Facebook Live Conversation Series
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Enjoy this recap video of the 12 conversations!
After 12 weeks, Dance/NYC closes the #ArtistsAreNecessaryWorkers Facebook Live Conversation Series. This has been one strand of the public campaign towards demanding the acknowledgement, representation and integration of dance and arts workers into the city’s future post-pandemic.
Beginning on May 21st, these conversations highlighted the importance of the arts ecology, pointed to current challenges and offered considerations on our way forward as a field. Dance/NYC hosted 12 such events with 50 speakers across various roles: dancers, performers, choreographers, agents, curators, arts educators, administrators, city officials, technologists and many more. With an audience of over 1K unique live attendees, the topics covered disability justice, studio practice, digital futures and the future of touring, performance venues and festivals. The final conversation: Dance As Dignified Labor, further emphasized Dance/NYC’s commitment to advocating for dance worker rights and wellbeing.
The “dream team” - Dance/NYC’s staff, board and advisors - thank you for your continued support and engagement with the #ArtistsAreNecessaryWorkers campaign during a pivotal time for the dance workforce.
The #ArtistsAreNecessaryWorkers Campaign Is Not Over! Continue To Take Action By:
1) Signing on to the latest advocacy actions on Dance/NYC’s news page.
2) Joining Dance/NYC’s bi-weekly field-wide calls that address the field’s questions, needs, and plans for the future.
3) Amplifying the 12 the #ArtistsAreNecessaryWorkers Conversations by sharing and re-experiencing the videos from our Facebook page [not captioned] and growing list on our Youtube channel [captioned].
4) Sharing this conversation series as an insightful resource for you and your organization during this pivotal moment for the field. Revisit our captioned videos and visit each webpage for a list of shared resources.
|Thursday, May 21, 2020
|#ArtistsAreNecessaryWorkers: A Call to Action
|Tuesday, May 26, 2020
|Arts Educators Leading the Charge
|Friday, June 5, 2020
|A Moment to Pause/Dystopia
|Tuesday, June 9, 2020
|Studio Practice Redefined
|Tuesday, June 16, 2020
|Disability Justice as the Vanguard of Recovery Thinking
|Tuesday, June 23, 2020
|The Future of Performance Venues
|Tuesday, June 30, 2020
|Dance in Community
|Tuesday, July 7, 2020
|Cultural Workers Behind the Veil
|Tuesday, July 14, 2020
|Touring in a Post-COVID World
|Tuesday, July 21, 2020
|A Digital Future for the Arts
|Tuesday, July 28, 2020
|What's Next for Festivals?
|Tues, August 4, 2020
|Dance As Dignified Labor
Alejandra Duque Cifuentes, Strategy and Research Consultant
Alejandra Duque Cifuentes (she/her) is a nonprofit leader and advocate working to advance a more just, equitable, and inclusive arts and cultural ecology by developing measures that arts workers, businesses, and organizations can thrive. Her work is of particular significance to individual arts workers who have been historically under supported, including BIPOC, immigrant disabled, and low-income artists as well as small-budget art making organizations. She brings 15+ years of experience and expertise in strategy, general management, fund development, community organizing, arts education, professional development, and artistic production. Her professional and educational background encompasses business, creative, and civic realms, including a BA from Columbia University School of General Studies in theater directing and an early career as a theater artist, stage manager, and arts educator. She moves with ease and intelligence across sectors, issues, and among diverse stakeholders, from managing internal staff and teams to engaging community and philanthropic partners, artist constituencies, donors, and the general public. She is known for her ability to get results and draws on her deep community relationships to drive accountable collaborations based on trust and data. Through her work on cultural policy, Alejandra has earned appointments to Mayor-Elect Eric Adams’ Transition Committee on Parks, Arts & Culture and A Better Contract for New York’s Joint Task Force. As a result of her leadership during COVID-19 pandemic, she was named 2021 Crain New York's Business Notable in Nonprofits & Philanthropy. She sits on the boards of Nonprofit New York and New Yorkers for Culture and Arts, and is a member of the leadership council of Creatives Rebuild New York.
In December of 2022, Alejandra transitioned out of her role of Executive Director at Dance/NYC setting in its place a significant structural shift for the organization aimed at creating a more democratic leadership structure for the organization’s future. As a summation of her work and commitment to the sector, she established ADC Consulting, a boutique arts consultancy firm, in order to equip mission-driven organizations to create long-term cultural impact through fundraising, grant making, advocacy, research and organizational change. After being a proud Queens resident for 17 years, she has set new roots in the pacific northwest in the greater Seattle area of Washington state. She identifies as a white, immigrant, latina woman, who believes healthy communities need a strong arts and culture sector and is committed to anti-racist practices that ensure artists can thrive in the United States.
Alice Sheppard trained with Kitty Lunn and made her debut with Infinity Dance Theater. After an apprenticeship with AXIS Dance Company, Alice became a core company member and toured nationally and taught in the company’s education and outreach programs. Since becoming an independent dance artist, Alice has danced in projects with Ballet Cymru/GDance, and Marc Brew Company in the United Kingdom. In the United States, she has worked with Marjani Forté, MBDance, Infinity Dance Theater, and Steve Paxton. Alice is the founder and artistic lead for Kinetic Light, a project-based ensemble working at the intersections of disability, dance, design, identity, and technology to create transformative art and advance the intersectional disability arts movement. A USA Artist, Creative Capital grantee, and Bessie Award winner, Alice creates movement that engages intersectional disability arts, culture, and history to challenge conventional understandings of disabled and dancing bodies.
Alicia Bauman-Morales, Independent Dance Artist; Organizer, Artists Co-creating Real Equity
Alicia Bauman-Morales is an Oakland-born tomboi boricua, and multidisciplinary dance artist. Raised on fantastical bedtime stories and household altares, Alicia is descended from brujxs. Alicia has danced with The NWA Project, Arthur Aviles, André Zachary and the Renegade Performance Group, K.Hamilton Productions and MBDance, among others. Alicia has choreographed for Brown Girls’ Burlesque and Roots & River, and presented original works "hipshandstongue" and "huracán: storm medicine" in California, New York and Puerto Rico. She is a member of ACRE, Artists Co-Creating Real Equity, and teaches humanizing practices through dance at the New York City Charter School for the Arts and Ailey Arts in Education. Alicia first practiced house and turf dance independently, in backyards and on sidewalks, until she began formalized training. Alicia spent formative years with Youth Speaks, Destiny Arts Center, June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, Everyday Theater and InnerSpark. Beginning as a guerilla performer, Alicia built her organizing chops with youth-led coalitions Art in Action and Diversity Works, and co-founded United Roots Oakland. She teaches humanizing practices through dance at Ailey Arts in Education, Sadie Nash Leadership Project and New York City Charter School of the Arts. Alicia is a current Dancing Futures artist in residence.
Alicia Graf Mack, Director, Dance Division, The Juilliard School
Alicia Graf Mack enjoyed a distinguished career as a leading dancer of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She has also been a principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and she has danced as a guest performer with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, Beyoncé, John Legend, Andre 3000, and Alicia Keys. Graf Mack graduated magna cum laude with honors in history from Columbia University and holds an MA in nonprofit management from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2007, Smithsonian magazine named her an American Innovator of the Arts and Sciences. She is a recipient of the Columbia University Medal of Excellence, an award given each year to an alumnus who has demonstrated excellence in their field of work. In 2008, she delivered the keynote address to the graduates of Columbia University’s School of General Studies. As a dance educator, Graf Mack most recently taught as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Houston and was a visiting assistant professor at Webster University. She is a co-founder of D(n)A Arts Collective, an initiative created to enrich the lives of young dancers through master classes and intensives. She began her inaugural season as director of the Juilliard Dance Division in the fall of 2018.
