Dancer

Sally Rousse

2014 Dancer Fellow

Photo by Tim Rummelhoff

Photo by Tim Rummelhoff

 

Sally Rousse has built a distinguished, multi-faceted life in dance that includes performing, teaching, curating, advocating, choreographing, and writing, with noteworthy honors and grants. She is a two-time recipient of the McKnight Artist Fellowship for Dancers (2001 and 2014) and received a 2013 Sage Award for Outstanding Performer. Named “Artist of the Year” (City Pages, 2010), she began dancing in Barre, Vermont, going on to train at the School of American Ballet and with David Howard before performing as a leading dancer with Ballet Chicago, the Royal Ballet of Flanders, and James Sewell Ballet (JSB), which she co-founded in NYC 26 years ago. In addition to many roles in the classical and Balanchine repertoires, Sally has danced works by Maurice Béjart, Jiri Kylián, and more than 100 new works created on her by contemporary choreographers. The Cowles Center and JSB honored Rousse with a tribute and retrospective in 2014.

In 1994, Sally began studying and performing Improvisation and Contact, primarily with Patrick Scully, Chris Aiken, and Hijack, aiming to draw upon a larger movement palette to extend the definitions, aesthetics, and relevance of ballet and ballerina. Grants awarded by the Jerome Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board helped her delve deeper into the state of ballet and her place in it.

Rousse's work as a choreographer has been supported by diverse venues and organizations: the Southern Theater, Walker Art Center, VocalEssence, Marshall Field's, Harvard's American Repertory Theatre, the Cartoon Channel, Nickelodeon, Omaha Ballet, JSB, 3-Legged Race, the Jerome Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation. While Artist-in-Residence at the American Swedish Institute from 2013-14 she co-created Kom Hit! – a roving, immersive dance/theater work with Noah Bremer. 

Sally continues to work with several diverse dance entities in the Twin Cities and around the world, among those most recently, Hijack, Penelope Freeh, and Hong Kong’s Kanta Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren, Ph.D. She serves on several Boards and panels, awarding grants, fellowships, honors and opportunities in the performing arts that help shape the local and global cultural environment. She lives and raises her two children in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

SOLO Choreographer Arthur Pita

Max Wirsing

2014 Dancer Fellow

Photo by Tim Rummelhoff

Photo by Tim Rummelhoff

Max Wirsing has been dancing in the Twin Cities since 2005. He has had the opportunity to perform and collaborate on works by Chris Schlichting, Emily Johnson, Justin Jones, Nick LeMere, and Karen Sherman, as well as dancing with Morgan Thorson as part of her last three touring projects. Max has created his own dance work as part of Jaime Carrera's Outlet Series, and the Jerome Foundation's Naked Stages Fellowship, and has been a part of various video installation projects such as Peter Becker Nelson's On Dying, Techtonic Industries' the desire to stay versus the inevitability of change, and Andy Underwood-Bultman’s Silver Lake. His recent design collaborations with Morgan Thorson, Emily Johnson, and Chris Schlichting have garnered many accolades including a Minnesota SAGE Award for Outstanding Design for Schlichting's Matching Drapes.

SOLO choreographer Lauren Simpson

Kenna-Camara Cottman

2014 Dancer Fellow

Photo by Tim Rummelhoff

Photo by Tim Rummelhoff

Kenna-Camara Cottman has worked in the field of dance and art for over 20 years, and has been a full-time artist since 2005. Kenna is a Black American Griot, following in the oral tradition of storytelling through art. She has studied traditional and contemporary drum and dance forms from experts such as Ananya Chatterjea, Koto N’Gum, Fode Seydou Bangoura, Backa Niang and William Atchouellou. She is a dance educator who teaches about the history of African peoples through art, culture, movement and song. Managing her own company: Voice of Culture Drum and Dance, has given Kenna the opportunity to train with world class artists and develop her traditional drum and dance skills. Combining these forms with her experiences, Kenna creates contemporary Black dance that deals with interesting topics, confusing cultural ideas, and movement-based puzzles. Kenna is a skilled dancer, and she supports choreographer colleagues such as Pramila Vasudevan and Leah Nelson by dancing in their work. Kenna is also a member of Oyin Dance Collective, a unique collaboration of Black women who study and perform African Based dance forms. Kenna-Camara Cottman is supported by her artistic family, William and Beverly Cottman, Yonci Jameson and Ebrima Sarge.

