Secrets from the Wide Sky
ran April 14-15 & 19-21, 2018
at Danceworks Studio Theatre, 1661 N. Water Street
Danceworks Performance Company drew us in to intimate stories shared through dance, theater and live music. Compassion, inspiration and joy unify us all–and were celebrated in this season closer. Danceworks Performance Company, Allen Russell, and poet Jennifer Kohnhorst joined together for an evening length concert of original music and dance inspired by the secrets of intergenerational Milwaukee community members.
Artistic Director & Choreographer
Dani Kuepper joined DPC in 1998 and has since choreographed more than 30 dances for the company. As a Danceworker, she has enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate extensively in the Milwaukee community with established organizations as well as independent artists. 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. 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 instructors in 2010.
Music Composition & Performance
Allen Russell is a violinist, composer and instructor based in Milwaukee, WI. He began his musical studies on the violin at age 5, and studied the Suzuki method at the String Academy of Wisconsin with Mimi Zweig and David Becker before later going on to study with Eline Skorodin (student of Jascha Heifitz), Jerry Franke (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra) and Dr. Bernard Zinck ( Paris Conservatory, Julliard).
Allen is a composer who works in a wide span of styles and media, ranging from contemporary classical to electronic and jazz. He has been an active collaborator with modern dance and has composed and performed multiple shows for Milwaukee Ballet and Danceworks Inc. He has also been a regular at Hyperlocal, an improvisational collaboration between musicians and dancers and works with student choreographers at UWMilwaukee. Allen composed the music for Timothy Westbrook (Project Runway)/Milwaukee Danceworks’ hit show, Paleontology of a Woman which integrated dance, Westbrook’s signature fiber art and music featuring the Tontine Ensemble. Allen has performed his compositions, with Danceworks MKE, Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee’s MELT series, and privately at the Pfister Hotel, Hotel Metro and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Allen also accompanies modern dance classes at UWMilwaukee.
As a violinist, Allen has performed steadily over the years and has appeared at Milwaukee Jazz Estate, the Green Mill Chicago, Evanston Space, Traverse City Film Festival, Midwest Gypsy Swingfest, Chicago Gypsy Swing Festival, Summerfest, and on the air at 91.7FM and 88.9 Radio Milwaukee. He has worked extensively as a strolling violinist and leads Swing Chevron, a hot swing ensemble that plays a mix of Allen’s original music and classic jazz manouche. Swing Chevron had the pleasure of performing at the 2014 Midwest Gypsy Swingfest in Madison, 2015 Gypsy Swing Festival in Chicago at the Green Mill, and hosts the Swing Chevron Presents Series at Anodyne Walker’s Point. Allen also performs as a member of the Tontine Ensemble, a new music string quartet specializing in improvisation. The Tontine Ensemble has performed in Alverno Presents: Prince Uncovered, scored films for the Milwaukee Film Festival, premiered several works by new composers, and performed in collaboration with Milwaukee Danceworks and Milwaukee Ballet.
As an enthusiastic educator of the violin and music theory/composition, Allen works with students privately at Hartford Union High School, his home on Milwaukee’s East Side, as well as at the Academy of Performing Arts in Franklin WI, and Korinthian Violins in Bayview. Allen is a registered Suzuki teacher, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Master of Fine Arts in String Pedagogy from UW Milwaukee.
Jennifer Kohnhorst is a writer and storyteller who lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She is a Moth Grand Slam and Moth Radio Hour performer, Spinning Stories storyteller and Mortified performer. This is her second poetry/dance collaboration with Dani Kuepper, and later this month one of her poems will be featured in a collaboration with a visual artist at Carnegie Crossings in Zumbrota, Minnesota. Monday through Friday Jennifer is a content strategist for health systems, which is more interesting than you probably think. The rest of the time she is a mom to two teenagers and the wife of a licensed mental health professional.
Lighting & Set Design
Colin Gawronski is a graduate of UW-Milwaukee’s Theatre Program and Milwaukee native. Colin currently works as the master electrician in the Studio Theater at Skylight Music Theater. He has worked with such local companies as Milwaukee Chamber Theater, Renaissance Theaterworks, Optimist Theater, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, UWM Dance, Danceworks Inc., Next Act, Chamber Theatre, Kohl’s Wild Theater, PrideFest Milwaukee and Bard and Bourbon. Colin has also worked with the Sacramento Music Circus, the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival and with the Indianapolis and Chicago Fringe Festivals. Favorite productions include: Russian Transport, Frankie and Johnny, Stories From a Life, The Glass Menagerie, Serendipity, Mauritius, Thrill Me, In A Black Mood, Gruesome Playground Injuries, My Fair Lady, Lamps for My Family, and Vagabondare. Give Love Always.
Danceworks Performance Company
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 where she served as faculty, branch manager and Children’s Division Coordinator. She has enjoyed growing Danceworks’ dance fitness program and other facets including DanceLAB. She is passionate about bringing dance to the community and providing established and emerging artists with performance opportunities. Because of this commitment, in 2018 she began to serve as Danceworks’ Managing Director. Kim is on faculty at Danceworks and at UW-Milwaukee. Kim is also on the MKE Dance Theatre Committee and has served as Secretary on the Wisconsin Dance Council Board since 2016.
Danceworks Performance Company
Gina Laurenzi, a UWM Dance Department graduate and Danceworks Performance Company (DPC) member, 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. 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 Danceworks Mad Hot program and in working with the young movers of Danceworks Youth Performance Company (DYPC) as part of the DYPC Artistic Team.
