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Robinson and her team have developed Cleo Parker Robinson Dance into a cross-cultural, contemporary dance institution that provides dance instruction, performances and community programs and convenes artists and audiences of all backgrounds and ages.

If finding out that an incredible dance institution has been based in Denver for more than four decades comes as a surprise, you obviously aren’t familiar with Cleo Parker Robinson or her company, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. Housed in a gorgeous historic church in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood, CPRD has played an influential role in Denver’s artistic transformation.

“There’s more than you can imagine here. When we started 40 to 50 years ago, Denver wasn’t the cultural mecca it is now. Now there’s something going on all the time,” Robinson emphasizes.

It’s that energy that inspires the dance company to constantly collaborate and create with local partners like the Colorado Symphony and Opera Colorado. A master teacher/choreographer, Robinson also has brought her craft around the world, including Iceland, Singapore, Israel, Turkey and throughout Europe and Africa, serving as a cultural ambassador and infusing vitality, innovation and education into every community she touches. In addition, the Denver native has collaborated with the likes of poet Maya Angelou, Egyptian-American composer Halim El-Dabh, and Mexican choreographers Jairo Heli and Bethsaida Prado.

Robinson and her team have developed CPRD into a cross-cultural, contemporary dance institution that provides dance instruction, performances and community programs and convenes artists and audiences of all backgrounds and ages. The company also tailors shows for convention audiences — an experience completely unique to Denver — and represents one of the largest cultural arts institutions in the Rocky Mountain region, serving more than 60,000 people each year.

Known for leveraging the universal language of dance to honor African-American heritage, explore the human condition and offer transformative experiences through physical movement, Robinson was awarded a prestigious Kennedy Center Medal of Honor and appointed to the National Council of the Arts by President Bill Clinton in 1998, a role she held until 2005.

The awards presented to Robinson are almost too numerous to name and include honorary doctorates from Denver University, Colorado College and Regis University. Most recently, Robinson received the 2017 Dance/USA Honor Award at the annual conference for Dance/USA, an organization that she helped establish in the 1980s. She also is a founding board member for the International Association of Blacks in Dance.

CPRD occupies the AME Shorter church in Denver’s vibrant Five Points district, the neighborhood of Robinson’s youth that was once known as the "Harlem of the West" due to frequent visits by jazz greats including Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis. Today, the three-level, 24,000-square-foot facility has been transformed into the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Performing Arts Complex and features a 240-seat theater, three dance studios and an amphitheater. Her son, Malik, is following in the dancing footsteps of his mother as the company’s executive director.

The philosophy of “One Spirit, Many Voices” is reflected in all of Robinson’s efforts, and she brings this vision to everyone she meets. Throughout her amazing career, Robinson has been an unwavering supporter of Denver, playing a key role in advancing the arts locally and developing awareness of The Mile High City as a place of rich and diverse culture.