2016 Mentees

DANIEL WELLMAN has a deep love for dance, particularly ballet, which began at the age of 5 and has helped to shape his life and career.  Wellman received his Bachelor of Science in Arts Administration from Butler University and is currently in his fourth season as Director of Production for Tulsa Ballet.  In his current position, he is responsible for all production logistics, including stage management, as well as managing the budget for his department. While at Tulsa Ballet, he has had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of choreographers, including Wayne McGregor, Jorma Elo, and Ma Cong.  He most recently toured to Italy with Tulsa Ballet on a 2-week engagement, as well as being the Production Coordinator for their new satellite building.

Prior to joining the Tulsa Ballet staff, Wellman gained experience with several other ballet companies, including Houston Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Carolina Ballet, and Ballet Hispanico.  While at Houston Ballet, he was an integral part of the Stage Management team for Stanton Welch’s premiere of Marie Antoinette, and he served as the Production Stage Manager for Welch’s premiere of La Bayadere in 2010.

In his private life, Wellman is married to fellow Stage Manager Colette Wellman, with whom he works at Tulsa Ballet.  He enjoys spending quality time with his family, including his precious black cat, Oscar.

ELENA ROSE LIGHT is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist working in dance, performance art, photography, and video. She has presented work at Movement Research at Judson Church, Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center (Work Up), Triskelion Arts (Summer ShakeUp), Brooklyn Studios for Dance, Green Space, and the Yale University Art Gallery, among other venues. In the spring of 2016, she will present a new installation performance through the New Voices in Live Performance festival at the Center for Performance Research, and this summer she will attend ImPulsTanz as a 2016 danceWEB scholar. She was an artist in residence at The School of Making Thinking (2015) and E|MERGE Interdisciplinary Collaborative Residency at Earthdance (2016). She is also a collaborator/performer in Bruno Isaković’s Disclosures as part of the Queer New York International Arts Festival at Abrons Arts Center, “interweav[ing] thoughts on the female nude in art with memories of growing into her voluptuous physique.” (The New York Times)

Growing up in Camarillo, CA, Light studied classical ballet from age 9, attending summer programs at Oregon Ballet Theater and The Boston Conservatory. In 2013, she graduated with a BA in French and the History of Art with honors from Yale University, where she was awarded the Jonathan Edwards College Arts Award and performed in the work of Twyla Tharp, Merce Cunningham, Akram Khan, and Reggie Wilson. Light was also a Fulbright finalist to study dance and twice received the Kenneth Cornell Memorial Grant for Research and Study in France. She now writes about dance for her blog danceandcircumstance.com and for contemporary performance blog Culturebot. She has been an editorial assistant for the Movement Research Performance Journal and is currently works as a Programs Manager at Gibney Dance, producing live performance and managing a visual art space.

FABIOLA TORRALBA is a choreographer, educator, and activist that is dedicated to the transformation and empowerment of our communities.  With deep conviction of the power of story and the power of people coming together, Torralba facilitates opportunities for movers of all backgrounds to create and engage in issues that affect their everyday lives. She values discovery and fosters environments that encourage creativity, awareness, and connection. Torralba utilizes dance as a vehicle towards holistic well-being- of becoming physically, spiritually, culturally, and politically grounded. The ultimate goal of this vision is to build bridges across diverse communities and mobilize groups towards a better understanding of ourselves and each other to effect and inspire change.

Torralba is an immigrant born in Guerrero, Mexico who was raised among Mexican Americans in the historical Westside of San Antonio, TX.  After several years of community organizing and cultural work in San Antonio, two bachelor’s degrees, and some ethnographic fieldwork, she decides to return to her first love. Torralba then trained under Erica Wilson-Perkins at Palo Alto College receiving an Associates of Arts in Dance with additional study from the Urban Bush Women, Dance Exchange, and David Grenke of ThingsezIsee’um Dance/Theater, among others. Torralba has been an instructor for inner city youth under the City of San Antonio’s Parks and Recreation Dance Program and the Senior Citizens Program at Ella Austin Community Center under the San Antonio Dance Umbrella.

She is a founding member of various local dance initiatives including Erison Dancers, Ordinary Spaces, Movimiento Cihuatl, and is the newest member of Jump Start Performance Company.  She collaborates frequently with local artists, schools, galleries, and non-profit organizations on educational and performance based projects. Previous works include, XVoto, Me Gustas Cuando Callas, Hembra, and community initiatives nos(otros) ¡somos!, Nuestra Historia Dance Project, and Yanaguana: Land of Sacred Waters. Torralba utilizes movement as a vehicle for community building, civic engagement, and social-cultural awareness. She enjoys exploring interdisciplinary collaborations and the intersections between art, story, and action.

