Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum ⎜31st Season ⎜Cleo Parker Robinson Dance

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Welcome to the 31st Anniversary of “Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum”!

Before the house lights go down and the music begins, take a moment – look around this theatre and take in the fact that “Granny” is 31 years old – and we’re all here in person to celebrate together! Those of you who’ve made the magical journey to “Granny’s” beautiful home during the past 31 years, and those of you experiencing the magical Island of Karamazaam for the very first time - we’re so happy to welcome all of you to this wonderful adventure!

The production’s one hundred+ cast, directors, staff, crew, and volunteers alway share both anticipation and exhilaration - behind the scenes, on stage, with the audience and our extended dance family. An incredible amount of work goes into this show with planning sessions, technical installations, and rehearsals integrating all elements of the magic. For over three decades, all that time and effort has brought “Granny” to the stages of Denver’s most iconic theatres, most recently returning to our own historic theatre in Five Points historic Shorter AME Building where the show was originally created and performed.

In 2020, during the 50th Anniversary Season of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD), amidst pandemic and upheaval – and unfailing courage and love - we made a profound choice! We knew it was vital to keep the show alive as one way we could strengthen and maintain community! We entered a far different reality, incorporating green screen technology, multiple camera shoots, and days of editing – enabling “Granny” to visit homes all over the world. In 2021, we made another difficult but necessary decision. The dancers and actors would perform live on stage, but for the first time in the history of the show, our amazing Granny Band , featuring some of Denver’s finest jazz musicians, would be pre-recorded. Under the direction of Mark Caldwell who’s been with the show for over 20 years and written much of the music, we moved the entire band into the recording studios of the Lamont School of Music, University of Denver – and in four days, we recorded the entire score!

But this year, the “Granny” Band is back LIVE and better than ever with our veteran players being joined by some amazing new musicians. “Granny” has always been a work of legacy. My sister-friend, colleague and dancer of over thirty-eight years, the incomparable Ms. Marceline “Marcy” Freeman , for whom I created the title role, always connected us with the profound strength of the human heart, right up until her passing. Her final “Granny” performances as the Ancestral Spirit in 2010, inspired us as she, even though blind, demonstrated the dignity of a true artist. Veteran actor, Ms. Margarita Taylor, who has now portrayed Granny for 14 seasons, says one of the greatest gifts she’s ever received was being given Marcy’s blessing when she assumed the role. Two of the greatest icons of American Black Dance, C harles “Baba

impactful work, honoring the strength and courage of the residents of St. Landry Parish, LA in the face of the arson of three black churches in 2019, is a stellar collaboration set to the original score written by Adonis Rose protégé of Wynton Marsalis and Director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra . This work will be the focus of our 2023/24 touring season.

Our 27th Annual International Summer Dance Institute (ISDI), the region’s finest summer intensive program, was a great success under the guidance of Edgar L. Page, CPRDE alumnus, during his year as Academy Manager. Detailed information for our upcoming ISDI in Summer, 2023 will be posted to our website soon – and you can reserve your space now! Both ISDI and our year-round Academy, led by Academy Manager, Victoria Shead Johnston , continue to offer a diverse and intriguing variety of classes, with the safety and health of our students and teachers remaining our highest priority. There’s an incredible range of classes to fit all ages and abilities! Give yourself or a loved one a special “Granny” gift - check our website for the latest information on our classes, Make it possible for a young person – or even a not-so-young one - to follow their dream!

We feel blessed that we’re able to proceed with a number of significant projects in 2023 that will continue to elevate the physical, emotional, and mental health of our community. When you visit our website, be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss any of the excitement!

“Granny” has always brought a sense of stability and healing to our community –and we’re so glad to bring the full show back on stage LIVE this year! We hope you’ll follow “Granny’s” wonderful example throughout the year – sing out loud, dance with joy, nurture your mind, body, and spirit, explore your culture and traditions, share your stories…. And remember – Granny Loves You – now and always!

In the Spirit of Dance, Cleo (Shakti)

The original “Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum” was conceived, co-directed and co-written by Cleo Parker Robinson based on stories from Opalanga Pugh’s audio tape “Festivals of Light”, an odyssey of stories and songs about holiday celebrations world-wide. The original concept evolved through the creative energies of former Ensemble member and choreographer Gary Abbott, actors Marta Barnard and Jaime Lujan, directors Buddy Butler and Michael R. Durn, musical directors Paul Conly, Carlton Bacon, and Reverend

percussionist Bataki Cambrelen, costume designer Lara Kirksey, and technical director / lighting designer Keith W. Rice. In subsequent years, a great diversity of artists contributed their time and talent to the production, offering audiences new incarnations of Granny’s memories. The journey of “Granny” started over thirty years ago while Cleo Parker Robinson was visiting two former company members in Washington, D.C. The young couple had a children’s book in their nursery titled “The Dancing Granny”, retold and illustrated by Ashley Bryan. The book was, in essence, a story of the special and unique gifts we are given throughout the year, the wonderful blessing of family and friends. Cleo began to reminisce about her own family and the stories the grandmothers would share, including those told by her own “Mama Cleo” for whom she is named.

