With a mission to strengthen the field of dance in Greater Boston, Next Steps for Boston Dance provides multi-layered support for Greater Boston’s choreographers.
This grant program aims to support Greater Boston choreographers creating original work in any dance genre and at any career level, post-college, to move forward and take a “next step” in their careers by providing artists with:
Ian Berg is a Boston-based tap dancer originally from Chicago, Illinois. Ian has been dancing since an early age and has training and performance experience in tap dance, ballet, modern dance, jazz, contact improvisation and a variety of other styles and approaches.
In high school, Ian trained at the Joffrey Academy in Chicago while also dancing with the renowned Chicago based tap company MADD Rhythms, of which he is still a member.
Ian is also a musician as well as a composer and arranger of music and an alum of The School at Jacob’s Pillow and the Boston Conservatory with a BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance. He is currently living in Boston, Massachusetts where he is the director of tap dance company Subject:Matter.
Natalie is the Artistic Director of Natalie Johnson Dance, a fiscally-sponsored company founded in 2015, whose mission is to present original movement that evokes universal experiences through individual histories. Balanced with her love of choreography and concert stage dance is Natalie's relish of language, literature, and poetry. Natalie graduated from Bowdoin College, where she earned her BA in English and Dance, and this fascination with language is one of the most pervasive themes in the company repertory. Natalie has presented her choreography throughout NYC, Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia, Chicago, and North Carolina.
In 2017, Natalie completed a yearlong residency in NYC which supported her creation of the evening-length work, Sleeptalking. She is a three-time commissioned artist of Simantikos Dance Chicago, and received an artist grant from the Belmont Cultural Council in 2019 to support her evening-length production, AGEN. Natalie is currently looking forward to completing an artist residency with The Mauser Foundation in Costa Rica in June of 2020, researching solo movement to inspire her newest work.
Ana Masacote is an award-winning Latin dance specialist, educator, and womanpreneur who passionately believes that through dance, we can facilitate social change within communities. She is a co-founder and partner of Masacote Entertainment and has spread the salsa bug to more than 30 countries across five continents. Ana is also the producer and executive director of Yo Soy LOLA, a movement to reclaim the Latina narrative through artistic platforms and a scholarship initiative for Latinx artists in Mssachusetts, and the founder of Dance to Power, LLC, an online Afro-Latin dance academy dedicated to educating and uplifting womxn and allies around the world through Afro-Latin dance.
Ana was a recipient of the 2015 New England Salsa Music Award for lifetime achievement in dance, an alumna of the 2015 Goldman Sachs 10KSB National Program, a recipient of the SBA’s MA Minority-Owned Business of the Year Award, and holds a bachelor's in Management Science from MIT in Cambridge. She began her formal dance training with folkloric dance at age 5 and salsa at age 15, and she has been a judge and guest of honor at salsa competitions and festivals worldwide.
Jeff, as a versatile artist, is one of New England’s premier Hip-Hop dancers, educators and choreographers. While pursuing his artistry, Jeff felt compelled to create a family-oriented group to travel, perform and grow with. In 2012, Jeff took this aspiration and gave it life by founding, directing, and choreographing for the internationally touring company, The Expressive Movement. Jeff’s high-energy and self-evolving classes strongly focus on Hip-Hop technique and contemporary elements inspired by Gaga movement; the Gaga technique is the influence for a style which Jeff coined, “TempHOPical,” the fusion of contemporary, hip hop and lyrical. As an innovator, Jeff also began developing "Kimpada," a ballroom/partner dance related to and inspired by other Caribbean and Latin styles like Bachata, Salsa, Pasada, Kizomba, Lindy-hop, and Swing. Jeff continues to teach classes at studios, workshops, conventions and colleges across the US and internationally. In addition to teaching, he often is invited to judge at competitions, such as Nexstar and Step Up to Dance.
Jeff's passion is not restricted to any specific type of dance, feeding his overall fascination with movement. Jeff’s dance experience includes studying with America’s top original Hip- Hop teachers, including Super Dave, Jamar Hopkins, Brian “Footwork” Green, and Henry Link. Jeff has trained in styles including hip hop, dancehall, break-dancing, Chicago footwork, house, popping, locking, whacking, Afro-house, Krump, ballet and contemporary. Jeff's performance career includes working with numerous Boston-based dance companies, appearances in commercials (such as Twix, Skippy Peanut Butter, Nestle Inc., Nerf and iTunes) and television shows (SYTYCD season 12, top 30). Other career highlights include The Nutcracker and Hairspray, and back-up dancer for Ryan Lewis, Macklemore, and Jillian Jensen.
