Born and raised in Taiwan, Mei-Kuang Chen received her early dance training in Chinese classical dance and folk dance as well as ballet and modern dance. Seeking further dance education, Ms. Chen has since received her BFA from Ohio State University and her MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ms. Chen joined Hedwig Dances in Chicago from 1999-2007 and became the Artistic Associate for the company in 2003. Ms. Chen received the prestigious Ruth Page Dance Award from the Chicago Dance Coalition. Ms. Chen also taught Mandarin Chinese at Proviso Math and Science Academy from 2007-2010. Currently on the dance faculty at Loyola University and The Academy of Movement and Music, Ms. Chen is truly grateful for the good fortune to be surrounded by so many wonderful colleagues and students. Performing with MOMENTA is the icing on the cake!
Sarah Cullen Fuller began her formal training at the Academy of Movement and Music in Oak Park, Illinois, under the direction of Stephanie Clemens. She continued her studies at the Boston and Joffrey Ballet schools before graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with degrees in dance and psychology. She joined Hubbard Street 2 under the direction of Julie Nakagawa-Böttcher and then was promoted into the main company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, under the artistic leadership of Jim Vincent. Sarah has had the opportunity to dance the works of such leading choreographers as Nacho Duato, Jiří Kylián, William Forsythe, Ohad Naharin, Lar Lubovich, Susan Marshall, Marguerite Donlon, Jim Vincent, Harrison McEldowney and Alex Ketley, among others. During her time with HSDC, Sarah had the privilege of teaching at many university dance programs throughout the country and was able to continue her relationship with both the Lou Conte Dance Studio and the Academy of Movement and Music along the way. Since her retirement, Sarah has returned to teaching at The Academy, is on faculty at the Lou Conte Dance Studio (home of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), has excitedly joined Loyola University’s Dance Department under the direction of Sandra Kaufmann, teaches a “Dance for Parkinson’s” class in collaboration with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Rush University and Medical Center, and Fuller Health Group, is co-owner and clinic director of Fuller Health Group LLC, a chiropractic clinic she runs with her husband, Dr. Brian Fuller.
Merril Doty began dancing at the age of 2 at the Academy of Movement and Music, under the direction of Stephanie Clemens. With MOMENTA Merril has danced in pieces by contemporary choreographers as well as in historic works by dance legends such as Isadora Duncan, Loïe Fuller, Ruth St. Denis, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman. In December of 2008, under the direction of Gail Corbin, Merril danced Quasi Valse as part of a Humphrey-Weidman choreographic tribute to Ernestine Stodelle at the New York 92nd Street Y. In the spring of 2012 she graduated with a BA from Goucher College, majoring in Dance History and Criticism, and serving as student representative to the Doris Humphrey Foundation. Her undergraduate thesis consisted of reconstructing Humphrey’s solo, Valse Caprice (1919). Last year Merril assisted Gail Corbin in teaching Ernestine Stodelle’s syllabus for children, and is currently teaching Humphrey technique at the Academy of Movement and Music. She is a performer with MOMENTA, serves as a representative of the Doris Humphrey Foundation, and is a board member of the Doris Humphrey Society.
Deborah Goodman began her dance training at Northern Illinois University. In 1990, she moved to New York to study at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance where she received a full scholarship and took park in the reconstruction of Ms. Graham’s original work, “Prelude to Action” from Sketches from Chronicle, and performed in the reconstruction of Martha Graham’s Panorama. From 1998-2005, Deborah had the great pleasure to work with Yuriko as her assistant and demonstrator. While in New York, she performed with Richard Move, Sandra Kaufmann Dance, Goldhuber & Latsky, Pearl Lang Dance Theater, Colleen Heffernan and Lacy James’ Merriminne dancers, among others. Deborah has served on the faculty of the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, New York University, Long Island University, The Connecticut Conservatory of the Performing Arts and Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts. In 2006, Deborah moved back to Chicago where she dances for MOMENTA. She serves on the faculties of The Chicago Academy for the Arts, Loyola University Chicago and The Academy of Movement and Music, Oak Park.
Lisa Green has been part of the Academy of Movement and Music for more than 35 years. She began her training at age seven and began teaching at sixteen. She was a member of MOMENTA at its inception and performed with them as well as with OPRFHS' Orchesis throughout high school. She completed her BS in psychology and performed with the resident dance company of Santa Clara University. After college Lisa completed her Master’s Degree in Dance/Movement Therapy and worked at a psychiatric hospital. Lisa and her husband, Steve, have a photography business and live in Oak Park with their daughter, Shae and their son, Aidan. Lisa feels very lucky to be able to continue dancing with MOMENTA and MOMENTA Repertory Ensemble.
