Faculty

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Bios

Ephrat Asherie

Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie, a 2016 Bessie Award Winner for Innovative Achievement in Dance, is a New York City based B-girl, dancer and choreographer. As artistic director of Ephrat Asherie Dance (EAD) she has presented work at the Apollo Theater, FiraTarrega, Jacob’s Pillow, New York Live Arts, Summerstage, and the Yard, among others. Ephrat has received numerous awards to support her work including a Kevin Spacey Artist of Choice Award, a Mondo Cane! commission from Dixon Place, a Creative Development Residency from Jacob’s Pillow, Workspace and Extended Life Residencies from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, a Travel and Study Grant from the Jerome Foundation and two residencies through the CUNY Dance Initiative. Her first evening length work, A Single Ride, received two Bessie nominations in 2012 for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer and Outstanding Sound Design by Marty Beller. Ephrat is a regular guest artist with Dorrance Dance and has worked and collaborated with Doug Elkins, Rennie Harris, Bill Irwin, Gus Solomons Jr and Buddha Stretch, among others. She recently created a piece for Parsons Dance Company that will premiere at the Joyce in May 2017. Ephrat is on faculty at Wesleyan University and Broadway Dance Center and is a founding member of the all-female house dance collective, MAWU. She earned her BA from Barnard College, Columbia University in Italian and her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she researched the vernacular jazz dance roots of contemporary street and club dances. 

Elisa Clark

A graduate of The Juilliard School, under the directorship of Benjamin Harkarvy, Elisa Clark has had one of the most accomplished performing careers in modern dance of her generation.  For the past 16 years, Ms. Clark has toured the world as a featured member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (2013-2017), Battleworks Dance Company (2001-2006), the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company (2001, 2011-2012) and the Mark Morris Dance Group (2005-2011), in addition to collaborating on other large and small projects.  She has also performed with the Nederlands Dans Theater and with the Metropolitan Opera at New York City’s Lincoln Center, in works by Jirí Kylián, and Crystal Pite respectively.  Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, Ms. Clark received her early training from the Academy of the Maryland Youth Ballet.  A founding member of Robert Battle’s Battleworks, Ms. Clark has fulfilled many responsibilities pertaining to his work, most importantly, the roles of Dancer, Company Manager, Rehearsal Assistant/Director and Répétiteur.  She has been on faculty at the American Dance Festival since 2004, and taught both Master Classes worldwide, as well as staged the work of Mr. Battle, Mr. Lubovitch, Mr. Morris, Adam Hougland, David Parsons, and Igal Perry on various Schools, Universities and Companies, as well as had a longtime collaborative relationship with Carolyn Adams.  She is a certified Life Coach, a highly sought after teacher and educator, and a 2008 Princess Grace Award winner. 

Marguerite Hemmings

Marguerite, performance artist and educator, is Jamaican born, raised in New Jersey, and has been living in the NYC area for over a decade. She graduated from Columbia University in Education and Urban Studies. As a dancer, Marguerite specializes in street styles, social dances, hip hop, and dancehall, and has been training in modern and West African. She currently teaches Experimental Dancehall, a term she uses to capture her love of dancehall/reggae culture and her belief in movement exploration, improvisation, and challenging norms of how we express ourselves. 

Marguerite’s work centers itself in liberation. She has been subverting, working, and creating with youth as a teaching artist for a very long time. She has received grants from the Jerome Foundation, Brooklyn Arts Council, Harlem Stage, University Settlement, and Dancing While Black to further her work as an artist/youth organizer. She is most recently a recipient of the 2017-18 Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellowship. She is currently working on a self-directed, multimedia endeavor called ‘we free’ that explores the millennial generation’s take on liberation. The first installment of ‘we free’ was shown at Gibney Dance’s Double Plus Series, curated by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. Other iterations of ‘we free’ have been shown at the Brooklyn Museum, BRIC Arts Media, Gibney Dance, JACK Theater, MoCada, and in New Orleans through Junebug Productions. 

