In Addition, our writing staff will provide in-depth articles that inform and inspire present and future audiences. We seek to provide a centralized performance calendar and a newsletter for Los Angeles area dance artists to share promotional news throughout California and beyond.
Dr. Leah Bass-Baylis was the founding Principal of Valley Region #12 elementary school. Under her leadership, a partnership with Carlos Santana’s Milagro Foundation was forged and the school was renamed Carlos Santana Arts Academy. Throughout her career she has been a strong proponent of the arts. June 2019, she retired from this position.
Prior to joining Carlos Santana Arts Academy, Leah was the Principal of CHAMPS, Charter High School of The Arts, Multimedia and Performing and served as an Assistant Principal at Robert A. Millikan MS and Performing Arts Magnet where she founded the dance program. In 1998, Dr. Baylis was promoted to the position of Dance Coordinator and eventually Dance Specialist for Los Angeles Unified School District. She was the first to hold this position and was a member of the LAUSD Arts Education team that created a blueprint for comprehensive elementary arts programs throughout Los Angeles. She directly supervised dance instruction in 180 elementary schools and coordinated dance activities at all grade levels.
Leah has a B.A. from Spelman College, an M.A. degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an M.S. from Pepperdine University. In 2020 she received her Ed.D in Educational Leadership and Organizational Change from Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California. Prior to her career in education, Ms. Bass-Baylis enjoyed a career as a dancer/ singer/ actress and choreographer, completing national and international tours of numerous musicals including Arms Too Short To Box With God, Guys, & Dolls, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Little Shop of Horrors, Timbuktu, The Wiz, Black Nativity, and Carmen Jones. She was also dance captain for the Broadway production of The Tap Dance Kid where she coached tap impresarios, Harold Nicholas and Savion Glover. She is currently the director of E.A.T.S., Education and Arts Teaching Solutions. She continues to work with L.A.U.S.D. in interim administrative positions and is employed by California State University, Northridge as a University Student Teacher Supervisor.
Grace Courvoisier, a Las Vegas native, graduated with a BFA in Dance from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 2011. She has had the opportunity to work with/perform the works of renowned choreographers including Tere O’Connor, Kirstie Simpson, Laurie Carlos, and Catherine Cabeen. Grace was also selected to perform in the reconstruction of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company’s D-Man In The Waters for the National Endowment of the Arts in 2008.
After founding her own dance company, GC&DC in 2012, her New York City works have been performed for Symphony Space, Movement Research, Judson Church, and Issue Project Room among others.
Now living and dancing in Los Angeles, she can be caught at various museum exhibitions, reading Victorian British Literature, or hovered over a DIY project when she’s not writing for LA Dance Chronicle.
Joanne began her dance career in Chicago as a demi soloist with the Illinois Ballet Company, having studied with Edna MacRae (Ballet Mistress for Joffrey) and Richard & Christine Ellis from the Royal Ballet. She then moved to New York City where she studied at Ballet Russes and Ballet Theatre. Fortuitously, on her way to joining Ballet Russes, the company disbanded, and Joanne landed her first Broadway show, “Kismet,” choreographed by Jack Cole, the “Father of Jazz Dance,” and never looked back. She worked with such Luminaries as Michael Bennett, Jaime Rogers, Danny Daniels, Onna White, Joe Layton, and historic Broadway Icons like Ethel Merman, Richard Rodgers, George Abbott, Alfred Drake & Irving Berlin.
Joanne went on to have a long successful career as a Director/Choreographer completing over 100 commercials, Broadway projects; “Gangs” for David Merrick & “Jockeys” for Julie Styne; Movies: Thank God It’s Friday, Eddie & The Cruisers, Once Bitten” for Sam Goldwyn with Jim Carey, Body Rock (one of the first break dance movies to be released), the “Wired” about the Blues Brothers. Television; “And Life Goes On”, “Coach”, Dance Fever, Specials, MOW’s, TV series and Music Videos.
