A dance hub for artists to find community and move together.
Generating ideas that support artists.
"I see dance as glue for a community" - Twyla Tharp
Open classes for movers to find community and keep on keeping on, together.
$15 In-Person Class
$10 Barre Only
$130 - 10 pkg class cards available!
Covid safety protocol:
Class sizes are currently limited 12 movers.
Masks are no longer required for vaccinated individuals and encouraged for those who are not yet vaccinated.
Cleaning protocol adhered to.
Hot House MPLS
2303 Kennedy St NE Second Floor
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Free parking is available on Kennedy Street or Summer Street, or in the Kennedy Building lot in back of building.
Enter through the main (south) doors on Kennedy Street, and take the stairs to the 2nd floor.
Dancer, choreographer, educator, and writer Penelope Freeh dismantles antiquated modes of how ballet is taught, languaged, applied in research terms, and expressed physically, intellectually, performatively, and at the gut level. Through her practice of expanding the terms and exploding the tropes of ballet, she aims to meaningfully connect with a diversity of collaborators, colleagues, students, and audiences.
Her modern class offers a rigorous blend of foundational concepts and imageries. It begins on the floor with gentle stretching and yoga postures that warm up the spine, igniting the head-to-tail connection. On their feet, dancers move through an ever-changing series of skill building exercises that borrow from the Horton technique and Taylor style, establishing movement vocabulary and concepts that build as the class progresses. Across-the-floor exercises lead into sweeping, space-eating combinations that call for technical specificity inside of abandon. It is through letting go where discovery happens.
Freeh is a two-time McKnight Fellow for Choreographers, McKnight Fellow for Dancers, and Sage awardee for Outstanding Performer. Her work is in the repertoires of Alternative Motion Project, Gem City Ballet, James Sewell Ballet, Minnesota Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theatre, and Zenon Dance Company among others. Residencies include the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography and the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France.
Penelope danced for James Sewell Ballet for seventeen years, serving as Artistic Associate from 2007-11. She is faculty at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul Ballet, St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, TU Dance, and Zenon. She holds a Dance MFA from Hollins University.
performs, teaches, choreographs, writes, and advocates as a dance artist. She received two McKnight Fellowships for Dancers, a Sage Award for Outstanding Performer and was named Artist of the Year by CityPages. She co-founded James Sewell Ballet (JSB) in New York City in 1990, serving as its managing director and artistic associate throughout its move to Minneapolis in 1993. Since leaving JSB in 2014, Rousse’s site-specific work has taken dance off the tradition stage and featured artists who identify as LGBTTQ+, mature, disabled, female, BIPOC. As the Cowles Center’s first Artist in Residence, she engaged the local community through free workshops, art installations, tours, discussions, and the acclaimed promenade performance ICON SAM: Temple Dances (Best Performance of 2018, CityPages). Her choreography has been seen in both theatrical and commercial venues such as the Guthrie, Southern, and State Theaters; the Walker Art Center, MASS MoCA, the Cartoon Channel, and Harvard’s American Repertory Theatre. Rousse performed as a leading dancer with the Royal Ballet of Flanders and Ballet Chicago, dancing works by Maurice Béjart, Jiri Kylian, and over 75 new works created on her by contemporary and post-modern choreographers.
Da’Rius Malone, from Chicago, IL, began his training under the direction of August Tye at Hyde Park School of Dance. Da’Rius is a 2014 graduate of The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts), where he won the award for Scholar-Artist and had the privilege to perform works from leading Chicago dance companies such as DanceWorks Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Muntu Dance Theater, and Joffrey Ballet. Da’Rius continued his training at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Da'Rius is a 2018
graduate with his BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance with an Emphasis in Ballet. After his time at The Boston Conservatory Da’Rius was asked to join Jon Lehrer on his European Tour as a guest artist. After, Da’Rius then became a company member at James Sewell Ballet. Da'Rius has performed works by Doug Varone, Joshua Manculich, Merce Cunningham, and Danny
Buraczeski. He has also danced in several world premieres of choreography by Gabrielle Lamb, MADBOOTS and Yury Yanowsky. Da’Rius has performed excerpts of Don Quixote and Raymonda restaged by former Boston Ballet principal dancer Adriana Suarez and Gianni DiMarco. Da'Rius has also trained with the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (Israel), Hubbard Street Dance
Chicago, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Austin, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater and 10 Hairy Legs. Da’Rius wants to use his dance education and experience as a professional concert dancer to create a platform to make a positive impact in life.
