REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS TO THE DANCE JOURNAL
Founder & Editor
While not a dancer himself, Weisz’s love for the arts and dance started as a child growing up in New York City. With parents, who were strong supporters of the arts and part of a community with an incredible array of notable artists in music, dance, theater and fine arts, Weisz’s access and affinity for the performing arts took root. Upon attending college in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid 70’s, Weisz started performing as a puppeteer, magician, juggler and fire eater as a means of supplementing his income. This soon grew in to what became Rainbow Promotions Inc., one of the largest entertainment and special events producers in the region. It was here that he began to promote and book dance for major events throughout the city. Many of the dancers he worked with in the early days of his company are now major choreographers in Philadelphia. At the same time, Weisz’s interest in computers and the early developments of what is now known as the Internet, led him to also start another company, Delaware Valley On Line, which became one of the first regional ISPs. It was this combination of event production, internet development and event marketing that led him to examine the use of the internet as a means to promote the arts. Dance continued to be a major interest for Weisz and in 2005 he founded PhiladelphiaDANCE.org as a major online resource to promote dance in the city. It was soon after that the Dance Journal was also founded as a way to provide an outlet for writing on a range of topics that encompass the ever growing and emerging dance community in the region. Weisz continues to run both PhiladelphiaDANCE and The Dance Journal on purely a voluntary basis with no income derived from any of his projects. He is also the Artistic Director of Graffito Works, a unique platform for dancers and performing artists to create site-specific work and to make it readily accessible to the public.
Kat Richter is a freelance writer and professor of both dance and anthropology. She is also the co-founder and Executive Director of The Lady Hoofers Tap Ensemble, Philadelphia’s premiere all-female tap company. Her work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Baltimore Sun and numerous magazines and scholarly publications including Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher, Dance Spirit, Dance Studio Life, Museum, Skirt and The Journal of Research in Dance Education.
As a professional dancer, Richter began her apprenticeship with the New Jersey Tap Ensemble at the age of 9 and was promoted to Principal Dancer while still in high school. In 2005, she received a scholarship to Oxford University and returned to the UK in 2009. She holds a BA in Dance and History from Goucher College and an MA in Dance Anthropology from Roehampton University. A proud Philadelphia transplant, she blogs at www.fieldworkinstilettos.com
Bill Hebert (pronounced AY-BEAR), has been photographing performances in Philadelphia and New York for almost 8 years now primarily capturing dance. He has worked such local artists as Montazh, Rennie Harris Puremovement (RHPM), Headlong Dance Theater, BalletX, Winged Woman Dance/Tina Heuges, Nichole Canuso Dance Company and Group Motion among many others in Philadelphia. NY based and touring companies Bill has had the pleasure of working with include: Paul Taylor, Limon Dance, Parsons Dance, Doug Varone and Dancers, Merce Cunningham, RubberbandDance Group, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, River North Chicago Dance and Pilobolus. Bill has also had the pleasure of participating in three photography workshops with renowned dance photographer Lois Greenfield. Bill’s philosophy and mission is to “Capture the Essence of the Moment” and give the work a life beyond the stage. Bill Hebert is currently a photographer for The University of Pennsylvania’s Dance Celebration series, was one of the photographers for both the 2008 & 2009 Live Arts and Philly Fringe Festival, Choreographic Sketches in NY, 2010 IABD Conference and proud to be a part of the team for the “By Local” series in Philadelphia which will give local artists a chance to tell their story while doing what they love which is to entertain and enlighten others.
Lewis Whittington is an arts journalist based in Philadelphia. He started writing professionally in the early 90s as a media consultant for an AIDS organizations and then as a theater and dance reviewer for the Philadelphia Gay News. Mr. Whittington has covered dance, theater, opera and classical music for the Philadelphia Inquirer and City Paper.
Mr. Whittington’s arts profiles, features, and stories have appeared in The Advocate, Dance International, Playbill, American Theatre, American Record Guide, The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, EdgeMedia, and Philadelphia Dance Journal. Mr. Whittington has received two NEA awards for journalistic excellence.
In addition to interviews with choreographers, dancers, and artistic directors from every discipline, he has interviewed such music luminaries from Ned Rorem to Eartha Kitt. He has written extensively on gay culture and politics and is most proud of his interviews with such gay rights pioneers as Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings.
Mr. Whittington has participated on the poetry series Voice in Philadelphia and has written two (unpublished) books of poetry. He is currently finishing Beloved Infidels, a play about the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh. His editorials on GLBTQ activism, marriage equality, gay culture and social issues have appeared in Philadelphia Inquirer, City Paper, and The Advocate.
Merilyn is a guest contributor to the Dance Journal. She writes regularly on dance for The Philadelphia Inquirer since 1996 and writes on dance, theater, food, travel and Eastern European and Latin American fiction for many publications. More than 800 of her articles have appeared in publications as diverse as The New York Times, The Warsaw Voice, The Arizona Republic, The Phoenix New Times, MIT’s Technology Review, and Arizona Highways, Dance, Pointe and Dance Teacher magazines, Broad Street Review and www.exploredance.com.
