Click through the performance groups below to learn more about the talented performing artists of Rhythmworks.
We are eager to present a full season of exciting concerts next year featuring Danceworks Performance MKE and numerous community artists and collaborators! But we can’t do it without you. Please help Danceworks make a strong return to the stage with a donation.
Your gift will help us celebrate the diverse artists in the DanceLAB: Rhythmworks concert, position us for a strong 2022-23 Concert Season, expand our reach into the community and strengthen our offerings for both in-person and virtual classes. Thank you for your support!
As a founding member of Danceworks, Amy Brinkman-Sustache (Artistic Director) has a long history with the organization as a teacher, choreographer, and administrator. In 1998 she became the Studio Director for Danceworks and now serves and the Education Director. As a performer, Amy has an extensive background in both dance and musical theater and has the opportunity to perform throughout Europe, California, Florida and the Mid-West. As an educator, Amy developed a dance curriculum for Pius XI High School Theatre Arts program where she taught and choreographed concert dance and musical theatre from 1992-2000. She has had the privilege to serve on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University, Dance Masters of Wisconsin and Chicago and was the state representative for the International Tap Association for 10 years. When she can, Amy also enjoys guest teaching and working with young dancers from other local studios. Amy founded Danceworks on Tap (DOT) in 2000 and loves nothing more than tapping with the talented ladies of DOT.
Kelly Kotecki-Escorcia is a founding member of Danceworks On Tap. She attended UW-Milwaukee earning a BFA in dance with a K-12 certification. She has been on faculty at Danceworks since 2000 teaching and working in many roles throughout the organization. Currently, Kelly is also starting her 15th year teaching in the MPS school district at Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts sharing her love of dance with young creative minds.
Annette Smedema is a dancer and physical therapist who graduated from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in December 2012 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance/Choreography and graduated with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2018. Currently, she works in inpatient rehab at the Milwaukee VA medical center. She incorporates as much dancing as she can with the veteran’s she works with and (typically) they love it just as much as her! She has been tapping and choreographing with Danceworks On Tap since 2010 and is so happy to be tapping again this summer. In addition to being a tapper, Annette has a modern dance background and has performed with Elizabeth Johnson’s company, Your Mother Dances.
Victoria “Tori” Isaac is a dancer, educator, and creator based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A dancer of 18 years, Tori began cultivating her training under the mentorship of Yesenia Valverde at the Valverde School of Performing Arts in Southern California. Relocating to the Midwest, she then continued under Cait Jones of Transcendance Dance Studios in Oak Park, Illinois before pursuing dance collegiately at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, graduating with her Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Sociology. Tori has performed extensively throughout the West Coast and Midwest and has taught dance and movement education in a variety of settings, including primary schools, youth detention centers, and collegiate institutions. She is currently an outreach teaching artist with Danceworks MKE and a company member of Danceworks on Tap and Panadanza Dance Company. She is also a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Holly Heisdorf joined Danceworks On Tap in 2012. She graduated from the University of Iowa with her BBA in finance and a BA in dance. She is currently working as an Assistant Commercial Lender at the State Bank of Newburg and is also on the teaching faculty at Nancy Diane Studio of Dance.
Kate Krause-Blaha first performed with Danceworks On Tap as a guest artist in the summer of 2016, and officially joined as a company member in 2017. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Journalism (double major) in 2009, and Masters in Library and Information Science in 2015. Kate taught for Danceworks Mad Hot Rhythm (formerly Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap) for 7 years, and now spends her days as the Lead Youth Services Librarian at the New Berlin Public Library where she gets to share her love of dance, movement, and physical literacy to children in a different atmosphere!
Rachel Payden has been a company member of Danceworks On Tap since the spring of 2007. She is currently the Outreach Director at Danceworks and is a member of the studio, summer camp, Danceworks Generations and Danceworks Mad Hot teaching faculty. She graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2006 where she received a BA degree in Theater Arts and a minor in Dance. Rachel is also a proud member of a local all-female a cappella group called the Mil Town Treblemakers who are similar to Danceworks On Tap but make music with their voices instead of their feet!