Andrea's professional performing career spans over 25 years. A graduate from Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet Professional Division, she has continued to evolve in contemporary and musical theater styles, in such productions as Celine Dion's "A New Day," Cirque du Soleil's "Viva Elvis," and "Chicago the Musical" International tour. A current resident of Minneapolis MN, she has most recently performed at the Guthrie Theater ("West Side Story," "Guys and Dolls," "Cyrano de Bergerac"), Chanhassen Dinner Theaters ("Holiday Inn," "Music Man"), The Ordway ("Smokey Joe's Cafe"), and in several Collide Theatrical's original jazz dance musicals.
Andrea has choreographed for several regional theaters and studios across North America and has taught master classes internationally in ballet, contemporary, musical theatre, and Fosse technique (Broadway Across America). A personal movement coach, her focus is to guide a more efficient way of moving without involuntary tension with deeper understanding of technique in every style, for every mover.
Originally from Japan, and was trained under Mikiko Dei, Hideo Fukagawa and Jun Ishii, internationally recognized dancers, teachers and competition judges. She moved to the US in 2000 to continue her training in New York at the Joffrey Ballet School. Ms. Tokuda has danced professionally with USA Ballet, Peoria Ballet, Metropolitan Ballet and she was the principal dancer at Continental Ballet for 7 years. With diverse training in classical, contemporary, modern and jazz, she is an international guest dancer and collaborator with many companies, including Minnesota’s James Sewell Ballet and Minnesota Dance Theatre. While training in New York, Ms. Tokuda’s instructors included David Howard, John Prinz, Fabrice Herrault, and Michael Vernon. At Steps on Broadway in New York she was one of the first International Visa Program students. She has, also, trained with Boston Ballet and Connecticut Ballet. She has performed many principal roles, most notably in: Le Corsaire, Don Quixote Pas de Deux, Les Sylphides, Pas de Quatre, Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, the Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle, Princess Aurora, Lilac Fairy and Princess Florine in Sleeping Beauty, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara in The Nutcracker, Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, Coppelia, and the title roles in Romeo and Juliet, Giselle and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ms. Tokuda is a faculty member at Minnesota Dance Theatre and a certified STOTT Pilates Instructor. She has taught many master classes in Japan and the US including at Cathedral Dance Festival and Interlochen Center for the Arts. Her choreography was chosen for Choreographer’s Evening at The Walker Arts Center and commissioned by Wayzata Symphony Orchestra, Woodale Church, Cerulean Fire, Japan America Society of Minnesota and Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. She is a recipient of Minnesota State Arts Board. She is the owner/designer of Yukitard, a custom dancewear company, as well as, the owner/instructor of Tokuda Ballet, a private ballet school.
Elayna Waxse, originally from Overland Park, KS, began her early ballet training with Alecia Good and the Kansas City Ballet School. Growing up, she attended summer programs at the School of American Ballet in NYC, Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle, and at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. At the age of 16 she moved to Seattle to attend Pacific Northwest Ballet's Professional Division program, where she frequently performed with the company. Professionally, Elayna has danced with Minnesota Dance Theatre, Colorado Ballet, Black Label Movement, and was a member of TU Dance from 2012-2019. Currently a Teaching Specialist in the dance department at the University of Minnesota, Elayna has previously been on faculty and taught workshops at many schools including the TU Dance Center, Minnesota Dance Theatre & the Dance Institute, Zenon Dance School, Ballare Teatro, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts. In conjunction with the outreach program at TU Dance, she has taught master classes at the New Orleans Ballet Association, PerformaDance of Austin, TX, St. Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts, Mainstreet School of Performing Arts, and Perpich Center for Arts Education . Elayna is a recipient of a 2019 McKnight Fellowship for Dancers.
