Photo: Paul B. Goode



A modern dance company founded in 2007 by Artistic Director Caterina Rago. CR DANCE COMPANY, LLC is known for its visceral use of movement, raw physicality and determined language. The company is comprised of eight woman with diverse international dance backgrounds.

CRDance Company, LLC is based on an “El Sistema” approach to modern dance and choreography. With a special focus on Italian and American dance, CRDance Company is invested in choreography as a way to map new ideas onto the history of dance. Currently being re-launched in New York with the collaboration of Caterina Rago and Cheryl Kaplan, Executive Director, as well as the company of eight dancers, CR Dance Company is now taking choreography beyond stage-based performance while also creating major new works, such as Morso D’Amore. With its ambition schedule of teaching and performing, CRDance Company looks at choreography much like musicians or an orchestra might look at a set of scores under the guidance and vision of a conductor collaborating with both orchestra and composer. The scores in this context are choreographic works that require not only training, but active interpretation. CRDance Company approaches choreography as an action-based method of problem-solving. This physical thinking has important applications to a wide range of fields that, with your support, we are in the process of developing now.


Artistic Statement

This is a modern dance company that strives for raw-physicality, pushing the emotional boundaries and inspiring new generations to fight to keep alive their real source of light. Through our studies and creative teachings we always try to explore the vulnerability found in movement. We search for self-awareness by tapping into our innate potentiality and sharing our divine spark. And we aspire for uniqueness in the land of contrasts: the inspiring land of Italy.


Artistic Vision 

As an artist, my work is full of raw physicality feeling and I seek to embody human emotions in movement. Dance creates a sense of vulnerability, allowing performers to offer and viewers to receive. I want to bring self-awareness and push boundaries, depicting messages of love, hope and courage through my work. By allowing this sense of openness in my choreographic process, I am able to create a sense of communication with audiences by celebrating life onstage. Although language barriers may exist between nations, the power of emotion and movement are both universal. Because these two human experience are universal, I also seek to express and cultivate my Italian heritage in the United States through my work.



It is Caterina Rago’s approach of surrendering her body to powerful emotion that inspires her intense and unique choreography. Caterina was invited to present her original work, Eternal Return, for the Graham II season 2008 and in many festivals and showcases throughout New York City and Italy. In 2010, two sold-out performances at MMAC marked CR DANCE COMPANY, LLC debut season and in 2013 the company premiered their evening-length work, Fall in Autumn, at MMAC. CR DANCE COMPANY, LLC work was selected for White Wave Rising Series Festival, Kat Wildish’s NYC Showcase at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, NYC Dance Week at Dixon Place, choreographed at Jazz at Lincoln Center in the opera, La Nave, with I Giullari di Piazza, IDACO Italian Dance Connection, Emerging Choreographer Series, Take Root and Fertile Ground at Green Space, Steps Beyond Foundation, Hatch Jennifer Muller/The Works and Dance Gallery Festival. Caterina has received two Company Commissions from Steffi Nossen Dance Foundation and the Accademia Nazionale di Danza in Rome, Italy. CR DANCE COMPANY, LLC recently premiered “Labir Into” at New York Live Arts in collaboration with renown set designer, Pier Paolo Bisleri. The CR DANCE COMPANY, LLC Gala was recently performed at the Martha Graham Studio Theater on April 19th, 2018. The Company was invited to perform at NEXT@GRAHAM and for the 37th Annual Battery Dance Festival, 2018.




Sarita Apel was born in Wiesbaden, Germany. She received her Bachelor of Dance in 2011 at Codarts, Rotterdam Dance Academy. From 2011-2014 she has been a scholarship student at The Ailey School in NYC. In New York she has danced with Graham 2 and performed with Dansgroep Amsterdam, Bodystories/Teresa Fellion Dance, Buglisi Dance Theatre, Creative Time/Nick Cave, Awaken Dance Theater, with Norbert De La Cruz III and Omar Roman de Jesus amongst others. Since 2014 she also dances with Arim Dance. Sarita is excited to be part of Caterina Rago Dance Company who she has revently joined.






RET_MG_3122Raphaëlle Kessedjian is a native from France and received her dance training at the Centre choregraphique Veronique Thery, The Rick Odums Institute in France and at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance on a full scholarship in New York. Raphaëlle has been a member of Graham II, Nu Dance Theater, Caliince Dance, and was a guest artist with the Martha Graham Dance Company for their Italian Production “Cercando Picasso”. She has performed work from Robert Battle, Pearl Lang, Stuart Hodes, Peggy Lyman and Virginie Mécene. She joined Adele Myers and Dancers in 2012 and is currently touring and teaching with the company. She is a certified Pilates and Gyrotonic® Instructor, and currently teaches Graham technique at Peridance Capezio Center. Raphaëlle joined the Caterina Rago Dance Company in September 2015 and is thrilled to start this journey with the company. 




