When people think of the word “reunion,” all sorts of things come to mind. Perhaps it’s a family reunion, with the awkwardness of seeing a long lost cousin or the thought of politely laughing at Uncle Ed’s bad jokes. Others might think of a high school class reunion, with butterflies over running into a school sweetheart, or the pressure of impressing old friends. However, when a college reunion is mentioned, most people cannot help but smile as they remember the fun times and incredible memories they made with friends who became a second family.
On April 27-30, the Colorado State University School of Music, Theatre, and Dance will host its first ever Alumni Dance Celebration, a reunion of dance alumni from as far back as the mid-1970s. This four-day event features dance alumni teaching master classes, concerts performed by former CSU dance majors, social gatherings for re-connecting, and presentations on dance degree career options by successful teachers, performers, choreographers, and entrepreneurs. The complete schedule of events outlines three days packed with activities and rehearsals, with concerts on the third and fourth days. The fourth and final day of the event is intentionally left open for Alumni to socialize, see the changes on the CSU campus, and re-visit the joys of Fort Collins.
Rams from all around the nation, from New York to Los Angeles, will be in attendance for this event. Director of Dance Jane Slusarski-Harris wrote an open letter to dance alumni, expressing her genuine excitement and anticipation for the celebration. “Many of you have already responded…I am delighted and thrilled to hear from so many!” Jane wrote. The letter can be viewed in full here.
Some concert performers and master class alumni teachers include Amy Havens (1991), (Chas Kilker-Greener (1995), Gustavo Vargas (1997), Jessica Riggs (2007), Denna Thomsen (2007), Andrea Palesh (2008), Grady Soapes (2009), and Alyssa Howell (2014). A more complete list of performers and teachers, and their biographies, can be found below.
This celebration is designed to bring together current and future alumni, as well as community members. Throughout the years, many community members have supported CSU Dance in countless ways. From financial gifts to scholarship and endowment funds to purchasing tickets for performances, it is very clear how much Fort Collins values the Dance Program at CSU. As a result, Director Slusarski-Harris has opened all master classes and presentations to the public.
Tickets for the concerts will be the $18/adult, $8/youth, and NO CHARGE for full-fee paying CSU students and are available at CSUArtsTickets.com.
After the Friday night performance, the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance will host a Gala reception open to anyone who has attended the concert. This will be an excellent time to reflect on an incredible week, meet new faces, and enjoy some food. If you are anticipating attending the reception, it is asked that you RSVP here, so that an accurate amount of food can be ordered.
So whether you are a Ram returning home, an enthusiastic member of the dance and arts community, or a current student enrolled in the dance program, this special event will undoubtedly be one to remember for a long time! If you have any questions, please contact Director of Dance Jane Slusarski-Harris at J.Slusarski-Harris@ColoState.EDU.
A very special thanks to the Dean Ann Gill and the College of Liberal Arts for the support of CSU’s Dance Alumni Celebration!
Alyssa Howell received her B.A. in Dance, from Colorado State University in 2014. While there, she was awarded multiple merit scholarships. Upon graduation, she was awarded the Faculty Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Department of Dance. She is now working towards her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education at Metro State University of Denver. Since her time at CSU, Alyssa has been working as the assistant and then head pom coach at Smoky Hill High School. She has also been working as a dance instructor for various levels and genres, office manager, and choreographer at Studio 9 Dance Academy in Parker, Colo. Alyssa attributes her growth as a technical dancer, performer and more importantly as a person, to her time at Colorado State University. It was here where she was able to realize her full potential and her passion for helping to educate both in dance and academically. Alyssa hopes to install passion, excitement and dedication to education and to touch the hearts of the many students she will come into contact with throughout her teaching career.
