Donnell Oakley is an independent choreographer, performer and teacher based in Brooklyn, New York. Donnell co-founded everything smaller in 2002, a Brooklyn-based dance company driven by collaboration. She spent 6 extraordinary years making dances with the inimitable Jessica Jolly and David Schmidt. everything smaller performed in venues and events such as the Studio 42’s Starving Artist Ball, Movement Research’s Improvisation is Hard, The Flea Theater’s Dance Conversations, DanceNOW NYC, the Bodyblend series at Dixon Place, the Solar Powered Arts Festival, Dancespace Center’s Wave of Humanity and their Elizabeth Pape Memorial Concert for which everything smaller received the Elizabeth Pape Scholarship in 2005, the Williamsburg Free Festival, the International D.U.M.B.O Dance Festival, WAX Works, Triskelion Arts Benefit Concerts, New Jersey’s S.W.E.A.T., Teresa Wimmer’s Twilight Project, the Brooklyn Dance Sampler, Middlebury College, University of Michigan, Swarthmore University, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
In 2008, everything smaller disbanded to pursue other ventures. Donnell continued making dances and has had her work produced through Movement Research, the 92nd Street Y, the West End Theatre, Triskelion Arts, the Joyce SoHo, Dance Now NYC, Dance New Amsterdam, Dixon Place, The Yard, Gowanus Art + Production and was the recipient of the Bessie Schönberg Choreographic Mentorship Residency at The Yard in 2013. She has been fortunate enough to work and collaborate with the extraordinary likes of Xan Burley, Courtney Drasner, Josh Palmer, Jordan Risdon, Alex Springer, Deborah Lohse and Cori Marquis. Donnell has also had the pleasure of working with designers such as Paul Moffit, Scott Nelson and Mandy Ringger.
In addition to her own work, Donnell has had the great pleasure of collaborating and dancing withSteeledance, Chavasse Dance and Performance, Liz Staruch, Fritha Pengelly in Pengelly Projects, Cori Marquis and The Nines [IX], the collective LMn’O3 (Deborah Lohse, Cori Marquis, Donnell Oakley,)Alex|Xan: The Median Movement, and Doug Elkins Choreography Etc.
Donnell has been dancing with Steeledance since 2004. The company performed in Salt Dance Festival 2011 in Salt Lake City, Utah and most recently, premiering Devastating Beauty at Peridance’s Salvatore Capezio Theater as part of their 20 Anniversary Season. Steeledance loved being apart of last year’s Dance Now Festival at Joe’s Pub and is currently working on Strictly Personal which premiered at The Yard in June of 2014 and will premiere in New York at The Green Building this November.
In August of 2011, Donnell embarked on a residency with Chavasse Dance and Performance in Puglia, Italy through Res Extensa Dance Company to continue the creation ofThe Hunger For the Longing, which premiered at The University of Michigan in November of 2011. She traveled with Amy to China July of 2013 to perform a new duet, Low Winter Light, with fellow company member Jessica Jolly as part of the Beijing Dance Festival. These pieces along with Amy’s solo and duet work premiered in New York in June of 2015 at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn.
Donnell has been working with Doug Elkins & Friends’ award-winning Fräulein Maria, touring North America, since 2008. In March of 2011, acting as rehearsal director, she had a month long residency through Dance Works in California at Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theater, where Doug Elkins Choreography Etc. began working on the Bessie nominated Mo(or)town/Redux, which had it’s world premier in May of 2012 at American Dance Institute in Maryland, it’s New York premier at Baryshnikov Arts Center in December of 2012, and it’s European premier in Suresnes, France in January of 2013. Doug and company are thrilled that Mo(or)town/Redux was recently part of the line up for the Fall For Dance in New York! Doug’s newest creation, Hapless Bizarre, was in residency at The Yard and Jacob’s Pillow and previewed at The Yard last August. It began touring with its premiere at Keene State College in New Hampshire in February of 2014 and is continuing to tour, having had its New York premiere in January of 2015. The company returns to open Fall For Dance’s 12th Anniversary Season with Hapless Bizarre.