Cleo herself is now grandmother to three wonderful grand-children and the spirit of the work feels even more familiar, a beautiful reminder of how rich our lives are. “I wanted to create a piece that would bring families, friends and communities together in celebration of our unique gifts, traditions and cultures. It is even more perfect for the dancers of the Ensemble, who often begin to feel a bit blue at holiday time, being away from their families. “Granny” is a perfect way to encourage everyone to count their blessings. For me, “Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum” lets us experience a greater understanding and respect for all cultures – and a greater reason to dance. We are one - “Harambee.” Thank you, Granny! Together, as one family, let us celebrate our World of Cultures and the community of Spirit, Heart, and Mind to which we all belong!”

Cleo Parker Robinson

Hayward Hobbs,


Currently celebrating its 52nd Anniversary Season, and the 31st Anniversary Season of “Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum”, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance is rooted in African-American traditions and legacy, dedicated to excellence in performances, instruction, and enrichment programming - empowering all our communities by cultivating healthy mind, body, and spirit development. Viewing dance as a universal language that transcends boundaries of culture, class, and age, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance is committed to honoring diversity and inclusiveness throughout the global community.


Located in Denver’s Historic Five Points District 119 Park Avenue West, Denver, Colorado 80205 Ph # 303 295 1759 | Fx # 303 295 1328

Cleo Parker Robinson is founder and artistic director of the 52-year-old Denver-based artistic institution, CLEO PARKER ROBINSON DANCE (CPRD), leading a professional Ensemble (CPRDE), Cleo II (her 2nd company), a Youth Ensemble, an Academy of Dance, an International Summer Dance Institute, a 240-seat theatre, and numerous community outreach programs nationally and internationally. She has received honors and awards from corporate, civic, community, and artistic entities world-wide, bringing CPRDE to myriad organizations and venues for performances, teaching residencies and community engagement programming. A master teacher/choreographer and cultural ambassador, she and CPRDE have performed nationwide and throughout Europe, the Caribbean, Asia, and the African continent, with their most recent international tours taking them to Bogota, Colombia in Spring of 2019, and Mexico in Fall 2019.

Ms. Parker Robinson’s awards and honors include the Colorado Governor’s Award for Excellence (1974), Denver Mayor’s Award (1979), induction into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame (1989) and the Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame (1994). Recognized in Who’s Who in America Colleges and Universities she holds an Honorary Doctorates from Denver University (1991), an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Colorado College (2003), an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from Regis University in Denver (2008), an Alumni Award from University of Denver (2021), the 2020 Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, Honous Causa from CU Boulder, and was named an Honorary Member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (2021).

In 1991, Ms. Parker served on the task force creating a permanent location for the Denver School of the Arts (DSA), Denver’s first performing arts magnet school, and was subsequently honored In September 2017 at their 7th Annual Fall Gala, in recognition of her long-term commitment to excellence in arts education. She is also co-founder of the National Bahamian Dance Company, based in Nassau. In 2011, Ms. Parker Robinson was voted an Honorary Lifetime Trustee of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, in recognition of her longtime commitment and lasting impact on the Center. In June 2017, she received the highly prestigious DanceUSA Honor Award and in September 2017, the Randy Weeks Arts Leadership Award from the Denver School of the Arts.

Ms. Robinson has served on NEA panels on Dance, Expansion Arts, Arts America, and Inter-Arts panels for the USIS, and for the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts as well as other national task forces, boards, and committees on the arts. In April 1999, she was appointed by then-President William Jefferson Clinton, with Senate confirmation, to serve for four years on the National Council on the Arts, a 14-member panel advising the Chairman of the NEA on agency policy and programs, reviewing and making recommendations on grant applications.

Since 2011, Ms. Parker Robinson has significantly returned to her greatest passion as a choreographer, creating and presenting Dreamcatchers: The Untold Stories of the Americas and the world premiere of her Romeo and Juliet, in collaboration with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Her work On the Edge… Reaching to Higher Ground premiered in October of 2014 in answer to resurging racial and human rights infractions world-wide. In Spring 2017, she re-staged two works, melding classical and jazz composition with the power, passion and beauty of modern dance – “Romeo and Juliet” and “Porgy and Bess”. Fall 2017 saw the premiere of “Copacetic: A Tribute to Jonathon “JP” Parker”, honoring her late father. In Spring of 2018, she premiered “Lark Ascending” in collaboration with the Boulder Philharmonic. Her “Rhapsody in Black”, created in collaboration with CPRD

