What Moves You: Diedre Graham

Photo by Adam Holmgren (IG @adamholmgren_photography)

Diedre Graham: Freelance Dancer
Mobile, Alabama

What Moves You?
“My passion for dance and desire to inspire people, especially young girls. I created Imagine Me: Image in Me™, which raises awareness about body image and self-esteem in young girls ranging from ages 12 – 18 years old. Imagine Me: Image in Me™ began as a project birthed from the pain I experienced as an aspiring ballerina in high school when I was told that I did not have the right body type to be cast. The program has evolved over the past ten years to include life skills, motivation, empowerment, and integration of the arts with STEM activities. ‘Dancers are not great because of their technique. They are great because of their passion.’- Martha Graham”

Diedre is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a major in Dance and double minors in German and Anthropology. While enrolled at UA, Diedre studied abroad in China and Germany. She distinguished herself academically and artistically as an ABT (American Ballet Theatre) Scholarship Recipient and the recipient of several dance honors from the University of Alabama Department of Theater and Dance.

After graduating, Diedre accepted a position as a teacher in the Mobile County Public System. And she became a member of Sanspointe Dance Company. She was also commissioned to perform a pas de deux choreographed by Sarah Barry in Danceform’s 70th International Choreographers’ Showcase at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland. Diedre was a ‘Ring Shout’ dancer in “ROOTS” miniseries. She worked as a dancer during Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Christmas Town. Additionally, she performed at Broadway Bares: Game night, the Booking Festival at Jazz at Lincoln Center, for the city of New York’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ Black History Month Program, “Love is Love” Choreographers Showcase, and STEPS Beyond Foundation presents “Choreography in Uncertain Times” performance lab. Diedre choreographed and danced in Milennial Ethics Productions’ “Flip the Script” and Icelandic artist Cell7even’s “Built to Last” music video.

Diedre’s dance training is diverse and includes training at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s summer intensive, American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensives, Sheffield School of the Dance, Mobile Ballet and Atlanta Ballet. She participated in projects with noted choreographers Olivia Cipolla, Nuo An, Angel Kaba, Caitlyn Trainor, Chris Judd, Dave Scott, and Eddie Garcia. Additionally, Diedre served as both a performer and choreographer in the Actor’s Charitable Theater’s production of The Color Purple.

For the past two years, Diedre has traveled to Montrouis, Haiti to teach the fundamentals of ballet to orphans. And she participated in a food and water distribution to a rural community with access to water. Currently, Diedre is working on her Master of Public Administration through Penn State’s World Campus. While in high school, she created Imagine Me: Image in Me, which is an organization designed to raise awareness about body image and self-esteem through dance for girls between the ages of 12-18. Diedre plans on converting that into an international nonprofit organization. Also, after completing her degree, she plans on working in Human Resources and arts advocacy through public policy.

Be sure to checkout http://www.diedregraham.com.

RahDanceWorks Turns 8!

It was in March, 8 years ago, that I started some movement projects and formed a dance company. That was 8…years…ago! Wow!

It’s been a crazy ride. I’ve changed the name 2x, some years I haven’t even presented work, and I’m still figuring it out. There have been (and still are) so many times I felt like a failure…But my success doesn’t look like your success. And yours shouldn’t look like mine. Because that would be boring.

There is room for all types of art and artists, in all shapes and sizes and durations. Art reflects life, and I love variety. So, I’m gonna take a moment to celebrate!

I’ve met and brought artists together from around the world, self-produced events to showcase new work, been asked to present my own choreography in a solo show, and helped foster creative aging projects. But it takes a village and I’ve been blessed to work with some of the most inspiring dancers, artists, and arts admin (I really love you all so much). And now I’m solo traveling and sharing dance in some pretty dope locations. 8 years strong. So here’s to 8 more.

Please enjoy this little montage I created of some site-specific improvs over the last year or so:

Keep movin’,
Sarah

What Moves You: ARIANNA CAMILLE

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Arianna Camille: Dancer
Philadelphia, USA

What Moves You?
“I am moved by the voice inside me that declares, ‘I have something to say’. Dance is more than just a universal language; it is my native tongue in which I can express all the thoughts and emotions that words can never give justice to. With this language, I can connect with humans across boundaries of linguistic and cultural differences in the most honest way possible.”


Arianna began her professional dance training in classical ballet at the age of 15 at the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia. She performed as a guest artist with Budzynski Ballet Theater’s “Nutcracker” and “Coppelia”. At the age of 19, following a desire to move more into the world of contemporary dance, she auditioned for and was accepted to the Certificate program at the Ailey School. She has also trained at Ballet Hispanico, Parsons Dance, and Henny Jurriens in Amsterdam. Arianna has performed works by choreographers such as Earl Mosely, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Judine Somervillle, and Alvin Ailey. She currently performs free-lance in NYC and teaches and choreographs at The Art & Dance Project in Queens, NY. Follow her adventures on Instagram: @arianna.camille

Photo Credits @ Qenu Muse, Kike Abed, Andrew Gonzalez, Noel Valero, and Joerg Didlap

What Moves You: MANATSU TANAKA

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MANATSU TANAKA: Dancer
Hadano City, Japan

What Moves You? 
“The experience and the research I go through when I dance; I get closer and closer to the animal that I am.”

