Christopher Williams, hailed as "one of the most exciting choreographic voices out there" (The New York Times) and "the downtown prodigy" (The New Yorker), is a choreographer, dancer, and puppeteer who has created over thirty original and collaborative works in New York City and abroad since 1999. In addition to touring internationally in France, England, Italy, Spain, Holland, Colombia, and Russia, as well as nationally in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Kalamazoo, Princeton, Carlisle, Bainbridge Island, and Interlochen, his works have been presented in many New York City venues including Lincoln Center, City Center, Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop, La MaMa, P.S. 122, HERE Arts Center, and the 92nd Street Y. His commissioners include the Opéra Royal du Château de Versailles/Opéra National de Bordeaux, English National Opera, Teatro Real/Perm Opera & Ballet Theater, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, Harkness Dance Center, Philadelphia Dance Projects, and HERE Arts Center's Dream Music Puppetry Program. His collaborators include composer Gregory Spears and visual designer Andrew Jordan as well as renowned directors Peter Sellars and Michel Fau along with musical director Raphaël Pichon whose productions won five Golden Mask Awards at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and the Grand Prix du Syndicat de la Critique 2015 in the category of "best Spectacle Lyrique of the year” at the Opéra Royal du Château de Versailles respectively. Christopher received a New York Dance & Performance "Bessie" Award for his work Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins (2005) and has been awarded fellowships from The New York Foundation for the Arts, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Center for Ballet and the Arts, and the Bogliasco Foundation for multiple residencies at the Liguria Study Center for Arts & Humanities in Bogliasco, Italy. He has also been awarded creative residencies at the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, Joyce SoHo, Dance New Amsterdam, White Oak Plantation, The Yard, Bates Dance Festival, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Mt. Tremper Arts, Robert Wilson's Watermill Center, on Captiva Island via the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, through Movement Research, the Harkness Dance Center, the HERE Artist Residency Program, Bainbridge Dance Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and Yaddo. Christopher received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1999 from Sarah Lawrence College as well as a diploma from the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. www.christopherwilliamsdance.org
Sara Spizzichini, a native of Massillon, Ohio, is a graduate of Point Park University having received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance. Prior to her college career, she trained under the artistic direction of Ms. Jeanne Mahaffey, Inna Stabrova, and Mitchel Federan. In 2012, she graduated from the Jackson School of the Performing Arts. She has spent four consecutive summers performing with Versatile Dance Company (a non-profit organization). She has also had the pleasure of working and performing with Parsons Dance Company (National High School Dance Festival 2016) as well as Pittsburgh’s local Attack Theatre. Sara thrives off of performing and teaching while continually looking for new ways to challenge herself both physically and artistically. She is more than thrilled to be working with The Blanket on this upcoming project!
Jil Stifel is a performer, choreographer and interdisciplinary collaborator. Her work has been supported by The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Heinz Endowments, The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and The Kelly Strayhdorn Theater. Her recent performance credits include appearances with Maree Remalia | merrygogo, The Drops Ins collective, Dave Bernabo’s Modules and Staycee Pearl Dance Project. Jil has performed extensively as a company member of Attack Theatre and Philadelphia’s Miller Rothlein Dance Theatre. She was honored to dance with Kyle Abraham performing his early works in Pittsburgh. She is also a former company member of Labco dance, TanzTheatre Andre Koslowski and Gia T presents in addition to her work with independent choreographers. Jil currently teaches dance at the University of Pittsburgh where she is pursuing an MS in Wellness Research. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with Highest Honors from Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts.
Eric Lobenberg was raised in Las Vegas, NV where he discovered his love for dance at the age of 14. After realizing this passion he attended the Las Vegas Academy for the Performing arts, where he studied voice and dance for four years. After graduating he was accepted into Point Park University, where he is majoring in dance with a concentration in modern dance. Since attending Point Park he has performed works by Sonya Tayeh, Alexandra Damiani, Anthony Tudor, and others. Last summer Eric spent some of his break training at the Martha Graham School and this summer he is excited to be working with The Blanket as well as attending Springboard Danse Montreal and returning to the Graham School.
