The D’amby Project is made up of artists and collaborators from around the world who gather to explore the gray matter that exists between genres within the arts. The common product of the project is dance material, reflective of principle roots in non-classical training. Company dancers are predominantly trained in Irish Dance, but also perform movement that adheres to a more contemporary aesthetic. The rigor of Irish dance can be found in sharp articulation, with emphasis in accuracy and unison. Adding breath and life-bearing musicality allows for a new vocabulary, and a unique combination of quiet control and nuance.
The D’amby Project Company has performed internationally, nationally and locally in such venues as the Queen Elizabeth Theater (Vancouver, BC), The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College (Red Hook, NY), The Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY), The University of Toronto (Toronto, CA), and Dublin DANCEHOUSE (Dublin, Ireland) to name a few.
The D’amby Project is also thrilled to have a school where young students learn Irish and contemporary dance.
Leighann Kowalsky is an artist, educator and producer. She is a graduate of Marist College and has spent nearly a decade producing large scale live events with Firehouse Productions. (Credits include The Tony Awards, NBA All Star Game, Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Inductions, The Wiz Live!, iHeartRadio Music Festival, MTV Video Music Awards, 121212 Concert, and numerous big name touring acts such as David Gray, Coldplay, Florence & The Machine, Radiohead and Mumford & Sons.)
Leighann Kowalsky began her dance training in ballet with Amy Desmond in 1993. She began studying Irish Dance with Deirdre Lowry in 1998, and was fortunate to workshop frequently with Donny Golden, Joel Hanna and Jean Butler. In 2006, Kowalsky began extending her dance education to Erick Hawkins, Limon and Cunningham style Modern Dance, and Contemporary Dance and Classic Jazz with Elaine Colandrea, Katherine Duke, Abby Saxon, Alex Bloomstein, and Kathy McDonald.
Collaborative in nature, Kowalsky teams up both onstage and behind stage with dancers and artists of all genres & traditions to create new and exciting interdisciplinary work. She is currently the Director for Dance at Millbrook School, the coordinator for Erick Hawkins Dance Company, and the Founding Director at The D’amby Project, where she coordinates and produces 2x Annual Student Performances and 1x 4-week long interdisciplinary art & dance intensive for students ages 3+.
Rowan Willigan breathes all things movement and art. A graduate of Bard College, Rowan maintains a strong studio art practice in mixed-media alongside her passion for dance and movement. At the D’amby Project, Rowan and Leighann created a structure that focuses on the beauty of collaboration in all the arts—not just dance—and celebrates many outlets of artistic expression.
Rowan started dancing at the age of 5 by diving into the world of traditional Irish dance at Solas an Lae (SAL) Irish Dance School in Red Hook, NY. She trained there for thirteen years, four of which were spent as member of SAL’s performance company. With SAL, she performed at many venues: Fisher Center for Performing Arts (Bard College), Jacob’s Pillow (Massachusetts), Rhinebeck Performing Arts Center (New York), 92 Street Y (NYC) to name a few. Rowan left SAL in 2011 to attend Bard College, where she majored in Studio Art.
In 2012 Rowan and Leighann Kowalsky, started their own school and company for dance and artists at large. Rowan is the Artistic Director at the D’amby Project. Rowan has choreographed for the D’amby Project since day one, blending her background in Irish Dance training with the more contemporary, free-flowing movement that lends itself best to the kind of musicality in her movement. To date she has choreographed over 15 pieces performed by the company, and works with advanced students on choreography of their own. Since the D’amby Project was born in 2012 Rowan has traveled throughout the United States and internationally with the company.
Crystal Mantecon, Butoh dancer opposite Don McLeod, is passionate about creating catharsis, creating change and the ephemeral, endless aspects of the human experience through movement arts, through music in vocal performance, and in her acting across various mediums. She is studied in movement arts and a member of The Living Statue Company led by Don McLeod. Her acting work includes the lead female in feature film Dragon Eyes, a role in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, in The Tree of Life, a memorable recurring guest star role on Prison Break, starring as Lily in Why We Have a Body, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, and Madame Butterfly in Madame Butterfly. Additionally, she was nominated or won Best Actress at various film festivals for her performance in, later theatrically released short-film, Celluloid Dreams. She is continually working on new projects. Aside from two features she filmed this past year as an actress, she also is producing a feature film. She believes artists are the strongest agents for creating change and salutes all artists in their endeavors as well as all of you who support artists and the arts. Whether by providing the brick and mortar or by processing the messages you receive through art and dispensing them into the world through your own voice or manner.
