Walker Art Center Presents Choreographers’ Evening 2019

A Night of 11 Experimental Dance Works Plus 2 Preshow Performances Curated by SuperGroup

Celebrating Minnesota dance and performance while expanding a post-Thanksgiving tradition at the Walker, this year’s Choreographers’ Evening is curated by SuperGroup—the deliriously inventive performance collaboration of Erin Search-Wells, Sam Johnson, and Jeffrey Wells. The evening features a diverse array of 13 fresh, provocative, compelling, and experimental works by ever-evolving local dancemakers.

Choreographers’ Evening 2019 features Emily Gastineau, Erika Hansen, Mathew Janczewski, Cecil Neal, Leah Nelson, Margaret Ogas, Sharon Picasso, Eva Reed and Piper Rolfes, Kayla Schiltgen, Judith H. Shuǐ Xiān, Deja Stowers, Shanan Tolzin and Kristina de Sacramento, and Julie Warder.

SuperGroup. (from left) Erin Search-Wells, Sam Johnson, and Jeffrey Wells. Photo Credit: Bobby Rogers, Courtesy of Walker Arts Center)

On curating the evening, SuperGroup said, “We chose the pieces for Choreographers’ Evening based on our group instinct. From years of creating together, we’ve developed a strong interest in performance that is densely layered; work that considers a multitude of complex issues in a multitude of ways and leaves room for disagreement and incongruity. In some ways, we approached curating this evening as we might the creation of our own work—looking for ways that varied content, forms, and concepts can coexist and converse. Reorganizing how we see the world by building, contradicting, engaging, and reflecting with and for each other.

2019 Choreographers; Evening Grid (Photo Credit: Bobby Rogers. Courtesy: Walker Arts Center)

Pre-show Performancesm 3:30 & 6:30 pm
Come early to experience a preshow featuring two performances by Erika Hansen and Leah Nelson that take place in the public spaces or lobby of the McGuire Theater (locations to be announced). Both pieces occur concurrently on a loop for the duration of the preshow. Then take a seat in the theater for a showcase of 11 performances.


2019 Choreographers Evening Portrait of SuperGroup by Bobby Rogers. L-R: Erin Search-Wells, Sam Johnson, and Jeffrey Wells. Courtesy of Walker Arts Center

SuperGroup, a performance collaboration of Erin Search-Wells, Sam Johnson, and Jeffrey Wells), a Minneapolis-based performance collaboration. Since forming in 2007, they have presented work at venues across the Twin Cities including the Bryant Lake Bowl, the Red Eye, Bedlam Theatre, the Ritz, and the Walker Art Center, as well as nationally at the Invisible Dog Art Center (NYC, presented by the Joyce Theater), Velocity Dance Center (Seattle), Philadelphia Dance Projects/Temple University (Philadelphia), and ODC (San Francisco). Their work has been supported through commissions from the Walker Art Center, the Red Eye Theater, and the Southern Theater, and through grants from the Jerome Foundation, the SCUBA Touring Network, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council of MN, the MN State Arts Board, and the McKnight Foundation. The group’s latest projects include: Research COUNCIL, an episodic series of 10 shows happening monthly at the Bryant Lake Bowl; COUNCIL, a new performance that will be developing in part through a MANCC residency in 2020, and the recently published performance score/script In Which _______ and Others Discover the End, co-created with Rachel Jendrzejewski and available through Plays Inverse


Emily Gastineau

Emily Gastineau, ‘JustanArgument’. Photo Credit: Theo Goodell
Emily Gastineau, ‘Generic Mood’. Photo Credit: Nellie DeBoer

