DFA Panelists & Peer Readers

Round Two Panelists (2021-2023)

Charya Burt
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ID: Asian-American woman with long dark hair and pink lipstick in a rose-colored top and black blazer stands in front of a grey background, smiling easily into the camera. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Artist.

Charya Burt (she/her; Windsor, CA) is an acclaimed master dancer, choreographer, vocalist and teacher of Classical Cambodian Dance. After the Khmer Rouge genocide, Burt trained extensively with Cambodia’s foremost surviving dance masters, eventually joining the dance faculty of Cambodia’s Royal University of Fine Arts. As a member of Cambodia’s Royal Dance Troupe, she toured internationally. Since emigrating in 1993, Burt has performed her works throughout the nation at venues including Jacob’s Pillow, San Francisco Opera House, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and many others.  A true culture bearer, Burt has conducted workshops at schools and colleges around the country.


Burt has devoted her life to reviving classical Cambodian dance through preserving authentic movements, gestures and dances of the classical repertory, thus helping to strengthen a sense of cultural identity for Cambodian-Americans. She has trained thousands of dance students throughout California including multiple stints as artist-in-residence at Cambodian cultural centers in Stockton, San Jose, and Khmer Arts Academy in Long Beach. A Hewlett 50 Commission was awarded her in 2021 to create The Rebirth of Apsara: Artistic Lineage, Cultural Resilience and the Resurrection of Cambodian Arts from the Ashes of Genocide.


An inaugural Dance/USA and 2022 Americans for the Arts Johnson Fellow and Isadora Duncan Award recipient for Individual Performance, Burt has received multiple grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation, Creative Work Fund, and Alliance for California Traditional Arts including their Living Cultures Grant (2021) to create the Charya Burt Cambodian Dance Digital Library. Her recent choreographic works include Silenced (2018), Of Spirits Intertwined (2018), and Heavenly Garden (2016). Burt’s mission is to continue to preserve and renew her art-form, elevate the professionalism of community dance groups, and to create innovative new works firmly rooted in tradition. She is founding artistic director of Charya Burt Cambodian Dance, based in the San Francisco North Bay.

Tony Duncan
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ID: Tony Duncan wears traditional hoop dance regalia, with intricately patterned beads in light blue, orange, red, and white and a matching beaded headdress with white, red, and tawny feathers. His hair is in two braids - one down the front of each shoulder. Photo Credit: Jonathan Labusch

Tony Duncan (Apache, Arikara and Hidatsa; he/him; Gilbert, AZ) has performed for audiences worldwide including performances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Smithsonian Museum, The Billboard Music Awards, The Tonight Show, and The White House. Duncan has great achievements in both music and dance. As a hoop dancer Tony Duncan is among the best in the world, winning the title of “World Champion Hoop Dancer,” an amazing 6 times and is currently the 2021/22 World Hoop Dance Champion. He is the featured dancer on Nelly Furtado's music video, "Big Hoops”.


As a flute player, he is currently signed to the largest Native American music label Canyon Records. Duncan received the award for Artist of the Year at the Native American Music Awards. Duncan has toured with acclaimed Native American artists such as R. Carlos Nakai and Joanne Shenandoah, as well as across Europe and Asia with international pop star, Nelly Furtado. He’s enchanted over 100,000 people in Paris, London, Tokyo, Manila, Switzerland and the Island of Malta with his hoop dancing and flute playing.


Tony Duncan was named the Kennedy Center NEXT 50 in 2022, a new initiative that celebrates cultural leadership with 50 trailblazing leaders and organizations guiding society and the next generation into the future. Tony Duncan was also the recipient of the prestigious Dance/USA Fellowship, and this past year has collaborated with Marvel, Vogue Magazine and Facebook.

Monique Jenkinson
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ID: Black & white image of a white woman with long, blondish hair wearing a patterned jacket in three quarter profile looking at the camera and half-smiling. Photo Credit: Robbie Sweeny

Ramaytush/Ohlone; San Francisco, CA


Monique Jenkinson (she/her) is an artist, choreographer, performer and writer. Her work dwells at the intersection of contemporary dance and cabaret and considers the performance of femininity as a powerful, vulnerable and subversive act. Her alter-ego Fauxnique made herstory as the first cis-woman to win a major drag queen pageant and subsequently her solo performance works have toured nationally and internationally in wide-ranging contexts from nightclubs to theaters to museums in San Francisco, New York City, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Cambridge, Provincetown, Berlin, Catania, Cork, Edinburgh, London, Paris, Reykjavik, Rome and Zürich.


She has created space for children to design gowns for drag queens at a major museum and has created curricula at St. Mary’s College and the San Francisco Art Institute. Honors include residencies at Headlands Center for the Arts, Tanzhaus Zürich and Atlantic Center for the Arts, an Irvine Fellowship and residency at the de Young Museum, GOLDIE and BESTIE awards and 7X7 Magazine’s “Hot 20.” She has been nominated for the Theater Bay Area, Isadora Duncan Dance (IZZIE) and Herb Alpert Foundation awards and has received support from San Francisco Arts Commission, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, CHIME, Center for Cultural Innovation and the Kenneth Rainin and Zellerbach Family foundations. Her memoir, Faux Queen is out now on Amble Press.

Mama Naomi Diouf
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ID: Naomi Diouf with a Black/Gold metallic headdress in a red outfit. Photo Credit: R J Muna for the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival.

