Friday Dance Symposiums
Join Dr. RAS Mikey Courtney for these Friday morning dance symposiums where he invites special guests into the Zoom room for a discussion about dance, their career, and the challenges of creativity. Stick around for a Q&A with students from the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance. (Read Dr. RAS’s bio)
How to watch
Winter 2021 Schedule
Special Guest: Thomas Talawa Prestø
Ancestral Technique: Ancient Power in Modern Use
Thomas “Talawa” Prestø is an internationally-renowned lecturer, instructor, choreographer and performer. Thomas is the founder and Artistic Director of Tabanka Dance Ensemble and creator of the Talawa Technique™.
He holds a Master Degree in Choreography from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts. Thomas has toured 28 countries with Tabanka Dance Ensemble and has held masterclasses in the Talawa Technique™ in 44 countries to date. Having successfully branded and profiled Africana dance technique and aesthetics Thomas is internationally sought after as a lecturer and consultant on audience development strategies. Thomas regularly consults Norwegian Audience Development and currently sits in 6 boards.
Tabanka Dance Ensemble is Northern Europe’s largest full time Black Dance company. Prestø´s artistic work seamlessly merges ancestral movement, culturally contextualized vocabulary and contemporary Africana movement sensibilities.
Talawa Technique™ structures elements of African and Caribbean practices uniquely designed to facilitate poly-centrism, multiple movement qualities, grounding and poly-rhythm.
Prestø is intimate with indigenous Caribbean and African Spiritual practices in Haiti, Trinidad, Cuba, Jamaica, The Congo, Benin and Nigeria respectively. He therefore pulls strongly from these sources in both his theoretical, practical and artistic work.
Special Guest: Jamie J. Philbert
Bois Academy of Trinidad and Tobago, Philbert-Kalinda Technique for Dance & Performance
Choreographer, Dance Artist, Cultural Researcher, Educator, Designer, Curator, and Filmmaker, Jamie Philbert is a native of Trinidad and Tobago, brought up in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn . She is a dance graduate of Fiorello H. La Guardia High School for Music, Art and the Performing Arts. Upon graduating, she founded Echoes Dance Company in 1999 and began presenting her choreography while freelancing for dance companies and choreographers like Janis Brenner, Nathan Trice/Rituals, Roger C. Jeffrey, Alfred Gallman, Nia Love Blacksmiths Daughter, Charles Moore Dance Theater, and H.T. Chen and dancers. Her choreographic work has been presented at Carnegie Hall, Aaron Davis Hall/E-moves, Lincoln Center Out Of Doors, Mulberry St. Theater, Vassar College, Hollins University, Howard University, Riverside Theatre, D.A.D.D/Judson Memorial Church, S.O.B’s, Nuyorican’s Poets Cafe, Irving Plaza, BRIC/Arts, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Danny Simmons Corridor Gallery, MOMA (Museum of Modern Art), Queens Hall, Little Carib Theatre, Carifesta 2017 Barbados.
Jamie has had the pleasure of being a guest teaching artist at several institutions including Hollins University, Sarah Lawrence College and La Guardia High School. Her improvisational solo dance projects include live accompaniment to internationally acclaimed musicians like Masauko Chipembere, Jazzmeia Horn and Ruth Osman. In 2012, Jamie developed a music and movement program for early childhood education that fostered more than 1000 children throughout New York City. She has choreographed and performed in music videos for artists such as Blitz The Ambassador and Umar Bin Hassan of legendary known, The Last Poets. Jamie returned home to Trinidad and Tobago in 2015 and was appointed the Movement and Dance Coordinator for the National Performing Entities of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2018, as a curator, she premiered her first art, performance and panel exhibition featuring exemplary artist, Sarah Burrows. The panel conversation focused on the condition of women in Trinidad and Tobago, the effects of gender based violence and how art can be used as a tool for igniting healing. She has directed three short films, two fashion films and one dance film. In 2018, she received the award for Best Caribbean Fashion Film from Caribbean Fashion Arts and Feature Festival for her film, SANKOFA. Jamie Philbert is the founder of Art On Purpose, a multifaceted lifestyle brand that promotes social awareness and cultural responsibility through dance performance and education, fashion and creative arts education. In January 2019, she began an official rites of passage journey towards becoming a bois woman, a warrior woman of Kalinda. This journey inspired her to conceptualize and develop a dance and performance technique rooted in the tradition and culture of Trinidad and Tobago’s martial art form, Kalinda. This initiative is supported by and co-created with Rondel Benjamin, Founder of Bois Academy of Trinidad and Tobago and the transitioned legendary bois man, King David Matthew Brown, also known as “Acid”. Her work in this realm serves to continue the veneration of the keepers and ancestors of the tradition and empower the sustainability of this multidimensional cultural form. Jamie currently serves as the Director/Pointer of Bois Academy of Trinidad and Tobago.
