Guest Artists and Faculty Presenter Bios

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Guest Artist Spring Festival

People flock to ALEXIS WILSON’S captivating and unique presence. Lean in a bit closer alexis-wilsonand understand her personal story plus the breadth of her endless jaw dropping talents and all you want is more. Although she comes from first class ballet and Broadway stock, you would never know it from her easy and non-pretentious manner. Her mother was a prima ballerina, her father a celebrated Broadway choreographer. She was born in Europe and bred in New York City where she was a professional dancer. She has performed classically and commercially all over the world. Alexis earned her B.F.A. in drama from the prestigious Carnegie-Mellon University. After retiring from dancing, she acted in commercials and later became a casting associate. She has produced and directed numerous theatrical productions, as well as fund raising events – all with great success. Alexis has written and published poetry, a full length musical, made contributions to a variety of published works, and self-published her recent memoir, Not So Black and White. She is currently working on a book of non-fiction about her self-publishing process, a one- woman show for New York, and a screenplay.
Wilson loves to keep busy and, as a mother of two and wife to a very busy in demand musician husband (Byron Stripling), she rarely has time to worry about that being an issue. But Alexis doesn’t like being busy for the sake of being busy. She likes to sink her teeth into projects with purpose, substance or cause. Her greatest desire is to ask the question, how can I serve? The overwhelmingly positive, emotional and personal response she received from her memoir gave her tremendous satisfaction. It was a feeling that, perhaps through her own story, she can be of support or help, encouragement or inspiration to others. While we, in society, continue to break down barriers, bridge gaps, and embrace more inclusion there is still much work to be done. While marriage equality, in some states, becomes more accepted and celebrated we currently have a bullying epidemic in our schools where intolerance and difference remain conduits for fear based violence. For Alexis, having been brought up, since age eleven, by same sex parents and being the product of an interracial marriage, these are topics that hit close to home.
Alexis has lived her life ‘out of the box’ and because of this she is passionate about nurturing others and their differences, insisting that these elements are everyone’s greatest strengths. Alexis reminds us that the power of love always triumphs. Hard work, creating and recreating, conquering challenges, and moving through her life by learning to love more each day is Alexis’s key to growth and continual evolution. Alexis lives to share these uplifting principles with the world; whether through speaking, performing or writing, her secret is creativity and her power is love!

Festival Faculty

Qarriane Blayr (Fayetteville, North Carolina) BFA from Howard University, studying under Sherrill Berryman-Johnson, Pat Thomas, Sandra Fortune-Green, Katherine Smith, Akua Kouyate, and Assane Konte. She studied traditional Jamaican dance at University of West Indies Mona. In 2004, Ms. Blayr founded the performing arts group Arts International. She joined DCDC’s first company in 2012 after having performed for two seasons in DCDC2, the company’s pre-professional ensemble.

Mustapha Braimah is a musician, choreographer, and dancer from Ghana, West Africa. He is currently an MFA candidate and Teaching Assistant at the University of Maryland, College Park. He holds B.F.A, Dance from the University of Ghana, an M.A, International Studies from Ohio University, focusing on African history and performing art forms. He also studied and performed in American Dance Festival, 2010.

Kenneth Brown has been a dancer, choreographer, and dance educator for 17 years dating back to the beginnings of his formal dance training at Ft. Hayes Arts and Academic High School.  Having danced, choreographed, and instructed around the Columbus area, he has now been tapped to give master classes on emotional dancing at local schools and studios.

Megan Davis Bushway is a movement educator based in Columbus. She teaches in VSA’s AIA program and is an instructor with Momentum. Megan’s teaching credits include BalletMet, CoMo, The Ohio State University and regularly teaches Pilates at the JCC and Core Poetry. Megan received an MFA in Dance from The Ohio State University.

Miranda Calhoun MA in Education from the University of Missouri and a BA in Dance Education Bowling Green State University. Miranda is a certified judge for the Universal Dance Association and currently teaches at Toledo School for the Arts, The Beat Dance Company, and Head Coach for BGSU Dance Team.

Jessica Cavender received a Master of Fine Arts, Dance and Technology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH in the spring of 2016. Her latest position was as a Graduate Assistant, in the Experimental Media/Motion Analysis Lab. Her responsibilities included assisting and facilitating student, faculty, and guest artist research and performance, lab and equipment maintenance, use, and the complete breakdown, relocation, and setup of the lab. She has many software, design and organizational skills.