Muwekma Ohlone Indian Tribes Castro Valley California


Naomi Gedo Diouf (she/her), Cultural Bearer, Historian, Facilitator and Instructor, is the Artistic Director of Diamano Coura West African Dance Company. Naomi Gedo Diouf grew up in Liberia and began dancing at age of six. Since coming to the U.S. in 1972, she has had a profound impact in the Bay Area, nationally, and internationally. She has created numerous acclaimed traditional and innovative choreographies for Diamano Coura, and was commissioned to assist and choreograph for many companies throughout the United States, Asia and Africa. Mama Naomi, as she is known, has shown extraordinary leadership in a field predominately led by men. She has taken on difficult topics such as a transnational look at violence and community, juxtaposing the violence of child soldiers back in her native Liberia, with the violence youth face in Oakland. She has trained hundreds of dancers and taught thousands of students, holding the highest artistic and technical standards and rigor. She created a forum for immigrant artists with her Collages des Culture Africaines now in its 27th year.


Mrs. Diouf, over the years, has received many awards, recognitions and grants. In July 8, 2018 she received the Malonga Casquelourd Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival; in May 2019 was awarded a Dance/USA Fellowship to Artists; and in 2020 was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts and National Council for Traditional Arts; the highest in the nation.

Paloma McGregor
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ID: Paloma gazes out from the left side of the photo, the Hudson River in the distance. Photo Credit: Melisa Cardona

Paloma McGregor (she/her; New York, NY) is a Caribbean-born, New York-based dance-maker who makes Black work with Black folks for Black space. A former newspaper reporter and editor, McGregor brings a choreographer’s craft, journalist’s urgency, and community organizer’s framework in the service of big visions. Over the past decade, she’s used performance practice to explore how the body’s presence (or absence) can impel community-driven transformation in embattled public spaces - from the Bronx River to Christiansted, St. Croix. McGregor is co-founder and Artistic Director of Angela’s Pulse. Her work has been supported by Fellowships from Open Society Foundation, Dance/USA, Urban Bush Women’s Choreographic Center Institute, and Surdna Foundation’s Artists Engaging in Social Change. She won a Bessie Award for performance as a member of skeleton architecture, a collective of Black women(+) improvisers. McGregor is currently developing A’we deh ya, a multi-year, multi-disciplinary performance project aimed at activating a call-and-response between the US mainland and her homeland, St. Croix, a current US colony. The first iteration, a dance film, has been screened at film festivals in the US and internationally, and won Best Screendance Film at the 2022 Denton Black Film Festival. A'we is the latest iteration of her project Building a Better Fishtrap, rooted in her father’s vanishing fishing tradition and three animating questions she’s asked since leaving her ancestral home: What do you take with you? Leave behind? Return to reclaim? McGregor danced for six years with Urban Bush Women, and is currently Associate Director of UBW's annual Summer Leadership Institute. She has collaborated with Liz Lerman for more than a decade in many capacities, including performing in The Matter of Origins and co-designing annual Critical Response Process training at The David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University.

Hope Auerbach Mohr
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ID: White middle-aged woman with dark hair pulled back in a bun wearing a black parka against a sandstone cliff.  Photo Credit: Courtesy of the artist.

HOPE MOHR (she/her; San Francisco, CA) has woven art and activism for decades as a choreographer, curator, community organizer, and writer. She founded and co-directs The Bridge Project, which creates and supports equity-driven live art that builds community and centers artists as agents of change.


As a dancer, Mohr trained at S.F. Ballet School and performed in the companies of dance pioneers Lucinda Childs and Trisha Brown. As a choreographer, Mohr makes work that “conveys emotional and socio-political contents that just ride underneath the surface of a rigorous vocabulary.” (Dance View Times).


Passionate about pursuing both community organizing and dance, Mohr earned a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was a Columbia Human Rights Fellow. As an activist, she has worked for women’s rights and environmental justice through such organizations as AmeriCorps, Earthjustice, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. She has led community-based performance projects with breast cancer survivors and military veterans.


She was named to the YBCA 100 in 2015. In 2014, Dance Magazine's former editor-in-chief Wendy Perron named Mohr as one of the “women leaders” in the dance field. Mohr's new book, "Shifting Cultural Power: Case Studies and Questions in Performance," is out now from the National Center for Choreography.

Marissa "Mia" Morris
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ID: Medium skin-toned femme presenting adult with light makeup on. They are wearing a black headwrap. They are wearing a black shawl over a burgundy shirt. They are seated outside, facing slightly left but looking at the camera. Photo Credit: Anne Bookim

Piscataway; Rockville, Maryland


Mia Morris (she/they) is a Black DeafDisabled visual/performing artist and arts educator with over 26 combined years of challenging what it means to be an artist, they know firsthand how crucial equitable access to the arts is. They use their combined knowledge of the arts and disability justice to help eradicate ableism in the arts industry.

They currently led as Executive Director of Dance for All Bodies ensuring equitable access to virtual dance offerings. They are also a founding member of Comebacks, a dance company built of former and practicing artists rising from the ashes of discrimination fusing both therapeutic conversational processing and collaborative choreography together.

Corbett Joan OToole
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ID: Close-up photo of Corbett, a fat white woman with short gray hair, wearing colorful clothes and sitting on the sidewalk of a busy street. Photo Credit: Corbett Joan OToole

Corbett Joan OToole (she/her; Livingston, TX) is a disability community elder. She’s influenced generations of disabled artists, scholars, and activists through her writing, artwork, and public speaking.


Her first public dance, a joyful impromptu romp at a farmers market with her then three-year-old disabled daughter, is recorded in the film Mothers and Daughters.


She had the privilege to be part of Berkeley, California disability communities for pivotal moments in disability history including: 1977 occupation of the San Francisco federal building also known as the 504 Sit In; creation of the first Center for Independent Living; Director of the first national Center on Disabled Women and Girls; founding of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund; and the development of disability cultures in performance arts.


Along with Cheryl Marie Wade, she midwifed the Axis Dance Company from an idea by Patty Overland to a professional company led by Judith Smith. She had a short but highly enjoyable time dancing with Axis in their first few years. She documents much of this disability history in her groundbreaking book Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards.