Emily Gastineau is a choreographer, performer, and writer. Her work has been presented at Frascati (Amsterdam), On the Boards (Seattle), Garage29 (Brussels), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and Red Eye Theater (Minneapolis), among others. She collaborates with Billy Mullaney (US/NL) under the name Fire Drill, and their work has been shown in Amsterdam, Minneapolis, St. Paul, New York, San Francisco, Portland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Chicago. Her collaboration with Vilma Pitrinaite (LT/BE) has been supported by workspacebrussels, SE.S.TA (Prague), and the Lithuanian Council for Culture. Gastineau co-founded the performance writing platform Criticism Exchange, curates performances at Fresh Oysters Performance Research and elsewhere, and produced RELAY RELAY, an interview marathon and publication on contemporary performance. Gastineau is Program Manager of Walker Art Center’s Mn Artists and one of seven artistic directors of Red Eye Theater. From 2017-2019, she studied at DAS Choreography, Amsterdam University of the Arts.

Erika Hansen headshot. Phot Ccredit: Xavier Tavera, Deborah Jinza Thayer
Erika Hansen, movement shot. Photo Credit: V. Paul Virtucio

Erika Hansen is inspired by the unconventional. She has performed as a professional artist for over 17 years. She lived and danced in New York City for almost a decade. New York performance credits include works by Rebecca Davis, De Facto Dance, Willi Dorner, Colleen Hooper, Shannon Hummel, and Noémie Lafrance’s Bessie Award winning Descent. In the summer of 2011, Hansen returned to Minneapolis. Since her return, she has performed in works by Charles Campbell, Angharad Davies, Laura Holway, Leslie O’Neill, Movement Architecture, Sandbox Theatre and others. She toured with International McKnight Fellow Johan Amselem to Bogotá and Paris. Hansen has an ongoing improvisation practice with composer and clarinetist Sean Egan. They performed Different Song at Future Interstates and New Ruckus. In addition to her performance career, Hansen has worked in various roles as an arts administrator.

Mathew Janczewski headshot. Photo Credit: Armour Photography

Mathew Janczewski’s inquisitive, immersive and heartfelt approach to contemporary dance reaches beyond the surface and holds the viewer in its embrace. With over 30 works in his repertoire and more than two decades of experience as a choreographer, Janczewski has cultivated a highly diverse and mesmerizing style of movement. Increasingly, his performances explore pressing social issues, providing a platform for dialogue and action. Shortly after receiving his degree in dance at the University of Minnesota, and performing internationally, Janczewski founded his own non-profit dance company, ARENA DANCES, in 1995. ARENA serves as the vehicle for his body of work and provides young, aging and underserved segments of the Twin Cities community with opportunities to experience the transformative power of dance. Janczewski’s work has garnered praise in the Twin Cities and beyond. He has created commissioned works for companies such as Minnesota Dance Theater, Cleveland Repertory Co., aTrek Dance and Zenon Dance Company.

Cecil Neal headshot. Photo Credit Courtesy of the Artist

Cecil Neal is a self-taught Urban styles dancer and choreographer who incorporates Afro Caribbean, Krump, hip hop, etc. moves in all of his performances. His mom often says “He has been dancing since the day he could walk,”. Neal has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra four times this year (2019) and has danced for the Timberwolves and Super Bowl in 2018 He graduated from Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts in 2018. Neal is currently attending Saint Paul College for his associate’s degree.

Leah Nelson headshot. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the artist

Leah Nelson was born in Zimbabwe and graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a BFA in Dance. She came to the U.S. as part of the ADF International Choreographer’s Workshop. She has performed and teaches nationally and internationally in venues like the Walker Art Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Zellerbach Theater, PS122, Carleton Dance Festival/Rio de Janeiro; and the Zanzibar International Film Festival, Zimbabwe’s 60th Jubilee, Young Dance wheelchair ballerinas, SEIU Local 26 Union in Denver CO, and zAmya Troupe making work about homeless experiences. Highlights as movement director at the Guthrie Theater include The Bluest Eye directed by Lileana Blaine-Cruz, YOU ARE HERE directed by KJ Sanchez and FLOYD’s (Premiere) written by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage. She continues to pursue work that encourages youth empowerment, having recently mentored singer Jonah Marais award winning member of WHY DON’T WE, and worked with Kenna-Camara Cottman on Twin Cities Harambee, taking 60 youth dancers to the Ordway stage with whom she co-created the successful Dance To Learn. She is a grateful Sage nominee and receipient of the Mcknight, Bush and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships.