Sukanya Chand, Director of ‘Natya Nirvana’ is an exponent in Indian Classical dance styles-Bharatanatyam and Odissi. She studied with renowned dance gurus in India and USA and currently an instructor at MUCAI Academy. She has choreographed, performed and produced in various productions and presents Lecture Demonstrations and master classes at various Colleges, Universities, Festivals, and Schools inCentral Ohio.

Mimi Chenfeld MA in Elementary Ed. the University of New York. a teacher, writer and educational consultant, has led the OSU Hillel Folk Dance programs since moving with her family from New York to Columbus in 1970. On their own, together and with the Hillel Group, Mimi and Marlene have danced with and for thousands of people through the years.

Christine Cobb is a Full Professor at Youngstown State University in the Department of Theater and Dance where she serves as coordinator of the dance major and minor programs.

Kent De Spain is an Ohio-based movement/multimedia artist who has taught workshops and intensives in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He is particularly recognized for his research and writing on movement improvisation, including his essay in the book “Taken by Surprise,” his feature-length documentary film, A Moving Presence: Ruth Zaporah and Action Theater, and his book Landscape of the Now: A Topography of Movement Improvisation.

Kathy Diehl, MFA, MSW began her professional dance career in 1984. She has performed with several companies and toured nationally with Bill Evans Dance. Diehl directs KDiehl Danceworks and has presented her choreography at various universities and festivals. She has taught in higher education since 2007 and is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Cleveland State University.

Alfred L. Dove Columbia, S.C.) Graduated Howard Univ., BFA Acting, Univ. of CA, Irvine, MFA Dance.He has performed Broadway tours across national and internationally with Walter Nicks, Louis Johnson, Eleo Pomare, Geoffrey Holder’s The Wiz: lead winged monkey, Donald McKayle, and Judith Jamison. In 1996, A. Dove stepped into the Administrator position for the Estate of Ulysses Dove’s ballets.

Dr. Candace Feck is Professor Emerita at OSU, where she taught for over 25 years in the Dept. of Dance. Her writing appears in books, journals, lectures and DVDs, and she is currently working on a book about choreographer Elizabeth Streb. Dr. Feck has expertise in qualitative methods of research, with a specialty in oral history. Originally trained in Cultural Anthropology, she has used interview techniques throughout her career, employing them in the award-winning CD Victoria Uris: Choreographer and Videographer, in the development of her book manuscript, and in her oral history of BebeMiller, housed in the New York Public Library Dance Collection. She has taught Oral History Methods to graduate students at OSU in addition to her teaching in Dance Criticism and Contemporary Dance History.

Joyelle Fobbs, BFA in Dance Performance from The Univ. of Michigan, and MFA in Dance from OSU. She is an American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum Teacher for pre-ballet through Professional level. She has taught for OSU, the American Ballet Theatre, and Sr. faculty for Balletmet. She serves on the OhioDance Board. She teaches for  Thiossane Institute and serves as Choreographer for Seven Dance Co.

Justin “Judd” Gibbs danced professionally for eighteen years with the Grand Rapids Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Chautauqua Ballet, Contrast Dance Company and Balletmet. As an accomplished choreographer, Judd has received a fellowship from the Greater Columbus Arts Council on three occasions, and annually choreographs and dances for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s Holliday Pops.

Melissa Gould received her B.A in Dance at San Jose State University and enjoyed a professional dance career which included contracts in Japan, Las Vegas and Korea. Melissa has been teaching for over 25 years and has choreographed several musicals for community theatres. As Artistic Director of New Vision Dance Co., Melissa is known for her intense dance style, challenging classes and entertaining choreography.

Steve Graef, PhD is a licensed counseling psychologist in Ohio specializing in sport, performance and common psychological illnesses such as depression, anxiety and adjustment. BS in psychology from OSU, MS and PhD in counseling psychology at The University of Akron. He is Owner and Founder of Mindurance, an online sport and counseling psychology practice.

Josh Hines is a 2014 BFA graduate from The Ohio State University dance department. He is a performer, choreographer, and Contact Improvisation/Contemporary Improvisation teacher located in Columbus, OH. He is a member of the Columbus Moving Company, and is constantly at work performing/teaching around Columbus and the U.S.A. Always pursuing his own dance project endeavors you can learn more at: www.joshramseyhines.com

Kelly Hurlburt received her B.F.A in Dance at OSU, with a focus in Dance as a holistic health practice. She is a performer, teacher and creator in Columbus and continues into her 3rd year collaborating and dancing with Columbus Moving Company. Kelly currently facilitates improvisation and modern classes and creates dance at FEVERHEAD, The All Life Center and other local venues.   