Destiny "Divine" Janai Polk, whose name means "That which has been firmly established, God has answered, Dance", is an Afro-indigenous choreographer and producer, space holder, art educator and founder of art-activist platform Radical Black Girl. RESIST(D)ANCE, her original three-part performance premiered at the OBERON Theater in 2017. Her annual interactive performance, “Black Woman Is God” presents over 20 Black Women Artists each year, celebrating Black Women’s contributions to life through dance, music poetry and visual art. Destiny has shared her choreography at conferences, festivals, museums, on intimate and grand stages. Her recent choreography work was presented with OWLL at Imagining America, a national conference on decarceration and liberatory practices.
Destiny’s performances and dance films combine her poetry and choreography for internal and collective processing of emotions, trauma and memory. In addition to leading workshops at universities like the Harvard School of Public Health, Destiny is an invited speaker on panels for social and global impact in art and moderates community conversations. She has presented an original dance short film “When The Sea Rises” produced by 3arly July at ILLUMINUS 2018. Most recently, Destiny has presented a workshop “Being The Change Through Art" at SXSW 2019 and upon her return to Boston, began her traveling artist residency to develop an original multi-media work “My City, My Body or If Concrete Could Talk or For Those Who May Be Traumatized. She was the Boch Center’s 2020 Youth Arts For Social Change Summit Keynote on Representation In The Arts.
Billy & Bobby McClain started dancing at the age of 8, and by 9 years old they were doing their "WonderTwins show" for family events such as cookouts and barbecues. At age 10,, they won their first dance competition which was judged by the legendary rapper KURTIS BLOW and were recruited to join Boston's first professional street dance crew "The Funk Affects", a group that influenced and inspirational toi the early success of New Edition and New Kids on the Block. They spent 7 years with the company, gaining recognition by opening up concerts for big artists like Run DMC and LL Cool J. By their early teens, they were giving monthly hour-long shows for the community with acts such as New Kids on the Block, with whom they would later co-choreograph elements of their Magic Summer Tour and produce a song for their album.
The Wonder Twins have headlined at Jacob’s Pillow's "Unreal Hip Hop" & Inside/Out Dance Festival, Brooklyn Dance Fest, Rochester University, Southern Vermont Dance Festival, Colby College, University of Rochester, Eastern Connecticut College, Wesleyan University, University of Saint Joseph, ICA Boston, NYC Town Hall, UraGano Italy, Concepto Vimen Mexico, TedxBoston, David White's Tap The Yard, DanceNOW Boston, DanceNOW NYC, Joe's Pub, Dixon Place, The Dance Hall, The Music Hall Loft, Cape Dance Festival, the Museum of Fine Arts, the House of Blues and Lincoln Center. They are also six-time winners of "Showtime at The Apollo" and performed a record 16 times at The Apollo. They have also toured the USA and internationally as Bobby Brown’s "Don’t Be Cruel" tour dancers and as choreographers/songwriters for New Kids On The Block.
Caitlin Canty is a performer, teacher, and dance maker living in Somerville, MA. Her dances are concerned with the relationship between form and narrative, and the potential for performance to be intimate, alive, and exuberant. Her work has been presented at The School for Contemporary Dance and Thought, The Dance Complex, Third Life Choreographer’s Series, Colorado College, and Young Choreographers New Work at The Bates Dance Festival. She received her education from Colorado College, and since graduating has performed in work by Ruckus Dance, Jenna Pollack, and Dance The Yard.
Junior Cius is an artist residing in Cambridge, Mass. He began dancing at the age of 16 and shortly after graduating high school, started training intensively in urban choreography, hip-hop, dancehall, and a few other street styles. He attended the University of Massachusetts Boston, studying Theatre Arts and Dance. In 2015, Junior Cius established his own urban dance company called "CrewNex". Soon after College, Junior became an alumni of the Monsters of Hip Hop Dance Convention, where he travels and assists many world renowned choreographers. In 2016, he was signed as an actor and dancer, represented by Clear Talent Group-NY. Junior Cius now focuses on being a voice in the black community by creating projects that both uplift and bring awareness to the issues that are often overlooked.
Joy Davis is a dance artist and educator steeped in Countertechnique, improvisation, and performance. joyproject is her collaborative framework for the creation of performance which elegantly and humorously contemplate our place in the universe through dance, theater, design and installation. Joy completed an MFA in Choreography and Performance from Smith College, and was certified to teach Countertechnique in 2012. She is an Associate Professor at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.
Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga is the founding Artistic Director of the OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center and the founder of ShapeUp with Shaumba, Inc. - a non-profit organization whose mission is to utilize dance, fitness, nutrition spoken word and writing to heal communities. Ms. Dibinga has extensive training, teaching and performance experience in all areas of dance and theater and has been writing poetry and plays for over 25 years. OrigiNation was founded in 1994, produces innovative and dynamic performing arts programs which motivate, challenge, and inspire youth to be the best they can be. OrigiNation offers quality dance, theater arts, and African history education through its 5 youth arts programs. The company has also toured internationally to South Africa, England, Senegal, Ghana and Trinidad & Tobago.
