National Choreographers Initiative

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2017 Choreographers and Dancers

Suzanne HaagSuzanne Haag is originally from Connecticut. She began her dance training at the School of the Hartford Ballet and then attended Butler University in Indianapolis where she received her degree in Dance and Arts Administration. She has performed with Nevada Ballet Theatre, Ballet Idaho, DROP Dance Collective and is currently in her 14th season with the Eugene Ballet Company. Suzanne has been featured in many works by EBC Artistic Director Toni Pimble and guest choreographers including Mauricio Wainrot, Jessica Lang, Amy Seiwert, Robert Battle, and Septime Webre. In 2013 Suzanne co-founded the unique performance group, #instaballet, which utilizes audience participation and creativity to generate new ballets. Suzanne began choreographing ballets as a young student and has continued to create throughout her performance career. In 2016 she was commissioned to create her first work on EBC entitled Look, and premiered her latest piece, The Surrounding Third, for EBC this past February. As part of EBC’s 2017/2018 season, she will be collaborating with the band, Pink Martini. Suzanne participated in NCI as a dancer in 2007, working with Edwaard Liang and Jerry Opdenaker and is thrilled to be returning as a choreographer this year.
Robert MillsRobert Mills stepped into the role of Oklahoma City Ballet’s Artistic Director in 2008, 14 years after he began his association with the company. Since he took the helm of Oklahoma City Ballet, the company began a new era of growth and renewal. In the past eight years the number of performances have doubled, the annual budget of the organization has tripled, the annual summer intensive draws aspiring ballet dancers from around the country, and dancers and choreographers from around the world are vying to work with Oklahoma City Ballet. Originally from Northwest Indiana near the heart of Chicago, Robert began formal training in gymnastics at the age of seven and soon after shifted his focus to dance. He studied in Chicago, concentrating on ballet with renowned pedagogue and author Anna Paskevska, with former soloists of London’s Royal Ballet Richard Ellis and Christine DuBoulay, and at the Ruth Page Foundation with Larry Long. He received further training in ballet with full scholarships from the Milwaukee Ballet School, Richmond Ballet, The Rock School in Philadelphia and the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Robert enjoyed a vast performing career touring internationally as a guest artist and dancing with the Milwaukee Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, Eugene Ballet and Ballet Idaho.
Penny SaundersPenny Saunders, originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, graduated from the Harid Conservatory in 1995, and began her professional career with The American Repertory Ballet under the direction of Septime Webre. She went on to dance with Ballet Arizona, MOMIX Dance Theater, Cedar Lake Ensemble and in 2004 she joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. In 2011, Saunders won the International Commissioning Project which launched her choreographic career, creating pieces for Hubbard Streets’ main and second company, Whim W’Him, SFDanceworks, Neos Dance Theater, Owen Cox Dance Group, and The Nexus Project. Saunders is honored to be the choreographer in residence at The Grand Rapids Ballet receiving support from The New York City Ballet Choreographic Commissions Initiative and to be the recipient of the 2016 Princess Grace Choreographic Fellowship.
Christopher StuartChristopher Stuart, originally from Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Christopher has danced with Nashville Ballet for the last 14 years and has risen to the rank of principal. His vast experiences as a dancer and performer helped him articulate his choreographic voice. Stuart has created pieces for Nashville Ballet 2, Nashville Ballet, Quixotic Fusion and Ballet Arkansas. In Nashville Ballet’s 2012 Emergence performance, he collaborated with ALIAS Chamber Ensemble and Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. In 2012 he choreographed and staged Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s "Macbeth". For the past three seasons Stuart has created pieces for Nashville Ballets annual Ballet Ball with music performed by Holly Williams, Kellie Pickler, Clare Bowen and John Oates. For Nashville Ballets 2014 Attitude series, he created Under the Lights, a full length work to the music of Johnny Cash performed by Sugar and the Hi lows. Stuart was a finalist in Ballet Arkansas' first annual Visions Choreographic Competition. In 2015 Stuart had the pleasure of choreographing a piece to the music of the world renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers. Most recently he was awarded a choreographic Fellowship from the New York Choreographic Institute. In May 2017 Nashville Ballet will present the World Premiere of Stuart's Seven Deadly Sins.
Lighting Designer
Monique L'HeureuxMonique L’Heureux is an award winning lighting designer who has been working in the field of dance for over two decades. This year, she is celebrating her fourteenth collaboration with artistic director, Molly Lynch.  