Amy Havens holds a B.A. in Dance from Colorado State University. She was first introduced to the Pilates Method by her modern dance teachers and met Gary Calderone and Jeff Woodman, both graduates of The Pilates Center of Boulder, Colo. Immediately becoming fascinated with the beauty, grace, strength, and logic of this method, she knew becoming a Pilates teacher was in her future. Amy moved to the San Francisco bay area to pursue a performing career, and like many dancers, sustained an injury. Pilates and chiropractic were her means of rehabilitation, enabling Amy to follow her intuition and deepen her relationship with the Pilates Method. She completed her Comprehensive Teacher Training Program through The PhysicalMind Institute® taught by Madeline Black and Jean Sullivan and as an apprentice, was asked to teach at A Body of Work in San Francisco. Amy is a Pilates Method Alliance Certified Pilates Teacher (CPT). She is faculty and teacher trainer for Pilates for Buff Bones™ (Rebekah Rotstein, founder). Amy holds additional certifications in pre/post-natal training through CORE Conditioning and is a Core Align Level 1 trained instructor.Amy is a patient and compassionate teacher, remembering that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Based on her rich movement background, her style is eclectic and purposeful; she teaches with enthusiasm, clarity, joy, and a well trained eye. Amy lives in Santa Barbara with her dog Maddie and her two cats Dexter and Frankie. She loves to cook, hike, and travel and when not in the studio, is at home listening to music, dancing, and endeavoring to find the balance of work, rest, play, and joy.
Andrea Palesh is a Colo. native currently residing in New York City. After high school, she attended Colorado State University receiving a B.A. in dance and B.S. in fashion merchandising. While at CSU she had the pleasure of training with faculty members Chung-Fu Chang, Jane Slusarski-Harris, Melissa Corr, and Judy Bejarano. Additionally, she had the chance to work with guest artists such as Gabriel Masson, Kim Neal Nofsinger, and Hannah Kahn. College cultivated her artistic desire to choreograph, leading to numerous pieces selected for CSU department concerts, a commissioned piece for the Aspen Dance Connection in 2007, and the chance to present a piece at ACDFA that same year. Inspired by the opportunities NYC had to offer, Andrea moved to the city upon graduation. While simultaneously working in fashion PR, Andrea danced in Eyes of a Blue Dog Dance Theater, performing at APAP, Dance Theater Workshop, and Jacob's Pillow ‘Inside Out’ Series. Recently she’s performed with entertainer Robert Taylor Jr. from Season 8 of SYTYCD, was a featured dancer in the off-off Broadway show Chris March’s Butt-Cracker Suite: A Trailer Park Ballet, and toured extensively both internationally and domestically with Mystic India: The World Tour. Currently she performs, co-directs, and choreographs for the nightlife cabaret spectacle: Guilty Pleasures Cabaret, at the renowned Duplex Cabaret Theater.
Annessa Kohlhardt obtained a B.A. with a focus in dance and a B.S. in Health and Exercise Science with a Sports Medicine concentration from Colorado State University in 2012. Annessa has a wide variety of experience in performance, choreography, teaching, coaching, and dancing professionally. After graduating, she moved to Chicago where she performed in a wide variety of settings including concert dance, corporate events, and featured entertainment events. In addition to dancing, Annessa worked in a major hospital as a rehabilitation technician in an outpatient physical therapy clinic. It was here she found a passion for physical therapy and healing people through movement. Due to this passion, she applied to physical therapy school and currently attends Colorado University at Anschutz Medical Campus working on obtaining a doctorate in physical therapy. She continues to dance in the Denver area, just recently joined a local entertainment company and looks forward to performing once again.
Bailey Ostdiek graduated from Colorado State University in 2014, majoring in dance. Shortly thereafter, she was invited to perform as a guest with IMPACT and then invited into the company. While at CSU, she worked with faculty members Judy Bejarano, Chung-Fu Chang, Amber Mazurana, Carol Roderick, and Jane Slusarski-Harris, as well as several guest artists including Tommy Parlon, artistic director of Tommy Parlon Dance Projects, and Yunyu Wang, a professor at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan who restaged Anna Sokolow’s Rooms. Bailey spent a year performing in the CSU Tour Dance Company, directed by Chung-Fu Chang, performing and conducting lecture demonstrations throughout Colo. Her choreography was selected for the company’s repertoire as well as featured at the Colorado Dance Expo representing CSU Dance. Bailey has taught Creative Movement, Beginning Ballet, and Adult Ballet at local studios and schools in the Fort Collins area; she is currently teaching ballet and jazz at High Country Conservatory of Dance.
