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.
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.
Maggie Seer received her BFA in Dance from UW-Milwaukee in 2016. She has been a company member with Danceworks Performance MKE since 2017. She has performed with Skylight Music Theatre, Wild Space Dance Company, Hyperlocal MKE, the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project, and other local artists and groups. She has choreographed several times for the Danceworks DanceLAB Get It Out There concert series, and was selected as a presenting choreographer for the 2020 Danceworks’ Emerging Choreographers concert. She choreographs musical theatre productions for numerous high schools in the Milwaukee-area, and sings with Master Singers of Milwaukee. During the day, Maggie works at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra on the Advancement team.
Gina Laurenzi graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a BFA in dance. Before beginning her chapter in Milwaukee, Gina performed with Giordano II and Inaside Chicago Dance among other Chicago artists. For seven years, Ms. Laurenzi owned and operated Laurenzi Dance (Kenosha, WI) where she presented work regularly and mentored many youth artists. Gina has set work on UW-Milwaukee dance majors, Makaroff Youth Ballet, Danceworks Youth Performance Company, Danceworks Performance MKE and Milwaukee Ballet summer intensive students. Gina currently guest teaches for several dance studios, is an Associate Lecturer at UW-Milwaukee and the Artistic Director of the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project. Ms. Laurenzi has performed with Danceworks Performance MKE since 2013 and is excited to return as a full-time member.
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.
Alisha Jihn is a dance artist and licensed dance/movement therapist. She developed her passion for movement and dance at St. Olaf College, the American Dance Festival, and Columbia College Chicago. Alisha was a Fulbright Fellow to Taiwan focusing on cross-cultural dialogue about dance/movement therapy. Beyond her dance and choreographic endeavors, she is deeply passionate about promoting the creative arts—specifically dance, as a modality of healing for all individuals.
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 Katelyn has collaborated with and performed in works of Joe Goode, Daniel Burkholder, Maria Gillespie, Esmé Boyce, Ishmael Huston-Jones, Esther Baker-Tarpaga, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Melanie George, among others. She is a current performance and collaborative artist with Wild Space Dance Company, Danceworks, and Hyperlocal MKE. Katelyn has presented both her solo and collaborative work throughout Milwaukee, at Seattle Festival for Dance Improvisation, American Collage Dance Association(ACDA), Dance Masters of Wisconsin, Bates Dance Festival/Gibney Connect NYC, and Chicago National Association of Dance Masters. During her time at UW-Milwaukee, Altmann received two Undergraduate Research Fellowships immersed in movement research under the mentorship of faculty member, Maria Gillespie.
Angela Weidner began dancing at the age of three and hasn’t stopped since! She is versed in many styles, but she primarily focuses on jazz and tap, with past foci on hip hop and dance team. Angela trained in the Madison, WI area for 15 years, competing at regional and national levels. In 2013, she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Economics from UW-Milwaukee, minoring in Actuarial Science, Math, and Business. She is a proud alumni of the UW-Milwaukee Panther Dance Team, and she professionally danced for both the Milwaukee Brewer’s Diamond Dancers and the Milwaukee Buck’s Dancers. She has been choreographing, teaching, and coaching for numerous Milwaukee based studios and high school dance teams throughout Wisconsin since 2010. In more recent years, Angela has been grateful to be a member of the Danceworks faculty in various capacities: Development and Programs Coordinator, Studio Faculty, Mad Hot Teaching Artist, Performer in the Ignite Hip Hop and Danceworks on Tap showcases, and member of Danceworks Performance MKE since 2019. She especially loves sharing her love and passion for dance, as well as the lessons/values/healing it can instill, throughout the MKE community.
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 second season with Danceworks Performance MKE.
