Meet the Artists



Maria Gillespie

Maria Gillespie (she/they) is a choreographer, performer, dance and somatic educator. She is a CLMA Laban Bartenieff Movement Analyst, certified Pilates teacher, and Associate Professor of Dance at UW-Milwaukee. She directs MG/The Collaboratory and Hyperlocal MKE, both dedicated to interdisciplinary collaboration and improvised performance practice. Gillespie developed the community teaching project, Parts of the Whole-The Body is Home, to share creative somatics, dance, and community building with system impacted youth. Her approach to community practices are based on the belief that liberation begins in the body. Gillespie has collaborated with artists Kevin Williamson, Nguyen Nguyen, Ginormous, Nirmal Raja, Lois Bielefield, Sonja Thomsen, Glenn Williams, Nathaniel Stern, Joelle Worm, Christal Wagner, Tim Russell, Devin Drobka, Barry Paul Clark, Mike Rea, and dozens of choreographers and composers to create collaborative performances. Gillespie founded and directed LA-based Oni Dance (2003-2015) and was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch”. Gillespie’s dances… “ricochet between vulnerability and strength with razor-sharp shifts in intensity and intent” (LA Times). Her work has been presented nationally and internationally including The Ford Amphitheatre, The Getty Museum, the Roy and Edna Disney/Cal Arts Theater (REDCAT), UCLA’s Department of World Arts & Cultures, Cal Arts, The Fowler Museum, Highways Performance Space, Joyce SoHo and CounterPULSE. Gillespie has performed and taught in Beijing, Guangzhou, Tokyo, and Mexico City. She has taught at numerous universities including UCLA Department of World Arts & Cultures/Dance, Cal Arts, Loyola Marymount University, Beijing Modern Dance Festival and was a choreographic and teaching resident in Mexico City with Apoc Apoc. Choreographic commissions include The Getty Center, Loyola Marymount University, Scripps College, Pomona College, Cal State Long Beach, Utah Valley University, University of Florida, and Santa Monica College dance departments. She is a grant recipient from The Wisconsin Arts Board, The Durfee Foundation, The Irvine Foundation, UWM’s Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, The Center for International Education, Office of Research and was a 2014 UWM Global Studies Fellow. She was a UWM Research Mentor of the year nominee for her commitment to undergraduate research and received the 2019 Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.


Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson (he/him), conductor
—holds a D.M.A. in Choral Conducting and Literature from the University of Colorado-Boulder, an M.M. in Choral Conducting from UW-Milwaukee, and a B.A. in Voice from Marian University. He joined APERI ANIMAM as conductor in 2023, and also serves as Director of Choral Activities at Ripon College. Previously he has held faculty roles in choral programs at the University of Idaho, Francis Marion University, the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and the University of Wisconsin–Manitowoc, among others. Dr. Thompson has appeared as a soloist with the Franklin Chamber Choir, Boulder Philharmonic, The King’s Counterpoint, The North Carolina Baroque Orchestra, Vox Regis, The Green Lake Festival, Bach Festival Florence, and the Florence Symphony Orchestra.

Danceworks Performance MKE


Katelyn Altmann

Katelyn Altmann (she/her) is a movement-based artist, choreographer, and improviser currently residing in Milwaukee, WI. She graduated with distinguished honors, receiving her BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. Katelyn has performed in the works of Esther Baker-Tarpaga, Esmé Boyce, Daniel Burkholder, Simone Ferro, Melanie George, Maria Gillespie, Joe Goode, Holly Johnston, Dani Kuepper, Gina Laurenzi, Debra Loewen, Dan Schuchart, and Dawn Springer, Christal Wagner and worked has with artists such as Irene Dowd, Kathleen Hermesdorf, KJ Holmes, andIshmael Huston-Jones among others. She is a current performance and collaborative artist with DanceworksPerformance MKE(DPMKE), and Li Chiao Ping Dance, Wild Space Dance Company, and Gina Laurenzi Dance Project(GLDP).

Katelyn has presented both her solo and collaborative work throughout Milwaukee, Chicago, Seattle, and New York. Her work, “soft ground, stiff shoulder” was selected to be presented at the American College Dance Association’s North Central Conference. In 2019, with the help of the National Endowment for the Arts grant, Katelyn collaborated with Joe Goode to create a dance film, which was presented at the North Central ACDA Conference. She has also furthered her movement training by attending intensives such as Milwaukee Ballet, GALLIM, Point Park University, Seattle Festival of Dance + Improvisation, Kegwin + Company, Bates Dance Festival/Gibney Connect, and Moving Queries (Set/Go, Lower Left). During her time at UW-Milwaukee, Altmann received two Undergraduate Research Fellowships immersed in movement research. Katelyn’s work lives in embodied study, tested and realized through creation processes, improvisational strategies and performance. This takes shape through porous embodiment, visceral play, connection, and attunement. This is Katelyn’s fifth season with Danceworks Performance MKE.