Associate Artistic Director, Winifred R. Harris, premiered at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, University of Denver. In January 2019, in collaboration with the Denver Brass, she choreographed an innovative interpretation of Bernstein’s “On the Town” and Spring 2019 saw a collaboration with the Colorado Ballet entitled “The MOVE/ment” as part of the Tour de Force series at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Center for the Performing Arts. In 2019, she traveled to UMKC, Kansas City, to set a work on the students of CPRDE alum Gary Abbott, entitled “Check Cashing Day” in tribute to the jazz genius of Bobby Watson and Milt Abel. In August 2021, she premiered “Standing On the Shoulders”, a work commissioned by the Vail Dance Festival. September 2021 saw the debut of her work “Freedom Dance”, created in collaboration with jazz icon Dianne Reeves and CPRD co-founder and poet, Schyleen Qualls and in October 2021, she premiered “R.I.Power”, an original work commissioned by the Colorado College Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs. Her newest work, “Sacred Spaces?”, set to an original score by Adonis Rose, Director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, premiered in September 2022 at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

Cleo Parker Robinson continues to be dedicated to celebrating the human experience and potential through the Arts and Education. Her life-long vision of “One Spirit, Many Voices” remains strong and steadfast, expanding to welcome, embrace, and sustain all people.

Ms. Taylor began dancing in her birthplace, Port-ofSpain Trinidad, under the direction of the late Astor Johnson. Upon moving to New York, she studied with Leni Wylliams, Rom Pratt, Lyn Simmonson, Phil Black, John Hatchett of The Broadway Dance Center, as well as the Jeffory Ballet, and the Jeannett Neil Dance School of Boston.

She danced with the Mafata Dance Company of New York, the Impulse Dance Company of Boston, and ensemble roles in “Cinderella”, “Romeo and Juliet”, and “The Wizard of Oz” with the Wheelock Family Theatre. She graduated from Wheelock with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and while there directed Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls who have considered suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf” and Robert Harling’s “Steel Magnolias”. Her roles with a myriad of companies include the village woman in Derek Walcott’s “Steel”, and the Denver Brass production of “Jump kn da Line”.

She has been a dance teacher in after-school programs for the Denver Public School system, and for Children’s Creative Movement, and Adult Modern classes at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. She served as Children’s Rehearsal Director for “Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum” in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Ms. Taylor is also a teacher with Denver Public Schools. In January 2020, she had the pleasure of performing with Nu-World Contemporary Danse Theatre. This is Ms. Taylor’s eighteenth season with “Granny” and her fourteenth season in the title role, fulfilling a long-time dream with the blessing of Ms. Marceline Freeman, the production’s original “Granny”.

Ms. Taylor dedicates her performance to her son, Rommel Quincy Taylor.

Ensemble Rehearsal Director / Ensemble Member

A Kansas City native, Ms. Abel trained for twelve years under full scholarship at the Kansas City Ballet School. She studied in New York at the Ailey School as a Fellowship recipient, and received her BFA in Dance, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of MissouriKansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Her professional career includes performances with Quixotic Performance Fusion, the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, the Owen/Cox Dance Group, Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company and as an Apprentice with the Kansas City Ballet.

Ms. Abel is now in her eleventh season with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and is also Rehearsal Director for the Ensemble. This is her ninth season in the role of “Cantadora the Dreamweaver”.

Cleo II Rehearsal Director

First dancing with the Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre’s CONSORT Youth Dance Training and Development Program, Mr. Hall later became a full company member.

He was featured in numerous musicals including “The Wiz”, “West Side Story” and “Footloose”, and has worked with renowned choreographers Terrance Greene, Dianne McIntyre, Gary Abbott, and Kevin “Iega” Jeff. After twelve seasons with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Mr. Hall is now an integral member of the CPRD Education Outreach program. He also remains on faculty with the Cleo Parker Robinson Academy of Dance and is Cleo II Rehearsal Director.

This is his sixth season as “Griot / Preacher”, following in the footsteps of 25-year “Granny” veteran, Vincent C. Robinson.

A Florida native. Ms. Lynnice began her training at Academy of Ballet Arts and Artz 4 Life Academy, Inc. in the Tampa Bay area. A graduate of New World School of the Arts, she holds a a BFA in dance from The Hartt School in Hartford, CT. In her youth, she toured the United States as a principle dancer with DunDu Dole West African Ballet and starred in the Chocolate Nutcracker as “Claire” and “The Dream Princess”. She has performed works by Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Doug Varone, Norbert DeLaCruz, Donald McKayle, Manuel Vignoulle, Brian Arias, Darrell Grand Moultrie, and Amalia Viviana Basanta Hernandez. Her sophomore year, she performed at the prestigious Joyce Theater during the Jose Limon International Dance Festival. She has been accepted into various summer workshops including Dance Theater of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, RIOULT, Martha Graham Summer Intensive, Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and White Mountain Dance Festival. As a member of the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, where she is now in her fifth season, she has performed at the American Dance Festival in 2019, the Vail Dance Festival in 2021, and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 2022. This is her fifth season in the role of “Nakia the Grand-daughter”.