Kaitlyn Moore is a Milwaukee-based dancer, teacher, and choreographer. She graduated from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Spring of 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a minor in Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies. She has a passion for both performance and teaching and is happy to be able to continue both in Milwaukee and surrounding areas. Kaitlyn has had the opportunity to perform with a variety of musical artists such as Bell Biv DeVoe, WebsterX, Riolanza, and more. 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, Caitlin Mahon, and she also had the opportunity to perform in a work presented by Cooperative Performance, choreographed and directed by Emily Elliott. Along with her training at UWM, Kaitlyn has trained with a variety of different companies, programs, and classes throughout Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison. Her passion for dance has allowed her to train in a wide array of styles which allows her to incorporate a variety of different elements and techniques into her dancing and teaching. Whether it is shown through performance or teaching, Kaitlyn enjoys sharing her love for dance with those around her, especially the next generation of artistic students.
Cedar Becher is a trans* non-binary movement based interdisciplinary performance artist and researcher currently stationed in Milwaukee, WI. They grew up studying dance and took their innate passion for movement to the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee where they received a BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance & Choreography and French & Francophone Studies. During this time, Cedar worked with faculty, guest artists, and local choreographers including Daniel Burkholder, Dani Kuepper, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Molly Shanahan, Zach Schorsch, and Wildspace Dance Company. After graduating, Cedar spent time traveling, dancing, and performing around Europe, settling in Berlin where they created and performed with international artists at Lake Studios, pOnderosa, and Festaal Kreuzberg. Currently, Cedar is invested in researching ethics in performance practices as well as expanding their understanding of art and art making through interdisciplinary studies through a project entitled RITUALS that connects artists across the United States.
Chancie Cole was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a unique form of talent starting at the age of 6 years old. Once Chancie enrolled at Milwaukee High School of the Arts where she majored in dance, she discovered her true passion. Throughout Cole’s dance career she has studied many genres of dance including ballet, modern, contemporary, African, salsa, middle eastern belly dance, jazz, lyrical, praise and hip-hop. Always looking to perfect her craft and gain new experiences, she continues to take various classes along with working in the dance community as a freelance artist and professional performance groups all while starting her own production company, Chancie Creates. She also served as a member of a few professional performance groups. Groups such as HYPE Cheer and Dance, Ko-Thi Dance Company, Ocean of Soul, We Are the Drum, Revamped Dance Company, Origins Crew, Panadanza Dance Company, DanceCircus, SuperNova Dance Team, PrideFest Pavilion Dancers, Danceworks Performance MKE and the Bucks 414Crew!
Outside of her involvement with her community performances/projects, she has also been involved in events such as UWM Dancemakers, Drag Shows, Milwaukee High School of the Arts alumni dances, Listen to the Earth: Jessa Delancey video project, Milwaukee PrideFest, Noche De Ladies showcase, HYPE MU fall showcase, Milwaukee Art Museum, Xxarines, African World Festival, Poison D, DollSwagg, Jam 4 Peace, All 4 Kidz, Boys and Girls Club, Walk For Wellness, Voice of the Fatherless Child, Female Take Over showcase, Fresh Coast Basketball Classics, Juneteenth, Animolecules Project, various fashion shows, Family Night Bradford Beach, Madison Expo Center, Milwaukee Apollo Night, Milwaukee’s Got Talent, 617 dance space, Panadanza, Femfest film video showcase, Mommy and Me Expo, Marcus Performing Center for the Arts, Danceworks Ignite: A Hip-Hop Experience, Stargazed Benefit Concert, TBEY’s: A Journey Through Dance and much more. Chancie has been a lead dance instructor and choreographer for TBEY Arts Center for over 13 years, leading the dance department and TBEY’s Dance Team “SuperNova.” She is well known for her huge role as the lead choreographer for TBEY’s Annual Summer Dance Production “A Journey through Dance” since its inception in 2009. With more than 13 years of professional experience as an artist, choreographer and lead dance instructor, Ms. Cole has grown into a versatile performer in all areas of dance. Her experiences has allowed her to work with the youth, mentorship, instruct, choreograph, entertain, produce, perform, work as creative director and team player. Furthermore, dance has molded her into the leader she is today.
