“Fusion doesn’t begin to describe what’s going on here; Elam is annealing his influences, creating a taut, intense movement language.”
- Zimmer, The Village Voice 

Founded in 1998 by Artistic Director and CEO Chris Elam, Misnomer has been hailed as one of the most original and dynamic modern dance companies in the performing arts today.  Whether moving people through art or building transformative platforms for engagement, we create experimental, unexpected, and powerful ways for artists and audiences to create and find meaning together.

Misnomer’s works have been recognized as “one of the top ten dance performances” of the year by The New York Times and have earned the company a position as one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine. Misnomer has performed in over 300 theaters in fourteen countries, and has presented nine NYC seasons with support from frequent residencies, most notably at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, NYC’s Skirball Center, and The Joyce Theater Foundation.  The company has conducted large-scale, cross-medium collaborations, ranging from choreographing for Bjork’s “Wanderlust” video to creating an 8,000 square foot labyrinth with the Danish Dance Theater.

Misnomer's work includes the creation, research and presentation of original dance and the development of boundary-crossing innovations in audience engagement to bring people closer to the arts.

An innovator in connecting people with the arts, Misnomer has created GoSeeDo.org, a web platform and community to give audiences ways to directly interact with artists and their art. GoSeeDo.org (formerly known as AEP) has received wide recognition and support in the business, technology, and arts communities. These efforts both complement and advance the company’s core artistic vision, which is, broadly, to engage its dancers and audiences in the experience and understanding of human interaction and intimacy. We hope you will enjoy exploring Misnomer's Portfolio on GoSeeDo.org, and discovering some of the many artists and arts organizations at GoSeeDo.org.

Misnomer has been selected to take part in a groundbreaking new arts initiative, “Leading for the Future: Innovative Support for Artistic Excellence” created by the Nonprofit Finance Fund and funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Misnomer is by far the youngest of the ten organizations (including Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Cunningham Dance Foundation, Jacob’s Pillow Dance, and The Wooster Group) to receive this funding for innovative projects that address challenges facing the arts. Misnomer has also received essential support from: the Rockefeller Foundation’s NYC Cultural Innovation Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and Dance/USA’s Emerging Dance Audiences initiative.

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Misnomer Profile on Guidestar.org



Artistic Director and CEO



“A true original, … Mr. Elam is one of the most individualistic of modern dance voices today.”  - The New York Times

Chris Elam, Founding Artistic Director and CEO

Heralded as “a true original” (The New York Times), whose “clarity of vision delights the soul” (The Village Voice), Elam’s work for Misnomer has toured to over 300 theaters in fourteen countries, and the breadth of his creativity is exhibited by artistic collaborations and projects with Bjork, the Sundance Channel, Apple Computers and the Danish Dance Theater.

Having choreographed since the age of 14, Elam founded Misnomer during his senior year of college. He graduated from Brown University in public policy, focused on federal involvement in the arts, and computer science, before receiving his MFA in Dance from NYU Tisch. An active teacher, he has served as faculty at Brown University and The State Conservatory for the Arts in Turkey, and has been a guest choreographer and teacher at over twenty universities.

An advocate for the smart use of technology for audience engagement in the arts, Elam has been an invited speaker at many of the country’s foremost arts, business and technology conferences, including Fortune Magazine’s Brainstorm: TECH, the National Arts Marketing Project, and TEDxEast. Elam serves on the advisory board of the Americans for the Arts’ National Arts Marketing Project, and frequently participates in panels to provide advocacy for the arts.

An active traveler, Elam’s contemporary choreography is informed by inter-cultural research and exploration. Some highlights that informed his cultural perspective include: Elam spent seven months with a Topeng dance master in Indonesia, training and performing in temple ceremonies. Misnomer accompanied Elam to Brazil to perform and teach. Elam taught for six months at the Conservatory in Turkey; and he spent three months in Havana choreographing on DanzAbierta, a national dance company of Cuba. Elam performed in Ireland on a European Cultural City Commission, which led to a commission in Holland in with the interactive technology group Blue Noise Dept.

View Chris Elam's profile on LinkedIn

Dancers Bios

Brynne Billingsley
received her BFA in dance from the University of Southern Mississippi. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, she moved to New York City in 2003 and began collaborating with other artists making dance, photography, and other creative projects in and around the city. Brynne currently teaches Pilates and continues to pursue her interests in learning, teaching, and making dance.

 Jennifer C. Harmer
is a founding member of Misnomer Dance Theater. Since graduating from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, she has worked with Sara Pearson/Patrik Widrig & Co., Mark Dendy, Tina Croll, Axis of Eve, Dance Anonymous, the Kinesis Project, and was a senior company member with Murray Spalding Movement Arts for four years. Jennifer is a certified Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis instructor, as well as a Bagua practitioner and enthusiast.

