DANCE. WORKFORCE. RESILIENCE. TASK FORCE
The role of this Task Force is to advise and assist Dance/NYC’s Dance. Workforce. Resilience. Initiative on behalf of the organization and the dance field in the metropolitan area.
Task Force currently in formation.
Click task force members' names to access their bios:
Alex Rodabaugh, Dancer, Choreographer and Performer, Treasurer of Dance Artists' National Collective
Alex Rodabaugh is a choreographer, dancer and performer based in NYC. Alex most recently performed in Moriah Evan's REPOSE. Alex has worked with artists such as Simone Forti in The Work Is Never Done at MoMA, Miguel Gutierrez, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Tess Dworman, Derek Smith and Bailey Williams among others. Alex's work has been shown at Movement Research at Judson Church, Draftworks, Double Plus at Gibney, PRELUDE, American Realness and Dance and Process at the Kitchen. Alex is currently working on the premiere of Break-Up Tunnel Vision Infinity, 3rd Edition in Lima, OH, his hometown, next year. Alex is a co-founder and the Treasurer of Dance Artists' National Collective.
Photo credit: Alex Rodabaugh
Antuan Byers, Dancer, Creative Entrepreneur, Arts Activist, Founder of Black Dance Change Makers
Antuan Byers (he/him) is a dancer, creative entrepreneur, and arts activist based on Lenapehoking (Manhattan, New York). Byers is a graduate of the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program and holds a certificate from the Parsons School of Design. He is represented by Stetts Modeling Agency, New York City, and has been featured in OUT Magazine, Dance Magazine, Dance Business Magazine, Dance Spirit magazine. After touring internationally with Ailey II, he returned to Lincoln Center to rejoin the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, where he is a principal dancer and regular performer. Additionally, he has performed in several productions at the Park Avenue Armory, including Nick Cave’s Bessie Award-winning “The Let Go,” choreographed by Francesca Harper, and with the Washington National Opera Ballet, KEIGWIN + COMPANY, Danielle Russo Performance Project, MorDance, as well as solo work by Kyle Abraham. He is a fellow in the National Center for Choreography at the University of Akron of the Arts Creative Arts Residency Program, where he is thought partner to Bebe Miller, Dominic Moore-Dunson, and Edgar L. Page. He is a former steering committee member of the Dance Artists’ National Collective, on the leadership team at Dancers Amplified, is a founding member of the Black Caucus at the American Guild of Music Artists, where he also serves as a member of the Board of Governors representing dancers in the New York Region. He is the Founder/CEO of Black Dance Change Makers.
Photo credit: Nick Suarez
April Biggs, April Biggs, Dance Artist; Disability+ Working Group Member, Creating New Futures
April Biggs is a Southern, queer, disabled dance artist, writer, and disability access consultant who works on the stolen lands of both the Kiikaapoi (Milwaukee, WI) and the Lenape (NYC) peoples. April is the inaugural recipient of the 2022 A-Ibanez Dance Artist Residency (VA), and was a 2020 Dance/NYC Disability.Dance.Artistry.Dance and Social Justice Fellow. She has been making, collaborating, improvising and teaching dance for 25+ years, and has presented dance work in venues across NY including Movement Research, DTW, Dixon Place, the Merce Cunningham Studios, and the ALT Theatre. April’s pedagogy and advocacy work follows a Disability Justice framework centering the most marginalized and celebrating the nuanced, full and exquisite experiences of disabled people. She holds an MFA in Dance from Ohio State University, an MFA in Poetry from The New School, and a BFA in Dance from Florida State University. April teaches both in community settings and academia, most recently at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University at Buffalo, and Ohio State University. She is the Disability Consultant to Rutgers University’s Integrated Dance Minor, a Phase 2 & 3 member of Creating New Futures’ (CNF) Disability+ Working Group, and an Envisioning Coordinator for Dance Artists’ National Collective (DANC). She serves on the Artistic Advisory Board of The Field Center and on the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) Dance & Disability Task Force.
Photo credit: Tim Bohannon
The Dance Union co-creates virtual meeting spaces to share ideas, voice concerns, encourage positive change, resist, unify, and kiki. Dance Union is a place to share ideas.
A place to voice concerns. A space to dream. A place to demand change. A space of resistance. A space to unify. A podcast. A relief fund.
Heather Robles, Policy Development Consultant at NY4CA, Executive Director of The Bessies
Heather Robles (she/her/ella) is a nondisabled Latinx queer cis woman who lives on the stolen land of the Lenape and Canarsie peoples in what is now called Brooklyn. She is a Policy Development Consultant at New Yorkers for Culture & Arts, Executive Director at the NY Dance & Performance Awards The Bessies, Artistic Director of Alma Dance Company, and certified birth doula at Our Birth Doula. A Brooklyn-based choreographer and performer, she has worked with many artists including Yvonne Rainer, Sidra Bell, Pavel Zûstiak, Nathan Trice, DANCENOISE, André M. Zachery, Buglisi Dance Theater, Soluq Dance Theater, Alison Cook Beatty Dance, Fredrick Earl Mosley, and Suzzanne Ponomarenko Dance. She is on the board of directors for Renegade Performance Group and Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts. Heather is also a dance educator, teaching artist, producer, and advocate for mental health in the dance field.