She is featured as a disability history expert in the film Crip Camp which was nominated for an Oscar and was the opening film and audience favorite for the Sundance Film Festival.


Her archives of disability history are at the San Francisco Public Library Archives. An extensive oral history is at the Bancroft library, University of California, Berkeley.

Awilda Rodríguez Lora
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ID: Grey background, wearing white shirt, gold jewelry. Red lipstick and short black hair. Photo Credit: Tam Maz

Borikén/San Mateo de Cangrejos; San Juan, Puerto Rico


Awilda Rodríguez-Lora (she/her) is a performance choreographer and cultural entrepreneur. Her work challenges misconceptions about womanhood through the exploration of sexuality, empowerment, and self-determination. These concepts are explored through the use of movement, sound, and video as well as through a methodology she calls the “economy of living”--which can either potentiate or subtract from her body’s “value” in the contemporary art market. Born in Mexico, raised in Puerto Rico, and working in-between North and South America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, Rodríguez-Lora's performances traverse multiple geographic histories and realities. In this way, her work promotes progressive dialogues regarding hemispheric colonial legacies, and the unstable categories of race, gender, class, and sexuality. Rodríguez Lora has been an invited guest artist at the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD), New York University, the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College Dance Center, and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), among others. Her solo work has been recently featured at DEFORMES Performance Biennale (Chile), Posta Sur Performance Encounter (Chile), Independence Dom (Dominican Republic), Miami International Performance Art Festival (USA) and Performance Mix Festival 33 (New York).


Rodríguez Lora is currently artistic director at La Rosario in Santurce, where she is creating, researching, and producing her life project, La Mujer Maravilla, while developing new strategies for the sustainability of live arts in Puerto Rico. After more than ten years of work as a fully independent artist, she is committed to further studying how artistic economies can be harnessed to support alternative forms of life rooted in communality, creativity, and social justice.

Amirah Sackett
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ID: A Muslim American woman smiles and looks to her right while striking a dance pose with one arm over her head and one arm across her chest. She is wearing a patterned headwrap, black turtleneck with gold buttons on the wrists, gold necklaces, and thin gold hoop earrings. Photo Credit: Ahmed Zaghbouni

An internationally recognized hip-hop dancer, choreographer, and teacher, Amirah Sackett (Chicago, IL) explores and embodies her Muslim American identity through combining hip-hop movement and Islamic themes. She reached viral video fame after being featured on POPSUGAR Celebrity, The Huffington Post, AJ+, and Upworthy. Amirah was named one of “17 Muslim American Women Who Made America Great in 2016” by The Huffington Post. Sackett was honored to be a TEDx speaker, guest lecturer and teacher at Harvard University, and a cultural diplomat with the U.S. State Department in Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Kuwait. Most recently, she had the honor to represent the U.S.A. as a cultural performer, in United Arab Emirates, at the Expo 2020 Dubai, the S.W.A.N.A.’s region’s first World’s Fair. Based in Chicago, Amirah continues to teach the next generation and encourage emerging artists to use hip-hop culture as a way to uplift, inspire, and create social change.







Round Two Peer Readers (2021-2023)

Pelenakeke Brown
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ID: A photo of Pelenakeke - a brown skinned woman with long flowy brown hair standing with her arms clasped which she looks quizzically to the side.  Photo Credit: Laura Hetzel

Pelenakeke Brown (she/her; Aukland, Nomad) is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and writer. Her practice explores the intersections between disability cultural concepts and Sāmoan cultural concepts. Her practice investigates sites of knowledge that hold both and she uses technology, writing, poetry, and performance to explore these ideas. 


She has presented her work in the US, UK, Canada and Germany. She was recognised with a Pacific Toa award at the Creative New Zealand Pacific Arts Awards in 2020 as well as receiving a Dance/NYC’s Disability Dance Artistry Residency in 2019.


She has worked with The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY) and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, (NY) Gibney Dance Center (NY) and The Goethe Institute ( DE) and other cultural institutions.


She has held residencies with Eyebeam (NY), AXIS Dance Company (CA), The Laundromat Project (NY), Denniston Hill (NY), and The Vermont Studio Center (VT).  Her non-fiction creative work has been published in The Hawai‘i Review, Apogee Journal, and the Movement Research Performance Journal.


Most recently she has co-founded rotations.dance- collaborative movement practice working towards deepening and challenging our understanding of artistry, disability, and access.

A. Madison Cario
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ID: Closeup black and white shot of a masculine appearing person with curly black silvering hair and fair skin sitting in a chair, leaning forward with hands clasps, looking directly at the camera. They are wearing a micro striped suit jacket, a white button down shirt, and a sharp bowtie and have peach fuzz atop their smile. Photo Credit: K.B. Dixon

Over the past two decades, Madison Cario (they/them; San Francisco, CA) has become a leader in the creative and education sectors by pairing entrepreneurial vision with non-profit practice. Cario began their career as an artist, designer, community organizer, and environmental scientist. They see the power of art, culture, creativity to change lives. They believe joy and inspiration should not be reserved for the few, but readily accessible to all. They believe in the power of YES!


Currently serving the field as the inaugural CEO for the Minnesota Street Project and the Minnesota Street Project Foundation in San Francisco, Cario most recently led the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) in Portland, OR. During this period, Cario focused on improving organizational equity and efficiency. To address systemic inequities, they created a unifying organization-wide equity vision; shifted grantmaking to enable a more equitable distribution of resources; and collaborated on the first-ever state-wide collaboration of commercial and non-profit arts organizations, resulting in more than $50 million in CARES Act funding.


Prior to RACC, Cario was the inaugural Director for the Office of the Arts at Georgia Tech. They developed unique programs and experiences exploring the intersection of science, technology, engineering, and the arts.


Before their time in Atlanta, they spent a dozen years in Philadelphia where they served in numerous leadership roles in the arts, focused on growing programs and presenting models to raise awareness and opportunities for local artists.


