Ann Williams, Director, has a BA degree in Dance and Mass Communications from the University of Minnesota. She has been dancing and performing for over 20 years and has taught for over 15 years at several different studios in the Twin Cities area. She studied jazz with Zoe Sealy, Billy Siegenfeld, and Danny Buraczeski, the latter being regarded as the most prominent jazz choreographer in the world at this time. Ann studied tap with Zoe Sealy, Char Weiss, LaVaughn Robinson and Brenda Buffalino. She attended and performed at the Jacob’s Pillow dance festival in Becket, MA, the Jazz Dance World Congress in Chicago and other commercially-based conventions and work-shops and continues to do so. She has performed in Zenon Dance School’s summer scholarship program in a piece choreographed by Matt Jenson, as well as with the Just Can’t Stop Dance Group. Prior to opening BALLAREteatro, Ann was the Jazz Program Director at Dance Works Performing Arts Center in Lakeville, where she was artistic director of the annual Jazz Festival in honor of Black History Month. Ann is involved in the community as a member and former co-chair of the Longfellow Business Association and board member of the Longfellow Community Council as the business representative. Ballare Teatro owner, she teaches Music and Movement, Creative Dance, Tap and Jazz.
Karis Sloss graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in Dance and Theatre Arts. She has been studying dance for over 25 years in the styles of jazz, ballet, pointe, tap, hip hop and modern. Zoe Sealy, Lewis Whitlock, Cathy Young, Maria Slutiak and Danny Buraczeski are some of the very talented artists that Karis has been fortunate enough to work with over the years. She is the Artistic Director of the theatrical jazz dance company Eclectic Edge Ensemble who has had successful productions at The Ritz Theatre, MN Fringe Festivals, Intermedia Arts, Illusion Theatre and Hopkins Center for Performing Arts. Her choreography credits include work at SteppingStone Theatre, Children’s Theatre, Loring Playhouse, Illusion Theatre, University of MN and Saint Catherine/Saint Thomas. Karis is very excited to be starting her eighth year teaching at Ballare Teatro; her home away from home. This year she will be teaching creative dance, ballet, jazz and tap.
Please check out Eclectic Edge Ensemble’s website for more information on her dance company: www.eclecticedgeensemble.com
Kaleena Miller is a Minneapolis-based tap dancer, choreographer and teacher. She currently dances with Rhythmic Circus Production’s Feet Don’t Fail Me Now! and Keane Sense of Rhythm. Kaleena has choreographed for groups such as: Rhythmic Circus, Keane Sense of Rhythm’s Youth Tap Ensemble, and St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, and also hosts the live music and tap dance project The Cutting Board. In addition to being a former member of Ten Foot Five’s Buckets and Tap Shoes, Kaleena has shared the stage with Heather Cornell and Roxane Butterfly. She is a graduate from the University of MN with a BFA in Dance and is a 2007 Sage Award Winner for People’s Choice.
Molly Breen received her BFA in dance from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 1997. At the U, Molly trained with Lise Houlton, Zoe Sealy, Erin Thompson, Danny Buraczeski, and other local and national choreographers. She performed in the works of David Parsons, Mel Wong, Doug Varone, Zoe Sealy, and others. Professionally, Molly has danced locally in industrial shows and at Chanhassen Dinner Theater in their productions of Can-Can and Oklahoma. She was on the teaching staff of Zenon dance company and school for five years, has taught at a variety of arts camps and workshops, choreographed for school musicals, and has over 15 years experience teaching dance to all ages. Molly is also a licensed and certified Musikgarten® instructor and she leads an early childhood music and movement program in St. Paul. She lives in the Como area with her husband and three children. Molly will be teaching Jazz and leading the student dance company: The Company B.
Mary Harding is the department head of the dance program at the Arts High School, a component of the Perpich Center for Arts Education. In her position since 1990, Ms. Harding created the curriculum for the current dance program. She has contributed to a video on assessment for the Minnesota FACS (Framework for Arts Curriculum) project and has presented at the Minnesota Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development conference, the International Network of Performing and Visual Arts Schools conference, the National AAPHERD convention and at the Dance Educator’s Coalition summer workshop. In her dance career she has performed professionally with ballet, jazz and modern companies in repertory ranging from Pas de Quatre to works by Bebe Miller. While a member of the Zenon Dance Company, Ms. Harding taught master classes and dance residencies in schools across the nation. In addition to her work at the Arts High School, she continues to freelance as a choreographer, performer and teacher in the Twin Cities. Ms. Harding received the SURDNA Arts Teachers Fellowship for 2002 and studied at Bates Dance Festival as a result of this fellowship. She is honored to have received the National Dance Teacher of the Year for 2002 from the National Dance Association and Sportime. She has her Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the College of St. Catherine.
Rachel Freeburg holds a BFA in dance from the University of Minnesota. A native of central Wisconsin, she began her dance training early on at the Central Wisconsin School of Ballet. Rachel spent her high school years at the rigorous dance conservatory Interlochen Arts Academy with summers at the American Ballet Theater and Milwaukee Ballet. She has preformed works by Marge Maddox, Zoe Sealy, Pat Graney, Uri Sands, and Anna Sokolow, and has studied with the Limon Institute as well as the Bates Dance Festival. Rachel currently dances with the acclaimed Minneapolis-based modern dance company, Arena Dances as well as independent choreographers, Kaleena Miller, Jessica Briggs, and Alanna Morris.
