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2013 Choreographers


Jamuna Chiarini's bio can be found here.

Ananda Bena-Weber has performed choreographic works by: Gregory Hines, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Fred Astaire, Hermes Pan, John Cranko, Alonzo King, Bill ‘Bo Jangles’ Robinson, Jimmy Slyde, Marius Petipa, Sam Weber, Rosine Bena, Lynn Dally. She has performed as a dancer with such companies as:  The Jazz Tap Ensemble, The Sierra Nevada Ballet, The Reno Ballet, Peninsula Ballet Theatre, and as an independent artist throughout the US and Europe. Roles in regional theater include: Rosalind (As You Like It), Arkadina (The Seagull), Juliet (Romeo and Juliet), Lady Anne (Richard III), Lola (Damn Yankees), Helena (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Ophelia and Horatio (Hamlet), and the title role in Medea. Education includes: San Francisco State University BA (Theatre Arts and Russian Language and Literature), Shakespeare and Co, American Conservatory Theater, Moscow Art Theater School, British American Drama Academy at Oxford University, Linklater Center of Voice and Speech, and Terry Schreiber Studio.  She is currently working on an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College toward a PHD with an emphasis on Linklater Voice technique.  Ananda is an adjunct professor of dance at Marymount Manhattan College, and a teaching artist for the Dance Theater of Harlem.


Carolyn Dorfman: Known as a creator of evocative dances that reflect her concerns about the human condition, Dorfman creates “worlds” into which the audience can enter. A brilliant storyteller, Dorfman, a child of survivors of the Holocaust, has also created a celebrated body of work that honors her Jewish legacy; its trials and triumphs, its treasured uniqueness and, most importantly, its universal connections. A Michigan native, Dorfman received her BFA in Dance from the University of Michigan and MFA from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts. She has been designated a distinguished artist and granted six choreography fellowships (most recently 2011) from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, among other honors. A master teacher, she is a guest artist/choreographer at major universities, professional and pre-professional training programs across the U.S. Dorfman is a mentor for Dance USA,  serves on the Artist Committee of the All Stars Project NY/NJ and is on the board of trustees of The Yard. 

CDDC’s 10-member company appears at major theaters, dance festivals, universities and schools regionally, nationally and internationally and is lauded for its artistry and exceptional arts education and community programming. The Company, described as “ingenious” (StarLedger), “emotionally resonant” (New York Times) and “dancers with a four octave range” (Guest-choreographer Doug Elkins) presents new and repertory works by Dorfman and regularly commissions original scores and artistic collaborations. CDDC is supported by the NJSCA, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Karma Foundation, Harkness Foundation for Dance, among other foundation, corporation and individual donors.

Heidi Cruz-Austin/DanceSpora Dance Company: Ms Cruz-Austin began her dance training at the age of four at The Dolly Haltzman Dance Academy in Allentown, Pa. She went on to study at the School of American Ballet and The Pennsylvania Ballet. Ms. Cruz-Austin received an apprenticeship with Pennsylvania Ballet in 1994 and joined the Company as a member of the Corps de Ballet in 1995. She has danced numerous featured roles from various choreographer's such as Val Caniparoli, Ben Stevenson, Alvin Ailey, Margo Sappington, Christopher d'Amboise, and Matthew Neenan. In addition to dancing with Pennsylvania Ballet, Ms.Cruz has danced with the Philadelphia based company Ballet X and has performed as a guest artist throughout the United States and Europe. She has taught ballet at Bryn Mawr College and is currently a ballet adjunct professor at Muhlenberg College.

Ms. Cruz-Austin's choreography was a winner for the 2003 Ballet Builders showcase in New York City. She has been commissioned to create works for Franklin and Marshall College, Bryn Mawr College, Muhlenberg College, and Repertory Dance Theater. She was a recipient of the 2004-2005 New Edge Residency at The Community Education Center of Philadelphia. Heidi Cruz-Austin received a 2008 Choreography Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She is coartistic director and lead choreographer for Trenton, NJ based contemporary dance company DanceSpora which she cofounded.