Greta Jenkins

Greta Jenkins is a dance artist, choreographer, teacher, and personal trainer. She has been a Milwaukee resident for two years and grew up dancing in northern Kentucky. She received her BFA in dance performance from Ball State University. While at college, Greta became fascinated with combining the two worlds of artistry and athleticism to create authentic contemporary movement connections for the body and soul. While in school, Greta had the opportunity to learn and perform the repertoire piece “Steps in the street” by the Martha Graham Dance Company. She also performed work by Chicago choreographer Jamey Meek and had the privilege to train and perform at the Radio City Rockette Summer Intensive in NYC. Greta is also a company artist with THREE POINT PROJECT. She has performed with THREE POINT PROJECT in MashUp Contemporary Dance Company’s International Women’s Day Dance Festival In Los Angeles as well as THREE POINT PROJECT’S Milwaukee show “INTRINSIC”. Greta has also performed with DPMKE at tbd dance collective “Making Space” Dance Festival in 2022. This is Greta’s second season with Danceworks Performance MKE.

Gina Laurenzi

Gina Laurenzi graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM) with a BFA in Dance: Choreography & Performance. Before beginning her chapter in Milwaukee, Gina was awarded a full merit scholarship to train at Giordano Dance Chicago and later performed with Giordano II and Inaside Chicago Dance, among other Chicago artists.Since living in Milwaukee, Laurenzi has been able to perform the works of Daniel Burkholder, Simone Ferro, Marie Gillespie, Dani Kuepper, Deb Loewen, Dawn Springer, Christal Wagner, and Morgan Williams among many others. Laurenzi continues to set work on the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project and has created works for Danceworks Performance MKE (DPMKE), Danceworks Youth Performance Company, Danceworks Intergenerational Performance Company (DIPC), Makaroff Youth Ballet (Appleton, WI), the Milwaukee Ballet’s Pre-Professional Program students, Milwaukee’s High School of the Arts, UWM Dance Dept., and Water Street Dance Milwaukee. Laurenzi is currently on faculty at both Danceworks and the Milwaukee Ballet and continues to teach at UWM where she is also pursuing her MFA in Dance. Laurenzi is happy to be able to continue to work with the wonderful artists of DPMKE after performing with the company since 2013.

Jessica Lueck

Jessica Lueck is a dancer currently based in Milwaukee, WI. Through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee she has attained two degrees, one in Dance Performance and Choreography and the other in Information System and Technology. Through the duration of her time at UWM, she has studied modern, ballet, jazz, improvisation, composition, Alexander technique, laban movement analysis, applied anatomy, and numerous other master classes. She has also performed in works created for several UW-Milwaukee Faculty Shows, working with Artists such as Emma Draves, Daniel Burkholder, Maria Gillespie, Deb Loewen, Parijat Desai and Dawn Springer. Jessica has also studied abroad in 2022 through the Centre national de la Danse in Paris, France. In 2023, she attended SALT Link dance festival in Utah, working with Christian Denice and Nicole Von Arx. Before attending UWM, she has had training from the Milwaukee HighSchool of the Arts, where she studied modern, ballet, pointe and composition under Sandra Jordan and Dean Drews, with additional instructors such as Amie Ferrante and Petr Zahradníček assisting in her training. She has also had numerous Master classes during this period including Milwaukee Ballet and Alvin Ailey II Company and more. Jessica currently performs with Wildspace Company as a Freelance artist and has begun her second season with Danceworks Performance MKE.


Kaitlyn Moore

Kaitlyn Moore is a Milwaukee-based dancer, teacher, and choreographer. She graduated from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2020 with a BA in Dance as well as a minor in Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies. She has a passion for both performance and teaching and is able to continue both in Milwaukee and surrounding areas. Her passion for performance continued with opportunities such as dancing professionally as a Milwaukee Bucks Dancer as well as performing with musicians like Bell Biv DeVoe, Riolanza and WebsterX. Throughout her time at UW-Milwaukee, she had the opportunity to study under many talented professors and guest artists such as Mair Culbreth, Emma Draves, and Caitlin Mahon. Along with her training at UWM, Kaitlyn has trained with a variety of different companies, programs, and classes throughout Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Salt Lake City. Kaitlyn is thrilled to have this be her third season with DPMKE.