A St. Louis native, Mr. Roberts first trained at the Center of Creative Arts (COCA), graduating with a BFA from the University of Missouri Kansas-City (UMKC) Conservatory with an emphasis in Dance Performance and Choreography. His training includes studies with Antonio Douthit -Boyd, Alicia Graf-Mack, and Kirven Douthit-Boyd (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre), Christopher Page-Sanders (Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and Nu-World Contemporary Danse Company), Rolando Yaines (Milwaukee Ballet), Jessica Taylor (DAMAGED Dance Company), Alonzo King (LINES Ballet Company), and Gary Abbott (Deeply Rooted Dance Theater). Mr. Roberts performed with Ballet Eclectica and COCADance and participated in numerous musical theater performances at COCA through the FOX Charitable Foundation. This is Mr. Roberts sixth season with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, and his fifth in the role of “TiSean the Grand-son”.

Cleo Parker Robinson Founder / Artistic Director / Producer Director / Choreographer Winifred R. Harris Associate Artistic Director R hetta Shead Production Director / Stage Manager Mark Caldwell Musical Director G ary Abbott Artistic Consultant Chloé Grant Abel E nsemble Rehearsal Director Cedric D. Hall Cleo II Rehearsal Director Jessica Horton Youth Ensemble Director Jasmine Francisco Children’s Ensemble Director Trey Grimes Technical Director L ara Kirksey Original Costume Design Joey Santos Costume Design Alex J. Gordon Costume Design R alaya S. Goshea Wardrobe Mistress Conor Morford S enior Technician / Digital Audio Design Anastazia Coney Assistant Senior Technician / Lighting Design (Adaptations) Paulina Nunez L ead Camera Operator / Audio / Video Operator Travis Powell V ideo / Content Technician G abriella Shead Assistant Stage Manager X avier Russell Deck Hand John e Roberts Props Master L eticia Tanguma S et Design Jody Gilbert Playbill Design Mary Hart Playbill Editor Amelia Dietz Media Design Micah Bursh G roup Sales Coordinator David Andrews Archival Videographer S tan Obert CPRD Photographer

MARK CALDWELL Musical Director / Composer / Arranger

Mr. Caldwell has been part of the “Granny” production for twenty-two years, sixteen of which have been as the Musical Director. As composer for the show, Mr. Caldwell has written most of the production’s music including “Butterfly” in memory of Marceline Freeman and the musical tour de force “Granny Boom Boom”. When not working with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Mr. Caldwell performs in other productions and with several local bands. He is very active teaching guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele and general music.


A resident of Denver, Mr. Ballinger is currently a full-time student at Metro State University. He performs frequently throughout Colorado with various bands, including Ghost Tapes, The Dendrites and Contraband, with whom he has toured several times throughout the western United States. In addition to playing piano, Mr. Ballinger is also a drummer and singer, and has been part of the “Granny” Band for five years.


Joining the “Granny” Band for his fifteenth season, Mr. Harris comments “I go where others have gone before, to seek out and explore new forms of expression and the sharing of new musical moments and ideas.”


From classical to gospel to jazz through to rock, blues, pop, funk and soul, Joslyn “JoFoKe” Ford Keel navigates between genres with ease while maintaining a genuine authenticity in each. Ms. Keel is a Denver native with three Grammy nominations to her name as a contributing vocalist. A proud alumna of Denver East High School, Fisk University and the world-renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers, Ms. Keel is entering her third year as Dazzle Denver’s “Artist in Residence” with her band “Same Cloth”. On and off stage, she uses her platform to remind audiences of their own joy, advocate for suicide prevention, and to remove the stigma attached to mental illness and therapy. In addition to performance, Ms. Keel is a session vocalist, music educator, songwriter, vocal producer, musical director, clinician, and talent contractor.

RONNY NOEL Percussion

Ronny Noel is a Master Djembe’ drummer and accomplished lead vocalist. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, Mr. Noel has traveled extensively promoting his cause of music in service of world peace, spiritual harmony, and unity. He has been performing before enthusiastic live audiences in Trinidad and Tobago, Las Vegas NV, New Mexico, and Colorado. His strong social convictions, belief in humanity, and spirituality meld uniquely with his performances. Mr. Noel is an unstoppable force in World Music


Drum Set

A drummer for over 30 years, Mr. Olsson joins the Granny Band for his eighth season. Having been a Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD) academy accompanist since 2009, he has also instructed drumming classes and performed in numerous CPRD productions, including Ms. Parker Robinson’s “Madiba’s River”. Holding a professional music degree in jazz performance / production / music business from Berklee College of Music in Boston, he has traveled often to West Africa for in-depth studies of the culture and roots of rhythm and is a board member of the non-profit Koffi Togo Cultural Center Foundation. Mr. Olsson performs in pit orchestras in local theaters, including the Denver Center for Performing Arts, and is a band member at numerous C.S.L. churches in the Denver area. He also plays with numerous local bands, as well as teaching both privately and at area schools and community centers.


