Dare to Dance 2024 Choreographers

FRIDAY, January 19th

Will Brighton

Will Brighton (he/him) is a dancer and choreographer based in St Louis, MO. Originally from Ann Arbor, MI, Will attended Western Michigan University (WMU), graduating in Spring 2020 with a B.F.A. in Dance and a B.A. in English: Creative Writing. While at WMU, Will had the privilege of performing in concerts alongside Taylor 2 and Peridance Contemporary Dance Company, as well as performing in works by Yin Yue, Christian Denice, Aszure Barton, George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Antony Tudor, and many others. After graduating, Will joined The Big Muddy Dance Company where he is now in his 4th season as a company dancer. Will has also performed as a guest artist with Saint Louis Ballet in their 2021 production of Brian Enos’ Alice in Wonderland. In 2020, Will was selected as the winner of Young Dancers Initiative’s Emerging Choreographer Project, and in 2021 was selected as an Emerging Choreographer for Eisenhower Dance Detroit’s NewDANCEfest. Recently, he premiered a new solo work, “Pitchfork”, through Space Station Dance Residency’s 2023 performance series in St Louis.

CJ Burroughs

CJ Burroughs (Raleigh, NC) received her BFA from University of Michigan and graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts high school program. She further trained at intensives held by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Bodytraffic, LINES Ballet, San Francisco Conservatory, VIM VIGOR, Gallim Dance, and SpringboardX. Her performance career began with Ron De Jesus Dance, Marc Macaranas' DISASTERdance, Thodos Dance Chicago, and Big Muddy’s trainee program. CJ then joined The Big Muddy Dance Company and danced for seven seasons, performing in lead roles and working with dozens of diverse choreographers. Her choreography has been featured in Big Muddy Dance Company productions, as well as ACDFA’s Gala, WAXworks, University of South Florida’s Screendance festival, Arts United STL, Amalgamate Dance Festival, and Tree9’s Emmy-winning film, Raising Spirits. CJ is thrilled to present work for MADCO’s Dare to Dance. 

Caroline Gonsalves Bertho

Brazilian dance artist Caroline Gonsalves Bertho (she/her) is currently a second-year MFA in Dance at WashU. She has a BA in Dance from Unicamp (BRA), Ballet training by the Royal Academy of Dance Technic (BRA), and trained at “The H+ Hip Hop Dance Conservatory” (NY). Her background is in many dance styles, such as ballet, jazz, tap, Urban social dances, and modern dance. She has dedicated herself to studying and teaching Hip-Hop dance for the past thirteen years, mainly working with the community project “Grupo Performance de Rua” (BRA) which offers free classes for everyone willing to learn and be part of a Hip-Hop dance collective. Her career combines experiences as a dancer and choreographer-director of theatre shows, commercial dances, and competitions, a teacher in workshops and regular classes, and a producer of festivals, shows, and dance films.

Minami Kikuchi

Minami Kikuchi, a Tokyo native and senior at Lindenwood University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Dance, embarked on her dance journey at Lufairy Ballet at the age of three. Shifting her focus to modern/contemporary dance under Izumi Miyamura and Kyoko Makino at the Modern Dance Institute in Tokyo, and began choreographing at 15. Notable works include her U.S. debut, "Invisible Things," at the Adjudication Concert of the American College Dance Association Conference. Minami has enriched her skills at Lindenwood, performing in various dance concerts and representing the university at ACDA Conferences, St. Louis National Dance Week Festival, and The Big Muddy Dance Festival. She showcased a solo at the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Memorial in Boston and recently completed training at Urbanity Dance's 2023 summer intensive, having previously interned there in 2022-2023.

Seyong Kim

Seyong Kim, an Associate Professor of Dance at Western Michigan University, holds an MA in Dance Education from NYU Steinhardt and an MA in Dance from Sung-Kyun-Kwan University (Seoul, South Korea). He is a CMA (Certified Movement Analyst) from Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies, a RSDE (Registered Somatic Dance Educator), and an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 7 of the American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum. Furthermore, he earned the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University. Seyong has taught for University of Georgia, Rutgers University, Kent State University, Randolph College, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Steps On Broadway, World Dance Alliance-America (WDAA), American College Dance Association (ACDA), Cecchetti Council of America, Eisenhower Dance Detroit, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, National High School Dance Festival, Alabama Dance Festival, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, West Hawaii Dance Theatre, Chicago Repertory Ballet, Ballet 5:8, Hamilton Ballet Theater, Charlottesville Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, and Ballet Preljocaj. As a professional dancer, Seyong has danced with the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, Albania National Ballet Theatre, Baltimore Ballet, Traverse City Dance Project, Neglia Ballet, TAKE Dance, and Oakland Ballet Company. In addition, his choreographic works have been internationally invited at Landestheater Coburg in Germany, Florence Dance on Screen Festival in Italy, International Contemporary Dance Festival of Mexico City, Taiwan JueDai Taipei International Dance Festival, ProArteDanza in Canada, Battery Dance Festival, Palm Desert Choreography Festival, American Dance Guild Festival, Cleveland Dance Festival, Richmond Dance Festival, Midwest Regional Alternative Dance Festival, Detroit Dance City Festival, Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, Orlando Contemporary Dance Choreography Festival, Breaking Ground Contemporary Dance Festival, Washington International Dance Festival, CrossCurrent Asian-American Dance Festival, and Movement Research at the Judson Church.