Photo credit: AK47 Division
Kellee Edusei, Executive Director, Dance/USA
Kellee Edusei became the Executive Director of Dance/USA in 2021. She joined Dance/USA in the fall of 2008 as the organization’s Office Manager and Board Liaison and was promoted to Director of Member Services in the spring of 2009, maintaining her work as Board Liaison until 2019. To date, Edusei designed and implemented the Membership Fellowship giving an early career arts administrator an opportunity to hone their skills; the “Special Membership Package,” a recruitment campaign that surpassed goal and engaged the entire Dance/USA Board and team in the process; and a new revenue stream by maximizing Dance/USA’s monthly Bulletin. She was part of the initial program design of Dance/USA’s Dance Business Bootcamp, a program for dance artists working with budgets of $200,000 and below. Edusei currently serves on the Advisory Council for Women of Color in the Arts and is an alumna of artEquity’s 2020 BIPOC Leadership Circle, of American Express’ 2014 Leadership Academy and the 2021 New Strategies Forum at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and Acumen Accelerator Program.
Photo credit: Maria Ponce
Lucy Sexton, Executive Director, New Yorkers For Culture & Arts
Lucy Sexton is a Brooklyn-born choreographer, producer, administrator, and performing artist who works in the fields of dance, performance, film, and public advocacy. She is the Executive Director of the cultural advocacy coalition New Yorkers for Culture & Arts. Prior to that, she served as Executive Director of the NY Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies, where she worked for ten years with Heather Robles to build The Bessies into an independent organization. From 2013-16 she served as a Consulting Associate Artistic Director of the planned performing arts center at the World Trade Center. As a dance artist she works with Anne Iobst creating and performing the dance performance duo DANCENOISE which was founded in 1983, had a retrospective exhibit and performance at the Whitney Museum in 2015, and premiered a new piece at NY Live Arts in 2018. She has also directed and dramaturged plays by Spalding Gray, Tom Murrin, Nora Burns, and Heather Litteer; and produced documentaries by Charles Atlas for the BBC and Arte. Sexton is currently developing and directing Eszter Balint's anti musical "I Hate Memory."
Photo credit: AK47 Division
Maria Bauman, Artistic Director of MBDance; Co-founder of ACRE (Artists Co-creating Real Equity)
Maria Bauman is a two-time Bessie Award winning multi-disciplinary artist and community organizer from Jacksonville, FL. She is also a sought after public speaker and facilitator on race equity and community-building as and with arts. Her company MBDance's community engagement and performance-rituals particularly center Black Queer people without tragedizing or tokenizing us. Bauman is also co-founder in 2014, with Sarita Covington and Nathan Trice, of ACRE (Artists Co-creating Real Equity), a grassroots organizing body of artists dismantling racism in our own practices and institutionally fields.
In 2021, Bauman was a BRIClab Fellow, granted a Petronio Residency Center award and a Red Tail Arts Fellow. She was a 2020 Columbia College Dance Center Practitioner-in-Residence, 2019 Gibney Dance in Process residency award winner, 2018-20 UBW Choreographic Center Fellow, 2017-19 Artist in Residence at Brooklyn Arts Exchange and was the 2017 Community Action Artist in Residence at Gibney. She's been recognized by Dance NYC's Dance Advancement Fund, Brooklyn Arts Council and Jerome Foundation. While formal accolades are affirming, some of the best approval Bauman has gotten for her dance work was from a group of Black and Brown queer teenagers at camp in Connecticut who, upon seeing her dance exclaimed "Oooo, she bad!”
Key areas: Concert dance & choreography; undoing racism in the arts & beyond; intentional dialogue facilitation; entering, building & exiting community methodology
Photo credit: Felicita "Felli" Maynard
Maxine Montilus, Dance Artist, Artistic Director of MV Dance Project
As a choreographer, Maxine has presented work at various institutions, including The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, and Harlem School for the Arts with Haiti Cultural Exchange for their annual Selebrasyon Festival. Maxine is also a member of Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE, through which she has presented choreography in their annual New Traditions Showcase from 2015-2017. In 2014, she choreographed BallyBeg Production's third play and Equity-approved showcase, "The Taste of It", and was a 2015 nominee for Outstanding Choreography/Movement in The New York Innovative Theater Awards for her work in the production. In 2017, Maxine served as an Afro-Cuban/Haitian Folklore consultant for Camille Brown in her work for the Broadway musical “Once On This Island”. Maxine was also the choreographer for Opera Orlando’s presentations of George Bizet’s “Carmen” (April 2021) and “The Secret River” (December 2021). Both productions made their premieres at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
In 2019, Maxine founded MV Dance Project, a dance company that aims to be of service to others through public performances and dance education programming. In June 2019, the company performed its first evening-length production “Strength in Spirit” at Brooklyn Studios for Dance.
