THEA NERISSA BARNES became the 4th Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre from 1997 – 2000.
Her professional career started with the renowned Alvin Ailey Dance Company and continued with the Martha Graham Dance Company. Prior to becoming Artistic Director in 1997, Thea was appointed as the company’s Rehearsal Director and was known for her straight talking, clear and direct approach to the studio.
Thea was an American who brought the teachings of her pioneers to the studios of Phoenix Dance Theatre and Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds, enhancing and embodying historical influences of both the company and the school’s early beginnings.
Her time at Phoenix is highlighted not only by her choreographic contributions to the repertoire but Ms. Barnes secured funding to further research and develop Phoenix’s unique education practices. It was clear to Thea that the purpose of her efforts, to secure our history will inform and strengthen our future. For this we are thankful.
Fond memories were had with Thea as many days and long nights were spent on the road touring. She would share her words of wisdom which was an inspiration to many. Ms. Barnes would often lead by example, full of passion and placing integrity high on her list of values. Undoubtably a perfectionist in the studio, a woman of great intellect and a supportive friend, the sector has lost a great pioneer.
She will be dearly missed by those who knew and worked with her. Our condolences go out to her family.
Phoenix Dance Theatre