• Robert E. Cleary

    Robert E. Cleary

    Robert E Cleary, Co-Artistic Director Kanopy Dance Company (director, choreographer, teacher, dancer) was company member and soloist for Minnesota Dance Theater, danced for Bebe Miller, Bill T. Jones, Danny Ezralow, Paula Mann, Carolyn Brown, Susan McGuire, Maria Cheng, Wendy Hambidge; and was a Principal Dancer for Ballet Minnesota, among others. In 1995 he took directorship of Kanopy Dance with his partner, Lisa Thurrell. He has toured, performed, choreographed, and taught throughout the U.S. and in Denmark. Influenced by ballet, postmodernists as well as the modernists, he is in constant exploration of relevant dance expression. An extraordinary movement artist, physical theater fits him like a second skin. Critics call him “fiery and riveting, Inspired, wicked dancing, an astonishing performance...” As a choreographer, his work has been called by critics “quirky… oozes nonlinear narrative… classic gut-centered. 20th century modern dance” and “riotously pleasurable… intense, richly satisfying.”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. Some of his mentors include David Voss, Mary Hinkson, Frank Bourman, Loyce Houlton, Bonnie Mathis, Susan McGuire, Maria Cheng, and Tisha Von Burpee, and others. Cleary has been awarded numerous government grants, foundation, private grants and awards for Kanopy.His most recent commissioned choreography, This is Not America, was performed in March 2019 by the Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble in New York City. Mr .Cleary, along with Co-director Ms. Thurrell and Kanopy Dancers will headline the Past to Present Dance Festival in Warsaw Poland August 2019.Examples of his teaching alongside his role at Kanopy include: Faculty in Dance at Idrætshøjskole, Oure, Denmark (1997), guest faculty Illinois State University, Normal, IL (2005.); Mankato Ballet, Ballet Minnesota (1991-2004) Minnesota; guest faculty Southwest Texas State, Texas (1998), among others.Examples of his performance and choreography presented: as co-director of Kanopy Dance in its Seasons from (1995-2004) in Madison WI theaters, and since 2004 as Resident Company of the Overture Center for the Arts in Kanopy’s home theatre in Madison WI (2004-date). His choreography has been presented in Denmark at several Arhus and Copenhagen Dance Festivals (1997). In Chicago at the Ruth Page Center (2010, 2013) and Links Hall (2017). In New York City at Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble’s Season (2019). 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, lead role created on him for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (2008, 2018).
  • Lisa Thurrell

    Lisa Thurrell

    Lisa Thurrell, Co-Artistic Director Kanopy Dance Company (director, choreographer, teacher, dancer) trained and danced with Martha Graham Dance Company 1987-1995. Honored to be among those who reconstructed some of Martha’s early works, she performed Graham’s NYC City Center Gala, Season and the Spoleto national and international Festivals 1991-1994. In 1995 she became co-director of Kanopy Dance with her partner Robert E. Cleary. She has worked extensively, performing, choreographing and teaching in companies, schools, and universities throughout U.S. and Denmark. Embracing modern founders’ philosophies, she has also studied and performed Asian theater and physical theater. Nominated for Bonnie Bird International Choreography Award, her 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.” Thurrell holds postgraduate certificate from Professional Trainee Program, Martha Graham Dance Company, NYC. (3yr full time, technique, repertory, history, composition, pedagogy) She holds an MFA-Dance & Asian Theater from University of Wisconsin-Madison (1987). Mentors include Yuriko, Carol Fried, Denise Vale, Ethel Winter, Peggy Lyman, Pearl Lang, Zena Rommett, Phyllis Lamhut, Sankaran Namboodiri, Hanya Holm and others. Thurrell has been awarded numerous government grants, foundation, private grants and awards for Kanopy.Recently, Ms. Thurrell’s choreography has been presented in curated showcases: [email protected](Martha Graham Dance Company), NUVU Festival(Miki Orihara); and she has performed in Modern Rebels (Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble)in NYC May 2018. She is invited regularly as guest faculty to teach at Martha Graham Dance Center in NYC (9/18,1/19, 8/19); and is choreographer for Wozzeck for the Des Moines Metro Opera Festival July 2019. Ms. Thurrell, along with Co-director Mr. Cleary and Kanopy Dancers will headline the Past to Present Dance Festival in Warsaw Poland August 2019.Examples of her teaching alongside her role at Kanopy include: Chair of Dance at Idrætshøjskole, Oure, Denmark (1997), faculty at Academy of Russian Ballet, Denver, CO (2001-2004); Illinois State University, Normal, IL (2005.); Ballet Minnesota, (1998 - to date); Visiting Professor, University of Nebraska Lincoln, NE (1992,1994), guest teacher University of Wisconsin Madison ( 2004, 2017, 2019), guest faculty at the Martha Graham School (2018 to date), New York City. Examples of her performance and choreography presented: as co-director of Kanopy Dance in its Seasons from (1995-2004) in Madison WI theaters, and since 2004 as Resident Company of the Overture Center for the Arts in Kanopy’s home theatre in Madison WI (2004-date). Her choreography has been presented in New York City at The Field, Dance Space, Laban Center, Goodson Theatre (1989-1994), Jazz at Lincoln Center (2013-2016), [email protected] (2018), NUVU Festival (2018), Modern Rebels (2018). In Chicago at the Ruth Page Center (2010, 2013) and Links Hall (2017). In Minneapolis at Minnesota Dance Festival. (2014, 2016) among others. Special Projects include choreographer for Madison Opera’s Florencia (2018) Madison, WI, and Des Moines Metro Opera’s Wozzeck (2019) Des Moines IA.
  • Luis Gabriel Zaragoza