Shawn Exilus is a choreographer for the dance group Trend N Motion. He has performed throughout the Boston area as well as the Apollo Theater in New York. He is also a freelance videographer that plans to implement creative film making into his dancing career. His mission is to inspire others with the beauty of dance and film. He strives to not only be good, but to BE GREAT.
Betsy Miller is based in Salem, MA, where she is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Salem State University. Her current project, american / woman, seeks to platform women dance artists from each state in the country, and to explore, through a dancer's lens, what it means to be a woman in America.
Papa Sy is a dancer, choreographer, and dance teacher from Senegal, and the principal member of 5 Dimension Company. After professional dance training in Senegal's National Dance Academy, Papa Sy joined Germain Acogny’s Écoles des Sables and Jant-Bi dance company. Working their opened Papa Sy’s artistic spirit, and he founded the Pasytef Ballet Theatre de Dalifort dance company in Dakar and the Pasy Dance School from a passion for sharing his knowledge with young dancers and contributing to their artistic education. He has created, produced, directed, and starred in over twenty shows. He is currently an I-ARE artist in residence and dance teacher at the Dance Complex
We want to take a moment to thank our 2018-19 panel of judges for Next Steps for Boston Dance:
Steven Skerritt-Davis, Program Director, Maryland State Arts Council
Sara Juli, Choreographer, Performer and Fundraising consultant
Theo Martey, Director, Akwaaba Ensemble
Shoshona Currier, Director, Bates Dance Festival
Callie is a choreographer with Zoe Dance company, dancer with Prometheus Dance, freelance graphic designer and projection designer, as well as founder/owner of Studio@550 in Cambridge. As a choreographer she has presented her work locally, regionally, and internationally. As the core of her work, Callie integrates digital environments with performance and dance.
Michael Figueroa is a Cambridge based performer, anti-choreographer teacher, and director of Ruckus Dance. His dances deal with rule breaking, rote memory, and improvising inside of choreographed situations. Michael teaches weekly classes as part of the Midday Movement Series (middaymovement.org). Michael holds a BFA from the Boston Conservatory.
Accumulation Dance is a partnership between Meghan McLyman and Kristen Duffy Young, whose mission is to create original work that expresses the human experience through dance and performance.
These artists were drawn together by their shared interests in somatic-based dance education, collaborative dance making, and the investigation of their identities as feminists and mothers. Meghan (MFA, MA) is the Chair of the Music and Dance Department and Professor at Salem State University. Kristen (MFA, CMA) is the founder and Director of the Colleges of the Fenway Dance Program and an Adjunct Professor at Emmanuel College. Their work has been presented at Boston Center for the Arts, Movement at the Mills, The Somatics Conference and Performance Festival, The Southern Vermont Dance Festival, Green Street Studios, The Dance Complex, Salem Arts Festival, Trident Art Gallery, Goddard College, College of the Holy Cross, and Hollins University. Meghan and Kristen also serve as board members of the Massachusetts Dance Education Organization.
Award-winning choreographer Marsha Parrilla is the founding Artistic Director of Danza Orgánica. Born and raised in San Juan- Puerto Rico, she moved to NYC where she pursued a Master's degree in Dance Education from New York University. Parrilla is a proud recipient of several grants from the New England Foundation for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Boston Foundation- among others. She is currently a resident artist in the city of Boston, through their unique Boston AIR (Artist in Residence) program. Parrilla is also a Luminary artist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where she is now a commissioned artist. In addition, she is a Dance Ambassador at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Most recently, Parrilla was awarded a Creative Development Residency at Jacob's Pillow, and was recently featured at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Inside/Out Festival. Parrilla is a recipient of three Boston Foundation awards: Live Arts Boston (2016); Brother Thomas (2017), and Next Steps for Boston Dance (2017). She is the founding producer of the acclaimed annual festival: We Create! Celebrating Women in the Arts.
Artist and performer Catherine Siller works with projections: projected images and text, projected societal ideals, projected versions of the self. She has performed throughout New York and New England and in Brazil and the UK. She holds degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design and Harvard.
J. Michael Winward is an independent dance artist based in Boston. With influences in American-style ballroom, ballet, contemporary and somatic dance practices, his work places a strong focus on building connection: connection to one’s body, one’s self, one’s audience, connection between dance partners, connection within and across communities. Through his program, Steps in Time, he brings social ballroom dancing to senior and elder care facilities throughout Greater Boston.