Company: MULTIPLEX Dance
Artistic Director/Choreographer: Chad Michael Hall
Chad Michael Hall- Founder and Artistic Director of MULTIPLEX DANCE and Assistant Professor of Dance at the prestigious Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California, Irvine. He is a member of the critically acclaimed production, The Men Dancers: From the Horse's Mouth. He toured extensively with the world-renowned Diavolo/Architecture In Motion and has performed with numerous other companies including Body Traffic, Regina Klenjoski Dance Company, Pittsburgh Dance Alloy and Attack Theatre to name a few. Hall has been a guest artist in locations across the country since 2008, and is now building a body of work with his own company, MULTIPLEX DANCE. Their signature acrobatic movement style and cyberpunk brand are making a mark on the dance community of LA and beyond. Hall is inspired by superheroes, videogames, science fiction and electronic music, particularly that of composer David Karagianis. For more information about Chad Michael Hall and MULTIPLEX DANCE, visit www.multiplexdance.org.
Don McLeod's dynamic style of physical theatre and dance was developed by his training with a number of the world's leading artists including Marcel Marceau, Etienne Decroux, Jerzy Grotowski and the butoh group Sankai Juku. Don's interest in butoh began during his many trips to Japan, which began in the late 70's. His butoh style has developed after many years studying the techniques of Japan's leading butoh artists including Kazuo Ohno, His physical theatre career began when he studied mime with Marcel Marceau in the early 70's. As a movement artist and actor, McLeod has appeared in many feature films, television shows and commercials. His film roles include the bizarre lead werewolf in The Howling, the oversexed gorilla in Trading Places, and a physicist/gorilla in The Man With Two Brains. He doubled for Jack Nicholson in the Devil transformation scenes from Witches of Eastwick, played Peter Pan's Shadow in Hook, a gorilla in Born To Be Wild, Quasimodo in Naked Gun 2? and a starring role (as a female gorilla) in Mom Can I Keep Her. Many will remember Don as the suitcasesmashing gorilla on the award-winning American Tourister Luggage ads on TV. His performance art company, Living Statues by Don McLeod, perform throughout the US. They are America’s oldest full-time living statue company, formed by Don in 1974 for a six month run at the World’s Fair in Washington. Further information is available at: www.livingstatue.com and www.zenbutoh.com
"Awakenings & Beginnings Dance Festival 2017" is proud to present these incredible artists & choreographers for our Formal Main Stage Closing Night Program this year. Please take the time and get to know a little bit more about them and their artistry. Stay plugged in to find out who the winner(s) of our Emerging Artist Showcase is as they'll have the opportunity to present their work here at DIAVOLO Space.
Media Sponsors for Awakenings and Beginnings Dance Festival 2017
Jones (Welsh) Talmadge, Jones (www.joneswelsh.com) is a performer, arts activist, and warrior. Jones received a double degree in theater and dance from the University of Washington in 2000, and has a rich career in acrobatic performance, high-octane dance, and choreography. Jones is one of three Artistic Directors of Not Man Apart – Physical Theater Ensemble, after being Founding Managing Director in 2009 (www.notmanapart.com), he has done movement direction and choreography on every major NMA production since then. He now works to establishing sustainable community outreach programs and building a comprehensive arts curriculum for children and adults in Los Angeles. Jones toured internationally for five seasons with the acclaimed Diavolo / Architecture in Motion, a company specializing in acrobatic dance on large moving structures, and was also Associate Artistic Director & Diavolo Institute Director for 4 years, the company still remains very influential to his work (www.diavolo.org). He has been commissioned to create many dynamic and emotionally rich movement pieces for Universities, the Getty Villa, Jacaranda Music, Spector Dance, among others. He runs his own training, leadership, and nutrition business to get people to their peak physical performance (www.centergravity.org).
Anne-Marie Talmadge, Anne-Marie is a dancer, acrobat, and motivational speaker. Graduate of California Institute of the Arts with over 20 years of dance performance experience. Accomplished in Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Tap, and Traditional Lebanese dance, she has performed works with Barak Marshall, Alonzo King's LINES Ballet, Alvin Ailey, William Forsythe, and Diavolo/Architecture in Motion. Anne-Marie is a key leader and motivator in her own Health Coaching business (www.centergravity.org), having built a national team of coaches over the last 4 years, she also leads groups of dancers in a variety of choreographic works. Anne-Marie has been focused and motivated in her health goals, winning 1st place in NFF Bikini Modeling competitions in San Antonio and Los Angeles, she is now training new techniques in gymnastics and extreme martial arts.
We are presenting a piece titled: "Paradise" (excerpt)
Description: This is a short dance from “Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny” a full length adaption of John Milton's epic poem, presented by Not Man Apart, directed by Jones (Welsh) Talmadge. This show transforms Milton’s elegant text into an epic acrobatic dance on stage and in the air. Jones (Welsh) and Anne-Marie Talmadge combine their choreography and innovative vision into dynamic partnering that incorporates a unique brand of physical storytelling with stunning digital animation effects of J-Walt Adamczyk and video installation artist Hannah Beavers. This show offers up a new future, undetermined by the past, free from the need to dominate, and empowers the audience to fully claim a created destiny and connection to the whole.