LMn’O3: Deborah Lohse, Cori Marquis and Donnell Oakley have received many exciting opportunities in the last year. Robin Staff of Dance Now NYC brought LMn’O’s collective creative play to the stage of Joe’s Pub in 2014 and they have gone on to “grace” the stages of Triskelion Arts, Judson Church, Built On Stilts, Elm City Dance Collective and The Yard. LMn’ O were awarded multiple Silo Residencies through Dance Now NYC and are thrilled to be working on their first evening length piece to premier at Joe’s Pub on Valentine’s weekend in 2016. So far there are multiple costume changes, snack time and license to parade their deepest desires and fears.
Donnell has been invited to teach and/or set work at West Chester University, the University of Michigan, Middlebury University, Arizona State University, Prescott College, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, DeSales University, Muhlenberg College, Enloe High School and Arts Together in NC, The Yard, The Beijing Dance Festival, and as a continuing part of the modern guest artist program at Gibney Dance Center and Mark Morris Dance Group in New York City. September introduced Donnell’s weekly contemporary technique class at Gibney Dance Center, Wednesdays and Fridays at Noon.
A North Carolina native, Donnell had the great privilege of attending Arts Together in Raleigh where she received extensive training from a young age through high school. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography in 2001 and attended the American Dance Festival in the summers of 1999 and 2001.
Heather Harrington graduated from Boston University with a degree in psychology, cum Laude. She then moved to New York City and danced with the Doris Humphrey Repertory Company, the Martha Graham Ensemble, the Pearl Lang Dance Theater, and the Bella Lewitzky Dance Company. Her choreography has been presented by various venues nationally and internationally including Danspace Project’s City/Dans series, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Sitelines series, the Toronto Fringe Festival, Fresh Tracks at Dance Theater Workshop, Rockefeller Center, Boston University, Sky Rink, New Stuff at P.S. 122, Dancing in the Streets at Wave Hill, The Yard, Joyce SoHo, The 92nd Street Y, Downtown Dance Festival at Battery Park, Newsteps at Mulberry Street Theater, the American Dance Guild Presents at Hunter College, Dixon Place, Goose Route Arts Festival in West Virginia, Kean University, and the Center for Architecture. She was a finalist in 18th International Choreographic Competition in Hanover, Germany in 2004 and invited to perform in the Bangkok International Festival of Music and Dance. She has received grants from Meet the Composer, The New York State Council on the Arts, The Bossak/Heilbron Charitable Foundation, L.J. Skaggs and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation, and the Harkness Space Grant from the 92nd Street Y. She has been a resident choreographer for The Yard’s Bessie Schonberg Choreographers and Dancers Residency, Kaastbann International Dance Center, and the Hotel Pupik series in Austria.
Harrington has created a number of site- specific pieces including Giscard Games for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, across from the New York Stock Exchange on the stairs of Federal Hall Memorial, where dancers depicted the culture of stock traders. At the Center of Architecture, Harrington created a piece celebrating the collaboration between architects and performance artists, and at Wave Hill, she created a trio,Tumble Blue On Me, on the steepest hill for the Dancing in the Streets series. In 2003, Harrington’s evening length work inspired by the character of Lady Macbeth, Imitations of Drowning, was presented by Danspace Project to a live score by Quentin Chiappetta fully utilizing the architecture of the Church with sets designed by Illya Azoroff. The fall of 2014, she was asked to choreograph a site specific piece, Melt at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ for the Outlet Dance project and the in 2013, she created a gun violence protest performance, a part of Art=Ammo at Washington Park in Newark, NJ.
Harrington is also a figure skater, she grew up as a competitive figure skater. Harrington became a figure skating coach and a dance teacher at Sky Rink Chelsea Piers in 1997 where she taught group and private lessons and was a Silver Ice Skating Institute Judge. She also skated, choreographed, and taught for the Ice Theatre of New York, an ice skating company devoted to presenting dance on ice. With Ice Theatre she skated in a duet by Ann Carlson. In 2001, she received a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) through Ice Theatre of New York to choreograph a new piece,”Once Again“. This repertory piece was performed in the Company’s Home Season at Sky Rink and in the Concert Series at The Rink at Rockefeller Plaza. She also created a quintet titled the “The Lottery” which I also received a New York State Council on the Arts grant. She was also a figure skating coach, dance teacher, and choreographer for Figure Skating in Harlem, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and the Sports and Arts Program in NYC.