Helen Hatch is an independent dancer and choreographer based in the Twin Cities. Named as one of Minnesota Monthly’s “10 Artists to Watch” in 2012, Helen was a member of Minnesota Dance Theatre from 2011-2017, dancing an eclectic range of repertory while also creating her own work. Helen is a graduate of the Ailey/Fordham BFA program where she was awarded Dance Departmental Honors. Her choreography has been presented at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, the 2011 Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Festival, 2014 MN Fringe Festival, The Southern Theater, The Cowles Center, throughout Mexico and Guatemala by the Juntos Collective, and commissioned by Minnesota Dance Theatre, Saint Paul Ballet, Penelope Freeh, Aveda, and Saint Paul Ballet. Helen is the Founder and Director of Hatch Dance, whose debut performance Isotope was named a “2018 Top Ten Twin Cities Dance Performance” by the Star Tribune. Helen has taught extensively throughout the Twin Cities and is currently on faculty at Saint Paul Ballet.
Heather Cadigan Brockman
Heather Brockman has been dancing since the sweet age of seven. Originally from Colorado, she is a graduate of Macalester College. Heather had the privilege of studying, dancing and performing with Myron Johnson and his Ballet of the Dolls company for nearly 20 years. Additionally, her local training includes Ballet Arts, Minnesota Dance Theater, TU Dance, and James Sewell Ballet. Over the years she has performed locally with companies and independent artists such as Zhauna Franks, Alyce Finwall’s Dance Theater, Metropolitan Ballet, DanceCo, and Out On A Limb Dance Theater Company and School, where she is also a faculty member and co-instructor for the Performing Arts Ensemble program. In 2016 she joined Regina Peluso’s Collide Theatrical Dance Company, where she has enjoyed performing as a company member as well creating choreography and direction for various productions and events. She is grateful for the numerous training, performing and teaching opportunities that she has encountered in her long career here in the Twin Cities. As always, she thanks her husband John and her girl gang (three daughters) for their constant love and support.
Amanda Sachs, currently based in Minneapolis, MN has spent the last three years of her professional career as a company member of TU Dance (under the direction of Toni Pierce-Sands). In her time with the company, she has acquired new repertoire by Marcus J Willis and Stefanie Batten Bland, while also performing notable works such as “Walking with Pearl: Africa Diaries” by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, “Night Creature” by Alvin Ailey, and the solo work “Witness” by Alvin Ailey. In addition, Amanda was also one of the founding dancers of “Come Through” - an evening length collaboration between TU Dance and the Grammy award winning band, Bon Iver.
Prior to joining TU Dance, Amanda danced with The Francesca Harper Project in New York City. Under Ms. Harper’s direction, Amanda performed at locations such as the Joyce Theatre and Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as having had the honor to perform an improvisational solo at Bryant Park. Amanda also served as assistant to Ms. Harper’s choreographic residencies with Dance Theatre of Harlem and TU Dance.
Additional credits include the Metamorphosis International Dance Residency under the direction of Iratxe Ansa and Igor Bacovich, and traveling to Beijing, Shanghai, and Barcelona for month long choreographic residencies and performances.
Originally from New Jersey, her training began at The Academy of Dance Arts in Red Bank, New Jersey under the direction of Jennifer James Church and later Nicolas and Shayne Mishoe. She continued her training in San Francisco, California at the Alonzo King Lines Training Program. By the completion of the program, Amanda had performed works by Iratxe Ansa, Sidra Bell, Maurya Kerr, Gregory Dawson, Erik Wagner, Kara Davis, Keelan Whitmore, and Sandrine Cassini as well as excerpts of Alonzo King’s "Rasa" and "Ocean."
Native to St. Paul, MN, Berit Ahlgren trained at Minnesota Dance Theater and was a founding company member of TU Dance, performing between the years of 2006—2016. Receiving Metropolitan Regional Art Council’s Next Step Grant in 2011, Ahlgren studied the Gaga Movement Language in Tel Aviv, and shortly thereafter moved to Israel to pursue an intensive, yearlong teacher certification. Ahlgren transitioned to New York City in 2014 to obtain her MFA in Dance from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, developing ties in the community while teaching Gaga at both Gibney and Mark Morris Dance Centers. Returning to Minnesota late 2016, Ahlgren has been working as dance educator, performer, choreographer, and collaborator across the U.S. and abroad, using her relationship with Gaga as a lens to define her artistic process. Ahlgren established the organization HoneyWorks in 2020 to house her creative work.
