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2018 Day of Dance Choreographers 


LEILANI CHIRINO started dancing at the age of three at the Conservatorio de las Artes de Conchita Espinosa, a Cuban arts academy founded in Havana, Cuba. She later became principal dancer for the company of Ada Linares, specializing in flamenco, ballet, and modern dance. In college, she studied Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban modern dance. While training in the classical dances at school, she was raised in Afro-Cuban religions at home, exposing her to the music and dances from an early age. Professionally, her goal has been to promote Afro-Cuban culture, dance, and music. Since moving to Philadelphia, she has performed at the Koresh Artist Showcase, the Koresh Come Together Dance Festival, the Painted Bride, World Café Live, Fringe Arts, the Museum of Art, and the Barnes Foundation. She has also taught and performed Cuban social dances at dance congresses in San Francisco, New York, and Atlanta. She is currently an instructor of Afro-Cuban modern dance, flamenco, and ballet at Sound Space studio in Philadelphia. 

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TINA CROLL, founding member of Dance Theater Workshop, studied with Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, Nina Fonoroff and performed in the companies of Jeff Duncan, Jack Moore, Jamie Cunningham, and Judith Dunn.  Established Tina Croll + Company performing in various venues in New York City and around the US.  After a period spent exploring the spiritual aspect of dance, a quest that took her to India and Europe, Croll moved to the west coast.  In 1993, she returned to New York City and has been performing her work at The Duke on 42nd St., The Kaye Playhouse, Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop, P.S. 122, The Kitchen.  Recent evening-length works produced by Danspace Project include “Ancient Springs” with a cast of 20 dancers and “Balkan Dreams” a collaboration with Zlatne Uste, a twelve piece Balkan Brass Band with a cast of 38 dancers and musicians.  Other collaborations include an improvisation group, “the Gang of Four,” with Wendy Perron, Douglas Dunn, and Kenneth King.  Ms. Croll and Jamie Cunningham continue to work together on their ongoing project From the Horse’s Mouth, which has been produced for the past 20 years in major cities around the United States and Canada, as well as at Jacob’s Pillow and the American Dance Festival.

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AMY DILORENZO grew up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and began her training in ballet, contemporary, jazz and tap at age three. She began exploring choreography through her school's dance program and immediately gained a passion for the process of envisioning, creating and developing dance. She continued her training at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts where she earned a BFA in Dance and a BA in Economics in 2018. Throughout DiLorenzo's time at NYU she performed pieces by Sean Curren, Ori Flomin and several student pieces, as well as choreographed three pieces on her peers. Recently since graduating college, Amy has been researching her own innate movement and is hopeful to share her physical language with other dancers as well as interested spectators.


SHANA EL is Artistic Director of Ujima Dance Theatre and has been involved in the dance arts since age 11 in 1985 . She began her training at Philadanco, then to the Philadanco Training Program, The Creative and Performing Arts High School and the University Of The Arts where she studied dance under top professors; Roni Koresh, Pat Thomas for Graham technique, Faye Snow, Milton Myers for Horton technique and Wayne St. David. She is a 1994 and 2010 awardee of the CEC New Edge Mix Performance Series. She has performed and presented work at the Painted Bride Art Center, Conwell Dance Theater,  The Philadelphia Arts Bank, Penns Landing, The Venice Island Performing Arts Center and much more. Shana is a faculty member of 18 years with the Bowman School of Dance in Cherry Hill New Jersey where she teaches intermediate advanced modern dance and jazz, and former instructor at the Monarch School of Dance where she taught Contemporary/Modern Dance and was selected in February 2017 to instruct a master modern dance class. She has taught at many different dance schools and youth programs in Philadelphia and New Jersey. In 2015 and 2016 received a teaching artist residency at Bridgeton High School in N.J. to teach youth modern dance and Dunham Technique.  Shana worked for years as a solo artist and has self produced and choreographed her own productions , such as A Journey Through Consciousness, Presented at All The Way Live Restaurant in April 2015, a combination of spoken word and dance. Shana also is a former member of The Requisite Movers, a choreographers group for women of African Descent, where she choreographed and performed her work Southern Breeze at the Community Education Center's Meeting House Theater in November 2015. Shana recently collaborated with Sister's Laying Down Hands at the Artist bash for the Barnes Foundation in July 2018.  Currently she is the Artistic Director of Ujima Dance Theatre formed in September 2016. Ujima has presented work at the Venice Island Performing Arts Center, The Painted Bride, The CHI Movement Arts Center, and the Community Education Center, Meeting House Theater. FB: @ujimasdancetheater


CARRIE ELLMORE-TALLITSCH is a former principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company.  She has also worked with many other prominent artists and companies.