Cario is a sought-after keynote speaker and panelist who leads transformative workshops on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access around the U.S. They have been honored with the 2017 Creative Loafing People to Watch Award, Georgia Tech 2016 Staff Entrepreneurship Award, Faces of Inclusive Excellence Awards in 2017 and 2018, and the Georgia Tech 2015 Diversity Champion Award.

Thaddeus Davis
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ID: Brown skin African American Man with black tank top. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Wideman Davis Dance

Thaddeus Davis (he/him; Columbia, SC) is the Co-Director of Wideman Davis Dance and Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance and African American Studies at University of South Carolina. Through the lens of the African American Experience, he questions notions of spaces and environments that affect the interaction of gender, class, race, technology, and media’s ability to shape our perceptions. His research findings are exhibited in the creation of original dance works, films, and essays. Davis has received multiple honors and grants for his work including: 2019 National Endowment for the Arts(NEA)Grant, 2018 National Dance Project Grant, 2017 Provost Grant to support the creations of a research team for the development of Migratuse Ataraxia, 2013 Map Fund Grant to support the research and development of Ruptured Silence: Racist Signs and Symbol, Jerome Robins New Essential Works Grant (2011), University of South Carolina Arts Institute, Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Reading/Dance Collaboration. Balance: Homelessness Project (2009), Canvas: The Master Class (2010), Cultural Envoy to Portugal, U.S. State Department.


As a Fellow of the 2016 South Carolina Collaboration on Race and Reconciliation, Davis is committed to being an active participant in South Carolina’s efforts to improve community relations and support conversations on race and reconciliation.

Thomas F. DeFrantz

Thomas F. DeFrantz (thomas; Durham, NC) believe in our shared capacity to do better, and to engage artistic process that is anti-racist, proto-feminist, and queer-affirming at every turn.


Healing Artist & Cultural Healing Curator, DejaJoelle (St. Paul, MN./Atlanta, GA) is an African Centered - Healing Artist, Choreographer, Director, and Cultural Healing Curator. She believes Dance serves as our connection to ourselves, our communities, and our overall Divinity. DejaJoelle creates intentional spaces for Black, LGBTQ2, and Deaf community to discover their own practices toward Healing using Dance, Body Reclamation, and other Healing practices. As the world experiences collective hurt and grief, DejaJoelle trusts that our greatest act of REVOLUTION and REBELLION against hatred and corruption is Self-Love and Healing. As she refuses to fuel the fire of destruction and heinousness, she instead focuses her Art and energy on properly handling Black people who continue to be mishandled.

Ambre Emory-Maier
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ID: A woman with medium brown skin and white/gray shoulder-length hair wearing a royal blue shirt. She is sitting in a chair with a large plant in the background. Photo Credit: Jennifer Zmuda Photography

Ambre Emory-Maier (she/her; Columbus, OH), has worked in the dance field for over thirty- five years and remains passionate and committed to providing a positive impact on dancers, children, teachers and the community. She is the former Director of Education, Equity and Community Engagement and BalletMet 2 Associate Director for BalletMet. She has also served as Director of Education and Outreach for North Carolina Dance Theatre now Charlotte Ballet. Previously, she was a faculty member and Assistant Chairperson in the University of Hartford/Hartford Ballet’s Dance Division. She frequently stages works from Labanotation including dances choreographed by George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Nona Schurman and Donald McKayle. Ambre completed her MFA in Choreography and Performance at the Ohio State University, an MA in Dance Reconstruction and Directing from City University of New York, a BA in Communications from SUNY Geneseo and holds ERYT-500-hour yoga teacher certification from The Yoga Alliance®. During her 14 years in Connecticut, Ambre worked closely with The Connecticut Opera as a choreographer and dancer and toured the U.S. as principal dancer with Polite Society, a vintage ballroom dance company. With an interest in well-being and progressive growth of the ballet spaces she lives in, Ambre brings her acknowledged kinship with dance, yoga, meditation and mental health to her practices. Ms. Emory-Maier has presented internationally and nationally at many conferences such as NDEO, Dance Studies Association (DSA), and International Council for Kinetography Laban (ICKL). As chronic migraineur, she is a writer for Migraine Strong’s Blog. Her most recent article, a review of Dr. Martha Eddy’s book “Mindful Movement: The Evolution of the Somatics Arts and Conscious Action” was published in Somatics Magazine in 2020.

rachel hickman
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ID: rachel smiles softly, head turned slightly to look directly at the camera. She is a white woman with blue-grey eyes and light blonde hair that is cropped at her chin. A pink scar runs from her lip to her nose. She wears a black short sleeve button-up; gold jewelry glints from her neck, nose, and dangles from her ears.  Photo Credit: rachel hickman

Perpetually curious, rachel hickman (she/her; Albuquerque, NM) dances, writes, organizes, and develops multidimensional artwork. Informed by her West Texas roots, rachel’s creative work emerges from explorations of borders, divisions, and boundaries – locating natural and unnatural fissures and navigating the complexities of these chasms. She is currently a grateful resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Since 2019, rachel has worked with the disability arts ensemble Kinetic Light. As Kinetic Light’s Creative Co-Conspirator, she weaves together administrative and creative threads with an emphasis on accessibility. In 2020, she graduated summa cum laude from Florida State University with a BFA in Dance. During her time at Florida State, rachel was a Truman Scholar candidate and the recipient of the 2019 National AATI Essay Award. Passionate about intersectional social justice and the arts, she has attended and interned for Urban Bush Women’s Summer Leadership Institute, and she continues to deepen her practice in disability aesthetics through her time with Kinetic Light. When not working, rachel refuels outdoors in the sunshine – preferably with hands in the dirt.