Sandra Kaufmann danced with the Martha Graham Dance Company in New York and served as Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Ensemble. Additionally, she performed extensively with the Pearl Lang Dance Theatre and with Richard Move. Her award-winning choreography has been presented in concert dance, site-specific works, musical and theatrical productions throughout the United States. Sandra works as an independent choreographer, as a regisseur restaging works of Doris Humphrey and Martha Graham, and as a dancer with MOMENTA. She has served on the faculty of Barnard College, New York University, the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, the University of Chicago, The Academy of Movement and Music, and is the founding Director of Dance at Loyola University Chicago.
Mary Kelly is extremely grateful to be dancing for MOMENTA this season. She has been dancing at the Academy for many years. Mary graduated from Columbia with a B.A in Dance and earned her Masters from DePaul University in Elementary Education. She is currently teaching 5th grade in Schiller Park where she is also very involved in their multicultural performances and musicals.
Ginger Lane began her dance training in Chicago with Edna McRae, Erik Braun, John Kriza, Bentley-Stone and Walter Camryn, and at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, where she was awarded a scholarship to study with Sheila Reilly, Frances Wright, Maxine Munt and Alfred Brooks and Chester Wolenski. She studied Doris Humphrey technique with Joseph Gifford. She received her B.S. in Theatre and Communication from Northwestern University and began performing and teaching throughout the Chicago area. She had her own dance studio on the North Shore and choreographed for numerous community theaters and school districts. Using a wheelchair since 1984, Ginger collaborated and performed with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, and was a member of Dance>Detour, a company of dancers with and without disabilities for ten years. She has been involved with MOMENTA since 2003, performing and choreographing, and, along with Larry Ippel, Anita Fillmore and Kris Lenzo, conducted workshops at the Academy for five years. As Coordinator of the Arts & Culture project at Access Living, the Independent Living Center in Chicago, Ginger has produced the physically integrated dance concert, Counter Balance, for the past six years.
Kris Lenzo has been national champion in wheelchair basketball and wheelchair track several times. He first performed with MOMENTA in 2003 in Larry Ippel's Sharing the Moment. He has performed at Spring to Dance St. Louis (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013), Dance Chicago, Duets for my Valentine, Bodies of Work Festival of Disability Arts and Culture (2006 & 2013), Counter Balance I, II, III, IV, V & VI and almost annually at the Chicago Disability Pride Parade. Kris is a teacher in MOMENTA 's EveryBody Can Dance! (EBCD) workshops and a 2015 3Arts awardee.
Jessica L. Martin is a dancer, choreographer, public speaker, and writer. She identifies as a person with a disability and a member of the LGBTQ community. Her pronouns are she/her/hers and they/them/theirs. She has been dancing since the age of 9 and has been dancing professionally nearly 12 years with and without the MOMENTA Dance Company in Oak Park, IL. She has performed at various venues in Chicagoland including Access Living, the Museum of Mexican Art, the Pride Arts Center, and the Daley Plaza as part of the Disability Pride Parade for multiple years. She has experience in ballet, modern, contemporary, and contact improvisation. She has enriched her dance repertoire traveling the country studying with two physically integrated dance companies including Axis Dance Company and the Dancing Wheels Company and School. In 2017 she began showcasing her artistic vision in collaboration with a variety of talented dance colleagues in Exploration: An Evening of Dance, Discovery, Creativity, and Fun.
Cora D. Mitchell is originally from Knoxville, TN and trained with Irma Witt O’Fallon for 12 years. She danced with The Knoxville Ballet from 1980-1986 and continued her training at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA where she received her B.F.A.-Modern Dance in 1990. That same year she taught ballet and jazz at Knoxville College then moved to Chicago, Illinois in1991 to accept a full scholarship with Joseph Holmes Dance Theatre 2nd company under the artistic direction of Randy Duncan. In 1993 she joined a former JHCDT member's new company, Winifred Haun & Dancers. She's also danced with The Body Language Dance Company under the direction of Tommy Gomez, who performed with the legendary, Katherine Dunham. Her professional teaching career began in 1991 at The Turning Point Dance Studio in Elmwood Park where she taught and worked with the studio's owner, Patricia Toniolo for 16 years. During this time Cora also joined The Academy of Movement and Music and MOMENTA of Oak Park with artistic director, Stephanie Clemens in 1999. Since living in Chicago she's worked with choreographers: Wilfredo Rivera of Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Dmitri Peskov of Dance Loop Chicago, Jon Lehrer, Lisa Johnson-Willingham (former Alvin Ailey company member), Gail Corbin, Lesley Main, Deborah Carr and Melissa Thodos. In June 2007 and 2013 her choreography for "Alright" and "Going Back Home" (MOMENTA) premiered in Europe at the 10-day Dance Festival, Young Tanszommer where the dancers perform in several locations in Austria. She has collaborated with award winning musicians & composers, D.D. Jackson (New York), Declan of AL-PHA-X (Ireland), Martino Lozej's (Canada) and Thomas Osaze (Vancouver, BC). Cora has also received recognition as a freelance photographer with images printed in the Chicago Sun Times, her work has been aired on NBC-5 Chicago Weather with Brant Miller in 2006, 2014, 2017 and has been featured on the abc7-Chicago's weather website. After 42 years Cora officially retired from her performance career in Oak Park on June 13, 2015. She danced with MOMENTA for 14 of those years but will remain as one of their many choreographers. In June 2017 she resigned after 18 years from The Academy of Movement & Music Dance Faculty and in October, Cora began a new career at NORDSTROM-Michigan Avenue in special occasion dresses. She then received a promotion to Bridal Suite as a wedding stylist in April 2018 once the store manager created her current position as the suite’s Bridesmaid specialist. Cora joined the Loyola Dance Faculty in 2006 and is currently an instructor for the 100 levels in Modern, Ballet and Jazz.
