Tennessee Dance Festival
Special Guest Faculty
Rachel Tavernier was born in Haiti where she started dancing at the age of 5. She received her training in Haiti, Germany and the USA, studying many forms of dance. Rachel has been teaching and choreographing since 1978. She was the director of her own dance studio in Haiti before immigrating to the USA.
Rachel holds the title of Master Teacher in Dunham Technique. She has been a demonstrator for Miss Katherine Dunham numerous times, in Haiti, Philadelphia (Temple University), Washington DC (Kennedy Center), East St Louis, New York. She has taught master classes in Dunham Technique in New York, Philadelphia (Philadanco), East St Louis (Dunham Seminar), in Cuba and in France (Paris, Toulouse, Angers). She has also demonstrated for Julie Belafonte, former member of the Dunham Company, in Uruguay.
Meet the faculty
Marsha Barsky has worked nationally and internationally as a teacher, performer and choreographer in contemporary dance practices. At MTSU, she helped establish the Dance Major, and in addition to being the Director of the Dance Program, she teaches courses in modern dance technique, choreography, dance studies, and the Alexander Technique. Marsha serves on the review board for the Journal of Dance Education, the executive board for the Tennessee Association of Dance, and is the founder and Artistic Director of Company Rose Contemporary Dance in Nashville, TN. In 2015, she was the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement in Instructional Technology Award at MTSU, and In 2016, she was named Distinguished Foreign Expert in Dance at Chengdu University, China.
Windship was born in France and raised in the USA. She has a High School Diploma from UNCSA and danced with Kansas City And Pacific Northwest Ballet in her youth. She moved to Europe in 1993, got a Diploma in Dance Studies from the Laban Center in London and moved back to France where she created her company, Itchy Feet. She was the choreographer in residence for the city of Vault en Vélin from 2005-2010 and the choreographer for Lyon’s bi-annual dance parade from 2000-2014. She also taught afro-contemporary dance and worked in a variety of places: universities, prisons, conservatories, middle and high schools.
She has taught, trained and choreographed in West Africa since 2004 when she received a scholarship from UNESCO to create a work on Senegalese dancers. Since then she has returned to West Africa every year to collaborate and learn, primarily in Senegal, Guinea Conakry and Burkina Faso. In 2015, she choreographed for a collaborative work between French and Burkinabé dancers and musicians with the percussionist Sory Diabate.
In the United States since 2016, between teaching, inviting artists from abroad and accompanying students to West Africa, her objectives are to promote African and multicultural art and help foster friendships between people of France, Africa and America through cultural exchanges and artistic works.
At the age of 7, Dorse Brown began his Hip Hop dance career in his hometown of Little Rock, AR. He graduated from the University of Memphis with a Bachelors Degree in Music, a concentration in Recording Technology, and a minor in Dance.
While training, Brown received a Young Artist Talent Scholarship to attend the American Dance Festival and also had the opportunity to appear and compete on the 5th season of the television show, "So You Think You Can Dance". He is so honored to have trained and danced with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company in Dayton, Ohio from 2011- 2015. While in the city of Dayton, he was able to reach the community by leading various hip-hop cyphers; and participated on hip-hop Culture panels.
In January of 2016, he went back to his hip-hop roots with a Royal Caribbean Cruise line contract. The time with Royal Caribbean gave him the chance to train and perform as an Aerialist while being a hip-hop soloist. Traveling to so many different places fulfilling his dreams and passion he gives all of the glory and honor to God and thanks to his wife, family and friends for their continuous support.
Noelia Garcia Carmona
Ms. Garcia was born in 1973 in Barcelona (Spain). She started dancing at the age of 4 and at 17 she earned her degree in Spanish and Flamenco Dance from “Institut del Teatre i Dansa”. She was a founding member of Increpacion Danza, a Spanish Dance company that pioneered the fusion of Flamenco and Modern Dance. After 10 years of international touring with Increpacion Danza, she moved to Memphis where she met Katie Smythe, CEO and founder of New Ballet Ensemble & School. Noelia has worked at NBE for the last 14 years where she teaches Ballet and Flamenco classes and is Dance Program Director. Some of the works she has choreographed include Yendo, El Rey de Harlem, Dos, Tiempos blending Flamenco and urban styles in her work. She was featured in New Ballet’s Harlem at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra in May of 2014.