Maureen Glennon is a dancer, choreographer and dance educator.  She is founder and artistic director of moe-tion dance theater, a contemporary modern dance company based in NJ.  Her work has been presented throughout the tri-state area including DUMBO Dance Festival, Cool Wave NY Dance Festival, Gershwin Hotel, Merce Cunningham Studio, University Settlement House, George Street Playhouse, Crossroads Theatre, Cathedral Arts Festival, Movement Research, SWEAT Outdoors Dance Festival, Outlet Dance Project/Grounds for Sculpture, American College Dance Festivals, National High School Dance Festivals, County College of Morris, Montclair State University, Centenary College, Raritan Valley Community College and at A Taste of NY in Nicosia, Cyprus.  Her work has been commissioned by Montclair State University, Beyondance, County College of Morris, Raritan Valley Community College, Ballet Forte, Arts Access Program at Matheny Medical & Educational Center, numerous high school dance departments throughout NJ and Steffi Nossen School of Dance in White Plains, NY.  She has danced professionally with Freespace Dance (1997-2004), where she is an original co-founder, Beyondance and Umoja Dance Company.  Her first professional dance gig was performing with Nicholas Rodriguez and Dance Compass, with whom she toured nationally.  Maureen was the recipient of a 2011 Dance Education Fellowship at Bates Dance Festival in Maine.  She currently holds a full-time position for the Gifted & Talented Program at Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School.  Maureen has previously been on faculty at College of Morris, where she earned her AS in Recreation & Leisure/Dance and Montclair State University, where she earned her BFA in Dance.

Jeremy Ruth Howes is a professional dancer, choreographer and educator in the Boston area. She graduated from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Dance with a BFA in Dance Performance. While at Hartt she performed soloist roles in La Bayadere, Guernsey Fields, Martha Graham’s Steps in the Street and numerous other classical and contemporary works. She has danced professionally with Northern Ballet Theatre and Virginia Ballet Theatre dancing soloist roles in The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and George Balanchine’s Serenade. Currently she is a principal dancer with Anna Myer and Dancers creating roles in Myer’s original choreography. Jeremy Ruth is on faculty at Dean College teaching ballet and dance composition. She also has choreographed for the Dean College Dance Company for the past five years and has created ten original works for the company. Jeremy Ruth teaches at Walker’s Dance in Lowell Northeast School of Ballet in Reading. Jeremy Ruth is also currently pursuing her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College.

Hsiao-Wei Hsieh and Hsiao-Ting Hsieh: Hsiao-Wei and Hsiao-Ting, are former student majoring in Medical Technology in Taipei Medical University and Veterinary in National Taiwan University in Taiwan. Although with such background, they have a particular interest in dance. They went to LABAN (UK) and Martha Graham School (U.S.A) for 5 years. They received their Certificate of Completion Teacher Training Program on scholarship at Martha Graham School on 2011. Throughout their studies, Hsiao-wei and Hsiao-ting started to build choreographic repertory. Their success is extensive and varied, Beginning in 2008, their piece called “Goldberg Fantasia” was invited to be presented at the Bonnie Bird Theatre in London. In New York, the venues that have hosted them include prominent festivals and showcase such as New Steps Series, 60X60 Dance, EFSD Show, Graham II Spring Season, WAXworks, Performing in New York Experience 2012, Passport to Taiwan, Queen Arts Express, NYC10 and Astoria Dance Festival. They had their own performance “City Impression Series No.1” at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center in 2012. They also collaborate with other artists and choreographers, including Purring Tiger Dance Company, “MIZARU” presents in Tribeca Performing Arts Center, “Turn Around The Back” with artist Jia-Jen Lin at tamtamArt  in Berlin, Germany, “InAction” with French portrait photographer Sylvain Guenot and “Merge” Video/Interactive Art+Dance at Triskelion Arts. Recently, they are both residency artists at Far Residency and TOPAZ ARTS in 2013.