Danceworks Performance Company
Liz Licht joined DPC in 2011 and the studio faculty in 2017 as a 50+ yoga instructor. She has also worked at Danceworks as development and marketing assistant, a Mad Hot Ballroom assistant instructor, and Art to Art production manager. Her other performance credits include Valentín Projects, Skylight Music Theatre, the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project, Cooperative Performance Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Fringe Festival, Wild Space Dance Company, Your Mother Dances, Li Chiao-Ping Dance, and internship performances with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. She 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), where she participated in one summer of the Master of Fine Arts dance program through the Honors College. Liz completed her yoga certification from YogaOne Studio in 2014, after having been introduced to Iyengar yoga at UWM in 2008. She also teaches chair yoga and all-levels vinyasa yoga in Sheboygan. A writing tutor and freelance editor specializing in the genres of somatics, wellness, and spirituality, she previously tutored student through faculty writers across disciplines in the UWM Writing Center. A book she edited, Clearing the Path by Stephen Parker, PsyD, on Patañjali’s Yoga-sūtra, neuroscience, and emotion is available through Ahymsa Publishers. Contact her at www.elizabethlicht.com.
Danceworks Performance Company; Choreographer “(Be)Longing”
Christal Wagner is back for her eighth season with Danceworks Performance Company. She holds a BFA in dance from UW-Milwaukee. Christal has performed with Your Mother Dances and Edwin Olvera, and she has been a featured performer with Present Music. She is also a co-founder of the Milwaukee music and dance trio, Cadance Collective. Christal choreographs musical theatre for Shorewood High School, Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, and Community Theatre Works, and she has won two Tommy Awards for outstanding choreography in 2013-2014.
Elisabeth Roskopf’s passion for dance began at age 6 and she has been dancing ever since. She graduated with a BA in Piano and a minor in Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2011. She is a company member with Li Chiao-Ping Dance in Madison, Wisconsin as well as a guest artist with Wild Space Dance Company and an alumna of Catey Ott Dance Collective both in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since the Spring of 2014, Elisabeth has been performing in the Lake Arts Project, directed by Jennifer Miller and Karl von Rabenau of the Milwaukee Ballet. Beginning in the Fall of 2015, and still ongoing, she choreographed and performed her solo works for MKE Follies and with Danceworks DanceLAB Get It Out There concert series. In addition to her performing, she is also a dance teacher and a choreographer in the Greater Milwaukee area. Elisabeth is honored to be performing as a guest artist with Danceworks Performance Company!
Zach Byron Schorsch holds his BFA in Dance from UW-Milwaukee. While living in Milwaukee, Zach has performed for local choreographers and devisers including Maria Gillespie, Dani Kuepper, Deb Loewen, Joelle Worm, Kirk Thomsen, and Posy Knight. Exploring his voice as a choreographer, Zach’s body of work has been presented in Cooperative Performance Milwaukee’s One Act Festival, Danceworks DanceLAB’s Art to Art and previous GET IT OUT THERE showcases.
Maggie Seer received her BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is currently a company member with Wild Space Dance Company under the direction of Deb Loewen and a guest artist with Danceworks Performance Company under the direction of Dani Kuepper. She performs regularly with Maria Gillespie’s Hyperlocal MKE and has performed with the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project. She has created works for Danceworks’ experimental performance venue, Get It Out There, and choreographed numerous musical theatre productions throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. Maggie has performed works by choreographers Molly Shanahan, Sarah Wilbur, Sarah Weber Gallo, and enjoys improvising alongside local musicians. By day, Maggie writes grants for Danceworks and loves exploring the Milwaukee community. She is very excited to join DPC in Secrets from the Wide Sky!
Liz Tesch, a UW Milwaukee PSOA alumna and long-time Danceworks instructor, is happy to be guesting with DPC in Secrets from the Wide Sky. After the birth of her first child in 2012, Liz started her own business which kept her close to home and off the stage but she is back for one last hurrah before the birth of her second child in September. Thank you to Danceworks Performance Company for their ever-welcoming nature. It’s a thrill to be a part of the artistic process again as well as dance along side some of Milwaukee’s greatest!
Morgan “Mo” Williams is a Chicago native. He attended Chicago Academy for the Arts where he had the pleasure and privilege of studying under Randy Duncan, Guillermo Leyva, and Anna Paskveska. At 18 years of age he received his first contract with Dance Kaleidoscope; from there, he danced with numerous concert companies such as Momenta Dance Company, Cerqua Rivera, Joel Hall & Dancers, Chicago Dance Crash, Deeply Rooted, and Eisenhower Dance. Mo has also been featured on “SYTYCD” Season 10 and was an L.A Finalist Season 11. Additional performance credits include Detroit Opera House productions of Aida, Pearl Fishers, Carmina Burana, Mac Cosmetics, and ESPN Wisconsin Sports Awards. In addition to his professional credits he has taught classes for many studios, dance conventions, and workshops across the United States. He is currently on staff at Studio One Dance Company as the Co-director of the Pre- Professional program. Mo is also the proud co-founder of SueMo: A Dance Experience, Milwaukee’s newest contemporary fusion dance company. His choreography credits include music artists such as Ginuwine and Pretty Lights. He has showcased his choreography at Motorcity Movement, Urbanite, Columbus Arts Festival, Milwaukee Fringe Festival, and most recently was appointed head choreographer for Purple Veins – The Essential Prince Tribute Band.
Danceworks Youth Performance Company
Finley Gresnick, Olivia Johnson, Thalicia Melendez, Naila Reeves-Sanchez, Julia Schuessler
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