Executive Committee and Members
Click members' names to access their bios:
Ami Scherson, Co-Chair
Ami Tamar-Santo Scherson (she/her/hers) is a Japanese-Chilean musician, arts administrator, and facilitator. By day, Ami is the Equity in Arts Leadership Program Coordinator at Americans for the Arts, where she assists in the development and implementation of programs to enhance the skills of diverse emerging arts administrators. At night (and sometimes into the morning), she writes music informed by her experiences as a mixed race trauma survivor, as well as thought partnering with Tara Trinity Villanueva on art collaborative, mixt collective. In addition, she serves as co-chair for Dance/NYC’s Junior Committee. During her time for relaxation, she is weight training, taking care of her plants, and experimenting in the kitchen.
Linda Ryan, Co-Chair
Linda Ryan (she/her/hers) is a dancer, choreographer, technology artist, and researcher in dance medicine. She works with movement and time-based media to confront the simultaneously familiar and odd systems that govern the way we interface with the world around us. She has created choreography with velcro suits, heat-sensitive floors, and her largest body of work incorporates GoPro action cameras into choreography to examine intimacy & embodiment at the micro-level. Linda holds a BA in dance from the George Washington University's Corcoran School of the Arts & Design. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at Keshet Dance & Center for the Arts; Nimbus Dance Company's OFFline Thrive series; PlySpace (where she taught at Cornerstone Center for the Arts and Ball State University); and the Institute for Electronic Arts at Alfred University. Linda is currently a collaborator with Anna McDunn's Unhinged Dance and the Rehab Research Coordinator at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, where she works in biomechanics, injury epidemiology, and COVID-19 research. This is her second year on JComm.
Anna Bjella (they/them/theirs;she/her/hers) is an artist, educator, and technologist. They are the co-founder and artistic director of the Brooklyn-based dance collective Here's T(w)o Collective, whose artistic work engages with a combination of improvisatory practices, critical theory, and deep discussion to continually work to reconcile the art that they desire to make with that which their bodies are trained to produce. Along with their collaborator Nia Sanders, they work to use their investigations to break down the origins of their collective movement so that they might build an artistic practice that both nods to where they come from and asks for something more. Their work has been presented at WestFest Dance, The Craft NY, the 19 Acts of Covid-19 Bravery Series, the Spitball Series, Movement Research at the Judson Church, the Newport Art Museum, The Dance Complex, and Movement Research Open Performance. When they're not making dances, Anna is an educator and technologist. They currently teach creative coding and technology skills to children of all ages and skill levels. Anna strives to foster a classroom environment that promotes healthy and effective communication, collaboration, and intersectional feminism. They found many of these values first in their dance making and improvisation work, and believe that all of the best liberties that we bring to our creative spaces belong in our technology and classroom spaces as well.
Anna McDunn (she/her/hers) is a dance artist, administrator, and technician. She grew up in Pittsburgh and earned a BA in Choreography from Seton Hill University in 2015. Among others, Anna has stage managed for Kate Weare Company, New York Theatre Ballet, and Jillian Sweeney. She was the Wardrobe Supervisor at Jacob’s Pillow in 2016 and 2017, and returned as the inaugural Program Fellow & Assistant to the Director for the 2017-18 season. She joined Gallim in 2018 as Company Manager. Anna has created and performed work in New York City, Jersey City, Allentown, PA, and Durham, NC. When not in the studio or the office, Anna loves to bake, bike, and pet other people's dogs.
Brooke Rucker (she/her/hers) is a Brooklyn-based arts worker, specializing in dance. She began her arts training in her hometown Cartersville, GA and went on to earn her BFA in Dance at Florida State University in 2018 where she first met Jawole Willa Jo Zollar as a professor with the dance department. She has performed with Charles Anderson’s dance theatre X (2017-2019) and Gaspard & Dancers (2019) as a company member. Brooke has also worked as an apprentice with the dance companies Urban Bush Women and Camille A. Brown & Dancers. Alongside her dancing, Brooke is the founder of the book club collective, Books for the Revolution, which centers literature by marginalized authors who speak truth to the intersectional oppressive systems that govern our world. Brooke joined the UBW administrative staff in February 2019 as Jawole’s assistant and transitioned into her current role as the Development/Visioning Partner Assistant in 2020.
Danielle Iwata (she/her/hers) is a Japanese/Filipinx-American arts administrator and practitioner. She is a Program Coordinator at Americans for the Arts, where she focuses on partnerships between businesses and the arts. Prior to that, she was the Development Coordinator and Board Liaison at Jacob’s Pillow Dance, where she also had the opportunity to perform on the Inside/Out stage on Community Day. She has previously interned at Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and the National Museum of Dance. In addition to dancing, she collaborates with other artists on photography projects. Danielle is also a graphic notetaker and has been commissioned by nonprofit organizations and foundations to create visual representations of keynote presentations, panels, and more.