She trained in Pilates and Gyrotonics and is certified by the Kane School of Integration. She has additional certifications in pre- and post- natal Pilates from the Center for Women’s Fitness and The Pink Ribbon Program for Breast Cancer Survivors. She has taught at numerous studios in NYC including Broadway Pilates, Body Evolution, Project Pilates, and Chelsea Piers and currently in New Jersey at Clain Pilates, Core Pilates, and Align Pilates. Her students have included elite skaters, professional dancers, senior citizens, and Parkinson’s disease patients.
Heather Harrington is currently an adjunct professor of Modern Dance and Theory at Kean University. She also teaches modern dance in East Orange to first graders in a special program designed by former Ailey dancer Sharon Miller to bring dance education to grammar schools in East Orange, NJ. Harrington has taught master classes at Rutgers University, DeSales University, Columbia High School, and The Academy of Performing Arts High School in Union NJ.
TAKE Dance is a NYC-based contemporary dance company founded by Artistic Director Takehiro Ueyama. Since its inception in 2005, TAKE Dance has been praised for its exciting athletic movement and unusual sensitivity to create distinctive work that is uniquely “TAKE”. The Company’s mission is to create and stage works that deepen society’s sensitivity and understanding of the human condition. The fusion of Eastern and Western culture is a key element in what makes Take’s work truly one of a kind. By making bold choices in movement, musical selections, and subject matter, TAKE Dance strives not simply to be seen but rather, fully experienced. Take utilizes action to inspire action: the works created and performed by the Company are based on socially relevant issues and seek to make a positive impact on society. TAKE Dance seeks to use the human body to its fullest capacity, smashing the barriers created by language, skin color, gender, or religion. By taking these aforementioned differences that have become so enormously divisive and linking them, Take’s work speaks to a wide range of audience members and demonstrates that despite the variation that exists between us, we are all ultimately connected to one another.
The company has performed at NY venues such as Central Park Summer Stage, Baruch Performing Arts Center, Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, Joyce Theater, Joyce SoHo, Dance Theater Workshop, Symphony Space, The Ailey Citigroup Theater, Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater, The Cunningham Studio, PS/21 Chatham, Bryant Park, National Academy Museum, Columbia University’s Miller Theater, Cedar Lake Theater, Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Studio, The Judson Memorial Church, Galapagos Art Space and The Schimmel Center at Pace University.
The company has also performed at Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, New Noises Festival at Perry-Mansfield, Sardinia, Italy’s Festival Internazionale Nuova Danza, WestFest Dance Festival, DanceNOW Festival, Saratoga ArtsFest, San Francisco’s West Wave Dance Festival, Spring to Dance Festival, Dance St. Louis, Washington DC’s National Cherry Blossom Festival and Dance Place, Norwood Village Green Concert Series, The Lewis Center at Princeton University, Nort Maar Fete de Danse, ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks and the Burgos, Spain International Dance Festival.
TAKE Dance has been the company-in-residence at Skidmore College, University at Albany, Randolph College, Kingsborough College and DANCENOW at Silo.
Cachet Ivey, an independent artist and accomplished performer, teaches and performs West African dance all over Philadelphia, devoting time and energy to the youth in her community. Currently, she teaches open community classes at the Hawthorne Cultural Center. Prior to that, she taught community classes at the Rhythm and Moves dance studio. Through her dance she brings together local and surrounding communities, both professional and amateur, across the age spectrum, teaching the techniques of traditional dance as well as aspects of traditional heritage through dance. She began studying dances from Senegal, Mali and Haiti at the age of 9, with the Ibeji Performing Arts Ensemble. She later studied directly under Jeannine Osayande, an established cultural artist from the Swarthmore area, and is currently the director of Dunya Performing Arts Ensemble.