RET_MG_3148Jaclyn Rea is a freelance artist in New York City currently performing with Ariel Rivka Dance Company, Caterina Rago Dance Company, Heidi Latsky Dance and Randy James’ 10 Hairy Legs. She is a dance faculty member at AMDA College. Ms. Rea earned her B.F.A. from SUNY Purchase in 2012. While attending school, she danced works by Mark Morris, Stephen Petronio, Nelly Van Bommel, and Ethel Winter. She studied at London Contemporary Dance School in 2010, performing at the Robin Howard Dance Theatre on exchange. Following graduation, Jaclyn joined Graham 2, 360º Dance Company, and performed projects directed by Kun Yang Lin, Darshan Bhuller, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Suzzanne Ponomarenko, Annie Wang, The Hoover Dam Collective, Sean McLeod, Jennifer Conley, and Joyce King Dance Company, whom she has performed with internationally.




Lissa Smith was born and raised in Miami, Florida and attended New World School of the Arts for high school. She attended The Boston Conservatory where she was the recipient of the Dance Conservatory Scholarship and Jan Veen Dance Scholarship. Lissa danced with Hubbard Street 2 for three years and performed nationally and internationally with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Lissa is an indoor cycling instructor for Flywheel Sports.  She has trained at the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Juilliard School, Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, The Martha Graham School, The Joffrey Ballet School, and The Joffrey Midwest Workshop. Lissa has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and inside galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago. She received the “Modern Dance Award” and the “Dean’s Dance Award” upon her graduation from New World School of the Arts High School in June 2009. She also won the prestigious “Arts For Life!” dance scholarship in 2009, presented by Former First Lady Columba Bush. In 2012, Lissa was awarded the Young Professional Award from the Martha Hill Dance Foundation and The School at Jacob’s Pillow. In the spring of 2014, she was a dancer for Walt Disney Imagineering in Los Angeles, CA. Lissa currently dances in DIRT, un duex with Grace Whitworth, and so happy to join Caterina Rago Dance Company.


The Team

Pier Paolo Bisleri – Set and Costume designer

FOTO 1Pier Paolo Bisleri is a set and costume designer, graduate at the Florence Academy of Fine Arts. From 1970 to 1980 he directed the Visual Art Department at La Cappella Underground in Trieste and was involved in several expressions of the contemporary art. In the same period he was in contact and cooperated with Joseph Beuys, Arnulf Reiner, Christo and Andy Warhol. In 1978 he organized the first Azionismo Viennese Exhibition in Italy, introducing artists as Gunther Brus, Rudolf Schwarzkogler, Heinz Cibulka, Otto Muhel and Hermann Nitsch, producing his Action n° 62In his set designer career, he was always influenced by contemporary arts, taking interest in the figurative abstraction and searching for an emotional space where to isolate and better study the characters, the dramatic situations and the music, in their full meaning. Essential were the influences of the great English director and set designer Edward Gordon Craig together with the Adolphe Appia theories of the light.Since 1978 he cooperated with Teatro Stabile di Prosa del Friuli-Venezia Giulia as Technical Director, and later with Piccolo Teatro di Milano Teatro d’Europa under the direction of Luca Ronconi and with Fondazione Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi di Trieste, contributing to the realisation of more than 200 theatrical plays and operas. He teached “History and Technique of Set Design” at University in Udine and in Trieste. He created, as a stage designer, more than fifty new drama productions. Although his career had begun in drama theatres, from the early 90’ he started collaborating with prestigious Opera theaters in Italy and abroad.

Davide Di Donato – Sculptor


Born in Trieste on 4/19/1965, where I live and work.  After many experiences in Italy and abroad (Japan, USA, China, Russia and throughout  Europe) I have refined a particular professional skill especially in the realization of theatrical and cinematic scenography, life-size reconstructions and miniature models of prehistoric animals and endangered species, hominids and humans, spectacular, environment dioramas, intended mostly for Museums of Natural History and thematic museums around the world. Sculptures in life size and also magnified human beings, famous characters, busts, monuments in all materials, casted both  in precious metals( such as bronze , brass…ecc)  and any type of resin. I conceptualize and realize sculptures of masters  not only for to the most important toys’ Companies in the world, but also for authorized and official merchandising, action figures, prototypes of sports champions models, film and music, fine arts,  fantasy and scientific genre. (Mc Farlane USA, Illy Caffè , Fanatico Figurines Switzerland, 3D Stars Netherlands, Favorite Collections Japan, Romeo Models, Gaspez Arts Italy). Environmental and geographical scale models, sculptures in all materials, furniture and backdrops for both indoor (interior design,  shops, restaurants, signs), and outdoor (public events, festivals.). Deep knowledge of all materials used in set design. Metals, resins, silicones, polyurethanes, putties, colors of every kind. Welding iron, carpentry, airbrushing. I was student of Dick Smith, Oscar Award for makeup visual effects in the movie “Amadeus.” (As well as “the Godfather” – “The Exorcist”, to name a few).