Jamie believes in the power of art and its ability to heal and create dynamic change. She dedicates all her movement and magic to the legacy of her transitioned parents, Dennis and Veronica Philbert.
Special Guest: Carl ‘Dougie’ Sanders Jr.
Dachiology - Dialog in Motion
Carl Sanders is a movement designer, director, and educator from Atlanta, Georgia. Currently he is completing his masters degree in Dance with an emphasis on technology from the University of California, Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Carl has choreographed for world tours, music videos, and theater productions for such artist as Raven-Symone, Spice Girls, the NBA Atlanta Hawks, and Koresh Dance Company of Philadelphia, PA. Mr. Sanders has also contributed his own philosophical insight to the field of dance with the development of his dialogue in motion study Dachiology; the study of dance energy through explorations of rhythmic movement, communication, and empowerment. He is founder and director of the UCI Tap Symphony Orchestra and CEO of Arts Tech Startup Company Stagebow, Inc. Carl is looking forward to continuing his pursuit of bridging the arts through entertainment, education, and innovation.
Special Guest: Lawrence Fung
Dance in Visual Mediums
As a choreographer and movement artist, Fung is constantly exploring the integration and similarities between ballet and breaking, bringing the opposite disciplines into a free flowing harmony that exists in a new dimension without contextual boundaries. Modern masculinity, self-discovery, and religion are themes that gravitate Fung’s curiosity in his dance-making.
In the beginning of 2018, Fung founded his company Kraken Still and Film (KSAF), with a humble ensemble of dancers and composers. The interdisciplinary company celebrates the collaboration among dancers and artists of different backgrounds with the vision of touring and premiering works in the spectrum of art and theater spaces, such as proscenium stages, galleries, museums, film theaters, and public projections.
Over the years, the company has performed live in Phoenix Arts Museum, The Nelson Fine Arts Center, and in collegiate spaces like Scottsdale Community College.
Special Guest: Kristyn Fontanella
Contemporary Irish Dance
As a choreographer/dance artist Kristyn Fontanella focuses her past knowledge of Irish step dancing and presents it in a contemporary context. Having toured for many years with Riverdance, Lord of the Dance & as lead soloist in Gaelforce Dance, her current mission is to show another side of the complex world of Irish Step dancing to future generations. Kristyn’s duet with Sibéal Davitt, ‘As We Know It’ was an early success, showing in NYC, Dublin Dance Festival, Marseille New Danse Festival, & Tanzmesse Germany. Her latest ensemble work, IN LiMBO, which has had continued support from the Arts Council, recently completed its seven venue Irish National Tour in February 2020. Kristyn is currently involved with two projects for Galway 2020; Plurabella, a solo dance film commissioned by Ríonach Ní Néill (Hope it Rains) and a site-specific dance piece with Dansnest (NL) through Galway Dance Project. Further funding has been secured from the Irish Arts Council for a new traditional comedy ensemble piece to premier in 2021. Alongside her choreography, Kristyn has developed her skills as a producer for fellow dancer artists. She believes working along like-minded individuals to present and share their work will widen the market for dance in Ireland. www.kristynfontanella.com
Special Guest: Instrutora Sabiá
Capoeira & Colonial Resistance
Special Guest: Brother(hood) Dance
Socio-Political and Environmental Injustices
Brother(hood) Dance! is an interdisciplinary duo that seeks to inform its audiences on the socio- political and environmental injustices from a global perspective, bringing clarity to the same- gender-loving African-American experience in the 21st century. Brother(hood) Dance! was formed in April 2014 as a duo that researches, creates and performs dances of freedom by Orlando Zane Hunter, Jr. and Ricarrdo Valentine. We have performed our works at FiveMyles, Center for Performance Research, B.A.A.D! (Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance), VCU-The Grace Street Theater, DraftWork at St. Marks Church, JACK, Movement Research at Judson Church, Colby College, Denmark Arts Center, Universidad de las Américas Puebla/Performatíca(MX), Escuela Profesional de Danza de Mazatlan/Viso Festival (MX), Jean-Rene Delsolins Institute (HT) and other venues.