Ani Javian is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Ohio University. Her choreography has been presented around New York City and the Midwest, and she was recently awarded a 2016 Individual Excellence Award in Choreography from The Ohio Arts Council. Ani has an MFA in Dance from The Ohio State University and a BA in Dance and English from Connecticut College

Sara Lawrence-Sucato graduate of Mercyhurst University with a degree in Dance Teaching and Choreography.  Sara’s choreographic credits include “Revolutions” for The Dancing Wheels Company for Fast Forward, Rewind in November 2012.  Sara teaches outreach and company class for Dancing Wheels, and she is in her eleventh season with the company.

Edwaard Liang, Artistic Director, BalletMet Born in Taipei, Taiwan, and raised in Marin County, California, Edwaard Liang began his dance training at age five with Marin Ballet. After studying at the School of American Ballet, he joined New York City Ballet in 1993 and later the acclaimed Nederlands Dans Theater. While dancing with NDT 1, Mr. Liang discovered his passion for choreography. In 2013, Mr. Liang was named Artistic Director at BalletMet, where he continues to choreograph.

Joshua Manculich was recently a recipient of a Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship in 2015. He believes in the power of dance and art making, holding a Bachelor of Arts from Point Park University. Soon he will be graduating from The Ohio State University with his Masters of Fine Arts in Dance.

Kathryn Mihelick, , former Dance Coordinator at Kent State University, is Founder/Director of Leaven Sacred Dance Company, has lectured and performed sacred dance internationally. She danced professionally with Orchesis Ensemble, Heidt Touring Company, and Indianapolis Starlight Musicals.  Her honor awards include OhioDance 2003 Outstanding Contribution to the Dance Artform, Akron Area Arts Alliance 2005 Outstanding Artist in Dance, International Sacred Dance Guild 2008 “Living Legacy”.

OSU’s Performing Arts Medicine team is a team of eight specialty practitioners experienced in the unique needs of the performing artist.  Many of the team members were former dancers, we feel strongly that educating the artist is the first step towards maintaining wellness and injury prevention.  That’s why we offer a variety of workshops in addition to our clinical services.Samantha Amway PT, OCS and Diane Wilson, PTA, will teach these sessions.

Crystal Michelle Perkins is a choreographer, dancer, and intermedia artist and Associate Artistic Director of Dayton Contemporary Dance Co. In 2014, she received the Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council and was honored with the Josie Award, in Dayton, Ohio.  Ms. Michelle holds a MFA in Dance from The Ohio State University and a BFA in Dance Performance from Southern Methodist University.

Kim Popa – has studied dance for 30 years and is a professor at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, teaches at The Carnegie, Springer School and Center, and SCPA. Popa is the Executive Director, co-founder, and member of Pones Inc. She is a trustee on the board of OhioDance, and serves as a “big” for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Robin Prichard is a choreographer and professor of dance.   Her choreographic/research interests include cross-cultural choreography between indigenous and concert dance, the relationship between language and movement in performance, and the potential of dance to negotiate binary oppositions.  She uses a variety of modalities, including Irene Dowd, Body-Mind Centering, and Klein Technique in her anatomical classes.

Alysia Ramos is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Oberlin College.  Prior, she worked as a dancer, choreographer and teaching artist in NYC for over a decade. Her work focuses on hybrid, intercultural and transnational contemporary movement practices. She holds and MFA in Dance from the University of Utah.

Marlene Robbins and Mimi Chenfeld have danced together for many years. Marlene, graduated from OSU with her MA in Dance Education. She was the beloved Dance Teacher at Indianola Elementary School (Columbus Public Schools) for over twenty years before her recent retirement. She has been folk dancing most of her life.

Jeffrey Marc Rockland is a former Principle Dancer with Universal Ballet and Soloist with Atlanta Ballet and Les Grands Ballet Canadiens before spending a year as Ballet Master for Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal. Fall of 2015 he joined Kent University and is developing new educational and performance opportunities. This past summer Rockland was on Faculty for Joffrey Ballet, NYC and Highland Ballet, Virginia.

