Dance Company : Company Bios
ZUZI! Dance Company:
Previous Dance Company Members
"Many Limbs" Youth Aerial Company
ZUZI! Apprentice Company
|Photo: Larry Hanelin|
Nancy Mellan, ZUZI! Co-Founder, obtained her BFA in dance from Temple University. Before moving to Tucson, Nancy had established her own school and collaborative dance company in the Philadelphia area. She has served as artist in residence in synagogues locally and nationally and teaches Modern Dance at Pima Community College and ZUZI! Dance Lab. Nancy continues to develop her artistry through intensive study with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. Nancy is the proprietor of the Casa Luna Bed and Breakfast in Tucson.
Beth Braun is the former ZUZI! Associate Artistic Director. Beth has been performing professionally and teaching since 1982 in Tucson, throughout Arizona, in New York, California, and internationally. Originally from New York, Beth received her MA Degree in Dance from State University of New York at Brockport and has studied at the Alvin Ailey Contemporary Dance Center. Beth has worked with just about every modern company in Tucson, starting back with Territory Dance Theatre, and while in NY she worked with Randy James Danceworks for their first season. She has taught every age student from 13 month old babies to 60 year old differently-abled adults. Currently Beth directs the dance program at Rincon/University High School. Beside her work with ZUZI!, Beth created and produced her own work with musician/composer/husband, Arthur Miscione. Beth was the 2005 recipient of the Buffalo Exchange Arts Award.
Alison Hart started performing and choreographing for ZUZI! in 2005. She is also the director of the ZUZI! Youth Company. Alison's involvement with dance and performance began at a young age and continues to be her life's focus and work. In 2004 Alison graduated from Arizona State University with a BFA in Dance Education. For 4 years she was the artistic director of the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Dance program, teaching classes and choreographing for children of all ages. Alison has had the privilege of working with many choreographers and companies including Mary Fitzgerald, Jennifer Tsukayama, Brad Garner, David Dorfman, Lisa Race, Yvonne Rainer, Dance Arizona Repertory Theatre, CONDER/dance, and Flam Chen. In 2008 she had the wonderful opporutnity to choreograph and perfrom at the American Dance Festival. From 2005 to 2011 Alison taught dance full time at Utterback Middle School.
Nathan Dryden holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in art from U.C. Irvine and is a Certified Skinner Releasing Teacher. Along with his own choreography, Nathan has danced and performed with John White, Stephanie Skura, ORTS Theatre of Dance, Zenith Dance Collective, and New ARTiculations Dance Company. Nathan has served on the staff at the Florida Dance Festival and with Robert Davidson at the University of Washington where he taught Aerial Dance. Nathan has been teaching, choreographing and performing with ZUZI since its beginnings in 1998.
Lia Greisser began dancing at the age of three. She has studied modern, jazz, aerial, tap, ballet, hip hop, and step. Lia has been dancing with ZUZI! since its beginning, starting in the youth aerial company. Outside of ZUZI! Lia has danced competitively on A Tucson Dance Company’s dance team and has performed with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and the Moscow Ballet
Wendy Joy has an MFA in dance from the University of Arizona and a BA in Dance from Douglas College at Rutgers University. She has extensive training in both classical ballet and modern dance. Wendy was the owner and Artistic Director of dance images by Wendy joy in Ventnor, NJ. Currently, she is a teaching artist with TUSD’s OMA program as well as the director/developer of PROJECT:connect, a dance program linking TUSD and the University of Arizona. Wendy has been teaching, choreographing, and performing with ZUZI since its beginnings!
Felice Angelique Espinoza is a Dancer, among many other things.
Ekida Sarang Laurie is from Korea and grew up in Japan. She's been dancing since she was nine, participating in numerous modern dance competitions. When she was 20, she went to the Netherlands to dance with the NDT Company, and also traveled and danced in Europe. In 2002, she moved to Canada where she taught modern dance at the Canadian School of Ballet. With another winter approaching, she decided to accompany the snowbirds for their seasonal migration and arrived in Tucson in late 2008. She joined ZUZI! in 2010 just over a year after having her second child. Ekida is passionate about motherhood and performing, loves travelling, gardening, cooking and skiing.