Co-founder and Artistic Director of Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE), Jean Appolon is a choreographer and teacher based in Boston and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. JAE is a Haitian contemporary dance company that combines Modern technique and Haitian folkloric dance. With its dynamic repertoire and dancers from diverse backgrounds, JAE educates audiences about Haitian culture, traditions, history and current issues.Jean Appolon received his earliest training and performance opportunities in Port-au-Prince, and continued his dance education in the U.S, where he graduated with a B.A. from the Joffrey American Ballet School. He teaches regularly at The Dance Complex and the Boston Ballet, among others. In 2006, Appolon founded a free annual summer dance course in Port-au-Prince that serves young, aspiring Haitian dancers; his vision is to expand the summer course into a year-round program.
Rebecca McGowan and Jackie O'Riley are a duet specializing in old-style traditional Irish dance. Originally drawn to the grace, musicality and subtlety of older steps, they have been dancing and creating together for the past eight years. They have performed traditional and original work at the Catskills Irish Arts Week, the Institute of Musical Traditions and the Lowell Folk Festival, and are the recipients of the 2017 Next Steps grant for Boston-based choreographers through the Aliad Fund and the Boston Foundation. Independently, Jackie and Rebecca have both followed a long path of studying and spending time with masters in the tradition, including Patrick O’Dea, Michael Tubridy, Aidan Vaughn and Kieran Jordan.Both direct and teach unique, non-competitive Irish dance programs for youth and adults, and have been on the faculty of festival dance programs including MAD Week, the Augusta Heritage Center's Irish Arts Week and the CIAW.
Kat Nasti is the Director of Kat Nasti Dance and the Executive Director of Green Street Studios.She was a NYC-based dancer for many years and worked with Radio City Christmas Spectacular, American Dance Machine, Lisa Giobbi and Alyce Finwall, among others.Her choreographic work and teaching has been presented at venues across the East Coast.She holds an MFA from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MBA from Lehigh University, where she was a Graduate Teaching Fellow and President of the National Association of Women MBAs.
Growing up without the means for dance classes, McKersin overcame his troubled environment, persevered and became the dancer that he is today. With Ethnic-Haitian dance already in his vocabulary, he started building a bigger arsenal with Hip-Hop, Jazz and Tap. In college, he started trading work hours for classes and started studying ballet and modern intensively. Now, he is leading workshops throughout various parts of the country orientated towards social justice and, the roots of African American culture and movement. Out of his many projects and goals, his main and current project involves building up men in the inner city to become emotionally intelligent while being agents of social change within their community with the creation of a program called, Bridge 4 my Brothers.
Emily Beattie is a radical dance artist, performer and educator based in Somerville. Her current collaborations with media artists Cari Ann Shim Sham and Eric Gunther of all real machines, each explore the place of an embodied female experience in an overtechnologized world. Both projects are supported by New England Foundation for the Arts and The Boston Foundation. Her performance work for stage, site and screens have been shown by the Boston CyberArts Festival, the ICA Boston, Gloucester New Arts Festival, Design Boston, Ammerman Center for the Arts, the Waterfire Festival in Rhode Island, Los Angeles’ Fowler Museum, experimental Pieter Performance Space, the Hammer Museum, UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance department, New York’s Spoke of the Hub performance space and Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery | Staller Center for the Arts, and internationally in Quito Ecuador and Kyoto, Japan for the Kyoto Renku Festival. Emily is grateful to have completed national tours with David Rousseve/Reality and Lionel Popkin Dance Project. She holds a BFA from the Boston Conservatory and an MFA from UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance.
Performer, choreographer and fiber artist Alexander Davis is a graduate of Keene State College where he received a B.A. in English: Writing, and a B.A. in Theatre and Dance: Choreography and Performance under the mentorship of William Seigh. Alex is currently a company member at Urbanity Dance (Best of Boston 2015), as well as a performer with Ryan Landry's Gold Dust Orphans (Best of Boston 2016). Alex is also a passionate arts administrator, a published memoirist, a sexual consent educator and an okay comedian. He is currently knitting a wedding dress. For more information and upcoming performances please visit www.alexanderdavis.dance. @SayAnythingAlex.
Peter DiMuro is a performer, choreographer, director, teacher, facilitator and arts engager, touring and teaching internationally. His creative umbrella is Peter DiMuro/Public Displays of Motion, a company currently focusing on large spectacles and miniature-scaled occurrences of dance/theatre. The company is a resident artist at the Boston Center for the Arts, and Peter was a recent recipient of the Boston Dance Alliance’s Rehearsal and Retreat Fellowship.Current creative projects include a revival of “Gumdrops and the Funny Uncle,” which looks at multiple definitions of family in an alternative to a holiday Nutcracker experience, with an intergenerational cast of professionals and LGTBQ community members combined, and continuing to serve as the Executive Director of The Dance Complex in Cambridge.Originally from Round Lake, Ill., he is the youngest of three children, the son of the Chief of Police (Dad) and a machinist/gal Friday (Mom). He has a niece named for the Crayola crayon, Sienna.