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Meet the Company

Staff

Karen Bernstein’s professional dance career spans 40 years and includes performing as principal dancer with six professional dance companies nationally and internationally; directing two dance companies; teaching at numerous universities and private studios; working as a master teaching artist; and presenting workshops at conferences, universities, and art organizations throughout the US and abroad, including Russia and India.  She is presently working as a dance consultant for various art organizations in the Washington, DC area. Through her career she has had the pleasure and honor to work with Twyla Tharp, Murray Louis, May O’Donnell, Hannah Kahn, Ohad Naharin, Rachel Lampert, Phyllis Lamhut, Anna Sokolow, Matthew Diamond, Senta Driver, Pat Catterson, Viola Farber, Mel Wong, Bill Evans, Doug Varone, Jan Van Dyke, and Eric Hampton. In 2010, she received the Dance Metro DC Alan M. Kreigsman Award in recognition for her ongoing artistic and community service.

Harriet Moncure Williams, Rehearsal Director, has been on the faculty at the Maryland Youth Ballet since 1982. Williams received her early training at the Richmond Academy of Ballet and later with Eric Hampton in Washington, DC. She was graduated from the University of Richmond and was a leading dancer with the Virginia Ballet Theatre. She performed with Perlo/Bloom & Company for many seasons. She has taught dance at Randolph-Macon College, George Washington University, Arlington Center for Dance, Dance Place, Richmond Academy of Ballet, Lancaster Ballet, and master classes for Dance Educators of America, Towson State University, and the NW American College Dance Festival. She has created dances for Maryland Youth Ballet, Perlo/Bloom & Company, Southern Virginia Dance Company, Center Dance Ensemble, and Ballet Theater of Lancaster. As the conservator of the choreographic work of the late Eric Hampton, she has staged his work at the Juilliard School, Washington Ballet, Rincones & Company, CityDance Ensemble, The Maryland Youth Ballet, and DanceSmith.

Karen Studd, Movement Analyst, holds a Masters degree in Dance from University of Oregon (1983). She is also a CMA (Certified Movement Analyst), RSMT and RSME (Registered Somatic Movement Therapist and Registered Somatic movement Educator). Karen has taught in the Dance Departments of the University of Oregon, the University of Wisconsin, George Washington University and George Mason, where she is a tenured dance faculty member. She is a teacher of dance technique, experiential anatomy, dance composition and dance appreciation. She is also a choreographer and has set works on both professional and student companies. Karen’s teaching is grounded in the theories of Laban/Bartenieff movement studies and is focused on personal development through the art of movement. For twenty years she has taught in the Laban/Bartenieff Institute for Movement Studies Certification Programs across the United States and in Canada. Internationally, she has taught dance in workshops in Krakow, Poland, the International Summer Dance Festival, in Poznan, Poland and has presented papers and given workshops in Brazil and Bratislava. She has been recently active in the observation of movement of political pundits and has been interviewed by the Washington Post newspaper and on television’s Hard Ball commentary with Chris Mathews.

Todd Mion has been a lighting designer in the Baltimore Washington area for over 25 years. His designs for dance and theatre have been seen in Baltimore, Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and even in Edinburgh, Scotland. In his capacity as Production Manager for Goucher College’s Dance Department Todd has lit pieces for Zippora Karz (NYCB), Tresbien Pollard (Pilobolus) and will be lighting a piece in a few weeks for Susan Jaffe, former principal dancer with the The American Ballet Theatre. Todd is pleased to be working with Dakshina.

Dancers

Heinz Adjakwah, originally from Ghana, he began his dance career taking technique classes in his senior year of high school and upon graduation. He graduated with a dual degree in Dance and Health Administration and Public Policy from University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C during the National College Dance Festival which featured him in a duet choreography that received the Outstanding Student Choreography Award from the American College Dance Association Conference and Dance Magazine. As time progresses, Adjakwah aims to continue gaining dance opportunities both in performance and teaching while using his gift to inspire and change lives.

Miguel Alcantara, is originally from Providence, RI where he began dancing in college at Rhode Island College. He graduated from Rhode Island College with a B.A in Dance Performance and Psychology. Miguel started with dakshina as an intern, but upon completion of his bachelor degrees, he moved to the the DMV area. As an intern, he performed the works of Anna Sokolow, staged by Lorry May. While in school he has had the pleasure of working with artists like, Adrienne Hawkins, Jennifer Archibald, Larry Kegwin, Randy James and David Parker. Miguel Is excited to see how the journey of life lays out being a part of Dakshina.

