Daniel Roberts, originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, began studying piano at the age of seven and came to dance as an accompanist for ballet classes at the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera Academy. He graduated magna cum laude from the Ohio State University with a BFA in dance performance and specialization in Labanotation. While an undergraduate at OSU, Roberts’ dual reconstruction of music and dance for Cage/Cunningham’s Totem Ancestor (1942) was the first reconstruction of the dance since Cunningham’s own performance of the solo in the 1950s.
As a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC), Roberts had the opportunity to perform a vast repertory and create several original roles in Cunningham’s choreography and appeared in several of Cunningham’s works for camera, most notably in Charles Atlas’ film Merce Cunningham: A Lifetime of Dance.
After leaving MCDC, Roberts was invited to be head technique teacher at the Danish National School of Contemporary Dance, in Copenhagen, Denmark. His pedagogy is featured in the book/DVDDance Techniques (Tanzplan Deutschland 2010). While in Scandinavia, Roberts worked as a rehearsal assistant to several professional choreographers; a highlight was serving as rehearsal assistant/music liaison to choreographer Kim Brandstrup and composer Kim Helweg for their work for the Royal Danish Ballet Eidolon. Roberts was later invited by Tim Rushton, director of Danish Dance Theater, to serve as rehearsal director for the national contemporary dance company.
Roberts has restaged Cunningham’s work on Kansas City Ballet, Oklahoma University’s School of Dance, The Belgian Konservatorium, and Skolen for Moderne Dance in Copenhagen. At OSU, Roberts, along with Karen Eliot, directed the Black Mountain MinEvent for the National Tour of the Look Before You Leap Exhibit and Wexner MinEvent, a collaboration with Wexner Center for the Arts and BalletMet, Columbus.
Roberts has an MFA in Performing Arts from Bennington College and his choreography has been presented in Columbus, New York at Danspace Project and Movement Research, Velocity Dance Center in Seattle, as well as in Denmark and Brazil. He has taught nationally and internationally at several dance companies, festivals, schools, and universities and was guest speaker at the Il Suona Nel Corpo conference at Accademia Nazionale di Danza in Rome, Italy in 2017; his choreographic and pedagogic research explores movement invention through dance and music improvisation, and the inherent musical properties of natural phenomena. Roberts has been visiting artist in residence at Williams College in Massachusetts, faculty at Ballet Academy East in New York City, and ongoing faculty at the Cunningham Trust in NYC. He is a 2019 Fulbright Specialist (Taiwan) and is a 2015 Cunningham Fellow.