Millicent Johnnie
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ID: Close up of Millicent Johnnie, African American French Creole woman wearing a black and white checkered shirt, with bright red lipstick, long dark brown hair, sporting an infectious smile against the backdrop of two windows and a grey wall, taken with a shallow depth of field. Photo Credit: Lou Freeman Photography

Kusso/ Yamasee and the forced labor of Black being bodies tied to these lands; Ridgeland, South Carolina


A two-time United States Artists nominee in dance, as a teenager, Johnnie (flexible pronouns) hosted a local social justice TV show met by protests from the KKK; she traces her professional determination and commitment to social issues in Black culture to this early opposition. Former Associate Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women with choreography featured on ESPN, the Prince William Network and Sunshine Networks, Johnnie worked A&R through Marvelous Enterprises bringing together her diverse experiences in theater and dance into the music industry. Johnnie choreographed the regional productions of Thoughts of a Colored Man, produced by Syracuse Stage and Baltimore Center Stage, prior to the show's Broadway run. Johnnie earned her MFA in Dance and a second MFA in film with a specialization in producing and story development. Together with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Johnnie's NEFA National Dance Project Bamboula: Musicians’ Brew inspired her short film Bamboula is Not Bamboozled and with significant contribution from the The National Carnival Commission of Trinidad and Tobago, she developed and produced, La DiaBlesse Curse; both currently touring the film festival circuit. Johnnie choreographed Scary Movie 5 directed by Malcolm D. Lee and is currently in post-production for her feature film, Ma Negresse, featuring Grammy nominated fiddle player, Cedric Watson and Dance Theater of Harlem alumna, Anjali Austin. Johnnie's hybrid film, Pulling Back the Curtain, features the Tallahassee Ballet, blending genres between a concert film and documentary, exposing the Ballet world’s fragility and reckoning with the intersection of COVID-19 and systemic oppression.

Johnnie currently teaches Writing for Media in the Florida State University School of Communications and Pedagogy in the MFA program at Jacksonville University.

Selected theatrical credits include: Cry You One “CREATIVE CAPITAL AWARD”; Ameriville produced by Universes Theater Company, Inc.; Parable of the Sower the Opera produced by Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon; We are Proud to Present a Presentation and The Shipment produced by UnderMain Theater; Cubamor produced by Village Theater; Universes’ Party People produced by OSF, Berkeley Repertory Theater “TBA AWARD, BEST CHOREOGRAPHY” and The Public Theater “2017 AUDELCO AWARD, CHOREOGRAPHY NOMINATION”; Robert Wilson’s Zinnias: The Life of Clementine Hunter Opera, The Love Project produced by Rhodessa Jones and Cultural Odyssey; Symphony for the Dance Floor produced by Sozo Artists and Brooklyn Academy of Music; Walt Disney Creative Entertainment’s Frozen; Rent produced by Ferndale Repertory Theater receiving awards for "BEST DIRECTOR" and "BEST MUSICAL". Johnnie also directed and choreographed West Side Story in South Africa and performed in the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Brazil.

Selected music credits include: Tekitha Wisdom, Grammy artists Bill Summers/ Los Hombres Calientes, Usher Raymond, Chrisette Michele and various artists signed to Konvict Muzik.

Alison Kopit
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ID: Alison, a white femme with long brown hair and blue eyes smiles up at the camera. She is wearing light purple lipstick, wire glasses, and green earrings with a blue floral button-up dress. Dark stones are blurry in the background. Photo Credit: Aster Harrison

Lenapehoking; Philadelphia, PA


Alison Kopit (she/her) is a white, queer, and autistic cultural worker, performance artist, and academic based on Lenni Lenape Land, colonially known as Philadelphia. She currently serves as one of Dance/NYC’s Disability. Dance. Artistry residents. She is interested in disability aesthetics, anti-oppressive approaches to cultural work, and time travel, often mapping her ideas onto the body through dance scores. She brings a commitment to Disability Justice to her work and collaborations. She has served as a research coordinator for Simi Linton’s Proclaiming Disability Arts project, scholar-in-residence to Full Radius Dance, art administrator and creative collaborator to Sky Cubacub of Rebirth Garments, and visiting assistant professor of Disability Studies at the University of Toledo. She recently earned her PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Disability Studies. Her dissertation, Sanctuary and Revolution: Reaching toward Disability Justice in Cultural Spaces, explores the ways that collective access and liberation, among all other principles of Disability Justice, have the potential to transform arts communities, social movements, and our own identities and relationships to our bodies--and that artists are well-equipped to lead this transformation.

Patrick Makuakane
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ID: I am wearing a lei polo (head lei) and lei ʻāʻī (lei around my neck). Photo Credit: Jean Melesaine

Patrick Makuakāne (he/him; San Francisco, CA) is a Kumu Hula, choreographer, dancer, director, raconteur and succulent fetishist, whose work crisscrosses between tradition and evolution. Born and raised in Honolulu, he studied with two of Hawai’iʻs most revered hula masters, Robert Uluwehi Cazimero and Mae Kamāmalu Klein. He received the title of Kumu Hula in a traditional ʻūniki ʻailolo ceremony conducted by Mrs Klein in 2003. Patrick is the founder and director of Nā Lei Hulu i ka Wēkiu, a Hawaiian dance company and cultural organization in San Francisco. He employs dichotomy as a powerful lens to present work, confronting misconceived notions of hula. This has resulted in productions exploring the current US occupation of Hawai’i, empowering native Hawaiian transgender artists, and utilizing hula as agency for incarcerated men at San Quentin State Prison. While a passionate preserver of tradition, his artistry also crafts a provacative treatment of tradition that leaps forward in unexpected ways. In 2020, he was a recipient of a Hewlett 50 Arts Commission, supporting the creation and premier of 50 exceptional works by world-class artists. In 2019, he received a Dance/USA Fellowship for his emphasis on dance for social change, and, for a lifetime of achievement, he was given the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Legacy Award in 2018. Makuakāne is a past artistic director of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival and a passionate advocate for creating equitable representation for the world dance community. He is also the spiritual and cultural advisor for the Native Hawaiian Religious Spiritual Group at San Quentin State Prison. His latest project is writing and choreographing a Hawaiian-themed musical in collaboration with Stephen Schwartz, musical theater lyricist and composer.

