// Teaching Artists //
Velocity Teaching Artists are among the best in their chosen field of practice. All our Teaching Artists are practicing artists with extensive experience in working in the professional arts sector. We invite you to meet our very talented teaching team:
Aiko Kinoshita has been involved in contemporary dance for the last 22 years as a choreographer, performer, teacher, and administrator. She creates and performs as ½ of UMAMI Performance, collaborating with Aaron Swartzman and also directs acornDance (www.acorndance.org). She has toured nationally and internationally in her own work and as a member of Lingo Dancetheatre (2002-2007). Her work, which utilizes both set and improvisational material, has been presented nationally and in Canada, Korea and Japan, and in local festivals including On the Boards’ Northwest New Works, Bumbershoot, and Velocity’s NEXTFest. Aiko currently teaches at Velocity where she was Managing Director until 2005. She has also taught at the Universities of Washington and Oregon, Cornish College of the Arts, and other universities nationally. Aiko holds a MFA in Dance from the University of Illinois and is also a Resident Artist and at Open Flight Studio. Her teaching and performative work, reflect her interest in improvisation, natural physicality, dynamic partnering, somatic forms, classical technique and community. She is inspired by this community of artists and her students of all levels.
Amy O’Neal is a performer, choreographer, and dance educator, sometimes making work under the name AmyO/tinyrage. From 2000-2010, she was the co-director of locust (music/dance/video). Over the past decade, she has taught and toured nationally and internationally and choreographed for theater, commercials, and music videos. Amy has been an artist in residence at Bates Dance Festival, Headlands Center for the Arts, the US/Japan Choreographer’s Exchange/DTW, and Velocity Dance Center. She is an Artist Trust Fellow, Creative Capital/NPN/NDP/Mid Atlantic Arts Grantee, DanceWEB Scholar, and Stranger Genius Shortlister with a BFA from Cornish.
Britta Joy Peterson is a Minnesota native, where she grew up in the thriving Minneapolis arts community. As a dance maker, teaching artist + scholar, Peterson works primarily in postmodern contemporary + jazz forms with special interests in creative practices + somakinesis. She holds a BA with majors in Dance + Communications from Gustavus Adolphus College, and an MFA in Dance from Arizona State University. Peterson’s choreographic + performance work has been seen in Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, Arizona, New York, Washington, Colorado and New Zealand. Learn more about Peterson at bjpdance.com
Bryon Carr recently moved back to Seattle after living in New York City for 17 years. He has trained, taught and performed throughout the U.S. and Europe. He has spent the bulk of his time in NYC where he has worked with White Wave Rising, Popo and GoGo Boys, Young Soon Kim, The Graham Ensemble, Chen and Dancers, and The Erick Hawkins Dance Company. Although his training is in ballet and Graham technique he likes to integrate improvisation, text and media into his dance making process. In 2002 he began showing his own dance/media work throughout New York and has been presented by; Dance New Amsterdam, Dixon Place, Joyce SoHo, The Wave Rising Series in DUMBO, Triskelion Arts Center and Chashama Arts. Outside of New York, he has shown in Seattle, Boston, and Berlin. He also just completed his MFA in Performance and Interactive Media Arts or PIMA from Brooklyn College in MA.
Chris Montoya started dancing at the age of 11, training in ballet, modern, and jazz. Chris is from Phoenix, AZ, and trained at the Phoenix School of Ballet, Dance Inc, and Eurasion Dance. He also attended the University of Arizona in Tucson on full scholarship under the tutelage of Jory Hancock and Melissa Lowe. He started his professional career with The Gus Giordano Second Company in Chicago, IL. He continued his career with David Taylor Dance Theatre, Scorpius Dance Theatre, Center Dance Ensemble, Men In Dance, and Seattle Dance Project. Chris also enjoyed dancing on pointe with Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, performing as Doris Vidanya around the world, including Japan, Israel, France, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Finland, Spain, and Italy. He currently resides in Seattle, WA where he is enrolled at Cornish College for the Artsʼ Professional Division Program.