Jorrell Lawyer-Jefferson

Jorrell Lawyer-Jefferson (He/Him, Copperas Cove, TX) holds both his Bachelors of Arts in Music and his Masters of Fine Arts in Dance from Sam Houston State University, in Huntsville, TX where his thesis Cardinal explored dance making through the use of metakinetics as a cathartic vehicle for both the performer and the audience member. He has performed works by Joshua Peugh, Shen Wei, Gabrielle Lamb, Joshua Manculich, Thang Dao, Elizabeth Corbett, Marcus Jarrell Willis and Kirven Douthit-Boyd among others. After debuting as a featured dancer in Houston Grand Opera’s 2019 production of Florencia en el Amazonas, Jorrell has gone on to work with powerhouse directors Eric Sean Fogel, Francesca Zambello, Rob Ashford, Robert Wilson and Phelim McDermott. In 2021 he joined Whirlwind Dance as a founding member and featured dancer. Most recently, he was invited to the 2023 season of the Glimmerglass Festival to collaborate with acclaimed contemporary opera director Louisa Proske on her new production of Rinaldo in which Jorrell served as associate director and choreographer. Jorrell is currently dancing in his second season with The Big Muddy Dance Company.

Sawyer McNamara and Dani Johnson

Sawyer McNamara (she/her) is a choreographer, performer, and dance educator currently based in Chicago, IL. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Western Michigan University, as well as a Certificate in Dance Studio Management in spring of 2023. Throughout her time at WMU, she has performed works by Seyong Kim, Monique Haley, Jeremy Blair, Kaitlyn Pollock, Kiki Lucas, Katy Copeland, and Kimberly Cooper. She also served as a company member of Western Dance Project (2022-2023) under the direction of Kelsey Paschich. Currently, Sawyer serves as an apprentice for ConteXture Dance Detroit, as well as a guest artist for Trifecta Dance Collective and Alluvion Dance Chicago. Dani Johnson recently graduated from Western Michigan University with a BFA in Dance, along with a certificate in Dance Studio Management. During her time at Western,

Dani has had the honor of performing works by Kimberly Cooper, Kiki Lucas, Jeremy Blair, Monique Haley, and Sara Kausch. Based out of Chicago, Dani is currently dancing with Alluvion Dance Chicago as well as instructing at local dance studios. Dani enjoys expanding her artistry by blending styles and exploring the movement of the individual. “Ascendancy” is a work co-created and performed by Dani Johnson and Sawyer McNamara. This work premiered in Western Michigan University’s 2022 Student Dance Concert. After its premier, this work was selected to be showcased in WMU’s 2023 Winter Gala Dance Concert and as Western Dance Project repertoire. Dani and Sawyer are excited to be sharing this work at Dare to Dance this year!

Erin Morris and Jane Tellini

“Quiet Fire” is the latest collaborative effort from Erin Morris and Jane Tellini, further exploring their blended toolkit of vernacular jazz dance and modern dance. Best friends and dance partners, Erin and Jane have forged their practice and process from pillars of social dancing, performance art, and rituals of self discovery and dreaming. In this piece they celebrate authentic jazz textures alongside their personal language of friendship: witnessing, shadowing, challenging, and supporting one another.

Thomas Proctor

Thomas Proctor is a professional Dancer and Choreographer in the St. Louis area. After dancing with the Ashleyliane Dance Company for 10 years as a Dancer, Choreographer, and later as a Rehearsal Director, Thomas has recently begun branching out to work with other local artists as a choreographer and educator. He has taught at several universities since receiving his M.F.A. in Dance, and currently works at Grand Center Arts Academy teaching grades 6-12. Additionally Thomas is the Founder of the St. Louis Broadsword Academy, teaching historical Scottish fencing and Celtic martial arts.