At age 16, she assisted Jeannine Osayande, instructing and choreographing for the University of the Arts Dance Department, where she realized her ability to teach and inspire. She began to study extensively with Youssouf Koumbassa, of Guinea West Africa, who is internationally credited as a master instructor and dancer. Ivey frequently traveled to New York and Washington, D.C., to study with other master teachers. In her first year at Temple University, she studied the contemporary African-American dance form, Mfundalai. She has taught at highly recognized institutions, including the University of the Arts and University of Pennsylvania. Ivey was Program Coordinator for the 2008 Philly African Dance and Drum Conference, and she led a workshop at the 2008 Tap Dance Festival in Flint, Michigan, illustrating the connection among African dance, drumming and rhythm, tap, and other contemporary dance forms. In addition to the companies named, Ivey has also performed with Hodari Banks, Mouminatou Camara, and Tenefig Diabate. Her choreography credits include concerts for Griot Don! Dance Collective, African Rhythms, Troupe Da Da, and a host of other groups in the Philadelphia area. Accompanied by a West African percussionist, this will be Ivey’s first season on faculty with The School at Jacob’s Pillow
Nicholas Leichter’s technique and repertory class will familiarize dancers with his unique fusion of contemporary dance-one that blurs the line between traditional, experimental, cultural and urban dance forms and styles, creating a form that is both dizzying and thought provoking. A knowledge, or experience, in a wide range of dance styles, including traditional modern, contemporary, West African, urban, street jazz, house or hip-hop is encouraged but not mandatory, however an openness to the mashup and deconstruction of styles is important. Working with Mr. Leichter students will discover/rediscover a deeper understanding of how to incorporate a wide range of movement forms and create a level of hybrid that is individual and responsive to their community and environment.
Nicholas Leichter (choreographer/artistic director) has taught throughout the United States and at festivals in Africa, Asia, Canada, and Eastern and Western Europe, and he has been on faculty at Tisch School of the Arts,Bates Dance Festival and the American Dance Festival in Durham, New York, Russia, Korea, and Shanghai. Leichter has created over 25 works for his own company, including Carmina Burana and Rite of Spring commissioned by the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and Sweetwash with Eisa Davis for The Duncan Theatre at Palm Beach Community College. Recent commissions include The Barnard Project, University of The Arts, je danse donc je suis in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, The Chicago Dancing Festival, and Detroit Music Hall. Leichter has been artist-in-residence and guest artist at many institutions including CSU Summer Arts, Sarah Lawrence College, Hollins University, George Washington University, University of Houston, Muhlenberg College, and Idaho State University. Leichter received the 2006 Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award from Wesleyan University.
African Contemporary Dance Technique classes are designed to provide the participant a solid dance experience that deepens technical and artistic sensibilities. Participants will explore selfidentification in the movement experience. Set to live or recorded contemporary and traditional African music, the class organically unfolds with a yoga based warm up, moving to strengthening exercises, then to phrase and combination work, all set to contemporary recorded or live music.The WKcollective movement vocabulary draws from modern, African, release, ballet, contemporary and butoh techniques.
Wanjiru Kamuyu’s work has received wonderful reviews from the New York Times and Le Figaro (Paris, France) as well as gaining a Wayne State University (Detroit) Maggie Allesee Department of Dance Copperfoot Award (2012). Kamuyu’s work has been presented in New York festivals danceNOW, Cool New York and EMoves, Joyce Soho, LaMama, Chez Bushwick and Movement Research, as well as in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, California, Europe and Africa. In 2007 Kamuyu located to Paris, France and in 2009, Kamuyu founded her dance company WKcollective. As a performer Kamuyu has worked with Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Bill T. Jones (Broadway show FELA!), Molissa Fenley, Julie Taymor (Broadway show The Lion King (Paris, France)), Nathan Trice, Tania Isaac, Dean Moss, amongst others. As a choreographer and teacher she continues to work in residency in various esteemed US universities such as Wayne State Univeristy, University of Michigan, Mills College, Stephens College, Stanford University, Virigina Commonwealth University, Towson University, Spelman College amongst others. She has also taught in London (UK) Paris (France), Johannesburg (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). wkcollective.com
Omitola Hill spent his formative years committed to singing with The Boys Choir of Harlem as well as mastering the art of Capoeira. From the time he signed on to both disciplines, his commitment was unwavering. Throughout the years, he has approached both with energy, respect, and discipline.
