Danceworks Performance Company presents “Against the Grain”


Against the Grain: The Life & Times of Levi Fisher Ames

ran October 20-21 & 25-28, 2018
at Danceworks Studio Theatre

>Click here to view the full Against the Grain: The Life & Times of Levi Fisher Ames playbill

>Click here to meet the artists behind Against the Grain: The Life & Times of Levi Fisher Ames


Levi Fisher Ames was a self-taught woodcarver, a Civil War vet who carved a menagerie of real and mythical animals and took his show on the road. This interdisciplinary piece imagined Levi on his final day, his memories, family, showmanship and his fantastical relationship with the creatures he created. Comic and tragic, poetic and bizarre, Against the Grain explored a veteran’s return, the birth of an artist, mortality and old-time Wisconsin entertainment. Photo: Kym McDaniel.


In collaboration with Theatre MXT. Written by Edward Morgan & John Kishline, directed by Edward Morgan, choreographed by Dani Kuepper, film by Kym McDaniel. The Guest Artist/Collaborator/Actor Fees for this production were sponsored by John Shannon and Jan Serr.

Artist Bios:


Deborah CliftonActor (Lucinda)


Deborah Clifton was a company member of Theatre X where she performed, wrote and produced over 100 plays. A HISTORY OF SEXUALITY, nominated for best play, Deborah, nominated for best actress and John Kishline for best actor by the San Francisco Bay Area Critics. DESIRE OF THE MOTH FOR THE STAR, which she co-wrote, was nominated for Best Play by the American Critics Assoc. She has also worked at Chicago Shakespeare, The Goodman Theater, Madison Rep, Milwaukee Rep, Forward Theater, Theatre Gigante, Chamber Theater, First Stage and toured India with MXT’s SUCCESS.

Colin Gowronski | Technical Crew


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.

R.H. GrahamLighting Design


R.H. Graham was a Resident Scenic and Lighting Designer for the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre Company for five years during Nagel Jackson’s artistic leadership and Resident Lighting Designer for the Milwaukee Ballet Company for three years during Jean Paul Comelin’s artistic leadership. Mr. Graham has also been a Resident Designer at the Alley Theatre in Houston and the Mill Mountain Playhouse in Roanoke, Virginia. He has designed for theatre, dance and opera across the country, including New York and Chicago and for virtually every theatre company in Milwaukee as well as the Milwaukee Art Museum, The Symphony Orchestra and Discovery World. He was resident designer for Theatre X for 14 years and a member of the company. His international credits include productions in Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada, Slovenia, France and China. He has designed multiple productions for Michael Pink’s Milwaukee Ballet including La Boheme and Peter Pan which was broadcast on PBS nationwide. Mr. Graham taught Design and Graphics at UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts for 38 years.

John Kishline | Actor (Levi), Writer, Set Design & Construction


John Kishline has been making and performing professional theatre since 1972 across the United States and in Holland, England, Wales, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, India (U.S. State Dept. tour) and Japan. He has written 14 produced plays, helped create 50 more from scratch. He was a founding member of Milwaukee’s Theatre X and Theatre MXT. His work has been nominated for national and regional awards and won an OBIE from the Village Voice in 1978. He’s also done feature films and network TV. He is married to Deborah Clifton and lives in Wisconsin.


Dani KuepperChoreographer, Danceworks’ Artistic Director


Dani Kuepper joined Danceworks Performance Company 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 dance department since 1999. 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.

Lyn KreamCostume Craftsperson


Lyn Kream has parlayed an overactive imagination into an oddly satisfying career in costume design. Credits include costumes for Trixie Mattel’s runs on Season 7 and All Stars 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Hedwig and the Angry Inch with All In Productions and bringing the whimsical sculptures of Levi Fisher Ames to life in this wonderful production. By day, Lyn is a part of the magical team of the Milwaukee Ballet Costume shop.



Liz LichtDanceworks Performance Company Member


Liz Licht is in her eighth season with Danceworks Performance Company. She also teaches 50+ Yoga at Danceworks. Other performance credits include Warped Dance Company, where she initiated the role of Clara in an aerial dance version of The Nutcracker; Gina Laurenzi Dance Company; Wild Space Dance Company; Li Chiao-Ping Dance; Skylight Music Theatre; Cooperative Performance Milwaukee; and internship performances with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. She studied on full-tuition scholarship at Garth Fagan Dance. Liz holds a Dance BFA, Honor’s College degree, and journalism minor from UW-Milwaukee. She is pursuing her master’s degree in community mental health counseling at Lakeland University. 

Kym McDanielFilm


Kym McDaniel is a filmmaker and choreographer currently based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her work explores themes of vulnerability, resistance, and trauma recovery. Originally from Chicago, she has a BFA in Contemporary Performance & Choreography, and a BA in Psychology. Her dances and films have performed and screened most recently at the American Dance Festival’s Movies by Movers, EXCHANGE Choreography Festival, and the Chicago Underground Film Festival, among others. In 2015, she became certified as an AmSAT Alexander Technique teacher. She has an MFA in Film, Video, Animation & New Genres from UW-Milwaukee.

Edward MorganWriter & Director


Edward Morgan is delighted and honored to collaborate with Danceworks on this exciting production. As a director and playwright he’s worked at regional theatres, Shakespeare festivals and universities across the USA, in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and India. With John Kishline, he co-wrote A RISING WIND (produced at J.M. Kohler Arts Center and taped for MPTV) and UnSILENT NIGHT (produced at Next Act). With Joe Hanreddy he co-authored Milwaukee Rep’s previous A CHRISTMAS CAROL, a version that’s been produced in Tennessee, Nevada, Indiana and Texas. Mr. Morgan’s other plays and adaptations have been seen in California, New York, Washington DC, Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee and Utah, and on all of the stages at Milwaukee Rep. His newest play, THE PAMPHLET is slated for productions (in translation) in Bulgaria and the Dominican Republic. As a director, locally, he’s staged some 50 productions, many at Milwaukee Rep, many with John McGivern and many at Next Act where he recently directed OUTSIDE MULLINGAR. He’s a past winner of the Drama League of NY Director’s Project and he and his work have been honored with Helen Hayes Awards and nominations, IRNE nominations and several writing commissions. As a Guest Artist and teacher, he’s worked at a score of universities in this country and abroad. He’s also periodically been a Casting Partner for Cirque du Soleil, recruiting physical actors and clowns. Next year, Mr. Morgan will go to Bulgaria as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching, directing, and writing.

Corbin PutzLight Board, Sound & Film Operation


Corbin Putz is finishing his degree in Theatre Production at UW-Milwaukee, and has done work on a wide variety of shows, from Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Springdances at UWM to The Taming of the Shrew with Voices Found Repertory. He is overjoyed to be working with Danceworks for the first time as he approaches the end of his college career, and is excited to work with a new crowd of talented individuals.



Elisabeth RoskopfDanceworks Performance Company Member


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 UW-Eau Claire in 2011. She is a company member with Li Chiao-Ping Dance and Danceworks Performance Company as well as a guest artist with Wild Space Dance Company, Marlene Skog Dance, and an alumna of Catey Ott Dance Collective. 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. Since 2015, Elisabeth still continues to choreograph and perform her solo works with the Danceworks DanceLAB Get It Out There concert series.

Zach SchorschDanceworks Performance Company Member


Zach Schorsch (BFA Dance ‘16) is newest member of Danceworks Performance Company. He has appeared with Hyperlocal MKE and has previously danced in the works of Maria Gillespie, Dani Kuepper, Deb Loewen, Joelle Worm and Posy Knight. Zach’s choreographic body of work has been presented in Cooperative Performance Milwaukee’s One Act Festival and the Danceworks DanceLAB Get It Out There concert series. Since being awarded a Danceworks Space Grant this spring, Zach continues to collaborate and create within several different creative mediums.

Kirk ThomsenActor (Thomas/Charles)


For 17 years, actor Kirk Thomsen has worked to build collaborative relationships with many performance companies in Chicago and Milwaukee. He is an artist consultant for the Grand Imagination Theatre on Holton Street as well as a member of the Center Street Community Arts Redevelopment Project. Kirk helped create performance venues and memorable productions with the Alchemist Theatre in Bay View and Studio G at the Grand Avenue Mall for Quasimondo Physical Theatre to name a few. He continues to work with groups finding and building space and is passionate about bringing to life multi-media theatrical productions.

Christal WagnerDanceworks Performance Company Member


Christal Wagner has been with Danceworks Performance Company since 2007. She is a graduate of UW-Milwaukee with her BFA in Dance. Christal is a founding member of the collaborative trio Cadance Collective performing their original works since 2012. She has formally danced with Your Mother Dances and Gina Laurenzi Dance Project. She has been a featured performer with Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Present Music and Dawn Springer Dance Projects. She choreographs Musical Theatre throughout the Milwaukee area at Divine Savior Holy Angels, Shorewood High School, Nicolet High School and Skylight Music Theatre.

Andrew ZanoniDanceworks Performance Company Member


Andrew Zanoni is thrilled to be back at it again! After a temporary hiatus from dance, he is more than excited to get back to performing with the wonderful group of artists who make up Danceworks Performance Company. Andrew graduated with a BFA in Dance from UW-Milwaukee in 2010 then moved to NYC where he spent two years dancing with David Parker and The Bang Group. After returning home in 2013 he performed with Danceworks Performance Company for two seasons and now comes back to them once again. Tons of love to my amazing family for always supporting me.


Learn More About Against the Grain:


See Dani Kuepper interview Edward Morgan in our latest video blog here.


Read Shepherd Express’ preview of Against the Grain here.





Danceworks Performance Company 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.

John Kishline, Deborah Clifton and Edward Morgan are Theatre MXT, an informal trio who periodically create plays. Their first project was A RISING WIND, The Lady Elgin Story, written by Kishline and Morgan with support from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, Milwaukee Irish Fest and Pier Wisconsin. A RISING WIND was performed at the J. M. Kohler Arts Center and Best Place Tavern. It was taped and broadcast by Milwaukee Public TV and published in The Irish American Post. Theatre MXT’s next project was an update of Kishline’s play, SUCCESS, which toured 6 cities in India with support from the U.S. State Department and the Hindi MetroPlus Theatre Festival. SUCCESS was also later presented at Next Act Theatre. Theatre MXT is thrilled to collaborate with Danceworks on this exciting new production.

Questions? Call the Danceworks Box Office at 414.277.8480 ext. 6007 or visit our FAQ.