Robert E. Cleary (Cleary) joined his partner, Lisa Thurrell, as a co-artistic director of Kanopy Dance in 1995.Cleary has toured, performed, choreographed, and taught throughout the United States and Denmark. Mr. Cleary received his Bachelor of Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography and a Bachelor of Arts in History, 19th Century Europe, from the University of Minnesota. He trained intensively at American Ballet Theatre and with Susan Klein in Klein Release Technique in New York. Influenced by ballet, modernists as well as post- modernists, Cleary is in constant exploration of relevant dance expression. An exceptional movement artist, the medium of physical theater suits him like a second skin.
Critics hail Cleary as “fiery and riveting, inspired, wicked dancing…astonishing…”. As a choreographer, his work has been widely praised as “classic, gut centered 20th century modern dance”, and “riotously pleasurable, intense, richly satisfying”. Cleary’s choreography has been featured by numerous presenters including at several Arhus and Copenhagen Dance Festivals and in Chicago at the Ruth Page Center. His most recent commission was for the choreographic work, This is Not America, performed in March 2019, by the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble in New York City.
He was soloist in Nini Theilade’s Ballet Schubert, created originally for Massine’s Ballet Russe (1997) Copenhagen, Denmark. He annually performs as guest soloist for Ballet Minnesota in Nutcracker (1994 to date), as well as High Brahmin in La Bayadere (2008), and most notably, the lead role created on him for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (2008, 2018).
Cleary has served on the guest faculty in dance at Idrætshøjskole, Oure, Denmark (1997); Illinois State University, Normal, IL; Mankato Ballet, Ballet Minnesota, Southwest Texas State, Texas (1998), among others.
Lisa Thurrell, co-artistic director, Kanopy Dance Company since 1995, trained and danced with Martha Graham Dance Company from 1987-1995. Honored to be among those who reconstructed some of Martha’s early works, she performed in Graham’s NYC City Center Gala Season, and at the Spoleto Festival Italy and USA from 1991-1994.
Embracing modern founders’ philosophies, Thurrell’s choreography has been described by critics as “…a Hieronymus Bosch painting, spilling onto the floor of the theater . . . stresses fragility of the human body and self-reflection.” As a performer, critics call her “…pure power and vulnerability at once”.
Her choreographic works have been presented in New York City at Jazz at Lincoln Center (2013-2016), Next@Graham (2018), NUVU Festival (2018), and Modern Rebels (2018). Thurrell choreographed for Kanopy as part of the Lamentation Variations Project, and the Martha Graham Center (2013). Her commissions for the opera include Madison Opera’s Florencia en el Amazonas (2018), Seven Deadly Sins (2023), as well as Wozzeck (2019) and Bluebeard’s Castle (2023), the latter two presented at the Des Moines Metro Opera international summer festival.
Thurrell holds a certificate Professional Trainee Program (3yr), Martha Graham Dance Company, NYC, and an MFA-Dance & Asian Theater from University of Wisconsin-Madison (1987).
She has served as Chair of Dance at Idrætshøjskole, Oure, Denmark (1997), faculty at University of Nebraska Lincoln, NE (1991, 1994), among others. In addition, Thurrell regularly teaches as at The Martha Graham School in NYC.
Luis Gabriel Zaragoza was born in Mexico City. He received his BFA, Cum Laude, from the National School of Dance of Mexico (NSDM). He also has a BA in Philosophy, an MFA in Dance Education, and has specialized in Dance Philosophy. He has studied with Anna Sokolow, Jeff Duncan, Tim Wengerd, Jim May, and Betty Jones, among others, and attended the Merce Cunningham Studio as a scholarship student. Gabriel was a teacher at the NSDM for eight years. He received the award of Best Dancer of the Year in 1990, and Best Choreographed Solo (for Nijinsky, El Ojo de Dios) in 1999 from Asociación Danza Mexicana.
In 1991, La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico granted him the Artistic Creative Award. As a choreographer he has created over 64 works, which have been performed worldwide. He was a member of the Martha Graham Ensemble and has danced with several companies in France and Mexico. He was a member of Anna Sokolow’s Players’ Project for four years and a member of the Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble since its founding. Gabriel teaches company class and assists with rehearsals.
He then joined Les Ballets Grandiva where he continued to establish his place as an important contributor to male comedy ballet. While at Grandiva he worked with Cameron Basden from Joffrey Ballet and Peter Anastos. He also danced with Rochester City Ballet and guested with New York Theatre Ballet. Brian served as rehearsal assistant for Les Ballets Trockadero, ballet master for Rochester City Ballet, and Man Dance Company, and associate artistic director for Springfield Ballet.