Mr. Peoples has been praised as “one of the sweetest voices in Colorado”. In 2014, he was awarded “Best Blues Singer” by the Colorado Blues Society. He has been singing since age two and professionally for over thirty-five years as a singer, songwriter, educator, and nationally renowned recording artist. In addition to teaching at The Music Lesson Place, he also teaches at Golden Music Center, and has been a member of the Colorado Blues Society and Blues in the Schools educator for over 12 years.

ALEX TRIPP Drum Set (December 11)


A Colorado native who has worked largely with Su Teatro for over 15 years, Ms. Gallegos Pettis is an accomplished vocalist and actor. She has performed for over three decades in Denver and surrounding areas. As a working artist, she also helps teach theater to K-12 students in service towards a stronger, healthier community, more accepting of the diverse types of people who fill our world.


“Butterfly” Original music and lyrics by Mark Caldwell “Spirit of the Drum” Original music and lyrics by Mark Caldwell C o-arranged with Djordie Vasovic Granny Margarita Taylor The Angel Shakti Cleo Parker Robinson The Angel Cantadora Chloé Grant Abel The Angel Griot C edric D. Hall Nakia (The Grand daughter) Samiyah Lynnice TiSean (The Grand son) John e Roberts Yemanja (Water Deity) R alaya S. Goshea Agwe (Water Deity) C orey Boatner / Tyveze Littlejohn Dancers Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble Invocation T he Granny Village Little Granny Jasmine Francisco ACT I SCENE II STORYTIME “Dreamtime” Original music by Mark Caldwell C o-arranged with Djordie Vasovic Coyote Z innia McKenna Deer Ollie Ergun
“Ancestor’s Message of Love and Joy” “Granny’s Lament” Original music and lyrics by Mark Caldwell C o-arranged with Djordie Vasovic “Fanga” West African Traditional Welcoming Dance Griot C edric D. Hall Dancers Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, and The Granny Village ACT I SCENE IV NATIVE AMERICAN WINTER SOLSTICE Honoring our future as we honor our past Co-author Vianney Gonzalez Slave Parents R alaya S. Goshea, Melvin Sutton Slave Children Moriah Bass, Sydney Browne Slaves L ittle Granny, Nakia, TiSean, Michael Battle, Gabriela Maduro Native Maiden X imalma Gonzalez Robinson Native Women Ellie Peoples, Nayeli Taranjo Village Children Junior Youth Ensemble The Four Winds The Four Winds Youth Ensemble and Junior Youth Ensemble Eagle Sadie Sandoval Bear Devrae “DJ” Jefferson / Josua Vileda Coyote Z innia McKenna Deer Ollie Ergun Grandmother Spider’s Story Grandmother Spider Hannah Mu



“Lament of the Moon” Original music and lyrics by Mark Caldwell C o-arranged with Djordie Vasovic “Sun and Moon Jig” Original music by Mark Caldwell C o-arranged with Djordie Vasovic The Moon Topaz Von Wood The Sun Tyveze Littlejohn / Corey Boatner African Slaves R alaya S. Goshea, Melvin Sutton Irish Servants Z innia McKenna, Ellie Peoples Great Migration Tappers Jasmine Francisco, Lily McKenna, Zinnia McKenna Sadie Sandoval / Lauren Slaughter, Max Nelson-Steinhoff, Estella Searfoss ACT I SCENE VI LA SENDA A BELEN Mexican Nativity Processional Our Lady of Guadalupe G abriela Maduro / Caeli Blake Dancers Cleo II, Youth Ensemble and Junior Youth Ensemble Children with Gifts A melia Nelson-Steinhoff, Dylan Willis Invitaados de Navidad Dancers Nakia, TiSean Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and The Granny Village
The Preacher Griot Mary and Joseph Nakia and TiSean The Innkeeper C orey Boatner The Choir and Congregation Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Cleo II, T he Granny Village INTERMISSION (15 Minutes)


The African Family

The Kwanzaa Family

Men’s Dance

Dancers Cleo
American Celebration
Parker Robinson
“Family Trio” Original music by Mark Caldwell African Parents Jasmine Francisco and Corey
African Child Sydney Browne
/ Hannah Landry
Kwanzaa Parents R alaya S. Goshea and Melvin Sutton Kwanzaa Child X imalma Gonzalez Robinson / Sydney Browne
HANUKKAH Festival of Lights Women’s Trio Caeli Blake, Gabriela Maduro, Topaz von Wood
Antiochus C orey Boatner The Macabee TiSean, Michael Battle The Syrian Soldiers Tyveze Littlejohn / Josua Vileda, Devrae “DJ” Jefferson
Game Dancers Women’s Trio and Junior Youth Ensemble
DIWALI East Indian Festival of Light Renunciation Dancers Shakti, Nakia, Granny, Dominique Willis Bhangra Dancers Nakia and TiSean G abriela Maduro and Michael Battle Caeli Blake and Devrae “DJ” Jefferson
Dreydl Children’s