Brielle Oaks grew up in Parker, Colo., and started dancing at the age of five, studying everything from ballet and tap, to jazz. At nine, she was accepted in to the pre-professional ballet program at International Ballet School in Littleton and studied under the direction of Mark Carlson and German Zamuel. During her time there, she competed at the Denver Ballet Guild and Youth American Grand Prix, placing each time, and going to nationals in N.Y. to compete among the elite from all over the world. She also earned lead roles such as Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker. Additionally, Brielle trained with the American Ballet Theatre in N.Y. for three consecutive summers and was chosen as a soloist of her level. After many years of training in ballet, she switched gears to pursue competition dance at Michelle Latimer Dance Academy. Brielle attended Colorado State University as a dance major and business minor. In 2013, she took ownership of the dance studio in Fort Collins where she had been teaching since 2012. With her education from CSU, Brielle dreamed of opening her own studio, and feels immensely fortunate for the opportunity right out of college. She is inspired each and every day by her students and is lucky to get to share her love of dance with them each and every day.
Carrie Demos lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and is a dance educator based in New York City. A graduate of The Foundations of Dance Education, Dance Education Laboratory at the 92nd St Y, Carrie is currently on faculty at the 92nd St Y Harkness Dance Center, Peridance Capezio Dance Center, and is honored to serve as a teaching artist for New York City Ballet Education, teaching NYCB curricula/residencies in New York City Public Schools. Carrie has also worked with The New York City Dept. of Education in collaboration with the Dance Education Laboratory to further advance standards for dance education in grades K-8 by helping to train Pre-K educators by serving as a co-facilitator for the NYCDOE’s 2015 Universal Pre-Kindergarten Teacher Training, and as an adjudicator for their Arts Achieve initiative. Carrie is a certified Pilates Instructor (Kane School of Core Integration), working to create alignment centered classes for adults (The Living Room, Brooklyn) and continues to strengthen her own teaching by studying Kinesiology/Anatomy from master teacher, Irene Dowd. As a dancer, Carrie has performed with Community Dance Project (N.Y.) and in her home town of Denver with Louder Than Words Dance theatre.
Chas Kilker-Greener is the artistic and program director of the dance program at Mountain Kids. Chas has been dancing since the age of five, and has enjoyed studying all forms of dance including modern, jazz, tap, ballet, ballroom, hip-hop, and Zumba. Chas has her B.A. in Dance Performance from Colorado State University (1995). Her choreography has been performed for CSU, the Northern Colorado Choreographers Showcase, New Visions Dance Festival, and High Performance Dance Theater. She has performed for over 15 years with High Performance Dance Theater, Dance Connection Performance Network, and toured with “Fangalangus Island.” In addition to dancing, Chas loves teaching teenagers and children, and spending time with her husband Jim and her children Brielle and Collin.
Danielle Heller, vice president CoDeo and CSU Dance Program alumni has served as an owner and the artistic director of Peak Academy of Dance in Conifer, Colorado since 1998. She graduated magna cum laude from Colorado State University in 1993 with a degree in Dance, German, English and a Colorado teaching certificate. Danielle is vice president of CoDeo (Colorado Dance Education Organization) and has been instrumental in working with the State Board of Education to unanimously approve the Dance Endorsement rules. She continues to be a catalyst to increase opportunities, statewide for educators and students to see more movement in the schools and to develop curricula for dance studios.
Denna Thomsen grew up in Omaha, Neb., and spent her youth training intensely in dance, which sparked her passion for art. Upon receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree from Colorado State University, Denna moved to Los Angeles to pursue her professional career and is now one of the most sought after performers in LA. Standing alongside well-known actor Shia LaBeouf, Denna became highly recognized for the music video Fjogur Piano, by Sigur Ros. She has also had the honor to dance for Madonna, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Sia, Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake, and Kanye West, as well as of working with infamous directors such as Alma Har’el, Floria Sigismundi, Martin de Thurah, and David Fincher. In 2012, Denna alongside partner, Zak Ryan Schlegel, founded the contemporary dance company, “AXIOM”. Currently, Denna trains with The Lee Strasberg Institute for Film and Television. The Method Acting Technique has broadened her range and gained her prominent leading roles in numerous short films, including “Service", where she won best actress at Hollywood Horrorfest. While she has so many incredible credits under her belt thus far in her career, this is only the beginning for Denna Thomsen.
Emma S. Kimball received a B.A. in Dance, a minor in Theatrical Design & Production, and a B.A. in International Studies from Colorado State University before moving to New York City. She is currently the producing intern for Theater Reconstruction Ensemble, the development apprentice at The Lark, and an associate artist with Built for Collapse. Performance/Collaboration with: SSBKLYN, Loading Dock Theater, The Table of Silence Project, Bryan Strimpel, Marjorie Folkman, Wesley Doucette, Noah Kaplan, and Tim Manley. Original Choreography/Direction shown at: WAXworks, The Outlet Dance Project, The Tank, and New Works at Bates Dance Festival. Sound Design: Middletown (LSTFI), Venus (LIU), Red Wednesday (LPAC), Doctor (Community Creative Center), and Eugene O’Neill Theater Center sound intern.
