the center. Behind them, there are several other performers wearing black and white. Some dance and hold hands. Others lunge and extend their arms beside them. One performer stands upright and looks at the others.
Performance still from Bleed, 2013. Photo by Paula Court.
A performer wearing a delicate green tank top patterned with small green dots stands with their arms at their side and looks down with an exhausted expression on their face. The background is dark and blurred.
Performance still from Cover Boy, 2011.