Meet the Artists

Photos by Mark Frohna










Christal Wagner – Artistic Director

Christal Wagner is an Undergraduate of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with her BFA in Dance. She is a founding member of the collaborative trio Cadance Collective and has been performing their original works since 2012. She has danced with Danceworks Performance MKE since 2007 and has formally danced with Your Mother Dances and Gina Laurenzi Dance Project. She has been a featured performer with Present Music, Dawn Springer Dance Projects, Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Skylight Music Theatre. She is in her 12th year teaching for the Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom and tap program and has enjoyed teaching for Danceworks’ residencies, Barre fitness and Generations classes.


Christal is sponsored in part by Bob Balderson. 

Melissa Anderson

Melissa Anderson joined the company in 2002 and has previously performed with Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Teatro Municipal de San Juan of Puerto Rico, Southern Ballet Theater (now Orlando Ballet) and Islenski Dansflokkurinn (Icelandic Ballet). Melissa teaches ballet at all levels at Danceworks, as well as at Nancy Dianne Studio and UW-Milwaukee. She frequently choreographs and teaches for dance organizations such as Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, Dance Masters of Wisconsin and Texas Association of Dance Teachers.

Alisha Jihn

Alisha Jihn is a dance artist and licensed dance/movement therapist. She developed her passion for movement at the Milwaukee Ballet School and Academy and studied dance and dance/movement therapy at St. Olaf College, the American Dance Festival, and Columbia College Chicago. Alisha was a 2017-2018 U.S. 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. Alisha is very excited to be dancing in her hometown of Milwaukee after eight years away!


Alisha is sponsored in part by Chiung-Fang Hsu and Karen Wang. 

Kim Johnson

Kim Johnson joined Danceworks Performance MKE in 2000, shortly after graduating from UW-Milwaukee with high honors with a BFA in dance. A native “Yooper,” Kim served as Danceworks Performance Company’s associate artistic director from 2009-2012 before taking on the role of artistic manager of both performance and studio. She has created works for Danceworks Performance Company as well as Milwaukee Ballet II. Kim has helped write curriculum for both Danceworks Studio and Milwaukee Ballet School where she served as faculty,  branch manager and Children’s Division Coordinator. She has enjoyed growing Danceworks’ dance fitness program and other facets including DanceLAB. She is passionate about bringing dance to the community and providing established and emerging artists with performance opportunities. Because of this commitment, in 2017 she began to serve as the Managing Director. Kim is on faculty at Danceworks and at UW-Milwaukee. Kim is also on the MKE Dance Theatre Committee and has served as Secretary on the Wisconsin Dance Council Board since 2016.


Kim is sponsored in part by Bob Balderson and Jon Rockafellow. 

Gina Laurenzi

Gina Laurenzi graduated from the University of WI – Milwaukee (UWM) with a BFA in Dance. Ms. Laurenzi is currently an Associate Lecturer at UWM, Artistic Manager for Danceworks Youth Performance Company, and Artistic Director of the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project. Before beginning her chapter in Milwaukee, Ms. Laurenzi performed with Giordano II and Inaside Chicago Dance. For seven years, Ms. Laurenzi owned and operated Laurenzi Dance (Kenosha, WI). After taking a year off to pursue other interests, Ms. Laurenzi is excited to be back performing with Danceworks Performance MKE as she continues to pursue her 200 hour yoga certification and develop her skills as a certified scuba diver. Photo by Christal Wagner.

Gina is sponsored in part by Mary Lou DeFino. 

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 danced all throughout the community and is a current member of Revamped Dance Company. Along with being one of the newest members to the Danceworks Performance MKE, she will also be performing in the UWM new dance makers show in November.


Nekea is sponsored in part by John Salemi. 

Ivy Robertson

For 15 years, Ivy Robertson has been passionately involved in the art of dance and dance making. Ivy first started their training in post modern and Graham styles under the direction of Lisa Andrea Thurrell and Robert E. Cleary. Ivy also studied classical ballet at Madison Ballet under the direction of w. Earl Smith. Later, from 2010-2014, they danced with Kanopy Dance Company for four seasons. Ivy attended summer dance programs on scholarship at Pacific Northwest Ballet and Alonzo King LINES Ballet. Ivy studied as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee studying contemporary dance and choreography from 2014-2017. After receiving their Cosmetology license from The Institute of beauty and Wellness in 2018, Ivy is honored to be with Danceworks Performance MKE for their first season.