She was awarded an NEA Critics Fellowship in 2005 and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in 1999 for her novel-in-progress, O Solitary Host. A chapter of that novel, “A Sow of Violence,” appeared in the Massachusetts Review in the Fall 2004 “Food Matters” issue. In 2012 she attended poetry workshops at Colgate University and Sarah Lawrence College, working with poets Peter Balakian and Tom Lux, respectively. Several of her poems appear in Exquisite Corpse, The Rusty Nail and Broad Street Review. She likes to say that dance was her first love, but when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although, she also writes poetry. Much of her writing can be read on her personal blog Prime Glib.
Roger Lee began his dance career as an original member and co-captain of FOX 29’s Good Day Philadelphia Dance Team. He went on to study and graduate from Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts and Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Roger went on to earn his MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University and a BA in both Dance and Media Communications, Magna Cum Laude with Honors in Dance and the 2010 Excellence in Dance Award, from Ursinus College.
Over the last decade, Roger has taught hip-hop and jazz dance to students of all ages and levels of experience across Pennsylvania and Delaware. He has taught classes at Koresh School of Dance, Philadelphia Ballet School, Mid-Atlantic Ballet School, Friends Select School, Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation’s Introduction to the Performing Arts Camp, Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania and the 2009 NAPSE PE Teacher Education Conference.
As a dance scholar, Roger has explored the intersections of competition studio dance and college dance programs and methods for building African American dance audiences through programming. He has also covered national and local dance news, events and features for Dance Magazine, Dance Studio Life Magazine, Dance Advantage and Examiner.com.
Roger is also the Owner of Roger Lee Dance, LLC. His company provides clients with a variety of dance instruction, entertainment and promotional services. He also creates and markets a variety of dance DVDs, and calendars for customers on RogerLeeDance.com. In addition, Roger is the Founding Director of Roger Lee Dance Company in Philadelphia, PA.
Janine Bryant, Director of the Eastern University Dance Program, or ‘Prof B.’, as her students call her, teaches courses for Dance, Kinesiology and the Loeb School of Education, as well as the Campolo College of Graduate Studies. She has been teaching technique and choreographing classical and contemporary ballets for more than thirty years.
Janine received her B.F.A. in Modern Dance from the University of the Arts in 1986 where she studied with Pat Thomas, Judith Jamison, Milton Meyers, and Ruth Andrien to name a few. In the early 1980’s, Janine was a scholarship student at the Martha Graham School under Martha Graham, Diane Gray, Kevin Keenan, Yuriko, Pearl Lang, Peggy Lyman, Ethel Winter, Jacqueline Bulglisi, Don Foreman, Marianne Bachmann, and Armgard Von Barteleben. While in New York, Janine danced with the Pearl Lang Dance Company and appeared in the cast of Ms. Lang’s “The Beloved”, filmed at Brooklyn College. Janine also worked with Lynne Lesniak and Dancers, an offshoot of the Alwin Nikolai Company.
In addition to her studies at the Graham School in New York, Janine received a scholarship to the Peridance Center where she studied with Igal Perry, Miguel Moore and Zvi Gottheiner. Independently, Janine studied under Finis Jhung, David Howard and Madame Gabriella Darvash (Kirov technique). She also worked with Kathy Grant in New York to learn the Pilates method. During this time, and as a member of Philadelphia Dance Theatre, Janine was chosen to dance the solo role of Doris Humphrey’s, “The Call and Breath of Fire”, and was personally coached by Ernestine Stodelle for the role.
In the fall of 1990, Janine was one of two Americans accepted to The Royal Academy of Dancing, London, where she earned her Elementary Executant Certification and her Pre-Elementary Teaching Certification. Both of these prestigious certifications are recognized in 52 countries worldwide. In 1991, Janine founded The Professional School (TPS) in Turnersville, NJ, and directed the school through 2002. TPS was a technique-based studio training many of high school seniors to win college scholarships. Several TPS graduates won the University of the Arts’ Presidential Merit Scholarship worth $20,000. Janine has been a frequent guest lecturer at The University of the Arts and also received their prestigious Silver Star Alumni Award in 1996. The Silver Star Alumni award has been bestowed upon nearly 100 graduates of the University’s College of Art and Design and College of Performing Arts. The honorees are selected because they are role models and represent educational and artistic excellence that the University’s faculty works hard to achieve.
Janine was a visiting guest artist for the Black Rock Dance Company in Reno, Nevada, where she created new works and taught master classes. In addition to her regular instructional post at Eastern University, Janine was recently added to the Summer Intensive faculty of DeSales University.