Photo credit: Scott Shaw

Nia Love

Nia Love is an artist, choreographer, activist, mother, warrior, and educator continuing to expand conversations of intersectionality through dance. She was invited to apprentice with the world renowned Ballet Nacíonal De Cubá, Havana (1978). She is a graduate of Howard University (BFA) and Florida State University (MFA). Awarded Fulbright Fellowships (2001-2003), she continues to work nationally and internationally. Nia worked and danced with Min Tanaka, the celebrated Japanese Butoh master and has had her work presented at Judson Church, Harlem Stage, Bates Dance Festival, PS122, Projcet Artaud, and Tanzanian–Time 2Dance Festival, to name a few. Love was awarded the Alvin Ailey NDCL grant, the Suitcase Fund, and CUNY Choreographic Initiative and most recently the Movement Research Artist-in-Residence 2016-17.

Johnnie Cruise Mercer

Johnnie Cruise Mercer is a choreographer, educator, and freelance performer in the New York City area. As a choreographer Mr. Mercer’s work has been presented/commissioned by The Center for Performance Research-CPR, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD!), The Dance Place of DC, Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX), Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, Dogtown Dance Theater, Danspace @St Marks Church, Judson Church Movement Research, Greenspace, The Bolls Theater of Detroit,  The Jamaica Performing Arts Center, 92Y Harkness Dance Center, NYU Tisch School of Dance, as well as recently at NYU Skirball’s AUNTS . He has been in residence at Chez Bushwick Inc, DanceNow Silo Farms, University of Massachusetts Ahmerst, University of Texas at Austin, 92Y Harkness Dance Center (2016-2017 AIR), NYU 2017 Summer Residency Program, and is currently a 2017 BAX Fall Space Grant Recipient, a 2017-2018 CUNY Dance Initiative Artist in Residence, and a 2017-2018 AIRspace Grantee at Abrons Arts Center. Mr. Mercer is a native of Richmond, Virginia and a BFA graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Dance and Choreography.www.trpnyc.com

Jen Rosenblit

Jen Rosenblit makes performance in New York City and Berlin concerned with ideas, architectures and bodies locating the impossibilities of togetherness. Rosenblit is a 2015-16 Movement Research artist-in-residence, a recipient of a 2016 MAP Fund, a 2014 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award, a 2014-2015 workspace artist through LMCC, a 2013 Fellow at Insel Hombroich (Germany), and a 2012 Grant to Artists from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Rosenblit has received commissions from The Kitchen, New York Live Arts, Danspace Project, Issue Project Room, The Chocolate Factory and Hebbel Am Ufer. Rosenblit was a part of MoMA PS1 Greater New York 2016.  Her recent work Clap Hands(2016) and the companion work Swivel Spot (2017) have lead her on an inquiry toward the uncanny and maintenance of care. Rosenblit has collaborated with artists including Young Jean Lee, Ryan McNamara, Yvonne Meier, Sasa Asentic, A.K. Burns, Kerry Downey, Anne Imhof and Miguel Gutierrez. Together with Simone Aughterlony their collaboration, Everything Fits In The Room,  (2017) is currently on tour. Rosenblit’s new work, Stand In, is a co-production of The Chocolate Factory(NYC) and Sophiensaele(DE). www.jenrosenblit.net

Photo credit: @Paula Court

Ni’Ja Whitson

Whitson is an LA/NYC award-winning gender nonconforming interdisciplinary artist, “Bessie” nominated performer, and writer, referred to as “majestic” and “magnetic” by The New York Times, and recognized by Brooklyn Magazine as a culture influencer. Through a global, critical intersection of gender, sexuality, race, and spirit, they engage a nexus of transdisciplinary and African diasporic performance practices in street, sacred, and conceptual performance. Recent residencies include Hedgebrook, Dance in Process at Gibney, LMCC Process Space, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Movement Research, Bogliasco Fellowship with commissions including St. Mark’s Church at Danspace, American Realness and Vision festivals, ICA Philadelphia, and recent support from the Mertz Gilmore and Jerome Foundations. As a noted innovating practitioner of the Theatrical Jazz Aesthetic, Treinel in Capoeira Angola, and accomplished improviser, Whitson performs nationally with renowned musicians, including a close collaborative partnership with Douglas Ewart of the AACM. Other collaborations include experimental and conventional theater, music, and performance with Cynthia Oliver, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Virginia Grise, Sharon Bridgforth, Byron Au Yong, and Aaron Jafferis. Whitson received their MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and will receive a second MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in 2018. They are the founder/artistic director of The NWA Project and an assistant professor at University of California at Riverside. www.nijawhitson.com

