About the Artist
About the Artist
I grew up in Jackson, Michigan and studied dance at Susan Vaughn School of Dance from kindergarten all the way up through high school. I trained in ballet, tap, jazz, modern and hip hop, and started teaching at the age of 14. In my freshman year of high school I started attending the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters summer dance workshops, and received scholarships every year to attend the Ballet Forum, Dance & More preprofessional track program, Student Sessions, and competed in various categories. I also took dance roles and was dance captain in my high school musicals, which included “Footloose,” “Anything Goes,” and “Cinderella.”
I went on to my undergraduate degree at the University at Buffalo, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts Summa Cum Laude in Dance, with a focus on performance and choreography. I performed in the dance department’s two companies, Zodiaque Dance Ensemble and Zodiaque Dance Company, choreographed for ZDE and the Emerging Choreographer’s Showcase, worked with internationally renowned artists, and started discovering my own artistic voice.
I taught and trained in ballroom and Latin dances under Paula Iacono at Iacono Ballroom Center, and performed under many local artists in the Buffalo area following graduation in 2011 up through the fall of 2012. I then moved to Iron River, Michigan to take care of my grandmother and was granted the opportunity to teach and choreograph dances at her church, the First Presbyterian Church of Iron County. I performed for an ecumenical Good Friday service to the entire region’s Christian population, which led to my pursuit of a graduate degree in dance after two years of introspective study on religion, dance and small town culture.
My time at Sarah Lawrence College under former director Sara Rudner was invaluable, and I was able to begin looking at dance as a space for community to form, grow, undergo challenges and changes, and I found myself learning to step away from traditional views of dance and performance. This began a study on the incorporation of visual and theatrical art elements to my choreography, most notably the addition of origami, puppetry, costume design, and narrative development in my work. My Master of Fine Arts was given to me in spring of 2016.
Since then, I have been afforded the opportunity to continue performing and making my own work in and around the greater metropolitan area of NYC, with my own company Paper Dances debuting at Dixon Place in August of 2017, collaborating with Shoko Tamai and her company Ninja Ballet in designing shadow puppetry and large scale origami, LeAnn Yannelli Dance, Madam Mathieu’s Soiree at The Duplex, Mahvash Saba, Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, NY, Kent Place School in Summit, NJ, and am a proud member of Dance New Jersey.