Souleymane “Solo” Badolo is a Brooklyn-based choreographer and dancer born in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. He started his professional career as a dancer for the DAMA, a traditional African dance company. In 1993, he founded his own Burkina Faso-based troupe, Kongo Ba Téria, which fuses traditional African dances with western contemporary dance and continues to tour internationally. Solo has danced with world-renowned contemporary African dance company Salia ni Seydou, worked with French choreographers Elsa Wolliaston and Mathilde Monnier, and performed with the National Ballet of Burkina. He and Kongo Ba Téria are featured in the widely-screened documentary Movement (R)evolution Africa which documents the continent’s emergent experimental dance scene. Since moving to New York City in 2009, Badolo has created a number of solo and small ensemble projects commissioned and presented by Danspace, New York Live Arts, Dance New Amsterdam, Harlem Stage, the 92nd Street Y, the Museum of Art & Design, River to River Festival (R2R), and BAM. He has collaborated with Nora Chipaumire, Ralph Lemon, Reggie Wilson, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of Urban Bush Women. His ongoing research in Africa has been supported by The Suitcase Fund of New York Live Arts. Mr. Badolo was nominated for a 2011 Bessie Award (New York Dance & Performance Award) as Outstanding Emerging Choreographer and in 2012, received the Juried Bessie Award (from jurists Lar Lubovitch, Yvonne Rainer and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar). In 2015, his dance for two dancers and one percussionist, Yimbégré, was recognized with a Bessie Award for Outstanding Production. Solo is the recipient of Wesleyan University’s 2014 Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award and the 2015 Harkness Foundation Dance Residency at BAM Fisher. He graduated from Bennington College with an MFA in June 2013. Since that time, he has been a guest instructor at The New School, Bennington College, Williams College, and Bard College. He has also taught traditional and contemporary forms to children and teens in Burkina Faso.
Maia Claire Garrison is a former member of the critically acclaimed dance company, Urban Bush Women. She currently resides in South Orange, New Jersey and is the Artistic Director of Reel.Dance.Music and Sequence of Leaps. She was raised amidst two vibrant artist communities in both New York City and Rome, Italy. Her father, world renowned Jazz bassist, is the late Jimmy Garrison. Her mother, Roberta Escamilla Garrison, is a prominent Italy-based choreographer and founder of the dance department at St. Stephen’s School in Rome. Maia’s physical education started in childhood competing as a gymnast. At age 10, she was discovered by The Big Apple Circus, with whom she toured as a child acrobat for two years. As a teen, she transitioned from gymnastics to dance initially studying with her mother and Andé Peck. She later joined her first professional dance troupe, Afro-Danza, directed by Bob Curtis. As an undergraduate, she attended Sarah Lawrence College where she furthered her dance education with Rose Anne Thom, Pat Catterson, Viola Farber, and Phyllis Lamhut. In addition to studying ballet and contemporary on campus, she made frequent trips to New York City to study a mixed bag of African-derived dance forms. Between 1995 and 2001, with a desire to hone her skills as a choreographer, she directed M’Zawa Danz and was awarded three consecutive grants from the New York Foundation to the Arts. Along with some of her contemporaries, she played a key role in popularizing the synthesis of modern dance with traditional West African idioms. Presently, she works collaboratively with multi-media artist, Carlos Funn, to create short films integrating imagery, song and choreography.
Charlotte Gibbons is a Columbia County based movement artist and teacher, most recently presented by AUNTS at Mount Tremper Arts. She made work and danced in NYC and has self-produced her own work as well as being presented by AUNTS, The Kitchen, Dixon Place, Danspace Project and Movement Research at the Judson Church. While in New York City, Charlotte had the pleasure of dancing with Daria Fain, K.J. Holmes, Jennifer Monson, Anna Sperber and Nina Winthrop, and she was a 2009 Movement Research Artist in Residence. She has a BFA from the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase. In 2010, Charlotte traveled to China and focused on studies of Pure Yang Gong Fu and Taoism. She now teaches movement and qi gong in the Hudson Valley.
Her dancing life has taught her how to navigate the material world with kinesthetic awareness and a patient grasp of personal possibility. Charlotte believes that cultivating a relationship to one’s person is a lifelong task that must be approached from every direction.
Erin Jennings is a professional dancer and dance educator. She loves teaching children and adults and has taught dance, yoga and fitness in private studios and programs as well as in the public school system. Erin has performed professionally in many dance, theater and film productions in NYC and throughout the US and Europe, performing such roles as Kristine in the tour of A Chorus Line, Graziella in West Side Story at Teatro ala Scala and Louise in Westchester Broadway’s Carousel. Hailing from Maryland, Erin first tasted modern dance with Pam Marcin/GT Dance and then at Bucknell University with Shellie Cash and Danna Frangione and at Dance Place in DC. Erin relocated to NYC, where she continued dance studies at many studios and as an ensemble member on scholarship at Steps. Erin performed with companies such as Pilobolus, and those led by Olsi Gjeci (Sublime/Trisha Brown DC), Germaul Barnes (ViewsicEx/Bill T Jones), Valerie Green & Caron Eule(CEule Dance). She is honored to also have performed choreography of Alvin Ailey, Abel Costa, Doris Humphrey, Gaspard Louis, & Alwin Nikolais among others. She earned her masters degree from NYU, where she assistant-taught Musical theater and Pilates. Erin’s choreography has been presented & positively mentioned in NYC at the World Financial Center, John Jay College, DTW (Live Arts) and various showcases. Erin can now be found dancing in the Hudson Valley, where she lives with her husband, two children, bunnies and Schnoodle pup. With Marie Carstens, Erin co-directs Putnam County Dance Project, which has presented dance performances in the Hudson Valley at Arts on the Lake, Studio Around the Corner and Dancing Dialogue in Cold Spring. Erin holds a B.A. psychology degree from Bucknell University and is a member of Actor’s Equity Association and NDEO.