Maia Maiden
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ID: Maia is pictured wearing a black jacket with red, gold and green stripes. She has long dreadlocks and is wearing oval shaped earrings. Photo Credit: DigieMade Photography

A South Minneapolis native, Maia (aka Rah Fyah; she/her; Minneapolis, MN) has been a leader in the dance community for over 20 years. Representing Hip Hop culture, Maiden’s background includes dancer, choreographer and 12 years as Curator and Director of award-winning Maia Maiden Productions, a Twin Cities based performing arts presenter. Established in 2009, ROOTED: Hip Hop Choreographers’ Evening and Sistah Solo|Being Brothas have laid the framework for the organization's significant contribution to the arts community. Maiden’s curation is focused on uplifting and recognizing artists aligned with the organization’s mission to provide an equitable and engaging platform for Hip Hop, people of color (BIPOC), women and youth through performing arts. She has served on numerous fellowship/grant panels and has been recognized with many honors including Minnesota Sage Dance Award for Outstanding Performance, McKnight International Choreographers Residency Partner, Ordway Sally Award for Initiative, Independent Sector Upswell Fellow, American Express Next Generation Fellow, 20/20 Springboard for the Arts Fellow, Star Tribune Fall Arts Changemakers Honoree for Dance and City Pages' People Issue Honoree: Meet the Unsung Heroes of the Twin Cities.

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ID: MurdaMommy in front of a brick background wearing Larry Hott Collection black excellence shirt. Photo Credit: Jason Pinkney

Three traditional territories of the fire peoples the Ojibwe,Odawa and Bodewadmi; Chicago,IL


MurdaMommy is a dancer, musician, actor, and innovator in the film, fashion, and gaming industries. As a lesbian artist and a teen who experienced homelessness, she brings her life experiences into her practice and teaches the dance form Chicago Footwork to people who live on the South and West sides of Chicago. In 2019, she was recognized by SWAN Day Chicago, celebrating black women in dance, 2019 Dance/USA fellow also 2020 Queer Art Yaa Asante digital grant finalist.

MurdaMommy has performed across the U.S. In Chicago, she mentors and connects with all generations through performance and workshops, including programs within Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and Stateville Correctional Center.

As a musician, her style complements her choreographic and movement approach. She is currently working on her first official E.P. She recently created the short film " I Am Queen," based on the women of Chicago footwork culture. She is also collaborating on Juke Town, an online multiplayer game where characters can practice footwork, socialize, and complete missions. For more information visit www.murdamommy.com.

Lisa Nelson

Lisa Nelson (she/they; East Charleston, VT), choreographer, improvisational performer, videographer, educator, and editor/publisher of Contact Quarterly dance journal is intrigued by dance behaviors, systems of transmission and translation, patterns of surviving culture and the sense of imagination. Her practice of Tuning Scores is an approach to real-time editing and communication. Improvisational dance, thriving on values of collaboration, dialogue, and flexible survival strategies, has been at the core of her artistic practice. She's grateful for encouragements from Bessie Dance & Performance Award 1987, Alpert Award in the Arts 2002, and United States Artist Award 2020, and lives in Vermont, USA.



Alleluia Panis
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ID: Pilipina woman staring in the camera with a multicolored head wrap, a black, white & yellow keffiyeh scarf wrapped around her shoulders and wearing a yellow shirt. Photo Credit: Joe Ramos

Alleluia Panis (she/her; San Francisco, CA) is choreographer and director and the driving force behind San Francisco’s Kulintang Arts, Inc (popularly known as KULARTS). She is a respected elder artist in the US and the Philippines and is at home in both Pilipino tribal arts and American contemporary forms. Her immersive multidisciplinary work explores what it means to be a diasporic Pilipinx creator and her ongoing development of contemporary dance and visual language is her creative tactic for collective cultural survival and spiritual reclamation. She is a founding member and was the Arts & Culture co-chair of the SF Filipino Cultural Heritage District. She is the recipient of SF Arts Commission Artist Legacy Award, Gerbode Foundation Special Award in the Arts, DanceUSA Artist Fellow, and Rainin Foundation, and 2020 Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions.







Joycelyn L Reynolds
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ID: Joycelyn with Blue Scarf. Photo Credit: Sarah Reynolds

Joycelyn L. Reynolds (she/her; New Orleans, LA) is the Executive Director of the Arts Council of New Orleans, dba Arts New Orleans. She helped Arts New Orleans navigate the COVID-19 Pandemic and is well-known in the arts community. Joycelyn shaped the Community Arts Grants program made possible with City funds by creating the More Joy grant category that supports projects done by New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians and Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs. Joycelyn also advised that purchases made through the City’s Percent for Art Program, managed by Arts New Orleans, represent the racial make-up of New Orleans, which is composed of 59% Black folks. Joycelyn advocates for the arts community locally, statewide, and nationally. She served as president of Louisiana Partnership for the Arts, the statewide advocacy organization, and as State Captain of Louisiana for Americans for the Arts, participating in National Arts Advocacy Day.