Brittany Keefe is currently a freelance dancer and teacher in the Twin Cities. Most recently she was a company member for the James Sewell ballet and as a teacher she was an adjunct faculty professor at Northern Illinois University and the school coordinator of the Rockford Dance Company. Brittany has danced with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Ballet Memphis, Minnesota Dance Theatre, James Sewell Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Terpsicorps Dance Theater, Terra Firma Dance Company, Chamber Dance Project, at the National Choreographers' Initiative, and with Morphoses. She performed in a solo improvisation show in Germany and Italy under the direction of Luca Veggetti, and was selected to be an American ambassador at the international dance festival in Cali, Columbia. Brittany is certified in the GYROTONIC® exercise system and has served as the chair of the dancer council for Dance/USA. Brittany is the proud wife of Matthew Keefe, with whom she is now raising --and trying to keep up with-- their daughter. She is excited to help keep people moving through this challenging time!
Genevieve Waterbury is a performing artist new to the Twin Cities. Originally from Colorado, she grew up in the mountains and in the ballet studio at Boulder Ballet, eventually studying dance at Colorado State University. Genevieve joined Nevada Ballet Theatre in Las Vegas where she performed works by James Canfield and George Balanchine, and collaborated annually with Cirque du Soleil. At NBT she deepened her interest in acting and dance theater prompting her move to New York City. In New York, Genevieve had opportunities to work across many genres including a Butoh Residency at Kaatsbaan with Joan Laage, a lead dancing role in the original cast of RED, a New Musical by Lawrence Dandridge, dancing in New York Fashion Week for JAHNKOYxPUMA, and several seasons as a company member with nathantrice/RITUALS. Genevieve enjoys writing poetry as another dimension to her choreography and most recently shared her work at the River’s Edge series hosted by Sher Demeter. Genevieve is a certified instructor of The GYROTONIC® Expansion System. She believes the method inspired a connection within her between body and nature that dance had not yet forged, providing space to recognize and confront habits, to breathe, to find presence in her body and freedom in her movement. This is what she aims to bring to her contemporary classes. She currently teaches private and duet GYROTONIC® sessions at Embody Minneapolis, and is a ballet teaching artist at Ballet Co.Laboratory and Ballare Teatro.
Darrius Strong is a Twin Cities based dancer, choreographer, and instructor. His dance company, STRONGmovement uses the universal language of dance, blending styles such as Hip hop, Ballet, Modern, and West African to tell stories related to society and humanity. Strong is a graduate of University of Minnesota (BFA 2015) and is currently faculty at University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Macalester College, St. Paul Conservatory Performing Arts High School and the TU Dance Center where he focuses on teaching dancers how to connect their identity to movement.
Using his passion for youth and bringing communities together, Strong performs and speaks as a guest artist in schools across Minnesota including the Anoka Middle School for the Performing Arts and as a director of the hip-hop program at Eleve Performing Arts Center. His creative work has been chosen for the Walker Art Center’s Choreographers Evening, and Rhythmically Speaking. He was featured in the 2015 New Griots Festival as well as an American Standard Billboard advertisement in NYC Time Square in 2016. Strong has created works for Threads Dance Project, Flying Foot Forum, Alternative Motion Projects, and James Sewell Ballet and TU Dance.Darrius Strong is a grateful recipient of a 2017 Momentum New Works Award and 2019 Jerome Hill Fellowship.
Erinn Liebhard (MFA University of Colorado, BFA University of Minnesota) is a dance artist making opportunities for people to experience the reflective and connective power of groove through performance and education. Having grown up dancing socially at her dad’s rock band’s gigs in the Midwestern region of the United States, she discovered young the exhilaration of playfully experiencing groove alongside others. Guided by this inspiration and a fondness for jazz and American social dance ideas, she's worked with creatives as varied as hip-hop dance theater artists Rennie Harris and the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers Appalachian clogging company. In performance, she makes and performs new staged works and presents those of others through her company Rhythmically Speaking, is a member of Afro-Brazilian contemporary company Contempo Physical Dance, and performs as self-created character “Nerdette” for St. Paul Saints Baseball’s Entertainment Team. She also creates new works for universities and professional and youth dance and theater companies. Her creative works emphasize groove, interaction and improvisation, and are inspired by both social and concert dance movement while often driven by jazz music. In education, she works as a Teaching Artist for the Cowles Center and serves as a member of their Advisory Council, and is faculty at St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, Winona State University and Zenon Dance School. She's driven to help connect people to themselves, one another and the moment through rooted and innovative embodiment of groove.
