2017 Artist Cohort
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Taína Vargas-Sosa is an artist, educator, and activist based in Boston with roots in the Dominican Republic. Her studio practice centers around themes of gender, culture, identity, and aesthetics. She primarily works with photography, printmaking, ceramics, and mixed media. Taína is currently a visual arts faculty at Boston Latin Academy.
Neige Christenson has enjoyed over 30 years of exploring, teaching and performing Contact Improvisation dance. A Contact Improvisation duet can be a metaphor for relationship and also be an abstract expression of life-force energy, as dancers spontaneously respond to each other in the present moment. Her performance videos can be found here.
Loreto Paz Ansaldo is a math teacher, community organizer and artivist. A Chilean-born Bostonian, Loreto is developing an Activist Calendar for the Greater Boston area and most recently facilitated a youth-led public art class with Urbano Project and served on the Boston Creates Leadership Council. Loreto has also trained as a street medic, reiki level one practitioner, and language justice interpreter.
Boston-based chilenita gringa, Isabel Catalina Hibbard is passionate about talking back, creative expression and critical thinking as tools to better understand issues of social justice. She has designed and facilitated art-based workshops for youth programs in New England and Chile and is currently an educator for Follain, a healthy beauty store with the mission of improving public health by holding the beauty industry accountable. Loreto and Isabel are sisters.
Allyssa Jones is an award-winning musician and educator whose body of work includes five solo recordings, numerous choral arrangements, original score for the film Knockaround Kids, and music composition and direction for The Lyric Stage, Apollinaire Theatre Company, OWLL Theatre, Boston Public Works, and Company One. Jones currently serves the Boston Public Schools as Program Director for Performing Arts and local music makers as Executive Director for 3050 Music Group.
Jenny Herzog is a singer, tap dancer, improviser, and composer. Jenny recently graduated with her Masters of Music from the Contemporary Improvisation Department at New England Conservatory. Her work seeks to re-integrate tap dance into the jazz vernacular. She sings and taps in Three Blind Mice, a local jazz trio. Jenny also sings yiddish repertoire with Hankus Netsky and Jim Gutmann, of the Klezmer Conservatory Band. She is currently collaborating with Chavi Bansal on a full-length dance theatre piece, which focuses on the people in the audience, and how powerful it can be when strangers become vulnerable. www.jennyherzog.com
Having decided to become a Ringling Bros. elephant rider, Alexis Hedrick left gymnastics at age 10 to begin her circus training with Splash Circus and the SF Youth Circus. She discovered Cyr wheel at the National Institute of Circus Arts, Australia (following an undergraduate degree from Vassar and neuroscience fellowship). Alexis performs around the world with P&O Cruises and All Wheels Sports, and locally with the Boston Circus Guild. To learn more about Alexis' work, visit: www.alexishedrick.com
Elaine Fong is an taiko (Japanese drums) musician, with over 30 years of experience which includes: being the founder of Odaiko New England, (based in Massachusetts); ten years with Soh Daiko in New York; and being a member of the West-Coast based taiko groups Maze Daiko and Kiku Daiko. Ms. Fong has ten years of dance training, and over 20 years of rhythm teaching experience. She has collaborated with choreographers, has composed for film and for the theater, and has developed engaging school-based lecture demonstrations. Ms. Fong is a certified Taketina rhythm teacher, advanced level. Her current endeavor, Rhythms in Life (www.rhythmsinlife.com) hopes to explore ways to help people reconnect to the healing power of rhythm. Ms. Fong has an undergraduate degree from Princeton University, and an MBA from Yale University. Her working career spans the public, private and non-profit sectors.
Merli V. Guerra is a professional dancer and award-winning interdisciplinary artist with a background in ballet, modern, and classical Indian dance. She is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Luminarium Dance Company (Boston, MA), and a company member of Nataraj Dancers (Amherst, MA) and Deborah Abel Dance Company (Boston, MA). Guerra’s work with Luminarium extends beyond the traditional stage; her Night at the Tower project was honored as one of just three projects (out of 5,000+ across the state in 2014) to receive the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s (MCC) prestigious 2015 Gold Star Award. She subsequently accepted an appointment to the Arlington Cultural Council as its Co-Chair for one year, and spoke on a panel for the MCC at the Massachusetts State House, urging legislators to support the arts, in February 2016. Guerra frequently acts as a panelist, judge, guest choreographer, critic, speaker, and advocate for the Boston dance community and New England at large. She can be reached at merliguerra.com.
Jenny Oliver has spent the past decade navigating a dance career in performance, teaching and research. A Magna Cum Laude graduate with a BA degree in Dance from Dean College and having received the Excellence in Achievement Award from the School at Jacob’s Pillow, Jenny has used her years of extensive training in Ballet, Modern (specifically Horton), Jazz, Tap (specifically Hoofin') and Haitian Folkoric Dance, to create interesting choreographies and develop integrated teaching practices. Oliver was the Assistant Artistic Director and Principal Soloist for Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE), The Dance Captain/ Co- Choreographer for the Boston Tap Company (BTC), collaborating with Sean C Fielder (of the National Tour “Noise Funk”), among other professional associations. She’s worked in Residency with Brigette Dunn Korpela, Lane Gifford and Reggie Wilson and has taught for the Alvin Ailey Summer Camp Boston and Boston Ballet’s ECI Dept. She has also taught in Haiti and helped to establish a dance studio in Delmass 33, Art Locus Studio. She has been recognized by the International Dance Council CID and scouted by RAW, an LA-based talent showcase company.
A multi-talented dancer, singer, lyricist, educator, arts events producer and percussionist, Eli Pabon also artistically known as Lady believes she finds divinity within herself and others through artistic expression. Born and raised in Boston to a family of performers and educators she grew up learning the importance of music and dance in education and community building. She learned to play percussion instruments, sing and dance Afro Puerto Rican Bomba and Plena, Hip Hop and Salsa, amongst other traditional, folkloric and modern genres from a young age. Having created with, learned from and/or performed alongside greats like Giovanni Hidalgo, Don Omar, and Marc Anthony- to name a few. With a Bachelors degree in Communications Studies & Theater Arts from Bridgewater State University, she has been an integral part of the development of local nonprofits and artist collectives such as Reflect & Strengthen, MetaMovements (Salsa In The Park), Kilombo Novo Capoeria Angola, Critical Breakdown, Bomba Sankofa and BOMBAntillana. In 2016 she completed her Expressing Boston artist fellowship through the Boston Foundation and DS4SI and has been selected as a 2017 We Create Artist Fellow. At present she is also a teaching artist at various Boston and Cambridge schools.