Brian’s teaching credits include Draper Center for Dance Education, Rochester Association of Performing Arts, Springfield Ballet, and Madison Ballet. He conducted master classes at Live, Shinjuku-mura in Tokyo, and Dance Space in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and lectured on ballet history at the Singapore National Theatre in Singapore and the National Theatre and Concert Hall in Taipei, Taiwan.
Anne Marie Loesch grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. There her first job was as an assistant at the local dance studio. Ever since, Anne Marie has been teaching and sharing her love for dance. She began studying Humphrey-Weidman’s modern dance technique under Mary Ann Mee, dancer, and demonstrator for Charles Weidman.
Katharyn Horne provided her with a solid ballet background in Cecchetti. It was under these two talented women that she began her professional dance career with Dance Central, Kinetyx Dance Ensemble, and Moving Poets Theatre of Dance. Since settling in Chicago, she has performed with MOMENTA, Joel Hall Dancers, Paul Sanasardo, Zephyr Dance, and various independent artists. Ms. Loesch has served as the Ballet Mistress for the Joel Hall Second Company and Noumenon Dance Ensemble. It is with great joy that Anne Marie teaches on the faculty of Kanopy Dance.
Samantha Geracht, artistic director of Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble, was a member of Anna Sokolow’s Players’ Project for eleven years, and when the name changed, became a founding member of Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble (2004). As a Sokolow authority, Ms. Geracht reconstructs Sokolow works on students and professional companies as well as teaching Sokolow technique classes. Recently she reconstructed Ms. Sokolow’s Ride the Culture Loop on the Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble, a suite from Rooms at Franklin and Marshall College and The Unanswered Question on the students studying in the Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble classes.
Ms. Geracht danced extensively with Deborah Carr, Theatre Dance Ensemble, performing the works of Charles Weidman, Doris Humphrey, and Ms. Carr. She has performed with Jim May, Gail Corbin, Richard Biles, Claudia Gitelman, David Parker and The Bang Group, Rae Ballard’s Thoughts in Motion; and performs and presents her own choreography. Ms. Geracht holds a BS in dance from the University of Wisconsin. After graduating from UW, she studied extensively at the Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab in New York City. Over the course of her 25-year career she has continuously trained under Betty Jones, Fritz Luden, and her mentor Jim May. Anna Sokolow (1910-2000) began her career as a dancer with Martha Graham.
Maya Finman-Palmer, Alvin Ailey Dance Center NYC, Kanopy2 alum, studied at Kanopy Academy of Dance from age 6-19. During her years of intense training at Kanopy, studying under its artistic directors and faculty, she also studied under Kanopy’s guest artists: Martin Lofsnes, Sandra Kaufmann, Donlin Foreman, Pascal Rioult, Miki Orihara, Samantha Geracht, Virginie Mécène, Kevin Predmore and Lone Kjaer Larsen.
At Kanopy she was also fortunate to study under guest physical theater artists Amit Lahav, Gecko Theatre, UK, and Steve Wasson and Corinne Soum, Theatre de l’Ange Fou. At Martha Graham Center in NYC she studied with Steve Rooks. She graduated from the Advanced 3-year Professional Program at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. At Alvin Ailey School she has trained under Amy Hall, Bradly Shelver, Matthew Rushing, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Judine Somerville, and others. She is currently a dance company member of Ailey II, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, NYC.
Georgia Corner is a dancer and teacher with over twenty years of experience performing, teaching, and producing dance. She performed for five years with the Erik Hawkins Dance Company; for two years with Douglas Dunn and Dancers, and New York based companies of Lise Brenner, Kriota Willberg, and Karen Bernard. She also performed with Ballet Harren and performed domestically and internationally for eight years with Ballet Mink Colbert.
In 1998, she founded and went on to co-direct and dance in The Wellspring Project, a repertory company based in the Hawkins technique. Over six years, Wellspring commissioned and premiered over a dozen new dances, produced five New York seasons, performed throughout New England, and appeared in Toronto and Montreal.
Wellspring produced the Erik Hawkins Legacy Forum in conjunction with Hunter College, which drew teacher and students from across the country and abroad. While in New York, Corner taught modern technique at the Erik Hawkins School of Dance and at the 92nd Street Y, both cradles of modern dance. She has been a guest artist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and has taught workshops and master classes for groups of every age and experience level.
Meenakshi Ganesanis the founder & artistic director of Kalaanjali Dance Company in Madison, WI & San Jose, CA. She was conferred the prestigious title of Nritya Mayuri by the Ministry of Education of India and has performed at notable events such as the Cleveland Aradhana Festival. Ganesan has trained more than 100 students around the globe and has conducted 35 Arangetrams (student graduation recitals) under Kalaanjali. She was awarded a grant as a Master Artist by the Wisconsin Arts Board and is honored to serve as a WAB panelist 2022 to help preserve and support the community of artists.