Jacob Lewis is a St. Louis, MO native and began dancing after receiving two black belts in karate and judo at the age of 12. He began his dance training at COCA (Center for the Creative Arts) in St. Louis under the tutelage of Lee Nolting. He spent his summers participating training at various training program including Perry-Mansfield, Boston Ballet, Chatauqua Ballet, and Jacob’s Pillow among others. Upon graduation from high school in 2010 , he was awarded the NDEO’s artistic merit award in dance.
Jacob was accepted into The Ailey School/ Fordham University in New York City where he received his BFA in Dance with a minor in music. While there he was able to learn works from/by Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Dwight Rhoden and Robin Mineko. Immediately after receiving his degree, he joined Ailey II, the second company of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, led by Troy Powell. With Ailey II, he was blessed with many opportunities across the world, including performing for President Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Hannover Messe Fair.
In 2017, Jacob moved from NYC to St. Paul to perform with TU Dance, which won Best Company in the Twin Cities (2018). TU Dance, with the partnership of Bon Iver, has created the collaborative performance Come Through that has taken the company to the Palace Theater in St. Paul, the Hollywood Bowl in LA, and Kennedy Center in DC.
Jennifer Mack loves movement, music, art, general creativity and the explorations, intersections, exchanges and connections of all these things. She likes finding that sweet spot between working, pushing, growing, finding and enjoying something somewhere no one suspected the possible positive outcome or effect to be or happen. She believes movement and art are powerful, healing, insightful, helpful and for everyone involved. She also just likes seeing people move, express themselves and feel good. She is currently a dancer under Offleash Area's project with See Change Choir, a company member of Christopher Watson Dance Company (2014-Present), Cowles Center Generating Room choreographer (2020-21), and choreographer for An Opera Theater's (AOT) Covid postponed, Rape of Lucretia. Previous professional dance, theater & film performing credits span 20 years in the US & Europe including: Alternative Motion Project, Continental Ballet, Collide Dance Theater, Curio Dance, Dwight Rhoden, Eclectic Edge Ensemble, Erin Liebhard, Jagged Moves, James Sewell Ballet, Jesse Forest, Jodi Melnick, Kim Robbards Dance, Live Action Set, MN Opera, Rosy Simas Dance Project, Szeged National Ballet, commercial work w/ Aveda, Cost Cutters & Sherwin Williams Paint, and over 50 plus independent choreographers. Choreography credits include: MN Opera's Flight, Arbeit Opera's The Consul (also restaged at the U of MN School of Music-Mpls), Harvest Contemporary Dance Festival (Chicago), Die Winterreise w/ Opera singer, Justin Spenner, pianist Jerrod Wendland, and photographer Jeff Korte, 16 Feet Dance Festival, Rhythmically Speaking, and Renovate Choreographer's Evenings (Minneapolis), Reverb Dance Festival (NYC), Phipps Center for the Performing Arts & Eau Claire Cultural Arts Grant (WI), music videos & other collaborations with bands/musicians: Aby Wolf, Ada Jane/Matt Marka, Alex Kaufman/Dichotomy, Roszo and 75 plus dance companies, university programs & schools. She has also been a judge both regionally and nationally for Midwest Starts. She is certified in Progressing Ballet Technique and graduated Magma Cum Laude from UW-Stevens Point with a BFA in Dance, BS in Arts Administration (w/ minors in art, biology, international studies, business & music) where she was awarded a Bukolt Scholarship. She also trained under Alonzo Lines Ballet, BDC, Colorado Ballet, Cunningham School, Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, Janet Lang Dance Studio, Milwaukee Ballet, ODC, Robert Moses Kin, Rochester Ballet School, Steps and Trafo. She currently resides in North Minneapolis with her fiancé' and 7 year old daughter who greatly inspire her.
