April 9, 2019

PRESS CONTACT: LOIS WELK, Program Coordinator                                  loisapril9@gmail.com  607-329-0467


Two Western New York based choreographers have been selected for the 2019 Western New York Choreographers’ Initiative, a funding opportunity administered by The New York State DanceForce in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts. The awardees, Nicole Caruana and Robin Hibbert – both from Buffalo, NY – each receive 24 hours of studio time, access to professional dancers, the guidance of a professional mentor chosen by each artist, and a $2,500 stipend. The WNY Choreographers’ Initiative is designed to help WNY resident choreographers develop their choreographic skills by providing them with appropriate resources that are generally unavailable or unaffordable in their region.  

The Awardees

 Nicole Caruana    

Nicole was born in Clarence, New York, a community just outside of Buffalo, in 1996. Her parents enrolled her in local jazz classes to facilitate her blissful restlessness. She began her formal training at The Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College under the direction of Nelly van Bommel. To further her studies, she has attended San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, London Contemporary Dance School, The American Dance Festival, Arts Umbrella Summer Dance Intensive, B12 Workshops, and has studied Gaga intensively in Tel Aviv. She has most recently performed the works of Ohad Naharin and Doug Varone. In 2016 she was in creative process for a new work by LeeSaar The Company and an immersive theater production “All That I Can” by Punchdrunk company members.

In 2017, UANA DANS was established as Nicole’s creative home and outlet to share choreographies at home and abroad. Her work “arba” was awarded first prize at The International Competition for Choreographers in Hannover, Germany.

Since the company’s inception, they have been invited to perform in Germany, Denmark, Spain, Greece, and New York. She is excited to be commissioned to create new works for Scapino Ballet in Rotterdam, and Canadian Contemporary Dance Theater in Toronto as part of their 2019 season.

   Robin Hibbert 

Photo by Media World Order Photography

Born and raised in Brooklyn New York, Robin Monique Hibbert is known as a “keeper of cultural traditions”. She is a devoted dancer and performer since the age of eight, who got the attention of teachers from the start. Her training in broad varieties of Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Tap, Traditional West and South African dance techniques would come to benefit her later in life. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Buffalo, which included a special major in dance. She has also studied the highly complex system of dance notation which renders her both a versatile dancer and an articulate teacher. Robin’s dance journey began at the following prominent dance institutions Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and The Dance Theatre of Harlem, both known as “the dance houses of discipline”.

She studied the following modern dance techniques:  Graham, Horton, and Limon, which brought forth performance opportunities with principal dancers of the Martha Graham Company.

She has studied with the late Pearl Reynolds, as well as having performed and studied with the late Dr. Pearl Primus, the “Pioneer of West African Dance”. Other major accomplishments include performing with the late Baba Tunde Olantunji of Nigeria, West Africa, Paul Ferret’s Caribbean Extravaganza of Trinidad, United Ballet Du Senegal, Ballet Bougarabou Du Senegal West Africa, and working with the late Ms. Nina Simone.

Robin’s love for the African culture and its preservation cannot be underestimated. She has received extensive knowledge and training from numerous master drummers and dancers from West and South Africa. As a result of her exposure to an extensive amount of African Folklore she has been called a “preacher of sorts…Robin is an artist whose gospel is ‘if you do not have the discipline to study your craft you may exit stage left’.”

For more information about the NYS DanceForce go to www.danceforce.org