Margaret Olgas headshot. Photo Credit: Brandon Stengel

Margaret Ogas is a dance artist who makes funky, spunky, socially engaged work. She is a proud midwestern Chicana hailing from Milwaukee, WI. Ogas studied at Milwaukee High School of the Arts and went on to attend the University of Minnesota, where she received a BFA in Dance. She has presented her own choreography at the Cedar Cultural Center, 9×22 Dance Lab, Future Interstates, Regis Center for Art, CTUL (Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha) and in public space on Lake Street for Love East Lake. As a performer, she has worked with Laurie Van Weiren, Chris Schlichting, and is currently a cast member in Taja Will’s, Blood Language. In 2018, Ogas had the honor of guest curating Anything But English for Patrick’s Cabaret’s final season. An aspiring interdisciplinary artist, she is currently working to complete a muralism apprenticeship at CLUES (Comunidades Latinos Unidos en Servicio).

Sharon Picasso headshot. Photo Credit: Sharon Picasso

Sharon Picasso is a Minneapolis based movement and interdisciplinary artist. Her creative work incorporates a background in dance, theater, somatics, music and design. Picasso invests in cultivating an inclusive and sustaining creative environment and values process. Her collaborative and performance work provides the privilege of working with a wide variety of artists, most recently Deborah Jinza Thayer/Movement Architecture, Pedro Pablo Lander, Jennifer Glaws/Jagged Moves, Jess Forest, Paula Mann/Time Track Productions, and Rosy Simas Danses. Picasso studied theatre and psychology at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and earned a degree in Dance Performance and Choreography from The Boston Conservatory.

Piper Rolfes and Eva Reed

Eva Reed headshot. Photo Credit Susan Reed

Piper Rolfes is starting her third year with Young Dance, where she focuses on modern, choreography, and all abilities classes. It was through Young Dance Eva Reed and Rolfes formed a strong friendship and a creative collaboration that was the foundation for Proximity. Through Young Dance, Rolfes has had the opportunity to work with Ananya Dance Theater, Marylee Hardenbergh, Megan Flood and musical collaborations with Dean Magraw and Gaelyn Lee. She has previously danced at Ballare Teatro. This past summer she participated in the Young Dancers Workshop at the Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, Maine. She is a senior at Great River School and excited to pursue dance in college.

Piper Rolfes headshot. Photo Credit: Emily Cashel

Eva Reed was part of the Young Dance company for 11 years. The organization started an integrative dance class because of her work there. Dance has allowed her to express herself and grow in ways that she never thought possible. Rolfes and Reed have been dancing together for two years.

Kayla Schiltgen is an artist and farmer from Two Harbors, MN. Through movement, narrative, humor, and improvisation she creates work that reflects how she navigates the world and finds understanding for what is occurring in her daily life. Having grown up on a farm in the rural Midwest while dancing and participating in youth development and theater programs, Kayla brings a unique perspective to creating. Her background has inspired a curiosity around work, community, traditional craft, and pace which has become a source for generating choreography. Often using theatrical devices, games, and collaboration, Kayla enjoys the process of engaging dancers in conversation around the subject matter of her work in order to develop rich storytelling and intentional performances. When not dancing, Kayla operates a garlic farm and lodging retreat on the North Shore focused on sustainable agriculture and slow living which provides much inspiration for her creative explorations.

