Men in Dance Header
The 8th Festival Against the Grain 2010
Donald Byrd
  Donald Byrd Photo



DONALD BYRD became Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle in December 2002. Prior to this, Mr. Byrd was the Artistic Director of DONALD BYRD/THE GROUP, a critically acclaimed and highly regarded contemporary dance company based in New York that toured extensively, both nationally and internationally. Founded in Los Angeles in 1978, the company was based there until Mr. Byrd’s move to New York City in 1983, where it continued to operate until its closure in June 2002.

Prior to the company’s inception, Mr. Byrd studied at Tufts and Yale Universities, The Cambridge School of Ballet, the London School of Contemporary Dance, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, and with Mia Slavenska. He danced with Twyla Tharp, Karole Armitage, and Gus Solomons Jr. among others.

Since 1976, Donald Byrd has created over eighty works for his former company and for Spectrum Dance Theater, as well as for many major modern dance repertory companies including The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco), Cleo Parker Robinson, and Dallas Black Dance Theater; and for classical companies including Pacific Northwest Ballet, Concordanse (Paris), MaggioDanza diFirenze, and Oregon Ballet Theater, to name a few. He is probably best know for his reworking of the Christmas classic, The Nutcracker, into The Harlem Nutcracker, which received critical acclaim and toured nationally for 5 years. Other works of note created for Donald Byrd/The Group include Prodigal (a commentary on George Balanchine’s The Prodigal Son), The Minstrel Show (Bessie winner 1992), Drastic Cuts, Bristle, Life Situations: Daydreams on Giselle, The Beast, and his evening length explorations into jazz music and contemporary dance, JazzTrain and In A Different Light: Duke Ellington. Donald Byrd has also choreographed for numerous stage productions including work at INTIMAN, Seattle Children’s Theater, Center Stage in Baltimore, the New York Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, San Francisco Opera, and New York City Opera, as well as collaborations with the contemporary theater artist Anna Deavere Smith Peter Sellars, and the jazz great Max Roach. Among his most production for Spectrum are Bhangra Fever, A Cruel New World, and Fado, Hip-hop& The Blues an evening of dances to music of the African Diaspora, Living in East Podunk for Koresh Dance Company (Philadelphia) and Longing for The Cincinnati Ballet.

Mr. Byrd has served on the faculty of the California Institute for the Arts and has taught at Wesleyan University, the School of Visual Arts, Harvard Summer Dance Center, California State University Long Beach and the University of California at Santa Cruz, and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Dance Theater Workshop in New York. He was for three years a fellow at The Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at Harvard. He was appointed to the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs (Seattle Arts Commission) in July 2003. Recent projects include choreography to Motown classic hits for The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, a work based on the paintings of Jacob Lawrence for Dayton Contemporary Dance, and the Tony nominated musical, The Color Purple.

Sonia Dawkins
  Steve Casteel Photo



SONIA DAWKINS Choreographer, Artistic Director of Sonia Dawkins (SD) Prism Dance Theatre, established in 1994 in Philadelphia, based in Seattle since 1998. Since it’s founding she has also developed Prism 2 and SD Prism Dance Theatre School, which cultivates all aspects of dance—training, mentorship, and performances for emerging artists in their early career. Dawkins graduated from University of the Arts, Philadelphia and received her Masters Degree in Dance with a focus on Choreography and Kineslogy from the State University of New York, Brockport. Professionally, she has performed with the National Dance Company of Jamaica and with independent choreographers in New York. Since 1999 she has been a faculty member at Pacific Northwest Ballet. She consults, ongoing, with a variety of non-profit organizations, such as Arts Corps, In addition to her own choreographic works, Dawkins has been commissioned to create choreography for , Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nevada Ballet Theater, Seattle Repertory Theatre Company(“BREACH” and “Three Musketeers”) , ARC Dance, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, University of Oklahoma, National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, to name a few. Sonia Dawkins is the recipient of numerous, prestigious awards, grants and scholarships for her choreography and is recognized, internationally, in many publications.

“My work is inspired by a curiosity about the cultural dimensions of dance, and expresses the artistic, social and political dimensions of human experiences. I am committed to developing a distinct choreography that expands the parameters of contemporary dance as most people know it. My choreography focuses on the use of explosive power, rhythm, quickness, the clarity of intention, recognizing one’s own movement, and to maximize the artist training and strengths. I do this by helping dancers recognize and connect with spiritual and aesthetic energies of different cultural dance movements. The outcome is the intense expressions of form and feelings. Thus, our audiences are better able to think, feel, learn, and enjoy the experience along with us.



