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.
Led by Emmy Award-winning choreographers Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, BodyVox is known for its virtual virtuously, distinctive wit and unique ability to combine dance, theater, and film into breathtaking productions rich in imagery, athleticism and humor. Since its founding in 1997, BodyVox has toured critical acclaim on stages around the world, developing 8 award-winning films, 20 original shows and 3 operas, featuring nearly 200 original dancers.
Based in Portland, Oregon, BodyVox’s movement surges from a fascination with endless possibilities of human body in motion, informed by years of cross training and layers of experience. Hampton and Roland are distinguished artists on the world stage, formed by their years working as creators and performers with innovative dance companies such as Momix, ISO Dance, and Pilobolus. BodyVox builds upon this tradition of excellence with a unique voice that is equally influenced by its Northwest roots and world-wide.