Creating Access for Dancers
Ballethnic Dance Company, Atlanta’s first African American-founded professional ballet company, was founded in 1990 by Nena Gilreath and Waverly Lucas, both formerly of Dance Theatre of Harlem and Atlanta Ballet. Comprised of Ballethnic Dance Company (BDC) and Ballethnic Academy of Dance, BDCis a classically trained, culturally diverse, professional company fusing traditional ballet with African and other ethnic dance forms, receiving national acclaim for its choreographic canon. The professional company (BDC) provides training and performance opportunities to professional and pre-professional dancers. Ballethnic Academy of Dance (BAD)provides instruction in Ballet, Pointe, Pas De Deux, Modern, Jazz, Hip Hop, Tap, African, and Ballethnicize (an original style of dance developed by co-founder Waverly T. Lucas II) to students age 4 to adult. Ballethnic regularly serves over 10,000 program participants and audience members in the metro Atlanta area.
Women in Hip Hop
Crystal Frazier is a native of New Jersey and holds an Associate Degree in Dance from The University of the Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Choreography from Jacksonville University. She is a freelance choreographer and currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Point Park University.
Crystal is a former senior member with the world-renowned, Rennie Harris Puremovement. She has performed and taught nationally and internationally, including the Middle East and Central Asia as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador with RHPM. She is also the former Co-Founder of “Montazh,” an all-female Hip Hop dance company based in Philadelphia.
Crystal’s industry performance credits are VH-1 Fashion Awards, BET Comicview, BET Awards, Italy Tour with Kathy Sledge and many more. She was the featured dancer and choreographer for Grammy Award–winning artist, Jill Scott’s “Big Beautiful Tour”. On film, she made an appearance in the movie Beloved and TV show Monk. She was a part of Dance International Workshop Program teaching fundamentals of Hip Hop dance in Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka and, Tokyo. Crystal’s choreography has been featured nationally and internationally for Rennie Harris RHAW, Cruzan Dance, St. Croix, University of the Arts in Taiwan, Encore Danses En Tourneau in Canada, Hip Hop Extravaganza in Bermuda, Philadelphia 76ers Dance Team, Borealis Dance and many more.
Alice Blumenfeld is a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, a YoungArts Silver Award winner, a Fulbright recipient in Dance, and an Individual Excellence Awardee in Choreography from the Ohio Arts Council (FY 20). She fell in love with flamenco at age 12, and since then it has been the driving force in her life, founding the non-profit music and dance company ABREPASO Flamenco in 2016 and previously on dance faculty at Oberlin College and Cuyahoga Community College. Previously, she toured nationally with Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana for five seasons and performed as a soloist in their New York-based company for several years. She has performed as a guest artist with many of the preeminent flamenco companies in the U.S., including with Grammy Award winner Hernán Romero, Nélida Tirado, Forever Flamenco, EntreFlamenco, Jácome Flamenco, the American Bolero Dance Co., among others. Blumenfeld has also performed internationally in Germany and Spain. Spending countless hours woodshedding, she has developed her own style in flamenco, which can only be done when one deeply understands the form and its culture. Contemporary dance teacher and choreographer Laurie DeVito’s sequential movement and spirals has greatly influenced Blumenfeld’s aesthetic.