Janine is an active member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science and was recently added to their Peer Review Board, Poster Judging Committee and Education Committee. Janine also is a member of PAMA (Performing Arts Medicine Association) and is currently earning her PhD (ABD) in Dance Medicine and Science from The University of Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom. Janine is excited to be a syndicated writer for The Dance Journal. The column aims to focus on training protocols, injury prevention and general information on dancer wellness. In addition, the column will provide a resource page for dancers who wish to seek medical care, specialty training or somatic therapies from local physicians and practitioners. Janine is passionate about teaching solid technique grounded in sound anatomic and biomechanical principles at a university level.
Amy Smith is a founder and Co-Director of Headlong Dance Theater, a Philadelphia-based contemporary dance company. Since 1993, Headlong has created collaborative dance theater works, and toured nationally. Recent projects include This Town is a Mystery, a series of performances created in collaboration with (non-professional performer) members of 4 Philadelphia households, followed by a potluck dinner; More, which was created after two years of creative provocations from choreographer Tere O’Connor; and Red Rovers, which uses the true story of the Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, as a dramaturgical starting point. Amy graduated from Wesleyan University, then spent a year studying at the Center for New Dance Development in Holland.
Outside of Headlong, Amy has performed in the work of Deborah Hay, Ishmael Houston Jones, among others. She has also performed extensively in theater and cabaret, and has won both a Barrymore (Philadelphia Theatre Award) for 1812 Productions’ Suburban Love Songs and a Bessie (New York Dance Award) for Headlong’s ST*R W*RS and other stories. In 2008, Headlong opened the Headlong Performance Institute, an experimental performance school for young artists offering full college credit. Amy is Finance Director for Headlong, and often serves as a mentor to younger artists and companies in Philadelphia. She worked for many years doing business management in the for-profit world, and served as Treasurer on the Dance/USA board of Trustees. She also chaired a committee that successfully created a new dance service organization for Philadelphia: Dance/USA Philadelphia. Amy teaches workshops in Financial Literacy to artists through the Creative Capital Professional Development Program, and does tax preparation for approximately 75 artists annually.
Pennsylvania native, Chrysta Brown, is a graduate of the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts where she studied dance and writing. She graduated with honors from Southern Methodist University where she earned a BFA in Dance Performance, and a minor in Human Rights Education. She has worked professionally as a dancer, choreographer, and writer in Dallas, TX, Denver, CO, and Philadelphia, PA. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing, and working as a children’s ballet instructor.
Katie began her dance training at the age of three at the Babylon School of Dance and Delaware Valley Dance Academy in Chalfont and Colmar, PA. She has participated in Jam for Jess, a dance scholarship fundraiser at Drexel University, attended dance intensives with the Burklyn Ballet Theatre (Johnson, VT) and South Carolina Summer Dance Conservatory (Columbia SC), and participated in the Mordechai Anielewicz Creative Arts Competition in Philadelphia. She attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro from 2012-2013, and now attends Temple University working towards her BFA in performance and choreography. In addition, Katie is a general business studies minor, a member of the Temple Honors College, and a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
JUAN C. IRIZARRY
Juan Irizarry is a Philadelphia based photographer, founder of the Philadelphia Dance Photo Project. Juan seeks to showcase the city’s beautiful architecture, important history and diverse people through photographs that incorporate the vibrant and growing Philadelphia dance community. The Philadelphia Dance Photo Project has not been limited to just ballet, but seeks to capture all genres of dance. Juan became a professional photographer in 2007, he has served as president of local camera club’s, taught workshops on the basics of photography and won several international photography contests. Additionally he has a successful career as an IT professional specializing in database administration spanning more than 2 decades.
Gregory King received his MFA in Choreographic Practice and Theory from Southern Methodist University. In addition, he is certified in Elementary Labanotation. His dance training began in Washington DC at the Washington Ballet and later at American University. He went on to participate in the Horton Project in conjunction with the Library of Congress. His training continued at the prestigious institutions such as The Dance Theatre of Harlem and The Alvin Ailey School. Gregory has performed with The Washington Ballet, Rebecca Kelly Ballet, Erick Hawkins Dance Company, New York Theatre Ballet, Donald Byrd /The Group, The Metropolitan Opera Ballet, New York City Opera, and Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway.
His desire to integrate social activism into his choreography began with his graduate thesis, where he used the platform to push the conversation about homophobia and heterosexism. He is a lover of movement exploration and describes his aesthetic as a classical base with a theatrical flair.
He has taught at Boston Ballet, Boston Conservatory, Boston University, Bowdoin College, Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Texas Ballet Theatre. Additionally, he has served as a teaching artist in public schools in and around Dallas, as Resident Guest artist at Temple University and Assistant Professor of Dance at Dean College. Recently, Gregory received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success.
He is currently a Visiting Professor of Dance and Consortium on Faculty Diversity Fellow at Swarthmore College where he teaches Modern and continues to use his choreography as a means for social change.