Gale Jackson, Sheila Anozier, and Marquerite Hamden: Sheila Anozier (Haitian and freestyle dance; Vocals, Percussion) has lived in New York most of her life, but her first memories, her childhood, her core is housed in Haiti where dance is prevalent to everything. She began a formal training in dance at Long Island University where she met Ella Thompson Moore, an original member of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, who encouraged her to keep dancing. But it wasn't until she was under the support and inspiration of Pat Hall did she find her freedom in it. In June 2008, she toured Vietnam with Peter Yarrow and the Fund for Reconciliation and development, as dancer and background vocalist. Later that summer, she performed in Les Nuits Atypiques in Langon, France with "Bethany and Rufus" and "Vodou Drums of Haiti." In the summer of 2007 she served at choreographer and dancer for Brave New World Repertory Theatre: "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" at Celebrate Brooklyn, Prospect Park Bandshell. Sheila toured with the critically acclaimed Tamango's Urban Tap from 2001 to 2003. In December 2002 she toured with singer/dancer Wunmi Olaiya in Tokyo, Japan. Her performances have taken her to venues and festivals across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia including the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Vollos Festival in Greece, The Hague Holland Dance Festival in the Netherlands, and the Altstadtherbst Festival in Germany. New York performances include Lincoln Center "Out of Doors", The Joyce, Dance Theatre Workshop, The Kitchen, and SOB's.

Poet, storyteller, cultural historian, interdisciplinary humanities scholar and librarian, Gale Jackson is the author of Put Your Hands on Your Hips and Act Like a  Woman: Song, Dance, Black History and Poetics in Performance (Forthcoming),  MeDea/ A Novella (Glad Day, 2006)  Suite for Mozambique (Ikon, 2005), Bridge Suite: Narrative Poems Based on the Lives of African and African American Women in the Early History of These New Black Nations (Storm Imprints, 1998), and A Khoisan Tale of Beginnings and Ends (Storm Imprints, 1998). Her work has been performed, exhibited, presented and anthologized nationally and internationally, appearing in a number of collections and journal publications including The African American Review, Callaloo, Artist and Influence, Ploughshares and Essence.  She has been a fellow at the University of the West Indies, was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for her work in griot traditions, honored as a “runner up” for the poet laureate of Brooklyn, and is presently engaged in a wide range of art and education presentations, conversations, local tutorials, workshops and artist collaborations through her learning studio project Ehecatl Olin.  Her thirty plus years of work in humanities education includes a twelve year tenure on faculty of Medgar Evers College, of the City University of New York, as assistant professor and director of library reference and reader services, a co-coordinating role in national anti-apartheid cultural education initiatives, and work on the writing faculties of The New School, Sarah Lawrence College and the Worker Education project of Queens College.  She currently serves as poet and storyteller in residence in a New York City public middle school and in the independent community school at Hayground, and is on the graduate faculty of interdisciplinary arts at Goddard College.  Gale is a native New Yorker with Jamaican roots who is a long time resident of Brooklyn, New York.

Marquerite Hamden was  born and raised in Holland and has been performing on stage and television since the age of 10. She is a actor, dancer/choreographer, vocalist , designer. Rather sticking to one discipline, she likes to combine and explore new possibilities. She loves being a creator. Marquerite is currently working on and developing different projects that are combining her talents.

Joya Powell/Movement of the People Dance Company:A native New Yorker, Joya Powell received her M.A. in Dance Education from New York University, and her B.A. in Latin American Studies and Creative Writing from Columbia University. Throughout her career she has danced with choreographers such as Katiti King, Neta Pulvermacher, Donlin Foreman and Paco Gomes. Her choreography has appeared at venues such as City Parks Dance, The FLEA, The Outlet Dance Project in NJ, Riverside Theatre, Dance New Amsterdam, Casa del Prado Theatre in San Diego, Montgomery College Theater in Maryland, The Hammerstein Ballroom, BAAD!, and The Chapin Rainbow Stage in LI. She has also choreographed the plays JOB by Thomas Bradshaw, and The Shakes: Romeo and Juliet at the Off Off Off Broadway theater: The FLEA Theater. She has taught and studied dance in Brazil and Puerto Rico. Ms. Powell is currently an Adjunct Lecturer at The Center for Dance, Movement and Somatic Learning at Stony Brook University. Her dance company, Movement of the People Dance Company, recently completed their successful run as a 2012-2013 Artist-in-Residence at The Performance Project @ University Settlement. As Artistic Director and Choreographer of Movement of the People Dance Company she is dedicated to connecting cultures and finding ways to empower underserved communities through dance.