SATURDAY, January 20th

Alyssa Brutlag

Alyssa Brutlag is an award-winning choreographer, dancer, teacher, and fitness instructor based in Toledo, Ohio. She received her BFA in Dance from Western Michigan University and is now on the teaching faculty at Company C Dance Club. In 2018 she received the Maggie Allesee Choreography Award. Alyssa’s work has been commissioned by students at Western Michigan University, Contexture Dance Detroit, and the Young Dancers Initiative, and she served as the assistant choreographer for Curtain Up! on Broadway by Jean Ann Ryan Productions. Her choreographic work has been presented at venues such as Western Michigan University, Gibney in New York City, ACDA East-Central Regional Conference, Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, Detroit Dance City Festival, 12 Minutes Max in Seattle, RAD Fest in Kalamazoo, Dance Shorts: College Film Festival at Arizona State University and has been supported by The Arts Commission. As a performer, she has been featured in Oliver Hazard’s “Ballerina” music video, performed with the Pat Graney Dance Company, Western Dance Project, and continues to perform her own repertoire around the country.

Nathan Crewe-Kluge

Nathan Crewe-Kluge hails from La Grange, IL. Growing up near Chicago he most notably trained under Claire Bataille in the Lou Conte Scholarship Program, and received additional training from programs with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Giordano Dance Chicago, DanceWorks Chicago, and River North Dance Chicago. He has also danced at programs with Alonzo King LINES Ballet and Dark Circles Contemporary Dance. In 2019 Nathan had the privilege of studying abroad at Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts. Nathan graduated summa cum laude from SUNY Purchase College in 2022 with a BFA in Dance, concentrating in Dance Composition. Nathan has danced previously with Chicago Repertory Ballet and Winifred Haun & Dancers. Nathan is currently a company member with Mareck Dance (formerly Missouri Contemporary Ballet), where he has danced works created by Joshua Blake Carter, Colby Damon, Autumn Eckman, Kristopher Estes-Brown, Stephanie Martinez, Joshua L. Peugh, and others. In November 2023 Nathan premiered his first commissioned work with Mareck Dance titled "Resilience". Nathan is thrilled to be sharing his new work "Tethered & Tied" in MADCO's Dare to Dance 2024!

Emily Duggins Ehling

Emily Duggins Ehling (she/her) is a St. Louis based dance artist, educator, and dramaturg. Her choreographic processes strive to prioritize the humans involved over the work being created, seeking to build genuine care and empathy among the collaborators that might be felt by the viewer. Emily is currently working towards her MFA in Dance as a Chancellor’s Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis. She has independently produced five full-length premieres and has created original commissioned works for RESILIENCE Dance Company, The Big Muddy Dance Company Convergence Trainees, Modern American Dance Company 2, Consuming Kinetics Dance Company, Washington University Dance Collective, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Her work has been presented broadly across the Midwest region.

Hot Crowd

Hot Crowd was established in 2017 by Founder, Emily Kamp and currently under the direction of Brittany Latta McMahon and Devon Lloyd. Since its inception, Hot Crowd has been invited to perform in several major cities throughout the U.S. including Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit and St. Louis as well as out of the country in Seoul, South Korea. Hot Crowd has also created nine self-produced shows and two professional dance for films. Other Hot Crowd programming includes dance workshops/residencies for students ranging in age from youth to adult, pay what you can community dance classes, and collaborative events with other local artists and businesses. Hot Crowd is recently started their 7th Season which has already included several dance festivals, performances, and classes in their beloved neighborhood of Logan Square.

Noelle Kayser

NK // COLLAB is an ever evolving dance collective spearheaded by choreographer Noelle Kayser. Hailing from Atlanta and rooted in Chicago, Kayser is a multifaceted creative—choreographer, dancer, actor, and director. Choreographic commissions include DanceWorks Chicago, SALT Dance LINK Choreography Festival, SALT2, Visceral Dance Chicago, Ballare Carmel and Open Space Dance among others. Noelle has performed with Lyric Opera, PARA.MAR Dance Theatre, LED Boise, Open Space Dance, NW Dance Project and Visceral Dance Chicago among others. Noelle was the founding rehearsal director and administrator for PARA.MAR Dance Theatre (2022 Dance Magazine Top 25 to Watch). Noelle has narrated 16 audiobooks for audible.com, appeared in industrial advertising for global brands and performed in theater productions in Atlanta and Chicago. Most recently, Noelle was the ballet mistress and assistant choreographer for the Lyric Opera’s production of Jenufa.

Tayler Kinner

Tayler Kinner (she/her) grew up in the cornfields of Springfield, IL. She holds a BFA in Dance and a minor in Advertising & Marketing Communications from Webster University, graduating with departmental honors. Tayler spent several years in San Francisco where she was fortunate enough to work with contemporary and dance-theater companies including RAWdance, Alyssandra Katherine Dance, Tim Rubel Human Shakes, KWENTO, REYES Dance, and several independent artists. She has performed in New York, Berlin, St. Louis, and throughout the Bay Area. Tayler is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Big Plate Dance, using improvisation to bring spontaneous and joyful works to audiences. She currently is an Adjunct Faculty member at Webster University, works with Karlovsky & Company Dance, and lives in St. Louis with her partner and two cats.