A SOUTH CAROLINA NATIVE AND GRADUATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA SCHOOL OF THE ARTS IN WINSTON-SALEM NORTH CAROLINA WITH A CONCENTRATION IN CLASSICAL BALLET.
JEFFREY ALSO TRAINED AT THE SCHOOL OF AMERICAN BALLET, DANCE THEATRE OF HARLEM, ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE CENTER, THE KOLN DANCE ACADEMIE IN GERMANY, AND WITH ESTEEMED TEACHERS MAGGIE BLACK, DAVID HOWARD, ROBERT DENVERS, MELISSA HAYDEN, AND ROBERT BLANKSHINE. JEFFREY WAS A PRINCIPAL DANCER WITH THE DESMOINES BALLET AND SOLOIST WITH BALLET D’ANLEGO. HE LATER JOINED THE ALVIN AILEY REPETORY ENSEMBLE DIRECTED BY SYLVIA WATERS. HE HAS DANCED WITH THE ELISA MONTE DANCE COMPANY, THE JOYCE TRISCLER DANCE COMPANY, AND THE LAR LUBOVITCH DANCE COMPANY AND HAS TOURED THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES, EUROPE, AND ASIA. JEFFREY BEGAN HIS BALLET TEACHING CAREER WHEN HE WAS ASKED TO SUBSTITUTE FOR A TEACHER BY THE LATE DENISE JEFFERSON WHO WAS THEN DIRECTOR OF THE ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE CENTER. JEFFREY HAS BEEN A GUEST TEACHER AT MANY DANCE COMPANIES, STUDIOS & SCHOOLS AROUND THE COUNTRY AND ABROAD.
BROADWAY CREDITS: “THE KING AND I” (starring Lou Diamond Phillips), “LITTLE ME” (starring Martin Short), “RAGTIME”, “JEROME ROBBINS BROADWAY” (Starring Tony Roberts), “DAMN YANKEES” (starring Jerry Lewis), “FOLLIES”, AND SUSAN STROMANS “A CHRISTMAS CAROL”.
JEFFREY HAS APPEARED IN FILM AND TELEVISION AND WROTE HIS FIRST SHORT FILM “OBEDIENCE”, WHICH MADE ITS WORLD PREMIER AT THE NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL IN SEPTEMBER 2002 AND HAS BEEN SCREENED AT 6 MAJOR FESTIVALS AROUND THE WORLD.
AFTER LEAVING NEW YORK AND MOVING TO MINNEAPOLIS, JEFFREY WORKED WITH CHEF DAVID FHIMA, AND ALSO WAS ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER AT CHAMBERS KITCHEN, LOCATED AT THE CHAMBERS HOTEL WITH ACCLAIMED CHEF JEAN GEORGE VONGERICHTEN. JEFFREY SERVED AS THE SCHOOL DIRECTOR FOR THE MINNESOTA DANCE THEATRE & THE DANCE INSTITUTE UNDER THE ARTISTIC DIRECTION OF LISE HOULTON FROM AUGUST 2009 UNTIL JUNE 2011. JEFFREY WAS OWNER OPERATOR OF TWO DUNN BROTHERS COFFEE SHOPS IN MINNEAPOLIS MINNESOTA. JEFFREY IS ALSO AN ABSTRACT ARTIST/PAINTER AND HAS PARTICIPATED IN GALLERY SHOWS AROUND THE COUNTRY AND HAS WORKS IN PRIVATE COLLECTIONS AROUND THE WORLD. JEFFREY CURRENTLY HAS A PAINTING FEATURED IN THE MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF THE ART’S (MIA) “FOOT IN THE DOOR” EXHIBIT. JEFFREY IS CURRENTLY BALLET MASTER FOR THE MINNESOTA DANCE THEATRE. TEACHES MASTER-CLASSES AND PRIVATE COACHING FOR CONCEPT PAVIELLE. JEFFREY IS ALSO A MEMBER OF THE BALLET FACULTY FOR WOODBURY DANCE CENTER.