Allie Beach, Director of Youth Programming, Broadway Dance Center
Allie Beach is a native of Jackson, Mississippi and has been a proud part of the Broadway Dance Center family for over 15 years as the Director of Youth Programming. She was a competitive dancer since the age of 6 and still enjoys taking classes regularly. Allie received her Bachelor's degree in Communication from Marymount Manhattan College and her Master's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University.
She is experienced in mentoring and guiding youth who are navigating their path in dance as well as creating and implementing youth programming for ages 6 months - 18 years. She is the director of BDC's Youth Companies (Arts in Motion and Rhythm Arts Project), the Summer/Winter Intensive, and the Junior Training Program. Additionally, she the creator and producer of the annual AIM Invitational. Allie is also an honored member of the vestry for St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Chelsea.
Ana Nery Fragoso, Director of Dance, NYC Department of Education
Ana Nery Fragoso, MFA is the New York City Department of Education Director of Dance. She grew up in the Canary Islands, Spain, where she performed and choreographed extensively. She studied at the Alvin Nikolais Dance Lab (NYC) for two years, graduated from Hunter College with a B.A. in Dance and Education and earned a M.F.A. in Choreography from Sarah Lawrence College. She has been the recipient of two grants from the Ministry of Culture in Spain and a J. Javits Fellowship award. For twelve years, Ana Nery taught at P.S. 315, a Performing Arts Elementary School in Brooklyn, where she created a dance curriculum supported by the Laban Movement Analysis framework that emphasized improvisation, technique and dance making. She was the dance specialist at the East Village Community School in Manhattan as well where she created a brand new dance program. Mrs. Fragoso was a member of the New York City Department of Education Dance Blueprint Writing Committee and since 2004, she worked as a NYCDOE dance facilitator co-designing professional development workshops for New York City Department of Education dance specialists. She worked as a dance coach for the Artful Learning Community Grant (ALC) doing action research to develop strategies for collaborative inquiry around formative assessment practices and student learning in dance for six years and was part of the Arts Achieve team, a four-year project that developed innovative dance assessment tools and strategies. In 2017 she was a member of the NYS Dance Learning Standards writing team. Mrs. Fragoso was a faculty member of the Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) at the 92nd St Y from 2007 to 2014 and is currently an Arnhold Fellowship Recipient at Teachers College Ed. D. in Dance Education.
André Zachery, Artistic Director, Renegade Performance Group
André M. Zachery is a Chicago bred and now Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist, scholar and technologist with a BFA from Ailey/Fordham University and MFA in Performance & Interactive Media Arts from CUNY/Brooklyn College. As the artistic director of Renegade Performance Group his practice, research and community engagement artistically focuses on merging of choreography, technology and Black cultural practices through multimedia work. André is a 2016 New York Foundation for the Arts Gregory Millard Fellow in Choreography and 2019 Jerome Hill Foundation Fellow in Choreography.
His works through RPG have been presented domestically and internationally, receiving support through several residencies, awards, commissions. These have included the CUNY Dance Initiative, Performance Project Residency at University Settlement, ChoreoQuest Residency at Restoration Arts Brooklyn, 3LD Art & Technology Center, HarvestWorks and a Jerome supported Movement Research AIR. Awarded grants have been from the Brooklyn Arts Council, Harlem Stage Fund for New Work and a Slate Property SPACE Award. Commissions have come from the Brooklyn Museum, Five Myles/BRIC Biennial and Danspace Project.
As a scholar André has been a member of panels, led group talks, facilitated discussions and presented research on a myriad of topics including Afrofuturism, African Diaspora practices and philosophies, Black cultural aesthetics, technology in art and performance and on expanding the boundaries of art making within community. He has been a panelist and presented on his research at institutions such as Duke University, Brooklyn College, University of Virginia and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Zachery has taught at Brooklyn College and been a guest faculty member at the dance programs of Florida State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, The Ohio State University and University of California Los Angeles.
Anna Glass, Executive Director, Dance Theatre of Harlem
Anna Glass has been involved in the performing arts as both an artist and arts administrator for over twenty-five years. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem where she co-launched with Virginia Johnson a collaborative initiative addressing racial inequity in ballet. In May 2013, she began her own endeavor dedicated to preserving and documenting the legacies of prominent Black artists and cultural institutions, and reinterpreting those legacies onto multiple platforms, including live performance. She recently produced Carmen de Lavallade’s newest solo show Life of a Legend: Carmen de Lavallade for Jazz at Lincoln Center and prior to that As I Remember It – an intimate portrait of this legendary artist, which toured across the country. Anna currently serves on the 2019-2020 Tony Nominating Committee. She is also a licensed attorney in the State of New York. Anna lives in Harlem with her husband and their daughter.
Ashley Ferro-Murray, Curator, Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center (EMPAC)
Ashley Ferro-Murray is Curator of Theater and Dance at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer in Troy, NY and is on the inaugural curatorial board for the Body, Image, Movement Biennial in Madrid, Spain. Ferro-Murray has also served as adviser for the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University and as faculty of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Institute for Digital Technologies in Theatre & Performance Studies at the University of Georgia. Ferro-Murray's curatorial practice focuses on expanding limited historical frames for performance and technology artworks and supporting artist-centered approaches to media futures. Commissions and co-productions include works by Mallory Catlett, Trajal Harrell, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Maria Hassabi, Ali Moini, Andrew Schneider, Alice Sheppard, Yara Travieso, and Ni'Ja Whitson. Publications include "Biological determinism - Evolutionary inertia, constraints" co-written with Justin Shoulder (forthcoming), “Transborder Immigrant Tool: Choreographic Resistance in the US-Mexican Borderlands” in HemiPress Gestures, and “Technologies of Performance: Machinic Staging and Corporeal Choreographies” in A Cultural History of Theater: The Modern Age published by Bloomsbury Press. Ferro-Murray holds a PhD in performance studies with emphasis in new media from the University of California, Berkeley.
Brinda Guha, Curator, Wise Fruit NYC
Brinda Guha is a trained Indian Classical Kathak dancer for over 20 years and has traveled throughout USA and to India, England, and Spain to perform. During training and performing for years in the Kathak (Guru Malabika Guha) & Manipuri (Guru Kalavati Devi) dance disciplines, as well as Flamenco (Carmen de las Cuevas; Dionisia Garcia) and Contemporary Fusion vocabularies, she co-founded Kalamandir Dance Company in 2010 and the movement vocabulary coined for 10 years as #ContemporaryIndian. This vocabulary's name is currently under review. Through Kalamandir, Brinda choreographed for many national stages, the North American Bengali Conference at Madison Square Garden, and self-produced and choreographed original feature-length dance productions which earned her artist residencies at Dixon Place (2018) and Dancewave (2019) to continue to develop work. Now, she is represented by CESD Talent Agency and is pursuing artistic direction, performance and arts education. She spent most of 2015/16 collaborating with NYC-based interdisciplinary artists to assist in developing her signature movement. Brinda also dances with dynamic percussive trio Soles of Duende, featuring Flamenco (Arielle Rosales), Tap (Amanda Castro), and Kathak (Guha). Her dream of having art meet activism was realized when she created WISE FRUIT NYC, a seasonal live arts installment (est 2017) dedicated to the feminine divine and honoring select women-led organizations. Wise Fruit NYC has implemented 9 NYC installations and one virtual edition, and is set to expand the initiative to the Nashville area ("Wise Fruit 1.0: Plant the Seed" in 2021). For her day job, she works as the Programs Assistant and Symposium Coordinator for dance service organization based in the values of justice, equity & inclusion: Dance/NYC.
Brittany Williams, Organizer and Artists, Co-founder of WoodShed Dance
Brittany Williams is a dancer, choreographer and freedom fighter. Brittany is 2017 Dancing While Black Fellow and an Artist in Resident at the Restoration Plaza in Brooklyn New York. She is a 2016 Jacob’s Pillow Scholarship recipient for the Program, Dance & Improv Traditions; a principal dancer with Olujimi Dance; the founder of Dancing for Justice and Obika Dance Projects. Brittany has worked with Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Yon Tande, Makeda Thomas, Chris Walker, Michelle Grant-Murray, Urban Bush Women, Forces of Nature and more.