Leslie Roybal

Neponset Tribe, Quincy, Massachusetts

Leslie Roybal (she/her) began her dance career at age 5 performing with a local Ballet Folklorico dance company in her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She holds a BFA in Theater from Stephens College, and continued her education at the University of New Mexico where she studied modern dance and flamenco. Leslie has performed professionally throughout the U.S. for over 20 years with Fred Darsow Dance, Neville Dance Company, The Metropolitan Opera, Pasión y Arte, A Palo Seco Flamenco, Entreflamenco Santa Fe, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana and in the New York and New Mexico tablaos. Leslie was first dancer and Co-Director of Murray Spalding Mandalas, a meditative contemporary dance company. She produced several seasons of Mandalas at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, collaborated with This is Water Productions on a film version of the work XIII and was at the helm of a preservation project for Ms. Spaulding’s canon of work, which now resides in the NYPL for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. A lifelong student, Leslie is a Jacob's Pillow alum, was a scholarship student for the NALAC Leadership Institute in 2011, a pioneering member of the Performers in Transition Fellowship for the BAM Professional Development Program/DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center in 2012, a 2016 Coors Light Líderes Program finalist honoring her work as a supporter of the Latino community and a 2017 Hispanics in Philanthropy NGEN fellow.

As Program Director for Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, Leslie is dedicated to inspiring people of all ages and abilities through the flamenco art form and to mentoring rising flamenco artists. Most recently she created the Colmena Flamenca, a three-tiered framework of support and education for flamenco dancers at all stages of their careers. 

Vanessa Sanchez
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ID: A women with olive skin, long dark brown and purple hair stands in front of a white background wearing a nose ring, large silver hoop earrings and a blue Mexican blouse with purple and pink embroidered flowers. Photo Credit: Alexa Treviño

Ramaytush Ohlone; San Francisco, California


Vanessa Sanchez (she/her) is a Chicana-Native dancer, choreographer and educator who focuses on community arts and traditional dance forms to emphasize voices and experiences of Latina, Chicana, and Indigenous womxn and youth. Based in San Francisco, she is the founding Artistic Director of La Mezcla, a rhythmic dance ensemble that explores historical narratives and social justice through tap dance, Mexican zapateado and Afro-Caribbean rhythms. Sanchez works to ensure accessibility to quality arts training and performances while teaching and mentoring youth and young adults of color. She is a 2019 Dance/USA Artist Fellow and a recipient of the 2019 New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Production Grant. Her production “Pachuquísmo,” an all-female tap dance and Son Jarocho performance about the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots, received the Isadora Duncan Award for Outstanding Production. She is currently a Dance Lecturer at UC Santa Cruz and received the Hewlett 50 Arts Commission grant for La Mezcla’s upcoming work “Ghostly Labor,” a percussive piece that explores the legacies of female labor in the US-Mexico Borderlands, set to premiere in 2023.

Zahna Simon
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ID: Headshot photo of Zahna Simon. Zahna is a white woman with blonde wavy hair and she is wearing a black top with the straps crossed in a X on her upper chest/neck area. She is signing ‘teach’ and grinning. Photo Credit: Matt Haber

Ohlone/Ramaytush; San Francisco, California


A San Francisco native and Deaf from birth, Ms Zahna (she/her) is honored Changemaker of the year 2018 for San Francisco Live Oak School where she is a former alumni. She is a professional dancer, chemist, avid health nutritionist, researcher and Deaf advocate. Former student at San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA) where she trained with Elvia Marta in Modern, Jazz, African, Ballet, Hip Hop and Choreography as well as participating in Alonzo King’s LINES Pre-Professional Summer Programs. Upon graduating from SOTA in 2003, Ms Simon attended UCI double majoring in Chemistry and Dance. At UCI she trained and performed various dance styles, working with fellow peers, graduate students and distinguished faculty such as Lisa Naugle, David Allan and Donald McKayle. She is also a former chemist by day at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and dancer by night at various Dance companies in San Diego including being featured in KPBS TV and Radio special "Deaf Dancer Performs in Trolley Dances." Ms Zahna has relocated back to the Bay Area and worked her way diligently and passionately up to being the Assistant Director for both Urban Jazz Dance Company and the Bay Area International Deaf Dance Festival under Antoine Hunter, Founder and Director and a full time office manager at a Professional Fiduciary Office. She has been featured in Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine and Ikouii Creative’s Book, IN THE STUDIO, published on Stance on Dance and was a Deaf Editor for Sins Invalid Disability Justice Primer. She has also performed with Kim Epifano, San Francisco Trolley Dances, Alameda Island City Waterways, Man Dance Company and Abilities Dance Boston.

Cheri L Stokes
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ID: African American women with a short haircut wearing a black turtle neck and gold hoop earrings. Photo Credit: Cheyenne Bostock of Bostock Images

Canarsie/Munsee Lanape; Brooklyn, NY


Cheri L. Stokes (she/her), born and raised in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, NY, received her M.F.A. in Choreography and Performance from The Florida State University in 2017. She received her B.A. in Dance Studies with a K-12 North Carolina Dance Teaching Licensure from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2005. Her performance background spans the genres of West African, Afro-Contemporary, Contemporary and Hip-Hop dance forms. Her choreographic research examines the ways in which facets of social vernacular dance forms, specifically Hip-Hop and Dancehall, have influenced her contemporary practice and art making.

Additionally, Cheri’s expertise includes over ten years of dance education and over five years of arts administration. She has had the pleasure of rehearsal assisting notable choreographers such as Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Okwui Okpokwasili (2016 MANCC Residency in Tallahassee, FL).

Presently, Cheri is part of the Urban Bush Women family serving as the Associate Producer of Special Projects.

