2016 Upstart Festival Program

Curated by Marya Warshaw & Jillian Peña

Friday, February 19, 2016 @ 8pm

Hips, Hands, Tongue

Choreographed and written by: Alicia Racquel
Performed by: Emma Alabaster, Taja Lindley, Alicia Raquel, Kirya Traber, Nehemoiya Young

Hans Head-in-Air

Choreographed by: Sameena Mitta
Live performer: Elisa Schreiber
Video performer: Sameena Mitta
Music: John Adams: String Quartet, II
Costumes by: Sarah Timberlake/Timberlake Studios
Videographer: Alicja Hoppel

Special Thanks: Outside Eye : Kristin Jackson. Hans Head-in-Air was created during a choreographic residency at Lake Studios Berlin 2015.

solo (ghost)

Choreographed by: Sara Gurevich
Performed by: Amy Gernux and Rachel Pritzlaff
Music by: William Basinski

-Themarathon- (An Excerpted Work-in-progress)

Choreographed by: Johnnie ‘Cruise’ Mercer
Performed by: Amanda Campbell, Andre Drummond, Jason Rodriguez, Erica Saucedo, Rachel Rinehardt


divider line ffe293 700x1

Saturday, February 20, 2016 @ 8pm


Choreographed by: Alexandra Pinel
Performed by: Thea Bautista, Rebecca Hidalgo, Leanna Grennan, Ali Rosa-Salas
Set Design by: Allison Ball
Music mixed by: Douze
Hats by: hat_line
Special Thanks: Allison Ball, Thea Baustista, Rebecca Hidalgo, Leanna Grennan and
Ali Rosa-Salas

I’m looking for a comfortable chair

Choreographed and Performed by: Marissa Brown

A Hypothetical Autobiography

Written and Performed by: Ryan Streit
Directed by: Tanya Marquardt

Kate and Me

Choreographed and performed by: Mor Mendel and Kate Lee

Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep

Choreographed by: Tanya Marquardt & Stephen O’Connell
Directed by: Ellie Heyman
Performer: Tanya Marquardt
Dramaturge: Stephen O’Connell
Sound Design: Omar Zubair
Lighting Design: Emma Rivera
Special Thanks David Smith, Ellie Heyman, Emily Reilly, Gabe Kruis, Melanie Jones, Gabe Levy, Chris Henry, Mallory Cattlet, Jessica Jelliffe & Jason Craig (& little Charlie), BHouse Artists Residency, Mabou Mines Artis Residency, BAX, Marya, Jullian, and all the artists in Upstart. Thank you!

divider line ffe293 700x1

Artist Bios

Marissa Brown is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from the University of California Irvine with a BFA in Dance Performance and BFA in Dance Choreography. Her work has been shown at Claire Trevor Theatre and the Contemporary Arts Center xMPL Theatre in Irvine, CA. In San Francisco, Brown has shown work at the Garage, the Marine Memorial Theatre and as part of the Levy Dance Salon. She recently made her New York premiere as part of the CURRENT SESSIONS and at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn, NY. She works in the contemporary field of dance performance and creation, exploring movement as a physical language with reoccurring themes of desire and loneliness. Creating work driven by honesty to find human connection. As a performer she has had the pleasure to work with Donald Mckayle, Benjamin Levy, Brice Mousset, Randy James, Sharp&Fine, and The People Movers.


Sara Gurevich, native New Yorker, is a performance artist whose work has recently been presented at BAX Upstart Festival, Dixon Place, Movement Research’s Open Performance, Green Space, and WAXworks. She is the recipient of a 2016 New York Mills Artist Residency in Minnesota. Gurevich’s work has been also been presented at Fleet Moves Dance Festivals (MA) and FAB! Festival (NYC). She has performed in works by Itzik Galili, Abigail Levine, Troy Ogilvie, Samar Haddad King, and Alex Ketley, among others. She currently performs with Raja Feather Kelly’s the feath3r theory, Mark DeChiazza, and Anne Zuerner. Gurevich holds a BFA with honors from the Ailey School/Fordham University. For more on Sara: www.saragurevich.com.