Dani Tirrell is a dance artist, teacher and performer. He has been teaching modern dance in the Seattle area for the past 5 years and recently began incorporating House and Vogue in his performance and teaching roster. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, he brings a Mid-west flavor and fire to his art. He began Voguing and House as a young dancer in many of Detroit’s hottest dance clubs.
Elia Mrak is a director, teacher and storyteller. His practice fuses Qigong, Bboying, and dramaturgy of the theater. He has performed, taught, and directed throughout the last decade of traveling and living in Europe, Central and South America, and the United States. He includes in his list of masters: David Zambrano, Park Young-Cool, and FeverOne (Rocksteady). He currently trains, teaches, and creates in Seattle, in partnership with Velocity Dance Center, Washington Hall, Cornish College of the Arts and Seattle Aikikai.
Ellie Sandstrom is a choreographer, performer and dance educator, who is fueled by movement in many forms. She is a 2013 Velocity Dance Center Creative Residency recipient, a Seattle Magazine “Spotlight Award” winner and can be seen in a book entitled “Seattle 100″ by photographer Chase Jarvis. Since receiving her BFA from Cornish College of the Arts, she has worked with many dance makers and artists, including Scott/Powell Performance and locust (from 2000-2010), as well as Seattle Dance Project, Amy O’Neal, Mark Haim, Dayna Hansen, Reggie Watts, Lynn Shelton with Karn Junkinsmith, Corrie Befort and countless others, both in live stage and film work. Her choreographic work, under the name SANDSTROMMOVEMENT, has been funded by the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and has been presented by organizations such as On the Boards, Velocity Dance Center, Perpich Center for the Arts and Creative Dance Center. She has created new work through commissions from Seattle Dance Project, Stone Productions, Washington Ensemble Theater and Evoke Productions, among others. She has taught a variety of dance forms at many schools and studios in the city and beyond, including the University of Washington. She currently teaches Ballet and Modern technique @ Velocity and Contemporary Dance, Hip Hop and Dance Performance to middle and high school students at the Northwest School. She is also on faculty for Seattle Theater Group’s Dance This! Program for youth. sandstrommovement.com
Gwendolyn Payton came to yoga from a dance background, and began studying yoga in 2000 and has completed numerous intensive trainings and teacher trainings with SloBody and other schools. Drawing from extensive studies in classical and modern dance, Pilates, Gyrotonics®, and other modalities, Gwendolyn brings her love of movement to teaching conditioning-infused yoga in a clear, effective and efficient way.
Jaret Hughes has 14 years of dance experience, with Hip Hop being his specialty along with training in Modern, Jazz, Ballet and African. Jaret has 11 years of choreographing and teaching experience with all ages, including 8 years at Elizabeth’s Dance Dimensions in Bellevue, Washington. Jaret’s choreography credits include the L.A. Clippers Spirit Dance Team (guest choreographer), Seattle Supersonics Dance Team for 5 years, founder of 2wisted Elegance from Seattle and LA’s debut of 2wisted Elegance with the help of his good friend Joey Cooper, Modazz Competition Teams at Elizabeth’s Dance Dimensions, co-choreographer and dancer for EVE in LA, and assistant choreographer / assistant Artistic Director for the “Invitation Feedback” video contest submission for Janet Jackson. Jaret Competed on Destination Stardom in Hawaii. Jaret’s performances include: Seattle’s Kube 93′s Summer Jam for 3 years with Twisted Elegance, which included sharing the main stage with artists such as Destiny’s Child, Ginuwine, Busta Rhymes, Blackstreet, Naughty By Nature and many more; various Hip Hop shows throughout Seattle including Daniel Cruz’s Battle of Seattle Remix 3 and 4 and, most recently while living in LA for 2 1/2 years, performances with Breed OCLA for numerous dance competitions and guest performances for the DVD Release Party for “Step Up 2: The Streets”. Jaret has shared his choreography expertise with various high school and college dance teams throughout Washington, California and Idaho.
Jessica Matsui is a passionate personal trainer who loves to balance a challenging workout that will give you results with a good healthy dose of fun and laughter. She loves the music and energy of MixxedFit classes and loves to share it with new students!