She was an Emmy Nominee for the Jane Mansfield Story and an American Video Award nominee for Chaka Khan’s, “I Feel For You. “ In 2018, Joanne was rewarded the coveted Professional Dancers Society’s Gypsy Robe; and again in 2018, The Los Angeles Dance Festival and The Brockus Project bestowed the “Service to the Field Award – Rise of the Female” to Joanne along with Renae Williams Niles and Ann Haskins.
Joanne developed her own production company, where she wrote, produced, directed, staged and/or choreographed Industry, Stage and TV shows. Among her many challenges was the half time
show for the World Cup, directing over 1,000 performers. Among her Industry clients were Disney, Mazda, Toyota, Apple Computer among others.
While working as an agent for Bobby Ball Agency, she was asked to head the West Coast Office of Career Transition for Dancers, at Screen Actors Guild. Its mission was to help professional dancers bridge their careers to new challenging and fulfilling professions. She created programs, that assisted dancers in connecting, educating and fulfilling a wide range of goals and aspirations. As an example, Joanne brought the LEAP program to Los Angeles, helping dancers get their Bachelors Degrees so they could compete as leaders in the community. She developed the “Dancers Forum” which brought together respected opinion leaders of the dance world, such as Nigel Lythgoe, Debbie Allen, Renae Williams Niles, Tony Basil, Lula Washington, Sasha Anawalt, Jamal Simms, Julie McDonald, and so many others. She encouraged dancers to get Grants to go back to school and start new businesses, was a passionate leader of the National Outreach program all around the U.S. while working on her own Bachelors Degree. Upon graduating from the LEAP program in 2007 she began working at Cal State Northridge under the leadership of Dr. Paula Thomson. Dance and dancers have always been her passion, and she is so proud to be chosen as a judge for the Music Center’s Spotlight Awards, with Jeri Gaile at its helm. The Spotlight Awards gives recognition to young up-and-coming artists and inspires young people to reach out and be their best brilliant selves. Joanne is now also taking the opportunity to move into her next love, “writing”. She is so proud to join the talented and generous Jeff Slayton and Roger Martin Holman’s in their timely and important L.A. Dance Chronicle.
Brian was trained at Contra Costa Ballet with Donald Eryck, Jocelyn Vollmar, and Brynar Mehl, and at Manhattan School of Dance with Margaret Craske, Sallie Wilson, Tex Hightower and Robert Ossorio. In Modern Dance he trained at the Martha Graham and the Paul Taylor Schools. He has choreographed for Ballet, Musicals, and Opera, and has created many Dance/Theater works including Seeing Red, The Defenders, The BoyKing, Tales of November, The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Happy Hour. He has won the Grand Prize for Choreography for his duet Samael loves Lilith, at the Dance Under the Stars Festival of Palm Desert produced by Shea New. He has a Garland Award for best choreography for his work in Zoo District’s production of Nosferatu. He also has an LA Weekly Theater Award for his choreography in The Master and Margarita, also by Zoo District. He has directed and choreographed The Defenders, an homage to the great spy shows of the 60’s, which garnered a Garland Award honorable mention for Choreography, Costume Design, and Set Design. He received Best Hamlet on the Fringe for his choreography of Hamlet Q. Jones, a rock and roll musical Hamlet at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, and won The Jerry Herman Award for his version of In The Heights. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA where he earned his B.A. degree in Anthropology and a minor in Classical Civilizations. While at UCLA he was awarded the Hazel Lagerson Scholarship and qualified for the prestigious Helen Caldwell Award given by the Classics Department.