Maria Sargent, a full professor at Ashland University, has 30+ years’ experience in education, special education, behavior intervention, brain research and arts intervention. Previous work includes:  several multi-million dollar grants to assist children at risk, Department of Education and Department of Mental Health program development, and dance intervention consultations, including Rosie O’Donnell’s original Broadway KidsÒ program in New York.

Kaustavi Sarkar is a cultural entrepreneur who deploys movement to build communities across global communities of color through her Organization Kaustavi Movement Center, a transnational entity based in India. Sarkar is an internationally acclaimed Indian classical soloist for the past two decades. Engaged in her doctoral research at the Ohio State University, she is on faculty at Kenyon College.

Janet Schroeder is a percussive dance artist, scholar, and teacher, with a particular interest in tap dance, Appalachian clogging and body percussion. She holds an MFA in dance from The College at Brockport and is currently a PhD candidate in dance studies at The Ohio State University.

Patch (Patricia) Schwadron, career counselor to performing artists at The Actors Fund for over 17 years, was named Senior Career Counselor for Career Transition For Dancers in early 2016, when CTFD came into The Fund. Patch danced with The Boston Ballet. Later in life, she pursued training in educational psychology and career counseling at California State University, Northridge.

Phane Jayanthi Sen was featured in “SRUTI” Indian Dance Magazine. Phane J. Sen is Artistic Director and Founder of Asian Arts, heritage, Inc. Phane Jayanthi Sen brings a captivating contemporary sensibility to two ancient traditional South Indian dance forms, Kuchipudi and BharataNatyam. In 1992 received M.F.A in Kuchipudi Dance. She has performed extensively in Major Festivals in India & abroad.

Lauren Squires is the founder and director of Movement Afoot, central Ohio’s only dedicated tap dance company. She is an independent tap dancer, teacher, and choreographer who has performed with Tappening (Washington, DC) and Sole Full of Rhythm (Ann Arbor, MI), and has taught tap in Washington, DC; Charlottesville, VA; Wilmington, NC; and Columbus, OH.

Heather Sukhdeo is a dance educator, devoted to making dance available to all children everywhere.  She has taught creative dance in studios and schools in the U.S. and abroad as well as at New York University and the 92nd Street Y.  Heather presented at Harvard and at daCi/World Dance Alliance Global Summit. Heather has an MA in dance education from NYU.

Patrick Tabatcher, Assistant Lecturer, has been teaching Web Design since 2004 at the Myers School of Art at the University of Akron. He has a BFA in Graphics Design and an MA in Communications, both from The University of Akron. He also works as a Senior Multimedia Producer and Apple Instructional Specialist for The University of Akron’s Design & Development Services department, where he assists faculty with the design and development of online courses and web-based course materials.

Rodney Veal is an independent choreographer and interdisciplinary artist, serves as adjunct faculty for Stivers School of the Performing Arts, Sinclair Community College and the University of Dayton. He is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a B.S in Political Science and Visual Arts and The Ohio State University with an MFA in Choreography. Rodney currently serves on the board of trustees of Ohio Dance and as chair of the Blue Sky Project. He is the recipient of several MCACD grants and fellowships. Several of his works have been performed as part of the Ohio Dance Festival. He was one of five artists chosen nationwide to participate in the blue Sky Dayton Project Artist in Residency Program held in collaboration with the University of Dayton.

Mary Verdi-Fletcher is America’s first professional wheelchair dancer. As President/Founding Artistic Director of the Dancing Wheels Company & School, the world first professional level physically integrated Dance Company she and the Company travel the globe educating and performing before thousands every year. Now in its 36 season, the Company is hailed as the World Center for Physically Integrated Dance & Arts Access attracting dancers, choreographers and educators from around the world.

Renie Viola is a professional choreographer and dance instructor currently based in Columbus. She studied YBR® under creator Yamuna Zake in NYC from 2005-2012, and became a certified YBR® practitioner in 2008. She holds a BFA in dance from OSU.  Renie believes YBR® should be an integral part of all dance curricula. For more info visit renieviola.com

Erich Yetter an OhioDance board member, teaches ballet, Dance in Culture:  Ethnic Forms and Theatrical Dance at Case Western Reserve University and faculty of the Cleveland School of the Arts. Trained in New York City and Houston Ballet, Yetter’s career included dancing with the Irish National Ballet, as well as Ballet Memphis in Tennessee.  He served a decade as Artistic Director of Peoria Ballet in Illinois before moving to Ohio with his family.