Photo credit: Shocphoto Imagery LLC
Pavan Thimmaiah, Artist Choreographer, Director of PMT House of Dance
Pavan ‘PMT’ Thimmaiah, founder of PMT House of Dance (est. 2001), is an award-winning artist who broke with tradition to realize his dream of becoming a professional dancer. Pavan has since enjoyed a career highlighted by being the first Indian American to choreograph for a major recording artist and for network TV. He has been featured in Dance Teacher Magazine, Dance Magazine, NY Times, Dance Europe, The Dance Gazette, Staten Island Advance & more.
Pavan has choreographed for artists Vanilla Ice, Macy Gray, Harry Connick Jr, Alex Feder, Matt Palmer, Apache Indian & others. His other choreography credits include New Year’s Eve in Times Square, 1st Place Apollo Champion (choreographer), Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central & MTV and NBA halftime shows since 2014. He choreographed the first ever NY Fashion Week Runway show at the USS Intrepid for fashion designer Chi-Zhang. He is perhaps best known as the resident choreographer for NBC’s The Today Show for over ten years.
PMT Dance Company has presented original work for The International Dance Festival, the Bollywood Movie Awards & for Sundance Channel’s “Young Revolutionaries” - performing across the US & Canada. As an educator, he has helped students across UC Irvine, Peridance, Joffrey Ballet, NYU, Alvin Ailey Extension, PMT & schools nationwide.
Pavan is also the founder of the Dance Studio Alliance NYC - an advocacy group of Dance Studios and NYC Arts Institutions - advocating for dance organizations & arts workers.
Photo credit: Orion Photography
Réka Echerer, Dance Worker and Activist
Réka Echerer (she/her) hails from Vienna, Austria and has performed with the Vienna State Opera, Sue Bernhard Danceworks and Kizuna Dance. She has performed works by Merce Cunningham, Gabrielle Lamb, Aszure Barton and currently dances with the Metropolitan Opera and Megan Williams Dance Projects. She is a proud member of Dance Artists’ National Collective and Dancers of the Met and currently resides on the stolen lands of the Lenapehoking/Canarsie lands also known as Astoria, Queens.
Photo credit: @jhtheadshot
Vanessa Hernández Cruz, Disabled Dance Artist, Choreographer, Disability Justice Activist
Dance Artists National Collective, Communications & Social media Co-Coordinator
Vanessa Hernández Cruz (she, her, hers) is an emerging interdependent Chicana disabled dance artist & Disability Justice activist. She is from the unceded lands of the Tongva & Kizh territories colonially known as Los Angeles, California. She graduated from California State University Long Beach with her BA in Dance Science. In 2022, she was selected into the first national cohort for LatinXtentions Dance Mentorship Program led by David Herrera. She was also accepted for The Box LA & Pieter Parking Space Residency. In 2021, she was a part of the Arts Unchained International virtual residency where she developed a dance film titled “11th Hour”. Vanessa has been implementing the Disability Justice framework (Sins Invalid) through her activism & dance work. She is currently working with DANC (Dance Artists’ National Collective) as their Communications & Social Media Co-Coordinator. She also serves as a consultant in their BIPOC & Disabled Circle. In the past, she guided Cal State Long Beach Department of Dance to adopt Disability Justice elements into their dance productions and curriculum with the support of CSULB Affinity AIDE (Advocates for Inclusion & Dancer Equity). She has developed two workshops: Dismantling Ableism in Dance & Accessibility at the Forefront of Dance Making Series. Vanessa is committed to generating substantial changes in the dance field and making the dance field an equitable space for our multi-marginalized disabled communities.
Photo credit: Paula Kiley
Yanira Castro, Artist
Yanira Castro is a Puerto Rican born interdisciplinary artist living in Lenapehoking (Brooklyn, NY). Since 2009, she has made participatory performances and interactive installations with a team of collaborators under the moniker, a canary torsi. Her work is rooted in communal construction as a practice of radical democracy and invites the public into co-creation. Castro is the recipient of the 2022 Herb Alpert Award for Dance and has received two New York Dance & Performance (a.k.a BESSIE) Awards for Outstanding Production, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Choreography Fellowship as well as various commissions, residencies and national project grant awards. She has been commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, New York Live Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Abrons Arts Center, Danspace Project, The New Museum, ISSUE Project Room, The Invisible Dog Art Center, The Chocolate Factory Theater, and EMPAC, among others, and has toured nationally and internationally. She has received residency support for her work including MacDowell, Yaddo, IN_Residence @ Dancehouse (Australia), LMCC’s Extended Life program, Gibney Dance Center’s DiP program, Choreographic Fellow at Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, Artist Ne(s)t (Romania), and Rockefeller Foundation (Bellagio, Italy). She is one of the co-authors of “Creating New Futures,” collectively-written documents drafted as calls-to-action to address deep-rooted inequities in the performance field.
Photo credit: Josefina Santos