​Her choreography, film, and installations have appeared at the Walt Whitman Theater at Brooklyn College, Westbeth Studio Theater, Tea Lounge, 92nd Street Y, Nimbus Offline choreography showcase, and at The Culinary Arts Amphitheater in Journal Square. More recently, she choreographed her own version of Stravinsky's L'Histoire Du Soldat at the Carl Fields Center at Princeton University with a live orchestra. Most recently this past July 2018, she set a performance art piece at Dohm Alley in downtown Princeton.

Carrie is the co-founder of Big Sky Project,  A grassroots Community Fellowship. Gathering community and all of the resources and skills available for barter, thus creating commerce, self-sufficiency, and art with in a village. One project and location at a time, Big Skyʼs mission is to initiate the healing of the environment in which we all live, through imaginative, innovative, experimental, artistic, and inspired philosophy.


ANNIELILLE GAVINO, affectionately known as Ani ( meaning "Harvest" in her native tongue, Hiligaynon) is a native of the Philippines. Annielille studied Tourism Management prior to pursuing her dance training at the Alvin Ailey School NYC, simultaneously assisting Horton Master teacher, Milton Myers. She danced professionally with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble ( Denver, CO ) and the Dallas Black Dance Theater (Dallas, TX). Through these mixed repertory companies, she was able to work with legendary choreographers such as Katherine Dunham, Donald McKayle, Eleo Pomare, Diane McIntyre, Alonzo King, Ronald K. Brown, Chuck Davis and many others. Annielille is also trained in folk dances of the Philippines. Her passion for polyrhythms has led to her investigation of Flamenco, Bharatanatyam, and various techniques of the African Diaspora. Currently, Annielille is is a freelance teaching and movement artist/ choreographer. She dances with Kun- Yang- Lin/Dancers ( Philadelphia). Her recent collaborative work conceptualized by tabla player, Lenny Seidman is funded by Pew Center for Arts and Heritage and celebrates the rhythms of tabla, taiko and dance. Ani has also recently collaborated with visual artist,  Saya Woofalk where Ani uses her improvisational skills against Saya's Hybrid Digital Art. Ani has also appeared on camera in the forms of a shorts and dance on films directed by, Jasmine Lynea, Torian Ugworji and Marit Stafstrom.  A natural story teller, her first attempt at story slam was presented by NPR/WHYY and Common Space and directed by David O'Connor. Her works have been commissioned by Dance Place, DC, funded by Small But Mighty Arts Grant, presented at the Fleisher Art Memorial, Barnes Foundation, fBronx Academy Of Dance, DUMBO, Come Together Festival, Philadelphia Fringe and more. She continues her artistic journey as a political artist through her project based company, Malayaworks (named after her daughter Malaya Cassandra.) Follow her @ IG: ani_malayaworks

MALAYA CASSANDRA  is a budding young Filipino artist. She has appeared in theater plays produced by MacGuffin Theater and performed dance theater works in the 2015-16  Philadelphia fringe productions. She has danced at the Dixon Place NYC, Koresh showcase and Fleisher Art Memorial. She has appeared in short films directed by Jasmine Lynea and by Marit Staffstrom. She loves art, from making mosaics, craft jewelry, felt needling, playing the ukulele and more. Malaya’s self proclaimed spirit animal is a black cat. 


