Artistic Director/Choreographer/Co-Founder Buglisi Dance Theatre
In her five decade career, Buglisi has made an indelible impact on the field of dance. Renowned for highly visual, imagistic dances that use literature, history and heroic archetypes as a primary source, Buglisi’s ballets are sweeping, passionate and always rooted in a strong physical technique. She is a prolific choreographer creating more than 100 ballets for Buglisi Dance Theatre and commissioned worldwide including Suspended Women on the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (premiere: 12/12/14 at New York City Center); Ninfee for the Richmond Ballet; her full-length The Four Elements for the Flamenco Festival presented in Madrid, Sadler’s Wells, London and New York’s City Center; Ananda Shankar Performing Arts Company, India; the Shanghai Song and Dance Ensemble, China; the Martha Graham Dance Company, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Joyce Trisler Danscompany, Teatro Danza Contemporanea di Roma for which she was a co-founder in 1969; American Repertory Ballet; Ailey II; and Ice Theatre of New York.
Her “bewilderingly beautiful” ballet Threshold had its Italian premiere in Milan with Carla Fracci's Italian Ballet Company at the Teatro Nuovo and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Opera House. Buglisi, with Foreman, premiered their full-length ballet Runes of the Heart at Lincoln Center in 1994, followed by invitations to the Kennedy Center, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and The Joyce Theater where Buglisi Dance Theatre performs its NYC seasons. In 2001, she created Requiem to the soaring music of Gabriel Fauré, a transcendent experience and amplification of the human spirit. Anna Kisselgoff raves in The New York Times of the ballet’s powerful images, stunning...extravagant and beautiful. Breaking new ground, Buglisi collaborated with Venezuela’s leading environmental artist Jacobo Borges to create her trilogy Blue Cathedral, Rain, and Sand.
She has collaborated with composers Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), Jeff Beal, Tan Dun, Glen Velez, Jennifer Higdon, Libby Larsen, Alex Weiser, Daniel Brewbaker, Reza Vali, Andy Teirstein; cellist, Maya Beiser; Flamenco Guitarist, Gerardo Nunez, the Cassatt String Quartet, Syracuse University Symphony Orchestra and Singers; spoken word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph; lighting designers Clifton Taylor and Jack Mehler; mannequin maker Ralph Pucci; and Italian artist Rossella Vasta on the Table of Silence Project 9/11, a site-specific ritual for peace performed at Lincoln Center by over 150 dancers, music ensemble and chorus, and seen via live stream across the U.S. in all 50 states and worldwide in 238 countries/territories. For her contribution in uniting the dance community through the Table of Silence Project, Buglisi was named a “New Yorker for Dance” by Dance/NYC and received Proclamations from Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, the 2020 Bessie Award Special Citation and the 2022 Juilliard President's Medal presented by President Damian Woetzel.
During her 30 year association with the Martha Graham Dance Company, Buglisi was a Principal Dancer for 12 years, performing the classic roles and those created for her by Miss Graham. She danced in Ms. Graham’s honor on the nationally televised CBS Presentation of the Kennedy Center Honors and the PBS film An Evening of Dance and Conversation with Martha Graham. Buglisi’s duet “Sospiri” was performed by the Martha Graham Company at New York City Center (1989). Coached by Jane Sherman, she performed Ruth St. Denis’ solos internationally including Lyon Biennale De La Danse and on film in Trailblazers of American Modern Dance, and The Spirit of Denishawn.
A master teacher committed to arts-in-education, she received commissions by the University of Richmond, California State University/Long Beach, George Mason University, SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, Interlochen Arts Academy, the State Ballet College of Oslo, Ailey/Fordham University B.F.A. Program, Oklahoma Arts Institute, the Juilliard School’s Emerging Modern Masters Series, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Boston Conservatory of Music, Randolph-Macon College and the National Dance Institute, among others. In 1970, she founded the first school of contemporary dance for the community of Spoleto, Italy and was the Master Artist-in-Residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. She has taught for the Dance Aspen Festival from 1990-95, the Julio Bocca Center in Argentina, the 97-98 Victoria College Melbourne, and the Chautauqua Institution and Festival. She is Chairperson of the Modern Department at The Ailey School for 30 years, served on the faculty of The Juilliard School 91 -05, The Martha Graham School since 1977 and guest teaches at the famed Performing Arts High School (alumna), Steps on Broadway, and Peridance Capezio Center. She was named Honorary Chair for the Marymount Manhattan College ‘05 Gala and served as panelist for the Heinz Awards and the New Jersey State Council for the Arts. She served as a Grand Marshal of the 2013 Parade in NYC.
Buglisi’s repertoire is archived in the Jerome Robbins Dance Collection of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Awards and honors include: 2022 Juilliard President's Medal, 2020 Bessie Award Special Citation, 2016 Fini International Lifetime Achievement Award, Dance Parade's 2016 Grand Marshall/Lifetime Achievement Award, 2014 Kaatsbaan International Playing Field Award, American Dance Guild Award for Artistic Excellence, Fiorello LaGuardia Award for Excellence, The Gertrude Shurr Award for Dance, Altria Group’s 2007 Women Choreographer Initiative Award, National Endowment for the Arts choreographer fellowships, challenge grants from the Arnhold Foundation, commissioning grants from The Harkness Foundation for Dance and The O’Donnell-Green Music & Dance Foundation, and important grants from the Howard Gilman Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, among others. Ms. Buglisi served for three terms on Dance/USA’s Board of Trustees as Chair, Artistic Directors Council (2010-2013).
Photo (c) Bill Biggart