Jody Kuehner is part dance artist and part bio drag queen named Cherdonna Shinatra. Jody is in her seventh year dancing for the Pat Graney Company. She has also been Pat’s dance intern for the company’s prison project “Keeping the Faith. She’s in her fifth year dancing with Mark Haim and has acted as his Administrative Assistant and Rehearsal Director for various projects. She worked as Dayna Hanson’s Production Coordinator for two evening length works and has been Assistant to the Director for Hanson’s feature length film “Improvement Club”. She is also Hanson’s Assistant Director for the most recent work “The Clay Duke”. From 2003-2009, Jody was a member of d9 Dance Collective and has also danced with Wade Madsen, KT Niehoff, Laura Curry, and Amy O’Neal (Tiny Rage) among others. Jody’s persona Cherdonna Shinatra performs regularly with DeLouRue Productions and also performs periodically with paulanow productions and NARK Magazine. She and Lou Henry Hoover made work as “The Cherdonna and Lou Show” for five years, teaching, producing, performing. They were recognized as Seattle Magazine’s 2010 Spotlight Award Winners. The Cherdonna and Lou Show also presented work and taught at the CORD conference on dance and gender in 2012. Jody currently teaches technique at Velocity Dance Center and has taught at their summer intensive Strictly Seattle as well as the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation. She has presented choreography at On The Boards, Velocity Dance Center, Northwest Film Forum, Bumbershoot and the Joyce SoHo NYC. She is Velocity’s Artist in Residence for 2014 and is being produced by Velocity’s Made in Seattle program. Jody is also in residence at KT Neihoff’s space 10 Degrees. She holds a BFA in Dance Performance from the University of South Florida and has been supported by the Seattle Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and 4Culture.
Kate Wallich duos as both choreographer and dance artist creating works that are generated in collaboration with concept designer/dancer Lavinia Vago (SEA/NY) and multi-instrumentalist/pop singer Lena Simon (SEA/LA). She has presented her work as part of the Seattle International Dance Festival/ Beyond the Threshold, The BOOST Dance Festival, On the Boards/12 Minutes Max, and Velocity Dance Center/Founder’s Theater. A graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and Cornish, Kate has worked with and been mentored by artists Tonya Lockyer, Zoe Scofield, KT Neihoff, and Olivier Wevers. Her teaching style has been influenced by the teachings and practices of Ohad Naharin (Gaga), Zoe Scofield (zoe|juniper), Rudolf Van Laban, Wade Madsen, Louse Bedard, Margie Gillis, William Forsythe, and many others.
Kathleen Hunt has had a lifelong passion for movement. After graduating with a BA in Dance from the University of Washington, she went on to produce/ choreograph/perform and collaborate on numerous dance productions. Kathleen owes her understanding of yoga to amazing teachers: Swami Shankarananda, Dharma Mitra, Marie Svoboda, Sri K Patabhi Jois and Aadil Palkhivala. Hunt taught yoga at Physical Culture Dance Center from 1987-1998. In 1995 she formed the ‘Samadhi Yoginis’ dance troupe which performed at yoga conferences, schools, senior centers and nightclubs. She founded/co-directed the Samadhi Yoga Center with Steven Davis from 1999-2014 and created the Yoga Alliance certified Samadhi Yoga Teacher Training program in 1998, training over 200 teachers.
Lila Hurwitz is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner who has been teaching since 1987, including one of Seattle’s longest-running weekly Feldenkrais classes since 1995. She’s performed with Lucia Neare’s Theatrical Wonders, Nina Martin, Karen Nelson, Lisa Nelson, Oslund & Co./Dance, Stephanie Skura, Crispin Spaeth Dance Group, Linda K. Johnson, Bebe Miller, Ann Carlson and many others. More at www.feldenkraisteachersinseattle.com
Mark Haim is a Choreographer, Teacher & Dancer. Formerly Artistic Director of Mark Haim & Dancers and Companhia de Danca de Lisboa. Commissions include Nederlands Dans Theater, Ballet Frankfurt, the Limon Dance Company, the Joffrey II Dancers, the Rotterdamse Dansgroep, the Silesian Dance Theater, Companhia de Danca Contemporanea, Companhia de Danca de Lisboa, Cornish Dance Theater, CoDanceCo. Restagings include The Joffrey Ballet, the Bat-Dor Dance Company of Israel, Djazzex, the Juilliard Dance Ensemble, Cornish Dance Theater. Grants from the NEA, New York Foundation of the Arts, National Performance Network, ArtsLink, Harkness Foundation and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. Work has been presented at the Kennedy Center, American Dance Festival, Danspace Project, On The Boards, among others. Faculties of the American Dance Festival (1993- present), NYU- Tisch School of the Arts (1995-6), the UW Dance Program (2002-08) and Reed College (2009). BFA from The Juilliard School and an MFA from Hollins University.