Genevieve Waterbury began her dance training with Boulder Ballet when she was four years old. She also trained with Texas Ballet Theatre and Ballet West before attending Colorado State University as a dance major. In her time at CSU, Genevieve performed soloist and ensemble roles in student, faculty, and guest faculty works; her favorite role, which she performed her final semester of school, was as Carlotta Grisi in Pas de Quatre. Upon leaving the university, she accepted a contract with Nevada Ballet Theatre. She spent two seasons with the company performing Corps de Ballet and soloist character roles in works by George Balanchine, Cynthia Gregory, and James Canfield. While with NBT she also performed in collaborative showcases with artists and directors of Cirque du Soleil, and was asked to write and perform spoken word poetry for the company’s Studio Series production. One of the most integral parts of Genevieve’s post college dance endeavors was her experience in the Donald Byrd Workshop at Spectrum Dance Theatre. Through her studies with Donald Byrd, she developed an enthusiastic appetite for contemporary movement, ultimately propelling her interest in New York City. Genevieve’s recent move to N.Y. has allowed her to train with highly regarded artists from around the world, as well as given her the opportunity to perform with former CSU peers in an entirely new setting. When not dancing, Genevieve spends her time writing, singing, and playing guitar, sitting on trains, running to catch those trains, and writing audition inquiry emails.
Grady Soapes is a choreographer, teaching artist, and performer based out of Denver, Colo. Notable choreography credits include As You Like It, Drag Machine and Lord of the Butterflies (Denver Center for the Performing Arts), as well as associate choreographer for The Music Man, directed by Otis Sallid (Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp). Former choreographer-in-residence at CSU, Grady will be choreographing the 2016 Colorado Shakespeare Festival's Comedy of Errors. His performance credits include five seasons with 3rd Law/Dance Theater, the International Festival of Contemporary Dance in Merida, Mexico (choreographed by Chung-Fu Chang), the Illinois Ballet, and David Taylor's American in Paris and Seasons. Mr. Soapes holds a Bachelor of Arts from Colorado State University and currently resides as an instructor with Belliston Ballet, and as the artistic coordinator and teaching artist for the Denver Center for Performing Arts.
Gustavo Vargas is originally from Mexico City, Mexico. He was raised in Houston, Texas. He's been dancing and choreographing professionally for 17 years. He recently choreographed for Jennifer Lopez’s show in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood, and also worked with Eva Longoria on Telenovela, currently showing on NBC. Additonally, he’s danced, choreographed, and toured for artist such as Marc Anthony, Madonna, Will Smith, Usher, Pink, Mya, Alicia Keys, Paulina Rubio, Roselyn Sanchez, Britney Spears, Enrique Iglesias, N'Sync, Jessica Simpson, and Prince Royce. He has choreographed and danced for television including American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance-Canada and US, Bruno and Carrie Ann’s Dance Wars, America’s Best Dance Crew, True Blood, 7th Heaven, Drew Carey, Boston Public, American Music Awards, The Grammys, The Latin Grammy’s, Janet Jackson MTV-Icon, and many more. He has worked on movies such as The Bachelor, Be Cool, Dirty Dancing II-Havana Nights, Spanglish, Master of Disguise, Along Came Polly, Jackass II, Rent, and Indiana Jones-Kingdom of The Crystal Skull. He made his acting debut on the TV show Strong Medicine. Gustavo travels the world teaching master classes for all styles of dance, and is technically trained and known for his partnering skills.
Jenna Smith is originally from Maple Grove, Minn. She started training in dance at the age of four, studying ballet, jazz, and tap. She moved to Colo. in 2005 and joined the Colorado Youth Ballet, where she studied with Patricia Hoffman, Holly Marble, and Jacob Mora. She began her college training at Colorado State University as a dance major, and graduated in 2012. While at CSU, Jenna studied with not only the amazing faculty members, but also with many guest artists including Viktor Kabaniaev, Katie Elliot, Julie Rothschild, Pilobolus, Gabe Masson, and Tommy Parlon. She performed excerpts from La Bayadère, Paquita, The Nutcracker, and Don Quixote, and danced in many original works by guest choreographers and the CSU dance faculty. Jenna spent two years in CSU’s Tour Dance Company, performing and participating in lecture demonstrations in schools across Colo., and has been a guest performer with the Aspen Dance Connection in Grand Junction, Colo. Jenna joined IMPACT Dance Company in 2012, and remained a company member until moving to Tenn. in 2015. She is currently a member of FALL aerial ballet company in Nashville.