Louis Gervais
  John Dixon Photo





LOUIS GERVAIS has performed with more than 30 dance companies during his career as a professional dancer, Compagnie Marie Chouinard and the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company among them. As a choreographer, Louis has created two one-man shows of his award winning theatrical solos and a critically acclaimed interactive family show entitled Red Light Rooster! Louis received his MFA in Dance at the University of Washington in Seattle in 2009. He is currently developing and teaching a somatic form based on the chakra system.

Cheryl Johnson
  Brian Joe Photo





CHERYL JOHNSON (dancer, vocalist, drummer, choreographer) has performed Off-Broadway, for TV, music videos, international arts festivals and with touring dance companies. In NYC she performed in original music/dance theatre works at The New City Theatre, The Jerry Ames Tap Dance Company, Gail Conrad's Tap Dance Theatre and in a street performing unicycle act. Based in Seattle since 1986, she has collaborated with Anthony Peters on creations that feature the art of tap dance and live music. She has been awarded choreography grants from the Seattle Arts Commission, WA State Arts Commission, King County Arts Commission and Artist Trust Foundation, choreographed and performed Morton Gould's Tap Dance Concerto, mentors up and coming talent and co-founded the Johnson and Peters Tap Dance Studio. Cheryl has served as a guest lecturer to the University of Washington Dance Program, a dance consultant/instructor to Paul Allen's Experience Music Project, a guest instructor/choreographer at Seattle Children's Theatre and dance instructor at the 5th Avenue Theatre.

ontent 15
Geoffrey Johnson

Geoffrey Johnson Photo




GEOFFREY JOHNSON began his training with modern movement at around the age of fifteen. After taking a long hiatus, he returned to the art of creative movement and graduated with a BFA in dance from Cornish College of the Arts with a focus on choreography in 2008. While there he performed with Seattle choreographers, Gérard Théorêt, Wade Madsen, Courtney Harris, Maureen Whiting, and Deborah Wolf. Since then he has performed in various productions in the Seattle area, most recently performing in the NW New Works Festival in June 2010. He also teaches ballet, jazz and modern dance in the Seattle community. His choreography has been produced by Cornish College of the Arts, BFA concert series and more recently by On the Boards, in the 2009-2010 season of 12 Minutes Max.

Barry Kerollis
  Barry Kerollis Photo



BARRY KEROLLIS is from Downingtown, PA. He has only recently started choreographing through Pacific Northwest Ballet's Choreographer's Showcase. Since 2008, he has choreographed three works for PNB's annual showcase receiving high praise for each piece. Speaking of his The Anxiety Variations, Seattle Dances Blog mentioned that his work "brought us into contemporary ballet territory. [Elements of his work were] poignant... thrilling...architectural looking and momentum building." Barry currently dances with Pacific Northwest Ballet. He has also danced professionally with Houston Ballet and as a guest artist with American Ballet Theatre. He has danced works by many esteemed choreographers, but finds much inspiration in the choreography of William Forsythe and George Balanchine.

Jason Ohlberg
  Jason Ohlberg Photo

Choreographer | Dancer


Originally from Fresno, CA JASON OHLBERG received his formal dance training at the State University of New York at Purchase. Professionally, Jason has danced with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Dance Kaleidoscope, Jan Erkert and dancers, and Wade Madsen and Dancers. In 1997, Jason founded Same Planet Different World Dance Theater in Chicago where he acted as artistic director and head choreographer for four years.

Jason’s choreography has been seen throughout the country and locally on the apprentice company of Spectrum Dance Theater, Men in Dance, Lehua Dance Theater, Cornish Dance Theater, The Seattle Children’s theater, Arc Dance Productions, Dance Fremont! and Bouand Dance Theater in Portland.

Jason has been on faculty at Barat College, Jordan Academy, the school of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the University of Washington, Spectrum Dance Theater, Arc Dance Productions, Dance Fremont and the Y.A.I. program of the Seattle Children’s Theater. Jason is a certified authentic Pilates instructor with Metropolitan Pilates in Seattle. This fall Jason will be a visiting faculty member at Cornish College of the Arts.

