Meet the Artists

Music Ensembles

Black Cat Ensemble

Black Cat Ensemble‘s mission offers accessible community performances and educational outreach opportunities both in-person and virtually. Founded in 2019, BCE has served hundreds of students and counting in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin community and beyond, offering storybook presentations, Meet the Instrument demonstrations, and traditional chamber performances that engage with each audience. An advocate of supporting the local community, BCE has held yearly “Black Cat Gives Back” fundraiser concerts, raising money for local organizations such as Street Angels of Milwaukee and Hope House Milwaukee. Most recently, BCE worked with the Ludington Area Center for the Arts and the Mason County Eastern band program to provide educational programming and a fundraiser concert to support the Mason County Eastern’s music program. Black Cat Ensemble aims to provide inclusive and representational repertoire selection, working with living composers and emphasizing repertoire by underrepresented composers. Efforts to fulfill these goals include utilizing storybooks focused on cultural diversity and education, as well as performing in non-traditional venues to defy the hierarchical stigma of elitism in classical music.

Microcosm Ensemble

Microcosm Ensemble is a modular chamber ensemble working beyond the confines of standard instrumentation. Core members include Jennifer Rodriguez (flute) and Alec Burke (trumpet). Our mission consists of commissioning works for flute and trumpet, and providing outreach opportunities for communities to experience chamber music performance in a variety of settings. By providing intimate music experiences, Microcosm creates a bridge between our community and the larger Classical Music world.

Cosmo Reed Quintet

The Cosmo Reed Quintet is an all-female ensemble that was formed in Milwaukee, WI at UW-Milwaukee. The group was founded under the guidance of Dr. Nicki Roman who is the Assistant Professor of Saxophone at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts. Our mission as an ensemble is to highlight the works of underrepresented composers and bring greater attention to the reed quintet repertoire. The Cosmo Reed Quintet has most recently performed at the Villa Terrace Decorative Art Museum for their Café Sopra Mare Series. Other notable performances include their performance of Jenni Brandon’s Wildflower Quintet at the International Double Reed Society Conference and serving as the opening act for the sax duo Ogni Suono at the Jan Serr Studio. The group has also premiered 5 new works for the reed quintet written by students in the UWM composition department. Other performances include recitals at Arts @ Large, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Still Waters United Methodist Church.

Tim Rush

Tim Rush has been an active performer, educator, clinician, composer, and recording artist since graduating high school in 1995. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from Northern Illinois University in 1999, and Master of Music from Arizona State University in 2001.


Some of the highlights of his performing career include international performances in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Taiwan, and Jamaica. He has also been a performing artist at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis, IN, and has shared the stage with some of the greatest in the steelpan world, including the Northern Illinois University Steel Band, Cliff Alexis, Al O’Connor, Liam Teague, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, Andy Narell, and David Rudder.


As an educator, Mr. Rush began as a teaching assistant at Arizona State University, teaching percussion and directing the ASU Pan Devils Steel Band. He then served for 13 years on faculty at the nationally recognized Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Door County, WI. Since then, he has taught percussion at public schools and music stores in Wisconsin, including the Waukesha County Conservatory of Music, and was adjunct faculty at Wisconsin Lutheran College. In 2007, he helped start a steel band program at the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, which has grown from 5 instruments and 7 students to 18 instruments and up to 36 students. The MYSO Steel Band also partners with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee to provide yearly steel band camps during the summer.


Tim currently resides in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, performing regularly on steelpan, drumset, and percussion in the Southeastern WI region. He is most active with his marimba/steelpan duo “Caribbean Eclipse”, and enjoys singing and playing drumset with The Big Al Wetzel Band at festivals and weddings. He plays drums with an original jazz-techno fusion band called Alpha Transit, and freelances locally and nationally as a performer, clinician, and guest artist on steelpan, drumset, and percussion. He continues to direct and perform with steel bands for the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, and is grateful every day for the opportunity to share the gift of steelpan with the world.


