Liz Cherry Jones Memorial Commission

A commitment to the next generation


The Liz Cherry Jones Memorial Commission (LCJMC) was created in 2021 by Matthew Jones in memory of his late sister, Liz Cherry Jones (April 28, 1955 – August 1, 2017), a lifelong artist and educator. 

This annual opportunity, curated by Company | E, commissions a student or recent alumni of Howard University’s Department of Theatre Arts to create a new performance work for the Company. The Commission will support performing artists of all kinds, including choreographers, composers, dramatic artists, filmmakers, and interdisciplinary artists. The goal of the Commission is the foster and support the awardee’s entrance into their professional arts career and to carry on Ms. Jones' legacy as a passionate advocate for arts education.

Liz Cherry Jones was a longtime teacher for the Albemarle County School District (VA), a textile artist, a local African American community historian, and an Angora goat farmer who also played piano and loved to sing. It was the synthesis of these talents, careers, and interests that led Mr. Jones to create the Liz Cherry Jones Memorial Commission with Company | E and Howard University in his sister’s memory.

“Liz was an educator. She saw first-hand and believed completely in the power of the finest multidisciplinary schooling. She was a passionate advocate for the importance of teaching artistic expression in all its forms to people of all ages – especially children – as an essential element of building critical cognitive and social skills such as problem solving, cooperation, self-worth, and empathy,” notes Mr. Jones. “Her two Masters’ Degrees attest to her belief in higher education. “She was also an artist herself, who recognized the challenges of making a life and career in these fields of passion and purpose,” Mr. Jones adds. “And so, put together, it is an obvious choice in honoring her name and life to offer a unique opportunity to the Howard University student and recent alumni community. Providing a funded pipeline to getting work set on the finest contemporary dance troupe in DC – one I have a long relationship with – means that the art will have a rich and deep life, hopefully traveling the world in the Company | E repertoire.” 


Created by MATT JONES


The Commission’s founder and underwriter, Matthew Jones, is a member of the Aerospace Industry (30+ years) as well as a professional musician. He has been making music for over four decades and has created original musical compositions for Company | E and its predecessor companies since 1989. He is a founding and current member of the Board of Directors for Company | E. 

The Commission will be curated by Mr. Jones, Company | E Co-Artistic Directors Paul Gordon Emerson and Kathryn Sydell Pilkington, and the Chair of Howard University’s Theatre Arts Department, Dr. Ofosuwa Abiola. 

“This is exactly the type of opportunity we seek for our students: real-world paths from University to the professional world. The fact that this is open to both our undergraduates and recent alumni means we can select from the most extraordinary young talent, serving not just to educate and empower them on the university campus, but also provide them with a first step out into the careers they have spent their lives training for,” Dr. Abiola says. “To have the Commission made in honor of a woman who was both an academic and an artist feels exactly right.”


 Inaugural Year Commission Awardees:   RAYVEN LEAK with CLIFTON BROCKINGTON


Rayven Leak

The Commission launches in June 2021 with the first awardee, Rayven Leak, creating a new work for Company | E’s June 2021 NEXT:WARMER concert, focusing on climate change and ecology. Ms. Leak, a 2020 Howard University graduate, was selected by Dr. Abiola for her fresh, rich choreographic talent. “She’s a perfect beginning to this program,” Dr. Abiola notes. 

“It’s an honor to be named as the choreographer for the inaugural Liz Cherry Jones Memorial Commission. Creating is a special opportunity always, especially for a company like Company | E in DC. But to know that my work is in honor of Matt’s sister, an artist and educator in her own right, is transformative. My hope is that what is made will embody her and her spirit. I’m very proud to be a part of this, and to be the Commission’s voice on stage.” 

Ms. Leak is joined in creating for the LCJMC by Clifton Brockington, who is Composer-in-Residence for Company | E and a graduate of Howard University himself. Mr. Brockington has been making music with Mr. Jones and Company | E since 2000. “It’s amazing to be working with a new voice in the dance world in honor of Matt’s sister. Matt and I have worked together now for nearly a quarter of a century, and this is such an elegant way to keep Liz’s memory alive,” notes Mr. Brockington. 