Karla Grotting is a founding member, principal dancer and artistic associate with Joe Chvala and the Flying Foot Forum, now in her 19th year with the company. She first began performing with Zoe Sealy’s Minnesota Jazz Dance Company in the 1970′s and continued her career in New York City eventually spending 7 years with JAZZDANCE by Danny Buraczeski. She has performed in a wide range of styles including works by Max Pollak, Off-Leash Area, Diane Waller’s Visual Performance Theater, Cathy Young Dance, Billy Siegenfeld, Lynn Dally, Lane Alexander and Keane Sense of Rhythm. Karla has begun creating her own works which blend the unique styles of her tap, jazz, modern and percussive dance experiences. Karla received her B.F.A. in Dance and B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota, where she currently teaches courses in tap and jazz dance. In 2006, she was awarded the University of Minnesota Student’s Choice Award for Outstanding Teacher in the College of Liberal Arts. Karla is a recipient of a 2007 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Dancers.
Ellen Keane has been a professional performer since 1981, she has appeared on the nationally syndicated show “Dance Fever” and has toured nationally with “The Muppet Babies Live” as Baby Kermit. She has performed in shows with “Sir” Jimmy Slyde, Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Dianne Walker, Heather Cornell and many others.
She has taught rhythm tap for universities and at dance schools around the Midwest and is currently on the faculty of the University of Minnesota Theater & Dance Department. She is sought after as an instructor at music and dance festivals throughout the region. She has taught school residencies for the Ordway, the St Paul Chamber Orchestra and the East Side Arts Council in St. Paul.
Choreography credits include two decades of Musicals for high schools, community and professional theaters. Collaborations include the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Misora Taiko and most recently the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s production of Tap Dance in Beijing China, featuring 6 youth Tap Ensembles and internationally known professionals.
In the past 12 years her tap company “Keane Sense of Rhythm” performances have ranged from the street, to the rooftop and from outdoor venues to professional theaters, we have performed for over 100,000 people, many of which were free to the public.
Productions include 3 Minneapolis Human Rhythm Projects and dozens of National Tap Dance Day Events since 1997. This year’s celebration was at the Mall of America Rotunda on May 24th, , 2009.
For the past 10 years her focus has been mainly rhythm tap, one Broadway gypsy claimed that every class with Ellen is a master class.
Ellen is most proud of the creation of the Youth Tap Ensemble in 2002. Dancers age 8-18 audition for placement annually. She especially enjoys working with talented and passionate youth in master classes, workshops and residencies.
Brenna Brelie has a BA from the University of Minnesota and has been dancing since the age of 4. Brenna has been teaching youth and adult tap classes at Ballare since 2004. Locally, she has performed with Kaleena Miller of Rhythmic Circus, Ellen Keane and Cathy Wind of Keane Sense of Rhythm, and Joe Chvala and Karla Grotting of the Flying Foot Forum. She has attended and performed at the Chicago Human Rhythm Project where she has had the opportunity to study with tap masters Lane Alexander, Sam Weber, Dianne “Lady Di” Walker, and Jason Samuels-Smith, among others. In addition to her “day job” in public relations, Brenna choreographs and teaches tap at a few studios in the Metro area.
Christopher Watson was a member of the New Dance Ensemble of Minneapolis and has performed with the Chicago Moving Company, Harbinger Dance Company of Detroit, and Joanna Haigood’s Zaccho Company in San Francisco, dancing in works by Pearl Lang, David Gordon, Dan Wagoner, Linda Shapiro, Kathryn Posin, Doris Humphrey, and Margaret Jenkins, among others.
Christopher received a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Coe College and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Northwestern University prior to beginning his dance training. He began dance study at the Houston Ballet Academy and subsequently trained with the Chicago Moving Company and at the Merce Cunningham and Joffrey Ballet studios in New York. Christopher then received a Master of Fine Arts in dance from the University of Michigan. From 1978-1982, he co-directed the Dance Theatre 2 Company and School in Ann Arbor, MI.
As associate director of American Inroads and Theater Artaud in San Francisco, he produced a wide range of dance, music, and theater events, including the concert premiere of John Adam’s Opera Nixon in China, a concert version of Phillip Glass’ Liquid Days with Linda Ronstadt, and the first annual Black Choreographers Moving showcase, as well as performances by noted artists Bebe Miller, Susan Marshall, Stephen Petronio, and the Kronos Quartet, among many others. He founded the Christopher Watson Dance Company in Sacramento, CA in 1991 after performing as an independent choreographer and dancer for several years. Mr. Watson returned to Minneapolis in the fall of 1994.
A former member of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Dance Alliance, Christopher has served on committees and panels for the Michigan Dance Association, Dance Bay Area in San Francisco, and the Sacramento Area Dance Alliance. He has served as a consultant for local arts agencies and organizations including the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
A distinguished teacher, Christopher has served as a guest artist at Eastern Michigan University, California State University Sacramento, University of California at Davis, University of Minnesota Duluth, the Sacramento Visual and Performing Arts High School, and the Pinole Valley Arts Magnet School in the San Francisco Bay area.
Christopher’s choreographic work has been supported through grants from the Michigan Council for the Arts, the New Works Program of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, the Jerome Foundation through the SpaceSpace Co-Project, the Linden Hills UCC Fund, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the Lyndale Neighborhood Association, Minneapolis Arts Commission, the Minnesota Dance Alliance, and Mervyn’s.