Marlita Hill is a multi-published author, choreographer, and educator. She is an Adjunct Instructor and MFA graduate with Belhaven University (MS). Marlita is the Associate Director with Edge Project, produces a weekly podcast, The Kingdom Art Life, and is the Artistic Director/Choreographer for Speak Hill Dance Project, through which she showcases her own work and provides master classes, guest choreography, and residencies. Her choreography has been presented at venues including Belhaven University, ARC Pasadena, Lineage Performing Arts Center, Diavolo, Towson University, Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage (in collaboration with VT Dance), Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (MD), and Carpenter Center Performing Arts. Hill holds a BFA in Dance Performance with K-12 Certification from Towson University (MD). In 2009, she cofounded the dance department at the Cortines School for the Visual and Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles where she taught tap, modern, and choreography for seven years.
Rebecca Lee is a dance artist and writer originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. Rebecca spent the past four years in Baltimore, Maryland where she was a part of the inaugural class of collegiate dancers at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Rebecca has since graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance.
During her time at Peabody, Rebecca has been able to perform works by world renowned artists such as Kyle Abraham, Danielle Agami, Sidra Bell, Yin-Yue, Yoshito Sakuraba, and Marjani Forte-Saunders. Rebecca’s practice embodies the rigor and athleticism of dance while emphasizing the artistic and playful nature of the art form.
Upon graduating from Peabody, Rebecca plans to continue her dance career in Los Angeles, California. Here she will be joining the work of Heidi Duckler Dance Company as she cultivates her creative movement practice throughout the West coast. She is currently acting as the Arts Education and Programs Coordinator for the company as well as performing for Heidi Duckler Dance. Rebecca is dedicated to making dance education accessible to all children despite socio-economic background, geographic location, ability, and age. Rebecca values the way that dance can express identity while building stronger communities. Because of this, Rebecca plans to continue to use dance as a tool to challenge social constructs of race, gender, and socio-political issues within her professional career.
Born in New York City, Anthony began a career in the entertainment business at age five, playing Kirk Douglas’ godson in the film, “The Brotherhood”. Never stopping since, he has worked on Broadway, international stages, in cinema, and on TV with numerous celebrities as diverse as Angela Lansbury, Dustin Hoffman, Harold Prince, Jerome Robbins, Pete Townshend, Jennifer Lopez, John Guare, Kander & Ebb, F. Murray Abraham, Marisa Tomei, Stephen Schwartz, and Andrew Lloyd Weber.
With over 50 years of performing under his belt, Anthony is active behind the scenes as well. In 1990, he founded etc.inc. a non-profit organization which presented new American theatre in Rome, Italy. With D.I.Y.N. Productions, he produced four award winning short films. He created The Space, a multi-media arts complex in Hollywood, consisting of 2 performing arts theatres, multiple casting studios, production offices and rehearsal facilities. He was a commercial casting session director for McDonalds, Dr. Pepper, Mercedes and many others. With his husband, he co-founded Thats A Nice!, a specialty all-natural Sicilian food line, honored with a SOFI Silver Award (the “Oscars” of the food biz). He wrote and performed original pop music with two bands: “Interpret” and “Ariel & Anthony” and has now turned his composition skills toward the stage, as a composer in development with ANMT. He has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and all 50 US states. Anthony is currently writing an auto-biographical musical, a comedy web-series and a bio-pic of the late Sal Mineo.
Anthony studied filmmaking at School of Visual Arts in New York, UCLA and received a business degree at SMC and Composer Certificate at Manhattan School of Music. His drama education includes the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, American Academy of Dramatic Arts, HB Studio and the Groundlings. He studied dance with the legendary Phil Black in New York, at The Edge in Los Angeles, and continues to perform professionally. He is Dance Committee Chair at Sag-Aftra and continues to advocate for dancers and choreographers.
Nancy Dobbs Owen (Choreographer/Director, Dancer, Dance Educator, Writer) began her professional career with the Joffrey Ballet, danced with numerous ballet and modern companies then joined the National Tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. She has performed regionally throughout the United States. Recent work includes television shows Crazy Ex Girlfriend, American Princess, VEEP, and Racheted, Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix series. She danced a principal role in the 2019 HBO Feature Deadwood and in Sia’s directorial debut film Music, choreographed by Ryan Heffington. Another recent highlight was dancing a ballerina role in John Adams’ Nixon in China with the LA Philharmonic at Disney Hall for the Adams at 70 Festival.
