Modern Connections Collective

Having spent the past 18 years teaching and consulting with Boston-based art organizations, institutions, and companies, Jenny decided to embark on her own artistic endeavors. Realizing that her vision for what dance could be was unique to her, she founded Connections Dance Theater in 2016. Since March 2020, CDT has pivoted and transformed into Modern Connections Collective.

Modern Connections Collective (MCC) ​is a project based performance collective whose mission is to create visceral contemporary dance works that provoke conversation and personal reflection.

Founder and Artistic Director Jenny Oliver has been working to use movement as a way to process information. Her choreography has been presented at various festivals and venues, including the WBUR CitySpace, Peabody Essex Museum, the Museum of Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Center for the Arts, HUBWeek Boston, Tufts Art Galleries, Emerson College, Collective Thread Festival NY, and ArtBeat Festival.

Jenny is currently bringing movement workshops that utilize dance, reflection and choreographic design to the public through a 2022 Live Arts Boston Grant. These workshops continue to explore the theme of belonging by responding to the questions: "What does it mean to belong to a person, to a place, to yourself?"

Modern Connections Collective ​also appreciates the support from the City of Boston, the New England Foundation of the Arts, the Boston Foundation and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Current Performing Artists

Erin Chiesa is an 8th grade science teacher and mom to an amazing young girl. Having over 30 years of 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.

Vivien Fergusson is a Virginia native who now happily lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, where she was a Miller Arts Scholar for Dance and an active choreographer and performer in student-, faculty-, and community-led pieces. Upon graduation from UVA's theater program, she was honored with the award for Excellence in the Arts. Over the years, Vivien has studied a variety of movement styles and techniques, but consistently gravitates toward work that is rooted in creativity, inspired by human connection, and oriented around community. She started working with Connections Dance Theater in 2021 and is thrilled to be part of Jenny Oliver's creative process.

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.

Past Performing Artists

Stacey Badgett Jr. is a Cambridge native, graduating from 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.

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!

Sally Carnevale is a graduating senior at Tufts University, where she is majoring in biology. She was involved in the Tufts Dance Department and received an Honorary Dance Minor for her participation in courses and performances. Sally also danced in student-led organizations, Sarabande Dance Ensemble and Spirit of the Creative, where she choreographed and performed throughout college. She will be attending Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in the fall and looks forward to continuing to move and create into her professional career. She is grateful for the opportunity to dance with Jenny and the rest of CDT.

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. 

Imani Deal was born and raised in the Greater Boston Area. She has danced with Roots Uprising Company since 2020 under the direction of Nailah Randall-Bellinger. Deal is a graduate of Montclair State University, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a minor in Business. During her training at MSU, she had the privilege of dancing in works by Camille A. Brown, Earl Mosley, and Charles Weidman. Since graduation, Deal has danced in local projects by Jenny Oliver and Rachel Linsky. Deal’s goal is to open an Arts Center that gives back to the inner city through the arts while also expanding her dance career through traveling around the world. 

Ih'San Ellis was a high school student at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, 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.

Patricka James is a black New Orleans native, dance artist, and dance movement therapist. James has been dancing with Roots Uprising since 2020. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Performing Arts in Dance with a minor in Psychology and a Master’s dual degree in Clinical Mental Counseling and Dance Movement Therapy. James has trained in various American Dance Festival intensives and danced in works by Blakeley McGuire, Shen-Wei, Cunningham, and more recently Jenny Oliver’s dance collective. As a culturally affirming movement artist, Patricka is able to learn and engage in performance and storytelling, as well as utilizing dance/expressive movement for processing and healing clients in therapy.

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.  

Amisi Nazaire-Hicks is a Cambridge native who graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in May 2020. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies. Amisi will be receiving a Master of Arts in Performing Arts Administration from New York University (expected 2024). Amisi has trained in ballet, jazz, modern (Limon and Horton techniques), West African, Haitian folkloric, hip-hop, and house. She has performed work by Shakia Barron, Molly Christie Gonzalez, Deborah Goffe, “New Second Line” byCamille A. Brown and “A Choreographic Offering” by Jose Limon. Amisi is currently dancing in “Concourse”, a collaborative project between Shakia Barron and Barbie Diewald, and Amisi has been dancing in Jenny Oliver’s projects since January 2021.

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.

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