Scott Willits is a current ensemble dancer and understudies the Fiddler in the Fiddler on the Roof National Tour. He has worked for dance and theater companies such as Diversity of Dance, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Elisa Monte Dance, Nimbus Dance Works, among others. Scott danced and modeled for Ryan Heffington in the Kenzo x H&M Runway Show where he appeared on the VOGUE website, as well as the Wolford High Fashion Show, where he appeared in the Wolford PURE 50 advertisement. Scott has also danced for vocal artist Janelle Kroll in her music video Barricade. Along with performance, Scott has taught contemporary, jazz, and improvisation classes at various universities and schools, including Montclair State University, Manhattan Youth Ballet, and Elisa Monte Dance Summer Series. He also served as choreographer assistant to founder and artistic director Fredrick Earl Mosley of Diversity of Dance for five years in New York City, the tristate area, and abroad. Scott has choreographed at various festivals and schools such as DUMBO Dance Festival, Earl Mosley’s Diversity of Dance Gala at BAM Fisher, and Frank Sinatra Performing Arts High School. In 2016, he was recognized as one of NJPAC’s Jersey (New) Moves! Emerging Choreographers. Scott currently explores dance and acting through the use of film and photography to bring his stories to life.
Leah Gallas has been a performer and teaching artist for over two decades. Her dance experience includes being a member of Colorado Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Virginia Ballet Theatre, Minnesota Ballet, Tulsa Ballet and James Sewell Ballet. Leah has performed many roles in various classical and contemporary ballets including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Stanton Welch’s Bruiser, Balanchine’s Serenade, Ben Stevenson’s Dracula and Paul Taylor’s Black Tuesday, among others. Leah received the majority of her training at Ballet Arts Minnesota studying primarily under Bonnie Mathis and Lirena Branitski while also spending summers training at the San Francisco Ballet School and the Boston Ballet School on full scholarships. Leah’s teaching experience includes TU Dance Center, Ballet Royale Minnesota, Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, James Sewell Ballet and Ballet Co. Laboratory. She also teaches private lessons throughout the Twin Cities
Maryann Johnson- embodies the beauty of Ballet, alignment, control and care of movement. A native of St. Paul, MN, trained in Classical Ballet with the Andahazys, Jo Savino and summer intensive programs with Ballet West, San Francisco Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and Joffrey. She was a founding member of Ballet of the Dolls where she discovered the artistry of story telling, taking risks, immersed into and shared worlds created by Myron Johnson. She has also danced professionally with Children’s Theater, MN Opera, Ballet MN and Duluth Ballet. Maryann has a degree in Physical Therapy from the University of MN and is currently working for New Heights Performance Physical Therapy. She specializes in Dance Injuries with a focus in Postural Restoration, alignment and correct technique. Maryann has given multiple lectures and PT care for professional companies. She brings her love of Ballet, Alignment and Expression to her Ballet Class.
Zach Manske grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota training in various styles and competing competitively at Woodbury Dance Center. From 2012 to 2013, he played the role of “Billy Elliot” in the second national tour of Billy Elliot the Musical. Zach attended Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists where he trained in ballet, modern, jazz, composition, and other forms. Zach has guested with companies such as Minnesota Dance Theater and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. He recently graduated from University of Southern California’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance with a major in Dance and a minor in Marketing. Zach finds passion in redefining ballet within his choreography and aspires to be in a professional ballet company while using his marketing knowledge to develop strategies for dance companies around the world.
Ashley discovered her passion for dance at the Hawkins School of Performing Arts in Folsom, CA where she performed as a Principal with Ballet Folsom, under Deirdre Hawkins and Erin Hogan, and as a Guest Artist with Sacramento Contemporary Dance Theatre, under Jacob Montoya. Upon receiving a Youth America Grand Prix scholarship from Adam Sklute, she trained with Ballet West, then Ballet Austin, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Ashley moved to Salt Lake City to dance with Utah Ballet for four years where she had the opportunity to work with Eloy Barragan, Val Caniparoli, Gino Grenek, Jay Kim, Calvin Kitten, Melonie Murray, Matthew Neenan, Pablo Piantino, Katie Scherman, Lesley Telford, and Maggie Tesch. Ashley presented research at the Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research and 12 Min Max, choreographed dance shows for the Utah Philharmonia, appeared in the Lexus GS “Kaleidoscope” commercial, guested with Repertory Dance Theatre, and performed in Loren Wilder’s “Nu-Topia” multi-media production. She graduated from the University of Utah with a Ballet, B.F.A. and a Strategic Communications, B.S. Year-round, Ashley is a Dancer/Marketing Associate with the James Sewell Ballet. During summers, she is a Performing Associate Instructor for the University of Utah Ballet Summer Intensive in Salt Lake City and an Assistant to the Director for the International Ballet Summer Intensive & Gala in Incheon, Korea. She has taught/choreographed at Reif Dance Center, Northern Force Dance Company, Hawkins School of Performing Arts, Foothills Dance Academy, and Ballet West Academy. Ashley holds certifications in the ABT® National Training Curriculum, the Progressing Ballet Technique Program, and the University of Minnesota UX/UI Design Program.