Cuauhtli Ramirez Castro

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 danced with companies such as Danceworks Performance MKE, WildSpace, and Li Chiao-Ping Dance.

Ashley Ray Garcia

Ashley Ray Garcia (she/her) Ashley Ray Garcia is a dancer and choreographer from Michigan. She received her BFA in Dance-Performance and Choreography from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. During her time at UWM, she has worked with Maria Gillespie, Simeone Ferro, Mair Culbreth, Daniel Burkholder, Anthony “YNOT” Denaro, Melissa Anderson, Dani Kuepper, and Dan Schuchart. Through her love of traveling, she has had the opportunity to perform in France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and the Czech Republic. Her choreographic focus right now centers around women’s rights/history and mental health awareness. Her most recent performance/choreography, “Dear Édith,” was performed in Detroit, Michigan at the Collage Dance Festival. “Thinking of Mother,” premiered at the Milwaukee Fringe Festival in August 2021. In March of 2022, her dance for film “In This Hallway” premiered at RAD Fest in West Michigan. Her senior piece, “In These Skirts” was chosen by the faculty at her university to perform ACDA in the adjudication concert in 2022. “In These Skirts” was also performed at Central de la Danse in Paris, France in June of 2022. She is also a dancer with Wild Space Company. Garcia enjoys choreographing, performing, and improvisation and looks forward to gaining knowledge through both exploring and experience.

Jamie Riddle (Apprentice)

Jamie Riddle is a contemporary dancer and choreographer based in Milwaukee, WI. Recently, Jamie graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance and Choreography with minors in somatics and business. At UW-Milwaukee, Jamie performed in numerous faculty and student choreographies. Outside of UWM, Jamie has had the opportunity to perform with Wild Space Dance Company, DanceCircus, and Studio K Flamenco. Currently, Jamie is the company apprentice for DPMKE and continues to dance in various shows around Milwaukee.


Tessa Ritchey

Tessa Ritchey (she/her) Tessa Ritchey was born and raised in Walworth, Wisconsin, where she trained at The Dance Factory. She graduated from The University of Iowa in 2018 with a B. F. A in Dance Performance and Choreography. Tessa has furthered her training by attending intensives such as American Dance Festival, ELSCO Dance Intensive, NW Dance Projects Five Dance Days, the Gypsy Project and Water Street Dance Festival. While in College Tessa apprenticed for Dance In the Parks, in Chicago, where she was able to perform and help run the shows. Along with performance experience, she has had multiple of her own choreographic works produced by the university, one of which was selected to perform at the 2018 ACDA North Central Conference. After college, Tessa has had her work presented at the College of DuPage’s Choreographic Showcase, MADCO 2’s Dare To Dance, Trifecta’s A New Light, the Iowa Dance Festival, Emergence, SMUSH Moves Vol. 7, JELLO and MKE Fringe. Tessa has had the privilege of working with Alluvion, a Chicago Dance Company, premiering a work in 2019 as well as this 2023. This is Tessa’s second season with Danceworks Performance MKE as a Company Dancer.

Isaac Jerin Robertson

Isaac Jerin Robertson (he/she/they), AKA Ivy, has been passionately involved in the art of dance and dance making for over 16 years. Robertson first started their training in post modern and Graham styles under the direction of Lisa Andrea Thurrell and Robert E. Cleary. Isaac Jerin also studied classical ballet at Madison Ballet under the direction of W. Earl Smith. Later, from 2010-2014, Robertson danced with Kanopy Dance Company for four seasons. They attended summer dance programs on scholarship at Pacific Northwest Ballet and Alonzo King LINES Ballet. Isaac Jerin studied contemporary dance and choreography as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee from 2014-2017. Ivy received their Cosmetology license in 2018 and is now a Senior Stylist at Drybar Milwaukee in the third ward. This is Ivy’s fifth season with Danceworks Performance MKE.