‘Christmas Rap” Original music by Mark Caldwell
C edric D. Hall, Melvin Sutton Dancers Griot, Cleo II, Jr. Youth Ensemble, Youth Ensemble
“Shishimai Dance” Original music by Mark Caldwell
Cantadora Dancers Granny, TiSean, Nakia and Junior Youth Ensemble
Dancers Cleo
Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble
“Dragon Dance” Original music by Mark Caldwell “Dreaming” Original music by Mark Caldwell C o-arranged with Djordie Vasovic Acrobats Sydney Browne, Ximalma Gonzalez Robinson, Dylan Willis
Hannah Mu, Zinnia McKenna, Sadie Sandoval
Youth Ensemble, Devrae “DJ” Jefferson
The Caribbean Celebration of Christmas “Granny Boom Boom” Original music and lyrics by Mark Caldwell C o-arranged with Djoride Vasovic The Junkanoo King C orey Boatner Dancers Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and The Granny Village VIDEO ANIMATIONS
to use under the Pixabay license agreement between user Trey Grimes/trezie produtions© (Content Creator/Editor) No attribution required


Cleo Parker Robinson

Founder / Artistic Director

Malik Robinson Executive Director

Rhetta Shead Director of Administration

Hillary Harding Director of Development

Shelby Jarosz Senior Director of Programs and Education

Tobias Juniel Director of Advocacy and Engagement

Winifred R. Harris Associate Artistic Director

Mary Hart Director of Booking and Touring

Trey Grimes Technical Director

Amelia Dietz-Rowe Marketing Manager

Micah Bursh Marketing Communications Specialist

Chloé Grant Abel Ensemble Rehearsal Director

Cedric D. Hall Cleo II Rehearsal Director

Jessica Horton Youth Ensemble Director

Jasmine Francisco Junior Youth Ensemble Director

Victoria Shead Johnston Academy Manager

Shawnee De Christopher Academy Assistant Manager

Amandine Aubertot Academy Administrative Assistant

Gabriela Maduro Academy Administrative Assistant

Sasha McKeithan Academy Administrative Assistant

Justice Miles Academy Administrative Assistant

Anastazia Coney Theatre Lead Technician

Conor Morford Theatre Lead Technician Pat Smith Public Relations



Gwen Brewer Chair

Cleo Parker Robinson * Founder / Artistic Director Malik Robinson Executive Director Tyrone Gant Treasurer Debbie Herrera Vice Chair Shale Wong Vice Chair

Lisa Levin Appel, Toni Baruti, Christopher Cardenas, Darryl Collier, Tim Davis, Demesha Hill, Lisa Hogan, Matt Keeney, Kelli Kelly, Tony Price, Maria Sepulveda, Robert Thompson, J. Matt Thornton, Josett Valdez, Alfred Walker, Jennifer Wozniak


Judge Raymond Dean Jones J.D.* Chairman Emeritus Chelsye J. Burrows, Michael Donegan, Kevin Fallon, Les Franklin, Helen Franzgrote, Marceline Freeman, Rosalind “Bee” Harris, Eric Hughes, Renee Hurley, Henry Lowenstein, Nancy McClosky, Dawn Nakamura-Kessler, Edmond “Buddy” Noel *, Schyleen Qualls Brown * Tom Robinson *, John Wagner, Lester Ward, Faye & Reggie Washington

* Founding members of the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Board of Directors



Chloé Grant Abel - Rehearsal Director Chloé Grant Abel / Michael Battle* / Caeli Blake / Corey Boatner / Jasmine Francisco Ralaya S. Goshea / Tyveze Littlejohn / Samiyah Lynnice / Gabriela Maduro Brandon Penn* / John e Roberts / Topaz D. von Wood CLEO II Cedric D. Hall – Director Devrae “DJ” Jefferson* / Hannah Mu / Max Nelson-Steinhoff* / Sadie Sandoval Lauren Slaughter / Melvin Sutton* / Josua Vileda* / Dominique Willis
Jessica Horton - Director Amirah Bryd / Ollie Ergun / Carlen Holmes / Zay’Ahni Lov Jackson Lily McKenna / Zinnia McKenna / Constanza Reyes Atencio / Nayeli Taranjo
Jasmine Francisco - Director Moriah Bass / Sydney Browne / Mission Buckley / Gianna “Gigi” Garcia Ximalma Gonzalez Robinson / Elizabeth Hyer / Evelyn Kell / Hannah Landry Amelia and Mackinley Nelson-Steinhoff / Eloise Peoples Estella Searfoss / Taylor Sinclair / Rhylan Van Gardner / Dylan Willis
Mark Caldwell - Musical Director Evan Ballinger / Chris Harris / Joslyn “JoFoKe” Ford Keel / Ronny Noel John Olsson / Felicia Gallegos Pettis / Rex Peoples / Alex Tripp *Guest Performer
Cleo Parker Robinson

Associate Artistic Director

Ms. Harris, choreographer, artist, teacher, and community activist has created a significant body of work with a strong balance of technical prowess and gestural expression. Having trained under Cleo Parker Robinson, she danced professionally for ten years with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble before moving on to Dallas Black Dance Theater and a solo stint in New York and abroad. In October 1991, she relocated to Los Angeles, CA, founding her own award-nominated contemporary modern dance company. In recognition of her dedication and commitment to underprivileged youth, Ms. Harris received several awards from the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles for her teaching efforts within that community. Having served on faculty at various universities and studios nationwide, including Cal Arts (her alma mater), Cal State Los Angeles and Spelman College, she returned to Cleo Parker Robinson Dance in 2010 as Ensemble Rehearsal Director and became Associate Artistic Director in 2014. Many of her innovative works are part of the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble’s repertoire.