Monica Cooley is a well-known performer, teacher and choreographer of Bharatanatyam, the classical dance of southern India. She is a senior disciple of the renowned dancing couple, Narasimhachari and Vasanthalakshmi of Chennai, India. An American born in Singapore and raised in Indonesia, with an academic background in South Asian Studies and over 30 years of performing and teaching experience in Bharatanatyam, Monica is uniquely suited as an interpreter of Indian culture for Western audiences. She has performed extensively in the United States and India and is known for her clarity of technique and depth of expression. Monica is a skilled teacher of Bharatanatyam who has trained hundreds of students at her institution, Kala Nivedanam, established in Nashville, TN in 1992. The performing wing of Kala Nivedanam offers senior students the opportunity to perform at local cultural events and festivals as well as to tour nationally in Kala Nivedanam dance-drama productions. She was a faculty member of the Vanderbilt Dance Program for 19 years, served as visiting professor for Indian dance at Stephens College in Columbia, MO in 1998 and 2001, and has taught workshops in many cities in the U.S.
Daniel Gwirtzman--producer, director, educator, filmmaker and dancer--celebrates twenty-two years as a New York choreographer and company director. His diverse repertory has earned praise for its humor, musicality, charisma and accessibility. “Mr. Gwirtzman does know that in dance less can be more. And that’s a good thing for any choreographer to know” writes The New York Times. The New Yorker describes him as a choreographer of “high spirits and skill.” For Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company he has created more than one hundred works known for their playful virtuosity. His choreography has been performed at venues throughout the country and abroad and he has been awarded residencies and fellowships from institutions including: The Joyce Theater (NY), The Yard (MA), Djerassi Resident Artists Program (CA), Sfakiotes (Greece), Raumars (Finland), Sacatar (Brazil), Maison Dora Maar (France), and Centro Negra (Spain). Daniel has worked at numerous universities as a professor. He holds degrees from The Universities of Michigan and Wisconsin and danced with Garth Fagan Dance and the Mark Morris Dance Group among other companies. As a dancer he has been described as a willowy John Travolta, sensual, playful, a rag doll, unusually supple, and one who moves like the wind. www.gwirtzmandance.org
Lawrence Jackson is an Assistant Professor of Dance at the University of Alabama. Lawrence received a BFA in Dance from the University of Southern Mississippi and an MFA in Dance from Florida State University.
Professionally, he devoted several years with the internationally acclaimed modern dance company, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble. Additionally, he has performed as a guest artist in a variety of venues; on the concert stage, PBS television programs, dinner theatres, and summer dance intensives. Jackson has choreographed over 75 original works for the concert stage. As an instructor, he has also taught as an Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Wyoming and continues to guest teach and choreograph on various dance companies, universities, academies and summer workshops throughout the U.S. and abroad.
As a scholar, Jackson has published in many scholarly journals in the field of Black Dance. Most recently, he co-edited and published a special edition devoted to Black Dance in the Journal of Pan African Studies. This edition marked the second occurrence in history, where an academic journal edition was committed solely to Black Dance.
Alia Kache (Chattanooga, TN) received her early dance training at Center for Creative Arts and Chattanooga Ballet. A graduate of the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program in 2004, she subsequently joined Ailey II and also performed with Nathan Trice/RITUALS, Creative Outlet, Genesis Dance Company, and CeDeCe (Alcobaça, Portugal).
Ms. Kache has appeared in Laurie Simon’s Music of Regret – Act III, Radio City Christmas Spectacular 75th Anniversary DVD, and Cordoniu Navidad 2007 (Barcelona, Spain). She was a featured dancer in Big League Theatrical’s Aida, and also performed with Disney’s The Lion King (Gazelle Tour).