Elisabeth Roskopf

Elisabeth Roskopfis a dancer, performer, choreographer, educator, pianist, and a mother to her daughter, Alina. Elisabeth was born in South Korea and raised in Appleton, Wisconsin where she began dancing at the age of 6. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Piano and a minor in Dance. She is a company member of Li Chiao-Ping Dance, Danceworks Performance MKE, the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project, and a performance collaborator with Wild Space Dance Company. She has also performed and collaborated with Marlene Skog Dance, Dawn Springer Dance Projects, Catey Ott Dance Collective, Montauk Project [più mosso], and Lake Arts Project. Elisabeth co-produced and performed in her screendance work, Provenance: A Letter to My Daughter, with her collaborators, Li Chiao-Ping as the director and choreographer and Christal Wagner as the cinematographer and editor. The film features Elisabeth’s story as a transracial and transnational adoptee and received a Best Direction Award from the 2023 Experimental, Dance and Music Film Festival. In addition to her performing, she is a ballet and contemporary teacher and choreographer in the Greater Milwaukee Area. She teaches ballet and modern classes as a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she is currently earning her Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance. Elisabeth is the Founder and Creative Director of Dance For Diversity, an annual screendance project series that is made explicitly for Artists of Color to elevate their unique voices and share their stories of identity through dance-making and performance work. For this inaugural season, DFD is partnering with Danceworks, Inc. Recently, she signed on as a model and actress with The Belle Agency in hopes that she can create greater representation for herself, her daughter, and other Asian Americans in the film industry.

Halle Sivertson

Halle Sivertson(she/her) is a Milwaukee-based dancer in her third season with Danceworks Performance MKE. She graduated from UW-Milwaukee in 2020 with a degree in Contemporary Dance Performance & Choreography. Through UWM, she has had the opportunity to create her own choreographic works, as well as collaborate with and perform in the works of many other amazing artists, including Daniel Burkholder, Gina Laurenzi, Emma Draves, and Maria Gillespie. She has studied as a UWM Undergraduate Research Fellow under the mentorship of Daniel Burkholder, and in 2019 studied abroad in Brazil researching multiple styles of dance and other art forms. She is passionate about evolving her own movement voice and showcasing those of her peers.

Gabi Sustache

Gabi Sustache,a Milwaukee native, is a performer, choreographer, and dance educator. A recent graduate from UW-Milwaukee, where she received her Bachelors of Arts in dance from the program in Spring of 2020. In addition to being a member of Danceworks Performance MKE, she is also a company member with Danceworks On Tap, Danceworks’ resident tap dance company. Gabi enjoys performing with various Milwaukee-based hip hop crews, and was recently a guest performer with the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project. Her choreography has been featured as part of Danceworks’ DanceLAB concert series Ignite: A Hip Hop Dance Experience from 2013-19, Get It Out There 2016-19, Milwaukee Bucks halftime performances, for several high school musical theater productions in and around the Milwaukee area and was selected in 2019 to be adjudicated at the American College Dance Association’s North Central Conference. Gabi joined the Danceworks faculty in 2014 where she teaches studio classes. You can also find Gabi teaching in the community for the Danceworks Mad Hot Rhythm program in addition to other workshops and residency work.

Christal Wagner, Artistic Director

Christal Wagner is an Alumna of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee dance department (BFA) where she is also adjunct faculty. She is a screendance artist and has produced work as a cinematographer, performer, editor and director for Joe Goode, Josh Halverson, Maria Gillespie, Danceworks Inc, Milwaukee Dance Theatre Network, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, UWM Dance, The Saint Kate Arts Hotel, The Cactus Club, and Li Chiao-Ping Dance where she was a 2020 SEED Creation Fund grant recipient. Christal is the artistic director of Danceworks Performance MKE and has danced for Your Mother Dances, Gina Laurenzi Dance Project, Dawn Springer Dance Projects, Skylight Music Theatre and spent 14 years as a company member with DPMKE. Christal is a cofounder of the music and dance trio Cadance Collective, co-creating pieces through processes where music and dance are worked on simultaneously through improvisational practices and original soundscapes. In 2020 Christal Wagner became the Saint Kate Art Hotel’s FIRST artist in co-residence. She is the recipient of 8 Wisconsin Jerry Awards for her work in musical theatre and has choreographed over 20 musicals in the city of Milwaukee. Christal’s mission is to support and elevate the voices of her community, collaborators, and fellow artists.

Photos by Christal Wagner, Artistic Director

Want to see Danceworks Performance MKE in action? View their current performance season!



Elise Brevik

Elise Brevik is overjoyed to be joining APERI ANIMAM for this concert! Elise attended Carthage College on a music scholarship and was very involved in the Carthage choir scene and opera workshop. She currently sings professionally in the Milwaukee area including as a cantor at the Basilica of St. Josephat, CEEBJ for High Holy Days, and Sacra Nova Chorale. She also has enjoyed singing for other events in the area. Most recently she sang for the Bucks, NASCAR, and a black tie boxing match at the Wisconsin Athletic Club. When she isn’t busy singing, Elise is working hard to get her Master’s in Occupational Therapy with a concentration in Assistive Technology and Accessible Design.