Wade Madsen
  Wade Madsen Photo





WADE MADSEN was born and raised in Albuquerque New Mexico where he attended the University of New Mexico. Wade has been in Seattle teaching, performing, and choreographing since 1977. He has toured nationally with the Bill Evans Dance Company (1978-1980) and with Tandy Beal & Company (1981 -1982}. He has performed with Amy O’Neal and Amii Legendre dance groups along with Dayna Hansen, A.C Petersen, and Long Nguyen. Since 1979 Wade has been producing work with his own company, ’Wade Madsen & Dancers’ along with various tours nationally and internationally.

Madsen has received grants and fellowships for choreography from King County and Seattle Arts Commissions, Bossak Heilbron Foundation, and Allied Arts. Madsen has twice been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer Fellowship (1996-98), along with various grants and a choreography fellowship from Artist Trust Wade has created more than one hundred and seventy works of choreography, ranging from shorter dance gems like “The Red Shoes", "Dress", "Flame" and "Unlucky” to several full evening suites including the acclaimed works "Vampire" "Salon" “Dons Party”,” In Search of Dulcinea", "The Waiting Line", and most recently “The Four Elements”.

Madsen's choreography has been commissioned by Spectrum Dance, Arc Dance Company, Dance Gallery, Co-Motion Dance, Rockhopper Dance Company, Third Avenue Dance Company, D-9 Dance Collective, Lehua dance theatre, and Bill Evans Dance Company, His work has been seen at the Seattle Repertory Theater, Act Theater, and Intiman Theater, Seattle Opera along with Cornish College of the Arts, the University of Washington, Riverside Community College, Bellevue Community College, Newcomb College, Cabrillo College, Mt Holyoke College, and University of California/Fresno. Wade is currently a professor of dance at Cornish College of the Arts, where he has been on faculty since 1985. Wade also has been teaching in the Seattle area in various studios since 1977.

Of “The Waiting Line” Mary Murfin Bayley in the Seattle Times wrote “(the work) is a beautifully realized vision of what it means to be human and vulnerable...’The Waiting Line’ is the work of a choreographer in complete control of his art.”

And Gigi Berardi of Dance Magazine offered: “Madsen makes good use of the burgeoning dance talent in Seattle, and showed that his dancers can act ---with tremendous focus...he showed his talent for highlighting the vulnerability of the human character be it embarrassingly inane (Don’s Party) or tragically beautiful (Dulcinea)”

Wade has also performed as the second half of the duo; Vic & Phoenicia in the seventeen-year running cabaret act ‘Phoenicia & Vic. at the Holiday Lounge’. He has also performed in Mary Zimmerman’s ‘The Notebooks of Leonardo de Vinci’ at the Seattle Repertory Theatre and Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, and has a of number film credits along with an appearance on ‘Star search’.


David Lorence Schleiffers
  Jason Ohlberg Photo



DAVID LORENCE SCHLEIFFERS began his dance training at Momentum Music and Dance Academy in Burien, WA under the direction of Stephanie Moss. In 2006, he entered the University of Washington Dance Program and studied with faculty including Hannah C. Wiley, Hengda Li and Jurg Koch. He has been a guest artist with the Chamber Dance Company for three consecutive years, performing choreography by Bill T. Jones, Charles Wiedman, Twyla Tharp, Zvi Gotheiner, Michio Ito and Doug Elkins. He has also been a company member of Seattle-based dance companies, Redd Legg Dance Company and Jerboa Dance. In 2009, he founded Quark Contemporary Dance Theatre. His choreography has been presented at the UW Dance Majors Concert, American College Dance Festival Gala Concert 2009 and 2010, Chop Shop: Bodies of Work 2010, Spotlight on Seattle and Whidbey Island Dance Theatre.

Eva L. Stone
  Anthony Peters Photo



EVA L. STONE (B.F.A., M.A.) received a B.F.A in Performance and Choreography from Arizona State University. Ms. Stone also trained at SUNY Purchase, Harvard University and the Alvin Ailey School in New York. After completing a Master of Arts Degree in Choreography and Choreological Studies from the Laban Centre in London, England, she then formed the Stone Dance Collective, a modern dance company. Ms. Stone came to Seattle in 1995, re-established her company and began an extensive teaching and lecturing career throughout the Puget Sound. Some highlights have included presenting works at On the Boards, Bumbershoot, ArtsEdge and Broadway Performance Hall. Ms. Stone has appeared as a guest teacher at Western Washington University and has been a faculty member of both Washington Academy of Performing Arts and Olympic Ballet School. Ms. Stone is currently a modern dance instructor for the Pacific Northwest Ballet School Summer Program, Spectrum Dance Theater Academy Program and the International School of Classical Ballet for the Professional Division. Ms. Stone has served as faculty and commissioned choreographer for Regional Dance America/Pacific. She has created commissioned works for many local dance companies as well as part of a collaborative effort with Seattle Dance Project on the critically acclaimed Project Orpheus at ACT Theater. Her work has premiered in New York, London, Geneva and St. Petersburg, Russia. A recent work, The Unraveling, debuted at Lincoln Center as part of the New York International Ballet Competition Gala. Ms. Stone also had the extraordinary opportunity to assist Donald Byrd for the Seattle Opera production of Aida. Ms. Stone is the curator and producer of Chop Shop: Bodies of Work, a contemporary dance festival held annually in Bellevue. This highly anticipated event brings the best of the Seattle/Eastside dance communities together for a unique series of performances, lectures and master classes.www.chopshopdance

