Danceworks Staff

Deborah Farris, Executive Director

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Deborah Farris, Danceworks’ first Executive Director, has led the organization since 2002. During her tenure, Danceworks has experienced significant growth in both programming and budget, with the launch of Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap in 2006 and annual revenue increasing from $300,000 to $1,200,000.
During this exciting time, Danceworks has received the UPAF Management Excellence Award (2005, 2006, 2011) the UPAF Education/Outreach Award (2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013); and the Business Journal Eureka Award (2013).
Prior to coming to Danceworks in 2002, Deborah worked with Milwaukee Ballet as Director of Education and Outreach and was on the Milwaukee Ballet School faculty. Before returning to Milwaukee in 1999, she was Assistant Director for Business and Finance of the North Carolina Botanical Garden at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (1995-1999), where within her tenure revenues increased more than 400%. She has served on the Department of Dance and Theatre faculties of Tulane University, University of NC at Chapel Hill and UW-Milwaukee, where she is also currently an adjunct faculty member.
As an Equity actress, singer and dancer, she has performed extensively throughout the United States, appearing Off and Off-Off Broadway as well as in regional theatre and dance companies. Originally from Milwaukee, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Masters Degrees from the UW-Milwaukee. Deborah received the Business Journal Woman of Influence Award for Nonprofit Leadership in 2007.

Amy Brinkman-Sustache, Director of Education

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As one of the founding members of Danceworks, Amy has a long history with the organization as a teacher, choreographer, and administrator and in 1998 she became the studio director for Danceworks. As a performer, Ms. Brinkman has an extensive background in both dance and musical theater and has the opportunity to perform throughout Europe, California, Florida and the Mid-West. Ms. Brinkman developed a dance curriculum for Pius XI High School Theatre Arts program where she taught and choreographed concert dance and musical theatre from 1992-2000. She currently serves on the Department of Dance at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University as well as on the Danceworks faculty. Ms Brinkman is the Artistic Director of Danceworks on Tap (DOT), Danceworks’ resident tap performance ensemble, and is the state representative for the International Tap Association (ITA).

Jolie Collins, Customer Satisfaction Manager/Registrar

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After completing her Communication studies in Madison and Ft. Worth, Jolie returned to Milwaukee where she worked various jobs over the years. In 2005, she returned to school and earned her Bachelor of Fine Art in 2008. As a local Milwaukee artist she has had the opportunity to display her work at Bentley’s One of a Kind, was included in group shows at Samara Garden & Home, participated in Delafield’s 2012 Fall Art Walk, and had solo shows at Eastbrook Church and Danceworks. Her paintings are also on display online at www.happyheartarts.storenvy.com. In addition to her art, Ms. Collins traveled for three years as a member of a drama group, called The Company. More recently for Morning Star Productions, a local theater group, she has worked as a stage manager, created props and run sound. She also uses her dance background to lead the dance ministry at her church.

Teresa Drews, Studio Manager

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Teresa Drews, Studio Manager joined Danceworks in an administrative capacity in 2016. Teresa studied visual art, dance, music and theater. Over the course of her career she has directed more than 20 productions, choreographed more than 40 musicals, written children’s productions and performed in countless productions. Prior to joining Daceworks, Teresa served as an artistic director at Modjeska Youth Theater and most recently was the Parent Coordinator at Elm Creative Arts School.

Wanyah Frazier, Customer Satisfaction Specialist

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Kim Johnson-Rockafellow, Artistic Manager

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Upon graduation in 2000 with high honors from the UWM with a BFA in dance, Kim, a native Yooper, joined DPC and served as Associate Artistic Director from 2009-2012 before taking on the roll of Artistic Manager of performance and studio. She has created works for DPC as well as Milwaukee Ballet II. Kim has helped write curriculum for both Danceworks Studio and Milwaukee Ballet School where she served as faculty, branch manager, and Children’s Division Coordinator. She has thoroughly enjoyed growing Danceworks’ dance fitness program as well as many other facets including DanceLAB. Kim is also a dance lecturer at UWM, where she teaches modern technique and Body Sense.

Posy Knight, Outreach Manager

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Posy works side by side with Danceworks’ Executive, Artistic and Education Directors to ensure that Danceworks’ Outreach signature programs, Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap (Mad Hot) and Intergenerational Multi-Arts Program (IMAP,) continue to fulfill the Danceworks’ mission of bringing joy, health, and creatvity to the community at large. Posy is a lifelong student, and continues to blend her creative lives as a performer, choreographer, designer, director, scenic painter, and arts educator. She holds an  MFA in Scenic Design from the University of Connecticut (2014) and a BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School (2002.)