Jeremiah Cawley

Jeremiah Cawley has conducted across the US and UK. He sings with the GRAMMY-nominated and EMMY-honored True Concord and is an inaugural member of the new professional vocal ensemble withonevoice. His recorded work includes projects with The Riot Ensemble (London, UK), Solaris Vocal Ensemble (Seattle, WA), and Chamber Cartel (Atlanta, GA). Jeremiah received his DMA from the University of Washington. Jeremiah is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choirs at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. He has previously held posts at Valparaiso University, Loras College, and Western Kentucky and Georgia State Universities. He lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife Crystal.

Camille Crossot

Camille Crossot is a soprano from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She holds a BA in English from Harvard University and a MM in Voice from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. She is a soprano section leader at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and is pleased to join APERI ANIMAM for her second season.

Danielle Gedemer

Danielle Gedemer is thrilled to be singing in APERI ANIMAM once again! Since graduating from UW-Milwaukee with a BFA in Vocal Performance, some highlights include performing as the Sheriff in Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s “Night of the Living Opera” and Miss Honey in Spotlight Theatre’s production of “Matilda,” writing a libretto for the Florentine Opera Company for their children’s show Cinderella, singing at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, working with the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in their Early Childhood Music program, and annually composing songs with her mother for West Bend Parks and Rec Department’s summer theatre show. She is also incredibly fortunate to be the Company Manager at Milwaukee Opera Theatre. In her free time, she loves spending time with her incredible family and friends.

Tim Koehler

Tim Koehler’s singing journey started in the 1990’s with the Fond du Lac Children’s Chorale and he is thrilled to be singing with APERI ANIMAM today! In the 2000’s he moved to Milwaukee to study vocal performance at UW Milwaukee. He’s a proud father of two sons (Ira and Oscar) who have both heard him practice the tenor part of Dixit Dominus extensively. In a world dominated by technology, nothing makes him feel more ‘human’ than singing. 

Sam Mullooly

Sam Mullooly holds a MM degree in Music Theory from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and currently teaches music theory at the collegiate level around the Milwaukee area. He is also a professional vocalist and composer, and has thoroughly enjoyed singing with APERI ANIMAM since 2018. Aside from teaching and singing, he works part-time in music publishing and in radio. 

Rebecca Myers

Rebecca Myers received her Master’s in Music from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and has performed in several recitals, competitions, workshops, and operas around the country. Rebecca was one of four finalists in the inaugural Keller Distinguished Bach Musicianship Competition with the Grand Rapids Bach Festival, and has performed with Boulder Bach Festival on a number of occasions as a Fellowship Artist and outreach soloist. Rebecca currently lives in Racine with her partner in crime, Jacob, and their pup, Sully, and is excited to be joining APERI ANIMAM for this program.

Julianne Perkins

Julianne Perkins is a Wisconsin native. She recently completed her Master’s of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Denver and was recently seen in Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s Night of the Living Opera as Barbara. She regularly sings at Nessun Dorma in Riverwest for a twice a month Opera and Pasta night and has recently held roles and chorus roles in performances with Lamont Opera Theatre, Opera Colorado, Boulder Opera Company, Vienna Summer Music Festival, Collaborative Piano Institute, Dandelion Opera Institute, and Varna International Music Institute. She has also sung with Opera Fort Collins. She currently studies with international opera singer Jennifer Rowley and coaches with Sahar Nouri.

Katelynn Rutter

Katelynn Rutter received her Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in August of 2020. She prides herself most in her choral conducting work underneath Dr. Zachary Durlam. Katelynn is currently the Secretary on the Board of Directors for APERI ANIMAM. She is also a singer and the co-librarian of the Master Singers of Milwaukee and was an ensemble member in L’Orfeo with Milwaukee Opera Theatre. She even had the opportunity to sing backup for the Eagles during the Hotel California Beginning to End Tour in March of 2022. She currently works as an Infant Lead Educator at the UWM Children’s Learning center with newborn-18 month olds. Katelynn hopes to continue to grow her professional ensemble and non-profit skills even further as she stays in voice in the Milwaukee Area.

Jackie Willis

Jackie Willis received a BFA in Vocal Performance from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Jackie was a founding member of APERI ANIMAM and succeeded Daniel Koplitz as Interim Artistic Director in 2021 and then moved into her current role of Production Designer in 2023. She has performed in numerous roles around the Midwest, but you may have most recently seen her as Orfeo (L’Orfeo) with Milwaukee Opera Theatre. Singing Handel’s Dixit Dominus has been on Jackie’s radar for a few years and she is pleased to be on the artistic team for this unique and gratifying project. Thank you to Christal, Maria, and Paul for making this come to life!