Edward Salas began dancing at the age of 19 while earning his AA in Theater Arts at Mt. San Antonio College. Once he transferred to California State University, Fullerton (B.A. Dance 2018), Edward let go of his musical theatre journey to embrace concert dance fully. He trained in classical ballet and modern techniques such as Horton, Graham, and Limón under Muriel Joyce, Alvin Rangel-Alvarado, Lisa D. Long, and Debra Noble. While at university, he worked with guest artists such as Mike Esperanza, Bryn Cohn, Daniel Jaber, and Colin Connor as a member of CSUF’s Dance Repertory Company. Since graduating, Edward has guested for Contemporary West Dance Theatre, Grayscale, L2 Dance Theatre, and ViHu Dance. He has also worked as a company member with Re: borN Dance Interactive and FUSE Dance Company in Orange County. He holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do which has greatly influenced his physical development and movement style.
Tadej Brdnik, guest faculty is a program director, educator, regisseur, curator, choreographer, and former Principal Dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company. He began his career in Slovenia and has danced with Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, Robert Wilson, Battery Dance Company, and in works by Maurice Béjart, Nacho Duato, Lucinda Childs, Yvonne Rainer, Susan Stroman, Anne Bogart, Doug Varone, Andonis Foniadakis, Larry Keigwin, among others.
He appeared in the feature film “Noah.” Tadej choreographed works on Battery Dance Company, Graham 2, Teens@Graham, and Milwaukee Dance Theater, among others as well as for Slovenian National TV. He was Assisting Choreographer to Susan McClain’s “Ardent Song (Redux)” and Luca Veggetti’s “The Tempest Songbook,” both for the Martha Graham Dance Company.
Tadej teaches internationally, at the Graham School and for “Dancing to Connect.” He is currently a full-time modern faculty at the LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, and a regisseur for the Martha Graham Dance Company. Formerly he held positions such as Education Director for the Downtown Dance Festival and Programs Director for the Martha Graham Dance Company. He is a recipient of The Benetton Dance Award and the Eugene Loring Award and is a BAM/DeVos Institute Performer in Transition Fellow.
Miki Orihara is best known for her work as a principal dancer in the Martha Graham Dance Company, which she joined in 1987 and earned a Bessie Award in 2010. She has performed on Broadway and with Elisa Monte, Martha Clarke, SITI Company, PierGroupDance, Lotuslotus. Her solo concert series, “ Resonance” has been enthusiastically received by audiences and critics around the world. “Resonance” traces the lineage of some of today’s most imaginative dance makers through earlier innovators like Martha Clarke, Lar Luvobitch and back to the masterworks of Martha Graham and José Limón. In Resonance II, Orihara premiered Shirabyoshi as part of a CUNY Dance Initiative 2016-17 residency at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (LPAC). She premiered “Resonance III” in May 2019 at LPAC, focusing on works of American and Japanese modern dance pioneers. This production received Japan Foundation’s Tour Grant 2018/2019.
In 2019, in addition to her own concert series, she started to work in Berlin with DanceOn Project. Orihara has presented her choreography in New York, Amsterdam and Tokyo/Nagoya. She is a sought after teacher and coach, working with the Kirov Ballet, Nakamura/Shuto Project(Japan), Japan’s New National Theater Ballet School, The Ailey School, New York University, The Hartt School, L’ete de la Danse(Paris) , Henny Jurien Studio (Amsterdam) and is Dance Director for Mishmash＊Miki Orihara. Orihara was featured in the Inaugural performance of “Peace is…” at the United Nations as a part of the Permanent Mission of Japan in April 2017. Orihara is the Dance Director for Martha Graham Dance Technique Level 1 DVD, documenting Graham technique with Dance Spotlight and Martha Graham Centre.
Sandra Kaufmann serves as the founding director of the Dance program at Loyola University Chicago with extensive experience as a dancer, director and educator. Sandra toured widely as a member of the renowned Martha Graham Dance Company, served on the faculty of the Martha Graham School an as Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Ensemble. She also danced with celebrated choreographers, Pearl Lang and Richard Move. With MOMENTA and Silo Chamber Dancers, Sandra danced many works by influential choreographers Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman.A prolific choreographer, Ms. Kaufmann has created work for concert dance, musical theatre productions, aerial dance, opera, protest dances, video and site-specific works. Her choreography has been honored with awards from Dance Magazine Foundation, Tidmarsh Arts Foundation, The American College Dance Festival, Bossak/Heilbrun Foundation and The National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts..Sandra’s activism through dance culminated in an invitation from the Library of Congress in Washington DC to curate and perform a distinctive dance program “The Legacy of the New Dance Group”, a historic group of artists who dedicated themselves to social advocacy through performance. Sandra has served on the faculty of Barnard College, New York University, The Academy of Movement and Music and Loyola University Chicago.