Christian Swenson
  Stanley Perryman Photo



CHRISTIAN SWENSON has an extensive background in dance, mime, voice and improvisation. He is known for his pioneering work in what he calls "Human Jazz", a global fusion of dance/drama/music for body and voice.

In 1977 he received a BA in Theater from the University of New Hampshire and moved to Seattle to work with the Bill Evans Dance Company. Further training has included work with Tony Montanaro; Diane Schenker; Ruth Zapora; Korean shaman, Hi-ah Park, and with the late Pakistani master-singer, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. He has performed with Bill Irwin, The Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and The Jay Clayton/Jim Knapp Collective and in Europe with Jim Nollman of Interspecies Communication Inc. He presently teaches in the Drama programs at Seattle University and Bellevue Community College.

For the past 25 years he has been performing creations for the body and voice searching for a more global aesthetic. Since 1980 he has been a touring artist visiting communities and schools in the Northwest and beyond. He has performed and taught throughout this country, as well as in Europe, Japan and Nepal. Christian released his first compact disc, “Off-Road Vocals” in 2000.

Christian has received Fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, Washington State Arts Commission and Artist Trust of Washington. He resides happily in Seattle with his wife, Abigail, and two children.

For more information check Christian's website at .

Alia Swersky
  Alia Swersky



ALIA SWERSKY is a movement artist, performer and teacher, engaged deeply in the vital act of dance improvisation. She graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in1998 with a BFA in dance and now teaches at Cornish as an adjunct faculty member since 2005. Committed to training and engaging youth populations as well as college students, she founded The University Preparatory High School dance program, teaching a variety of dance styles, curating a series of guest teaching artists, and choreographing work for middle and high school students. Committed equally to the local professional dance community, Swersky has taught at Velocity’s Strictly Seattle Festival and the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation (SFDI). She is a long time Co-artistic director of Dance Art Group (DAG), a non-profit organization that promotes the practice and appreciation of dance and somatic education in the Seattle area. DAG produces the annual Seattle Festival Dance Improvisation and other events that support innovative research and education in dance/movement. Swersky has taught yoga for over 10 years, on-going at a number of studios, and invites this influence into her dance work and teaching. Other influences include contact improvisation, release/somatic techniques, Aikido, Buddhist meditation, & many pivotal dance partners and teachers.
Since 1998, she danced and toured nationally and internationally as a member of the LeGendre Performance Group. Swersky continues to work in artistic collaboration with Amii LeGendre in teaching and in creating work together. Swersky has collaborated and performed in the works of many Seattle artists some of which include The Mauen Whiting Company, Khambatta Dance Company, Jurg Koch, and she is currently dancing with KT Niehoff of Lingo Dance and with Salt Horse. Alia’s improvisational and choreographic works have been presented at 12 Minutes Max, Choreofest, SFDI, as a part of Crispin Spaeth’s MIXER2, Velocity’s NEXT Festival NW, Cornish College of the Arts and the Northwest New Works Festival.

  Gerard Theoret Photo

Producer | Choreographer


GÉRARD THÉORÊT's professional background includes Dance, Theatre, Musical Theatre, Opera, film and television, and since 2007, Circus. Some of the highlights beyond Men In Dance, follow: His early career took him around the world touring as a Soloist with Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Upon his retirement, he attended and graduated from the Drama Studio - London and returned to Canada to work at the Stratford Festival as a Shakespearian actor and a triple threat in Musicals across the country. Looking for new experiences, he became Associate Artistic Director for an International tour of Phantom of the Opera for six years; an Assistant Professor in the Drama dept. at the University of Alberta for four years and Full Professor in the Dance dept. at Cornish College of the Arts for eight years. He was an Associate Artistic Director for the Opera (summer) program at the Banff School of Fine Arts and has choreographed, taught and directed internationally. In the winter of 2007 he joined Cirque du Soleil as Artistic Director of CORTEO. He left that post in March of 2010 after spending fifteen months touring Japan and is returning to CDS in December as a performer in the role of The Baron in its production of Saltimbanco.

