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.
Debra graduated with a degree in dance from the University of the Arts and also holds a B.A. in Arts Administration. She is accredited at the Master Level with the National Registry of Dance Educators. Debra has performed in Europe, Tokyo, Canada, and the Caribbean. She teaches and choreographs world-wide and has been an international guest artist in Switzerland, England, and Slovakia. Debra has been an Artist in Residence on five occasions in Norway where she showcased full length dance productions at the acclaimed Nordland Theatre. She has also presented an original dance production at the Elspe Festival in Germany. Debra has been featured in Dance, Dancer and Dance Teacher Magazines for her work in dance education. Additionally, she has been a contributing writer for Dance Studio Life Magazine since 2010.
Originally from the west coast, Jane Fries pursued undergraduate studies in dance at San Diego State University, where she got her start writing about dance for the student newspaper. After an escapade as a correspondent for Dance Magazine in the south of France, she went on to earn her MA in dance from Mills College in Oakland, California. Jane’s subsequent explorations in non-theatrical dance forms led her to take up the practice of yoga. She has lived in the Philadelphia area since 1996, and has had the great pleasure to study Iyengar yoga with Joan White. Jane’s writing reflects her background in dance history and interest in documentation and preservation.
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.
Ashabi Rich, a Norristown native, began dancing in A.D. Eisenhower High School’s extra-curricular dance club studying Graham technique. While attending Swarthmore College, she continued in modern dance through elective dance classes under Patricia Boyer who eventually established the department for Swarthmore’s major in dance. Ashabi later went on to become a dance major at Temple University studying with Hellmut Gottschild, Eva Gholson, and Patricia Hobson among others. While at Temple she performed with the East Indian Dance club (Kathak). She became a company dancer with Philadelphia raised ballet dancer John Jones (United Souls of America), and later spent six years with Robert “Baba” Crowder’s Kulu-Mele African Dance and Drum Company. She has also been a guest dancer with Alo!Brasil, and taught at the Stephen’s School of Dance in Germantown. Ashabi has studied dance under dance and drum icon John Hines, Faye Snow, Gilset Mora, Carmen Butler, Ione Nash, Dottie Wilkie, Onyin Harris, Youssouf Koumbassa, and Cachet Ivey. As a student at the American Dance Festival/Connecticut College, Ashabi studied under Clay Taliaferro, Walter Nix, Gay Delange, and Thelma Hill. Ashabi is a Certified Reiki II practitioner in the Mikao Usui lineage through Reiki Master Helen Blue and Grandmaster Earlene Green. She is a martial arts aficionado having studied judo, Praying Mantis kung fu, Wing Chun kung fu with Sifu Mo Bah Wei (Frank Wyatt), Shotokan karate (Teruyuki Okazaki), Akido (Yukio Utada), and Jujitsu-Shotokan karate (Andrew Lyn. Sr.). She is SAG-AFTR membership eligible from the movie-In Her Shoes (screen credit Asabi Rich.) and is a graduate of Temple University with a BA in English. Currently Ashabi is a graduate student at Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication studying for an MS in Globalization and Development Communication.
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
Elizabeth Whelan recently received her BFA in Dance from George Mason University in Spring 2017. She has performed with The Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra in their production of Swinging Through the Sky, Robert Battle’s Mass with the GMU Percussion Ensemble, Susan Shield’s First Fives- also with the Percussion Ensemble. She has freelanced with D.C. based Company E at the Kennedy Center in their newest work, (In)Security. Elizabeth works as a dance diplomat with the non-profit Movement Exchange, a service organization that provides free dance education for underprivileged children both domestically and internationally. Currently, she is interning with Kun-Yang Lin Dancers. Aside from dance, she enjoys yoga, reading, hiking, and making art.
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.
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.
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.
Chelsey Hamilton recently graduated from Temple University with a dual major in journalism and dance. As a dancer since the age of 3, she grew up focusing her studies on ballet, jazz and contemporary technique. Along with performing in numerous shows and events during her time at Temple, Chelsey was also able to combine her passions for journalism and dance by publishing numerous articles in local publications on arts and entertainment topics since 2013. She has held positions as the arts and entertainment blog intern of Philadelphia Magazine, a Student Author for Philadelphia Dance Journal and the Managing Editor of Temple’s on-campus yearbook, among others.
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.
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.
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.
Natalie Gainer originally hails from West Virginia but has recently come to call Philadelphia home. She holds a B.A. in Dance Anthropology from Swarthmore College and an M.A. in Dance from Temple University. Her interests center largely on dance as a mechanism for social change and cultural literacy. She took her first ballet class at age three and has since explored a variety of styles. Natalie hopes to eventually pursue a PhD in Dance.
Scott Romani moved back to Philadelphia after living on the other side of the state for many years. In the city of bridges, he became an adjunct professor at Point Park University and taught at many local studios including Millennium Dance Complex Pittsburgh. He has adjudicated national competitions and performed for choreographers such as Melissa Rector, Michael Susten, and Alan Obuzor. Scott earned his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh and has been published by Blotterature. His play will premier in the Pittsburgh New Works Festival this fall.
Angelica Spilis is a Philadelphia native who studied dance at Temple University in the Boyer College of Music and Dance where she received her BFA (2012) and MA (2015) degrees in dance. Her Masters of Arts degree included many choreographed works and her written thesis called Dancing With Arthritis where she created a Somatics-based dance class for dancers who have arthritis. At Temple University, Angelica concentrated in Modern, Jazz and Improvisational Dance. Along with continuing her dance education, Angelica has taught at many dance studios in the Philadelphia area and performed for numerous dance companies, such as ContempraDance Company and Steven Welsh/SWERVE. She has also choreographed dances that were featured at Temple University and choreographed for many dance competitions in Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Alex Strine is an award winning screenwriter, critic, and filmmaker. He specializes in reviews of fiction, children’s books, and graphic novels. His work has appeared in Weal, WinkBooks, and Cracked. In 2015 he was a finalist in the Nickelodeon Script First Contest.
Hannah Joo, a native of Los Angeles, moved to the Greater Philadelphia Area to attend Swarthmore College, where she recently graduated with a BA in Dance and Anthropology. When not in the studio, Hannah is involved in Dance for All Movement Therapy and Dance for Parkinson’s Disease with the Mark Morris Dance Group. Hannah is interested in culturally based dance forms, the reinterpretation of “traditional” performance, and arts as social change.
Gina Palumbo is a native of Philadelphia and has a passion for the arts. She has received her B.A. in Dance from DeSales University in Center Valley, PA, where she spent time performing, choreographing, and teaching. She is spending her post graduate life as a dance instructor and Certified Yoga Teacher, and will be attending graduate school for Dance/Movement Therapy next year. She resides in Northeast Philadelphia with her mother Joanne, her brother Anthony, her Nonna Carmela, and her pet bunny, Ellie.
Gary L. Day is a produced playwright, director/producer and critic who has been covering the arts in Philadelphia since the Clinton administration. He has also worked as an editor, an illustrator and a bar manager. He is also an expert on all things Star Trek and Captain America.