Photo credit: Melissa Bunni Elian

Jesse Zarrit

Jesse Zaritt is a Brooklyn-based dance artist. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, having previously been the inaugural 2014-2016 Research Fellow in the university’s School of Dance. Jesse has performed his solo work in Uruguay, Russia, Korea, Germany, New York, Japan, Mexico, Israel, and throughout the United States. His solo Binding is the recipient of three 2010 New York Innovative Theater Awards: Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Solo Performance, and Outstanding Performance Art Production. Jesse has been working collaboratively with choreographer Jumatatu Poe since 2012; they recently presented an evening length duet at Gibney Dance Center in New York City. Their work has also been shown at AUX Performance Space (Vox Populi) and Fringe Arts in Philadelphia (PA) and at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (through the sponsorship of Triple Canopy), Dixon Place, and New York Live Arts (through the Studio Series Program) in New York City. A duet created in collaboration with choreographer Katie Swords premiered at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City in Late October 2015. Jesse was commissioned by the American Dance Festival to create a duet with choreographer Mark Haim, which premiered as part of the 2015 ADF performance season. From September 2008 through June 2011, Jesse was an artist in residence at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan as part of LABA, a laboratory for new Jewish culture. He has been commissioned to create original choreographic works for numerous American college programs; he has also created choreography for the Seminar HaKibbutzim College (Israel) and the Acco Theater Festival (Israel). Jesse was the recipient of a 2006-2007 Dorot Fellowship in Israel which enabled him to study the relationship between political conflict and choreography. Jesse was a performer with the Shen Wei Dance Arts Company (NYC/2001-2006), and the Inbal Pinto Dance Company (Tel Aviv/2008). Jesse has also performed in the work of Faye Driscoll (NYC/2010-2015) and works as an artistic advisor/dramaturge for her current projects. Jesse currently performs in the work of Netta Yerushalmy (NYC/since 2009). Jesse has recently taught at Bard College (NY), the American Dance Festival (NC), Hollins University (VA), Pomona College (CA), and the University of the Americas Puebla (Mexico) as well as at festivals in Japan, Korea, and Russia. Jesse received an MFA in Dance from Hollins University/The American Dance Festival (2008) and a BA from Pomona College (2000).

 

CLASS DESCRIPTIONS

Ephrat Asherie

Class description TBA

Elisa Clark

Modern
Elisa Clark’s modern technique class begins with a structured warm-up that focuses on alignment, placement, weight-shifting and musicality, and culminates with dynamic dance phrases that encourage students to move through space using different qualitative approaches. In this class, dancers will have the opportunity to touch upon a variety of material that is inspired by Robert Battle, Lar Lubovitch and Mark Morris, the choreographers with whom Clark has worked most intimately with.

Marguerite Hemmings

Experimental Dancehall Lab
Dancehall: an uptempo style of dance music originating in Jamaica and derived from reggae, in which a DJ improvises lyrics over a recorded instrumental backing track or to the accompaniment of live musicians. A large public hall or building where people pay to enter and dance.

Experimental Dancehall Lab is a combination of two classes that Marguerite teaches, Experimental Dancehall and Freestyle Lab. This class looks at popular music and dances from Jamaica and the African Diaspora (i.e. Haiti, Ghana, Nigeria) with a focus on freestyling as a technique, social and solo practice, and the most essential part of being a dancer. This class explores and challenges our limits through the lens of (the) dancehall, meaning lady saw, busy signal, konshens, vybz, beenie man, super cat, sister nancy, but also what happens in actual dancehalls, discotecas, clubs, places of dance: social dance, vibing, sweating, connecting, cyphering, learning from each other, following and leading, calling and responding, spontaneously organizing, transcending, expressing, releasing, creating, freeing up, syncing up, linking up, bigging it up.