Nikki Platt has been dancing since the age of two at many of the most prestigious dance studios around the mid-west and east coast. Nikki attended Columbia College Chicago, where she studied musical theater and dance. In 2001, she made her way to NYC under scholarship and attended Broadway Dance Center where she obtained her expertise on the Broadway stage. She had the honor and privilege to work and dance with some of the hottest choreographers in “The Big Apple.” Nikki credits her tap skills to Lane Alexander, Mike Minery, Savion Glover, Michelle Dorrance, the late Gregory Hines and many more! Nikki has also directed and choreographed numerous musical productions with local groups in Milwaukee, Kenosha, Racine, and the Chicago area.
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. She is currently a member of Danceworks On Tap, Danceworks’ resident tap dance company and Danceworks Performance MKE. Gabi also enjoys performing with various Milwaukee-based hip hop crews, including S.A.I.N.T.S, Gabi has had the opportunity to perform at events such as the 2019 Milwaukee Sports Awards and Summerfest. Her choreography has been featured at 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.
Tina Wozniak attended the University of Minnesota Twin Cities where she earned her BFA in dance in 2001. She was the director of the Pius XI High School dance program in Milwaukee from 2002-2010 and the Bradford High School Dance Department in Kenosha, WI from 2010-2019. She is currently the Assistant Principal at Grandview High School in Milwaukee, WI. Tina has been a member of Danceworks On Tap since 2003.
Gina Laurenzi graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a Bachelor of Arts in dance. Before beginning her chapter in Milwaukee, she performed with Giordano II and Inaside Chicago Dance among other Chicago artists. For seven years, Laurenzi owned and operated her own studio, 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. Laurenzi has set work on dancers of the UW-Milwaukee Dance Dept., Water Street Dance Milwaukee, Danceworks Youth Performance Company, Danceworks Performance Company, Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Makaroff Youth Ballet (Appleton, WI) and Milwaukee Ballet summer intensive students. Laurenzi currently guest instructs at several local dance studios and is on faculty at Danceworks where she is also the Studio Manager. Laurenzi is an Associate Lecturer at the UW-Milwaukee and the Artistic Director of the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project. Laurenzi has performed with DPMKE (formerly Danceworks Performance Company) since 2013.
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.
Marija Temo is a widely recognized classical and flamenco guitarist, flamenco vocalist, conductor, and composer. She performs as a soloist with symphony orchestras, in guitar concert series and festivals, and as a flamenco singer/guitar accompanist for dance. Temo is described as “one of the most powerful flamenco artists in North America’ by the Calgary Sun.
In recent years, Marija Temo was a vocal competitor on La Voz US (the Spanish version of the Voice) on NBC Telemundo and had a successful four chair turn for the first round of the competition. She was a judge for The Guitar Foundation of America’s International Guitar Festival and Competition and the musical director, composer, and guitar accompanist for “The Flamenco Nutcracker” directed by Kerensa DeMars. In past years, she was a guest accompanist with the Alberta and Cleveland Ballet Companies.
Kerensa DeMars is a flamenco choreographer, performer and educator. Her work explores the evolution of the ‘Flamenca’ archetype, the diverse roots of flamenco and the poetry at the heart of the form. Kerensa trained in Madrid over ten years with Spain’s foremost flamenco artists. She has performed internationally at venues like the Royal Festival Hall in London, the Tivoli in Barcelona, Madrid’s Teatro Calderón and the Fort Mason Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
Kerensa is the recipient of major choreography commissions from the San Francisco Arts Commission, Theatre Bay Area/Dancer’s Group, the Azahar Dance Foundation and the Teatro Pradillo of Madrid.
Kerensa is the director of Studio K Flamenco, Milwaukee’s home for the Flamenco arts. With programs like the annual Flamenco Nutcracker, the Compás Youth Project and the FlamencoMKE performance series, Studio K is committed to furthering the art of Flamenco in Milwaukee and beyond.
