What Moves You? @ Sarah Pilger

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Sarah Pilger: Dancer
San Francisco, CA

What Moves You? 
“Humans. Our grand varieties, the things we make, the emotions we feel, and our ever-changing identities.”

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I grew up just outside of San Francisco, in a small town called San Anselmo. I just graduated from the University and Pennsylvania and decided very last minute to move to New York and pursue my passion for dance. Penn has a very pre-professional culture that seems inescapable and unavoidable. I was set on applying to grad schools, but decided I couldn’t live in regret if I didn’t step outside of my comfort zone and try to dance professionally.

Photo Credits: (black and white): Jason Lau; (arabesque): Araba Ankuma; (overall white with blue fabric): Jason Lau; (blue smoke): Kevin Wang; (pink background): Carson Kahoe; (red background): Christian Hopkins

What Moves You? @ Javier Padilla


Javier Padilla: Dancer/Choreographer
San Juan, Puerto Rico

What Moves You?
“The stories that unfold right in front of us each and every day!”

Javier Padilla is a movement based artist from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Starting his training at School for the Performing Arts under Waldo Gonzalez and Olaya Muentes in Puerto Rico, he then continued his studies at Mason Gross School of the Arts pursuing a BFA in Dance. During his time at Mason Gross, Javi had the opportunity of working with artists such as Jessica Lang, Keith Thompson, Netta Yerushalmy, Joe Goode Performance Group, Meghan Frederick, Randy James and Bereishit Dance Company. His choreographic work has been presented at venues such as Dixon Place, Open Source Gallery, The Secret Theater, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Triskelion Arts, The Salvatore Capezio Theater, Battery Park, Judson Memorial Church and the Inside/Out Stage at Jacob’s Pillow. Javi is also the Artistic Director of The Movement Playground, an emerging movement collective that has been performing and touring in the New York Tri-State Area since 2014 and are excited to premiere their first commissioned works with Ballet Forte (NJ) and Bucknell University (PA) in the upcoming year.

For more info: www.jpmovementplayground.com

Photo Credits: Whitney Browne, Brayden Donnely, Hayim Heron

What Moves You? @ Nadia Naomi


Nadia Naomi: Dancer
Third Culture Kid

What Moves You?
“Opportunities for healing and understanding.”


Nadia Naomi is a dancer, choreographer, model, photographer, poet & scholar. Born to New Jersey to an Afro-Guyanese mother & a Afro-Tanzanian and Indian father, Nadia Naomi grew up in Tanzania, Malawi, Trinidad, Switzerland & France. Both her art & scholarship draw on her life experiences as a Third Culture Kid as her research focus is on transnational racial identity and embodied knowledge. Nadia Naomi earned her B.A. in Africana Studies & Dance from Barnard College of Columbia University in the City of New York. Her artwork focuses on women’s empowerment, destigmatizing (dis)ability & mental illness, as well as, highlighting the cultural diversity within the African diaspora.

For more on instragram: nadianaomi.inc

Photo Credits:
Modeled by Nadia Naomi Mbonde (me)
Sari from Asha Ahuja Mbonde (my grandmother)
Shot by Bobo Matjila
Make up by Annya Serkovic
Sari tied by Neja Nataraj
Note: In the image where Nadia is holding a picture frame, the picture is of her grandmother as a little girl in Zanzibar, Tanzania doing a fairy dance.

What Moves You? @ Rebecca Jones


Rebecca Jones: Dancer
Winchester, England

What Moves You?
“I dance to express myself in ways I could never put into words. ”


About Rebecca Jones:
“My name is Rebecca Jones, I am from England and have been dancing since the age of 3. I am currently in my third year of dancing with Atlantic City Ballet. I began dancing with Wendy Allsopp in Winchester and was also a senior associate at the Royal Ballet School. Throughout my training, I danced with London Children’s Ballet on the West End, National Youth Ballet, Hampshire Youth Dance Company and the role of Clara in English Youth Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’. In addition, I also performed with youth musical theatre companies including playing the role of Little Cosette in Centrestage productions youth theatre’s ‘Les Miserables’. I began my full-time training at age 16 at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, where I studied for 3 years on the dance course specializing in Classical Ballet. I trained in ballet, jazz, and contemporary dance as well as taking singing lessons. After graduating from Tring I completed a year as a trainee with Atlantic City Ballet where I was promoted to apprentice and continue to dance now.”

What Moves You? @ Evan Lee Breed


Evan Lee Breed: Dancer & DJ
Waynesboro, P.A.

What Moves You?

