Creative Director: Elisabeth RoskopfDance For Diversity is presented in partnership with Danceworks Inc.
Dance For Diversity (DFD) is an annual screendance project series that is made explicitly for Artists of Color to elevate their unique voices and share their stories through their dance-making and performance work. DFD provides a platform for Artists of Color to create an original solo piece on film that reflects who they are, their story of identity, and expresses personal experiences that address (including but not limited to) racial stereotypes, discrimination, and assumptions. The culmination of these solos on screen will reach multiple audiences at a film premiere and in various site-specific spaces, including high schools and universities local to the Greater Milwaukee Area and nationwide. DFD amplifies the visibility of the Artists and their work through a distinctive lens that encompasses identity, race, culture, social change, belonging, social justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racist practices to incorporate within the dance and education curricula.
Dance For Diversity shines a light on underrepresented groups, in hopes of promoting inclusive habits in arts spaces where BIPOC Artists are often isolated. This project is a call to action for diversity, equity, and inclusion within the field of dance and the arts to help dismantle systems that perpetuate discrimination, violence, hate, and erasure. In service to representation, DFD allows an opportunity to lift up the experiences of Artists of Color and provides an opportunity for diverse audience members to see themselves in art.
As Provenance: A Letter to My Daughter, an award winning short dance film, inspired her vision to create Dance For Diversity, Elisabeth is creating a permanent space for underrepresented Artists to not only share their personal stories of identity, but to also connect with other Artists who share similar stories and life experiences.
Dance For Diversity amplifies visibility and creates a consistent platform for BIPOC Artists to center their unique voices and their stories through their art, while fostering a place of belonging and reclamation of their true identities. DFD’s vision is to give Artists of Color the power to own who they are unapologetically and claim their space onstage and offstage.
In April and May of 2023, Dance For Diversity invited Cinematographers and BIPOC Dance Artists/Choreographers to submit applications for the 2023 series of Dance for Diversity. Artists were asked to submit a written solo project proposal, biographical information, and any work/materials they may have for viewing. The project received 21 applicants total around the midwest.
Out of all the applicants, 4 BIPOC Dance Artists/Choreographers and 4 Cinematographers were selected to partner together to present their work at the Dance For Diversity Film Premiere Event in December of 2023. The 8 selected Artists include: Mansee Singhi, Cuauhtli Ramirez Castro, DeMar Walker, Samer Ghani, Tate Bunker, Yukina Sato, Rachel Malehorn, and Amanda Hoover.
Yukina Sato is a Japanese dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker. She holds Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the Ohio State University. Her research is rooted in her cultural identity and how the art-making process freed up from sociopolitical labels and boundaries. She was awarded Anna Shanks ”Best Performer” award in 2017 and her choreography was selected as an official ACDA(American College Dance Association) selection in 2020. She has worked with many artists such as Bebe Miller, Abby Zbikowski, Lea Cox, Larry Keigwin, and many more. Her passion for dance never stops growing and hoping to connect with Asian immigrant female artists in the U.S. to make space for sharing their knowledge and creativity.
DeMar Walker is a multidisciplinary artist, scholar, & educator from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has choreographed, directed, & performed for numerous local and international performing arts organizations including Ko-Thi Dance Company, Danceworks Milwaukee, Black Arts Milwaukee, Wildspace Dance Company, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Arts at Large, First Stage Children’s Theatre, Fleeing Artists Theatre, Camp Bagatae, & Ecole Des Sables. He has traveled to Guinea and Senegal to study in workshops specializing in African Diasporic dance and performance with internationally acclaimed teachers such as Youssouf Koumbassa, Alesandra Seutin, & Thomas Talawa Presto. DeMar once served as a lecturer in the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In Fall 2020, he directed and released his first dance short film The Beckoning which has been screened in numerous international film festivals. It has received several accolades including the 2021 Mozaik Philanthropy Future Art Award, Best Dance Performance at the Black Lives Rising Dance Festival. The film was also awarded Best Film & Best Director at the VOICES HEARD segment at the 2021 Milwaukee International Short Film Festival. DeMar is a recent graduate of Marquette University where he earned his Master’s Degree in English with an emphasis in Black arts history of the Midwestern United States.
Mansee Singhi (she/her) is a South Asian choreographer, performer, teaching artist and member of the United Nations Dance Council based in Columbus, Ohio. She is the artistic director of MKDC where she has been training and helping students grow in the field of Indian Classical dance form – Kathak. Mansee is an active member of the arts community in Columbus and is a board member of Ohio Dance. Since 2009, Mansee has presented her work at various venues in and around Ohio and also produced end-to-end performances based on Indian and Contemporary styles in collaboration with other performing artists. She has been trained in Classical and Folk arts from India, Yoga and Contemporary style with ongoing Neoclassical training. In her work, she strives to balance the elements of her cultural background with her skills of story-telling and movements to find intersections between art and oneness.