Blake Nellis is an artist, educator and improviser who creates work with
the body. His work is deeply rooted in human connection, physical touch and nature. He graduated from Luther College with a degree in Theater/Dance. He is a 2019 & 2015 recipient of the MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant (Photography & Dance respectively) and 2013 recipient of the McKnight Foundation’s Metropolitan Regional Arts Council: Next Step Fund. He has taught and performed around the globe and has recently produced work at the Walker Art Center, Artbox, Red Eye Theater, TEK Box, BryantLake Bowl Theater & Luther College. He is a freelance photographer, choreographer and dancer. His other professional experience includes performing with: Mathew Janczewski's ARENA Dances, Patrick Scully, Live Action Set, Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater, Jim Lieberthal’s Footholds Project, Jane Hawley, Rosy Simas & Taja Will. His work is inspired by nature, human connection and magic. His favorite moments usually include ice cream, laughter, nature and/or beer. www.blakenellis.org
Brennan began his dance training at a small ballet studio in South Dakota at age ten. He has attended summer training intensives with Los Angeles Ballet, Ballet West, Cecchetti Council of America International Summer School, Brigham Young University, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. He was a featured dancer on PBS’s South Dakota Symphony Young People’s Concert. He represented the United States at the Cecchetti International Classical Ballet competition in 2014. At age 16, Brennan was awarded a full scholarship and spent two years training full-time at CPYB, studying under Marcia Dale Weary, Alan Hineline, and Simon Ball. He was selected to work with guest choreographers Price Suddarth, Shayla Bott, Matthew Powell, and Simon Hoke. Brennan also worked as a guest artist for the Virginia Youth Ballet. Some of Brennan’s favorite roles have been Prince Desire in Sleeping Beauty, Franz in Coppélia, and Sugar Plum Cavalier in The Nutcracker. In his two seasons with the Saint Paul Ballet, he premiered roles such as Billy in Zoe Henrot’s To Billy and Escamillo in Carmen. During his time with Minnesota Ballet, he performed multiple lead roles in ballets by choreographers such as Robert Gardner and Salvatore Aiello. With MDT he has performed as the Nutcracker Prince, and several different roles in Carmina Burana.
(Bio coming soon!)
Community Movement Collective (Co.Mo.Collective) is the result of an unprecedented need during a very unprecedented time. As Covid-19 quickly brought the world to a standstill in spring 2020, artists found themselves without work overnight. For independent artists, contract workers and freelance performers that meant the loss of their community, financial stability and physical space to work within. Amazingly, artists are incredibly resilient and all over the world dancers have been creating new and unique ways to connect to their art form and audiences.
Community Movement Collective hopes to use this moment in history to facilitate
using space and
generating ideas to support artists,
so we can continue to bring our important work to the world.
Creator & Founder: Hannah Benditt
Hannah Benditt graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance earning her BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography with a dual emphasis in Ballet and Modern. Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Hannah began dancing at Minnesota Dance Theatre (formerly Ballet Arts Minnesota). As a student Hannah trained at American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Washington Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Milwaukee Ballet summer intensives. Upon graduating from UMKC, Hannah joined Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company in St. Louis, MO. She continued performing with Consuming Kinetics Dance Company, Kansas City Ballet and artists throughout Missouri.
In 2015, Hannah moved back to the Twin Cities to dance with St. Paul Ballet. Now Benditt is a freelance dancer working most recently with Minnesota Opera, An Opera Theatre, DanceCo and numerous choreographers in the Twin Cities.
The idea for Co.Mo.Collective was inspired by Hannah's experience as a freelance artist in the Twin Cities.