Coco5smallCoco Karol 
grew up in Boston where she trained and danced with her friend and mentor Marcus Schulkind as well as The Boston Ballet. She received her BFA from NYU Tisch School of Arts and has performed with Steven Petronio, Jose Navas, and Cherylyn Lavagnino. Coco is thrilled to be working with Misnomer Dance Theater and has her supportive parents, friends, and sisters to thank for giving her courage and love.

Jenny CF000503Campbell
grew up in Chicago, IL and was a competitive rhythmic gymnast until the age of 17.  She received her BFA in dance performance from Ohio State University in 2006 and joined Misnomer Dance Theater in 2009.   Jenny currently works with Jody Sperling/Time Lapse Dance and has had the pleasure of working with Karl Anderson, Jane Franklin, and Amanda Selwyn.  She is a certified yoga teacher and teaches privately throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Val Loukiano
is from the Ukraine where he graduated with honors from the Zhitomir Dance Academy and was named Ukrainian National Ballroom Champion. After a two-year stint in the Army, where he was a leading performer in its Military Dance Ensemble, he graduated from the Moscow University of Art with advanced degrees in Performance and Choreography. Val has toured Europe and Asia with folk troupes, variety revues, and musicals.

Company Aesthetic

“Chris Elam has fashioned a distinctive, engagingly bizarre choreographic style.  His skill and clarity of vision delight the soul.”
- The Village Voice

“Wonderfully strange and unpredictable choreography.” - The New Yorker

Misnomer Dance Theater finds tenderness, humor, and absurdity in peoples’ efforts to relate to one another. Whether between adolescent sisters, estranged lovers, business partners, or animalistic creatures, Artistic Director Chris Elam invents characters that work hard to form meaningful exchanges, sometimes producing poignant and awkward tenderness, at other moments yielding fiercely dismal misunderstandings.

Elam uses physical illusions as a tool to investigate personal and group transformation. An arm sprouts out of an ear, a person becomes an ostrich, five dancers appear to share a single head and dance a maudlin jig. Assertive contact partnering in which dancers climb upon each other to form improbable human architectures serves to fuse performers into unusual entities.

Drawing from his extensive training in both traditional Balinese and Modern Dance, Elam establishes the human body as a site for cultural exchange. This is achieved by creating wildly kinetic movement that integrates the tense and sculptural quick-action style of Balinese dance with Chris’ own broken-flow modern movement.

Board of Directors

Oussama El-Hilali, Chair
Vice President, Arcserve
Former Senior Vice President, Carbonite Corporation

Marc Mathieu
CMO, Samsung
Former Senior Vice President, Marketing, Unilever
Former Vice President, Global Brand Marketing, Coca-Cola

Danielle Prill, Secretary
Counsel, IBM

Clement Wong, Treasurer
First Vice President, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Stephen Chen
Emerging Markets Investment Professional, Oppenheimer Investments
Former Vice President, Bear Stearns

Chris Elam

Artistic Director & CEO, Misnomer Dance Theater

Advisory Board

Murat Aktihanoglu
Founder and Managing Director at ER Accelerator

Samir Bitar
Director, Smithsonian, Visitor Experience
Former Executive Director, Sens Productions Noemie Lafrance Dance

David Berkowitz
Senior Director of Emerging Media & Innovation, 360i

Sean Curran

Artistic Director, Sean Curran Dance

Peter Clare

Former Director at Oracle
CEO/CTO at Apacheta Corporation

Sasha Dees
International Producer and Programmer

David Dorfman
Artistic Director, David Dorfman Dance

Joe FitzGerald
Vice President, Legal, Pure Storage

Mark Gibson
Founder and CEO,  Mark Gibson Consulting

Saryn Goldberg
Assistant Professor in Engineering, Hofstra University

Mans Hultman
Former Chairman of the Board and CEO, QlikTech

Joy Kellman

Brendan Kramp
Director of Individual Giving, Rare
Former Head of Fundraising, English National Opera

Alison Lindland
Director of Business Development, Kohort
VP of Community Development, Columbia Venture Community
Former Senior Manager, Strategy and Business Development, American Express

Marie-Claire Meisels
Marketing Consultant
Former Director of Marketing & Communications, PopTech

Martha Myers
Dean Emeritus, American Dance Festival


Betsy Poirier
Director, Online Marketing, ANN INC.

Bill Pulleyblank
Professor of Operations Research, United States Military Academy
Former Vice President, IBM

Philip Rosedale
Founder, Second Life
Founder, Coffee & Power

Bill Seitz
Independent Product Manager
Kit Sharma
Product Manager, Cisco

Mark Turrell
Co-Founder of Imaginatik
Founder and CEO of Orcasci