Ms. Leak is joined in creating for the LCJMC by Clifton Brockington, who is Composer-in-Residence for Company | E and a graduate of Howard University himself. Mr. Brockington has been making music with Mr. Jones and Company | E since 2000. “It’s amazing to be working with a new voice in the dance world in honor of Matt’s sister. Matt and I have worked together now for nearly a quarter of a century, and this is such an elegant way to keep Liz’s memory alive,” notes Mr. Brockington.  


INITIAL THREE-YEAR COMMISSION 


The Liz Cherry Jones Memorial Commission is funded initially for three years by Mr. Jones, with the goal of creating a larger sustaining program for more than one artist per year and stretching indefinitely into the future. In its inaugural year, the Commission award for Ms. Leak is $2,500.00 and $2,000.00 for Mr. Brockington. “My sister was a person whose eye was always rooted firmly both in the future and in the past,” concluded Mr. Jones. “She understood clearly that we must know where we have been if we are to have a chance to create a path for where we seek to go. I know she would be proud to have her name associated with one of the nation’s great institutions of higher learning and Historically Black Universities.” 


LIZ CHERRY JONES


Elizabeth “Liz” Cherry Jones (April 28, 1955 - August 1, 2017) was a longtime art teacher for Albermarle County elementary schools, textile artist, local historian and Angora goat farmer. She also played piano and loved to sing and dance. 

She was a passionate advocate for the importance of teaching artistic expression in all its forms to people of all ages - especially children - as an essential element of building critical cognitive and social skills such as problem solving, cooperation, self-worth, and empathy. 

Liz taught art for the Albermarle County School District beginning in 2002, working at Broadus Wood and Scottsville Elementary Schools. “Liz was an incredible member of our division's instructional team for nearly two decades,” said Sharon Wilcox, Principal of the Scottsville School. 

“Her enthusiasm and pure joy for the creative energies and imaginative work of children met the highest calling of our profession.” Although Liz herself was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, where her father was a public school teacher and her mother, a nurse, she spent many summers on her family’s property before relocating there in the 1980s. 

Liz felt a deep affinity for the region and her African American family’s 150-year-old farm in Blenheim, VA, painstakingly tracing her family’s long history there -- which on her father’s side, extended back through the Souther and Lewis families to the post-Civil War period. 

She collected documents, photos and oral histories of her ancestors and their neighbors with the intention of telling their stories. Some of her artwork explored that history, using silk screening and relief printing on paper and fabric to recall colonial Americana, a time when wool was a work of art and technique triumphed over speed. She also hand-spun and dyed yarn from her own Angora goats. 

In her early years in the Charlottesville, VA region, she also demonstrated spinning and weaving at Thomas Jefferson’s historic home, Monticello. Liz earned a long list of academic degrees, prestigious fellowships and awards, including a Bachelors’ and two Masters’ degrees, multiple mural projects for the City of Philadelphia, and serving on the Virginia Commission for the Arts, with Charlottesville’s McGuffey Art Center and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.


PERFORMANCE

NEXT - Warmer. Concerts on Climate Change

Company | E returns to the concert stage in June 2021 with NEXT: WARMER. Five new voices from three continents on the climate crisis. 

WORLD PREMIERE: June 4 - 6 in Washington, DC.  

SCHOOL'S OPEN

The Company | E Movement Center for Dance Education

"The MC builds and supports whole-child learning...instilling the values of self-discipline and team building."
   - Roseanna B. MC Parent 2019

The Company | E Movement Center for Dance Education teaches the next generation both the technique and the joy of movement.

FALL and SPRING REGISTRATION IS OPEN! 

2021 INTENSIVE

2021 Summer Intensive

"An incredible, welcoming experience."
 -- Julianne K. - 2018 Student

Learn more about our IN THE STUDIO and VIRTUAL INTENSIVE experiences for 2021.

"An important thought-partner as we head towards the Center's 50th Anniversary"

"...exactly the kind of work we had imagined when creating the Performances for Young Audiences series, elegantly combining multiple art forms including modern dance, classical music, storytelling, visual arts, and theater."

--David Kilpatrick, Director, Education Programs and Productions. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.