Candace Thompson-Zachery, Director of Programming and Justice Initiatives
Born in Trinidad and Tobago, now local to Brooklyn, NY, operates between the spheres of dance, cultural production and fitness and wellness, with a focus on the Contemporary Caribbean. She has had an established career as a performer, choreographer, fitness professional, cultural producer, teaching artist, community facilitator and Caribbean dance specialist. In addition to her work in these areas, she leads ContempoCaribe, an ongoing choreography and performance project and is the founder of Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE, an organisational platform for Caribbean dance in the diaspora that spearheads the New Traditions Festival in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated from Adelphi University's BFA program for Dance, and has presented, performed and taught at major venues including: Queen's Hall (T&T), John F. Kennedy Center, New York Live Arts, Brooklyn Museum, and The Ohio State University. She was an inaugural member of the Dancing While Black Fellowship Cohort 2015/2016, was an awardee of Adelphi University's 2017 - 10 Under 10 program, and a Dixon Place Artist-in-Residence for fall 2017. As a cultural producer and strategist, Candace has worked with the Dance and Performance Institute of Trinidad and Tobago, WIADCA (NY), Sydnie L. Mosley Dances, Renegade Performance Group, and curator Claire Tancons, for the 2019 Sharjah Biennial. Ms. Thompson-Zachery holds an M.A. in Performance Curation from the ICCP program at Wesleyan University and a certificate from the Executive Program in Arts & Culture Strategy at UPenn. with National Arts Strategies. Of tantamount importance to her is the vital role dance plays in our communities and she is eager to see dance artists of various styles, practices and traditions thrive in New York City.
Christopher "Unpezverde" Nuñez, Visually Impaired Choreographer, Performance Artist, Educator & Accessibility Consultant
Christopher "Unpezverde" Nuñez is a Visually Impaired Choreographer, Performance Artist, Curator, Educator and Accessibility Consultant based in New York City. His performances have been presented at The Brooklyn Museum (The Immigrant Artist Biennale), The Kitchen, Movement Research at The Judson Church, Danspace Project, The Leslie Lohman Museum for Gay and Lesbian Art, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dixon Place and Performance is Alive at Satellite Art Show (NY & Miami). His work has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail and The Dance Enthusiast. He has held residencies at New Dance Alliance (LiftOff, 2018), Battery Dance Studios (Space Grant, 2017-2019), The Kitchen (DAP, 2019), Center for Performance Research (AIR, 2020) and Movement Research (2020 Mertz Gilmore Foundation Artists-in-Residence). Núñez has collaborated with world-renowned artists such as Nacera Belaza (France), Christophe Haleb (France) and Mark Sieczkarek (Germany). Most recently, he performed in “Dressing Up for Civil Rights” by William Pope L, presented at MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art. Núñez holds a BFA in Science in Performing Arts from the National University of Costa Rica.
Clarissa Soto-Josephs, Executive Director
Clarissa Soto Josephs began working at Pentacle in 2011 after earning dual degrees in Dance Performance and Entrepreneurship with a concentration in Legal Studies from Hofstra University. In 2016 she earned an MBA degree from Quinnipiac University, and was named one of the New York Hispanic Coalition’s “40 Under 40 Rising Stars” in the same year. A staff member of Pentacle for over ten years, Clarissa has worked in the Fiscal and Education & Outreach Departments providing direct services to over one hundred artists, training hundreds of interns and fellows in arts administration, and developing innovative ways to effectively serve young artists through Pentacle’s services and programs. In July 2021, Clarissa was appointed Executive Director of Pentacle, the first BIPOC woman and the first non-founder to hold this top leadership role at the organization.
Clarissa specializes in financial education, strategy, leadership, and overall infrastructure support. She has led professional development workshops at the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) conference, Dance/NYC’s annual Symposium, Actor’s Equity, and Gibney Dance’s Learning & Leadership Studio Workshop, to name a few, and served on grant panels of major foundations. Today she is proud of her work restructuring Pentacle’s Internship Program, growing Pentacle’s Fiscal Services, and is excited to take on her new role as Executive Director to help more artists in the performing arts community.
Photo courtesy Pentacle
Cliff Matias, Cultural Director, Redhawk Indigenous Arts Council
Cliff Matias is an indigenous (Kichwa and Taino) cultural, teaching and performing artist. Since 1994 he has served as cultural Director for the Redhawk Native American Arts Council. From 1994 until 1999 he served as the New York City Cultural Director of Title 9 Native American Education.From1997-1999 he was contracted as cultural interrupter for the National Museum of the American Indian in NYC and was a feature artist in the museums production “A Native American Thanksgiving. As the leader of the Redhawk Dance troupe he has presented dance, music and educational workshops for schools, universities, public and private organizations around the world. Since 2005 he teaches a cultural diversity workshop through the opening doors program at Kingsborough Community College and a cultural dance workshop each semester at Barnard Columbia University. He is a champion hoop dancer, Northern men’s traditional dancer and a Samoan Fire knife dancer.
Courtney J. Cook, Performer, Bold Facilitator, Co-Rehearsal Director with Urban Bush Women, Performer & Vocalist
Courtney J. Cook is a Virginia Native now residing in Brooklyn, NY. She began her movement and performance development at family reunions and her home church. She then trained in dance in local community studios. She is a graduate of the Virginia Governor’s School of the Arts and holds a B.F.A in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is now a company member, Co-Rehearsal Director, and BOLD facilitator with Urban Bush Women, a company member with MBDance, and featured artist with Marguerite Hemmings (we free). She is honored to be a recipient of the 2018 “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Performance for her work with all three of these organizations. As a creator, she has had the privilege of performing her solo work, “PoolPITT”, as a featured artist in ModArts Dance Collective’s Collective Thread ‘17, the Estrogenious Festival ‘17, curated by Maura Donohue, and BDAC’s Creative Emancipation Collaboration, curated by Ebony Noelle Golden. She has also had the privilege to be in collaboration with interdisciplinary artists and founders of The Golden Ratio Project, Tendayi Kuumba and Greg Purnell (FLUXX Collective 2018-2019) exploring movement, sound, theater, and visual art. Guided by her ancestors, supported by a brilliant community and legacy of powerful Black and Brown artist and organizers, she is beyond grateful. I specifically have practice and experience as a Performer (Dance, Theater, and Vocal), Visual Artist, Creative Collaborator, and Community Organizer.
Denise Roberts Hurlin, Founding Director, Dancers Responding to AIDS
Denise Roberts Hurlin: Graduated in 1984 with a BFA in Dance from the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College. As a dancer, she was a founding member of Parsons Dance and has set David Parson’s work on the Purchase Dance Corps and Netherlands Dans Theater. She performed with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, where she danced the leads in such Taylor classics as Aureole, Big Bertha, Sunset and Company B, and was featured in the PBS/WNET Dance in America special Speaking in Tongues. In 1991, Denise and fellow Paul Taylor dancer Hernando Cortez co-founded Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS as a vehicle to help so many of their friends and fellow dancers who had become ill. Denise remains in her role as founding director, leading the program's efforts to continue providing a safety net for the dance community. Denise received, on behalf of DRA, a Bessie Award Special Citation, the Creative Excellence Award by Jennifer Muller/The Works at its 35th anniversary gala, was a contributor in Danspace Project’s 2016 Platform Lost & Found: Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS Then and Now was presented with the 2017 Martha Hill Dance Fund Mid-Career Award and 2018 honoree at the Chase Brock Experience Gala. DRA is a recipient of a Dance Magazine Award.