It’s up to us. Right now. We are not waiting for anything -- we get to create a Heaven on Earth.
We are thrilled to present the full version of this project as a part of NMA’s residency at Greenway Court Theatre this March 2017. www.notmanapart.com
Music: "Paradise" by Alysia Michelle James
Visual Effects: J-Walt Adamczyk
Creators and Performers: Anne-Marie and Jones Talmadge
Linda Sohl-Ellison is Artistic Director and Choreographer for Rhapsody In Taps, a tap dance and live music touring company she co-founded with Toni Tack in 1981. The longest operating tap dance company in the world, Rhapsody In Taps celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2016. Linda is Emeritus Professor of Dance at Orange Coast College where she taught many dance forms, directed student concerts and mentored dancers for 37 years, and is now a part time faculty member. She has a BFA from Ohio University in Dance and Graphic Design and an MA from UCLA. Her training includes studies under the great tap masters Foster Johnson, Eddie Brown, Honi Coles and Buster Brown. Linda collaborated with Gregory Hines, staging and performing in his first choreographic work, Toeing the 3rd and Fifth made for Rhapsody In Taps in 1990. Recognized for her choreographic innovation in tap, she has been awarded five Choreographers’ Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, two Irvine Fellowships in Dance (1999, 2001) and a 2006 Dance: Creation to Performance grant from the James Irvine Foundation. In 1999 Linda was nominated for the prestigious Alpert Award in Dance. She has received Artist’s Fellowships from the California Arts Council, Arts Council for Long Beach, Public Corporation for the Arts, National Association for Regional Ballet, and California Community Foundation. Ms. Sohl-Ellison received a 1st place choreography award from the Palm Desert Choreography Festival (2003), a Lester Horton Dance Award for Outstanding Choreography from the Dance Resource Center and a Distinguished Alumni Award from Ohio University (2006), a Milestone Award from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for more than 25 years of performances, programs and arts leadership in Los Angeles (2007) and a Tapestry Award from the Soul to Sole tap festival in Austin Texas for 30 years of contributions to the field of tap dance (2010). Her film credits include the movie TAP, and three documentaries: Thinking on their Feet: Women of the Tap Renaissance, You Gotta Move and JUBA. Linda has toured the United States, Asia, France and Germany teaching and performing as a soloist, with Rhapsody In Taps, and with her husband, percussionist Monti Ellison. rhapsodyintaps.com
Monti Ellison is an accomplished percussionist/drummer, composer and vocalist. He has performed worldwide as a soloist with Harry Belafonte, Stephanie Mills, Lonnie Liston Smith, Little Steven and others. As a dance musician he spent 15 years at the Alvin Ailey School in New York where he was head staff musician. Monti teaches African dance and drumming; he is an accompanist and/or faculty member at Loyola Marymount University, Orange Coast College, CSU Long Beach and The Wooden Floor. He has composed numerous dance scores: Judith Jamison's Divining for the Alvin Ailey company, a percussion score for the New York based Urban Arts Corps' production of Alice in Wonderland directed by Vinette Carroll and choreographed by Talley Beatty, J5A6Z7Z8 for jazz choreographer Jose Meier, as well as Dat's Right, Espiritu, Riptide, Stroke of the Oarsmen, Deciduous Dances, Wade, Chugarump, FOIL/Copper, Zinc, Brass, Ode To Hummingbirds and Boot Brigade for Rhapsody In Taps, plus many compositions for the Monti Ellison Percussion Ensemble.
The entity Kelly Alvarez and Artists (KAA) was established in 2016 by independent choreographer, Kelly Alvarez, to support the creation and presentation of her work. A Los Angeles native, Ms. Alvarez’s movement vocabulary combines pedestrian and gestural movements with dynamic, technical articulation of the body, rooted in both classical and contemporary forms. Her recent piece, “Bloodline Duets,” was awarded both the People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice/Grand Prize at the Rocky Mountain Choreography Festival in Ogden, Utah. Ms. Alvarez has been invited to present work at the Southern Vermont Dance Festival, The Las Vegas Dance in the Desert Festival, Fuze Dance SYNTHESIS III, Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival, The Celebrate Dance Festival, Dancers Responding to AIDS, The Philadelphia GLUE Performance Series, Dance! Santa Monica, MixMatch Dance Festival, and DanceSpot LA, among others. Kelly Alvarez and Artists is currently preparing for a full evening-length performance at The Peery’s Egyptian Theater in Ogden, UT (Oct. ‘16). By assembling hand-picked, high caliber artists for her each of her project-based engagements, Ms. Alvarez is able to pair the demands of each choreographic piece with the individual’s unique technical skills and aesthetic nuances. Kelly Alvarez and Artists is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.