Matt Drews is a movement artist who oscillates between the realms of dance, yoga, + performance. He studied yoga + somatic psychology at Naropa University + holds a BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts. Through teaching + crafting performance his aim is to investigate movement with a heightened lens toward healing, presence + ritual. He studied GaGa, the movement language of Ohad Naharin, at its source in Tel Aviv, Israel + with Danielle Agami’s Ate9 dANCE cOMPANY. He has also worked with Portland based tEEth. Matt is currently collaborating with Saint Genet, WOOD Performance, The YC, + the Pendleton House. www.mattdrews.com http://thependletonhouse.
Maya Soto has been creating, performing and teaching dance in Seattle for over 10 years. She draws inspiration from integrating many different movement forms. Drawing on elements of funk, rhythm, popping and a variety of styles and cultural influences, Soto brings together classical dance training and a sense of play and entertainment. Her choreography has been presented in Northwest venues including On the Boards, Velocity Dance Center, The Firehouse Performing Arts Center and Tacoma Museum of Glass. Festival commissions include: NWNW Festival, the BOOST Dance Festival, Conduit’s Dance+ Festival, JFFA Festival and the Arts in Nature Festival. She has performed with LeGendre Performance Group, Big Red Dance Company, Amy O’Neal, Sandstrommovement and NWDS. Her work with NWDS has received support from Allied Arts Foundation and Walrus Performance Productions. Maya teaches at Velocity Dance Center, Bellevue College and the Northwest School. From 2006-2013, she directed a full time dance program at the Arts and Academics Academy. She has worked as a teaching artist for PNB’s REACH program, Seattle Youth Dance Collective and public schools including Tacoma School of the Arts, Foster High School and Vancouver School of Arts and Academics. After earning a BFA in dance from Cornish College of the Arts, Maya went on to pursue a Washington State Professional Teaching Certificate. She has completed teacher training programs through City University and Seattle University. (www.sotostyledance.com)
Melanie Skinner danced professionally with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for 15 years touring all over the world and performing principal roles in works by George Balanchine, William Forsythe, Peter Martins and Paul Taylor. After retiring from her long career as a ballerina, she could not seem to find a workout that was fun and inspiring until she took a ZUMBA class! After getting certified as a ZUMBA instructor, she started teaching at the Mount Baker Community Clubhouse and Velocity Dance Center. She loves to watch people get joy from her ZUMBA workout and loves the outlet that ZUMBA provides. She lives in Madrona with her husband and young daughter.
Natascha Greenwalt Murphy is a performer, teacher, choreographer and certified GYROTONIC® trainer who has called Seattle home for the past 12 years. After earning her BFA from Cornish as a Kreielsheimer Scholarship recipient, she had the pleasure of guesting for numerous regional classical ballet companies, and performing for DASSdance and Spectrum Dance Theater before ultimately embarking on the adventure of creating Coriolis Dance Collective with Christin Call. She’s had the honor to perform work by notable choreographers such as Zoe Scofield, Donald Byrd and Rainbow Fletcher among many others. Her own choreography has been presented by Coriolis, Ballet Bellevue, Whitman College, Western Washington University (and others) in venues such as Chop Shop: Bodies of Work, Spotlight on Seattle, numerous Coriolis Productions and Open Flight (Flight Deck Residency). For more info please visit www.coriolisdance.com.