Valerie Branch, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Maryland College Park with a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance. She has experience touring as a performing and teaching artist both nationally and internationally. Valerie has brought dance into schools throughout South Africa and St. George’s, Grenada and has received an invitation from the Danish Embassy to participate in a Cultural Arts Program Exchange Visit to Denmark. As a Roster Artist with Young Audiences of Maryland, her mission is to bring dance to schools throughout the Maryland area and beyond. Valerie believes in the importance of sharing the performing arts with under-served youth and adults to enhance growth and development within their communities. She has danced with Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company since 2016, and was recently promoted to Managing Director for the company.

Jamal Ari Black is originally from Goldsboro, North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a B.F.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography. He was a 2006 recipient of a Stagecraft Apprenticeship from the American Dance Festival. In North Carolina he performed with John Gamble Dance Theater, Cyrus Art Productions, and Jan Van Dyke Dance Group. Jamal has also danced with Edgeworks Dance Theater, a an male predominantly African-American company. He has danced with Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company since 2009.

Helen Marie Carruthers, has been performing in the D.C. area for many years with companies such as The Washington Ballet, ARKA Ballet, Dancesmith, and Tony Powell/Music&Movement. Ms. Carruthers also ventured into the musical theater world, performing in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the national tour of The Will Roger’s Follies, and locally, Crazy For You and The Producers. She also currently has a massage therapy practice in Ellicott City, MD, and is a Level 2 Franklin Method Instructor. Helen Marie has been a company member of Dakshina since 2013 and was recently named Associate Rehearsal Director to the company.

Helen Marie Carruthers, has been performing in the D.C. area for many years with companies such as The Washington Ballet, ARKA Ballet, Dancesmith, and Tony Powell/Music&Movement. Ms. Carruthers also ventured into the musical theater world, performing in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the national tour of The Will Roger’s Follies, and locally, Crazy For You and The Producers. She also currently has a massage therapy practice in Ellicott City, MD, and is a Level 2 Franklin Method Instructor. Helen Marie has been a company member of Dakshina since 2013 and was recently named Associate Rehearsal Director to the company.

Nicole Daniell is originally from York, Pennsylvania. She started dancing at an early age and credits Nadine Revene as her mentor and guiding light in ballet. Nicole graduated with a BFA in Dance from George Mason University, where she had the honor of performing works by Mark Morris, Karen Reedy, Susan Shields, and Jim Lepore. She performed at the John F. Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in 2017 and has also choreographed two of her own pieces, which both premiered on the Harris Theater stage at GMU. Nicole has furthered her dance studies with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and The Cambrians. She is also an internationally certified yoga instructor. Nicole joined Dakshina in September 2018 and is excited to be dancing with the company!

Julie DeGregorio is originally from Northern Virginia. She graduated summa cum laude from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance and the Excellence in Performance Award. She has lived in New York City and performed with Australian modern dance company, CoreDance Contemporary. She spent two seasons in Houston, TX dancing with Houston METdance, where she performed works by Camille Brown, Kate Skarpetowska, Larry Keigwin, and Joshua Peugh, to name a few. Julie is excited to be back in the D.C. area teaching dance in Herndon, VA and dancing with Dakshina Dance Company.

Rachel Aarthi Prem began dancing Bharata Natyam at the age of 6 with Kalairani Natya Saalai under Guru Rani David. She completed her arangetram, a solo dance debut, in 2007. Rachel won the “Natya Yuva Kalakar” award for her choreography and solo direction of a 2 hour dance drama titled “Sundari,” an adaptation of Cinderella. Rachel graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a Bachelors of Science in Economics and a minor in Spanish Business. During her time in college, Rachel traveled and competed with Moksha, UMD’s premiere Indian classical dance team.

Artistic director Daniel Phoenix Singh attributes his love of dance to Pamela Matthews, a long time friend, teacher, and mentor. Singh holds an MFA in dance and a Graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Maryland, and he studied Bharata Natyam with Guru Meena Telikicherla for several years. Singh has been studying the Cuban/Colombian variations of Salsa and Merengue with Javier Varela and Shawn Malone for over nine years and has studied Tango with Sharna Fabiano for two years. He continues to train at the Maryland Youth Ballet and he considers Karen Bernstein, Harriet Moncure Fellows, and Lorry May his cherished mentors.

Aniruddhan Vasudevan (guest dancer) trained in Bharatanatyam, a south Indian classical dance form, with gurus Kuttalam M. Selvam and Chitra Visweswaran in Tamil Nadu, India. He has performed and choreographed for Dakshina since 2007 and has also been a solo and ensemble performer collaborating with different artists in India and the U.S. Aniruddhan is currently a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin.