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Dance in Performance 2016


Dance in Performance 2016

Showdates: November 17 - 20, 2016

The UAA Department of Theatre and Dance proudly presents UAA DANCE in Performance, showcasing 7 dynamic choreographers and 30 energetic performers in an evening full of dances packed with choreographic innovation.

Diversity in both choreographic styles and ideas are the distinguishing features of this production. UAA Theatre and Dance professor Brian Jeffery and Momentum artistic director Becky Kendall are joined by the next generation of Alaskan contemporary choreographers Stephanie Brenner, Racin Engstrom, Taylor Hicks and Courtney Meneses. With fresh ideas and stylish expression these emerging choreographers have all been outstanding contributors to numerous Dance Program productions in recent years.

This production will also feature new choreography by guest artist Leisha Knight. Leisha spent 8 years as a featured performer/aerialist with Cirque du Soleil’s production of “Love” and has performed in numerous gala events and Cirque productions throughout Europe. Leisha is also a registered yoga teacher who has taught yoga to the Cirque du Soleil performers in the casts of “Love”, “Amaluna, “Elvis”, “Iris”, and “O”. She currently tours with “Amaluna” and teaches workshops in many cities where they perform.

These performances typically sell out! Seating is very limited, advanced reservations are strongly recommended!

Performance run time: 90 minutes with no intermission

Performances held at the Harper Studio Theatre, 3700 Alumni Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508

  • Program

    Sun in My Mouth
    Choreographer: Brian Jeffery
    Music: Jon Hopkins, Mo Horizons
    Lighting Design: Daniel J. Anteau
    Costumes: Diesel X
    Performers: Marissa Citro, Rique Hill, Kimberly McGrath, Katie O’Loughlin, Ashley Roylance, Carmel Young

    Choreographer’s note: “I’m consistently inspired by the many generous and intriguing personalities that make up Dance Ensemble. Big thanks to all of the company for their enthusiasm, playfulness and movement contributions.

    Choreography: Courtney Meneses
    Sound Score: Swarms, Alan Watts
    Lighting Design: Meghan Stanford
    Costumes: Diesel X
    Performers: Taylor Hicks, Courtney Meneses

    Choreographer’s note: “The art of living is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists of being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.” - Alan Watts

    Crossing the Line
    Choreography: Becky Kendall
    Music: Ben Frost, Sleeping At Last
    Lighting Design: Jordon Crenshaw
    Costumes: Diesel X
    Performers: Stephanie Brenner, Racin Engstrom, Tawny Ernst, Dawn Jensen, Stephanie Lahn, Ralph Marcelo, Brenna McCarthy, Anna Padrick, Cierra Steinke

    Choreographer’s note: Inspired by the imagination of German band Nena and their cold-war protest song ‘99 Luftballoons’. A contemplation of conflict and escalation, perspective and choices, and the immutable nature of war.

    Choreography: Racin Engstrom
    Music: Tycho
    Lighting Design: Katie O’Loughlin
    Costumes: Diesel X
    Performers: Melissa Downey, Racin Engstrom, Marlee Hughes, Rhiannon Roseman, Ashley Roylance, Shelbi Lynn Voit

    Choreographer’s note: “Connecting and disconnecting, an exploration of  bonding.” 

    Choreography: Taylor Hicks
    Music: Cambio Sun, Message to Bears
    Lighting Design: Katie Bailey
    Costumes: Diesel X
    Performers: Marissa Citro, Samantha Crosby, Courtney Meneses, Katie O’Loughlin

    Choreographer’s note: “For the almost mothers, mothers who have lost, and mothers that are faced with the difficult challenge of protecting their children from this broken world.

    Choreography: Leisha Knight
    Music: The Books, Thor Rixon, Zammuto
    Lighting Design: Meghan Stanford
    Costumes: Diesel X
    Performers: Stephanie Brenner, Olivia Brown, Marissa Citro, Kimberly McGrath, Katie O’Loughlin, Ashley Roylance, Carmel Young

    Choreographer’s note: “It is with a sense of wonder that we flow through a journey to the heart of ourselves. The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.” - William Makepeace Thackeray

    The Power of One
    Choreography: Stephanie Brenner
    Music: Duncan Sheik, Whitney Houston
    Lighting Design: Katie Bailey
    Costumes: Diesel X
    Performers: Daniella Jade Fincher, Marlee Hughes, Miwa Ishikawa, Dawn Jensen, Isaac Kumpula, Stephanie Lahn, Ralph Marcelo, Shayla McCarthy, Kimberly McGrath, Rhiannon Roseman, Shelbi Lynn Voit

    Choreographer’s note: “A look into breaking out from the depths of stress and depression even if it means straying from the pack.” 

  • Production Crew

    New Dances Director: Brian Jeffery
    Faculty Technical Director: Daniel J. Anteau
    Stage Manager: Adi Davis
    Assistant Stage Manager: Kaeli Meno
    Lighting Designers: Daniel J. Anteau, Katie Baily, Jordan Crenshaw, Katie O’Loughlin, Megan Stanford
    Lighting Board Operator: Matthew Seymour
    Lighting Crew: James Branstetter, Elizabeth Englund, Krishna Manual, Andrew Miller, Austin Rochon, Henry Schildbach
    Rigging: Daniel Glen Carlgren, Henry Coleman
    Wardrobe Crew: Alexandra McCall, Daniella Jade Fincher, Marlee Hughes, Rhiannon Roseman
    Costume Shop Manager: Kaie Promish


    Publicist/MediaO’Hara Shipe
    Additional Publicity: Nova Cunningham
    Videographer: Cedar Cussins
    Event Support Assistants: Paitton Reid, Eric Bleicher, Alina Markina, Austin Rochon, Kala Romero

  • Choreographer Biographies

    Stephanie Brenner is in her fifth year here at UAA. She is working towards a Bachelors of Arts in Theatre and Math with a minor in Statistics. After a long career in competitive gymnastics she switched her attention to dance and has never looked back. Stephanie has performed in other dance productions such as UAA Dance in Performance (2015) and New Dances 2016. This is her first show she is choreographing and couldn’t be more excited. She hopes to pursue a professional career in dance and musical theatre. She thanks her parents for their love and support through all these years.

