About the pearlPRESENTS Artist

Aaron Christopher is a dancer of 17 years ranging from a plethora of styles. Afro-Latin movement and breaking have been major influences and he continues to grow and experience new genres through time. Starting out as a funk stylist (locking and popping) eventually lead to learning more about the flavor, rhythm, and culture of salsa dancing. Taking a hiatus from battling and competing, he joined the ranks of other performing artists and worked with small circus companies. Theater, characterization, technique, and improvisation began to play a more major role in his works. Aside from performing arts, social dances such as the Dominican style known as ‘bachata’, cha cha cha, Argentine Tango, and some ballroom have been areas of study, previously and currently.

Adie San Diego, raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, began formal dance training at a local studio where she studied classical ballet, contemporary, and jazz styles.  Upon entering Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts in 2016, Adie has had the opportunity to work with choreographers Victor Quijada, David Norsworthy, Kristen Carcone.  While attending the school, she has performed works by Nacho Duato, Brice Mousset, Joshua Peugh, Stefanie Batten-Bland, and many others notable choreographers.  Adie is currently in the process of earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Modern dance at Point Park University studying under esteemed professors Jason McDole, Matthew Powell, Judith Leifer-Bentz, Mark Burrell, and more.  She currently resides in Pittsburgh.

Chelsey is a graduate of Slippery Rock University where she earned both her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Choreography and Performance as well as her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science. During her time at Slippery Rock she was a member of SRU’s Dance Theater as well as a participant in guest artist and faculty choreography. Through these experiences she has been fortunate enough to travel and perform as a professional artist in New York City, Philadelphia, University of Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Butler. Prior to graduation, Shaner was awarded the Thom Cobb Award of Excellence scholarship for her distinguished dedication to the areas of choreography, teaching, and research. Harmonizing with her dance training, Chelsey is a nationally certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist. Shaner aspires to change the approach and rational of cross training dancers in her prospective career. 

Chitra Subramanian is a Pittsburgh native, and originally from South India. Chitra has trained, taught, and performed in the DC area for over 12 years. She danced with the award-winning Culture Shock DC Dance Troupe, and has served on faculty at City Dance Center, Sitar Arts Center, and at various community-based and studio spaces. Chitra’s dance foundation began with her training in Bharathanatyam, an Indian Classical Dance form, and she studied this art under the nationally and internationally renowned Pittsburgh-based instructor, Jaya Mani.  Chitra began immersing herself in Hip Hop culture after graduating from college, falling in love with all of its art forms and especially urban dance styles.   She continues to train and participate in the culture as much as possible and deeply believes in the power of Hip Hop to transform, unleash, and highlight unrecognized and untapped talent and power.

Cooper Verona is originally from Connecticut.  He discovered his passion for choreography around the age of 16 when studying at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy.  As a ballet major at North Carolina School of the Arts, he always enjoyed composition classes the most and started to choreograph for many of the collaborative shows on campus.  Verona has been a dancer with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) since 2011.  He has been commissioned by PBT four times to create brood, Walking With, Gravitational Embrace and Thick White Sheets.  He has created two pieces for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School entitled By the Sky and Spring as well as created numerous pieces as part of the Company Experience at PBT.  He has also created works for Point Park University, the Dancer’s Trust, and Texture Contemporary Ballet.  He is thrilled to be a part of the pearlPRESENTS Dance Festival. 

Danielle Genest is Associate Artistic Director of Island Moving Company, a contemporary ballet company based in Newport, RI.  She has created several works for IMC as well as for New York Theatre Ballet, Janusphere Dance Company, Tallahassee Ballet, Ridgefield Dance Theatre, Texas A&M University, and Part of the Oath Dance Company.  Danielle danced professionally with Hartford Ballet, New York Theatre Ballet, and Island Moving Company for many years.

IMC is a contemporary ballet company founded in 1982.   The company commissions work from choreographers across the country and abroad and tours across the US. IMC employs 11 dancers for a 30 week contract. IMC is known for their innovative site specific works like Nutcracker at Rose cliff and Dracula at Belcourt Castle. The  Newport Dance Festival; a dance festival that includes companies from across the country is held every summer during July. 