She’s a prolific director and choreographer, earning numerous awards for both. LA theaters: The Production Company, Theatre of Note, Sight Unseen Theater, Sacred Fools, The Hudson, Fierce Backbone, 2 Cents Theater Co, The Vagrancy, SkyPilot and the Marina Del Rey Symphony.
She choreographs music videos, commercials, as well as television and film projects. Recent projects include a concept dance film for blendid.tv, the feature film Hollywood Fringe, Bodies: Place For Us , a music video bringing awareness and action to the fight for gun reform, which launched in September of 2018 and Floating, Falling. Flying which debuted in 2021. Both have screened at numerous festivals with awards for direction, choreography and concept.
Nancy holds a BA from UC Irvine, completed the Music Center’s Teacher Artist Training Program and participated in 2011 Directors Lab West. She received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts with a Performance Creation Concentration from Goddard College in July, 2022.
Nancy is currently a Visiting Professor of Dance at Southern Utah University. She previously taught at AMDA-LA and at Hussian College Los Angeles, where she was the Program Coordinator /Student Mentor and served as Acting Chair in 2023.
AEA, SAG-AFTRA, SDC, Choreographers Guild (founding member)
Celine S. Kiner is a journalist, designer, and artist whose work is largely informed by lifelong movement research. She aims to tell the story of the artist through process and context, while holding true to the integrity and intention of the work itself. Celine is an alumna of USC Kaufman’s inaugural class and has performed works by Forsythe, Cerrudo, Marshall, Kylian, and more. Currently, you can find her work in digital and print at BroadStage, Nom de Pixel, DIYdancer Magazine, and LA Dance Chronicle.
You may already know author, performer, and choreographer, Matthew Shaffer from his work on the top Netflix original series, Wet Hot American Summer, or from his musical theater performance on the hit television show, Crazy Ex Girlfriend, or perhaps you recognize him from his short-lived role as a Pottery Barn sales associate. His debut book, So You Want To Be A Dancer launched as an Amazon #1 New Release in Performing Arts. With his razor sharp tongue and quick witted edge Matthew ignites hilarious banter with a sassy social styling that only a sharp dressed Gen-Y hipster can provide. He wrote, directed, and starred in his first production when he was 7 years old and has been entertaining family members (and audiences) ever since!
After attending the prestigious Orange County School of the Arts, Matthew continued his professional career as a principal dancer with Giordano Dance Chicago. Following 3 seasons with the world-renowned jazz company, Shaffer moved to New York City and performed in the ensemble of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular for 5 seasons. In 2004, Matthew returned to Los Angeles and established A Group Production with his husband and creative partner, Jeff Payton. In addition to his endeavors as a writer, Matthew continues to cultivate his career as a choreographer, performer, and educator. If you insist
on knowing more, Matthew encourages you to Google him, and follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook: @funnyshaffer.
Tam had the good fortune to begin her dance training with the inimitable Burch Mann with whom she studied for several years. She continued with Evelyn Lemone, Leslie Ruchala (NYC Ballet) and was on scholarship at 16 with the acclaimed modern dance innovator Bella Lewitsky. After a short stint at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Tam, returned to Los Angeles and jumped head first into local Jazz classes. She studied with Luigi, Jaime Rogers, Roland Du Pre, Joe Tremaine, Doug Rivera, Alex Plaschert, Bobby Banas, Hama and so many of the best.
After years as a working dancer Tam became an assistant choreographer, which led directly to her own career as a noted Director/Choreographer. Her credits range from live theater production, to film and video, theme parks, Business Theater, special events and concerts. Amongst these credits were the world premiers of 7 iconic Disney films including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Other credits are The Winter Olympics, The Special Olympics, The Women’s World Cup, many Musicals, Children’s Theater and countless corporate shows. Her corporate clients include Sony, Chevron, Pepsi, Infiniti, Arco, Compaq, Sun Microsystems and Anheuser Busch. Tam was so well known in this field she was referred to as “The queen of Industrials!” However there was no tiara.