SWATHI JAISANKAR has been training in Bharatanatyam for the past 14 years with her Guru Smt. Suba Parmar in NJ, USA. Swathi was a Creative Director for IndianRaga 2017 through which she choreographed and danced in over 15 major productions that have received millions of views. She has won numerous accolades and has performed at international levels. She has performed at the Jacob's Pillow Festival in Aug. 2018, is a Two Time National YoungArts Winner, and was a Finalist in the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival 2015. Swathi was invited to perform in Dubai at the World Government Summit 2018 to open for the Prime Minister of India. She also won a 90 min. Solo performance slot in Narada Gana Sabha during the coveted Margazhi Festival 2017 in Chennai, India after having won First Place in the Natyanjali Competition in NJ the year before, and has won the award and title of "New Jersey Naatya Shiromani". Additionally, she is a lead performer of her college team, Boston University Jalwa, through which she choreographs various forms of dance such as Bollywood, Bhangra, Contemporary, and Hip-Hop. Majoring in Computer Engineering at BU, she hopes to continue growing as a passionate and versatile dancer.


Born in San Antonio, Texas, SOPHIA SALINGAROS studied Bharatanatyam with Guru Dr. Sreedhara Akkihebbalu from the age of nine. Since her 2010 debut recital – Arangetram –, she has given many solo performances in the US and abroad, including India, Belgium, and Germany. She is an ICCR Empaneled Artist and a 2017 and 2018 IndianRaga Fellow. Notably, she was invited to perform in Dubai at the 2018 World Government Summit before the Prime Minister of India, and at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. She has given multiple performances during both national and international tours. Sophia has also studied intensively with Smt. Rama Vaidyanathan, and performed in her 2018 US tour of ‘Vivartana’. Also a pre-professional ballet dancer, Sophia studied at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow for six weeks under full scholarship in 2015 and continues to perform in classical and contemporary works with Columbia Ballet Collaborative. Now a chemistry major student at Columbia University, she passionately continues to pursue dance. Here is her YouTube channel.


INDIANRAGA'S goal is to become the largest community of artists and mentors in the world who produce authentic, ground-breaking new works in the performing arts. IndianRaga provides a platform for aspiring artists to explore their talent, with opportunities to focus on presentation and performance, high-quality audio and video production for digital channels, and collaboration with fellow artists.


TZVETA KASSABOVA is a Bulgarian born choreographer, costume designer and installation artist, named one of the '25 to watch' in 2012 by Dance Magazine. At different times she has been a gymnast, physicist, and meteorologist. As a dancer, Tzveta has been part of Ed Tyler, Sara Pearson/Patrik Widrig and David Dorfman Dance companies, and has performed for many other wonderful choreographers. Her work as a choreographer has been presented in US, Europe andAsia. She received five Metro DC Dance Award (2008 and 210), the Prince George’s Arts Council grant (2009 and 2012) and Maryland State Arts Council Award (2010 and 2011), Michigan Arts Consul Choreographic Award (2017). She holds three Masters degrees. Tzveta is thrilled to be teaching at University of Michigan Tzveta believes that dance is a visual art form. She has always been fascinated by the concept of space, and is constantly trying to address it, both in her choreography and design. Tzveta is very excited about the huge undertaking and endless opportunities ANDY (a new performance space in Detroit) offers and she is overjoyed to dive into the adventure.


AARZU, is a New York based international art ensemble. ALIYA KERIMUJIANG, a queer identified dancer who was born in China is an Uyghur people. Her style of dancing (the arzu dance) is inspired by Uyghur dance and combined her personal understanding on the Taoist philosophy and the Sufism philosophy. KAYSAR MAHMUT, an Uyghur musician, he focus on composing Uyghur contemporary fusion music, and has been collaborating with different kinds of arts to promote multi-cultural exchanges. ALEJANDRO TRIANA, a seasoned New York musician, His music has influenced by the styles music he has loved, including punk, rockabilly, indie surf style and Arabic maqam etc., his compositions introduce an alternative way to approach cultural music. Aarzu is focusing on bring awareness to minority social groups; their current work investigates issue which is often covered up within Muslim communities such as invisibility of LGBTQ Muslims.

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TUMI NKOMO (Choreographer/Founder/Artistic Director: Nyane Khosi Dance Theatre) was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Her family moved back to help rebuild their home country of South Africa at the end of Apartheid. Tumi graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor’s degree majoring in African dance and minoring in Contemporary dance, during which she had the opportunity to work with Maxwell Xolani Rani training in Ntsika Technique. She has been dancing professionally since 2005, both onscreen and onstage. Her onscreen work has aired nationally and internationally. Her repertory experience has included African, Modern, Contemporary, Hip Hop, as well as an array of historical, cultural and social dances. She has also trained with the Garth Fagan Dance Company. Her work as an artist has sent her to various parts of the world; including Mauritius, Japan and Australia. In 2012 she founded Nyane Khosi Dance Theatre.