Jesse Obremski (he/him/his), a native New Yorker, graduated from LaGuardia High School and The Juilliard School with additional development at Jacob’s Pillow with multiple years at The Ailey School, EMIA, and Springboard Danse Montréal. Obremski, an Eagle Scout Rank recipient, Asian American Arts Alliance Jadin Wong Dance Awardee (2016), Interview En Lair’s “Dancer to Watch” (2017), and Dance Magazine’s March 2019 Dancer “On The Rise” has performed with Diversity of Dance, Brian Brooks Moving Company, Peter Stathas Dance, Kate Weare Company, as a company member with Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Buglisi Dance Theatre, WHITE WAVE, has performed ensemble, soloist, and principal roles with The Limón Dance Company, and is an Artistic Associate with Gibney Company (2018-present). Obremski has performed for the inaugural Obama White House Dance Series and the Olympic recognized FINA World Tournament 2019.
Joan Bradford (she/her/hers) is a choreographer, dancer, teaching artist, and arts administrator proudly born, raised, and still residing in the Bronx, NY. Joan holds her BFA in Dance and minor in Theatre from Long Island University with the Faculty’s Award for Excellence in Choreography. Joan has performed works with Sydnie L. Mosley Dances, MizantyMoves Dance Works, Alexandra Beller, Alethea Pace, KamrDANCE, Praevado Dance Collective, Haven Movement Company, and Mise en Danse throughout the tri-state and in residencies through Temple University, The Iron Factory, Wilson College, and Lincoln Center Education. Joan has shared her choreography through Symphony Space, Triskelion Arts, Hunter College, Brooklyn School of Music, The Old First Reformed Church, Arts on Site, Socrates Sculpture Park, The Ritz Theater, Tilles Center, Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture, Pepatián: Bronx Arts ColLABorative, BAAD! (Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance) and The Knockdown Center. Joan completed a choreographic residency with Lost Dog Dance Theatre in Lewes, England and most recently was in residence through the Dance Your Future Artist & Mentor Collaborative Residency presented by Pepatián and BAAD! under the mentorship of Sydnie L. Mosley and Alexandra Beller. Currently, Joan is a Creative Partner and Rehearsal Director with Sydnie L. Mosley Dances, a Teaching Artist, Dance Company Director, and Assistant Site Director with The Coalition for Hispanic Family Services Arts & Literacy Program, a Teaching Artist and Project Manager with The Bronx House, and a Producer with WAXworks.
John Maria Gutierrez (he/him/his;they/them/theirs) is an actor, dancer, creator who performs on screen and stage nationally and internationally. Originally from a small island presently called NYC, John was raised in the Northern region of the island in a hood commonly known as "Little Dominican Republic" or Washington Heights. His works combine bboy and postmodern aesthetics, original music, singing, and experimental theater to unwind a complex urban disparity brought on by social and systemic failings. As the first person in his family born in the US, John is carving out and balancing his own identity within his family, cultural history, and an artistic landscape that doesn’t often highlight the experiences of lower income, multilingual, and queer expressions. Recent credits: Law & Order: SVU, performing internationally with Miguel Gutierrez (This Bridge Called My A$$, Sadonna), MOTUS (PANORAMA), and Pilobolus. He is a graduate of the Terry Knickerbocker Studio and faculty at Peridance Center. John is a proud member of the Great Jones Rep Company of La Mama and G^2, an ongoing collaboration with Beth Graczyk which recently presented work at Judson Church and the Shanghai Tower in China. John is also a 2020-21 Artist in Residence at La Mama as well as a BAAD/Pepatian Dance Your Futures artist.
Katherine De La Cruz (she/her/hers) is a Dominican dancer and choreographer based in Brooklyn NY. She earned her BA from Hunter College where she double majored in Anthropology and Dance. She performed at The New York City Center during the 2019 Fall for Dance Festival in “The Running Show” by Monica Bill Barnes & Company. She also collaborated and performed with MBB & co on the visual podcast “Keep Moving” which was presented by the American Dance Festival in September of 2020. She is currently working as a social media manager for MBB & co. Katherine is passionate about choreographing and created her first piece “Autumn Heat” in the Fall of 2019. The piece explored familial ties and ideas of community as having the potential for both nurture and rejection. This work focuses on queer romance and was performed a cast of LGBTQ+ dancers. Her experiences in quarantine led her to create the film “En La Luz” which tackles the effects of depression and focuses on the way light can be manipulated, shut out but eventually let in. Her work “Avanzamos”, which she created alongside Valentina Bache Rodriguez, premiered at the Estrogenius Festival in October of 2020. Katherine aims to use her knowledge of dance as well as her Anthropology background to continue to create work that offers a space for both confronting political and social issues, as well as offering perspectives on internal healing processes.