Evan’s love for movement began as a gymnast. Her commitment to follow a creative path lead her to become a dancer. She graduated from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Dance, with Honors. She was a principal dancer for Vissi Dance Theater (NYC) for eight years, performing modern, House, Contemporary, and African works all over New York City and Internationally. Evan has performed at the Jacob’s Pillow, the Skirball Center for the Arts, for the Gran Gala Dalla Danza in Sardegna, Italy, to name but a few. She is a Certified Classical Pilates Instructor, licensed to train students on all pilates equipment.

Since 2009, Evan has worked as a Senior Trainer of the Tracy Anderson Method, where she inspires, affects, & changes lives daily. Evan is an assistant teacher trainer at TAM, and her work has taken her all over the world, training some of the most influential people, including Naomi Campbell, Gwyneth Paltrow, JLO, & Olivia Wilde. In recent years, Evan has carved out an exciting career as a DJ, playing private parties & making her own cardio mixes for classes using music you can FEEL. Most recently, Evan has performed at New York’s City Center, for Jalila Bell at Ebb+Flow, and as part of the Cutler Salon I AM Series! And don’t forget to check Evan out on the Season Premiere for the final season of HBO’s critically acclaimed GIRLS…

For more, click here.

What Moves You? @ Jessica Pretty


Jessica Pretty: Choreographer/Dancer
Los Angeles, CA

What Moves You?
“want! I want more times. I want relationships. I want the feeling of unconditional love and support. Too often we are put down, given the scraps, not given anything at all. Too often we work our asses off to constantly get second place. I want us to exceed group expectation, to exceed groupness. I want (to) support. I want to be a part of something bigger than me. Bigger than us.”

Jessica Pretty is a New York based dance artist, choreographer and teacher. She received her MFA in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with a Queer Studies minor. Pretty has performed in works by Will Rawls, Jennifer Monson, Niall Jones, Cynthia Oliver, Abby Zbikowski and more. She has presented work at panoply performance lab, the CURRENT SESSIONS, three ACDA conferences, the Emerging Artists Concert Series at Green Street Studios, and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Pretty is a Fresh Tracks artist in residence at New York Live Arts.

Photo Credits: Paul B Goode, Becky Ferrell, Corey Melton, Jessie Young

What Moves You? @ Jaclyn Gary


Jaclyn Gary: Dancer/Aspiring Choreographer
Princeton, New Jersey

What Moves You? 
“The want to push boundaries regarding movement, communication, and gender/sexuality.”

Jaclyn Gary is a young dancer and aspiring choreographer. She has trained in many styles including ballet, jazz, contemporary, modern, and urban styles (popping, locking, breaking, house, walking/dancing in heels, and vogue). Jaclyn spends her time studying, taking class at studios in New York, and improving in her basement. In the past year, she has performed at World of Dance and her original choreography at the Outlet Dance Project. Jaclyn has been given the Assistant Choreographer position for her school’s productions of Once Upon A Mattress, The Boy Friend, Macbeth, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, many of which received awards from Paper Mill Playhouse. Her style can be described as contemporary with urban influences, but she loves experimenting with styles ranging from Graham to vogue. Jaclyn also works with metaphors in her choreography to strengthen her connection with the audience. She is working to fuse movement with nature; to leave the confines of the mirror, and her growing love for the environment drives her to bring dance to places where it’s unexpected.

Photo Credits: Erica Walsh, Matt Pilsner, Ella Baseman

What Moves You? @ Ashley Zelano

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Ashley Zelano: Choreographer
New Castle, DE

What Moves You? 
“Being an artist means forever healing your own wounds and at the same time, endlessly exposing them.”

Ashley Zelano is a full time dance instructor and choreographer. Her work has been featured in music videos and performances across the country. Today, Ashley is responsible for creating dynamic pieces that have won numerous awards, and for teaching dancers from beginner to advanced to fall in love with the art form.

Ashley’s passion for dance began at an early age and continued all through her adolescent and teen years. Ashley studied dance at Cab Calloway School of the Arts, a highly sought after performing arts high school in Delaware, and then continued her training in Dance and Education at the University of Delaware, where she graduated in 2014 with a degree in Elementary Education, Special Education, and Dance. Today, Ashley is the founder and director of Fierce Dance Academy, and focuses on bringing the best training and creating artistry to all of its dancers. Her students have gone on to work in the industry as dancers, choreographers, and teaching professionals.

Ashley’s choreography has been featured in music videos such as up-and-coming artist, Tailor’s, Shaped Like A Gun, and has won a number of awards in competitions at both the regional and national level. Her most recent awards include placing as a top ten finalist in the Artist Simply Human project creation choreography competition, choreography awards, Judge’s Choice awards for multiple numbers, numerous regional and national title holders, receiving encore performance recognition, and a two time winner of the overall high score for the entire competition. Ashley’s choreography also received the honor of representing the state of Delaware in a world dance competition. Recently, Ashley was an instructor for Delaware’s National Dance Day convention, and was responsible for teaching dance to over ten thousand participants. She was also featured as a teacher and choreographer in Dance Teacher Magazine in Spring 2016. Ashley’s students have gone on to join professional dance companies in Los Angeles, and have been signed by some of the top talent agencies in the industry.

