Click on a name to access their bio:
Joan Bradford, Co-Chair
Joan Bradford (she/her/hers) is a choreographer, dancer, teaching artist, facilitator, 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 venues including 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 Dancing Futures 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 and Project Manager with The Bronx House, a Producer with WAXworks, a Fellow with the University Settlement Performance Project, and thrilled to be the Co-Chair of the 2022 JComm cohort.
Photo credit: Whitney Browne
Stephanie Rivas, Co-Chair
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 excited to be one of the Co-Chairs of the 2022 JCOMM cohort!
Maya Simone Z., Secretary
Maya Simone Z. is a NYC-based interdisciplinary artist, educator, choreographer, and art administrator from the South. Their work centers queer, Black diasporic emotional and spiritual connections as told by their ancestral lineages, Afro-futurist imaginings, and dreams of this and other worlds.
Maya Simone was recently a collective member of SLMDances and has also worked with Jasmine Hearn and Rogue Dancers. They are currently a More Art Fellow and an Art & Survival Fellow with Double Edge Theatre and BDAC. They have developed and collaborated in works presented at Green Space, Corkscrew Theater Festival, Theater Mitu and more.
Maya Simone has also completed residencies with MODArts Dance Collective, the Hambidge Center, Mudhouse Art, and GALLIM. They currently work as a team member of PURPOSE Productions and serve on the Dance/NYC Junior Committee as Secretary. They enjoy supporting artists, such as André Zachary, Edisa Weeks and others as an arts administrator and emerging producer. In this and all they do, Maya Simone engages art-making holistically, with pleasure and purpose. They are a constant dreamer. Follow their journey at www.mayasimonez.com
Photo credit: Whitney Browne
Anna Bjella, Communications Chair
Anna Bjella (they/them/theirs) 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 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 and manage a team of teaching artists. 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.
Abigail Linnemeyer (she/they) is a performer, choreographer and dance activist. She grew up in New York and graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2020 where she received her bachelor of arts in dance with concentrations in performance and choreography and in business with a concentration in arts administration. She has a passion for improvisation, partner work, and her queer identity inspires her desire for queerness in dance spaces and her focus on gender in process, performance, and community outreach. Most recently, she has presented her work at American Dance Festival, Koresh Dance Come Together Dance Festival, American College Dance Association, and the Craft NY. Abigail recently relocated to Brooklyn from Philadelphia where she worked on projects with Natalie Gotter, Megan Flynn, Freespace Dance Company under Donna Scro, and performed/taught for Grounded Aerial Dance Company under Karen Fuhrman. In New York, she most recently performed under Elizabeth Dishman, she is a creative fellow with TRPNYC under Johnnie Mercer, and she is in mentorship with MICHIYAYA Dance under the direction of Anya and Mitsuko Clarke-Verdery. Abigail strives to create safe spaces by cultivating community through honest and vulnerable acts. She is honored to be joining the NYC/Dance Junior Committee this year to continue taking part in productive conversation surrounding dance and the multifaceted layers within it.
Audrey (she/her/hers) is a choreographer, dance artist, and non-profit administrator. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she started her formal training in dance at ODC and Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. To delve deeper into choreography, Audrey accepted a place in the London Contemporary Dance School’s Bachelor’s program (’20.)
Post-graduation, she has relocated to New York City. Currently, Audrey is working in arts administration with The Brooklyn Arts Exchange, teaching creative movement with Together in Dance, and creating and collaborating independently. Most recently, Audrey co-choreographed a new work, All That We Hold, that premiered at the annual United States of Asian America Festival in San Francisco.
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.
Catherine (Katie) Messina, a graduate of Emory University, has been dancing for over 20 years. With Atlanta-based company Kit Modus, she worked with choreographers Jillian Mitchell, Mark Caserta, Ruben Julliard, Pulkit Sharma, Alexander Espinosa, and Maddie Hanson. Outside of this, she has also worked with Atlanta powerhouses Greg Catellier, Sarah Hillmer, and George Staib, as well as Niv Sheinfeld, Oren Laor, John McFall, Robbie Cook, and the Trisha Brown Dance Company. Through these opportunities and her own choreography, she has performed throughout Atlanta, Richmond, New York, and Philadelphia, her hometown. She is a recipient of a City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs Grant, and has experience in arts administration, teaching, and technical production. Community work is important to her and seen through her creation of a twice-a-year successful outdoor dance festival - Fall for Fall, a free summer class series, and two years of volunteering for Dance Atlanta. She relocated to New York City in August 2021, and began working with Yuki Ishiguro and Animus Movement as well as getting involved in lighting design and community work. When she's not dancing, she is usually working with kids, making soups (we love a crock pot) or hiking.
Dianne Walsh (she/her/hers) is an arts worker currently working in the cross-functional role of Program Operations Coordinator at NYC-based Arts Business Collaborative, supporting both the research and program/services departments. Dianne previously lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology and an MSc in History of Art. Her academic studies involved conducting ethnographic research in Hong Kong and critical analysis of embodiment within dance-theater performance. She also worked with various dance/arts organizations across Edinburgh and in home-based direct service.
Outside of her favorite things of dancing and cuddling with her cats, she enjoys throwing on the pottery wheel, binging reality television, and experimenting with DIY projects in her rental apartment.