Jasmine Hearn is a performer, director, choreographer, organizer, and teaching artist. A native Houstonian, she graduated magna cum laude from Point Park University with her B.A. in Dance. She/They currently collaborate(s) with filmmaker and visual artist, Alisha B. Wormsley. They have worked and performed with David Dorfman Dance, Alesandra Seutin (UK), Solange Knowles, Kate Watson-Wallace, STAYCEE PEARL dance project, Marjani Forté-Saunders, Jenn Meridian, Helen Simoneau Danse, Lovie Olivia, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, and Nick Mauss. Awarded a 2017 “Bessie”Award for Outstanding Performance with the Skeleton Architecture, they have been given residencies at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Camargo Foundation, and Dance Source Houston. A 2018 Dancing While Black fellow, she currently is a 2018 Movement Research AIR and a 2019 Jerome Foundation Jerome Hill Artist Fellow. She spends her time as vessel and storyteller using dance and sound as materials to conjure, teach, and perform around the world.

Jesse Factor’s work has been selected for international presentation including the American College Dance Association (KS, WI) , Blunderland Follies @ House of Yes (NYC), Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, City Center Studios (NYC), Fierce Queer Festival (ON), Flyover Festival (IA), Greenspace (NYC), Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival, Kaleidoscope Arts Festival (PA), KYLD Inhale Performance Series (PA), Iowa Dance Festival, Midwest RADFest (MI), Outsider Queer Arts Festival (TX), Suite Summer Dance Festival at Socrates Sculpture Garden (NYC), St. Marks Church (NYC) and The Tank (NYC). As a dancer, Jesse performed with Graham II and the Martha Graham Dance Company. Solo work interrogates femiconicity, legends, and queer aesthetics. Jesse holds a BFA from Tisch/NYU and an MFA from University of Iowa, where he received the Iowa Arts Fellowship, and the Obermann Fellowship. Currently serves as Instructor of Dance at Slippery Rock University.  

Jennifer is known for her elegant interpretations of dances from the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Hailing from Southern California and growing up right here in Pittsburgh she identifies with the deep connection to community, and to the earth, that these dances draw from. She has been fortunate to study with some of the best instructors from Egypt & Lebanon and has performed locally and internationally for audiences from all walks of life.

Jessica Anne Marino (B.A. Dance, Point Park University) is a Pittsburgh based arts administrator, educator, and performing artist. Marino is a dance collaborator with STAYCEE PEARL dance project & Soy Sos, Shana Simmons Dance, and active freelance dancer. Jessica is adjunct dance faculty at the University of Pittsburgh and on the creative team for Center for Theater Arts. After 5 years as artist manager with River City Artists Management, in 2017 Marino founded JAMpress Management, a brand which provides support services for the performing arts industry with a focus on dance. Jessica is also the Co-Director of Lehigh Valley Dance Exchange and SpringUP Dance Festival. www.jamdancer.com

Jil Stifel is a performer, choreographer and interdisciplinary collaborator. Her work has been supported by The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Heinz Endowments, The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and The New Hazlett Theater and the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Her recent performance credits include appearances with Maree Remalia | merrygogo, and STAYCEE PEARL dance project & Soy Sos. Jil has performed extensively as a company member of Attack Theatre and Philadelphia’s MiRo Dance Theatre. She was honored to dance with Kyle Abraham performing his early works in Pittsburgh. Jil currently teaches dance at the University of Pittsburgh where she is pursuing an MS in Clinical Exercise Physiology. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Dance from Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts. Jil is enthusiastic about small things, like her small dog Rosey and most importantly her small family, Thea and Blaine. 

José Limon  a Modern dance pioneer, was born on January 12, 1908, in Culiacán, Mexico. His family immigrated to the United States when he was a boy, and he grew up in Los Angeles, California. A move to New York in 1928 brought Limón into contact with the modern dance world. He trained as a dancer and became a major performer and choreographer, eventually founding his own dance company in 1947. Internationally celebrated for his powerful and influential style, Limón died in New Jersey in 1972. 