Roots of Jazz
Monique Haley (Springfield, VA) is a graduate of The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in performing arts, specializing in jazz dance. Monique honors nine memorable years with the prestigious River North Chicago Dance Company, as the first African- American female to join the company in 2001. She has also been a member of the Bermuda Dance Company and the Eleone Dance Theater of Philadelphia.
In Chicago, Monique was a frequent teacher for the Lou Conte Dance Studio, the Visceral Dance Center, and the Joffrey Academy of Dance Trainee Program. Monique participates yearly as part of the Chicago Dance Connection Jazz Camp Faculty and has taught for the former River North Chicago and Inaside Dance Company Summer Intensives. She has set choreography for high school, collegiate, and professional companies on a national scale. As a dance educator, Monique has been a guest teacher in 2016, 2017, and 2019 ACDA East Central Conferences.
In musical theater, Ms. Haley was featured as a dancer and ensemble member in the Disney musical The Jungle Book, directed by Mary Zimmerman and choreographed by the Tony Award-winning Christopher Gattelli. In Chicago’s regional theater seen, she was dance captain/ensemble member, and associate choreographer, for the Drury Lane Oakbrook Theater’s production of Aida, and the associate choreographer of Paramount Theater Aurora’s inaugural production of My Fair Lady. Additional theater credits include HAIR, Joseph, and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Mrs. Potiphar). Chicago (June), On the Town, amongst others.
Monique has choreographed for American Midwest Ballet, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Nomi Dance Company, Visceral Dance Company, the Chicago Repertory Ballet Company, and the collaborative works with the Chicago – based companies Muntu African Dance Company, and DanceWorks Chicago. In 2010, she created the entertainment segment for the Danny Clark Foundation Annual Celebrity Gala: Le Moulin Rouge, a Night in Paris, to help raise money to promote advocacy, education, and outreach programs to those in need. Haley’s choreography has been featured in Dance for Life Chicago, the annual aids benefit concert. In 2015, she premiered a collaborative theatre/dance piece Still Life with Drumming at the Myron S. Szold Music and Dance Hall at The Old Town School of Folk Music. Collegiate commissions include work for the former Marygrove College, Western Michigan University, and the University of the Arts, to name a few.
Monique’s career and creative works are recognized in such publications as Dance Spirit and Dance Magazine. Haley is one of the first artists to receive a 3Arts Award (2012) for choreography and dance, as well as her contribution to the arts community in the city of Chicago.
Ms. Haley holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance from The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She began to devise her dance process research, the Diasporic Encounter Method (DEM), which centers African cultural values and rituals in jazz dance pedagogy. Monique has been invited to the prestigious American Dance Festival (ADF), to be a part of their summer 2020 dance faculty. Haley will use DEM as a foundational teaching tool to inspire an authentic ethos and connection between participants in their daily jazz practice. Pending COVID-19 restrictions, she now looks forward to bringing this opportunity to fruition in 2021.
Concerning future endeavors, a multi-authored book of jazz dance educators and experts, “21st Century Jazz Dance” by editors Lindsay Guarino, Carlos Jones, and Wendy Oliver features Ms. Haley’s DEM research. Her chapter, Cultivating African Diasporic Ethos and Cultural Values in Contemporary Jazz Dance, to debut sometime in 2021.
In addition, she is a resident choreographer for Chicago’s, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, where she has set works, ROOT (2018), Culture Loop (2020), and is preparing to begin a two-year development of an evening length immersive show experience, Soul Remedy, to be debut in the 2022-2023 season.
In Kalamazoo, Monique continues to inspire and passionately educate her students at the Western Michigan University Department of Dance, teaching jazz dance curriculum and working with the musical theater performance students as an Assistant Professor of Dance.