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JENNA SILVA started dancing when she was three in her hometown of Whittier, California. She is now a graduate of the University of the Arts with a BFA in Dance. Jenna was an advid member of Group Motion Dance Company throughout most of her college career, where she performed improvisational structures under direction of Manfred Fischbeck. She has recently been hired to choreograph and co-produce multiple short plays as well as the new musical, Indigestible Companions. This past June, Jenna produced Exertion: an evening in the life of a dance artist, in which she choreographed two pieces and performed a solo and duet.










NIA IMANI SIMMONS was trained in ballet, modern, and jazz by Maria Emmons at the Dance Conservatory in Delaware. In 2013, she attended the University of the Arts majoring in Dance. She has danced in works by Wayne David, Tommie Waheed-Evans, Nora Gibson, Curt Haworth, Katie-Swords-Thurman, and Jesse Zaritt. She graduated with her BFA in 2017. After earning her degree, she began teaching dance for the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership. Nia is thankful to God for dance and how through it she has been able to express herself in every season of her life.


SOLES OF DUENDE is an energetic, multi-cultural, all-female percussive trio based in Tap, Flamenco and Kathak dance. Eagerly searching for truth and connection through the rhythms and shared stories of their respective cultures, these three women synergistically create performance that inspires and cultivates transformation. Amanda Castro, Brinda Guha, and Arielle Rosales deliver an explosion of rhythm, dialogue and music that celebrates an empowering female alliance. An unforgettable experience guaranteed to rock the world!


ZOE WALDERS is a choreographer, dancer, and dance videographer. She holds a BA in Dance from SUNY Potsdam. Originally from Rochester, NY, Zoe moved to New York City to pursue her dance career. She has studied ballet, pointe, modern, contemporary, tap, musical theater, and jazz. Most recently, she presented her piece, Link Work, in Mare Nostrum Element’s Emerging Choreographers Series in February 2018. Her other most recent work, Falling Ahead, was presented performed a solo at Mark Morris Shared Space, ChloeIsaBow and Co informal at Gibney Dance, and Next Wave Dance at Eurydice Gallery in Brooklyn. As a choreographer, she is interested in the play between intuition and analysis. Focusing mainly in the contemporary movement genre, her work is highly detailed and gestural and often generated from improvisation practices.


ESRAA WARDA is a North African performance and teaching artist originally from Algeria. Having grown up between Brooklyn and Algeria, she was introduced to dance within informal women's spaces and weddings and was quickly acknowledged as a talented dancer within her community and family. She now professionally teaches and performs Moroccan Chaabi and other Algerian dances such as Rai, Chaoui, Kabyle, and Allaoui. Her dance style and teaching methods are non-commercial and focused on the "transmission" of body knowledge mirroring the same way she learned - through informal women's dance circles. Her dance principles focus on legacy and cultural preservation,  that we should leave behind dance artistry that is valuable to the transformation and evolution of culture.


Esraa’s artistic pedagogy is centered around politicising cultural work to keep North African dance technique authentic (and African-centered!) in the face of cultural imperialism/appropriation. She continues to perform at dozens of local Moroccan traditional gatherings and cultural festivals, political festivals such as the May Day Festival of Resistance, and at transnational feminist events such as the Havana Habibi Festival in Cuba. She routinely curates and coordinates cultural events highlighting the musical link between different African diasporic communities in effort to emphasize the global “African-ness” that underlines our cultures. Esraa will be hosting dance and music workshops in Morocco in Spring 2019 as her “Roots and Rhythms” initiative and continues to travel around the US and Europe to teach, perform, and share her pedagogy. She also runs grassroots political African centric and anti-colonialist artistic projects around New York, such as the North African Radical Education Project and The Chaâb Lab, an Algerian/Moroccan music ensemble that uses participatory performances to engage African diasporic communities in cultural solidarity.

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