Co-founder of Renegade Performance Group, Ms. Kache has choreographed for contestants of the Miss Tennessee and Miss Georgia pageants (Miss America Organization), Broadway Cares, The Helping Hands Campaign, Cister Musica (Alcobaça, Portugal), Associação de Dança de Leiria (Leiria, Portugal), and students of The Ailey School. She was also rehearsal director for Ailey II, under the artistic direction of Troy Powell.
Nicole Koenig danced professionally with Nashville Ballet for over a decade, performing numerous soloist and principle roles in ballets by Balanchine, Petipas, Choo-San Goh, Lynne Taylor-Corbett and original roles by Paul Vasterling. During that time, she worked with world-renowned teachers and choreographers, including Edward Myers, Janek Schergan, Benjamin Harkarvy, Victoria Simon, Graham Lustig, Judith Fugate and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux. Prior to joining the School of Nashville Ballet, she served as the director of ballet for a local dance school for eight years, where she strived to give every child a sense of self-discipline and confidence, along with technical and artistic achievement.
Ms. Koenig is a passionate teacher, who emphasizes anatomical correctness, musicality and artistry for the student’s career longevity and artistic success and is also committed to her own personal continued education in the fields of pedagogy. In October of 2007, she completed a 2-year teacher training course and received her Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies from the prestigious Royal Academy of Dance in London. In the summer of 2008, she also attended the world-renowned National Ballet of Canada’s teacher’s seminar. Ms. Koenig has received an Outstanding Teacher award from the Tennessee Governor’s school as well as the Outstanding Dance Educator award from the Tennessee Association of Dance. She has also coached several dancers for the Youth American Grand Prix as well as both the USA and Boston International Ballet Competitions. She has also coached the principal couples in Nashville Ballet’s classical productions.
Erin Kouwe is a dancer, choreographer and educator based in Nashville, TN. Throughout her career, Erin has had the pleasure of working with choreographers like Banning Bouldin, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, Danielle Agami, Yin Yue, Bryan Arias, Joy Davis, Nick Pupillo, Idan Sherabi and others.
From 2015 to 2017, Erin worked as a company member with New Dialect, under the direction of Banning Bouldin. She has also worked with Visceral Dance Chicago, and as an apprentice with Luna Negra Dance Theater, under the direction of Gustavo Ramirez Sansano. In 2011, Erin graduated magna cum laude from Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts with a B.A. in dance. She has trained with other prestigious institutions, including Springboard Danse Montreal, Northwest Dance Project and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.
Erin has taught open classes, master classes, and workshops at pre-professional training programs, professional companies, and studios alike. She teaches all levels of dancers ranging from young children to adults. She is currently a teaching artist at the Nashville Ballet and teaches regularly for New Dialect, as well as at many local studios. Erin travels to teach workshops and choreograph.
Jen Jen Lin
Jen-Jen Lin, artistic director of the Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville (CAAN), holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. In Taiwan, she was artistic director of the internationally-acclaimed Lan-Yang Chinese Folklore Performing Dance Company. She studied Chinese Opera Wu-Gong (dance/prop manipulations) under Shao-Ting Wang, and Chinese folk dance under GuangDai Tsai. In the U.S., she danced with the Chicago-based modern dance company, Jan Erkert & Dancers, taught dance at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, and was an assistant professor of dance at Trinity College in Hartford, CT.
Lin founded CAAN in Dec., 2002. She choreographed CAAN’s evening length dance productions: Our Stories, Moon Goddess, Touching Clouds, MuLan & Poetry, Dragon Tales, and Across the Milky Way. She collaborated with Vanderbilt Blair School of Music, choreographing to Snow Lotus, an original music piece by Chen Qian from Beijing and to Qu Yuan, an original music composed by Shueh-Shuan Liu from Taiwan. Lin also collaborated with Felix Wang, Blair String Quartet’s cellist, Michael Holland, director of Vortex Percussion, and electric violinist Michael Lucarelli. She taught Chinese dance at the Nashville Chinese School, and teaches modern dance at the Vanderbilt University, and is a Teaching Artist at the TN Performing Arts Center. Her interest is to fuse East and West elements to create art - www.ChineseArtsAlliance.org.