Kathleen Kececi/Lisa Peluso: Kathie Kececi received her Masters Degree in Dance and Dance Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is the founder and director of Summerdance, an integrated art program for children, as well as In Motion Dance Company, comprised of high school dancers. She was a teaching artist for New York City Ballet and has taught master classes at high schools and universities in NJ, NY and PA. She performs and choreographs throughout the tri-state area including Dance New Amsterdam, NY; Merce Cunningham Studios, NYC; Joyce Soho, NYC; The Rebound Festival, CT; Grounds for Sculpture for The Outlet Dance Project; Princeton YWCA; Morristown Community Theatre; Moravian College, PA and The Bickford Theatre, NJ. She also teaches Modern Dance and Zumba at Dorothy Del Guercio School of Dance. She lives in NJ with her husband and two boys.


Lisa Peluso graduated summa cum laude from Montclair State University with a BFA in dance. While attending MSU, she was invited into the company in residence, Donna Scro/Freespace Dance. Lisa was a scholarship apprentice/understudy for Jennifer Muller/The Works and has performed with Flexicurve, project: Smith and KDNY. Some of her favorite choreographic venues include the International Dance Festival in Hawaii, the 2010 American College Dance Festival Gala concert in Virginia, the Merce Cunningham theater, Bryant Park, and the Fringe Festival in Scotland.  She currently dances with Elisa Monte Dance.

Pilar Castro Kiltz is a choreographer, director, playwright, dancer, actor, singer and violinist. In all of her work, Pilar seeks to synthesize the many elements of the performing arts including dance, music and theater.  Pilar graduated with honors from Princeton University with a Bachelors in Music and double minor in Theater and in Dance. In May 2012, Pilar earned an MFA in Dance from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Her piece “Booze and Smokes” was selected to open the 2012 Tisch Graduation Salute at Radio City Music Hall. Her first play, Liminal, was produced at Princeton University in April 2010. Called a “…phenomenal, unique piece of theater…likely to give you chills,” Liminal was written, directed and choreographed by Pilar with original music by Vince Dimura. 

In Summer 2011, Pilar brought together a group of dancers, musicians and actors to create a dance theater company called Ensemble Dance. Pilar’s choreography has been seen at the DUMBO Dance Festival, the FAB! Festival, the CoolNY2012 Dance Festival, Greenspace, WaxWorks, TedMed Live, and the New York Musical Theater Festival, among others. Ensemble Dance has been presented by the DanceNOW RAW Studio, presented twice by Dixon Place, and participated in a Choreographic Mentorship with Stephen Petronio. Ensemble Dance is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas.

An Associate Member of SDC, in 2012 Pilar earned an SDC Foundation Observership with Rob Ashford on Cat on a Hot Tin Roof starring Scarlett Johansson. In May 2012 Pilar’s first scholarly article was published in Three Oranges journal. 

Rain Ross believes that dance is an intellectual as well as a physical pursuit – a belief that informs her teaching, choreography, and performance.  Her approach  engages the whole self to create dance that is articulate and expressive – that is fully embodied artistry.

Ross trained at the Cornish College of the Arts, Preparatory Division.  She earned her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College, and her M.F.A. from the University of Iowa.  She has worked with a diverse range of choreographers including Wade Madsen, Toni Pimble, David Dorfman, Rodney A. Brown, Catherine Cabeen, and Hannah Wiley, and has performed with The Playhouse Dance Company in South Africa, and Arc Dance in Seattle. 

As artistic director of Rain Ross Dance, Ross has presented work at the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, SB-ADaPT Festival, DUMBO Dance, and others.  She has had works commissioned by the Seattle Art Museum, Ohio Dance Theatre, and Al Sarab Dance Company.   She participates annually as a featured Guest Artist at the International Dance Festival in Lebanon, and is now the guest artist liaison for the festival.

Currently, Ross serves as Assistant Professor of Dance at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  As an academic artist, she has presented papers at Congress on Research in Dance and The Association of American Geographers.  She integrates theoretical research into her artistic and pedagogical work, specifically looking at performance and gender theory, representations of power, and traditional research in relation to creativity.

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