Tanya Marquardt is a Canadian writer and performer living in Brooklyn, New York. Selected performing credits include: The Show Must Go On (Jerome Bell / PuSh Festival), a site specific show in IKEA called The Swedish Plays (radix theatre), this cage is a rickety bridge with collaborator Jesse Zubot (the Longest Night Festival), Antigone Undone (Leaky Heaven Circus), Canadians Are Mean (Melanie Jones/BAX) and Stray (Brooklyn Arts Exchange). Her work has been presented at Dixon Place, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, the PuSh Performing Arts Festival, the Vancouver International Dance Festival, Dancing on the Edge, VIVO Media Arts, and NeXtFest. She got her MFA in Creative Writing from Hunter College. Currently she is creating a new immersive theatre piece with Wildrice in a basement space on Canal Street in NYC, and is in the studio with Bluemouth Inc. working on a show about the Chomsky/Foucault debate On Human Nature.

Stephen O’Connell (Directorial Assistance) has a BFA in modern dance from Rutgers University and an MFA in interdisciplinary art from Simon Fraser University. From 1990 to 1997 Stephen was co-Artistic Director of Radix Theatre in Vancouver, a site-specific interdisciplinary performance collective. His collaborations include experimental films, which have been screened at The Vancouver International Film Festival, The American Dance Festival, and the Moving Pictures Festival in Toronto. He is also the Co-Founder of FREE FALL, a biennial festival in Toronto, Canada of new and interdisciplinary performance and a core member of the Toronto/Brooklyn based performance collective bluemouth inc. Stephen is currently a part time lecturer in dance at the Mason Gross School of the Arts.


Mor Mendel is a Brooklyn based dancer, choreographer, performance artist and educator. She received her MFA in dance from Sarah Lawrence College in 2014. Mor earned her BFA, including a teaching certification in Dance Theater in Israel where she performed and taught in various venues and schools. Mendel is currently developing her teaching method that focuses on organic movement, improvisation and composition. Her work was performed at Gowanus Arts center, as part of a collaborative work in Triskelion Art center, at the 14Y and Brooklyn studios for dance. She is the choreographer of a theater production with Jesse Freedman. Mendel is currently dancing with Patricia Hoffbauer, Hadar Ahuvia and Tamar Ettun and the Moving Company as well as working on a new piece to be presented in Judson Church.
These days she is perusing, searching, following and establishing her calling in movement and dance in the big entity of NYC.


Johnnie Cruise Mercer is a native of Richmond, Virginia and a BFA graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Dance and Choreography. As a freelance artist, Mr. Mercer has professionally collaborated with Antonio Brown, Edisa Weeks, Monstah Black (Reggie Crump), Whitney Hunter (Yon Tande), and Andre Zachery. He has performed as a company member of The Von Howard Project, lead by Christian Von Howard, and Dance Theater X lead by Charles O. Anderson. As a choreographer Mr. Mercer's work has been performed/seen at Center for Performance Research (NY), The Richmond Dance Festival (VA), The Charlotte Dance Festival (NC), The Dance Place (DC), Movement Research Open Performance Series (NY) and on numerous schools and companies. Mr. Mercer is the artistic director of the emerging dance company, Johnnie Cruise Mercer/TheREDproject based in Brooklyn NY. To follow the company/Mr. Mercer: Facebook facebook.com/theredproj, Instrgram: jcruisem_theredproj

Amanda Campbell is originally from Manassas, VA where she began studying dance styles such as tap, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop and character. In 2007 she was invited to Beijing, China to participate in the International Cultural Arts Festival where she was featured in a number of performances throughout her stay. In May 2014, Amanda obtained a B.F.A. in Dance and Choreography and a minor in Business from Virginia Commonwealth University. During her time at VCU, Amanda engaged in several creative projects of her own as well as performed in a number of peer works. She also had the opportunity to appear in the works of Judith Steele and Christian von Howard. In 2012, Amanda had the privilege of working with the Starr Foster Dance Project as a dancer in the revision of their production; Alice. Following her work with Johnnie Cruise Mercer and the REDproject, Amanda is excited to continue deepening her artistry as she explores the next chapter of her journey.