Ratna Roy, Ph.D., started her training in Odissi dance in 1972 under Guru Govinda Chandra Pal, and from 1977 until his death in 2003, she trained under Adiguru Pankaj Charan Das. One of the guru’s seniormost disciples, she has performed extensively as a soloist in India, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, the Baltics, South Africa, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, China, and Japan. Her major research work in dance has been reconstructing her guru’s inherited devadasi tradition, envisioning Odissi as a healthful way of life, and situating Odissi in undergraduate interdisciplinary college curriculum. Ratna has published several articles in both Indian and US journals and a well-reviewed book, Neo-Classical Odissi Dance. Her fellowships and awards for dance and scholarship include the Advanced Fulbright Fellowship (1985), American Institute of Indian Studies Fellowship (1988), National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowship (1988), Summer Fulbright Fellowship (1988), Arts International Award (2001), Fund for Folk Culture Award (2005), the Gordon Ekvall Tracie Memorial Award from Ethnic Heritage Council, Washington (2008), and Washington State Arts Commission’s Fellowship Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts (2008), and Washington State Arts Commission’s Master Apprenticeship Award (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010). Currently, she is Professor, Dance and Expressive Arts at The Evergreen State College, Washington, USA, Odissi instructor at The Velocity Dance Center (Seattle), and Artistic Director, Urvasi Dance Ensemble.
Rosa Vissers (NL/US) is a Seattle-based dance artist originally from the Netherlands. For the past 10 years, she has performed internationally with over 20 companies/artists and presented her own work in places such as France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Salt Lake City, Philadelphia, Chicago, NYC, Portland, Tacoma and Seattle. Together with theatre artist Hatlo, she forms PE|Mo, an experimental performance group, presenting work at On the Boards’ Northwest New Works Festival & 12 MinMax, Lo-Fi Arts Festival, Seattle International Dance Festival, Velocity’s BIG BANG! & NEXT Fest NW, and Open Flight Studio. She teaches ballet, improvisation, contemporary technique, and is a certified yoga teacher. As a self-proclaimed “dance mutt” Rosa’s classes reflect her eclectic background, drawing on two decades of professional training in ballet, release technique, Graham, Cunningham, improvisation, yoga, and meditation. In addition to being a Teaching Artist at Velocity, she has taught at Idaho State University, University of Washington, University of Oregon, University of Utah, NDA Northwest, ACDFA and Strictly Seattle. She completed her conservatory dance training at ArtEZ and holds an MFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah. When not in the studio, Rosa is the Development Director for Yoga Behind Bars and a certified permaculture designer. www.rosavissers.com
Sarah Lee graduated with honors and a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Wellness (Exercise Science, Public Health, Youth Studies and Nutrition) from the University of Minnesota. She has been a member of the University of Minnesota Repertory and Hamanah Don Dance Companies, managed the Fitness Program at the West Seattle YMCA, and is currently a Personal Trainer and Life Coach. When Sarah Lee first discovered West African Dance in1993, she was hooked immediately, and spent the next decade studying with dozens of well-known instructors from various parts of West Africa. In 2004, she went to Senegal and then Guinea West Africa on a dance intensive with her primary instructor: Master Dancer Youssouf Koumbassa. She has since returned to Guinea seven more times for multiple months at a time to dance and learn from some of the best West African dancers and instructors in the world. In June 2012 Sarah Lee completed eight months of intensive personalized study in various parts of Guinea with Alseny Bangoura, Mamadama Camara, Aly Mara and Sorel Conte, all of whom are Principal Dancers with West Africa’s finest performance company Les Ballets Africains. While there, she also danced with Wassa So, an all-African 50 member high level performance company. For more information visit: www.oneworlddance.com.