Halle Sivertson is a Milwaukee-based dancer and photographer. She graduated from UW-Milwaukee in 2020 with a degree in Contemporary Dance Performance & Choreography and a minor in Art & Design. 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 amazing artists, including Daniel Burkholder, Gina Laurenzi, Emma Draves, and Maria Gillespie. She studied as a UWM Undergraduate Research Fellow under the mentorship of Daniel Burkholder, as well as studied abroad in Brazil in 2019 researching dance and music. She is passionate about developing her own movement voice, as well as capturing that of others through photography.
Courtney Dorzok is a Milwaukee based dancer and teacher. She graduated from UW- Milwaukee with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and a minor in early adolescent studies in the spring of 2020. She is continuing her schooling to receive her Early Education Licenses for ages K3-3rd grade. Courtney has performed in various shows through UWM and Milwaukee’s dance community, such as UWM’s Spring and Winter dances, New Dancemakers, and Get It Out There. She has worked with multiple diverse artists, such as D. Sabela Grimes, Melanie George, Caitlin Mahon, and Bernard Brown allowing her to expand her artistic range. Courtney has supported her passion for dance by taking a variety of classes within the Milwaukee community. Her mission is to continue sharing this passion by integrating more movement into the daily classroom curriculum.
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.
Since forming in 2012, Chicago’s Twin Talk has steadily drifted from the conventions of the saxophone trio. While reedist Dustin Laurenzi, bassist-singer Katie Ernst, and drummer Andrew Green are deeply rooted in jazz tradition, they’ve spent their time on the band stage together making their music more elastic, spontaneous, and open, embracing new inspirations without stifling the improvisational heart of their work. All three musicians are active members in the city’s bustling jazz community, each playing in numerous working bands, but they’ve found a true collective voice as Twin Talk. They’ve used live performances as opportunities to stretch—expanding on composed material and ditching set lists in favor of calling tunes on the fly—but on their new album Weaver they’ve pushed themselves further than ever, using the recording studio as a place for experimentation, letting a new batch of compositions develop and take new shapes. As critic Howard Reich wrote recently in the Chicago Tribune, “These musicians listen keenly to one another, and with a sensitivity that only comes from familiarity and trust.”
Chicago saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi has developed a distinctly personal approach to improvisation and composition that has garnered the attention of the city’s creative music community. Recognized for his “offbeat approach to articulating harmonies and constructing melodies” (NextBop), Laurenzi’s music is inspired and informed by jazz, folk, improvised music, and contemporary classical music. His inventive improvisational sensibilities have made him a sought-after musician in many circles of Chicago’s vibrant music scene.
Laurenzi has been a leader/co-leader of his own projects, Twin Talk, Snaketime, and Natural Language, as well as a member of Matt Ulery’s Loom/Large, the Quentin Coaxum Quintet, and Katie Ernst’s Little Words, among others. He has released several albums featuring his original compositions, including Twin Talk’s 2019 release Weaver (37d03d), praised by PopMatters as “inventive and exhilarating.” Most recently, Laurenzi released Snaketime: The Music of Moondog (Astral Spirits/Feeding Tube Records), featuring an octet of Chicago’s leading improvisers interpreting music by the iconoclastic street musician, poet, and composer.
Laurenzi has toured extensively with Grammy award-winning artist Bon Iver, with performances at Coachella Music Festival, Primavera Sound, and the Hollywood Bowl, among others. He also appears on the band’s critically acclaimed 2016 release 22, A Million.
Laurenzi earned a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in 2011. He has performed/recorded with Jeff Parker, Marquis Hill, Makaya McCraven, Matt Ulery, Russ Johnson, Bon Iver, Japanese Breakfast, and This Is The Kit, and has recently been featured at the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, and the Kennedy Center.
Bassist/vocalist Katie Ernst is described by the Chicago Tribune as “a versatile young bassist who plays in far-flung bands and sings with uncommon delicacy and authenticity.” She is co-leader of the adventurous Chicago-based jazz trio Twin Talk and has received widespread critical acclaim for her Dorothy Parker poetry song cycle Little Words, which premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in 2015.