Melissa Buckheit is a poet, dancer/Dance teacher, choreographer, English professor, photographer, and massage therapist. She began dancing at the age of 5, studying primarily classical French and Russian Ballet/Pointe, until she became an undergraduate at Brandeis University, and discovered Modern Dance and Martha Graham. Melissa has continued her study of multiple dance/movement modalities, studying Modern Dance, Choreography, Aerial Trapeze, Contact Improvisation, Mind-Body Centering, Dance Therapy, Hakomi, Authentic Movement and Skinner Releasing Technique. She holds a B.A. in Dance/Theatre, English & American Literature/Creative Writing and French from Brandeis University and an M.F.A. in Poetry from Naropa University. Melissa has danced and performed her original choreography in Boston, Boulder and Tucson, as a member of Brandeis Dance Collective in Boston, with Zuzi! Dance Company and through New Articulations Dance Theatre. Recent work includes, Maitri with Karen Reim, Dos Bracos with Maria Villa, when it is night, an island, Fall (repertory by Susan Dibble of Susan Dibble Dance Theatre), and This or That Life, an Aerial solo. She is a recipient of a 2007 Tucson-Pima Arts Council grant in Dance, has served on the TPAC Dance Grant panel for the last couple years, and has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, a Best of the Net Award, and a Best of the Web Award through Sundress Press, for her poetry. Her poems, photography, and other writing have appeared or are forthcoming in nth position, Blue Fifth Review, The Drunken Boat, Taiga, Cutthroat, Pirene's Fountain, Bombay Gin, and Sonora Review, among others. Her first manuscript, On the Back of the Animal Is the Mouth of the Vase, has been a finalist for several prizes and her chapbook, Arc, was published online through The Drunken Boat in 2007. Melissa has taught Creative Writing and Modern Dance at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Writing at The Art Center Design College and currently teaches Literature, Writing and Creative Writing at Pima College and Aerial Trapeze, Creative Movement and Creative Writing at Zuzi. She also founded and curates the Edge Reading Series for Younger and Emerging Writers, through Casa Libre, in Tucson.
ZUZI is delighted to present its Youth Aerial Company - unique to Tucson and begun in 2004 by Nanette Robinson and Emily Willard! This company is currently composed of 8 talented youth ages 9-14, who have made a commitment to working together and performing for the Tucson community. We are honored to work with these beautiful, creative and promising youth.
Through this program ZUZI hopes to provide the challenges necessary for growth as a dancer and an individual –through choreography, performances, and aerial and modern technique classes.
Much of the choreography is the creation of the youth themselves under the current facilitation of Carie Schneider.
Many Limbs Youth Aerial Company Members:
Maddie Brown is 12 and attends St. Michael’s Parish Day School as a seventh grader. When she’s not dancing, she enjoys cycling, drawing, beading, loom knitting, snorkeling in the ocean, playing in the desert and spending time with her family. This is her second season performing with ZUZI! and she is loving every minute of it!
Frieda Muller is in the seventh grade at Miles ELC where she enjoys studying violin and American Sign Language along with her general education courses. She likes spending time with friends and her dog, Roxy. This is her first season in the Many Limbs Youth Company.
Jasmine Romanov is 12 years old and attends Green Fields Country Day School. She has been dancing for 9 years and is the setter for her varsity volleyball team at school. This is her second season with Youth Company.
Annie Radillo bio coming
Erin Sorensen is 13 years old and is in the 8th grade at Paulo Freire Freedom School. She has been dancing at ZUZI for roughly 4 years, and this is her second season in Youth Company. Erin loves Rainbow Lollipops.
Megan Sorensen is 13 and in the 8th grade at Paulo Friere Freedom School. This is her second season with the Youth Company and has been dancing for about four years. In addition to dancing she loves to draw and volunteer her time to help animals.
Leila Wiberg is 12 years old, and is in the 7th grade at Green Fields Country Day School. This will be her second season in the Youth Company. When she’s not dancing, Leila likes to hang out with friends and talk.
Winter Solstice Performance, 2010 Photo by Larry Hanelin.
|Photo: Larry Hanelin|
Skye Aslaksen was in the Youth Company for one year before joining the Apprentice Company. She loves ballet, modern, and is just beginning trapeze. She loves being a part of the ZUZI community and has made some very dear friends. She is excited to begin her first season with the Apprentice Company.
Amanda Boyd was in the Youth Company for 3 years before joining the Apprentice Company. She has been dancing with ZUZI! since she was six years old.
Kelia Gallagher is a junior at CDO. She has been dancing with ZUZI! for 6 years. Her interests include dancing, choreography, assisting with ZUZI summer camp, emceeing at No Frills, and creating other types of visual arts such as painting and drawing.
Amelia Marsh has danced with ZUZI for as long as she can remember and adores it. She is a senior at University High School and spends most of her time doing homework, reading, playing piano, and hanging out with her friends.
Celia Patania is a sophmore at Tucson High School. She loves dancing with ZUZI and playing with her baby brother Frankie. She hopes to become a professional dancer and share her love of dance with the world!
Jordan Ruiz is a senior at Kino School. She has been training in circus arts such as lyra, silks, and trapeze for three years and ballet and modern for two. She plans on getting certified to teach yoga this year and one day become a member of a circus troupe performing as an aerial contortionist!
Ross Sounart is in 8th grade at Orange Grove Middle School. Prior to joining the Apprentice Company he was in the Youth Company for three years. Ross also enjoys singing, acting, and researching expensive electronic items.
Molly Stack is a sophmore at Tucson High Magnet School where she studies modern dance and ballet. She is passionate about modern choreography and its relationship to music and storytelling. She dances with Flor de Liz Junior Ensemble and this is her third season with the ZUZI Apprentice Company.
Galyn Sumida Ross has been dancing at ZUZI since the age of four. She has taken a variety of dance classes including trapeze, ballet and modern at ZUZI, modern and choreography at school, and modern at Arizona Ballet theater. She is a motivated student at University High and besides dancing, enjoys swimming, reading, drawing, and playing the harp.