Dustin Gibson, Founding Member, Harriet Tubman Collective
Dustin Gibson is guided by the aspiration, legacies, and pursuit of liberation. He develops he(art)work that embodies a practice of disability justice that can live, build, support and be implemented by marginalized communities to address the nexus between race, class, and disability. Dustin brings lived experience, scholarship, histories, art and resources into classrooms, neighborhoods, and carceral institutions to support people in collectively imagining and building a world free from institutionalization and incarceration. He has taught various disability-related courses at middle-schools, high-schools, kid jails, prisons and law schools. He also has worked with three Centers for Independent Living (CIL) in Pittsburgh, PA and both of the national CIL networks. He co-founded Disability Advocates for Rights and Transition, an organization led by disabled people that works in the tradition of deinstitutionalization to provide support to live freely in communities with the dignity of risk. He is a Peer Support Trainer with Disability Link, the Disability, Access and Language Justice Coordinator at PeoplesHub, a founding member of the Harriet Tubman Collective, and builds with grassroots organizations and artists to expand experiences of access.
Fred Dixon, President + CEO, NYC & Company
Fred Dixon: With over 23 years of experience in the travel industry, Fred Dixon has the overall responsibility for developing and implementing New York City’s tourism marketing and convention development strategy internationally as well as in domestic leisure and business markets. At NYC & Company he has built a professional sales and marketing team that is at the core of the organization’s strategy to increase visitation and increase economic impact across the City.
Joining NYC & Company in 2005, Fred has led the aggressive and successful expansion of the City’s international marketing efforts. With a strategic focus on growing visitation and visitor spending, NYC & Company focused on emerging global markets rapidly expanding the City’s presence from six traditionally strong origin markets to 18 offices covering 25 countries in just over two years. With a network of sales, marketing and press professionals in diverse feeder markets from Australia to the UK, China to Mexico and India to Brazil, New York City remains at the forefront of inbound international tourism to the US.
Gabri Christa, Film and Dance Maker; Associate Professor of Professional Practice, Barnard College; Director, Move
Gabri Christa makes original works for stage and screen, hails from Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean and lives in New York City. Awards include the Guggenheim for Choreography, an ABC television award for creative excellence for her short film “High School” and Pangea Day Festival’s one World’s 100 most promising Filmmakers distinction. Her award winning films, have screened worldwide. Both her documentary “Un Dia Kada Momentu” and film“Kasita” can be seen on : www.Kweli.TV. Her choreography has been presented in NY on stages such as Lincoln Center Out of Doors, and Central Park SummerStage. She danced with companies such as Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, DanzAbierta and the Bill T. Jones /Arnie Zane Dance Company. Gabri Christa’s current work includes The Magdalena project, which includes a multimedia solo performance about dementia and trauma, short films and writings. She continues her ANOTHER BUILDING dance-film series which looks at the history of the Dutch Diaspora through buildings and sites related to it’s colonial past. She’s also the founding director and curator of the Bienalle Moving Body- Moving Image Festival In 2015, she wad appointed by Mayor Bill de to serve on the Cultural Advisory Commission for the City of New York. At Barnard College – Columbia University, Gabri Christa is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice at the Department of Dance, Faculty at the Filmstudies Program and directs the Movement Lab . www.gabrichrista.com
Georgina Pazcoguin, NYCB Soloist, Co-Founder A Final Bow for Yellowface
Georgina Pazcoguin: “The Rogue Ballerina” is a soloist with New York City Ballet. Cofounder of diversity initiative “Final Bow For Yellowface” Georgina is breaking glass ceilings in the world of Ballet. Celebrating a 18 year career with world renown New York City Ballet, she aims to be named the company's first female Asian American Principal dancer. A steadily rising star, she is an ambassador of her art form across the platforms of Ballet, Broadway, and Film. Known as the "The Rogue Ballerina" she empowers those not fitting the "balletic ideal stereotype" with her story of success and rise through the ranks of NYCB. She most recently can be seen on stage at David H. Koch Theater and on TV in the hit Fosse/Verdon tv series. In addition to her many credits including award winning film “New York Export Opus Jazz”, Ivy in the revival of “On the Town” and originating the role of Victoria in the 2016 revival of “Cats”, Georgina is a passionate activist for foundation The Orphaned Starfish, using ballet as a universal language tool raising awareness and impacting social change.
Griff Braun, Director of Organizing & Outreach, American Guild of Musical Artists
Griff Braun is the Director of Organizing and Outreach at the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), the labor union of dancers, singers, and stage staff in dance, opera, and concert choral performance across the United States. He has extensive experience is collective bargaining and contract enforcement as well as internal and external union organizing. Prior to his work with AGMA, Mr. Braun danced professionally with American Ballet Theatre, the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Complexions, and others. He holds a dual B.A. in American History and Dance from SUNY Empire State College and a Graduate Certificate in Labor Relations from the CUNY School of Professional Studies. Mr. Braun is also a ballet teacher and member of the faculty at Steps, NYC.
Jonelle Procope, President & CEO, Apollo Theater
Jonelle Procope joined the Apollo Board of Trustees in 1999 and in 2003 became its President and Chief Executive Officer. During her tenure as President, she has led a team of 50 full-time employees and an executive team responsible for all operating and strategic functions of the legendary Theater. During this period, she led the successful Apollo Rising Capital Campaign to restore the legendary theater, focused on the development of the Apollo Theater Board of Directors, and attracted and engaged a first-rate executive team and staff insuring the long-term stability of the organization. She has overseen the Apollo’s transformation into a vibrant not-for-profit performing arts organization by increasing its base of support, expanding its education and community programs and creating large-scale artistic initiatives. Prior to assuming her role as President and CEO of the Apollo, Ms. Procope held a variety of senior positions within the fields of entertainment law and media-related corporate affairs and management. She began her legal career as a corporate associate attorney at the law firm of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.
Kaisha Johnson, Founding Director, Women of Color in the Arts
Kaisha S. Johnson is the Founding Director of Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA), a national service network dedicated to creating racial equity in the performing arts. Kaisha co-founded WOCA to provide a platform to give voice and visibility to women of color, to help fortify leadership roles for arts administrators of color, and to reinforce a world where everyone has a seat at the table. Prior to her work with WOCA, Kaisha served as a program director at Center for Traditional Music and Dance for over a decade, organizing in NYC immigrant artist communities working to promote, preserve, and present performance traditions from around the world. With a strong commitment to facilitating culturally equitable programming, Kaisha has served as a consultant providing vision of curation, program development, and community integration. She has consulted with countless organizations including Lincoln Center, The Apollo Theater, and Dance/NYC and has served on numerous grant panels including the NEA, USArtists International and MAP Fund. Working across the globe, Kaisha also serves as a thought partner providing consultation to organizations to help foster understanding about equity and race and their impact on organizational culture, structure, and systems. A love of community learning has led her to teaching positions at City University of New York and the Center for Bronx Non-Profits. A longtime resident of Harlem, NY, initially Kaisha got her start in her hometown of Houston, Texas as a classically-trained violinist. Ms. Johnson holds a Bachelor's degree in music from Hampton University, a Master’s in music business administration from NYU and has done post-graduate work in ethnomusicology. Kaisha has over 20-years experience as an arts manager and is a proud alumna of the Intercultural Leadership Institute. Ms. Johnson is a staunch advocate for the arts, believing in its innate ability to create social change.
Karesia Batan, Executive Director, Queensboro Dance Festival
Karesia Batan is a Queens-based producer, dancer, and choreographer who founded the annual Queensboro Dance Festival (QDF) in 2014. Throughout her freelance dance career in NYC, she became increasingly compelled to the importance of community strength building among artists and audiences through dance, and recognized this uniquely complex need in Queens. Every summer, QDF presents about 25 all Queens-based dance companies of diverse cultures and styles, touring various indoor and outdoor public venues across Queens to make high-quality, local dance accessible to thousands of residents. In addition to QDF, Karesia has also established Queens-based programs DANCE SHORTS film screenings, and the Site Moves series in the LIC Arts Open. QDF has been acknowledged for its community impact in the first ever Create NYC Cultural Plan released in 2017 as part of a space and accessibility case study, and was a 2018 honoree of the Queens Pride organization with a Proclamation from the New York State Comptroller's Office Thomas P. DiNapoli and certificate from NYC Public Advocate Letitia James. In 2019, QDF was named the Best in Arts & Humanities with the Long Island City Game Changer award with certificate recognition from Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan.
Karisma Jay, Performing Artist, Professor, and Executive Artistic Director
AbunDance Academy of the Arts, Inc
Karisma Jay: True to her name, Brooklyn-native, Karisma Jay is an honors graduate of LaGuardia High School (Dance) and New York University’s Gallatin School (Performing Arts and Pre-Medicine). She is a City College Mathematics Education Master’s certificate Student. Teaching dance since the tender age of 11, she has honed her skills of working with children and adults to develop the confidence and charisma of even the shyest, youngest and/or oldest of students. She has performed/toured with prestigious dance companies such as Brooklyn Ballet, Deeply Rooted, Maimouna Keita, Creative Outlet, Asase Yaa, and Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence. Professionally, Karisma has been featured in programs aired on Netflix, BET, MTV, NBC, and VH1. In 2013, Karisma joined STOMP. In 2016, Family Circle magazine coined her a “Local Hero” and Lifetime TV featured her as a Female Entrepreneur to Watch. Most recently, she won the “Power Women in Business” award for her work as the Artistic Director and Founder of AbunDance Academy of the Arts. Annually, she writes, directs, produces and co-stars in musicals that AbunDance Academy presents. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Dance at Hunter while also teaching Dance at Hunter as an Undergraduate Faculty Member. With a mission to lead by example, she helps everyone who crosses paths with her to flourish AbunDantly. She is currently a Guest Teaching Artist at The Juilliard School and a Choreographic Apprentice with the Broadway Show, David Byrne’s American Utopia. She is a 2021 Dance Teacher Magazine Dance Teacher Award Recipient.
Kimberly Olsen, Executive Director
NYC Arts in Education Roundtable
Kimberly Olsen is the Executive Director of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable, a grassroots service organization working to improve and advance the state of arts education across the five boroughs. As leader of the organization, Kim works with a large network of NYC-based cultural organizations and arts educators to provide professional development, share resources, create community-led learning spaces, and advocate for arts education in schools and communities. Kim has been on staff with the Roundtable since September 2017, first serving as Face to Face Conference Manager for the 25th Anniversary Conference then Managing Director before becoming the organization’s first Executive Director.
Kim has had a prolific career as a teaching artist working with students Pre-K to adult in over fifty schools across the tri-state area with a focus on working in District 75 with students with disabilities. She currently teaches at the City College of New York and in District 75 schools with ArtsConnection. Kim has worked previously with New York City Center, Queens Theatre, and McCarter Theatre Center.
She holds a Masters of Science in Educational Theatre from the City College of New York and a Bachelor’s degree in Childhood & Special Education from the State University of New York Geneseo where she also received her NY State Teaching Certification. www.kimberlyolsen.net
Photo courtesy Kimberly Olsen
Lane Czaplinski, Director, Performing Arts, Wexner Center for the Ars
Lane Czaplinski: Lane Czaplinski is the Director of Performing Arts at the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University. From 2002-2017 Czaplinski was the Artistic Director of On the Boards, a leading contemporary performing arts center in Seattle. Under his leadership, the organization commissioned and produced over 80 new multidisciplinary performance works and nurtured regional artists to make new works that garnered national funding and touring opportunities. One of Czaplinski’s signature initiatives, OntheBoards.tv, has expanded the audience for contemporary programming through HD-quality performance films, attracting an international subscriber base of students and arts enthusiasts. His efforts won Czaplinski several awards, including a Genius Award from Seattle’s The Stranger, and led the New York Times to declare On the Boards “one of America’s best theaters for contemporary performance.”
Laura Colby, President, Elsie Management
Laura Colby: Recipient of the 2016 Liz Silverstein Award for Agent-Manager of the Year, Laura Colby began her arts administrative career in New York City in the early 1980’s while dancing for several contemporary choreographers. She formed Elsie Management in 1995 specifically to provide representation to several friends at the annual APAP (Association of Performing Arts Professionals) conference. Representing a global roster of dance, theater, special projects, and outdoor spectacle, including the Emmy-award winning Manual Cinema, the iconic Trisha Brown Dance Company, and the celebrated Quebec-based Machine de Cirque, Elsie Management specializes in singular voices for the global stage. Colby served as the President of NAPAMA (2007 & 2008, North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents) and on the board of Dance/USA. She currently serves on the board of APAP in the role of Vice Chair. Since forming Elsie, Colby has represented over twenty-five performing arts touring companies from five continents, coordinating tours to over three hundred global venues. A frequently invited speaker for panels, workshops, and educational sessions, Colby co-manages the Dance Managers Collective’s annual APAP showcasing efforts at City Center the Ailey Theater with Anna Amadei (Elsie’s Vice President) and Jennifer Morris (Seigel Artists). She recently contributed to the "Creating New Futures" advocacy document and effort. She received her BFA in dance from The Juilliard School.
Leal Zielinska, Artistic Associate, Gibney Company
Leal Zielinksa was born and raised in Gdansk, Poland. She began her training with private ballet coaching from Bogna Ostapiuk, studied at Codarts Rotterdam Dance Academy and graduated from the Independent Program at The Ailey School in New York City in 2015. Upon graduation she spent three seasons working with Sidra Bell Dance New York, during which Dance Magazine named Leal as one of 25 to Watch “Breakout Stars of 2018” and was featured on the January 2018 cover. Leal attended Springboard Danse Montréal in 2016 where she worked with Bobbi Jene Smith, Alexandra Wells and performed works by Ohad Naharin and Elia Mrak. Off stage she has had the pleasure of being involved in multiple movement based film and video projects working with directors and choreographers such as Celia Rowlson-Hall and Jovan Todorovic. Represented by commercial talent agency blocNYC Leal has performed at the 2018 MTV VMA show, and appeared in national campaigns for GAP and Google. Leal joined Gibney Company in 2018, and has performed works by Shamel Pitts, Chanel DaSilva, Bobbi Jene Smith, Micaela Taylor, Stefanie Batten Bland and Peter Chu. Her continued advocacy work around mental health resulted in the founding of Okay, Let’s Unpack This, an effort to normalize the conversations necessary to destigmatize mental illness within the dance community.
Linda Shelton, Executive Director, The Joyce Theater Foundation
Linda Shelton is the executive director and a trustee of The Joyce Theater Foundation. Before her tenure at The Joyce began in 1993, she served as general manager of The Joffrey Ballet, held various management positions at The Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation, and managed tours for the Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow Virtuosi, Sankai Juku, and composer Phillip Glass. Shelton initiated her work in the dance field as an intern at the NY State Council on the Arts. At New York University, she earned a B.A. in Dance and completed work towards an M.A. in Arts Administration. She taught at Marymount Manhattan College and currently teaches in NYU’s Arts Administration graduate program. Shelton has served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, Massachusetts Cultural Council, American Masters: Dance, the Toyota Choreography Award in Tokyo, and twice served on the jury for the Benois de le danse in Moscow. She currently sits on the boards of Dance/NYC and Dance/USA, the latter of which she served as chair from 2000-2002 and a trustee from 1996-2006. She became a Tony Awards nominator in 2013. Under her leadership, The Joyce Theater received the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Liberty Award (2011) and most recently the William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellence and sustained achievement in programming (2019). Ms. Shelton was the recipient of The Documents of Dance Award given by The Dance Library of Israel in 2004. France’s Order of Arts and Letters appointed her a Chevalier (1999) and an Officer (2017) for her contribution to furthering the arts. Dance/USA presented Shelton with an “Ernie” Award (2015) for her work behind the scenes. In 2017, she was among Dance Magazine’s most influential people in dance today. Most recently, Shelton received Dance Magazine Chairman's Award Honoree (2019).