Kimberleigh Costanzo (she/her/hers) is a dance and performance artist whose choreography has been presented at venues throughout New York City and developed in residency centers nationally and internationally. Kimberleigh graduated from Iona College’s Honors program with degrees in philosophy, dance, and sculpture, and has since presented writing and research on contemporary art at colleges and universities throughout the Northeast. Kimberleigh is a Program Officer at the Howard Gilman Foundation, where she has worked since 2015. She is a member of Grantmakers in the Arts, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, and PEAK Grantmaking, an alumna of Philanthropy New York's Young Leaders program, the former Co-Chair of Dance/NYC's Junior Committee, and a former Steering Committee Member of Philanthropy New York's Philanthropic Assistants and Coordinators Network. Kimberleigh serves on the Board of Directors of Hollaback!, a non-profit devoted to ending harassment in all its forms, and on the Activist Council for Planned Parenthood, advocating for reproductive justice at local and national levels. In addition to formal roles inside of these institutions, Kimberleigh is involved in anti-racist organizing efforts within the New York City dance community and acts as a facilitator of racial and gender justice work.
Leila Mire (she/her/hers) is a performer, choreographer, educator, and writer. Since graduating with a BFA in Dance Performance from George Mason University, she has performed with ClancyWorks Dance Company, ICONS, Silk Road Dance Company, NY Light Latin Cabaret, Chikyu to the Moon, and Bated Breath Theatre Company. Her choreography has been featured in the NY Times, Washington Post, and the Queer Arabs Podcast. It's been described as “...both funny and topical” (Off Off Line), “swift and playful...yet pensive” (No Proscenium), and “huh...why are they doing that?” from her father. She is a current recipient of the Young Alumni Commissioning Project, the GMU Digital Content Fund, and an Aseemkala Choreographic Fellow. She currently writes for ThinkingDance, works on the Artists Striving to End Poverty Mutual Aid Network’s organizing team, teaches as a contractor throughout the city, and serves in various dramaturgical capacities. In her free time she likes to try diy projects and then curse at them when they turn out wrong, watch problematic Hallmark movies that she secretly finds enjoyable, and fantasize comebacks to imagined conversations between herself and members of Congress.
Maya Simone Z. (she/her/hers;they/them/theirs) is a NYC-based multi-disciplinary movement artist, dancer, choreographer, art administrator and educator from Lawrenceville-Suwanee, Georgia. Having studied anthropology, film and dance, they take a multidisciplinary approach to deepening artistic practices. Maya’s work is a means to celebrate and uplift Blackness in the present, past and future and dream of worlds beyond this one through art-making and creative experimentation. Maya currently dances with Sydnie L. Mosley Dances, a dance collective in residence at Lincoln Center Education. Earlier this year, they presented solo work at the Green Space’s Fertile Ground Festival. Last winter, they collaborated on an experimental devised-theater piece developed by Cinthia Chen for Theater Mitu’s Hybrid Arts Lab Residency. Maya is currently collaborating on a new iteration of that work for the Corkscrew Theater Festival to premiere in 2021. Beyond that, Maya works as an arts administrator with PURPOSE Productions, serves on the Dance/NYC Junior Committee and has worked with artists including André Zachary/Renegade Performance Group and Eryc Taylor Dance Outreach. They are currently earning yoga certification and have also worked as an experienced barre fitness instructor. In this and all things, Maya engages with their work holistically, with pleasure and purpose. They are a constant dreamer.
Stephanie Rivas (she/her/hers) is a Brooklyn based artist. Originally from Florida, she grew up dancing at a local studio. She studied dance in college at Florida State University where she earned her BFA/MA in dance. Her graduate research focused on dance science and conditioning for dancers. The interest in the dance medicine field lead to her current position at Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, a physical therapy center for dancers. Since being in NYC, she has been focusing on building her individual solo practice, learning about working with dance medicine within a healthcare environment, and constantly being inspired by her community. Stephanie is very happy to be a part of the 2021 JCOMM community!
Veronica Jiao (she/her/hers) is a Filipino-American dance creative and educator, born on the unceded native land of the Kusso (Charleston, SC). As the grandchild of immigrants, she is engaged in the work of ending white supremacist structures in the arts and our bodies, by archiving the Asian-American experience. Her creative practice renders this work in the form of dance improvisation, facilitating critical conversation, and writing. As a member of Dance/NYC's Junior Committee, Veronica co-facilitates and organizes discussions for equity and inclusion in the dance field. Her voice can be found on various episodes of the Dance Union podcast, Dance Magazine’s online archives, and social media. Veronica also roams entertainment and musical theatre spaces, as a past performer with Disney Cruise Line and a former cast member for RWS Entertainment Group. Most recently, she has collaborated with dance activist groups BABEL Movement and Josh Pacheco Dance Theatre.