Artist and educator, Cristina is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Theatre and Dance department at UTEP and is serving as President for the World Dance Alliance Americas. She holds an MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a secondary emphasis in Gender Studies and Somatics and previously trained at the London Contemporary Dance School where she gained a Postgraduate Diploma with distinction dancing and touring across Europe with Edge, the Postgraduate Company of LCDS. As a dancer, she performed works by Hofesh Schechter, Jonathan Lunn, Charles Linehan, Maresa Von Stockert, Yann Lheraux, Arno Schuitemaker, and Darrel Jones amongst others. In Ireland as part of the Daghdha Mentoring Programme, she was in Michael Klien’s Sand Section and in Ruins for Myriad Dance Company. In 2007 she co-founded, together with Nick Bryson, Legitimate Bodies Dance Company, the dance company in residence at Birr Theatre and Arts Centre and supported by Offaly County Council. The company has toured to some of the most important venues and festival in Europe, the USA and Mexico like Aerowaves Dance Festival at The Robin Howard Theatre London, Dance House Limassol, Auditorium Theatre Rome, the European Parliament in Brussels, the Dublin Absolute Festival and Tanzmesse Dusseldorf, Purdue University and the Black Box at the National School of Contemporary Dance in Mexico City, thanks to the support of Culture Ireland.
Cristina’s awards include “DanceWEB European Scholarship,” two Bursary Awards, the Project Award and several travel awards from The Irish Arts Council and the European Cultural Foundation. From 2008 until 2014 she was the director of I.F. O.N.L.Y. the first and only festival in Ireland dedicated to dance solos. In 2013 she moved to Mexico to work at Universidad De Las Americas Puebla as a full-time professor, becoming the Chair of the Arts Department there in 2015. During her time in Mexico, she co-directed the festival Performatica and was a finalist in the 4×4 choreographic contest in Tijuana. Cristina has presented her scholarly and creative work in several conferences in the US, Latin America and Europe, like CORD, SDHS, SECAC, WAEE and MACAA and has created original choreographies and performances for several universities including UTSA, Purdue University, Texas State University San Marcos and Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and she is also part of the advisor committee for the Texas Improvisation Dance Festival (TDIF). Her research interests lie in dance dramaturgy, interdisciplinary performance practices, dance pedagogy, and gender studies.
Karissa Royster began studying tap dancing when she joined RPM Tap Ensemble under the direction of Barbara Phillips in 2006. Originally from San Antonio, Karissa is a graduate of NYU, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History and was a Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar. While studying in New York, Karissa had the opportunity to dance with renowned artists in the field, such as Princess Grace Award recipient Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Emmy Award-winner Jason Samuels-Smith, Marshall Davis, Jr. and Derick Grant of Broadway’s Bring in ’da Noise, Bring in ’da Funk, and Sarah Savelli, founder of Rhythm ISS… and Dig Tap Society. In December 2015, she appeared in Savion Glover’s East Coast tour of Dance Holiday SPeCTaCULaR.
In April 2016, she made her Broadway debut as the Dance Captain and as a member of the dance ensemble in Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 & All That Followed, choreographed by Savion Glover and directed by George C. Wolfe. Karissa performed at the 70th Annual Tony Awards with the company of Shuffle Along, nominated for Best Musical and Best Choreography, as well as on ABC’s broadcast of “Taking the Stage: Changing America,” in which she had the honor of performing with Savion Glover and fellow cast members for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. She is passionate about preserving and sharing the beautiful tradition of tap dance as well as exploring its roots in American history and vernacular music.
Rulan Tangen is an internationally accomplished dance artist, choreographer, and director with over three decades of experience in multiple movement genres. She is the Founding Artistic Director and Choreographer of Dancing Earth, noted in Dance Magazine as “One of the Top 25 To Watch,” and winner of the National Dance Project Production and Touring Grant, as well as the National Museum of American Indian’s Expressive Arts award. She is a recipient of the Costo Medal for Education, Research and Service by UC Riverside’s Chair of Native Affairs, and an honoree of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation for their first dance Fellowship for Artistic Innovation. As a performer and choreographer, she has worked in ballet, modern dance, circus, TV, film, theater, opera and Native contemporary productions in the USA, Canada, France, Norway, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina.
Her work explores movement as an evolving language of intertribalism rooted in diverse indigenous cosmologies, in functional ritual for transformation and healing, animating decolonization process, integrating concurrent universes of ancient futurities in the moment of now, expressing energetic connection with all relations—human and beyond. With Dancing Earth, she has passionately cultivated successive generations of Indigenous contemporary performing artists and embodies her belief in dance as purposeful center of continuance of life. She is recipient of a 2018 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist award and is grateful for all that roots her, supporting pathways to uncover, for the dreaming and doing of Dancing Earth: moving, shaking, and stomping the world into renewals.