Lucy Sexton, Executive Director, New Yorkers For Culture & Arts
Lucy Sexton is a Brooklyn-born choreographer, producer, administrator, and performing artist who works in the fields of dance, performance, film, and public advocacy. She is the Executive Director of the cultural advocacy coalition New Yorkers for Culture & Arts. Prior to that, she served as Executive Director of the NY Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies, where she worked for ten years with Heather Robles to build The Bessies into an independent organization. From 2013-16 she served as a Consulting Associate Artistic Director of the planned performing arts center at the World Trade Center. As a dance artist she works with Anne Iobst creating and performing the dance performance duo DANCENOISE which was founded in 1983, had a retrospective exhibit and performance at the Whitney Museum in 2015, and premiered a new piece at NY Live Arts in 2018. She has also directed and dramaturged plays by Spalding Gray, Tom Murrin, Nora Burns, and Heather Litteer; and produced documentaries by Charles Atlas for the BBC and Arte. Sexton is currently developing and directing Eszter Balint's anti musical "I Hate Memory."
Photo credit: AK47 Division
Marjani Forté-Saunders, Choreographer, Co-Visionary of 7NMS| Marjani Forté-Saunders + Everett Saunders, Co-Visionary of Art
Marjani Forté-Saunders is a Mother, choreographer, performer, community organizer. She is a 2020 recipient of the Foundation of Contemporary Arts Grants for Artists Award. She is one of 21 Black Womyn & Gender Non-Conforming artists curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa, now operating as the collective Skeleton Architecture, to receive the 2017 Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance. She is a 2x Bessie Award winner for her latest work Memoirs of a… Unicorn. Marjani is an Inaugural fellow of the UBW Choreographic Center, the Jerome Artist Fellowship, & the DanceUSA Fellowship, as well as a 2 time Princess Grace Foundation awardee. Her work has been incubated in residencies at MANCC, LMCC Extended Life Residency, BAX, 651 Arts, & Movement Research. Her latest work, Memoirs of a.. Unicorn recently had its international premiere in Brussels, Belgium at the Beursschouwberg Festival. Her work as an artist and organizer is informed by years in anti-racist organizer training with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and as a lead facilitator with UBW’s Builders Organizers and Leaders through Dance. Anchored in a steady collaboration with partner & composer Everett Asis Saunders (New Music USA Awardee), and now emerging as 7NMS| Marjani Forte & Everett Saunders), the duo has produced 7 award-winning works over the last 10 yrs. We’ve begun research and development on 7NMS|A Prophet’s Tale, that mark a visionary evolution in their collaborative process. A Prophet’s Tale has been awarded residencies at BARD College (Jan 2019), The Petronio Residency Center (Sept 2019), Baryshnikov Arts Center (Nov 2019), and The Yard (May 2020) and BAM (July 2020- potentially cancelled). 7NMS| are also founding directors of the emerging platform ART & POWER, dedicated to Black Wellness and Innovation. Humbly, she defines her work by its lineage stemming from culturally rich, historic, loving, irreverent conjurers!
Marya Wethers, Independent Creative Producer & Curator
Marya Wethers is a dancer and Independent Creative Producer & Curator based in NYC since 1997. As a Producer, she is the Director of International Initiatives at Movement Research, leading the GPS/Global Practice Sharing program, and works with jumatatu m. poe and Edisa Weeks/DELIRIOUS Dances, and previously with Alice Sheppard/Kinetic Light, nora chipaumire, Paloma McGregor/Angela’s Pulse, David Thomson, Olivier Tarpaga/Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project, and others. As a Curator she conceived and created the three-week performance series “Gathering Place: Black Queer Land(ing)” at Gibney (2018), Queer NY International Arts Festival (2016 & 2015), Out of Space @ BRIC Studio for Danspace Project (2003-2007), and Watershed Lab residency at Mount Tremper Arts (2018 & 2019). Her writing has been published in Configurations in Motion: Curating and Communities of Color Symposium publications, organized by Thomas DeFrantz at Duke University (2016 & 2015) and the 25th Anniversary Movement Research Performance Journal #27/28 (2004). She has served on selection panels for several presenting and funding organizations in NY and nationally. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a BA in Dance cum laude, minor in African-American Studies, 1997. As a performer, Marýa received a 2017 NY Dance & Performance (“Bessie”) Award for Outstanding Performance with the Skeleton Architecture collective. She has also danced with iele paloumpis, Daria Faïn, Jack Gray, Deborah Hay (at MoMA in 2018 & 2012), visual artist Senga Nengudi (Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art at Studio Museum Harlem, 2013), and in the acclaimed Parallels Platform 30th Anniversary at Danspace Project (2012) in evenings curated by Jawole Zollar and Bebe Miller.
Melanie George, Dance Maker, Educator, Dramaturg, Choreographer, Scholar, Founder of Jazz Is… Dance Project
Melanie George is an educator, dramaturg, choreographer, scholar, and certified movement analyst. She is the founder of Jazz Is… Dance Project. A highly sought after teacher and choreographer of the neo-jazz aesthetic, her jazz choreography is regularly commissioned by colleges throughout the United States. Melanie has presented her research on jazz dance improvisation and pedagogy throughout the U.S., in Canada and Scotland, and founded the global jazz dance advocacy website jazzdancedirect.com. As a dramaturg, she works closely with internationally recognized contemporary performing artists in the incubation of new works for the stage. Melanie has contributed to projects by Kimberly Bartosik/daela, Raja Feather Kelly, Susan Marshall & Company, Urban Bush Women, Machine Dazzle, Kathy Westwater, Alice Sheppard/Kinetic Light, and David Neumann & Marcella Murray, among others. Current projects include new works by Helen Simoneau Danse, Caleb Teicher & Company, and Ephrat Asherie Dance. Publications include “Jazz Dance, Pop Culture, and the Music Video Era” in Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches and “Imbed/In Bed: Two Perspectives on Dance and Collaboration” in Working Together in Qualitative Research.. Melanie is a featured contributor to the upcoming documentary on the history of jazz dance, UpRooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance, and a contributing jazz dance scholar to the Jacob’s Pillow archives. Melanie has worked as a consultant in the arts for over a decade, applying her expertise in scholarship and education to assist artists and arts organizations in articulating language and facilitating the development of creative work. In addition to her work with independent choreographers and dance educators, Melanie has provided professional services for Jacob’s Pillow, The Joyce Theatre, The Guggenheim Museum, BAM, and Stephen Petronio Company, among others.
Michael Novak, Artistic Director, Paul Taylor Dance Company
Michael Novak became only the second Artistic Director in the history of the Paul Taylor Dance Foundation in September 2018, upon the death of Founding Artistic Director Paul Taylor the previous month. Mr. Novak was a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company from 2010-2019. Raised in Rolling Meadows, IL, Mr. Novak began studying dance at age ten. In 2001, Mr. Novak was offered a Presidential Scholarship to attend The University of the Arts in Philadelphia to pursue training in jazz and ballet. The following year, he undertook an apprenticeship at the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet Society, where he remained until 2004. Mr. Novak was admitted to Columbia University’s School of General Studies where he was awarded scholarships for academic excellence. He became a member of the Columbia Ballet Collaborative, the University’s critically acclaimed resident company, and was named Artistic Associate responsible for advising on the curation of resident choreographers and directing the group’s branding and promotion.
In 2008, Mr. Novak graduated magna cum laude from Columbia, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In a 2009 program celebrating Diaghilev at Columbia’s Miller Theatre, Mr. Novak embodied Vaslav Nijinsky’s role in L’Après-midi d’un faune with an authenticity that brought him to the attention of dance critics and scholars. He has since performed works by Bill T. Jones and Stephen Petronio and danced with Gibney Dance and the Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company. He has also studied at Springboard Danse Montreal under Alexandra Wells and Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie. Mr. Novak’s Paul Taylor Dance Company debut in the 2010-11 season earned him a nomination for the Clive Barnes Foundation Dance Award. Since joining the Company, he has danced 56 roles in 50 Taylor dances, 13 of which were made on him. He has also had roles created on him by the five Taylor Company Commission choreographers to date.