Jeremy Colvard began his dance training in high school. It was not until his move to England to finish high school that he fully realized his passion for dance. He decided to take the next step and study dance at Colorado State. In 2012, Jeremy was invited as a guest to perform with Impact Dance Company. This experience inspired and encouraged to take his studies deeper and attend Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London. There, Jeremy trained in Martha Graham and Jose Limon/Release techniques as well as choreographic, choreological, and choreutic studies. After graduating from the program, Jeremy was invited to join IMPACT. He has also co-directed projects for Damsels Dance Company, HER, Dance Company, UNRAVEL, and Bohemia in Denver. Jeremy has recently been invited to cultivate his own Coven Contemporary Dance Theatre company at the Downtown Artery in Fort Collins and looks forward to future collaborations with Judy and IMPACT who never cease to amaze him.
Jessica Riggs graduated from Colorado State University with both a B.A. in Dance and a B.S. in Dietetics. During her college dance career, Jessica studied with choreographers and teachers such as Jane Slusarski-Harris, Chung-Fu Chang, Melissa Corr, Linda Harris-Cooper, Lisa Morgan, Judy Bejarano, Hannah Kahn, Gabriel Masson, Katie Elliot, and Kim Neal Knofsinger. Her own choreography was showcased on multiple occasions in the CSU Fall and Spring Dance Concerts, as well as selected for adjudication in the 2007 American College Dance Festival. Since graduating, Jessica's choreography has been featured in Ascential Dance Theatre's Assemblage, Colorado Centre of Dance's annual benefit for the Children's Hospital, Hearts for Hearts' Sake, Transition Theater's Kali Creates Fate, and GAMMA-UT's New Music Festival at the University of Texas. In 2009, Jessica founded Life/Art Dance Ensemble, a non-profit dance company that focuses on artistic collaboration and making the arts more accessible. In addition to the exciting challenge of running a dance company, Jessica currently works as a registered dietitian nutritionist for King Soopers/City Market and The Little Clinic.
Karleen Quackenbush graduated from Colorado State University with a B.A. in Dance and a Minor in English in 2009. At CSU, she was privileged to work with faculty choreographers Chung-Fu Chang, Melissa Corr and Carol Roderick as well as several guest choreographers, Mary Wohl Haan of Boulder’s HAAN Dances and Jacques Heim of Diavolo Dance Theater in Los Angeles. She was also a member of CSU’s Tour Dance Company and danced with Canyon Concert Ballet of Fort Collins, CO performing in The Nutcracker and David Taylor’s Contemporary Classics. After graduating in 2009, Karleen lived for a year in Wenham, MA near Boston and danced with modern dance company Forty Steps Dance under the artistic direction of Sallee Slagle. While in Massachusetts, she also taught ballet at the Hamilton-Wenham School of Dance and worked with Boston Ballet’s outreach program Citydance. Since 2010, Karleen has happily been back in her home state of Colorado. Her creative career has led her to teach ballet and early childhood dance at Ballet Nouveau Colorado (now the Colorado Conservatory of Dance), become a certified Zumba Fitness Instructor, and work as a professional wedding and portrait photographer. Currently, she dances with Life/Art Dance Ensemble where she has been a company dancer since 2010.
Katie Swenson is a Colorado native, who is always in search of new perspectives on dance. Her relationship with dance has always been a balancing act--a perpetual, upward spiraling cycle of deconstruction and growth. Since the age of 7 Katie has been dancing, having begun her training as a leisure activity, which later took the spotlight while studying sports medicine and occupational therapy at Colorado State University. Ms. Swenson’s performance career includes work with IMPACT Dance, Moraporvida Contemporary Dance, the Funkinetic Project, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, and most recently, the Rennie Harris Grass Roots Project. Within her dance journey she has had the privilege to perform the works of masters such as: Milton Myers, Alvin Ailey, Donald McKayle, Cleo Parker Robinson, Katherine Dunham, Rosangela Silvestre, Gary Abbott, and Ray Mercer, among others. Her own work has been presented in the New Visions Dance Festival, the Denver Independent Choreographers Project, and Cleo on Cleo, to name a few. Currently, Katie dances with the Rennie Harris Grassroots Project, and enjoys teaching dance as a malleable tool for personal discovery and betterment in and around Denver.