Joy-Marie Thompson is a freelance dance artist and choreographer from Pittsburgh, PA. She graduated from SUNY Purchase with a BFA in Dance Performance; awarded with the 2018 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence and the Bert Terbough Award for Dance. She has performed the choreography of Jonathan Reidel, Kevin Wynn, Kyle Abraham, Doug Varone, Rena Butler, Ohad Naharin, La Tresse, Shamel Pitts, Sidra Bell, and Staycee Pearl. Thompson is the founder and co-curator of issadancelook (2018), an Instagram that archives the clothing styles of dancers from around the world. Thompson also exhibited Interpretations (2016); a photo series made in collaboration with dance photographer, Rachel Neville, where she re-imagines famous photos of black dancers. Thompson’s film, TONGUE TIED SHREWS, co-directed and performed with Sherah Shipman, was featured in several festivals worldwide and screened at Lincoln Center. imjoymarie.com

Julia Erickson is a former Principal Dancer with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Since her farewell performance from PBT in October of last year she has been enjoying a freelance career as a principal guest artist, choreographer and repetiteur. She is currently dancing with Barak Ballet in Los Angeles and Chamber Dance Project in Washington DC, and recently created a production of The Sleeping Beauty for Rochester City Ballet. She has created multiple dance pieces for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, and the Dancers’ Trust benefit performance. She is thrilled to be participating in the pearlPRESENTS Dance Festival 2019. Music Credits: Franz Schubert, Ständchen, D. 889, Performed by Bruno Philippe and Tanguy de Williencourt

Sidra Bell Dance New York is an internationally recognized boutique brand of prolific movement illustrators based in New York City that presents and fosters a canon of innovative and progressive dance theater in realms of ideas and (im)possibilities.

Kaitlin Kulasa, a native of Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, recently earned a BFA degree in Dance with a focus in Performance and Choreography from Slippery Rock University. During her senior year, Kaitlin  received the Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities Grant to attend Sidra Bell’s Winter MODULE. Kaitlin was also cast in Martha Graham’s Celebration, which was restaged at SRU by Jesse Factor. Through this work, Kaitlin and her peers were invited to travel to New York City to perform at the Joyce Theatre. Recently, her most current solo work, A Mind, A Mess, has been seen in the ACDA gala performance at Seton Hill University as well as the New Hazlett Theatre in Pittsburgh. Prior to her senior year, Kaitlin was cast in works choreographed and/or rehearsed by Ursula Payne, Nora Ambrosio, Jesse Factor, Lindsay Fisher, Jenna Reigel, Bill T. Jones, Alicia Garrity, Diavolo, and many other respected professionals.

Kaylin Horgan started her dance life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she had great teachers, starting with; Tammy Snyder, the faculty at CAPA High School and Point Park University.  When she was 14, she became the youngest founding member of the Pearlann Porter’s Pillow Project, and in 2010, she became a founding member and artistic assistant of the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, directed by Greer Reed. As a dancer, she is currently a member of Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Company in Kansas City, MO, and Antonio Brown Dance in NYC. Kaylin’s choreography has been seen at The DUMBO Dance Festival, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, BRAVO Academy, The Junior Theatre Festival, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, One Billion Rising Rally, The August Wilson Center for African American Culture, Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Company, MOVE NYC, Tri- C Creative Arts Academy, The Space Upstairs and CAPA high school. 

Lea Fosbenner is originally from Newark, Delaware, and began her training with Delaware Dance Company where she was a principal dancer with the company. Lea continued her ballet training at many summer intensives including; American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Lea moved to Pittsburgh, PA to attend the pre-professional program at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and attended Duquesne University where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Information Systems Management. She was named Artistic Director of Exhalations Dance Theatre in 2013 when the company reformed for young professionals in other fields who still wish to perform. Since that time, she has choreographed over twenty new works for the company. In 2016, Lea was commissioned by Delaware Dance Company to create a piece for their Regional Dance America adjudication as an “Emerging Choreographer”. She also has had the opportunity to be a faculty member for Millennium Dance Complex summer and winter intensives. Lea is currently a faculty member at Millennium Dance Complex and is a resident choreographer for Exhalations Dance Theatre.