Jessie Levey founded and directs Barefoot Dance Center where she teaches both yoga and dance classes to all ages. She developed curriculum which focuses on dance education through the lenses of somatic understanding, creativity and personal identity. Jessie has the privilege of working with young dancers which allows her to emphasize healthy patterning from the beginning of their dance training. By including functional anatomy in her classes and inspiring dancers to move from the inside out, her students develop organic alignment and avoid common injuries experienced in many other studios. By encouraging her students to deepen their understanding of and trust in their unique bodies, dancers and yogis gain greater body-mind connectivity and a sense of agency. Through her work at Barefoot, Jessie developed a syllabus which aims to empower girls through the platform of dance, which you may read about here. In addition to teaching classes at Barefoot, she also directs Choreolab Performance Workshop and Barefoot Dance Company, and brings dance into surrounding schools and senior centers as a dance artist-in-residence.
Jessie is a contemporary post-modern dancer and has been teaching for thirty years. Her training is grounded in Cunningham, Limón and Alexander techniques, as well as yoga and improvisation. In addition to making her own work, she has performed with choreographers, Nadra Assaf, Jill Ann Schwartz, Dani Nikas, Risa Jaroslow and Mel Wong among others throughout the New York Metropolitan area, Wisconsin, Lebanon, and the Hudson Valley.
Jessie is the recipient of the 2015-17 Jubilation Foundation Fellowship for excellence in teaching, which you may read about here, and holds an MFA in Dance from The Peck School of the Arts at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is married, has two grown children and is certified as both a childbirth educator and yoga instructor. She is also a Registered Somatic Dance Educator and member of National Dance Education Organization where she attends annual conferences to both present and participate. Jessie leads workshops to classroom teachers and dance educators nationally and internationally through New York State Association of Independent Schools, National Dance Education Organization, Early Childhood Institute Hudson River Valley, and the International Dance Day Festival Lebanon, among others.
Harriett Meyer is a dancer, dance-maker, and educator based in Kingston, NY. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Bard College in 2012, and her Master of Arts in Teaching from the same in 2016. She has performed and shown work at Danspace, Turtle Bay Music School, the Bowery Poetry Club, Dixon Place, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and the Galapagos Arts Space in New York City, at the Peace School in Ludhiana, India, and at Bard College and Bennington College. Now immersed in literacy education, Harriett is continuing to explore dance and pedagogy simultaneously.
Leslie Partridge Sachs, born and raised on Manhattan’s upper west side, is now a recent resident of Beacon NY. Leslie has spent the majority of her life as a dance artist, teacher, performer and choreographer in New York City. Her training and performance began with New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theater. With her foundations in classical movement she entered
the contemporary dance world through study of a wide variety of modern dance techniques. She is an alumna of the High School of Performing Arts, Bard College and the University of Washington, the latter where she received her MFA in dance. Leslie has held positions at Purchase College Conservatory for Dance, Balettakademien in Stockholm, University of Massachusetts, Dance Space Center in NYC, and is currently on the dance faculty at Vassar College. Her work has been presented in venues across the US and Europe. She is married to Sun Sachs and has two daughters, 6 cats and 2 dogs.
Betty Skeen was born and raised in South Carolina. She earned her high school diploma at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities residential high school, studying ballet under Stanislav Issaev and modern dance with Sandra Neels. She earned her BA in Dance with a minor in Creative Writing from Sweet Briar College and her MFA in Choreography from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her work has been shown extensively in Washington D.C. as well as in New York City, and has received two Metro DC Dance Awards and has been recognized in gala performances at ACDFA. She has served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and guest artist at the University of Maryland as well as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Sweet Briar College. She has had the pleasure of performing in works by artists such as Sarah Skaggs, Joseph Poulson, Tzveta Kassabova, Donna Uchizono, Colleen Thomas, Aviva Geismar, Alvin Mayes, Dawn Springer, Gesel Mason, Charli Brissey, Megan Harold, Dahlia Nayar, and Angella Foster. Betty has been a collaborator and extended company member with Pearson Widrig Dance Theater (PWDT) since 2010. In addition to her work with PWDT, she currently collaborates and performs with Haven Movement in Newburgh, NY and teaches low-cost adult contemporary classes through Betty Skeen Dance in Cornwall, NY. She resides in Cornwall, NY with her husband and two young daughters.