SOLO Choreographer Deja Stowers

Alanna Morris-Van Tassel

2015 Dancer Fellow

Photo by Tim Rummelhoff

Professional contemporary dancer, teaching artist, and choreographer, Alanna Morris-Van Tassel, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She has studied many dance styles at various dance schools in the US and Canada. These include: Creative Outlet Dance Theater (Brooklyn), Ballet Hispanico, The Ailey School, The Joffrey Ballet, Jacobs Pillow and Springboard Danse Montreal. Upon graduating with honors from the famed LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and The Performing Arts (NYC), she received a partial scholarship to The Juilliard School, where she earned a B.F.A. in Dance. She has worked professionally with Nathan Trice/RITUALS, Gallim Dance, and Janis Brenner & Dancers. In 2007 she was invited to Minnesota to join St-Paul based dance company, TU Dance, (directors Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands), where she is currently a performing and teaching artist. In 2011 Alanna received a MN SAGE Award for Outstanding Performer. In 2013, she and her husband, collaborator/composer Brian Van Tassel, received a Live Music for Dance MN grant. They are currently producing Arabah: a prayer for peace, a full evening of collaborative original dance, music, spoken word, visual art, and community dialogue dedicated to fostering peace among religions. Additionally, Alanna teaches youth in public schools, camps, and theater companies throughout the Twin Cities, creating classes that develop movement skills and imagination in young actors, dancers and performers.

SOLO choreographer Idan Sharabi

Brian J. Evans

2015 Dancer Fellow

Photo by Tim Rummelhoff

Photo by Tim Rummelhoff

Brian J. Evans is a Professional Performing Human. For the past eight years, Evans has had the privilege and pleasure of engaging in a vast array of fields. Teaching in public and private institutions, working with healthcare providers in the US and abroad, performing as singer, actor, dancer in churches, theaters, basements, outdoor stages, any space provided that encourages the arts to thrive. An artist striving for social justice, Evans places high value in process and product, having had most of his training out in the 'Arts field' of the Twin Cities, working with over 50 artistic directors on more then 200 projects from solo endeavors to collaborating as a self-employed professional performer & teaching artist. Primarily as a principle dancer and musical director for Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater, Evans has continued to investigate the idea that connections exist between us all and it's the responsibility of the Arts to rediscover those connections, highlight them to allow us to feel holistically human. 

 

SOLO Choreographer Tamara Ober

Amy Behm-Thomson

2011 Dancer Fellow

Amy Behm-Thomson studied dance at the University of Minnesota. Amy joined ARENA Dances in 1999 and Zenon Dance Company in 2000, and continues to perform and teach yoga and dance. She has also performed with Dancing People Company, Ragamala Music and Dance, Catalyst - Dances by Emily Johnson, and Cathy Young Dance. 

Amy is the proud mother of two young children.

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Kaleena Miller

2015 Dancer Fellow

Photo by Tim Rummelhoff

Photo by Tim Rummelhoff

Kaleena Miller  is a Minneapolis-based performer, choreographer and teacher best known for her work in the tap dance genre. She is a founding member of Rhythmic Circus, and currently tours nationally and internationally with their production Feet Don’t Fail Me Now!  As a solo artist, she is a 2007 SAGE Award recipient for People’s Choice and a 2011 nominee for Outstanding Performer. She has received funding from the Jerome Foundation, and has twice been commissioned to create works for the Walker Art Center.  She graduated from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities with a BFA in Dance, and credits Char Weiss and Karla Grotting for her tap training. 

SOLO Choreographer Derick Grant