Some recent notable performances and awards include performing in Mexico City, MX for a Chicago/CDMX Improvised Music Exchange in 2020; multiple performances at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival and Chicago Jazz Festival; performing with MacArthur Fellow and renown pianist/composer Jason Moran at the Chicago Symphony Center and the Kennedy Center; receiving a composing residency at the Ragdale Foundation; representing the USA as bassist and vocalist for the 2018 EuroRadio Jazz Orchestra in Riga, Latvia; and being named a Luminarts Fellow in Jazz in 2013.
Katie is an active sidewoman in the jazz and improvised music communities of Chicago, and travels throughout the US as a guest artist/clinician for young musicians. She is the director of the jazz ensemble at Wheaton College and teaches at Birch Creek Music Academy for the Jazz I summer program.
Katie holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies & Contemporary Media and a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.
Andrew Green is a versatile drummer, percussionist, and music educator, specializing in drum set, classical percussion, and world percussion. His main project is a collaborative indie jazz trio called Twin Talk, with saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi and bassist/vocalist Katie Ernst. Twin Talk were featured performers at the 2014 Chicago Jazz Festival and regularly tour around the US. Andrew’s other projects include orchestral folk group Jonas Friddle & the Majority, grand prizewinner of the 2012 John Lennon Songwriting Award, and samba percussion group Bloco Maximo.
Andrew is an active freelance musician and plays regularly with Jamie Breiwick’s Spirits Quartet, Katie Ernst’s Little Words, and groups led by Paul Dietrich, Dan Meinhardt, Corbin Andrick, Miles Comiskey, and many others. Andrew has performed in the US and around the world, including shows in Europe, Canada, at the Rochester Jazz Festival in New York, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival in Chicago, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Colin Gawronski could not be happier to be back with DPMKE after the brief hiatus of the Pandorica. They have worked extensively with Danceworks, Inc. as well as such local companies as Renaissance Theaterworks, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, UWM Dance, Next Act, PrideFest Milwaukee, Bard and Bourbon, Gina Laurenzi Dance Project, Black Arts Milwaukee and the Bronzeville Arts Ensemble as well as Theatre Lila of Madison. Favorite productions include: Ignite: A Hip Hop Experience, Secrets From the Wide Sky, Black Nativity, King Lear, Jesus Christ Superstar, Stories From a Life, Any Given Monday, Serendipity, In A Black Mood, Gruesome Playground Injuries, Lamps for My Family, and Vagabondare. Give Love Always.
Sam Mullooly is a musician from Milwaukee, WI. He holds a BM degree in Music Composition from Illinois Wesleyan University where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He is currently at the Jacobs School of Music pursuing a MM degree in music theory, where he is also an Associate Instructor in the music theory department. He is a former vocalist in the Milwaukee early music ensemble APERI ANIMAM and was a music editor at Hal Leonard for five years. As a Master’s student, his current research interests concentrate on bridging the gaps in communication and education between today’s academic and popular worlds of music.
As a composer, Mullooly has written a multitude of operatic, choral, chamber, electronic, and singer-songwriter works. His first full-length opera American Spring premiered in Milwaukee in August 2017. His latest EP Songs of Absence was released by the Milwaukee-based label Sickle Moon Recordings in January 2021. He recently completed a Requiem Mass for SATB chorus. Mullooly has a particular interest in writing long-form pieces, be it multi-movement works, concept albums, or ambient soundscapes. You can check out more of his work on his website www.sammullooly.com.
Sam Mullooly provided original composition for DPMKE’s performance of “Fight or Flight”, in Oct/Nov, 2021.
Miranda Levy, the first veteran of both the US Army and Project Runway, grew up in rural Wilton, Wisconsin in an environment where creativity and play were encouraged. Miranda’s work reflects her childhood adventures writing wild west plays with her friends, backyard picnics, vacations spent camping, and whimsical time spent at the fair. Her design is inspired by the nostalgia of childhood and the desire to create the comfort of home for anyone who wears them.
Miranda Levy provided costume design for DPMKE’s performance of “Fight or Flight”, in Oct/Nov, 2021.
Photos by Christal Wagner, Artistic Director
Want to see Danceworks Performance MKE in action? View their current performance season!