Michelle Manzanales, Director, School of Dance, Ballet Hispánico
Michelle Manzanales: Originally from Houston, TX, Michelle Manzanales is a choreographer and dance educator of nearly 30 years. Before being named Ballet Hispánico’s School of Dance Director in December of 2016, Michelle was in the midst of her seventh season as the company’s Rehearsal Director & Artistic Associate. She currently serves on the NASD Committee on Ethics, has served as a juror for the Nebraska Arts Council, Individual Artist Fellowships, and was honored to be part of a round table planning dialogue supporting Carnegie Hall’s major education project ‘All Together: A Global Ode to Joy.’ Ms. Manzanales was most recently commissioned by the Paul Taylor Dance Company, to premiere a new work in June 2020 (postponed due to the pandemic). Her piece, If by Chance... which was created and performed for the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts 75th anniversary Gala in December 2019, “unspooled dreamily atop and between the tables” (-Courtney Escoyne, Dance Magazine). Michelle created Con Brazos Abiertos for Ballet Hispánico which premiered in the company’s 2017 spring season at the Joyce Theater. This “savvy but deeply sincere meditation on her Mexican-American background” (-Marina Harss, New York Times) has since toured worldwide to critical acclaim including its inclusion in New York City Center’s 2018 Fall for Dance Festival. Manzanales has served on the faculties of Ballet Hispánico, Lou Conte Dance Studio, University of Houston, Rice University, Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, and has been a guest artist for the Puerto Rican Classical Dance Competition, Regional Dance America, Festival de Danza Cordoba-Youth American Grand Prix, along with numerous other dance studios, schools, and college dance programs nationwide and internationally.
Naomi Goldberg Haas, Artistic Director, Dances for a Variable Population
Naomi Goldberg Haas is a dancer, master teacher, choreographer and founding artistic director of Dances For A Variable Population (DVP). With DVP, Ms. Goldberg Haas has created site-related public performances at many of NYC’s most iconic public spaces including Times Square, Washington Square Park, the Whitehall Ferry Terminal, and the High Line. She also leads DVP’s education programs, including the organization’s free community-based dance workshops that have served over 5,000 seniors at 45 senior centers since 2009. Ms. Goldberg Haas has worked in concert dance, theatre, opera and film, and has collaborated with The Klezmatics, composer Michael Nyman, and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner. She holds an MFA from Tisch Dance at NYU, and began her career with the Pacific Northwest Ballet. In 2013, Ms. Goldberg Haas received the “Art + Action Award” from Gibney Dance. The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council awarded her the 2014 Presidents Award for the Performing Arts. She served on the Arts, Media and Culture Committee as appointed by the Mayors Office for Age Friendly NYC (2015-2018). Recently, she was awarded a 2019-2020 DANCE USA Fellowship for Artists addressing Social Change.
Pamela Tatge, Executive & Artistic Director, Jacob's Pillow
Pam Tatge is the Executive & Artistic Director of Jacob’s Pillow, an international dance Festival, professional School, & Archives located in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. Tatge is responsible for setting the artistic vision and strategic goals for all aspects of the organization, including Festival programming, education, preservation, audience engagement, residency programming and artist support, long-term planning, collaborative programming, fundraising, marketing, and more. In June 2017, Tatge spearheaded the creation of Vision ‘22, a strategic approach to the Pillow’s development through 2022. As a blueprint for enabling Jacob’s Pillow to become a year-round center for dance research and development, the initiative highlights three areas of focus: creating the Pillow Lab, an incubator of new work; enhancing the Pillow’s civic leadership and community engagement; and renewing campus facilities. For nearly 17 years, Tatge served as the Director of the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, overseeing robust programming and acclaimed artistic initiatives for dance, music, theatre, & the visual arts, including the Breaking Ground Dance Series. Tatge was named one of “The Most Influential People in Dance Today” by Dance Magazine in 2017 and is the recipient of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ 2010 William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellence and Sustained Achievement in Prog=ramming. She has served extensively as a panelist for grants & awards including as both a Hub Site and an Advisor to the National Dance Project and most recently, as a member of the jury for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Music. She also serves on the Board of the New England Foundation for the Arts. Prior to her work at Wesleyan, Tatge spent a decade as the Director of Development at Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, CT. Tatge holds a B.A. in History and an M.A.L.S. from Wesleyan U.
Phil Chan, Co-Founder
Final Bow for Yellowface
Phil Chan is a co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface, and most recently served as the Director of Programming for IVY, connecting young professionals with leading American museums and performing arts institutions. He is a graduate of Carleton College and an alumnus of the Ailey School. As a writer, he served as the Executive Editor for FLATT Magazine and contributed to Dance Europe Magazine, Dance Magazine, Dance Business Weekly, and the Huffington Post. He was the founding General Manager of the Buck Hill Skytop Music Festival, and was the General Manager for Armitage Gone! Dance. He served multiple years on the National Endowment for the Arts dance panel and the Jadin Wong Award panel presented by the Asian American Arts Alliance. He serves on the International Council for the Parsons Dance Company, and the Advisory Board of Dance Magazine. He is the author of Final Bow for Yellowface: Dancing between Intention and Impact, and was a 2020 New York Public Library Dance Research Fellow
Quilan "Cue" Arnold, Dancer and Choreographer
Quilan "Cue" Arnold, MFA is a dance professional (dancer, choreographer, podcaster, producer, teacher) based out of Brooklyn, New York. He has been a member of companies such as Camille A. Brown and Dancers (NY), Rennie Harris Puremovement (PA), Abby Z and the New Utility (NY), and Enzo Celli Vivo Ballet (NY). Quilan’s work has been presented in a domestic and international milieu. His most recent choreographic series, “The Third Rail,” premiered at the 2018 INSITU Site-Specific Festival (NY), was presented in 2019 at Hunter College (NY) and the American Dance Festival (NC), and has been commissioned in 2020 for Brigham-Young University (UT). Quilan is the co-founder of the street dance podcast, “The Good Foot Podcast,” founder of the virtual Street/Club Dance Library, and executive director of the street dance documentary, “Build’N Shop,” which is partially funded by the 2018 Ohio State Dance Preservation Grant. As an educator Quilan currently serves as a faculty member at Hunter College, Peridance Capezio Center, Gibney Dance Center in New York City. Quilan also hosts an online hip-hop class, “Get Groovy.” Visiting artist credits include: Brigham-Young University; Bard College (NY); Towson University (MD); Ohio State University (OH); Rutgers University (NJ); University of Memphis (TN); and New York University (NY). Additionally, Quilan has served as faculty at Steps on Broadway (NY) and Mark Morris Dance Cente (NY).
Rebecca Ferrell, Director of Programs, Dance/USA
Rebecca Ferrell (she/her) is a dance advocate, artist, educator, producer, and programmer. She holds a BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University as well as an MFA in Dance from Arizona State University. As a longtime activist for the arts, Rebecca has served as the Director of the VA Dance Symposium, Co-Producer of the Richmond Dance Festival, dance critic for GayRVA and RVA Magazine, ACDA Central Region Conference Coordinator, Director of Public Relations and Engagement for the University of Illinois’ Department of Dance, Director and Curator of the Flatlands Dance Film Festival, and Executive Director of Dance Metro DC. Additionally, her arts administrative skills have supported organizations, universities, and dance artists throughout the United States, with funding secured through a number of resources including the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, HumanitiesDC, the Lang Foundation, and Yellow House NYC. She is currently the Director of Programs at Dance/USA, on faculty at American University and Shenandoah Conservatory, and an Advisory Council Member for Arts Education Partnership.