Laura Kolar, Box Office Manager

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Dani Kuepper, DPC Artistic Director

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Dani Kuepper is the Artistic Director of Danceworks Performance Company (DPC), the resident contemporary dance company of Danceworks Inc. She joined DPC in 1998 and has since choreographed more than 30 dances for the company, as well as several evening length works. Dani received both her BFA and MFA from UW-Milwaukee, where she has been a faculty member of the UWM dance department since 1999. As an undergraduate at UWM, Dani performed the solo, Mrs. Schultz, at the national American College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.. Dani has choreographed extensively in the Milwaukee community and as the Artistic Director of DPC, has enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, Florentine Opera Company, Present Music, First Stage Children’s Theater, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. Dani was honored in 2009 as a “Forty Under 40” recipient by the Business Journal of Milwaukee and also received the UWM Alumni Association Teaching Excellence Award for non-tenure track in instructors in 2010.

Gina Laurenzi, DYPC Artistic Director

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A UWM Dance Department graduate and second season Danceworks Performance Company (DPC) member, Gina Laurenzi previously trained as a Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago scholarship student, under Elements Contemporary Ballet’s Artistic Director Michael Gosney, and performed with both Giordano II and Inaside Chicago Dance. Gina was the Coordinator for the YMCA Dance Program in Kenosha, WI where she gained experience teaching ages 3-Adult in ballet, jazz, hip hop, modern, contemporary and improvisation. A desire to give back to her community and spread a knowledge of the arts compelled Gina to create Laurenzi Dance where she ran the studio class program until 2013. Currently, Gina serves as the  Owner/Artistic Director of her youth performing dance companies and she continues to produce thoughtful themed events with her young artists of Laurenzi Dance in Kenosha. Gina is thrilled to further share her love of the arts here in Milwaukee by teaching for Danceworks, being a part of the the MHBT program and in working with the young movers of Danceworks Youth Performance Company (DYPC) as part of the DYPC Artistic Team.

Sarah Mesa, Customer Satisfaction Specialist

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Bryan Michaels, Operations Director

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Bryan joined Danceworks as a member of the marketing department in 2013 and has worked in various capacities throughout the organization. As Operations Director, Bryan oversees Danceworks’ finances, human resources, online communications, information technologies, public relations and day-to-day operations. Prior to joining Danceworks, Bryan worked at Zizzo Group Marketing, PR and New Media in Milwaukee. Bryan holds a degree in Mass Communications from The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Throughout high school and college Bryan was very active in musical theater and musical performance (vocally and instrumentally) and now brings his passion for the arts to Danceworks.

Debrasha Rogers, Customer Satisfaction Specialist

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Gabi Sustache, Customer Satisfaction Specialist

gabiGabrielle Sustache attends UW Milwaukee where she is double majoring in Dance and Kinesiology. She began dancing at the age of three and continues training in contemporary, tap and hip hop dance. Gabi is a member of Danceworks on Tap (DOT), Danceworks’ resident tap dance company. She first danced with DOT as a guest performer at the age of five and became a full-fledged company member in 2010.

Candice Wegner, Development Director

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Candice Wegner has worked in development for more than 10 years. She has a strong background in non-profit fundraising and donor development (previously Annual Programs Coordinator for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin as well as time spent with Meta House, United Way of  Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha Country and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and a passion for making our community one worth living in. She received her BA from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Lauren Wenzler, Social Media Coordinator

lauren_headshotLauren joined Danceworks in August of 2016 as the Social Media Coordinator. Her degree may be in social work, but she’s using her voice at Danceworks instead for social media- helping to spread joy, health and creativity to the community by informing them who and what Danceworks is. Lauren earned her Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Kansas in 2010. She has always had a passion for bettering her community, and for dance; now she is thankful for the unique opportunity to combine these two!

Lisa Wenzler, Design and Advertising Manager

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Lisa Wenzler has contributed her creative talent to Danceworks since 2006, providing graphic design expertise and communication guidance with the aim to strengthen the organization’s brand and reputation. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts. Besides Danceworks, Lisa worked at Mindspike Design in Milwaukee, where she served as a Graphic Designer and Art Director for seven years. Giving back to the industry and her community is of great importance to Lisa. She has served on the AIGA Education Committee and the AIGA Cultivate Mentoring Program sub-committee to assist other up-and-coming graphic designers.

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