Katherine De La Cruz (She/her/hers) is an Afro-Dominican dancer and choreographer based in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated in 2020 from Hunter College with both a BA in Anthropology and Dance. She has performed in various venues and festivals both live and virtually including City Center’s Fall for Dance festival, The Estrogenius Festival, The American Dance Festival, The WP theater, Movement Research at Judson Church, The Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Arts on Site’s Women in Motion and more. She is currently a member of the Soul Dance Company. Katherine’s most important performances however have been those in which she danced for community activist groups and in support of social justice causes. She believes that dance is a powerful tool for community building and bridging divides across gender, race, class and language. Katherine is a passionate choreographer whose work centers around themes of social inequality, LGBTQ+ stories, familial ties, immigration and mental health. Most of her work is born from a need to make direct political statements and to make visible often ignored inner healing processes. Last summer she was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Bates Dance Festival and this winter she received a partial scholarship to attend the Gibney Winter Study both of which marked pivotal moments in her training and development as an artist. She is currently an artist in residence at The Floor on Atlantic where she is working on her newest solo piece “Casas de Carton”. Katherine is an avid reader, baker and seamstress. She is currently consumed with learning about the ecology of our city and aims to increase her knowledge on the native plants and ecosystems of Lenapehoking. This is Katherine’s second year as a member of the Junior Committee and she hopes to continue learning through deep listening and working towards building a more just and equitable dance community in our city.
Leila Mire (she/her/hers) is a researcher, curator, community organizer, performer, dramaturg, choreographer, educator, and writer. She is currently studying to receive her Master’s in Performance Studies from NYU Tisch where she focuses on ephemeral expressions and resistance art of the Middle East. She is a graduate of George Mason University, where she received a BFA in Dance Performance and is a former member of the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble. She has performed with ClancyWorks Dance Company, ICONS, Silk Road Dance Company, NY Light Latin Cabaret, Chikyu to the Moon, Nadia Khayrallah+Leila Mire, and Bated Breath Theatre Company. She is currently focusing on solo projects which have been presented at venues like the National Cathedral, International Human Rights Arts Festival, the Kennedy Center, and Dartmouth University and supported through the Young Alumni Commissioning Project, the GMU Digital Content Fund, Aseemkala Fellowship, NYC Roundtable, and the Dance Educator’s Training Institute. Her choreography has been featured in the NY Times and Washington Post. 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 teaches Middle Eastern and contemporary dance with Artists Striving to End Poverty, Dancewave and is an independent contractor. She writes for ThINKingDance, serving on the first-ever Decolonizing Dance Writing International Dance Exchange Cohort. She is a founder member of Artists Striving to End Poverty Mutual Aid Network and an active community organizer for Palestinian rights and decolonization efforts. In her free time, she likes to try DIY projects and then curse at them when they fail, watch problematic Hallmark movies that she secretly enjoys, and fantasize comebacks to imagined conversations between herself and members of Congress.
Nia Simone is a Brooklyn-based ballet and contemporary dancer who moved to New York after finishing a Bachelor's Degree in International Studies and English Literature at Virginia Commonwealth University. She went on to study dance at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and Joffrey Ballet School. Nia is now a freelance artist and is currently cast in the musical production “Josephine’s Cotton.”
Portia Wells (they/them) is a trans non-binary multidisciplinary artist based in Lenapehoking (Brooklyn). They graduated from Hunter College in the Spring of 2021 with a BA in Dance and a minor in Women & Gender Studies. Dance has been the central axis of their life, mobilizing their personal voice to communicate, explore, and research group dynamics, ephemerality (and otherwise), and socio-political experiences. Their work centers on identity, intimacy, and performativity as informed by their lived queer and trans experience, collaborative creative processes, and feminist, queer, and trans theory. Their choreographic work has been shown at The Peggy Theater at Hunter College, Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, Movement Research Open Performance, EstroGenius, and Fertile Ground. They have been fortunate to receive support from Macaulay Honors College and the Mellon Public Humanities Grant at Hunter College, made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. They intend to continue training, making dance, performing (hopefully in a theater again one day), painting, writing (hopefully with fewer tears), and advocating for social change.
Sophie Visscher-Lubinizki (She/Her/Hers) is a freelance dancer, choreographer, and producer with a keen interest in how dance can be used as a tool for community building. Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, Sophie graduated with a B.A. in Dance and Education from Barnard College of Columbia University. She has performed in works by Devalois Fearon, Katiti King, Bill T. Jones, and Caroline Fermin. Sophie recently performed in a solo dance film choreographed by Rebekah Downing, which was featured at the Emotion and Soul film festival. Sophie teaches dances with Pixical and is an Assistant Teaching Artist at the Mark Morris Dance Group. She has interned at The Joffrey Ballet School, The Mark Morris Dance Center, The Joyce Theater, and the American Ballet Theatre’s JKO School. Sophie currently works with Dances for a Variable Population and as a Company Management Assistant at Jersey Boys at New World Stages. When not dancing, Sophie enjoys biking, cooking with her roommates, and producing Comedy Shows on the Upper West Side.
Yesenia Paula (She/Her/Hers) is a Cuban-American dancer, performer, choreographer, and dance instructor. Yesenia graduated from Cedar Crest College with a B.A in dance and is currently attending SUNY Purchase College for her M.A in arts management. She choreographed and performed at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in PA for Lehigh Valley Dance Exchange in 2018 and the Ten tiny dances in 2019. Yesenia also performed “Falling Away” with the DanceLink company at the IceHouse Theatre in Bethlehem, PA in 2021. She also created a dance piece called “Love N’ the Decades'' that was selected to present at the American College Dance Association Mid-Atlantic Conference in 2020 and was also awarded by Cedar Crest College. Yesenia currently is a dancer for Siren Protectors of the Rainforest touring dance company that focuses on the African diaspora. She also works with Dancing Classrooms as a teaching artist teaching social dances to children. Yesenia looks forward to joining and being a part of the Dance NYC Junior Committee where she can work with people who share common interests and knowledge in equality, justice and inclusion in the dance community.