Past designs include: Ma Cong’s French Twist for Smuin Ballet; Molly Lynch’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Anjani Ambegaokar’s Made in Mumbaii at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center;The Motion Picture and Television Fund event featuring Chita Rivera, Dick van Dyke, Shirley MacLaine, Hugh Jackman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer Hudson, and others; Charles Moulton’s Ball Passing piece in Fall for Dance at the Orange County Performing Arts Center; Robert Sund’s Alice in Wonderland; the National and Pacific Festivals of Regional Dance America; the summer season at the Hollywood Bowl; and associate design work on the Universal Studios’ Magical Starlight Parade in Osaka, Japan.  

She attended Pepperdine University and received her MFA from the University of California, Irvine, after which she apprenticed at the Los Angeles Music Center’s Mark Taper Forum. She has taught for the dance departments at Loyola Marymount University and Moorpark College and the theatre department at El Camino College. She is the recipient of four Lester Horton Dance Awards.  

She is an accomplished artist and photographer whose work has been shown in galleries including the Long Beach Public Library’s Art on Display, the Carl Broderick Gallery, VIVA Gallery, Long Beach Arts Center, City of Brea Gallery, and The Stage Gallery, as well as a permanent installation in the Glendale Adventist Medical Center. She is a member of United Scenic Artists.   www.artanddesigns.net

2017 Dancers
Women:
Julia Eisen – Nashville Ballet
Julia Feldman – Sacramento Ballet
Sabrina Holland – Richmond Ballet
Tessia “Tess” Lane – California Ballet
Elise Pekarek – Ballet Austin
Lauren Pschirrer – Smuin Ballet
Lydia Relle – Ballet San Antonio
Molly Wagner Gregory – Kansas City Ballet

Men:
Thomas Baker – Oregon Ballet Theatre
James “Jimmy” Cunningham – Cincinnati Ballet
James Fuller – Ballet Austin
Zachary Guthier – freelance
Jonathan Harris – Sacramento Ballet
Nicolas “Nick” Scheuer – Nashville Ballet
Morgan Stillman – Nevada Ballet Theatre/Austin Ballet
Benjamin Tucker – Nevada Ballet Theatre



2017 Dancers
 2017 NCI dancers
 2016 Choreographers
Tom Gold
Nicole Haskins
Stepanie Martinez
Ben Needham-Wood
 2015 Choreographers
Nicolas Blanc
Norberto De La Cruz
Jimmy Orrante
Sarah Tallman
 2014 Choreographers
Barry Kerollis
Gabrielle Lamb
Philip Neal
Garrett Smith
 
 2013 Choreographers
David Fernandez
Susan McCullough
Kitty McNamee
Petr Zahradnicek
2012 Choreographers
Melissa Barak
Thang Dao
Darrell Grand Moultrie
Wendy Seyb
2011 Choreographers
Brian Enos
Heather Maloy
Peter Pucci
Paula Weber
2010 Choreographers
Anne Marie DeAngelo
Helen Heineman
Viktor Kabaniaev
Peter Quanz
 2009 Choreographers
Sidra Bell
Deanna Carter
Rick McCullough
Olivier Wevers
2008 Choreographers
Amy Seiwert
Edmund Stripe
Emery LeCrone
Ma Cong
2007 Choreographers
Melissa Barak
Frank Chaves
Edwaard Liang
Jerry Opdenaker
2006 Choreographers
Ron De Jesus
Graham Lustig
Charles Moulton
Gina Patterson
2005 Choreographers
Val Caniparoli
Christopher d'Amboise
William Soleau
Luca Veggetti
2004 Choreographers
Ann Marie DeAngelo
Peter Pucci
James Sewell
Lynne Taylor-Corbett
   

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