Sade Lythcott, CEO, National Black Theatre
Sade Lythcott: Born and raised in Harlem, Sade Lythcott is the CEO of The National Black Theatre and the daughter of the late Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, legendary champion of African-American arts and culture. Sade currently serves as the Chair of the Coalitions of Theaters of Color, representing the oldest theaters of color in New York State and sits on the national board of advisors for Art in a Changing America. She is a recipient of the Networks Journal’s top 40 under 40 award, the 2015 Rising Star Award from 651 ARTS and the Larry Leon Hamlin Legacy Award from Black Theatre Network. In 2012 Sade wrote and produced the highly acclaimed musical A Time To Love, garnering 3 AUDELCO nominations and the Key to Harlem for her excellence in the Arts.
Sheila Lewandowski, Executive Director, The Chocolate Factory Theater
Sheila Lewandowski is the Executive Director and co-founder of The Chocolate Factory Theater. In addition to her work at The Chocolate Factory Sheila is a community organizer and advocate for artists, and works to increase awareness of the importance of the arts in policy making in everything from education to housing to economic development and in regards to labor on a local, regional, state and national level. She is on the Executive Committee of Community Board 2 in Queens and chairs the Transportation Committee. Sheila is a member of the Policy Leadership Council of Nonprofit New York and has been a guest professor at the Academy of Theater & Dance in Amsterdam and Marymount Manhattan College in NYC. She has been a guest speaker and panelist on topics ranging from Nonprofit Management to community organizing and development for Van Alen Institute, Dance NYC, LIC Partnership, WNYC among others.
Simi Linton, Arts Consultant, Author, Filmmaker & Activist
Simi Linton of Disability/Arts Consultancy, was formerly a Co-Director of Disability/Arts/NYC [DANT] 2016-2019. Her writings include Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity, My Body Politic, and “Cultural Territories of Disability” published by Dance/NYC. She is the subject of the documentary Invitation to Dance (Christian von Tippelskirch and Simi Linton 2016). Linton was on faculty at CUNY from 1985-1998. She received the 2015 Barnard College Medal of Distinction, an honorary Doctor of Arts from Middlebury College (2016), and was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015 to NYC’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission, and in 2018 to the SheBuiltNYC monuments committee.
Stanford Makishi, Vice President for Programming, New York City Center
Stanford Makishi was appointed to his current position of vice president for programming at New York City Center after having served as associate producer of the organization's Fall for Dance Festival since 2011. He danced with Trisha Brown from 1992 to 2006, was assistant director of her production of Winterreise, and has taught and restaged her work internationally. He also served as artistic advisor for the Ringling International Arts Festival in Sarasota, executive director of the Baryshnikov Arts Center, director of programs at the Asian Cultural Council, and director of creative services at Carnegie Hall. Makishi began his dance training in his native Honolulu and received early performance opportunities while a student at Harvard University. He is a member of the steering committee for the New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards and serves on the board of Dance/USA.
Sydney Skybetter, Lecturer and Public Humanities Fellow, Brown University
Sydney Skybetter: Hailed by Dance Magazine as “One of the most influential people in dance today,” Sydney’s work has been performed at such venues as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Jacob’s Pillow and The Joyce Theater. He has consulted on issues of change and technology for The National Ballet of Canada, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Hasbro, New York University and The University of Southern California, among others. A sought-after speaker, he has lectured on the relationship of dance history to emerging surveillance technologies at Harvard , South by Southwest Interactive, Yale, Mozilla, and Stanford. He is a Public Humanities Fellow and Lecturer at Brown University where he researches the problematics of human computer interfaces and mixed reality systems. He has served as a Grant Panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts, is a founding member of the Guild of Future Architects, and is the winner of a RISCA Fellowship in Choreography from the State of Rhode Island. He received his MFA in Choreography from New York University.
Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Artistic Director & Choreographer
Tiffany Rea-Fisher (Executive Artistic Director, EMERGE125) is an NDP Award winner, 2021 Toulmin Creator, 2022 Toulmin Fellow, a John Brown Spirit award recipient and was awarded a citation from the City of New York for her cultural contributions. She subscribes to the servant leadership model and uses disruption through inclusion as a way to influence her company's culture. She has extensive experience in choreographing and curating concert dance. As a choreographer, Tiffany has had the pleasure of creating numerous pieces for her company as well as being commissioned by Dance Theater of Harlem, Dallas Black Dance Theater, NYC Department of Transportation, Utah Repertory Theater, The National Gallery of Art in D.C., and having her work performed for the Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg. Her works have been seen on many stages including the Joyce, the Apollo, Joe's Pub, Aaron Davis Hall, and New York Live Arts. Tiffany was the first Dance Curator at the interdisciplinary arts organization The Tank where she now sits on their Board of Trustees. She also curates the Bryant Park Dance Summer Series providing free art access to thousands while exposing upcoming and established artists to a wider audience. Her professional affiliations include being the Vice President of the Stonewall Community Development Corporation, an Advisory Board member of Dance/NYC, COHI member of IABD, and a proud member of Women of Color of the Arts.
Photo credit: Ayodele Casel
Traci Lester, Executive Director, National Dance Institute
Traci Lester is Executive Director of National Dance Institute (NDI) an arts education organization founded by New York City Ballet principal dancer Jacques d’Amboise in the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage all children and motivate them toward excellence. Prior to NDI, Ms. Lester served as the Chief Executive Officer of LSA Family Health Service (LSA), an East Harlem-based human services agency. Before joining LSA, she was the Executive Director of Reach Out and Read of Greater New York, an early literacy, school readiness program, where she served for over a decade making waves in the field of early childhood development. Most recently, Ms. Lester was recognized by the Manhattan Borough President as a Cultural Leader in New York City (2018). She is the recipient of the American Association of University Women’s Selected Professions Fellowship (1998), the National Association of Health Service Executive’s Community Service Award (2004), and was named to TheGrio’s 100 List as an African-American history maker and industry leader in the field of education (2012). She is also currently a board member of the New York City Arts and Education Roundtable and the Black Agency Executives, along with a member of the Greater New York Association of Fundraising Professionals and the American Society for Public Administrators Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, a Master of Business Administration from Rutgers University, a Master of Public Administration from California State University and holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Columbia University’s Institute for Nonprofit Management. Photo credit: Eduardo Patino.nyc
Yo-Yo Lin, Interdisciplinary Artist
Yo-Yo Lin (She/Her/Hers) is a Taiwanese-American, interdisciplinary artist who explores the possibilities for self-knowledge in the context of emerging, embodied technologies. She often uses video, animation, live performance, and sound to create meditative ‘memoryscapes.’ Her recent body of work reveals and re-values the complex realities of living with chronic illness. [Yo-Yo Lin Headshot]
Refusing the medicalization of the ‘crip’ body, she works towards and dreams of an equitable toolkit that serves as a communal site for holding space for illness. Thus far, this dream has manifested as an open-sourced journaling tool (Resilience Journal), a movement workshop series led by and for disabled movement artists (ROTATIONS), and an audiovisual dance performance (‘the walls of my room are curved’). Her practice often facilitates sites for community-centered abundance, developing into physical and virtual installations, workshops, accessible nightlife party spaces. She was a 2019 Artist in Residence at Eyebeam, a 2020 Artist in Residence at CultureHub, and a 2020 Open Call Recipient for The Shed. Yo-Yo has shown her work at South By Southwest, New York Film Festival, and the Allied Media Conference. She serves on the Accessibility Advisory Team at Movement Research.
Launch: Thursday, May 21, 2020 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Full Series: Every Tuesday starting May 26, 2020 through August 4, 2020 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Registration: No registration was required. All conversations broadcast live, free and open to the public.
About: A series of transparent conversations with arts workers highlighting the importance of the arts ecology, pointing to current challenges and offering considerations on our way forward as a field. Most events were moderated by Alejandra Duque Cifuentes or Candace Thompson-Zachery, with the exception of a few guest moderators.
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Dance/NYC convening is made possible, in part, by leadership support from the Howard Gilman Foundation and the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts.
Dance/NYC seeks partners and speakers with a variety of viewpoints for its events with the goal of generating discussion. The inclusion of any partner or speaker does not constitute an endorsement by Dance/NYC of that partner's or speaker's views.