Featured Artists)


Artistic Consultant

Mr. Abbott first studied with Barbara Sullivan’s Atlanta Dance Theatre, creating for musicals presented by Jomandi Productions and The Clark College Players. Attending California Institute of the Arts in 1979 on scholarship, he later moved to Los Angeles, dancing with Lula Washington Dance Theatre and Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Theatre. In 1985, he joined Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble (CPRDE), studying with icons Katherine Dunham, Donald McKayle, Eleo Pomare, Donald Byrd, and Kevin Iega Jeff, and ultimately creating works that remain in that company’s repertoire. During his 10 years with CPRDE, he directed the Harambee project in Gillette WY and for more than 25 years, he continued teaching and directing artistic programming in that community. One such program is the Performing Arts Workshop (PAW) bringing dance to the community’s schools and at-risk youth organizations. Abbott and Jeff, along with Linda Spriggs, Diane Shober and LaVerne Alaphaire Jeff founded Deeply Rooted Dance Theater (DRDT) in 1995. Teaching and choreographing worldwide, he has set numerous works for Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company of Kansas City, MO, Dallas Black Dance Theater of Dallas, TX, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance of Denver, CO, David Taylor Dance Theater of Denver CO and others. Along with his duties as Associate Artistic Director for DRDT, he is also Professor of Modern Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory. In 2022, he was named a Guggenheim Fellow, as one of 180 scientists, writers, scholars, and artists honored across 51 fields.

CHLOÉ-GRANT ABEL Ensemble Rehearsal Director Ensemble Member (See Featured Artists)

Cleo II

(See Featured Artists)


Youth Ensemble Director

A native of Tuscaloosa, AL, Ms. Horton trained at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Wright State University. Over a period of six years, she was a member of Cleo II, an apprentice, and ultimately a member of the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble. This is her 10th season as part of the “Granny” production, and her 6th year as Youth Ensemble Director. While at CPRD, she taught numerous residencies at various Denver Public Schools and served as an instructor in the Academy. Ms. Horton is also a gymnastics coach and choreographer.

Children’s Ensemble Director (See Ensemble bios)

MICHAEL BATTLE – Guest Performer

A native of Detroit, MI, Mr. Battle began his dance training at Detroit School of the Arts at the age of 14. In 2009, he joined the Lula Washington Dance Theatre as a company member, and in 2019, joined Ronald K. Brown/ Evidence, A Dance Company as a company member. Mr. Battle has traveled to China, Russia, Haiti, Mexico, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy. He has performed with Grammy Award Winning and Nominated artists Kamasi Washington, Meshell Ndegeocello, Terence Blanchard, Aurturo O’Farrill, and Jody Watley.

CAELI BLAKE – Apprentice Ensemble

From the DC Metropolitan area, Ms. Blake began her formal training at BalletNova Center for Dance in Arlington, VA. She attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts (Washington DC) under the tutelage of Charles Augins, Sandra Fortune-Greene, and Katherine Smith. She has studied with various company institutions including Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Dance Theater of Harlem at the Strathmore, and Jazz & Contemporary at Joffrey Ballet. Ms. Blake graduated from Southern Methodist University, with a BFA in Dance Performance and BS in Education & Human Development. While a full-time student at SMU, she danced with B.Moore Dance. She has performed in works by Robert Battle, Christopher Huggins, Kevin Iega Jeff, Bridget L. Moore, Silas Farley, Nicole Clarke-Springer, among others.


From Houston, TX, Ms. Francisco began her training at the Fine Arts Magnet School, originally called Johnston Middle School, under Jesse Woodcock, graduating in 2012 from The High School of Performing and Visual Arts as a dance major under the directions of Luanne Carter and Janie Carothers. She received her Bachelors of Fine Arts 2016 from Point Park University with repertoire from Jessica Lang, Terrance Marling, Troy Powell, Bennyroyce Royon, Garfield Lemonius and MADBOOTS. In her sophomore year of 2010, her student choreography project Tales of Courage was chosen to be featured at ACDA for the University. Six months after graduating from Point Park, she joined the Lula Washington Dance Theater in Los Angeles, CA for two seasons, performing works by Kyle Abraham, Donald Bryd, Rennie Harris, Christopher Huggins, and David Roussève. In 2018, Ms. Francisco moved to Denver, CO, joining the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble where she is now in her fifth season as a company member. She also serves as the rehearsal director for the CPRD Junior Youth Ensemble.