Olivier Wevers
  Photo Daniel Wilkins



OLIVIER WEVERS is from Brussels, Belgium. He received his training at the Karys Dance Center with Nicole Karys, a former dancer with Béjart's Ballet du XXième Siecle. He was a Principal at Royal Winnipeg Ballet, dancing regularly with Evelyn Hart, prior to joining Pacific Northwest Ballet in 1997 where he is a Principal Dancer. Olivier Wevers versatility as a dancer and actor accounts for his vast repertory. He has performed lead roles in all the major full-length classical ballets, as well as an extensive list of contemporary works by the world's most noted choreographers. He stands out in roles that require character development and intense emotional color. Oliver Wevers has choreographed works for numerous companies in Canada, Japan, and the United States, including: Pacific Northwest Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Spectrum Dance Theater, Seattle Dance Project, and Cornish Dance Theater and was selected to participate in the 2009 National Choreographers Initiative, held in Irvine California. In 2008, he was the recipient of the Artist Trust/ Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship Award, recognizing his work, Shindig, commissioned from PNB. In 2006, he was selected and participated in the prestigious New York Choreographic Institute. Mr. Wevers’ work has appeared in many dance festivals, including 2007's Prix de Lausanne Gala in Tokyo, PNB's Laugh Out Loud Festival, White Bird's 4x4 Ballet Project, Against the Grain/Men in Dance and Seattle's Bumbershoot. In 2009, Olivier Wevers founded his own dance company, Whim W’Him, in order to collaborate with artists and to further his choreographic vision. The company premiered in January 2010 at On the Boards in Seattle to sold out houses and critical acclaim.

Markeith Wiley
  Markeith Wiley Photo



MARKEITH WILEY is a California native and a recent Cornish grad. Trained in modern, hip hop, jazz, ballet and some ball room dance, Markeith does his best to incorporate all of the above into his work. Markeith has appeared in Men in Dance '08, dancing for Deb Wolf and Wade Madsen. He was also a part of Cruz Control for two years under the direction of Daniel Cruz. Earlier this year he danced again for Deb in the A.W.A.R.D.S. show. Some of his work outside of Cornish includes, littlebold which was seen in 12 Minutes Max '09, Hiatus (in collaboration with Kate Wallich) which also was shown later in '09 at 12 Minutes Max and Felt which premiered at the first Dark Horse show earlier this year, Joints for Full Tilt '10 (in collaboration with Heather Stockton and Schism for the Cornish BFA show of '10.

Deborah Wolf
  Photo Deborah Wolf

Producer | Choreographer


DEBORAH WOLF was Artistic Director, Resident Choreographer and dancer for Concert Dance Company of Boston, New England’s premiere modern repertory company performing in works by over 50 choreographers including Merce Cunningham, Laura Dean, Bebe Miller, Mark Dendy, and Mark Morris. A recipient of a MA Artist Foundation Fellowship and seven Finalist Awards in choreography, Deborah has also received grants from the NEA, Boston Arts Councils, as well as Seattle’s Artist Trust. She’s created work for Boston Ballet, Boston Symphony, and numerous other companies. She’s been produced by Boston Dance Umbrella, Jacob's Pillow, Rockhopper Dance, Velocity’s Under Construction & Strictly Seattle, Composer/Choreographer, Lehua Dance Theater, Bellingham Repertory Dance Company and OTB’s 12 MinMax Mainstage & Northwest Newworks and The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2009 at On the Boards, produced by the Joyce Theater Foundation. Deborah is currently Professor of Dance at Cornish College of the Arts.


SUPPORTED IN PART BY: Office of Arts and Culture | 4Culture logo | Take Part In Art link Link to Mayor's Office of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Link to 4Culture website | Lawrence Tenney Stevens Trust


© Men in Dance 2008-2011



ARCHIVE: MID 2008 PRESS 2008 MID 2010 PRESS 2010 MID 2012 PRESS 2012 PRESS 2014





Link to Mayor's Office of the Arts&Cultural Affairs

Link to 4Culture website

Findusinfacebook Link to MID facebook