Born in Las Vegas in 1954, Molissa Fenley grew up in Nigeria, lived in Spain, and returned to the US where she received a degree in dance from Mills College in California in 1975. In 1977, she moved to New York City and formed Molissa Fenley and Dancers. Fenley’s choreographic works for her company include: Energizer (1980), commissioned by Dance Theater Workshop; Hemispheres (1983), commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival; Cenotaph (1985), commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival; and Esperanto (1985), which premiered at The Joyce Theater.
Since 1988 Ms. Fenley has concentrated on choreographing and performing solo works, including State of Darkness (1988), commissioned by the American Dance Festival; Provenance Unknown (1989), a co-commission by The Kitchen and Dance Chance; The Floor Dances (1989), commissioned by Dia Center or the Arts; Bardo (1990), commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Place (1992), commissioned by The Joyce Theater; and Witches’ Float (1993) commissioned by the University of Illinois. Recent works include Channel, Sightings Nullarbor and Tilliboyo (1993) and Sita (1995), all of which premiered at The Joyce Theater.
Ms. Fenley has also choreographed works for the Ohio Ballet (Feral, 1986), the Australian Dance Theater (Descent Into The Maelstrom, 1986) and for the Deutsche Opera Ballet of Berlin (Bridge of Dreams, 1994). Her work has been performed by Bill T. Jones/Arnie ZaneCompany, Elisa Monte & David Brown, Dance Alloy (Philadelphia) and Peggy Baker. Ms. Fenley’s work has presented throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, Indonesia and Asia. Television credits include a commissioned collaborative work with John Sanborn and Mary Perillo for PBS’ “Alive from Off Center,” “Molissa Fenley at the Blackie” for Granada TV’s “Celebration,” and a music video for VH-1 of “Metamorphosis” by Philip Glass, directed by Scott B.
Molissa Fenley awards include eight NEA Choreographer Fellowships, a Beard’s Fund Fellowship, a CAPS grant, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. Her work has also been supported by the Asian Cultural Council, The Jerome Foundation, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts Dance Program. She was an artist-in-residence at the Harkness Ballet Foundation from 1984-86, and has been an artist-in-residence at the Dia Center for the Arts since 1986.