RALAYA S. GOSHEA –Ensemble Member / Wardrobe Mistress

Born in Detroit, Ms. Goshea trained at the Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts and Oakland University, receiving her BFA. She has performed with the Brown Dance Project, Patterson Rhythm and Pace, Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, SMAGDance Company and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC). After being a member of Cleo II, she is now in her eleventh season with the Ensemble and also serves as Wardrobe Mistress for both local performances and national touring.


After graduating in 2011 from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Mr. Littlejohn apprenticed with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble for one year. In the Summer of 2017, he toured in the south of France touring his original work Evolution of Love. As a choreographer and teacher, he has worked with many diverse communities. In 2014, while performing with Lexington Ballet, he taught children with specific disabilities, and while touring with Ballet Palm Beach, he traveled to Cuba where he worked with the elder community. Having performed with Ballet Eddy Toussaint de Montreal, Lexington Ballet, and Ballet Palm Beach (2015-2018), with leading roles in Giselle, The Nutcracker, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rite of Spring, and Gatsby, he subsequently returned to the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble in 2018. Touring with the Ensemble, he has performed at the American Dance Festival in 2019, the Vail Dance Festival in 2021, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 2022. Mr. Littlejohn is now in his fifth season with the Ensemble.

GABRIELA MADURO – Ensemble Member

Originally from Fremont California, Ms. Maduro began her dance training at Yoko’s Dance and Performing Arts Academy and Nor Cal Dance Arts. She has attended Summer Intensives with the Ailey School, the Martha Graham School, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. She is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance Performance. While at UCI, she was honored to perform as part of the distinguished Donald McKayle’s Etude Ensemble. She has performed works by Donald McKayle, Martha Graham, Darshan Singh Bhuller among others. Upon graduation, Ms. Maduro joined Cleo II, and after one season as an apprentice, joined the Ensemble, where she is now her second season.

TOPAZ VON WOOD – Ensemble Member

Originally from Sarasota, FL. Ms. von Wood began her earliest classical ballet training under the direction of Wilmian Hernandez. At age fourteen, she joined the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School Conservatory under the direction of Ariel Serrano. Having participated in Summer Intensives with The Ailey School, Joffrey Ballet School, Sarasota Ballet School, and The Carreno Dance Festival, she later graduated from The Ailey School Certificate Program in New York. While touring with the Ailey Student Performance Group, she performed works by Ray Mercer, Carlos Dos Santos, Jr., and Earl Mosley. Upon graduation, Topaz joined Cleo II, and after one season as an apprentice, is now in her second season as an Ensemble member.

COREY BOATNER – Ensemble Member

Growing up in Hammond IN, Mr. Boatner trained in multiple dance techniques at the Hammond Academy for the Performing Arts. An alum of Indiana University, he performed there in notable works including Kyle Abrahams Radio Show, Jose Limon’s Psalm, Andrea Millers Spill, Jerome Robbins Fanfare, and the original restaging of Twyla Tharp’s Deuce Coupe and Rennie Harris’ Home. He has also toured professionally with Elizabeth Shea Dance in Philadelphia and New York and performed overseas with Norwegian Creative Studios. After one season as an apprentice, Mr. Boatner is now in his second season as an Ensemble member.

Special Thanks

to the Ensembles, Board of Directors, Sponsors, Donors & Foundations, Education Partners, Administrative & Technical Staff, Youth Ensembles, Musicians, Guest Artists, Faculty, Students, Parents, Volunteers, and Marketplace Vendors of CLEO PARKER ROBINSON DANCE and THE “GRANNY” VILLAGE

We also thank the following for their extraordinary support of this production.

David Andrews

Nyla Bass

Pat Brooks

CBS4 KCNC Denver

Comcast / NBC Universal (Mary Spillane)

Fiesta Colorado (Jeanette Trujillo)

The Denver Channel 7, KMGH Denver Gazette (John Moore)

The Denver Post (John Wenzel / Jonathan Shikes)

Denver Urban Spectrum (Bee Harris)

Nick Diaz

Five Points Atlas (Major Marshall)

Kara Goyette

Amanda Hyer

The Johnsbury Family

KUSA 9News

Mirai Daiko Taiko (Courtney Ozaki) Kristen Nelson-Steinhoff

Stan and Chris Obert

Susana Ortiz

Pacific Mercantile (Jolie Noguchi)

Reina Parker and Family Deborah Powell

Malik and Vianey Robinson

The Parker and Robinson Families Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD)

The Shead Family Theresa Peoples

Leslie Sue Parker Wallace Westword Letitia Williams

In Memoriam

Tom Robinson Marilyn Benson, Marceline Freeman, Robertta Freeman, Abuelita Olga Gonzalez, Jaime Gonzalez, James Hart, Kevin McNicholas, Jonathon “JP” Parker, Martha Parker, Ron Thornton, James Wallace

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