Cuauhtli Ramirez Castro (he/they) is a Mexican performing artist and dancer. He studied Performing Arts at the University of Guanajuato having a multidisciplinary approach, combining contemporary dance and acting techniques in his training. They have performed at the International Cervantino Festival (2016), as well as the Guanajuato International Film Festival (2015). They graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance and Choreography (2021). During his last year he was part of UWM´s Undergraduate Research Fellowship program as a teaching and research assistant for the project Parts of The Whole: The Body is Home under the mentorship of Maria Gillespie. During their time in Milwaukee, they have performed and collaborated in works by Maria Gillespie, Emma Draves, Bernard Brown, Caitlin Mahon, Joe Goode, Mair Culbreth, Amanda Lee, Cedar Becher, etc. And worked in companies such as Danceworks DPMKE, WildSpace, and Li Chiao-Ping Dance.
Rachel Malehorn is a creative human who lives and works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A former professional ballet dancer, Malehorn danced with the Milwaukee Ballet for 13 years. Known for her on-stage presence, power, and dramatic storytelling, Malehorn’s dancing career deepened her knowledge of the classical balletic form and contemporary modalities, and sparked her interest in experimenting with different ways of committing dance to film both still and moving, leading her to a position as a Creative Consultant for the Milwaukee Ballet while dancing. Since retiring from her professional performance career, Malehorn has received her BA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a major in Dance, minor in Business, and a certificate in Arts & Social Entrepreneurship. Malehorn has been a teaching artist throughout the city of Milwaukee, maintains an active photographic presence in the area, and creates dance for film with companies such as the Traverse City Dance Project (Michigan/NYC) and Chamber Dance Project (Washington, DC) for whom she created Berceuse, an award-winning screen dance film shot at the Milwaukee Art Museum. She currently serves as the Creative Content Manager for Milwaukee Ballet.
Samer Ghani is a first generation Palestinian American, born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Raised in a single mother home and taught through Milwaukee Public Schools, Samer’s first encounter with art was with his time spent at Wedgewood Academy (formerly Bell Middle School), where he played violin and won both National and International awards with his orchestra class.
In high school Samer’s senior art gallery of photography was highlighted in an OnMilwaukee article (2011), furthering his future career as an artist in the Milwaukee community. In his adult life Samer excelled in University, but more specifically his time at Apple, he became one of the youngest leaders at his store, helping create an environment of innovation from the customer experience to employee relations.
Samer’s time as an artist has bled into the Milwaukee community and beyond, bringing community initiatives to life with partners like The City of Milwaukee, The Bucks, Visit Milwaukee, Imagine MKE, Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Light the Hoan, Vivent Health, Jigsaw, Hanson Dodge, Bader Rutter, Google Arts & Culture, Universal Music and more, as well as highlighting some of Milwaukee’s best artists in a number of astonishing venues across the city and nation wide.
“Samer Ghani is an artist. An artist with an exceptional eye and a passion for capturing moments. He has built a career combining his camera, curiosity, and community into works that stand out from the noise, that elevate the subject of each shot. The Milwaukee based director, producer, photographer, videographer, and journalist may have honed his skills by documenting live music, but his hard work and eagerness to grow have expanded his versatility and tools, emerging with one of the most distinctive styles we’ve seen. Samer gives authentic artistic insight and shares his thoughts on working in Milwaukee, connecting his art to being a Palestinian American, and more.”
-Nathan Honoré of the License Lab
A dancer herself, Amanda has a passion for displaying dance on film in unique ways that push the boundary of how dance has usually been perceived. Amandagraduated from Indiana University with dual degrees in Contemporary Dance and Cinema and Media Productions. Since graduating, she has had four years in the professional filmmaking field working as a cinematographer and video editor based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her previous position was video editor at Paradox Post in Vineyard, Utah. While working here, she had the opportunity to direct, edit and choreograph an 8k HDR dance film entitled “Palindrome”, which has recently been selected into the Utah Dance Film Festival. Amanda was also formerly the video producer and editor for American Dance Festival in 2019 and has had numerous opportunities working with dance companies, college dance programs, and independent dancers to create beautiful dance for film works. She is always excited to help bring dancers/choreographers dreams to fruition through film.
In 2013 his feature film Little Red won “Best Feature” at the Berlin Independent Film Festival and the Canada International Film Festival. In 2019, he released his third feature, The Field, starring Veronica Cartwright (Alien, The Birds) got world wide distribution from Gravitas Ventures with US a theatrical run and 12 film festival selections including Best Feature Film at Chicago Horror Film Festival (2020). Locally he has won over ten major awards at Wisconsin based film festivals. Bunker has been involved with more than 250 commercial projects and his other accolades include one Emmy Award and two Emmy nominations, and a Paris Film Festival “Best Cinematography” prize for his short, Starlite. A Colorado native, Bunker received a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts, where he now teaches film production.