Lisa Hall McKee
An advocate for promoting enthusiasm for the arts, Lisa Hall McKee has devoted over 20 years to the development of young artists in ballet, contemporary and modern dance in the East Tennessee region. Founder and director of STUDIO ARTS for dancers in Knoxville, Lisa has trained thousands of dancers with many continuing into the professional performance, choreographic and educational fields of ballet and modern dance throughout the United States. The founder and director of GO! Contemporary Dance Works, a non-profit contemporary ballet company, Lisa has created full length adventurous contemporary ballets on original and historical subject matter that blend ballet, contemporary and aerial dance. Lisa has also developed outreach programs which include dance workshops to inner city youths. A graduate from University of Tennessee within the College of Communications, Lisa’s training is a blend of RAD and Vaganova ballet techniques with modern influences to include Horton, Limon, Cunningham, Counter Technique and Laban. McKee loves to study other genres of dance to include West African, Flamenco and aerial, blending these into her original choreography. Lisa has extensively performed with The New Repertory Dance Company and Oak Ridge Civic Ballet and professionally toured with Sidewalk Dance Theatre in addition to numerous individual projects. Lisa was recognized as the 2017 recipient of TAD’s Outstanding Teacher Award and has accepted a volunteer advisory panel position for the dance department of MTSU.
Jennifer is a native of Syracuse, NY and received her early training at the former Center of Ballet and Dance Arts, with further study at the School of Cleveland Ballet and the School of Richmond Ballet. She was a member of the company in Richmond for two seasons before joining the Eugene Ballet where she danced for ten years. She was known for her work in narrative ballets, including the role of Lucy in Charles Bennett’s Dracula, as well as for creating the leading roles in many of artistic director Toni Pimble’s contemporary works. From 2001–2007, Jennifer was a principal dancer with Nashville Ballet, especially noted for her portrayals in dramatic works such as the Chosen One in Salvatore Aiello’s masterful The Rite of Spring and the title roles in Dennis Spaight’s Scheherazade as well as Paul Vasterling’s Romeo and Juliet and Lizzie. Jennifer is currently an adjunct professor in dance at Middle Tennessee State University, the ballet mistress for the Centennial Youth Ballet at Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation Dance Division, a company teacher for New Dialect, and on the faculty for the Professional Training Division at Nashville Ballet. She is also a certified Pilates instructor working specifically with dancers and injury-referrals at her home studio. Currently pursuing her teaching certification through the National Dance Education Organization, Jennifer is an MFA candidate at Hollins University, 2018. She was the 2005 recipient of the Individual Artist Fellowship in Dance awarded by the Tennessee Arts Commission.
Rachel received her degree from Middle Tennessee State University, performed with the Theatre and Dance department's pre-professional company, and collaborated with Company Rose for an installation at the Frist Center for the Arts. She recently completed a month long artist residency and performed with Wanderlust Dance VC at ZAWP in Bilbao, Spain. Currently she teaches tap and modern techniques at Vanderbilt University. Rachel focuses on various styles of tap dance and how trends in society affect different aspects of the technique.
Amy Morton Vaughn
AMY MORTON VAUGHN was appointed Artistic Director of the Appalachian Ballet Company in 1997. Ms. Morton Vaughn has been active in dance for over thirty years as a talented dancer, teacher, choreographer and director. She serves as the vice president of the Southeastern Regional Ballet Association after serving two years as as President. She also serves on the national board of Regional Dance America.