Ivy is sponsored in part by John Salemi and Tim & Sue Frautschi. 

Elisabeth Roskopf

Elisabeth Roskopf graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where she earned her BA in Piano and minor in Dance.  She is a company member with Li Chiao-Ping Dance, Danceworks Performance MKE, and Wild Space Dance Company.  She is currently a guest artist with the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project, and she has had the opportunity of performing with Marlene Skog Dance and 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 formerly of the Milwaukee Ballet.  Since 2013, and still ongoing, she has choreographed and performed her solo works for Danceworks DanceLAB Get It Out There concert series. In addition to performing, she joined the Danceworks studio faculty as a ballet teacher in 2018. Elisabeth is very excited to be performing with DPMKE as well as working under the direction of Dawn Springer this season!


Elisabeth is sponsored in part by Bob Balderson. 

Maggie Seer

Maggie Seer received her BFA in Dance from UW-Milwaukee in 2016. She has performed regularly with Danceworks Performance MKE since 2017 and Wild Space Dance Company since 2016. She performs with Maria Gillespie’s Hyperlocal MKE and the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project. She has choreographed several times for the Danceworks DanceLAB Get It Out There concert series and will present a new work as part of the Danceworks’ Emerging Choreographers Concert in 2020. Maggie also fundraises and teaches for Danceworks, and loves exploring the Milwaukee community.


Maggie is sponsored in part by Jeff McClellan, Lynda & Steve Seer, and Kyle Alcaraz. 

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. Gabi began her dance training at Danceworks at the age of three. She was a member of Danceworks Youth Performance Company from 2011-2013 and is currently a member of Danceworks On Tap, Danceworks’ resident tap dance company and Danceworks Performance MKE. Gabi also enjoys performinging 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 Ballroom and Tap program in addition to other workshops and residency work.


Gabi is sponsored in part by Gregg Sustache & Amy Brinkman and Bob Balderson. 

Katelyn Altmann

Katelyn Altmann is a movement-based artist, collaborator and improviser who is currently based in Milwaukee, WI. She recently graduated magna cum laude with a BFA in Dance Performance & Choreography from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. Katelyn is a current company member with Danceworks Performance MKE and Wild Space Dance Company as well as being an Administrative Intern with Milwaukee Dance Theatre Network. She has worked closely with many artists, including, Esther Baker-Tarpaga, Daniel Burkholder, Maria Gillespie, Mair Culbreth, Esmé Boyce, Simone Ferro, Ishmael Huston-Jones, Kym McDaniel, Melanie George and Holly Johnston (Ledges and Bones). Collaboration with these artists and community members is key within her curation and creative exploration.


Photo by Christal Wagner. 

Katelyn is sponsored in part by Michelle Weber & Jason Wendt. 

Angela Weidner

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, tap, 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 is 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 now a member of DPMKE. She especially loves sharing her love and passion for dance, as well as the lessons/values/healing it can instill, throughout the MKE community.


Angela is sponsored in part by Dawn Kassuke. 

Joshua Yang

Joshua Yang is one of the many bright, young minds in the professional dance world today. Partaking in multiple choreographic endeavors, Joshua seeks to expand his reach. As a teacher, he works hard to spark confidence, passion, and ambition for his student. Joshua has also established the first hip-hop program at the Milwaukee Ballet Academy. He is one of the many leaders in the community and recently established a company called “Origins”. Yang trains continuously from learning new skills from other genres of dance, pursuing a higher education, and embracing the beauty of life, which all culminates to shape Joshua’s artistic mind and unique ambition.


Joshua is sponsored in part by Michelle Weber & Jason Wendt. 

Andrew Zanoni

Andrew Zanoni is a Milwaukee based artist who has performed in Milwaukee, New York, Boston, and Bethlehem, PA. He graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a BFA in Dance in 2010 and has performed on and off with Danceworks ever since. If he’s not sweating it out in the Danceworks studios, you can catch him in the Third Ward slinging food and drinks at The Wicked Hop or biking and rollerblading on the Oak Leaf Trail.  Many thanks to my mom (Cindy) and Dave for supporting me in my dream of paying off my college tuition and their endless support.


Andrew is sponsored in part by Christine Palacios. 