We will look at different dancehall musical and movement patterns and techniques and apply methods of the dancehall (club) in exploring these patterns and techniques.

This class welcomes all levels and dance experiences, from professional dancers to party-goers. 

Nia love

Modern Root[ed] Technique
Focuses on the ever-expanding ideas about “what is technique?” The interplay between crafting and facilitating a space where Africanist presence is understood as a [modern] movement. In this space we will create and negotiate how to enter and exit a multiplicity of movement techniques from a non-binary historical ideology. Exhilarating crisp and sharp release, grounded pelvis, rounded drop-n-stack gestures, and agrarian movement sensibilities that partner with Afro-Beat, Blues, Butoh and Funk soundscapes. Urban identifiers that contextualize and implode the urban gait, grounded pulsations, flicks, ‘wack’ and head-bobbing gestures that craft underscore trans-global movement.

Johnnie Cruise Mercer

Post-Contemporary Movement Practice  
Revisiting and questioning self (first) in relation to the outer, artists are challenged to move, think, and drop into familiar yet unfamiliar modes of being. Blackness, whiteness, queerness, gender roles, access, space, duration, and other are explored in the attempt to veer beyond Contemporary. 

jen rosenblit

Standing In
This workshop unpacks the problems of nationalism and inclusion through practices of making performance. You need not come prepared. You might want to consider preparation as a dangerous act, one that is filled with secret agendas. We will do our best to elevate acts of preparation as maintaining care, rather than solely in service of an outcome. In a time when where you come from dictates where you are and are not allowed to go, we will use meaning making to interrogate the ordinary and quotidian as an unknown fantasy. Confronting the concept of home and the inevitability of being perpetually lost from that place, autonomy stands in as a desire for togetherness, not a recipe. We will have to do the labor of locating proximities between bodies, architectures and ideas. We will look at the very nature of a place holder, the thing that might replace what is lost or absent, in order to let content be more vast, beyond the narrative we can speak of before we actually experience it. This work asks how we can begin to construct situations where the work both is and is not made of our personal identity politics. We will work on improvisational situations that feed into choreographic thought and dramaturgy to get closer to the particularity of our ideas. We will work through these ideas by means of associative and tangential methodologies, rather than sense-making. We will use the game of chess as a way to visualize, plan and strategize our next moves. Working with and through representations and experiences of land, nationalism and home, we will find ways to unpack and unwind desires of inclusion and access, domestic and sovereign things.

“Nature loves to conceal herself.” -Translation of fragments of the work of Heraclitus of Ephesus on Nature

ni’ja whitson

Pathways to a Sacred Somatic: Improvisation in Four Directions
We unearth spirituality as warrior practice, warrior practice as ancestral intelligence, ancestral intelligence as embodied memory.  Journeyed in physical practice, guided by the wisdom of the Orisa and Black/Queer magic, participants will locate and release their “stuck” via Whitson’s Sacred Somatic practice.  Combining spiritual and physical technologies we will look specifically at the resonance of 4 in ritual, the body, and space.

jesse zaritt

Each class begins with practices that activate a sense of availability. We find ways to let go of tension, fixed habits and perceptual/intellectual rigidity. Improvisational and choreographed exercises help us to find openness, clarity, and length in our bodies. Pleasure is linked to effort, power and strength as the class progresses and as the choreographed exercises become more complex. Phrase work allows us to research how to utilize physical states and forces such as continuous motion, spiral/rotation, sequential articulation and momentum. Throughout the class, we will encourage each other to embrace and extend our physical capacities as empowered, confident movers. Technique class will also be a place of critical thinking. The material we study exists to nourish our creative bodies/minds, challenging us to re-articulate/re-imagine our relationships to codified movement systems.