Ms. Vaughn is owner and director of Van Metre School of Dance, the official school for the Appalachian Ballet and one of the oldest businesses in Blount County. She serves as the chair on the advisory board for The Clayton Center for the Arts in Maryville. As a choreographer, she has created numerous classical and contemporary ballets performed by regional and professional companies. Ms. Vaughn has choreographed many original works for the KSO Clayton Holiday Show and for the Appalachian Ballet Company’s spring concerts, Bluejeans and Ballet and The Nutcracker. She is dedicated to using live music and has had the pleasure of choreographing to works by prominent musicians. In recent years, she has choreographed her own version of Peter and the Wolf, Peter Pan and a full length version of the fairy tale Cinderella. With permission from Dolly Parton, she created a new ballet, Coat of Many Colors. The ballet was presented with live music by Robinella and a choir at the Clayton Center in the Spring of 2012 to celebrate Appalachian Ballet’s 40th anniversary. She performed in Montreal, Canada, in May 2012 with the company as “Chaplin” in her ballet With Chaplin for the National Regional Dance America Festival. May of 2017, RDA held another national festival and her ballet, Down the Mountain,was presented in Phoenix, Arizona . Most recently, Ms. Vaughn was awarded the Margaret Martin Award from the Tennessee Association of Dance.
Meet our Accompanists
Yamil Conga- the name says it all. From his unique approach to playing congas that reminds you of a band playing in a back alley in Old San Juan, to being one ofthe first known Puerto Rican playing country music in Nashville, Tennessee, Yamil Conga is a true trailblazer on the music scene. A native of Puerto Rico and a current resident of Nashville, Yamil has benefitted from a vast array of musical influences. Salsa runs in Yamil’s blood due to his father, singer songwriter, Eladio Jimenez, who wrote and produced for several Latin giants, like Pete El Conde, Willie Colon and the legendary Fania All Stars. Yamil was shaped into the extremely versatile drummer and percussionist he is today by listening to and learning from the salsa greats like La Fania All Stars, Ray Barretto, Tito Puente, and Roberto Roena, along with Gospel bands like Dc Talk, Carman, and Commissioned 7, and acquiring essential drumming fundamentals from jazz instructor Nick Forte, at the Neighborhood school of music and the Education Center for the arts. Yamil Conga toured for six years with the Centricity Music band, Unspoken, and is now the conguero for the Nashville Salsa Machine, Roland Barber, Souvenir, Lalo Davila and Friends, and jazz pianist Tyron Hamilton. Percussionist for The Mr.Moons Band, drummer for worship leader Tod Gnovsky, and thebackup drummer for the country band Reckless He is also the musical director and band leader for singer songwriter Alison Brazil. Yamil Conga continues to follow in the footsteps of his father by bringing a dynamic musical flare to Music City USA, but it is Yamil’s out-of-the-box, emotional, and heartfelt approach to drumming that is contagious. To Yamil, drumming is life line; like our heartbeats—distinct, personal, and constant, yet universal, communal, and forever evolving
Javier Lynch was born in Santiago, Chile. Graduated with a bachelor's degree suma cum laude in music from Universidad de Chile in Santiago in 1990, then continued studies of jazz guitar, composition, orchestration and arrangements with professor Guillermo Rifo until 1995. He also studied Piano improvisation with professor Jean Pierre Karich in Santiago.
In Chile he worked as an arranger in popular music, composer, teacher of music theory at the SCD school of music in Santiago, music transcriber, guitar and piano performer of classical and popular music.
His experience in audio software has enabled him to produce his own music. "Cabalgata", one of his piano pieces was included in a chilean contemporary music album recorded at the Universidad de Chile in 1993.
In 1998 Javier started working as a pianist for the Ballet at Teatro Municipal de Santiago and stayed in that position until 2009.
Javier has worked as a pianist and guitar player, band coach and Piano private teacher in Nashville, Tennessee, and works as a pianist for the Dance Division of Metro Parks in Nashville since 2014.
He worked for the TAD Dance festival last year as an accompanist and this year for the Nashville Ballet summer intensive.