JESSICA ABEJAR is the founder and director of The Moving Prayer, a dance company that nurtures and uplifts the mind, body, and spirit. Through performing, presenting, and choreographing since childhood, she has brought sacred and liturgical dance to different venues and events all over including the Youth Festival, World Youth Day, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; National Catholic Youth Conference, Indianapolis, IN; San Lorenzo Ruiz Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, NY, before Cardinal Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; Bicentennial Celebration for the Archdiocese of New York; Our Lady of Antipolo Feast Day at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC; Sacred Dance Guild Festival, Erie, PA; New York Catholic Youth Day; National "Preaching in Action" College Conference (a project of Dominican Youth Movement-USA); and churches throughout the New York metropolitan area (and a church in Honolulu, HI).

Abejar began her dance training at a local dance studio on Long Island, continuing at Holy Trinity Diocesan High School, where she was part of the Trinity Dance Company. She graduated summa cum laude from the College of Mount Saint Vincent with a degree in Business, minor in Performing Arts and worked as a performer with Disney Cruise Line.

Abejar is a member of Dance/NYC's Junior Committee and participated in Gibney Dance Center's Institute of Community Action Training. She is also a member of the Sacred Dance Guild and the Youth Ministry Council with the Archdiocese of New York. In addition, she is a certified Group Fitness Instructor through the American Council on Exercise and writes a youth column for “The Filipino Catholic” and dance reviews for BroadwayWorld.com. She is currently working towards a Diploma in Meeting and Convention Management at New York University.

MEGAN MIZANTY is the artistic director of MizantyMoves Dance Works.  She was a company member with Birds on a Wire Dance Theatre and Band of Artists in Philadelphia, as well as LINKED dancetheatre and ROADKILL: The Show in New York. Mizanty has presented work at numerous east coast venues, including: Ailey Citigroup Theatre, Dixon Place, Chi-MAC, Etc. Performance Series, little berlin, Marie-Christine Giordano Salon, Bearnstow,  Nacre Dance Company's "So you Think you Can Choreograph?" Competition, Gibney Dance Center’s show/share program and the Pennsylvania State Capitol. She is a Stanley J. Wertheimer Fellow at Mark Morris Dance Center, where she was certified as a Dance for Parkinson’s Disease Instructor.  She received a BA in English Literature from Ithaca College, and an MFA in choreography and performance from Temple University, where she earned her "Teaching in Higher Education" certificate.  During her graduate career, she danced for Philip Grosser, Eun Jung Choi, and LEVYdance, among others. Mizanty served four semesters as an undergraduate instructor at Temple University, as well as a communications specialist with Koresh Dance Company. She has taught at classes and workshops at Marywood University, Temple University, Stockton College, Lycoming College, Bloomsburg University, and currently instructs dance technique and history at Susquehanna University.

MICHAEL MEDCALF continues to actively seek out challenging and engaging artistic and educational opportunities that expand his range as an arts administrator, choreographer, performing artist, and educator. 

In both academia and the not for profit sector, Medcalf has proven success as an arts administrator in the areas of management, fundraising, artistic and educational programming, strategic planning, curriculum development and its implementation.  For Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre, he served as Artistic/Executive Director and principal choreographer. For this organization he commissioned work by established and emerging choreographers such as Dianne McIntyre, Shapiro and Smith, Kevin (Iega) Jeff, Gary Abbott, Paloma McGregor, Peter Kalivas, and Germaul Barnes, amongst others. As an educator, he has served as a faculty member at select institutions of higher learning and private studios across the country in positions as director, professor of dance, and instructor. 

As a professional dancer, Medcalf has been a member and guest artist of numerous professional companies; Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble (Denver), Kim Robards Dance (Denver), Ballethnic Dance Company (Atlanta), Alfred Gallman’s Newark Dance Theatre, (Newark), Core Dancers (Atlanta), Groundwork Dance (Cleveland), Dance Del Bello (Bucks County), David Taylor Dance Theatre (Denver), Grown Women’s Dance Collective (San Francisco), Dancing Wheels (Cleveland) and his own endeavors; Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre (Cleveland); The Greene/Medcalf Movement Project (Cleveland).  Currently, he develops group and solo projects for Michael Medcalf/Inventions.  

