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Master Class October 2nd : Cachet Ivey!

Screen shot 2015-09-28 at 3.24.20 PMCachet 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


Master Class 9-18-2015: Nicholas Leichter

Screen shot 2015-09-15 at 3.45.32 PMNicholas 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.

Alex Springer and Xan Burley – February 13, 2015

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 – February 6, 2015

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 Masterclass

Mary-Jean Cowell

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

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

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.

Body Vox – January 30, 2015

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.


Colby Damon – January 23, 2015

          Colby has spent his entire life exploring various types of movement. Born and raised in Richmond VA, Colby was active in various sports as a young child, including snow skiing and sailing, but he found his true calling in the arts, and began formal classical ballet training at age 7 at the RIchmond Ballet. At age 15, he left home to attend the Virginia School of the Arts in Lynchburg, VA, a pre-professional boarding high school for dancers, and spent his summers training at the Boston Ballet. Upon graduation, Colby joined the Sacramento Ballet, where for five years he performed soloist and principal roles in numerous classical and contemporary pieces, including works by George Balanchine, Glen Tetley, Trey McIntyre, Dwight Rhoden, Helen Pickett, John Selya, and Ron Cunningham. While living in California, Colby also began studying Qi Gong and Chen style Tai Ji Quan with renowned Grandmaster Bing Fan YeYoung, and eventually received certification to teach.

           In 2007, Colby relocated to Brooklyn , NY, in order to explore life’s options, and to pursue a career as a freelance artist. As a guest artist, he has worked with such companies as Mark Morris Dance Group, Northwest Dance Project, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, and Thang Dao Dance Company, in addition to projects with Luca Veggetti (Guggenheim Museum/Colombia University), Adam Hendrickson (Carnegie Hall/Yale University), and John Selya (Joyce Soho). He has also appeared with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet as a principal in Alexei Ratmanski’sAida, as well as in Mark Morris’ Orfeo e Euridice, at which time he was featured in a MET Live in HD broadcast in movie theaters worldwide. While living in New York, Colby also began studying other forms of Chinese Martial arts, including Ba Gua Zhuang, and also embarked on a personal study of Yoga.

           In 2008, Colby joined BalletX in Philadelphia, PA. As a company member, Colby has been featured in over 20 world premiers, including original creations by Alex Ketley, Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa, Jodi Gates, James Gregg, Adam Barruch, Loni Landon, Tobin DelCuore, Mauro Astolfi, Matthew Prescott, Matthew Neenan, and others, and performed in such venues as the Laguna Dance Festival, the Vail International Dance Festival, and Joyce Theater NYC.

           As a choreographer, Colby’s style blends an inevitable fluidity with a sense of classical line and virtuosity. He began his choreographic explorations while dancing with the Sacramento Ballet, where he produced a total of five works on fellow company members, including the piece 3 to 1, which was performed for the Sacramento Ballet’s annual contemporary repertoire program, Modern Masters, in 2004. Recently, after years of integrating a personal, daily yoga practice into his dance regime, Colby completed his 200 hour yoga teacher training through Sadhana Yoga School, and is a registered yoga teacher currently based out of Philadelphia, PA.

Susan Moran – December 5, 2014

Susan Moran master teacher at Power Pilates


Susan has been teaching Pilates for 25 yrs. She received her training in 1988 from Romana Kryzanowska. She was co-owner/Creator of Power Pilates for the last 20 years. During that time Susan certified over 10,000 people worldwide. She is a teacher of teachers, clients, and loves to work with children. Prior to Power Pilates Susan danced with Doug Elkins Dance Company where she won the coveted Bessie award. She toured the world with Elkins performing for 10 yrs. During that time she received her license as a massage therapist that further informed her mastery of body mechanics and alignment in her Pilates work. She is always inspired by those that she teaches, and will forever be a student of movement. Her philosophy is Movement heals and should always bring a smile to your heart and soul!

SuLu Pilates is dedicated to providing the finest Classical Pilates workouts that are fun, safe, and effective. A strong core, long lean muscles and increased flexibility are yours for the taking. All you will need for class is the desire to move and change your body. Come prepared to move, sweat, and have some fun!

BodyVox- November 21, 2014

Six is a crowd: boys meet girl. Photo: David Krebbs

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.

2013-2014 Residencies

Jeff Shade
jeff shade blog 2

This past semester, Jeff Shade came to set work on our dancers for the 2014 Dance Ensemble Concert!  His piece entitled, Cirque de Danse was a great addition to the concert and was a huge hit with audience members!  Throughout his residency, Jeff Shade also taught several master classes incorporating musical theater style and technique. The DeSales Dance Department thanks Jeff Shade for an awesome residency!

Jeff Shade’s Biography:

Mentored by Bob Fosse – – Jeff Shade has danced on Broadway in SWEET CHARITY, CHICAGO (dance captain) and TEDDY & ALICE. He has been a guest on the Rosie O’Donnell Show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, HBO Christmas, THE TODAY SHOW, and numerous other tv specials. He has also been featured at Radio City Music Hall!!! His choreography has received critical acclaim, including a rave in VARIETY, a New York Musical Theater Festival BEST CHOREOGRAPHY AWARD, and a recent nomination for a Carbonell Award. His choreography has been seen off-Broadway (Atlantic Theater and Chelsea Playhouse), on American and Japanese Television, and on stages around the world! He has been on the faculty of Harvard University, the Boston Conservatory, Marymount Manhattan College, Montclair State University, STEPS on BROADWAY, CAP 21, and Point Park University! He has an MA in dance therapy (psychotherapy that includes the creative arts), an MBA in marketing from Columbia University, and he is the founder of HOUSE OF THE ROSES dance- based outreach network (helping to build self-esteem and confidence in hundreds of NYC homeless children every week). He is here to make dances, train dancers, and DANCE IT FORWARD!!!

Natalie Desch

natalie desch blog

Natalie Desch was chosen specifically by senior dance majors to choreograph their senior piece which was showcased in the 2014 Dance Ensemble Concert! Throughout the residency, Natalie rehearsed with the seniors to create a piece that was both unique and personal for the cast.  Aside from working with the senior class, Natalie Desch also took the time to teach modern master classes and answer questions for students about her experiences in the dance world!

Natalie Desch’s Biography:

Natalie Desch, originally from New Castle, PA, received her BFA and the Martha Hill Prize from the Juilliard School under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy.  From 1996 to 2001 she performed with the Limón Dance Company in an array of classic twentieth-century works, (Limón, Kylián, Maslow, McKayle, Tudor,) as well as being a collaborator in original works, (Haim, Siegenfeld, Varone.)  In 2001 she joined Doug Varone and Dancers and was part of the creation of over twenty-five works with Varone, including collaborations at the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Colorado, Minnesota Opera, Longleaf Opera, Palm Beach Opera, and the Aquila Theater Company.  She served as co-rehearsal director for the company from 2009 to 2012.  Natalie has additionally worked with choreographers Ariane Anthony, Daniel Charon, Adriane Fang, Toshiko Oiwa, and Jonathan Riedel.  She has taught at Limón and Varone summer workshops, the Bates Dance Festival, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and at universities around the country.  A faculty member at Hunter College since 2005, Natalie also teaches at the 92nd Street Y and Dance New Amsterdam in NYC. Additionally she has staged the works of Varone, Limón and Kylián on companies and universities, domestically and abroad.  Natalie’s choreography has been presented at the Juilliard Theater, Alice Tully Hall, the Clark Studio Theater, SUNY Purchase, the Limón Dance Company Choreography Project, the Dumbo Dance Festival and at Regional Dance America festivals.