Lindsay Fisher (originally from Butler, PA) spent the bulk of her career in New York City dancing with Helen Simoneau Danse (rehearsal director), Nathan Trice/RITUALS, Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company, Collective Body/ Dance Lab, Ellen Cornfield, Daniel Charon, Camille A. Brown, Ayo Jackson, Brenda Daniels, Sean Sullivan, Steve Rooks, Sidra Bell and VIA Dance Collaborative (founding member). She has performed in Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera’s West Side Story and North Shore Music Theater’s Victor/Victoria. She received her BFA from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2002 where she was the recipient of the prestigious Sarah Graham Kenan Endowed Fellowship of Excellence. She also received her MFA in Choreography from the University of Iowa in 2014 as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and as the first recipient of the Strategic Initiative Fellowship recognizing excellence in her field. She was recently awarded a Community Supported Artist Grant through the New Hazlett Theater (Pittsburgh, PA) and presented an evening of her work in April, 2017. She is also the co-founder and co-director of FORGE Summer Dance Intensive, hosted at Slippery Rock University. This year, she is excited to be joining the dance faculties of both Slippery Rock University and Point Park University, in Pittsburgh.
Bianca Melidor is a rising senior dance major at Point Park University concentrating in jazz. During her time at Point Park, she has performed in pieces choreographed by Troy Powell, Mark Morris, José Limon, Kiesha Lalama, Ruben Graciani, Jessica Hendricks and many other well-known choreographers. Bianca has also participated in summer programs like the Mark Morris Dance Group intensive, Ballet West, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the Atlanta Ballet. Bianca is excited to work and perform with The Blanket and the rest of her cast members.
Sierra is a recent graduate from Point Park University receiving a degree in Dance and Entertainment Management. She has performed under the direction of Gregory Dolbashian in The Crowd Poem, Kyle Abraham in Continuous Relations, David Leventhal in Mark Morris' Grande Duo, and Miki Orihara in Martha Graham’s Steps in the Street. Most recently, Sierra worked alongside Jim Cooney, Camille Rolla, and Tony award winning Michael Rupert as Dance Captain/Swing for Sweet Charity. Previously, Sierra enjoyed working under the direction of Jim Cooney as Dance Captain in the Point Park Conservatory Dance Company 2016 production in Pittsburgh, PA. She recently choreographed the children’s benefit concert Mark Milovat’s Christmas in the City (2015) and Mark Milovat's Christmas in America (2016) at the Byham Theater.
Michaela Hoelldobler recently graduated from Point Park University with a BFA in Jazz Dance. She graduated high school from the contemporary dance department at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Throughout her schooling career she has been honored to perform works by Jose Limon, Sean Sullivan, Bill T. Jones, Luke Murphy, Ruben Graciana, Kiesha Lalama, Ronen Koresh, Matt Pardo, James Gregg, and MADBOOTS DANCE. Outside of school, Michaela held a brief company member position with MAC Ballet Company. Her choreography has appeared on stage at both Point Park University and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
John (JD) David DeNeff is a 20 year Kansas City native. He is currently working towards his BFA in Dance at Point Park University here in Pittsburgh, PA. John has worked with numerous choreographers since being at Point Park's conservatory. Some names include, Ori Flomin, Darrell Moultrie, Mark Burrell, and Jose Limon. He is thrilled to be an apprentice for The Blanket's first production of Lucinda Child's Early Works. He considers it an honor to be working under the direction of Matt Pardo and Caitlin Scranton this summer.
Georgia Bray grew up in Sydney, Australia where she made the move to the United States at the age of 18 to begin studying at the versatile conservatory, Point Park University. During her time at Point Park University, achieving a BFA in dance with a concentration in Jazz, she was able to work with numerous choreographers. Her latest works include the premiere of MADBoots' ‘Helpless People’ and 'Karmic Variations' choreographed my Jason Mcdole. Last Winter Georgia was able to continue her training with the Bodytraffic's intensive, and now she is super excited to be apart of The Blanket this Summer. Even though she is miles away from her homeland she will continue to get the biggest amount of support from her family and friends.
The Blanket's initial project brought post-modern choreographer Lucinda Childs to Pittsburgh to set 4 of her early "silent works" on our dancers. Working with Ms. Childs the company performed these works outside at the Monongahela Amphitheater. Read about the performance here !
photos by Ben Viatori - @v.foto