Andre Christopher Drummond is from Queens, New York and began his classical training at Professional Performing Arts High School/ The Ailey School. Before, he was classically trained Andre danced with a step dancing Ministry called Nubian Gents and Feminine Fire where he toured both, Europe and Austrailia for two consecutive summers. Andre is a May 2013 graduate of the University Of North Carolina School of the Arts for contemporary dance. There, he performed works by Jose Limon, Eliot Feld, Alwin Nikolais, Doug Elkins, Brenda Daniels, Sean Sullivan, Juel Lane, Bill T. Jones and ABT Principal Susan Jaffe. He has also, attended festivals such as Springboard Danse, Jacob’s pillow, and ADF. Since, graduation Andre has been performing as a freelance artist working with companies such as Nomad Contemporary Ballet,10HL Projects , and Chris Choreography.

Rachel Rinehardt attained her BFA in Dance & Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2014. In the summer of 2013, Rachel attended Bates Dance Festival, where she performed an original work by Doug Varone. At VCU, Rachel performed in faculty works by Martha Curtis, Christian von Howard, and Autumn I. Proctor. She also had the pleasure of working with guest artists Kate Weare and Nathan Trice. Rachel has performed with Ground Zero Dance since 2010 in works by Rob Petres, Kat Legault, Pam England, and Victoria Fink. She had the honor of having her work presented in the First Annual Richmond Dance Festival. Currently, she performs with Johnnie Cruise Mercer and TheREDProject.

Jason Anthony Rodriguez, native of New York City, quietly grew up within a niche of the vogue community exploring underground dance from a curious distance. Primarily, exposed to the world of dance at Brockport College which sparked the pursuit of a professional career. Furthering his training, he transferred to Purchase College to excel his technique by training with the Conservatory of Dance as an Arts Management major.He has performed with Abraham.In.Motion as a dancer for APAP. Also, he was a part of the pre-production progress of the Off-Broadway show Fortress of Solitude with Camille A Brown and Dancers. He has worked with Nomad Contemporary Ballet and Owen/Cox Dance Group as well. He has also performed with Buglisi Dance Theatre in their yearly ritual of The Table of Silence. He is personal/rehearsal assistant for Kevin Wynn who is faculty at Purchase College and at the Alvin Ailey School. Now, also a member of the Legendary House of Ninja since 2014 and has worked on varies projects, performances and music videos with the house.

Erica Saucedo is a Mexican-American dance artist born and raised in Austin, Texas. She graduated summa cum laude in 2014 with a B.F.A. in Dance from the University of Texas at Austin. While at university, Erica had the pleasure of performing works by Charles O. Anderson, David Justin, Merce Cunningham, Ohad Naharin, Mark Morris, Paul Taylor, and many talented peers. In search of dance rooted in her past, dance that is necessary to the present, and dance that will forever influence her future, she feels truly humbled to work in New York City alongside so many passionate freelance artists. Currently, Erica is humbled and inspired to work under the direction of visionaries, Paloma McGregor, Indah Walsh, and Johnnie Cruise Mercer.


Sameena Mitta graduated from the professional ballet programme of The School of Dance in Ottawa where she received the Celia Franca Scholarship. She has spent over 15 years teaching and working as a freelance modern dancer performing for numerous choreographers and schools in North America and abroad. She successfully completed the Master’s program in Dance Creation at UQAM and was awarded the Associate Diploma of the Cecchetti Society. Mitta enjoyed a year in Japan teaching and creating her first independent dance film. She has been choreographing for several years with her company, MeenMoves, and has presented her work in North America, India, Japan and Europe. She is the Artistic Director of MadHops, a dance program for underrepresented groups and individuals. Sameena is currently on faculty at the Limón Institute and the Harkness Dance Center.

Elisa Schreiber, studied dance at Duke University under the direction of Clay Taliaferro. Since graduating in 2005, Elisa has had the pleasure of performing solo works by Anna Sokolow, Doris Humphrey, and Jose Limón. Elisa was a guest artist with the Limón Dance Company from 2010-2015 and the Swiss-based FlowingDanceCompany from 2009-2015. Currently, Elisa performs with Sue Bernhard Danceworks, Kathryn Alter and Dancers, and MeenMoves.