    Racin Engstrom was born and raised in Anchorage Alaska where she started exploring and practicing Oriental dance in 2005. She is an alumni of Dance West and also UAA Dance Ensemble. She strives to learn and experience as much as she can as a dancer, choreographer, and as an individual.

    Taylor Hicks is a proud and true Alaskan, raised in Ketchikan where she fell in love with the ocean, the mountains, and the beauty that is dance. Her passion for movement is credited, firstly to Ketchikan Theatre Ballet, where she started at the age of four training in ballet and later pointe, jazz and modern styles. Upon graduating high school, Taylor entered into UAA’s dance program where she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Theatre with a Dance Emphasis. Her experience in this program was filled with modern dance, improvisation, and cultivating new choreography. She was a UAA Dance Ensemble company member three times which led to her involvement with the American College Dance Association conference, traveling to Detroit, Boston and Long Beach. This fall, Taylor will be making her debut with Momentum Dance Collective in their 9th Season.

    Brian Jeffery hails from Chicago where he was active in the city’s performing arts communities for over twenty years. He has previously served on faculty at Northwestern University, Columbia College Chicago and University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. As artistic director of XSIGHT! Performance Group for fifteen years Jeffery created over fifty original multidisciplinary works for the company and toured throughout the U.S. as well as Australia, Egypt, Cyprus, The Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Yugoslavia. Jeffery has premiered work on numerous professional companies internationally, notably Danz Abierta of Havana at the National Theater of Cuba, Trinity Irish Dance Company at the Joyce Theater New York City, Itinerant Theatre Guild at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Scotland, Lucky Plush Productions Chicago, and Ghana Dance Ensemble in West Africa. Jeffery has lectured and presented on many conferences including African Studies Association, American College Dance Association, Congress on Research in Dance and Society of Ethnomusicology. Jeffery is also part of Secrets Under the Skin, a collaborative multidisciplinary art installation that reflects upon religious rites and rituals linked between Ghana and Cuba as a result of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Secrets has been presented on numerous international venues since 2010.

    Becky Kendall is a choreographer, performer, and instructor who thrives on creating movement based in the collaborative approach. She is the Artistic Director of Momentum Dance Collective, as well as a Core4 member of the Light Brigade and a 2013 Rasmuson Fellow. Since receiving her Bachelors of Science in Health with a concentration in Sports Medicine, Becky has worked with numerous artists in New York, Colorado, Washington, and Alaska performing with Interweave Dance Theatre of Boulder, the Seattle Bridge Project, On The Boards productions, and many collaborations with local artists in the Anchorage area. Her work has been featured in productions by Momentum, the Light Brigade, West High School and East High School, and the University of Alaska Anchorage. She has taught modern dance for local schools and studios including Dance Spectrum Alaska and Alaska Dance Theatre, and currently serves as adjunct faculty for UAA.

    Leisha Knight spent 8 years as a featured performer with Cirque du Soleil’s production of “Love” and has performed in numerous gala events and Cirque productions throughout Europe. Leisha is also a registered yoga teacher who has taught yoga to the Cirque du Soleil performers in the casts of “Love”, “Amaluna, “Elvis”, “Iris”, and “O”. She currently tours with “Amaluna” and teaches workshops in many cities where they perform. She has performed with and choreographed for the Nevada Ballet’s “A Choreographer’s Showcase,” worked with “Grounded Aerial,” and taught acrodance for many years. She has taught aerial and diverse movement skills in locations around the world including France, Los Angeles, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Birmingham, Boston, and New York City. Prior to her Circus career, she was an NCAA All-American Gymnast who placed 7th All-Around at the National Championships. Leisha is passionate about movement arts and artists. She loves contributing to the artistic development of individuals in every town that she happens to visit. Leisha has had the amazing opportunity to work with fabulous teachers and directors and she loves to share the knowledge of her own experience with others.

    Courtney Meneses is a lifelong Alaska resident. Her fire for dance sparked at the age of 3 at Dance Spectrum Alaska. Though her focus was in jazz and ballet, her journey since then has lead her to belly dancing, burlesque, and an undeniable love for modern dance. She began dancing at UAA 4 years ago and was a member of Dance Ensemble for 3 years. When she’s not dancing, she enjoys all things outdoors, traveling, singing, cooking, crafting and cuddling with her dog Tanner.

    Diesel X  has had the joy of putting costumes on thousands of beautiful bodies over many, many years. Diesel and his trustworthy companion Sock Monkey often travel on fantastic adventures to far away exotic places as they wander the planet in search of the truth.


  • Production Photos
    Dance in Performance, UAA Department of Theatre and Dance, 2016
    Dance in Performance, UAA Department of Theatre and Dance, 2016
    Dance in Performance, UAA Department of Theatre and Dance, 2016
    Dance in Performance, UAA Department of Theatre and Dance, 2016
    Dance in Performance, UAA Department of Theatre and Dance, 2016
    Dance in Performance, UAA Department of Theatre and Dance, 2016
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