Medcalf has worked with and performed the choreography of prominent choreographers such as Cleo Parker Robinson, Dianne McIntyre, Katherine Dunham, Donald McKayle, Jennifer Muller, Bill T. Jones, Gary Abbott, Eleo Pomare, Kevin (Iega) Jeff, Talley Beatty, Ronald K. Brown, Kim Robards, Waverly Lucas, Dwight Rhoden, and others on concert stages throughout North America, Turkey, Greece, Africa, Bulgaria, Germany, and Cyprus.  As a choreographer himself, Medcalf continues to be commissioned to choreograph for opera, musical theater, and the concert stage for arts organizations, institutions of higher learning, and regional theaters throughout North America. 

As a part of his on-going professional development, in the spring of 2013, Medcalf, as an Iowa Arts Fellow, received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA.  Currently, Medcalf serves as an Assistant Professor of Dance and the founding director of Alabama State University’s BFA Dance Program, the first and only historically black university in the South to offer specifically a BFA degree in dance.  He also is a board member of both the Alabama Dance Council and Cleveland Dance Movement.

MICHAEL RICHTER is the founding director of Mi Danza, providing performances and classes in schools and community settings (parks, city streets, etc.) in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.  In 2014, Richter co-founded Eco Embrace Dance with Elaine Wang, an international choreographic collaborative to create dance videos in natural settings.  In all his artistic work, Richter draws from postmodern dance, performance art, and sensory awareness.

After receiving his MA in Dance and teaching for the Los Angeles School District, Richter co-founded and co-directed Move, Dance, and Yoga (2003-09), which provided artist residencies, mentoring, curriculum, and professional development in dance integration to over 40 elementary schools in Los Angeles, CA.  Richter also co-founded and co-directed two dance improvisation companies in Southern California: Conduit Dance Ensemble and Locomania Dance (1996-2002). 

He received support from the Dana and Harkness Foundations for Dance to co-develop a mentoring project for dance artist/educators with Celeste Miller and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. He also garnered grant support from the California Arts and Humanities Councils to create choreography with community dancers.  

Richter was a professor of Creative Dance in the Kinesiology department at California State University, Northridge. He has acted on the Boards of the California Dance Educators Association and the Language of Dance Center, USA.  He was also a researcher with the National Dance Education Organization.

He is a certified Language of Dance® motif notation Specialist and Sensory Awareness instructor, who currently performs and teaches in a wide range of educational and community settings in North America.

MICHELLE LeNOIR VANHUSS is originally from Miami, FL, and is currently director of university initiatives and touring with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC). Her primary responsibilities include maintaining relationships with official university partners and building new relationships and opportunities at universities and managing bookings at presenting houses nationally and internationally. She also oversees volunteer recruitment and social media engagement for DCDC. 

She completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from New World School of the Arts then performed with local choreographers and companies. She also received a teaching certification and taught dance at public schools in South Florida including establishing the magnet dance program at Robert Morgan Educational Center. 

After moving to Dayton, OH, VanHuss completed her Master of Public Administration from Wright State University and Nonprofit Leadership Alliance National Certification in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. After working in nonprofit children’s programming for several years, she is happy to be back in the world of performing arts, first as Director of University Initiatives and then taking on Touring. 

When she’s not representing DCDC, she enjoys time exploring the outdoors and local attractions with her husband and two young daughters, blogging at Domesticating Michelle and other parenting blogs, and volunteering.

YVONNE MONTOYA is a mother, freelance choreographer, consultant, guest lecturer, and founding director of Safos Dance Theatre in Tucson, AZ. She studied jazz and modern dance at the University of Arizona where she earned a B.A. in Spanish and a M.S. in Mexican American Studies. Before founding Safos, Montoya performed with Tucson-based modern dance companies FUNHOUSE movement theater, New ARTiculations Dance Theatre, Zeffirelli 8, and served as local teaching artist for Ballet Hispanico. Montoya is the lead choreographer for Safos Dance Theatre and was the visionary and director of Color the Mural, a two-year community mural project and site specific dance theater performance. Under her direction, Safos won the Tucson Pima Arts Council’s Lumie Award for Emerging Organization in 2015. Montoya worked as Adjunct Faculty at the U of A’s Department of Mexican American Studies (MAS) from 2006-2012 where she taught classes and oversaw student research on Latina/o representations. She continues to dance and is honored to be performing for master choreographer Norman Walker at Arizona Ballet Theater under the direction of Cecily Winslow-Bressel. Montoya is currently working on a solo project entitled Motherhood and the Performing Arts that explores the challenges and rewards of mothers working in the performing arts.