Shannon Stewart, currently based in Seattle, is a dance artist that has taught and performed in Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, New York, Boston, Helena, Oakland, San Francisco, Berlin, Budapest and Amsterdam. Classically trained from a young age, and then (like many) struggling with that experience, Shannon found her way back to dance through balancing ballet and modern training with yoga, qi gong, somatic embodiment and contemplative dance practice; building strength through breakdancing, capoeira, the Gyrotonic Expansion System®; and opening creative channels through improvisation. Shannon makes work under the moniker The Real Shannon Stewart which includes collaborating on film performance works with Adam Sekuler. She teaches contemporary technique, improvisation, is certified in Gyrokinesis®, and is a Teaching Artist with the Mark Morris Dance For Parkinson’s program. Shannon is currently practicing and adapting a solo by Deborah Hay that is included in a suite of work entitled David and Deborah, putting Hay’s work in proximity to work inspired by filmmaker David Lynch. Shannon also dances with tEEth (2011-12), Salt Horse (2010-12), and has danced for Sebastian Matthias (2012), Dayna Hanson (2010), zoe | juniper (2008-2010), Paige Barnes (2010), Kathleen Hermesdorf (2006-2008), and many others. feetlikebirds.blogspot.com
Shirley Jenkins had a prolific career as a touring member and master instructor of the Evans company, performing in major cities and rural communities via the National Endowment for the Arts Dance Touring Program. Jenkins formed her own company, Strong Wind Wild Horses—which rapidly became a Seattle favorite at Bumbershoot Festivals and the Allegro series during the 80s and 90s—and collaborated with musicians, including Denny Goodhew, James Knapp, Scott Cossu, Michael Cava, Mark Seals, Steve Kim, Tom Bergersen, Fred West, the Kinetics and many others. Jenkins also founded a non-profit organization, Dance On Capitol Hill, for the Seattle community. As Artistic Director, she developed dance education programs for the novice to the professional, a performance venue featuring local and international choreographers, and a home for her dance company. She also established outreach programs by producing summer dance camps for homeless children. Jenkins has been an Artist-In-Residence at scores of universities and dance festivals throughout the U.S. and internationally. Her choreographic and teaching residencies have included the University of Washington, Cornish College of the Arts, Bill Evans Summer Institutes, Rhode Island University, Middlebury College, Pennsylvania State University, Columbia College, Alaska and Kentucky Out-Reach Programs, and international festivals in Bonn, Germany and Taipei, Taiwan. In 1997 everything changed. Jenkins sustained a severe spinal injury while dancing, followed by uterine cancer. And believe it or not… nine years later, she endured surgery and chemo/radiation therapy for breast cancer. As if that wasn’t enough, in 2007 she underwent surgery for a total hip replacement. She never knew she could fight so hard to pick herself up from the ashes, and she often wondered if dancing again was a crazy idea. She decided she is crazy and embraces it! Jenkins is currently an Adjunct Instructor at Cornish College of the Arts and on the teaching staff of Velocity Dance Center. She is also a well-respected Pilates instructor at Pilates Seattle International, specializing in athletic injury and rehabilitation for seniors. In 2010, Jenkins formed a new dance company, DanceJENKINSDance. Her relentless perseverance is reflected in her works, which acknowledges all ages and walks of life with choreography that is poetic, humorous and introspective, celebrating the resiliency of the human spirit. Visit her website at www.dancejenkinsdance.com
Xaviera Vandermay is the director of contemporary jazz dance company 3rd Shift Dance. She received her training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Washington Academy of Performing Arts and on scholarship at Giordano Dance Center, Joel Hall Dancers and Center, Gyrotonic Seattle, and Spectrum Dance Theater. Her choreography has been presented at 12 Minutes Max (March 2010, December 2011), Galaxy Dance Festival, Northwest Folklife Festival, Arts Crush Kick Off, Capitol Hill Block Party, in short film “Lulu and Bopsie Destroy the Universe”, and on Relay Dance Collective, Alliance Dance Company, Spectrum Youth Ensemble, and Aria Dance. Her choreography has been awarded special recognition regionally and nationally (2005 “Hurricane”, 2010 “Bump”, 2012 “Night After Night”, 2013 “Sweet Disposition”, 2013 “Ohio”. Ms. Vandermay is also the creator/producer of the popular series “Battle for the Dance Belt” and the new series “Welcome to the Fishbowl”.
Wade Madsen was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he attended the University of New Mexico. Wade has been in Seattle teaching, performing, and choreographing since 1977. He has toured nationally with the Bill Evans Dance Company (1978-1980) and with Tandy Beal & Company (1981 -1982}. He has performed with Amy O’Neal and Amii Legendre dance groups along with Dayna Hansen, A.C Petersen, and Long Nguyen. Since 1979 Wade has been producing work with his own company, ’Wade Madsen & Dancers’ along with various tours nationally and internationally.