Sarah Najera joined MOMENTA in 1999 and has worked as a dancer, choreographer, costume designer and Matinee Director. The Empress and Her New Clothes was Sarah’s fifth ballet created for Junior MOMENTA. Other original productions include Kaleidoscope, Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Mother Goose. Sarah also co-founded MOMENTA Repertory Ensemble (MRE) and has served as Artistic Director for many MRE projects, including Innovation/Collaboration, Collective Psyche, Moving in Parallel and Principles of Dance. Outside of MOMENTA Sarah has a strong background in Latin and Spanish dance and has performed with Mosaico Dance Troupe, Sones de Mexico, El Ballet Folklórico Revolución, Soul y Duende, and the resident dance company of the Universidad de Morelos in Cuernavaca, Mexico. As a costume designer, Sarah has created costumes for MOMENTA, MRE, American Opera Group, 13Carat Productions, Roosevelt University and the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest.
Gina Sigismondi began her formal dance training in Oak Park at the Academy of Movement and Music. Gina danced on scholarship for 4 years at Northern Illinois University, where she earned her B.A. in Dance Performance. Her professional experience includes dancing for Chicago area independent choreographers Paula Frasz, Kirby Reed, Winifred Haun, Sarita Smith Childs, Sandra Kaufmann, and as a member of Fox River Dance Company, MOMENTA Repertory Ensemble, and MOMENTA. She has taught ballet, jazz, modern, creative movement and physical fitness. Gina is currently teaching students ranging in age from pre-school to adult at the Academy of Movement and Music. She continues to perform and choreograph for MOMENTA and MOMENTA Repertory Ensemble.
Caroline TeDesco began her dance training at the Academy of Movement and Music in Oak Park, IL under the direction of Stephanie Clemens. She was a member of MOMENTA’s junior company for 10 years and in 2003, accompanied them to Austria to dance in the Young Tanzsommer Festival. She continued her training at Lou Conte Dance Studio, the Milwaukee Ballet School and River North Chicago. She has studied a wide variety of dance including classical ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, Graham technique, Humphrey technique, Horton, Dunham, Fosse and gymnastics. Caroline is a graduate of Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts, where she studied on scholarship as a jazz dance major and received a BA in Dance Performance. She has had the opportunity to work with many nationally known artists including Ron Tassone, Doug Bentz, Ron Hutson, Nicolas Petrov, James Morrow, Ron De Jesús, Alberto Arias, Sarah Cullen Fuller, Sandra Kaufmann, Gail Corbin, Leslie Main, and Jim May. She has had the honor to perform with the Pittsburgh Playhouse Dance Company, MOMENTA and the MOMENTA Repertory Ensemble. Through MOMENTA Caroline has had the opportunity to study and perform many great historical modern works by modern dance legends Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham. Caroline’s choreography has been performed at Point Park University, OPRFHS Orchesis, MOMENTA, Young Tanzsommer Festival in Austria, The MOMENTA Repertory Ensemble, Dance Chicago and at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple. Caroline has worked with Sarah Najera and Gina Sigismondi as a co- choreographer for past MOMENTA ballets Kaleidoscope (2010) and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (2011). Currently she is a full-time faculty member at the Academy of Movement and Music where she teaches Ballet, Jazz and Tap, and is co-director of the Junior Ballet Recital. She also teaches Physical Fitness in the Academy A.R.T.S. Preschool Program. In 2010 Caroline was honored to receive the Orrin Kayan Memorial Award for excellence in teaching and choreography. In addition to her involvement at the Academy and with MOMENTA, Caroline has taught dance at The Dance Center of LaGrange and as part of Hatch School’s after school program.