The world-renowned Boys Choir of Harlem saves lives through academic and musical training. The Choir is known for its virtuosity, its energy and its total commitment to musical excellence while preparing inner-city children to become disciplined, motivated and successful Americans. Over 150,000 people see The Boys Choir of Harlem live in concert annually; millions more in televised appearances and recordings. As one of the performing choristers for the world famous Boys Choir of Harlem, Omitola had the honor of performing at International Concert Halls and venues in Japan, Mexico, Canada and the United States with renowned International performers and Orchestras. His repertoire ranges from classical music to jazz, contemporary songs, gospels, spirituals and commissioned works by leading African-American composers.
In addition to performing with the Boys Choir of Harlem, Omitola is presently studying, performing and teaching Capoeira.
Capoeria is an Afro Brazilian martial art (self-defense hidden in dance, music and song); that was developed and used by African slaves to condition their bodies and gain their freedom. He started at the age of five and twenty years later he still has the same passion and love for capoeira. Omitola has traveled, and studied with masters from Brazil, United States, and Europe. He has attended college in Bahia Brazil for one year, and is fluent in Portuguese. In May of 2012 Omitola was the first student in the group Capoeria Angola Quintal to graduate to Contra Mestre level in Capoeira; He has traveled throughout the United States, Brazil, Japan, Israel, China, Caribbean, South America, Mexico, China, and Europe conducting capoeira workshop for children and adults.
Alex Springer, originally from Farmington Hills, MI, is a dancer, choreographer, teacher, and video editor. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in Dance and a minor in Movement Science he joined Doug Varone and Dancers in 2008. He has enjoyed working with Alexandra Beller, Amy Chavasse, Elizabeth Dishman, Leyya Tawil/Dance Elixir and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. Additionally, Alex has staged Varone’s work for various companies and universities and has taught at the Bates Dance Festival, the 92Y, Dance New Amsterdam, and the Playground. Alex creates work with Xan Burley, together the Median Movement. They have shown work in NYC at the 92Y Sundays at Three, DanceNOW[NYC] Joe’s Pub (Encore Challenge Winners 2011), the TANK, Triskelion Arts, Movement Research at Judson Church, Brooklyn Arts Exchange/BAX (Space Grant Artists Fall 2011), Rooftop Dance, among other venues. Alex and Xan also create dance for the camera and have screened their film work at various festivals including Moviehouse, WESTfest, the Flea, Motion Captured, and currently on Hulu as part of TenduTV’s Essential Dance Film. Alex also works as a freelance video artist for A.O. Pro(+ductions) and is the company manager/media archivist/video designer for Doug Varone and Dancers.
Xan Burley, a native of Youngstown, OH and a graduate of the University of Michigan with degrees in Dance and English, is an active performer, creator, teacher, and arts administrator. She has had the great pleasure of working with artists and companies such as Nancy Bannon, Daniel Charon Dance, Amy Chavasse, Shannon Gillen + Guests, Shannon Hummel Cora Dance, Leyya Tawil Dance Elixir, and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, among others. She joined Doug Varone and Dancers in 2012 and enjoys continued work with Donnell Oakley and Tami Stronach Dance. Xan acts as co-producer of WAXworks and has held teaching positions at BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Cora School for Dance, PAVE Academy Charter School, and Poly Prep Performing Arts Camp. She is currently on faculty at the 92Y teaching teen modern and has taught technique for professionals at Dance New Amsterdam, Gibney Dance Center, Mark Morris Dance Center, Triskelion Arts, and the Playground.