Sarah Timberlake, (Theatrical Costumer) has a BFA in Dance (Univ of WI-Milwaukee) and a MFA in Theatre Technology (NYU-Gallatin School).  She owns Timberlake Studios, Inc of NYC (www.timberlakestudios.com) since 1998.


Alexandra Pinel is a choreographer from Paris, France and has showcased work in DC at the Capitol Hill Arts Blackbox, in New York Gibney Dance, Triskelion Arts, Dixon Place, Green Space, the Living Gallery, Spectrum NY, The Secret Theater in LIC, Brooklyn Arts Exchange and at the University of Santiago, Chile. Her dance films have been shown on NPR Radio’s Blog for the anniversary of the Rite of Spring, at Dance Film Association Screenings and at the House of Scandinavia. She has choreographed music videos for Chinese band Re-TROS and Prince Rama and is a Luther Rice Research Fellow and Maida Withers Dance Construction Company Award Recipient for Innovation in Dance. Alexandra works for Half Straddle, Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, New York Public Radio and choreographer luciana achugar and has recently performed in her work at JACK, The Chocolate Factory, Fusebox Festival and New York Live Arts.

Thea Bautista: Thea is a French/American dancer and choreographer. She started dancing in Paris and decided to come to New York in 2014 to perfect her training. She studied music and dance for 10 years at the Maurice Ravel conservatory in Paris and did a one-year program at the Rick Odums International Jazz Dance Center in 2013. She arrived in New York in 2014 and she is currently at the Peridance Capezio center.  Thea danced for the Ballet Ethéry Pagava and for the Corps à sons ensemble; two France-based companies. She worked on several projects with renowned choreographers such as Charlotta Öfverholm. In addition to being a dancer, Thea is also a choreographer. She created her first dance piece in 2015 – Eyes opened – in response to the terrorist attack in Paris that happened in January of the same year. Today, Thea continues to perfect her dance and choreography skills, and to explore diverse and rich forms of creative expression.

Leeana Grennan:Leanna Grennan is a recently developed Brooklyn based choreographer. Her collaborative project intermediate/advanced beginners debuted its process at Index Art Gallery in August of 2015. Leanna is a part of Stormy Budwig’s durational project this is our 9-5(we’re trying not to move) and has performed at CPR,  Rabbithole Projects, and Garden of Union. She has experience in performance art and has been seen in Saya Woolfalk’s The Empathic’s at MAM, and Goshka Macuga’s Non-consensual Act (In Progress) at Andrew Kreps Gallery.

Rebecca Hidalgo: Rebecca is a recent graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied drama at the Experimental Theatre Wing and Stonestreet Studios. Her performance and choreography/devising work spans from straight plays and musicals to multimedia dance-theatre pieces, including her own full-length show Chivas 18, and José Rivera Jr.’s Of Cake and Vanity. In addition to dance, Rebecca is an actress, writer and singer/songwriter (soundcloud.com/rebecca-hidalgo).

Ali Rosa-Salas is a proud Brooklyn native. She is an alum of the Ailey School and Barnard College, where she danced in works by Beth Gill, Faye Driscoll, and Heidi Henderson. Ali has presented and performed at AUNTS, Dixon Place, Movement Research, the New Museum, among other local venues. As a curator, she has produced shows at Danspace Project, MoCADA, and Weeksville Heritage Center. During the day, Ali is the Exhibitions Coordinator at MoCADA.


Alicia Raquel is a performance maker from Oakland, CA, living in Brooklyn, NY. She is obsessed with the stories and power the body holds, and the (r)evolutionary potential of bringing consciousness to the shapes we live.


Ryan Streit is a Brooklyn based queer artist. Through a cabaret narrative of a world that glitters even in it’s darkest moments, he explores the politics of sexuality, gender, celebrity, pop culture and the confines of art through an absurd, queer lens. His original work has been showcased through queer nightlife at parties such as Hot Fruit, Bathsalts, Total Rejects Live, Bushwig and various Culture Whore events. Additionally, he has performed as part of The American Realness Festival at The Public Theater, The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, The Wild Project and various regional theaters.


Font Resize