MANATSU TANAKA is a Japanese Artist who is pursuing her education with a BFA in Dance and a minor in Theater Arts. She is continuing to connect with different fields of artists to discover and expand her artistic tools in the Performing Arts.

As an emerging performer, she has been in works by Paul Taylor, Douglas Dunn, Jon Lehrer, Tony Bordonaro (Emursive), Marie Zvosec (Brooklyn Opera Works), Mariana Taragano (Taragano Theater), Bliss Kohlmyer (Project Agora), Paula Peters (Spectrum), Paul Mockovak (Ballet Randolph), and various choreographers including concert dance works, regional theaters, and dance festivals. Recently, she has been featured in Mona Haydar’s music video “Lifted”, and in other national and international artists such as Cell7 (Iceland), The Next Greatest American Novelist, Melody English and Santiago Music. She has also worked with Shellscrape Theater Company (NYC), Nocturnes Experience (NYC), Lazy Susan Art Gallery (NYC),  Performing Arts Company (Fredonia) as a Stage Manager, Performing Artist, Actor, and Assistant Director. She continues to expand her artistry in Theater, Dance, Music Videos, Films and more to discover, finding new ways of expression. Her IG is @manatsu.tanaka and her website is www.manatsutanaka.com.

Photo Credits: @imaginatordeto, @johncamino, @thelene, @alongiphoto

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

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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? @ Jessica Markham

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Jessica Markham: Dancer
Charlotte, NC

What Moves You? 
“I believe God has blessed me with the gift of movement to tell a story – that moves me. My search for happiness & freedom motivates me to move. There is a plan & purpose assigned to my life and dance is a strong part of that – that moves me.”

Born in Washington DC, Jessica began her dance career at the age of seven when her grandmother suggested her mother put me in classes so her hyperactive grandchild would stop blocking the television with her awesome dance moves. She attended Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte NC and later received her bachelors degree in Visual & Performing Arts with a concentration in Dance from Johnson C. Smith University. Moving to NYC in 2013, she has performed at the National Black Theatre, SOBs and performed in a commercial with Panasonic shown at the 2017 SXSW festival. Currently, Jessica dances with the Indorican Multicultural Project and background for the phenomenal MC, Nitty Scott.

What Moves You? @ Alissa Johann

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Alissa Johann: Dancer/Choreographer
West Chester, PA

What Moves You? 
“Music.”

Alissa trained in classical ballet, modern and jazz at the Brandywine ballet in West Chester, PA. She later went on to earn a B.A. in Dance and a B.A. in Media Studies from Cedar Crest College in 2016, while also furthering her technique at Muhlenberg College. She has received several scholarships and awards and has attended summer intensives at the Joffrey Ballet School and American Ballet Theater. Alissa is a professional dancer, choreographer, and instructor in Philadelphia, PA.

For more: http://alissajohann.wixsite.com/alissajohann

Photo Credits: Brian Mengini, Anna Bonacci, Amico Studios 

What Moves You? @ Jen Roit

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Jen Roit: Choreographer
San Jose, CA

What Moves You? 
“Emotions and stories.”

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Proud of her West Coast origins, Jen Roit received a BFA at NYU Tisch, working with Karole Armitage, Bill Young, and Dwight Rhoden. She continued a diverse career with Jennifer Archibald, Nathan Trice, Daniel Holt, Mark Dendy, Randy James, Transcendance Group, and the Park Avenue Armory. She received mentorship from Camille Brown and Jennifer Edwards through the Breaking Glass Project and Stephen Petronio through NYU’s Alumni Choreographic Workshop. With her company, Armada Dance, she has produced work for BalaSole Dance Company, MaD Circle Dance, Moving Beauty Series, Amalgamate Artist Series, Equilibrium Danceworks, WAXworks, and has been presented at HATCH, Spoke the Hub, RAW Artists, Dixon place, The Actor’s Fund, Ailey Citigroup Theater, Triskelion, and Ticino in Danza (Switzerland). She currently serves on the Artist Committee for NACHMO, is editor of the Dance Magazine College Guide, manages projects at TERP Corp, and dances for Dances for Solidarity. She has choreographed for short films and music videos, including “You and I and You” presented at the Outlet Dance Project’s International Film Festival, Dance Film Day in Portland, OR, and for Triskelion’s Dance Film Festival. Founder of the Broke Dancer, a weekly newsletter for inexpensive dance and fitness classes around NYC.

For more: http://www.jenroit.com

Photo Credits: Stephen Delas Heras; Massimiliano Rossetto; Oje Ihonvbere; Eric Bandiero/BalaSole Dance Co.; Jen Jones Photography