Currently Tam is working with dancers with disabilities. Check out her site at www.tamwarnerdanceperspective.com.
Hi, I’m Roger Martin Holman and I am the developer and administrator of this site. I have been in the Information Technology field since I was in my late teens. I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for electron flow since I can remember.
My work experience includes hardware test and troubleshooting, software development, point of sale hardware integration, managing software development teams as well as hardware and software distributor support teams, and web development. I’ve worked with Raytheon, Micom Systems, Contel, Physicians Health Network, Symantec, Allscripts and others.
I was also on the board of Urban Community Outreach and managed their “Drop In Center computer lab” for over nine years (2005 – 2015), supporting homeless computer lab users. In 2003, my son Chris and I worked together to make the computer lab used by the Drop In Center a reality, using donated equipment from fellow members of First Congregational Church in downtown Long Beach.
Writers Emeritus and Guest Writers:
Mary Pat Cooney earned her BFA in Dance from Ohio University, and spent 20+ years having adventures as a dancer and dance teacher.
With basic training in modern dance, Mary Pat performed with 4 companies in New York. After spending a summer working as a clown at an amusement park in Wildwood, NJ, she got the circus bug. She packed her bags and spent a year on the road with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a dancer and aerial ballet artist.
She returned to her roots in the Washington, DC area and performed as a dancer with the Washington Opera, Wolf Trap Opera and the Kennedy Center’s Imagination Celebration. For 9 years Mary Pat was a member of the Washington Swing Dance Committee, a group integral to the Swing Dance revival in the 90’s. She also created swing dance programs at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins WV for 14 years. During this period, Mary Pat studied rhythm tap and was privileged to meet and study with some of the master hoofers, including LaVaughn Robinson and Buster Brown.
After moving to Los Angeles, Mary Pat was sidelined by an injury, but her passion for dance was not stifled. Her education and eclectic dance background give her a unique perspective.
Kim Gadlin is a faculty member with the Pomona College Dance Program and California Polytechnic State University, Pomona. She teaches Dunham technique, African Diasporic dance forms (jazz, House and Salsa) and modern, and site-specific classes. She is the co-founder of Dancestors Presents…where she focuses on workshops and retreats using dance as a vehicle for wellness. She has also taught at Cypress College, La Verne University, Saint Joseph Ballet (The Wooden Floor), Lula Washington, Inland Pacific Ballet and many other dance studios in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia. She was a principal dancer with The Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco!) and The Joseph Holmes Dance Theater of Chicago. Her focus in dance streams from several modern dance techniques including, Dunham, Graham, and Horton. In addition she has studied African Brazilian, African Cuban, ballet, House, Hip Hop, jazz Salsa and West African.
She received professional training at the Joseph Holmes School of Dance, Joel Hall: New School North, The Alvin Ailey American Dance School, and Philadelphia School of Dance. She has studied and worked with Mr. Ailey, Denise Jefferson, Milton Myers, Joan Myers Brown, Talley Beatty, Karla Maxwell, Harriet Ross, Randy Duncan, Tommy Gomez, Homer Bryant, Joan Peters and many others renowned teachers and choreographers.
She graduated from Pitzer College as a New Resource Program student with a degree in Dance, Claremont Graduate University with a Master’s in K-12 Education with an emphasis in Dance Education. Kim is a doctoral candidate at Texas Woman’s University and hopes to receive her Ph.D in dance by the end of 2020. She is the former Interim Acting Assistant Dean and the Coordinator of Programs at the Office of Black Student Affairs (OBSA) at the Claremont Colleges where he co-created the Ashe’ Dance Collective. One of Kim’s beliefs is that dance has the power to heal communities.