My process and interests
are rooted in the multiplicity of relationships we have with ourselves, each other, and our surroundings. I continue to circle around the ideas of human interaction, the ordinary and virtuosic coexisting in a body and in performance, the power of gesture to communicate, and the ever-present awkwardness of being. I like polarity when moving, valuing both flow and tension as these feel true to the every day experience. My process is collaborative. As I feel compelled to identify these ideas here, I also feel great resistance toward putting a name on things and how that often overly defines and then limits the thing.
Donnell Oakley is an independent choreographer, performer and teacher based in NYC and creating work since 2002. She co-founded the collaboration based company everything smaller in 2002 with her inimitable cohorts, Jessica Jolly and David Schmidt. They made work, performed, and taught master classes in and outside NYC until 2008 when they disbanded to pursue other ventures. Donnell continued making dances and has had her work produced through Movement Research, the 92nd Street Y, the West End Theatre, Triskelion Arts, the Joyce SoHo, Dance Now NYC, Judson Church, Dance New Amsterdam, Dixon Place, Gowanus Art + Production, and The Yard (Bessie Schönberg Choreographic Mentorship recipient, 2013) among other venues. She has been fortunate enough to make dances with the extraordinary likes of Xan Burley, Courtney Drasner, Josh Palmer, Jordan Risdon, Alex Springer, Emily Diers, Carolyn Cryer, Sarah Barney, Deborah Lohse and Cori Marquis among others.
In addition to her own work, Donnell has had the great pleasure of collaborating and dancing with Liz Staruch, Fritha Pengelly, Cori Marquis & The Nines [IX], Xan Burley + Alex Springer, and continues working with Steeledance, Chavasse Dance & Performance, Doug Elkins Choreography Etc, and the collective LMnO3: (Deborah Lohse, Cori Marquis, n’ Donnell Oakley.)
A North Carolina native, Donnell had the great fortune of attending Arts Together in Raleigh where she received extensive training in mostly modern forms, improvisation, and composition from a young age through high school. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography in 2001 and attended the American Dance Festival in the summers of 1999 and 2001. Donnell feels a strong connection to her roots and believes deeply in Arts Together’s philosophy: “We believe that students who develop personal artistic vision as well as technique become creators rather than imitators.”
The collaborative trio LMnO3 (Deborah Lohse, Cori Marquis and Donnell Oakley) met in 2010 while working with Doug Elkins in Fräulein Maria, and joyfully launched into a choreographic partnership in 2014. Their first evening-length piece, B.A.N.G.S.: made in america, was commissioned by Dance Now NYC and premiered in 2016 at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater. LMnO3 took B.A.N.G.S. on the road to American Dance Festival, SUNY Brockport's Summer Dance Festival, MusikFest in PA, Dance Now Boston, Denver’s Clocktower Cabaret, The Yard on Martha’s Vineyard, Dance Place in DC, and Ringling International Arts Festival in Sarasota, FL with excerpts performed at Judson Church, Triskelion Arts, Gibney Dance Center, New Haven's Elm City Dance Collective, and The Yard’s Follies: Women Dance the Comic. Their second work, More Like Your Mom, premiered at Triskelion Arts in May 2017, and appeared at 92Y and Dance Now Boston in 2018. LMnO3 has been granted residencies through Dance Now’s Silo, The Lumberyard, SUNY Brockport, Fourth Arts Block, and The Croft in Michigan. unPacking Pina, LMnO3’s third and current work is in process and will premiere at Judson Church in winter 2020. The Silo, The Lumberyard, and The Croft in Michigan have been generously supporting this creation.