For more, www.fiercedanceacademy.com.

Photo Credits:

What Moves You? @ Shilpa Darivemula


Shilpa Darivemula: Choreographer/Dancer
Vienna, VA

What Moves You? 
“I am moved by the stories I see in the communities around me. Kuchipudi has always been about the community and about sharing narratives and as a medical student, narrative is the core of our profession. We take histories and physicals to determine the cause of illness. The parallels between both fields excites my imagination constantly and it is what drives my choreographies in the Aseemkala Initiaitive. These stories of medicine–of healing and illness–have been told for centuries in so many dance forms and mythologies. It is time we revive and juxtapose the past with the present through global, indigenous traditional dances, empowering them to see the potential that lies within. ”

Shilpa Darivemula is both a scientist and an artist. A fascination for science and a love for conversation directed Shilpa towards medicine while her training in Kuchipudi and her exposure to various traditional dances drove her towards movement. Kuchipudi is one of seven classical dances from India, a form that requires exquisite footwork, hand gestures, and facial expressions to narrate stories of Hindu mythology.

Shilpa began training in Kuchipudi at the age of 8 with Ms. Sasikala Penumarthy at the Academy of Kuchipudi Dance and performed her solo debut recital—her Rangapravesham—in 2011 with Ms. Anuradha Nehru and Mr. Kishore Mosalikanti at the Kalanidhi Dance school.

Captivated by the power of dance, Shilpa developed projects to use it as a tool for community development, spending her summers in college teaching dance to inner-city youth in Schenectady, interning in Dance Movement Therapy at Ellis Hospital, and teaching refugee women to share their traditional dances in a weekly women’s group at RISSE in Albany. In her senior year at Union College, she directed and choreographed Anamika, a mixed-media piece that combined ballet, praise dancing, and Kuchipudi, to serve as a call to action against the harms of human trafficking.

She was the recipient of a 2013-2014 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study the connection between traditional dance cultures of the world, their healing systems, and their current states of healthcare delivery. She has performed at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (2014) and at the International Dance Festival in Fes, Morocco (2015).

Inspired by the traditional dances and stories of women facing illness and health, Shilpa started the Aseemkala Initiative. This initiative–which is Sanskrit for “arts beyond boundaries”–uses traditional dances to narrate stories of women in medicine from all cultures around the world. These are stories of physcians, healers, patients, and their families as told through the mudras and movements of Kuchipudi and Bharata Natyam and hopefully, in the future, more traditional dance forms.

Shilpa was selected to be the Artist in Residence for 2016-2017 for the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA). During her time as AMWA’s Artist-in-Residence, she published an article on using art in waiting rooms to decrease wait time perception, performed at the International Human Rights Arts Festival in NYC, and was selected to perform at the Fertile Ground Showcase. Shilpa also collaborated with the Global Initiative Against HPV and Cervical Cancer (GIAHC) to create a dance piece promoting cervical cancer screening which was shared by Dr. Shobha Krishnan at the 31st International Papilloma Virus Conference.

Shilpa is a third year medical student at Albany Medical College and plans to pursue a career in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Shilpa continues as Founder of the Aseemkala Initiative, a project aimed at transforming medicine through traditional dance, along with Rohini Bhatia as co-director. Her work can be seen at http://www.aseemkala.org.

For more: www.aseemkala.org; May 14th-Green Space: The Incubator of Art in Queens; Fertile Ground Showcase performance in NYC

What Moves You? @ Anna Mayta


Anna Mayta: Dance improviser/choreographer and teacher
Santiago Chile

What Moves You?
“Let you’re vision be world embracing…” Baha’u’llah

Anna Mayta is a dance improviser, choreographer and teacher. She graduated from Empire State College in June 2001 with a BA in Dance in Education. November 2008 she got a certificate to teach yoga from Svyasa Swami Vivekananda Yoga University in Bangalore India. In 2006 she was awarded a dissemination award from the Dutchess County Arts Council in Poughkeepsie NY.  She has been teaching, performing and choreographing for 12 years. She has traveled for her work to India. Taught for the National Ballet of Zimbabwe in Africa. Baha’i dance camp in England and all over the greater Boston Area. Now she is currently working in upstate NY Hudson Valley area.

For more, https://www.facebook.com/Annamaytadancefusion/.

Photo Credits: Barbara Todd