Kayla Schiltgen Headshot. Photo Credit: Andrea Miller
Judy Holo Shui Xian, Movement. Photo Credit: Alice Gebura, Photographer

Judy Holo Shuǐ Xiān is an interdisciplinary choreographer, improviser and sound artist. Their work prioritizes and centers the experiences of QTIPOC, and stands an allyship to those of other marginalized identities. They have presented works at venues including Fresh Oysters Performance Research, Public Functionary, Bryant Lake Bowl, Tek Box, The Southern Theater, Intermedia Arts (Minneapolis, MN) and 9 Herkimer Place (Brooklyn, NY). They have recently enjoyed performing for/collaborating with others including Dua Saleh, HIJACK, Leila Awadallah, Judith Howard, Rosy Simas, Chris Schlichting, Shayna Allen, Pramila Vasudevan, Megan Meyer, Fire Drill, and Erin Drummond. They are a 2017 Q-Stage: New Works and 2019 Momentum: New Dance Works recipient. As of 2019, they are also part of the Queertopia curation team.

Deja Stowers headshot. Photo Credit: Za’Nia Coleman

Deja Stowers is an interdisciplinary artist who is guided by ancestral dance and healing. Stowers believes self-love is the first step in healing from your past and ensuring the fullness of your present—through dance, mindfulness, self-reflection, and affirmation. Stowers is developing a dance aesthetic that promotes and evokes healing. In addition to dance, Stowers creates intentional spaces for otherwise marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ2 BIPOC and deaf communities. Her ultimate goals include guiding herself and others to their higher selves, creating stronger community ties, and building an accessible revolution.

Shanan Tolzin and Kristina de Sacramento

Shanan Tolzin headshot. Photo Credit: Dianem Singer

Shanan “Rafaela del Sol” Tolzin began at Bette Darrell’s Stage Arts Dance Center, moved on to the University of Minnesota’s Dance program, and is currently at Anda Flamenco. Tolzin passionately creates art exploring aging, health, the environment, family, LGBTQ+ issues, life-long performing, and politics, as they find the sweet spot where dance, writing, and visual art intersect. She holds a BA in Psychology and studied dance most notably with Bette Darrell, Gordon “Rafael” Davis, Kristina de Sacramento, Maria Cheng, David Voss, and Robert Moulton. Tolzin loves to perform, choreograph and teach. Her latest projects include creating Sister Mary Leo’s ballet sequences in “Nunsense,” and performing at the refurbished Zephyr Theater. She is a member of Anda Flamenco Company, performing as “Rafaela del Sol” and proudly holds the title of Happiest Company Member.

Kristina de Sacramento, Movement shot. Photo Credit: Harland Snodgrass

Kristina de Sacramento is the founder and artistic director of Anda Flamenco Company and School in Minneapolis. She ironically began studying flamenco while living in Paris. Since then she has dedicated herself to a continual study of flamenco— with Zorongo Flamenco for her first 10 years, with visiting Spanish masters in the US from New York City to Chicago to San Francisco, and in Spain for a month every year. Having danced as a soloist at the legendary Loring Bar and in Kansas City throughout the 90’s, de Sacramento keeps to the flamenco tradition of performing in nightclubs alive at Conga Latin Bistro. As the webcast host of Poquito y Bueno, she brings the vibrancy of flamenco music to KFAI listeners every week. When she is not choreographing or teaching at Anda, she teaches flamenco for Breanna’s Gift, a nonprofit that brings art to children staying in hospitals in the Twin Cities.

Julie Warder Headshot. Photo Credit: Kris Montague Photography

Julie Warder started dancing with Myron Johnson at The Children’s Theater and The Uchawi African Dancer’s under Richard D. Thompson. From there she received a BFA in dance at U of Arts in Philly, trained with Philadanco and performed with LEJA Dance Theater as a company member. She was also a company member with Ballet of the Dolls the last 2 seasons. Choreographically upon returning to the Twin Cities, her works have been seen in the late Laurie Carlos’ Late Nite Series, Kinetic Kitchen, Rhythmically Speaking, several Renovate Choreographer’s evenings and 16 Feet. Warder is also the first Local Choreographer honored with Rhythmically Speaking Cohort Commission 2019. The piece “U Don’t C Me” premiered in 2008 at the first Renovate Choreographers Evening.