Christina Ilisije, born and raised in New Jersey, moved to New York to attend Marymount Manhattan College. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.F.A. in dance and a concentration on modern technique. While at college she had the privilege of performing works by Doug Varone, Robert Battle, and Martha Graham. While studying, her choreographic work, Naked Branches, was bestowed the Alpha Chi award. Her NYC Joyce debut was with her performance of Twyla Tharp’s The Fugue, as part of the College Showcase: Works by Tharp. Upon graduation, she became a full company member with Buglisi Dance Theatre where she performed and toured solos, original works, and historical reconstructions, including the signature piece Requiem. Christina also worked as a guest artist with Take Dance and participated in a structured improvisation, Behind Resonance, with Shen Wei Dance Arts. Most recently, Christina became a full time company member with Parsons Dance and tours domestically and internationally year-round. She dances Parsons’ original works, including Round my World, and classic repertoire including Nascimento, The Envelope, Swing Shift and the rock opera Remember Me among others. She also performs a solo in Kate Skarpetowska’s A Stray’s Lullaby, a quartet created on the company. In addition to teaching at the Parsons Dance Summer Intensive and on tour, she has instructed workshops at Steps, Peridance, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School (NYC). She also teaches master classes and commissions new work on the students of the Fine and Performing Arts Center in Howell, NJ. Choreographically, her work has been presented at The Hatch and St. Mark’s Church in NYC. When not dancing she can be found teaching fitness classes, making fiscally irrational yet fashionable purchases, experiencing zen through hot vinyasa, reading her most recent bookclub book, pitifully “attempting” a new recipe, indulging in a visit to the MET, or enjoying some well deserved vino.
In addition to continuing to perform and tour, Christina’s aspirations are to further develop her own artistic voice as a teacher, choreographer, and writer.
And yes, Christina found talking in the third person somehow made spewing about herself only marginally less awkward…
And if that wasn’t awkward enough, here are some questions Christina fabricated just so she can tell you more about herself if you can grin and bear it:
When did you start dancing? A common first question for dancers, so I’ll take a second to give you the piece of mind your itching for. I was twelve, it was a jazz class, and it was because my closest friend Nicole wanted to try it out. My first recital song was “Don’t Go” by Yaz, and yes there were MC Hammer pants with silver sequins down the sides going on, naturally – would you have expected otherwise? That’s all it took to get me hooked. Unfortunately I’ve become slightly more high maintenance in my elder years and graduated beyond craving the mere simplicity of Hammer Pants and 80′s music, but only slightly….
When did you realize you wanted to dance professionally? It just seemed like the logical progression. I would essentially live at my local studio in suburban New Jersey and always worked really hard at it but because I enjoyed it so much. I was rather obnoxious with dance, constantly shuffling my feet underneath my desk in school going over steps, doing a panché arabesque while getting dishes out of the dishwasher, knocking over vases in the hallway while I flung my body around my home. I gratefully never doubted whether I should or should not dance professionally; I simply couldn’t see another occupation I would enjoy more. To answer more concretely, once I hit high school I began taking ballet classes, extra workshops, and traveling to summer programs for more intensive study.
Proudest moment? Some highlights, to name a few, ahhemm, would be achieving the title of I Love Dance sweetheart at the annual competition my studio attended (don’t mock, at the moment it felt like a big deal! Those competitions made me sick I’d be so nervous), receiving the Alpha Chi Award for my choreographic work in college, and most recently performing with Parsons Dance. Proudest moments always seem to be graduations, awards won, jobs received but in all honestly (and sappiness) the proudest moments happen in class or when I’m really lucky, onstage, when I unexpectedly reach an elated state or accomplish some movement in a way I never perceived possible and push myself beyond my conceived limitations.
Biggest challenge? Right now two things come to mind. One would be struggling to get back to a healthy weight in college. Realizing I needed to be at a more functional and beautiful weight was one thing, but the true challenge was to stop equating my thinness with being a talented dancer. The second was grappling with and embracing the lifestyle of a freelance artist outside the rigors and structure of school. Both which obviously shape me still today, for better or for worse.