Meghen McKinley

Meghen McKinley is a modern dancer, choreographer, and educator. She is an Associate Professor in Dance at Western Kentucky University, where she teaches all levels of Modern, Choreography, Improvisation, Dance in Culture, and Visual Media for Dance. Professional choreography and performance work includes: Found Movement Group – Nashville, TN, Inaside Dance Chicago – Choreographer’s Showcase, Moving Collective- Louisville, KY, Champaign Arts Salon-Champaign, IL, Zodiaque Dance Company- State University of New York at Buffalo, Anderson University - Anderson, IN, collaborative choreography with Kylene Stephens for Motus Dance Company - Indianapolis, IN, and collaborative skype choreography with Teal Darkenwald at East Carolina University. She has also performed with Germaul Barnes' Dance 4U Project/Black Bones at 92nd St. Y; NYC, Dance Martha Dance! Bernier Dance, DeXDance Contemporary Dance Company, The Hatch, Greenspace, Dancers Responding to Aids at St. Marks Church - NYC, and Orlando Fringe Festival. Meghen was co-director and current contributing artist with multi-grant recipient Convergence Dance Theatre in Honolulu, HI. CDT produces annual concerts in addition to performance work featuring her choreography and dance films at the Honolulu Art Museum, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Outreach College/Statewide Cultural Extension Program, First Fridays, MicroFest Honolulu, and Oahu Fringe Festival. She also serves on the board for the non-profit organization, Collaborative Dance Foundation. CDF works to promote dancers and artists in the local community. Meghen has also presented research and choreography at regional American College Dance Association; Baja Region, Central Region, and South Region, Tennessee Association of Dance, North Alabama Dance Festival, as well as at the Asia Pacific Dance Festival. She has been involved in master classes with East Carolina University, University at Buffalo, and Zoom residency with University of Alaska, Anchorage. She continues to pursue her research interest in exploring the Relationship Between Media and Dance on the Performance Stage. Current dance films include; Ardent Silence, All Around Us – both award winning multi-regional dance films, Inside These Walls, x1, and Variables. Research and movement investigation and analysis continues through master classes in Integrated Movement Systems and Laban Movement Analysis. Meghen received her BFA in Dance from The State University of New York at Buffalo and her MFA in performance and choreography from The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Kaley Pruitt

Pruitt founded her dance company Kaley Pruitt Dance in 2014 in New York City and has created over 25 works for the stage and screen. She is originally from Ketchum, Idaho and is currently a Professor of Dance at SUNY Brockport. She received her MFA in Dance & Choreography from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and she holds her BFA in Dance from Florida State University. Pruitt has been commissioned by Repertory Dance Theatre, Wasatch Contemporary Dance Company, Fem Dance Company, Simantikos Dance Chicago, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and Illinois State University. Additionally, the company has been presented by: Rochester Fringe Festival, Austin Dance Festival, ACDA National Conference, Mark DeGarmo Dance, Milwaukee Fringe Festival, WIM Dance Festival, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Dixon Place Theater, Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, Triskelion Arts, Chez Bushwick and The Center for Performance Research, Built on Stilts Martha’s Vineyard, The Secret Theater, Ketchum Arts Commission, and Movement Research. www.kaleypruittdance.com, @kaleypruittdance

Jaruam Xavier

Jaruam Xavier is a Brazilian candidate pursuing an MFA in Dance with a focus on Choreography at the University of Iowa. With a wealth of experience as a dancer, he has showcased in various countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, China, Uruguay, the United States, and Brazil. As a choreographer, he has delved into the exploration of Anthropophagic Body Formation, a metaphor he employs to illustrate the assimilation of knowledge through the embodiment of dance and cultural hybridity. His works bear the influence of Candomblé, Capoeira, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is evident in their distinctive traits. Within the university community, Jaruam has been actively involved as a teaching assistant for the Brazilian Cultural and Carnival course, sharing his expertise and passion. He has also been invited as a guest presenter for courses like Performing Power/Performing Protest and African Caribbean Dance Practices. As a somatic form, he teaches yoga at the university and local yoga studio.

Kayla Montgomery

MADCO is proud to introduce Kayla Montgomery as MADCO's Emerging Student Choreographer of 2024. At the age of 14, Kayla already has a clear choreographic voice. We are excited to showcase her unique style and groovy movement vocabulary in this year’s festival, and we look forward to watching her evolve as a dance maker and artist for years to come!