McNamara McCarthy School of Irish Dance is a new Irish dance school in the Milwaukee area. The McNamara McCarthy instructors and choreographers (Michelle McNamara, Anne Blume and Laura Donaldson) have the experience to teach children everything from their first steps to competing at the highest level. Through Irish dance, McNamara McCarthy dancers learn to embrace their true selves, work hard, and lift each other up, allowing them to achieve feats they never thought possible.
Adrean Maxwell, a.k.a. Prince Adrean, is a Sophomore Dance major at Columbia College Chicago and company 2 dancer of Muntu Dance Theatre. At the age of three Prince Adrian started his training in Praise Dance (Liturgical) and at the age of 7 he started his performance training with the Ton Ko-Thi Children’s ensemble. In 2020 he transitioned to the adult company as a member of Ko-Thi Dance Company. In 2021 Prince Adrean graduated as a Double Major from Milwaukee High School of the Arts. He continues his studies in the arts of West African Dance and the diaspora, as well as training in western techniques such as ballet, modern, and contemporary.
Cyenthia Vijayakumar is a Kathak dancer (Indian Classical Dance), performer, choreographer and teacher from Milwaukee. She has undergone her training in Lucknow gharana from Guru Murari Sharan Gupta and Guru Hari and Chetna from Bangalore, India. She is currently undergoing her ISTD training under Guru Sujatha Banerjee from London. She is the artistic director of Aarambh Kathak Dance School, which she founded in 2019 in Milwaukee. She believes that practice is a key to make progress in any kind of Indian Classical art form. be it dance or music. Practice evolves you as a dancer and as an individual helping you move towards the path of perfection and progress. Anything can be achieved if a dancer has the right kind of guidance from a Guru and the right practice techniques. “Never ever give up on whatever you love to do! Good dancers are not born talented. They have been taught and trained and pursued practicing without giving up” is what she believes in.
Paul Westfahl is a Milwaukee based drummer, percussionist and educator. He received a BA in Percussion Performance from the University of Wisconsin Parkside in 2012. As a performer, he has performed all over the city with organizations more notably, The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Skylight Music Theater, Fireside Dinner Theater, First Stage and Milwaukee Children’s Choir. He also maintains a demanding freelance schedule working with a variety of different bands crossing genres from Jazz and Fusion to Neo-Classical to Western Swing and American Roots music. Since 2019, Paul has found himself engaging with the Milwaukee dance scene and works as an accompanist and composer for the UW-Milwaukee dance department, Danceworks and the Young Dance Academy. Paul also teaches privately and is a frequent clinician for Milwaukee area schools through the Arts and Community Education (ACE) program. He currently holds a position as adjunct faculty at the Wisconsin Lutheran College, Ronald Reagan High School and with the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music’s “Connections” program. Since 2015, Paul has dedicated himself to studying tabla and as is a disciple of Pandit Hindole Majumdar under The Hindole Majumdar School of music and Dance Milwaukee and works as a tabla soloist and accompanist for classical Hindustani voice and dance.
Richard Ashworth a Milwaukee based educator, choreographer, and performer whose interest in technical foundation and corresponding social cultures have made him a resource in social and percussive African Diaspora dance communities. Richard attended the University at Buffalo, receiving a BFA in Dance in June 2007. After graduating, Rich performed aboard Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas and upon returning to the States, danced in several crews for live performances and industrials including artists such as Flo Rida and The Goo Goo Dolls. Rich has performed, choreographed, and toured with several internationally celebrated dance companies including Lehrerdance (dir. Jon Lehrer), Chicago Dance Crash (dir. Jessica Deahr), Be The Groove (dir. Stephanie Paul) serving as educational director, and Chicago Tap Theatre (dir. Mark Yonally), where he served as a choreographer and rehearsal director. As an educator Rich has been on the faculty of several dance based organizations including Dance Masters of America, Flow 40 Dance, Beyond the Stars dance convention, and Interdanza of Mexico. Rich has served as a choreographer and lecturer at Hope College, Salve Regina University, and Carthage College. Rich most recently attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, achieving a Masters of Fine Arts in Dance in May 2021. He now lectures at UWM, Carthage College, and is proud to be a member of the Danceworks family.