Since 2018, Cheri's artistic project entitled, “The Function”, has provided intimate works in progress salons for New York City-based performance artists, which she co-curates with her artistic collaborators Love Muwwakkil and Brooke Rucker. She has been a guest teaching artist at various universities including, The Florida State University, Austin Peay State University, and Elon University. Excerpts of her latest work, "Da Block" was featured in the MODarts Collective Thread Festival (2021), The Elon University Spring Dance Concert (2021) and the STooPS Bed-Stuy Festival (2021). In the Spring of 2021, Cheri was the recipient of the Stephen Petronio Retreat and Restore dance residency. For more information on Cheri, please visit her website at www.cherilstokes.com

Arwen Wilder
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ID: Small adult person standing outside among brown trees and yard wearing a bright hat, a gray mask and a black shirt with a white moon and butterfly. Photo Credit: Megan Meyer

Arwen Wilder (she/they; Minneapolis, MN) has collaborated with Kristin Van Loon for 29 years. Together, as HIJACK, they have made and performed hundreds of dances in dozens of locations all over the world: inside, outside, scrappy and formal. They teach improvisation and dance-composition in and out of the academy, and have been commissioned by dancers young and old, trained and untrained. The major experiment of their collaboration is: how can two different things (people, concepts etc) exist together?


Arwen lives in Minneapolis. She does Pilates and Cranial Sacral Therapy as a side hustle. As a board member and organizer she helps Barebones, a community arts organization, hold to its idealistic and ambitious plans. She currently practices a special form of creative stoicism called solo-pandemic-parenting.





Taja Will
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ID: Taja, a non-binary femme, with cinnamon colored skin looks directly into the camera. They have dark long hair and bang that are streaking salt and pepper. They wear a grey shirt and gold earrings with blue tassels. Photo Credit: Nanne Sørvold

Bde Ota Othunjwe, Mni Sota Makoce, ancestral lands of the Dakota and Anishinaabe. Colonially known as Minneapolis, MN. *Please note this spelling does not have the proper spelling/lettering in Dakota.


Taja Will (they/them/Taja; Minneapolis, MN) is a queer, Latinx (Chilean) adoptee, performer, choreographer, somatic therapist and Healing Justice practitioner based in Mnisota Makoce, on the ancestral lands of the Dakota and Anishinaabe. Taja’s approach integrates improvisation, somatic modalities, text and vocals in contemporary performance. Their aesthetic is one of spontaneity, bold choice making, sonic and kinetic partnership and the ability to move in relationship to risk and intimacy. Will’s work explores visceral connections to current socio-cultural realities through ritual, archetypes and everyday magic.


Taja is a recent recipient of the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, in the dance field, awarded in 2021. Will’s work has been presented throughout the Twin Cities and across the United States. Including local performances at the Walker Art Center Choreographer’s Evening, the Red Eye Theater’s New Works 4 Weeks, the Radical Recess series, Right Here Showcase and the Candy Box Dance Festival. Will is the recipient of a 2018 McKnight Choreography Fellowship, administered by the Cowles Center and funded by The McKnight Foundation. Will has recently received support from the National Association of Latinx Arts & Culture, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.


Taja maintains a dynamic Healing Justice practice that includes consulting with individuals, organizations, and communities in the context of workshops, conflict mediation, one-on-one somatic healing sessions, nervous system triage, board development and organizational cultural competency, and individual coaching on unwinding from white body supremacy culture. They ground their work in indigenous solidarity and decolonization as a means to undo white body supremacy and it’s pervasive relationship to capitalism, Taja is committed to working for healing and liberation of Black, Indigenous and people of color.

Nancy Houa Xiong
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ID: Nancy, a Hmong-American woman, stands with her hand on her hip as she smiles into the camera. She has long wavy brown hair and is wearing a green camouflage hoodie with "House of Dance Twin Cities" printed in white across her chest. Photo Credit: Onto7

Nancy Xiong (she/her; Minneapolis, MN) is a Hmong American woman who was born and raised on the Northside of Minneapolis where she first started her dance journey immersing into Traditional Hmong dancing and kpop covers. Going to college, she stepped away from traditional Hmong dancing and kpop she found herself falling in love with Hip Hop and Open Style Choreography. She started training more heavily and had expanded into House and Whacking. She has trained in L.A, Chicago and is continuously working on expanding her artistic skills.


As of today, she is one of the Co-Founder and Co-Director for Elite Family Dance team who are on their 8th season, heavily focused on competitions. She has led them to compete at the World of Dance Chicago, Masterpiece, Prelude Midwest and local competitions! Some of Elite Family highlights are winning: 1st place at the Minnesota State Fair Talent show 2021, Best Theme at World of Dance Chicago 2018, Third place at Masterpiece 2019 and First, Third, Fourth and Crowd Favorite for Hot Indian Dance Off 2019. Lastly, she is a Hip Hop instructor at House of Dance - Twin Cities, featured guest choreographer in many local studios and a proud mother to her 2 kiddos, Alicestasia and Artemis.


Tuscon, AZ


This peer reader chooses to be anonymous.


Lubbock, TX


This peer reader chooses to be anonymous.


Bde Ota Othunjwe, MN


This peer reader chooses to be anonymous.


Saint Paul, MN


This peer reader chooses to be anonymous.

Round One Panelists (2018-2020)

  • T. Lulani Arquette (she/her) President, Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, Portland, OR
  • Adriana Gallego (she/her) Chief Operating Officer, National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, San Antonio, TX
  • Indira Goodwine (she/her) Former Managing Director, Camille A. Brown and Dancers, New York, NY
  • Jeremy Guyton (he/his) Director of Youth Programs, Dancing Grounds, New Orleans, LA
  • Lily Kharrazi (she/her) Sr. Programs Manager, Alliance for California Traditional Arts, San Francisco, CA
  • Toby MacNutt (they/their) Artist, Author, Teacher, Burlington, VT
  • Tanya Mote (she/her) Associate Director, Su Teatro Cultural & Performing Arts Center, Denver, CO
  • Judith Smith (she/her) Founder and Director Emerita, AXIS Dance Company, Oakland, CA
  • Katrina Toews (she/her) Consultant and Former Director, The Washington Ballet @ THEARC, Aspen, CO
  • Jawole Zollar (she/her) Founding Artistic Director, Urban Bush Women, New York, NY
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