Born in South Korea and raised in the Midwest, Maree ReMalia is a choreographer, performer, educator, and certified Gaga instructor. She welcomes individuals across disciplines, identities, and experience levels to dance. Her choreography has been commissioned by Gibney Dance DoublePlus Festival (NY) under the curation of Bebe Miller and has been presented at venues such as Dance Place (DC), Kelly Strayhorn Theater (PA), La MaMa Experimental Theater Club (NY), Movement Research at the Judson Church (NY), New Hazlett Theater (PA), and Daegu International Dance Festival (South Korea). She has performed the work of Gabriel Forestieri, Bebe Miller, Ohad Naharin, Lida Winfield, and Noa Zuk. Since earning her MFA at The Ohio State University, she worked as the Andrew W. Mellon Interdisciplinary Choreographer for Middlebury College Movement Matters Residency (2015-2017), was on faculty at Point Park University (2017-2019), and has been invited faculty at Bates Dance Festival (2018-2019). 

Choreographer, KINDRED/two hearts
Miki Ohlsen is the founding director of Island Moving Co. She has choreographed over 40 works for IMC. 

Molly Huey will graduate Slippery Rock University in August with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, specializing in performance and choreography, and her Bachelor of Arts in Communication. She recently performed at White Wave’s SoloDuo Festival in New York and is eager to continue “festival-hopping.” Huey also has a passion for videography, editing, and design and hopes to integrate her passions into one career path. 

Sara Caplan is a contemporary dancer, choreographer, and teaching artist. She received her BA in Theatre: Dance Performance and her BS in Biology from The Pennsylvania State University in 2013 and her MFA in Dance from SUNY, The College at Brockport in 2017. She has performed in works choreographed by Kendra Portier, Laura Petersen, Juanita Suárez, and Maura Keefe. Sara currently teaches dance at Slippery Rock University. Her choreographic work explores the interactions between moving bodies and space to create unique environments and create meaning. She uses improvisation and plays with gravity and balance to foster intimate, sensory experiences. She has presented work in State College, PA, Rochester, NY and the Pittsburgh area.

Sidra Bell Dance New York is an internationally recognized boutique brand of prolific movement illustrators based in New York City that presents and fosters a canon of innovative and progressive dance theater in realms of ideas and (im)possibilities. www.sidrabelldanceny.org

Shana Simmons Dance (SSD), founded in 2009 by Artistic Director Shana Simmons to create engaging contemporary dance. Officially a non-profit company, SSD has been represented as part of the VALEES Conference (2016), the Leadership Illinois Conference (2017) in Chicago, IL, Alzheimer’s Association annual conferences (2017-2018), and The Mid-Atlantic Performing Arts Market curated showcase (2018). Festivals: Three Rivers Arts Festival (PGH), APAP Presenters Conference (NYC), New Moves Dance Festival (PGH), NestStage Residency (PGH), Evolution (London). SSD currently collaborates with Carnegie Museum of Art facilitating movement for seniors during their Alzheimer’s programming while touring the museum. SSD projects aim to forward communities by creating thoughtful performances and inspiring lives through  dance and artistic vision. SSD firmly believes in supporting artistic growth within its company members by encouraged development of their own voices.

taylor knight and anna thompson are co-founding directors of multidisciplinary performance entity, slowdanger. They use electronic instrumentation, vocalization, technology and the body to reimagine performative space. The more they engage in this collaborative work, the more they recognize the manifestation of their work as a non-binary entity that is one body amassed of multiple bodies. From directing music videos to scoring a play, slowdanger shapeshifts to adapt to a variety of different containers. slowdanger’s work has been featured across the states in venues ranging from proscenium theater and gallery to nightclub and dive bar. They aim to bring disparate points, people and disciplines together to interface and innovate with each other. slowdanger was named Dance Magazine’s ‘25 to Watch’ (2018) and emerging choreographers for SpringboardDanseMontreal (2018). empathy machine is made in collaboration with ProjectileObjects LED light sculpture, computational artist Char Stiles, performers Ru Emmons, Roberta Guido, and Simon Phillips. Special thanks to the Opportunity Fund, Pittsburgh Foundation’s A W Mellon Grant, the Space Upstairs, The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University and PearlArts Studios.