Lindsay Dighero grew up in Thornton, Colo. She began dancing at the age of three studying many styles including ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, and lyrical/contemporary at Premier School of Dance. Lindsay had the opportunity to dance with the Schiff Dance Collective’s training company for four years in Boulder, Colo. where she has taken part in the Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop technique classes and student performances. Lindsay enrolled at Colorado State University in 2011 and trained in ballet (Vaganova), modern, choreography, and pedagogy. She has received the CSU Dance Scholarship each school year from Fall 2012-present. She also received the Jane Sullivan Scholarship for Dance Education for the Fall 2014 – Spring 2015 school year. While at CSU, she performed Escape, an exerpt from Rooms by Anna Sokolow, Labanotation restaged by Professor Yunyun Wang, and Swan Lake and Pas De Quatre staged by Associate Professor Carol Roderick. Lindsay has had to opportunity to perform 20 shows to over 3,000 audience members with CSU’s Tour Dance Company under the direction of Chung-Fu Chang and serve as the technical director and assistant to the director. During her time at CSU, Lindsay has added a double major of Health and Exercise Science with a concentration in Sports Medicine, and is currently serving as a student ambassador for the College of Liberals Arts. After graduating, Lindsay plans to continue her passion for dance as well as attend graduate school to become a Physical Therapist.
Liz Ikard-Magalong's career spans twenty years in the Body, Mind and Spirit industries. Mrs. Ikard-Magalong performed, directed, instructed, and choreographed at numerous dance studios, companies, and competition dance troupes/ teams. She worked as a guest Pilates instructor under Jennifer Reich in Denver, Colorado, training Pilates instructors through the International Physicalmind Institute. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of Northern Colorado and another BA in Performing Arts with emphasis in dance at Colorado State University. She completed graduate work in exercise science from California University at Pennsylvania. Her continued education includes the Pilates Method Alliance certification, Physicalmind certification, Alana Norman (classical) Pilates encompassing all equipment and mat practices. Mrs. Ikard-Magalong obtained a specialization in Pre & Post-natal Pilates from the Center for Women’s Fitness. In the GYROTONIC method she earned a Level I certification and specialty course in Pre & Post-natal GYROTONIC applications. Over the years, she partnered with varied Physical Therapists and Chiropractors. As a wellness coach, she combined her love of the body, mind and spirit to support her clients. Recently, Mrs. Ikard-Magalong obtained two levels in religious education certifications from the University of Dayton, Ohio. She is an Army spouse married to an active duty service member who currently serves in the Army and together they have four children.
Mallory Hochwender graduated summa cum laude from Colorado State University in 2011 with a B.A. of Liberal Arts and an Environmental Affairs Certificate. During college, Mallory danced as a CSU Golden Pom and studied with CSU Dance. After graduation, she implemented her dance education as an instructor at Mountainside Dance Academy, coach at Skyline High School, and youth movement instructor at the Longmont YMCA. Presently, Mallory is employed as Client Care Team Supervisor at the Longmont Humane Society. She is also enjoying her 4th year as a performer within Judy Bejarano's contemporary modern performance group, IMPACT Dance Company.
Mary Overton is a Colorado native who grew up in Littleton, Colo. She is currently a Spanish teacher at Skinner Middle School, in Denver, Colo., and a member of Life/Art Dance Ensemble. Mary is passionate about both dance and Spanish, and this passion has afforded her many opportunities. She formerly attended Colorado State University and has Bachelor’s Degrees in Spanish, Dance, and Liberal Arts, and a Master’s degree in Spanish Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. As a CSU student, Mary had the privilege of working with various teachers and choreographers including Carol Roderick, Chung-Fu Chang, Jane Slusarski-Harris, Judy Bejarano, Katie Elliot, and Jacques Heim, among others. She was also a member of CSU's Tour Dance Company. Since moving to Denver, Mary has enjoyed working with Jessica Riggs, director of Life/Art Dance Ensemble, and the other incredible company members. She feels lucky to have the opportunity to continue dancing and performing. Mary loves languages, traveling, and experiencing other cultures. She has traveled to more than a dozen countries and studied in both Quito, Ecuador, and Granada, Spain. This summer she will be working with the Education Coordinator at the San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico. When she is not teaching or dancing, Mary also enjoys spending time in the mountains skiing, camping, and mountain biking with her husband, Dennis.