Guest Artists


Dawn Springer, Guest Choreographer

Dawn Springer is a choreographer and writer. She has performed and travelled internationally as a dance artist and invited speaker. Her recent choreographic collaborations with composer Jon Mueller have garnered critical acclaim (“mesmerizing” — Spin Magazine) and were commissioned for consecutive years at the Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival curated by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Aaron Dressner (The National). Her research on dance in American culture has been published by numerous publications and was recently released as a chapter in the Perspectives on American Dance: The New Millennium anthology through the University of Florida Press. She studied on scholarship at the North Carolina School of the Arts, concentrating in high school on Ballet and earning her BFA in Modern Dance. She earned her MFA in Dance through the Hollins University/American Dance Festival partnership under the direction of Donna Faye Burchfield. She has been privileged to work with students in Dance at Universities across the country, and currently serves on faculty in the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Alex Seager, Guest Dancer

Alex Seager has been moving and grooving ever since she took her first dance class at DDH Dance Academy in Wausau, Wisconsin. Currently a third year student at UWM’s Peck School of the Arts, she’s pursuing a BFA in Contemporary Performance and Choreography, and since 2018, has been a member of local repertory company Water Street Dance Milwaukee. Through her career, her love for dance has expanded—from traveling to each coast for Water Street Dance Milwaukee, to studying abroad in Brazil this past summer, to teaching weekly at In Motion Dance Studio in Plymouth—and she can’t be more grateful. She would like to thank her family, friends, and wonderful dance community for the support and love, and would especially like to thank the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project for allowing her to partake in this incredible experience. Enjoy the show!

Colin Gawronski, Lighting Designer

Colin Gawronski could not be happier to be a part of Danceworks Performance Company. 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.


Colin is sponsored in part by Kim Johnson & Jon Rockafellow. 

Allen Russell, Composer/Musician

Allen Russell is a violinist, composer, and educator based in Milwaukee, WI. Specializing in improvisation and collaboration, Allen composes and performs with dancers and movement artists and has worked with Danceworks Inc, Milwaukee Ballet, and UW Milwaukee dance department. Allen appears often playing jazz fiddle with his band Swing Chevron and other groups around Milwaukee and the Midwest. He is a cofounder of the string quartet Tontine Ensemble that focuses on developing and performing works of new music. Allen has earned a B.A in Music and an M.F.A. in String Pedagogy and Performance from UW Milwaukee.



Barry Paul Clark, Double Bassist

Barry Paul Clark (BM 2009, Mannes College of Music – New School University, NYC) – Classically trained bassist, composer, improviser and educator. Section bassist in Festival City Symphony, Kenosha Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Philharmonic and has been a featured artist with Florentine Opera. Teaching staff at West End Conservatory, Hartford Union High School, and Cardinal Stritch University. Co-curator of the monthly improvised performance series Unrehearsed MKE. Member of performance projects Tontine Ensemble, Argopelter, Lady Cannon, adoptahighway, and FieldReport. Film composer for “Seeking Century City” (2017 short, directed by Wes Tank & Adam Carr) and “Plucked” (2019 documentary, directed by Joel Van Haren).


Dana DeBofsky, Violist

Dana DeBofsky grew up in Highland Park, Illinois and received her Bachelors in viola performance from Lawrence University and her Masters in string pedagogy from UW-Milwaukee. She has attended summer intensive programs such as Aspen Music Festival and College Light Opera Company, and currently performs with the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Philharmonic and Dream City Strings.




Patrick Reinholz, Cellist

Photo by Christal Wagner.

Patrick Reinholz (BM 2010, University of Wisconsin – Madison) is a versatile cellist collaborating frequently with other musicians, artists, dancers, and even spoken word artists. He frequently performs a variety of music including classical, new music, jazz, and rock. Improvisation also plays a very large role in Patrick’s music. Notable collaborations include working with famed New York dancer Sally Gross on a minimalist dance film, contributed original music to choreography by Li Chiao-Ping, and performing frequently with the electroacoustic ensemble The Weather Duo. He has premiered chamber music by composers Steven Lewis and Filippo Santoro. Patrick has also played a very active role in the formation and performances of the new music ensemble Downbeat Means Attack and the Jazz/Avant Garde group Lovely Socialite Mrs. Thomas W. Phipps.

Want to see Danceworks Performance Company in action? View their 2019-20 season of performances!