Donnell Oakley is an independent choreographer, dancer, performer, and teacher based in Brooklyn, NY. It all started in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she grew up and was happily thrown into the world of creative movement at age three. Donnell continued with modern technique, composition, improvisation and performance at her second home, Arts Together, until college. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography in 2001 and attended the American Dance Festival in the summers of 1999 and 2001 and has been dancing professionally in New York ever since. Donnell co-founded everything smaller in 2002, a Brooklyn-based dance company driven by collaboration. She spent 6 extraordinary years making dances with the inimitable Jessica Jolly and David Schmidt. everything smaller performed in venues and events such as the Studio 42’s Starving Artist Ball, Movement Research’s Improvisation is Hard, The Flea Theater’s Dance Conversations, DanceNOW NYC, the Bodyblend series at Dixon Place, the Solar Powered Arts Festival, Dancespace Center’s Wave of Humanity and their Elizabeth Pape Memorial Concert for which everything smaller received the Elizabeth Pape Scholarship in 2005, the Williamsburg Free Festival, the International D.U.M.B.O Dance Festival, WAX Works, Triskelion Arts Benefit Concerts, New Jersey’s S.W.E.A.T., Teresa Wimmer’s Twilight Project, the Brooklyn Dance Sampler, Middlebury College, University of Michigan, Swarthmore University, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Mary-Jean Cowell, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Dance Program at Washington University in St. Louis and ACDFA Central Region Director, studied with Merce Cunningham and Alwin Nikolais. She performed in the Katherine Litz Company, in her own choreography for CHoreographers’ Showcases, and in work by performance artist Ping Chong. She has since choreographed more than sixty dances in NYC, Hawaii, Tokyo, and St. Louis. In Tokyo, she taught and choreographed for the Abe Kobo Repertory Company. Her Michio Ito research has produced several articles and conference papers, and she has been studying the Ito method for several years. In 2009 she participated as a dancer and resident scholar in the Utah Repertory Dance Theatre summer workshop and focused on Ito technique and repertory. Awards include a Japan Foundation Grant, a Missouri Creative Artist Project Grant, and a teaching award. She has an MA in Dance and a PhD in Japanese Literature and Theatre.
Kyoko Imura-Ryutani began studying Michio Ito as a child in 1952, continuing until his death in 1961. She organized the Doomonkai (Michio Ito Association) in 1964. She participated in the Association performances, including the special Michio Ito Birth Centennial Anniversary and the 40th Association Anniversary Commemoration performances. She served as president of the Doomonkai for 12 years and, since 1994, has been engaged in the preservation of Michio Ito’s works. She presently serves as artistic adviser of the Doomonkai. In this capacity, she coaches the repertoire that the members present and counsels them on the performing methods that most support Ito’s aesthetics. Currently, she continues to manage and teach at the Kyoko Imura Dance Art studio. Through her work at her private studio and with the Doomonkai, she has taught both adults and children for many years. Ryutani is one of the few surviving direct students of Michio Ito.
Kumiko Komine first studied the Michio to Method as a child and began appearing in Ito studio performances a few years later. After graduation from Japan Women’s Athletic College, she opened a ballet studio and continued to perform with the Ito group and in Young Generation Modern Dance concerts. After a 10 year “sabbatical” to raise her children, she opened another ballet and rejoined the Doomonkai (Michio Ito Association). During the 1990’s she performed in the concerts celebrating Ito’s birth and other performances by the Doomonkai. In 1997 she became an assistant to Taeko Furusho, Michio’s niece, teaching at the Academy of Performing Arts. In 2000 she assisted Taeko during a residency at the University of Washington to teach Ito technique and repertoire to the Seattle Chamber Dance Company. She assisted in the production of documentaries on ITo for the UW and for the Japan Broadcasting Association (NHK). She became president of the Doomonkai in 2006 and has continued lectures and performances focused on the Ito legacy. With Kyoko Imura, she was a resident artist during the 2009 Summer Session of the Utah Repertory Dance Theatre. Throughout her career she has taught children and adults of all ages.