Meet the Company
Brian S Allard, has been working as the company technical director and lighting designer for almost three years. His work as a lighting designer has been seen at Rorschach Theatre, Opera Vivente, the Folger Shakespeare Library, The Hegira, Madcap Players, American Opera Theater, Journeymen Theater Ensemble, Catalyst Theater, and others. Brian is also an avid photographer. His work can be seen at www.Allard-Design.com. In his spare time, Brian tries to fatten the dancers with his home baked goodies.
Karen Bernstein, Rehearsal Director, has been performing and teaching in the Washington DC area for the past 30 years. She has performed as a principal dancer with the CityDance Ensemble, Karen & Alvin, Maryland Dance Theater, Jan Van Dyke and Dancers, Perlo/Bloom & Co., and CODA. In 1987, she co-founded/directed “Karen & Alvin”, one of the most accomplished dance partnerships in the Washington, DC area for 14 years, with Alvin Mayes. As Associate Director of CityDance Ensemble in 2001-2005, she was an integral part in the company’s recognition as the “preeminent” dance company and dance education organization in this area. She has taught internationally, including a week of intensive dance workshops in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 2002. In 2006 and 2008, she traveled to India to teach workshops at the renowned Darpana Academy. She has been awarded numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Maryland State Arts Council, Prince George’s Arts Council, and Arts Council of Montgomery County.
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.
Jamal Ari Black is originally from Goldsboro, N.C. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a B.F.A. in Dance Perfromance and Choreography. He was a 2006 recipient of a Stagecraft Apprenticeship from the American Dance Festival. While in N.C. he danced with John Gamble Dance Theater, Cyrus Art Productions, and Jan Van Dyke Dance Group. He currently also dances with EDGEWORKS Dance Theater.
Stacey Yvonne Claytor has studied dance on a professional level for the past ten years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre and dance from James Madison University, and for further professional study, she trained at dance studios in Virginia and New York, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Currently she teaches dance classes at Dance Place in Washington as well as Virginia Ballet Company and Swan Ballet Dance Schools in Fairfax. Stacey includes dance instruction in her continuing outreach efforts at Stone Ridge in Bethesda, The Boys and Girls Club of Silver Spring, and local churches and places of worship.
Davina Etwaroo is a student at the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus, majoring in Economics and minoring in Dance. She has been studying Bharata Natyam for over 12 years and has performed in India, Guyana, Fiji, and US. She hopes to pursue a career in economic development of third-world nations.
Melissa Greco Liu began her dance training at age 4 in Manila, Philippines, and hasn’t stopped since. She earned her BFA in dance from Mason Gross School for the Arts at Rutgers University, New Jersey. In 2001 when she moved to the DC area, she joined CityDance Ensemble, with whom she performed the works of Vladimir Angelov, Adrian Bolton, Dana Tai Soon Burgess, Paul Emerson, Eric Hampton, Ludovic Jolivet, and Doug Varone.
Minakshi Krishnan works as a healthcare consultant in McLean, VA. Her introduction to dance came at an early age and she has pursued her love for Bharata Natyam ever since. She has trained under gurus Gayathri Srinivasan and Aparna Ramaswamy,both in the Kalakshetra style. Minakshi is also passionate about education in India, and is an advocate for environmental and healthcare awareness.
Shailaja Maru was initiated in classical dance at an early age. She feels fortunate for the many teachers across India, Bangladesh and US who have helped her nurture this passion. She completed her training in Bharata Natyam with Prof. CV Chandrasekhar, Jaya Chandrasekhar, and Manjari Rajendra in Chennai. She continues to train with Radha Ganeshan in Maryland and has most recently joined the Dakshina Dance Company.
Natalia Pinzon, is a native of Bogota, Colombia. Over the years she has lived and studied in Brazil, the United Kingdom and Colombia. Her work includes productions as part of Corpus Erigo Contemporary Dance Company (Bogota), Athos Companhia de Danza (Brasilia) and Anti Status Quo (Brasilia). She has received various awards including two second places in the XI and XII Brasilia International Dance Seminars and scholarships from Jacob’s Pillow (2005).
Graham Pitts is absolutely thrilled to be dancing with Dakshina! He trained at Arabesque Studio of Dance and Phoenix Rising Dance in Columbia, MD and UArts in Philadelphia, PA. He is pursuing degrees in Dance and Education. He thanks his family for their support.
Sudha Radhakrishnan started learning BharathaNatyam from Padmasri. Adyar. K. Lakshman and then graduated from the world renowned dance institute, Kalakshetra, in Chennai (India). She has given several solo and group performances in many places over the past 12 years, including India, Thailand and Reunion Islands (France). She has been performing and teaching since she moved to the DC metro area a few years ago.
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 he studied Bharata Natyam with Guru Meena Telikicherla for several years. He continues to train at the Maryland Youth Ballet. Singh has been studying the Cuban/Colombian variations of Salsa and Merengue with Javier Varela and Shawn Malone for over nine years and has been studying Tango with Sharna Fabiano for two years.