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. For seven years, Laurenzi owned and operated Laurenzi Dance (Kenosha, WI). In her hometown of Kenosha, Laurenzi presented work regularly and mentored many local artists through the performance groups she founded including; Project Innovate: A Performing Dance Company, Captivate Dance Co. and Momentum Dance Project. 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 in the past has created works for Danceworks Performance MKE (DPMKE), Danceworks Youth Performance Company, 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.

Nekea Leon

Nekea Leon is a Milwaukee based dancer and a native of the city. She began her love of dance at the age of 5 and continued her studies at her middle and high school. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee with her BA in dance in 2018. She has also performed with DanceCircus, Wild Space, and other community dance experiences.



Elisabeth Roskopf

Elisabeth Roskopf is a dancer, performer, choreographer, dance 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 BA 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 (Director and Choreographer) and Christal Wagner (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 & Music Film Festival. In addition to her performing, she is a ballet and contemporary teacher and choreographer in the Greater Milwaukee Area. She is a ballet lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she will be attending to pursue her MFA 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. Recently, she signed on as a model and actress with The Belle Agency in hopes that she can create greater representation for herself and other Asian Americans in the film industry.

Gabi Sustache

Gabi Sustache, a Milwaukee native, is a performer, choreographer, and dance educator. Shen is a recent graduate from UW-Milwaukee and 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, including S.A.I.N.T.S, 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 theatre 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 a skilled visual artist versed in Movement, Choreography, Video and Photography. Upon receiving her BFA in dance from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 2007, she joined Danceworks Performance MKE and has performed in over 40 regular season shows with the company. She is an 8 time Jerry award recipient for her work in Musical Theatre and has choreographed for Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Ballet II, Present music, and Danceworks Performance MKE. 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. Her video work has been presented in collaboration with 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. In 2020, Christal Wagner became the Saint Kate Art Hotel’s FIRST artist in co-residence and their weekly resi-dancer. Christal’s mission is to support and elevate the voices of her community, collaborators, and fellow artists.


Katelyn Altmann

Katelyn Altmann (she/her) is a movement-based artist, choreographer, and improvisor currently residing in Milwaukee, WI. She received her BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts (2019). During this time Altmann performed in works of Joe Goode, Maria Gillespie, Esmé Boyce, Simone Ferro, Daniel Burkholder, Melanie George, Esther Baker-Tarpaga and worked with artists such as Ishmael Huston-Jones, Kathleen Hermesdorf, and Irene Dowd among others. She is a current performance and collaborative artist with Wild Space Dance Company, Hyperlocal MKE, Danceworks, and Li Chiao Ping Dance. Katelyn has presented both her solo and collaborative work throughout Milwaukee, at Seattle Festival for Dance Improvisation, Dance Masters of Wisconsin, Bates Dance Festival/Gibney Connect NYC, Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, MKE Fringe, Danceworks Get it Out There, and her work was selected to be adjudicated at the American College Dance Association’s North Central Conference. During her time at UW-Milwaukee, Altmann received two Undergraduate Research Fellowships immersed in movement research under the mentorship of faculty member, Maria Gillespie. This is Katelyn’s fourth season with Danceworks Performance MKE.

Greta Jenkins

Greta Jenkins is a dance artist, choreographer, teacher, and personal trainer. She is brand new to the Milwaukee area and grew up dancing in northern Kentucky at MJM Studios and the Kentucky Center Governor’s school for the Arts. 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. Also 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 has also performed in Milwaukee, Sheboygan, and Madison as a trainee with Waterstreet Dance MKE. This is Greta’s first season with Danceworks Performance MKE.

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. 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. More recently, Jessica currently performs with Wildspace Company as a Freelance artist and has begun her first 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 like 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.

Cuauhtli Ramirez Castro

Cuauhtli Ramirez Castro is a Mexican performing artist and dancer. He started his training at the University of Guanajuato, having a multidisciplinary approach, combining contemporary dance and acting techniques. He has trained and performed the work of Mexican choreographers such as Juan Caudillo, Sylvia Salomon, Claudia Badillo, and Selene Aguirre, and with theater directors such as David Eudave and Israel Araujo. He has performed at the International Cervantino Festival (2016) with the multidisciplinary play Todo Puede Ser directed by Horacio Almada, as well as the Guanajuato International Film Festival (2015) with the short film Azul directed by Charlie Zamora. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance Performance and Choreography (spring 2021). During his time in Milwaukee he has performed and collaborated in works of Maria Gillespie, Morgan Williams, Emma Draves, Bernard Brown, Caitlin Mahon, Joe Goode, Mair Culbreth, and Amanda Lee.

Ashley Ray Garcia

Ashley Ray Garcia (she/her) is a dancer, choreographer, and performer 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, and Dani Kuepper. 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 and mental health awareness. Her most recent performance/choreography, “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. Garcia enjoys choreographing, performing, and improvisation and looks forward to gaining knowledge through both exploring and experience.

Tessa Ritchey

Tessa Ritchey (she/her) 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. 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, Emergence, JELLO and MKE Fringe. Tessa has had the opportunity to choreograph on Alluvion, a Chicago Dance Company and will be premiering a new evening work on them this coming spring. This is Tessa’s first Season with Danceworks Performance MKE.

Isaac Jerin Robertson

Isaac Jerin Robertson, AKA Ivy, has been passionately involved in the art of dance and dance making for over 15 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. Along with hair and dance, Robertson participates in drag performance at local bars around Milwaukee under the name ‘Ivy Wife’. This is Ivy’s third season with Danceworks Performance MKE.

Halle Sivertson

Halle Sivertson (she/her) is a Milwaukee-based dancer in her second 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 developing her own movement voice and showcasing those of her peers.

Dance Ensembles

Danceworks Performance MKE

Danceworks Performance MKE (DPMKE), is an ensemble of performing artists with dynamically different movement training and experiences that uses its diverse breadth of techniques to strengthen the virtuosity of art making through dance performance. The group maintains a commitment to celebrating the vitality and diversity of the Milwaukee arts community, creating works with curiosity and rigor, heightening the voices and talents of our skilled performers and community members.


Danceworks Performance MKE 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.


Click here to learn more about DPMKE. 

Danceworks Intergenerational Performance Company

Danceworks Intergenerational Performance Company (DIPC), formerly 50+ Performance Workshop, is a company of community dancers with a desire to explore movement and performance. The current group is made up of participants spanning several generations and a shared passion for movement. The ensemble explores dance-making, improvisation and performance concepts led by Studio Manager and DPMKE company member, Gina Laurenzi. Dances are performed in concert collaborations with resident dance companies, Danceworks Performance MKE and Danceworks Youth Performance Company.


Click here to learn more about the artists of DIPC. 

Danceworks Youth Performance Company

Danceworks Youth Performance Company (DYPC) is a company of Milwaukee-area dancers, ages 7-18, including Danceworks Minis and a Junior and Senior Company.


It is the goal of Danceworks Youth Performance Company to provide young artists of Milwaukee and the surrounding areas with quality dance training, new and exciting performance opportunities, and a connection to the larger arts community that ignites a lifelong interest and participation in the arts.


Within Danceworks Youth Performance Company, we strive to nurture and develop the body and spirit through dance technique, fitness, physical discipline and self-expression. Modeled after the professional company, Danceworks Performance MKE (DPMKE), DYPC members train in the art form year-round and participate in a season of dance events and concerts. Participating in DYPC is a great opportunity for young dancers to rehearse and train together, while enjoying unique performance experiences!


Click here to learn more about DYPC. 

Photos by Christal Wagner, Artistic Director

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