    Luis Gabriel Zaragoza

    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 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.
  • Brian Norris

    Brian Norris

    Brian Norris received his training at Jefferson Performing Arts in Portland, Oregon, while dancing with their student company – The Jefferson Dancers. At Jefferson he worked with modern choreographers Donald Mckayle and Rachel Lampert. Brian danced with the world famous Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and performed in major cities around the world. While at Trockadero he worked with Meg Harper of The Merce Cunningham Company, Elena Kunikova formally of the Maly Theater Ballet in Leningrad, and Robert LaFosse from New York City Ballet. 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. As Artistic Director he led Les Ballets Grandiva on tours to Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan. He debuted Men On Pointe, an all-male pointe ballet company in New York City, and was co-director and presenter for Mid-Pointe Project. Brian’s teaching credits include being on faculty at Draper Center for Dance Education, Nazareth Academy, Rochester Association of Performing Arts, Springfield Ballet, Ballet U, Madison Ballet, and Central Midwest Ballet Academy. He conducted master classes at Live, Shinjuku-mura in Tokyo, and Dance Space in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the American College Dance Association Conference, and Missouri State University, 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

    Anne Marie Loesch

    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 joins the faculty of Kanopy Dance.
  • Samantha Geracht

    Samantha Geracht

    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 continuously trains under Betty Jones, Fritz Luden and her mentor Jim May. Anna Sokolow (1910-2000) began her career as a dancer with Martha Graham. The work of Ms. Sokolow has had and continues to have a profound effect on the course of contemporary dance throughout the world. Called the “Solzhenitsyn of twentieth-century dance,” she consistently and uncompromisingly reflected the realities of society through her work.
  • Maya Finman Palmer

    Maya Finman Palmer

    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 Mecene, 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 l’ange Fou. At Martha Graham Center in NYC she studied with Steve Rooks. Currently she is in the Advanced 3 year Professional Program at Alvin Ailey Dance Company in New York City. At Alvin Ailey School she has trained under Amy Hall, Bradly Shelver, Matthew Rushing, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Judine Somerville, and others.
  • Georgia Corner

    Georgia Corner

    Georgia 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 throughout Minnesota 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. Corner developed a lecture demonstration about modern dance for Wellspring and grants which were funded by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the Bossak Heilbronn Foundation. In 2002 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. For twelve years she directed the Broome Corner Studio, which offered classes, rehearsal and performance space to the New York dance community. She has been a guest artist at the University of Nebraska-Las Vegas, and has taught workshops and master classes for groups of every age and experience level.
  • Vershawn Sanders-Ward

    Vershawn Sanders-Ward

    Vershawn Sanders-Ward holds a MFA in Dance from New York University and is the first recipient of BFA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago (Gates Millennium Scholar.) She is the Founding Artistic Director and CEO of Red Clay Dance Company and is currently a candidate for Dunham Technique Certification. Sanders-Ward is a 2019 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Awardee, a 2019 Harvard Business School Club of Chicago Scholar, a 2017 Dance/USA Leadership Fellow, a 2013 3Arts awardee, and a 2009 Choreography Award from Harlem Stage NYC. In 2015, 2018 and 2020, NewCity Magazine selected Ward as one of the “Players 50, People Who Really Perform for Chicago”. Her choreography has been presented in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, The Yard at Martha’s Vineyard, and internationally in Toronto, Dakar and Kampala. Vershawn is currently an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University and has received choreographic commissions from Columbia College Chicago, Northwestern University, Knox College, AS220, and the National Theatre in Uganda. As an arts advocate, she is a co-founder of the Creatives of Color Legacy Collective, a board member of the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago ,and was selected to attend the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit for Emerging Global Leaders. Sanders-Ward has had the pleasure of gracing the cover of DEMO, Columbia College Chicago’s Alumni Magazine!
  • Vivian Tomlinson

    Vivian Tomlinson

    Teaching has been a big part of Vivian’s life for over three decades…and he still loves it. He has taught men, women, old and young, beginners and experienced —"even UW football players." While attending the University of Capetown in South Africa, he studied ballet and performed with the University of Capetown Ballet Company (1973-76.) “The highlight of that time was dancing with Margot Fonteyn of the Royal Ballet in Swan Lake. I was so impressed with her because she was very gracious and humble. She sat on the floor with us and chatted like everyone else.” Tomlinson arrived in Madison in 1973 to join Wisconsin Ballet Company. Mr. Tomlinson, a founding member of the Kanopy Dance (1976), danced in the Edinburgh Arts Festival in Scotland with KDC (‘78.) He performed in France and Switzerland. Mr Tomlinson has been teaching for the Madison School of Ballet, the UW Dance Program and the University Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts, Division of Continuing Studies, in Madison and in outreach programs around the state. He has taught, performed and choreographed at the Jewish Community Center in Omaha, NE; at East High School in Madison; at Columbus High School and at Watertown High School. He has worked with the Central Wisconsin Ballet Fdtn in Wausau since 1976. He has presented with Madison Civic Opera and University Opera. He reprised one of his most delightful works Just for Kicks for Kanopy's Generation to Generation concert in 2000. He was awarded the Wisconsin Dance Council 2000 Distinction Award.