Cleo Parker Robinson: Dancing through history

6:45 PM, Feb 22, 2011   |    comments
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"I feel very lucky to have dance as a part of my life," she said softly, before running off to rehearsal with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble.

The 26-year-old is one of 11 members of the ensemble, which has brought cultural dance to Denver and the world.

It is a duty that founder, artistic director and choreographer Cleo Parker Robinson is happy to carry on.

"Somehow, we have to keep telling that history. And we're a part of that history," she said to the young men and women, who come from across the country to audition for the ensemble.

The choreographed concerts often tell stories of African-American history.

"I think it's very important that we create pieces that create consciousness so that we can become more loving as a community," Robinson said.

The 62-year-old knows every choreographed routine the dancers learn. She can also still show off her noted dancing skills in front of them.

"She's has lots of [dance] moves," Rojas said. "When she corrects us, she will go down deep into the move... And we're like 'How in the world did she just do that?'"

Robinson says her job is to bring life to the pieces and shape them into true artistic expression.

"I've been inspired by legends and they're coming through me," she said. "We are all legends... because we're carrying on legacies all the time."

The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble began in 1970 and has performed around the world. Robinson has won numerous awards, including choreography fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also been featured in a number of films and documentaries.

Besides ensemble performances, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance also provides educational services for children and dance classes for kids and adults.

"It's always been a safe haven for people of all backgrounds to come and express themselves," Robinson said.

The ensemble's next major concert, Dance Africa, will run April 29 to May 8 in the group's theater on Park Avenue West and East 20th Avenue in Denver. For more information, visit

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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