Molly Gray is a Fort Collins native, who earned a degree in Human Development and Family Studies in 2011 and a B.A. in dance in 2013 from Colorado State University. While at CSU, Molly studied under Judy Bejarano, Chung-Fu Chang, Carol Roderick, and Jane Slusarski-Harris. Molly was the recipient of the 2013 Faculty Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Dance Major. Currently an activity director for an Assisted Living Facility in Loveland, Colo., Molly focuses on bringing art and movement to the aging population. She began dancing with IMPACT in 2014. Molly is very appreciative of her dance family for being so positive and supportive! She has turned her professional focus to bringing creative, artistic, and meaningful experiences to the aging population through her job with Columbine Health Systems. Molly’s education at CSU inspired her belief in using movement and art as a form of expression for those who may not be able to articulate verbally, as well as the importance of exercising creativity throughout the lifespan. Molly hopes to restore confidence in those who have developed physical and mental disabilities associated with aging by providing opportunities to express themselves in a different, often foreign, way.
Rich Lugo began studying martial arts in Westchester, N.Y. at the age of four. After ten years of disciplined training, he became involved in high school musical theater productions, gaining acclaim in all of his roles. As he developed a passion for dance, regularly studying modern, ballet, jazz, and hip-hop, Rich earned a B.A. in Dance at Colorado State University in 2009. Performing in numerous regional dance productions at CSU, and on tour throughout northeastern Colo., Rich also choreographed 14 pieces in a variety of styles, including his senior capstone concert. Three works were juried by faculty to be performed in the university's main-stage concerts and in the tour company repertoire. He has worked with various guest artists and performed in several dance festivals, including the American College Dance Festival (ACDFA) and the IX Festival Internacional de Danza Contemporanea Avant Garde in Merida, Mexico. As the founder and artistic director of DANSPIEK, a NYC-based multi-media dance theatre company, Rich aspires to impact the arts and communities worldwide by imparting his visions in a refreshing, powerful and memorable way. He currently teaches dance full time at Fordham High School for the Arts in Bronx, N.Y.
Sarah Kane While completing her degree at Colorado State University, Sarah performed in numerous shows for CSU Dance and studied ballet and modern under the instruction of several amazing artists. She was selected to represent the CSU Dance by performing at the American College Dance Festival in Long Beach, Calif. Sarah also had the privilege to attend the world-renowned Toronto Dance Theatre Intensive Program in Toronto, ON, Canada, where she studied classical Graham technique. She performed with Life/Art Dance Ensemble for several years after graduation. Currently, Sarah is the web and social media specialist at the Colorado Community College System and teaches ballet at Colorado Center of Dance in Golden, Colo.
Shannon McGee was raised in Dallas, Texas, where she began dancing at a young age. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance from Colorado State University where she studied contemporary, modern, jazz, ballet/pointe, choreography, improvisation, and pedagogy. There she received the annual CSU Dance Scholarship and was a member of the Tour Dance Company. Shannon has been a freelance dancer, choreographer, and instructor in Los Angeles and New York City. She has worked with companies and choreographers such as IMPACT Dance with Judy Bejarano, DamageDance with Jessica Taylor, Antonio Brown, Paula Present, Rachel Oliver and many more. She previously was a member of Benita Bike’s Dance Art Company and is currently dancing with Inclined Dance Project and Jennifer Muller/The Works Company. Along with her dance career, Shannon is also a passionate fitness instructor. She is currently an advanced certified instructor for Pure Barre Brooklyn where she teaches a barre based fitness class. Shannon currently resides in New York City and is continuing to perform and teach.
Susie Garifi holds an M.A. in Dance Education from New York University and a B.A. with a major in Dance from Colorado State University. She has studied with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, and traveled nationally and internationally, discovering many great dance opportunities and people from around the world. Susie is currently employed as a dance instructor at both Front Range Community College and Mountain Dance where she is also the assistant director. She has also been an active member of IMPACT Dance Company for over seven years, and is a certified Power Yoga instructor. Susie very much enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for dance and yoga with the community, and in her free time, she loves having fun with her husband Rhys and their four-year-old daughter Violet!