Danceworks Performance Company (DPC) is a dynamic group of dancers/choreographers that is committed to creating and performing contemporary dance that is physical, virtuosic, entertaining and honest. Collaboration fuels the creative vision of the company members as they regularly work alongside guest artists including musicians, poets, visual artists, actors and choreographers. DPC strives to make its work relevant and accessible to a wide range of audience members by regularly performing and teaching workshops and residencies in diverse communities throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
Less than a year after DPC’s debut, Dani Kuepper became a member of the new company, immediately establishing herself as an up and coming choreographic talent. After many years of collaboration, Sarah Wilbur and Dani Kuepper became Co-Artistic Directors in 2006, sharing choreographic responsibility and artistic vision. Since Sarah Wilbur’s 2007 move to the west coast, Dani Kuepper has taken the reins of leadership as the Artistic Director. Since its inception, DPC has been performing to critical acclaim. The new artistic leadership, along with the accomplished company dancers, promises to achieve new bounds of artistic achievement this season and into the coming years.
Dani Kuepper, Artistic Director, DPC, 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 in 1998. She 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. Kuepper joined Danceworks Performance Company (DPC) in 1998 and has since choreographed more than 35 dances for the company. As DPC’s artistic director, she has collaborated extensively in the Milwaukee community with a variety of independent artists as well as Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, Florentine Opera Company, Present Music, First Stage, The Tontine Ensemble, UWM Institute of Chamber Music, the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
Melissa Anderson joined DPC in 2002 and has previously performed with Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Teatro Municipal de San Juan of Puerto Rico, Southern Ballet Theater (now Orlando Ballet) and Islenski Dansflokkurinn (Icelandic Ballet). Melissa teaches ballet at all levels at Danceworks, as well as at Nancy Dianne Studio and UW-Milwaukee. She frequently choreographs and teaches for dance organizations such as Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, Dance Masters of Wisconsin and Texas Association of Dance Teachers.
Kim Johnson joined DPC in 2000, shortly after graduating from UW-Milwaukee with high honors with a BFA in dance. A native “Yooper,” Kim served as DPC’s associate artistic director from 2009-2012 before taking on the role of artistic manager of both 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. She has also enjoyed growing Danceworks’ dance fitness program, Danceworks Youth Performance Company and other facets including DanceLAB. Kim is on faculty at Danceworks and at UWM, as well as serving on the Wisconsin Dance Council board of directors.
Gina Laurenzi graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a BFA in dance and is entering her fourth season as a member of DPC. Gina is the artistic director for Danceworks Youth Performance Company (DYPC), an associate lecturer at UWM, and director of the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project. Gina previously trained as a Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago scholarship student, under Elements Contemporary Ballet’s artistic director Michael Gosney, and has previously performed with Giordano II and Inaside Chicago Dance. Gina loves sharing her passion for dance through teaching the next generation of artists.
Liz Licht is in her sixth season with DPC. Other credits include the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Valentín Projects, Skylight Music Theatre, the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project, Cooperative Performance Milwaukee, Wild Space Dance Company, Your Mother Dances, and Li Chiao-Ping Dance. She has also studied on full-tuition scholarship at Garth Fagan Dance. Her Dance BFA, Journalism Minor, Honors College Degree, and Dean’s Honors Award are from UW-Milwaukee (2010). Liz completed her yoga certification from YogaOne Studio and teaches in Sheboygan. She is copy-editing a book on the intersection of Patañjali’s Yoga-sutra, neuroscience and emotion.
Christal Wagner is in her 10th season with DPC. She holds a BFA in Dance from UW-Milwaukee and has performed in over 50 dance and theatre productions in Milwaukee. She is a co-founder of the collaborative trio Cadance Collective and choreographs for DSHA and Shorewood High School Theatre, with whom she has won three Tommy Awards for Outstanding Choreography. She’s been a featured performer with Gina Laurenzi Dance Project, Edwin Olvera, Your Mother Dances and Present Music.