First Look

First Look is an annual curated program of work by emerging and established dance artists presented by Brooklyn Ballet.

Brooklyn Ballet's 2016 First Look will take place June 24-25 at The Actors Fund Arts Center.

This year's First Look performance will include two different programs. Friday night's performance will feature work by Vanessa Long, Ezra Goh, Aaron Atkins, Caroline Brethenoux, Andrea Gise, Jillian Greis, Giorgia Bovo, Jenny Boissiere, Mari Meade Montoya, Gentry Isaiah George, Margarent Yuen, and Nikki Theroux. Saturday night's performance will include work by Eryn Renee Young, Ariel Grossman, Luisa Martinez, William Isaac, Andrea Gise, Bryanna Brock, Sarah Chien, Whitney Jacobs, Lynn Parkerson, Nellie Rainwater, and Marilyn Klaus.

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2016 Choreographer Bios

Aaron Atkins is originally from Lancaster, South Carolina and gained notoriety at an early age. He received all 1st place awards at hundreds of different national and regional dance competitions ranking him number one in the state of South Carolina before receiving his B. F.A from Greenville South Carolina's South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. Mr. Atkins goal is to provide performance opportunities to individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, body type or traditional dancer ‘limitations’. Atkins is the Founding Executive Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer of Ballet Inc. His choreography combines an eclectic accessible range of genres of dance to create an individual contemporary ballet esthetic that showcases each artist’s uniqueness and prowess.

Jenny Boissiere is from the Big Easy. She moved to NYC after graduating from Washington University in St Louis. She has worked with Jessica Dasner/dansfolk, Banana Peel Dance, and INspirit, a dance company. Her work has been shown at Gibney Showdown, Movement Research's Open Performance, and ModArts Dance's Collective Thread.

Giorgia Bovo was born in Biella, Italy, where she grew up until her dance studies brought her to Firenze to train on full scholarship at Scuola del Balletto di Toscana. While in Italy she worked with Junior Balletto di Toscana and Kaos-Balletto di Firenze. After moving to NY, Giorgia has worked with The Metropolitan Opera, Armitage Gone! Dance, The Francesca Harper Project, Bradley Shelver Dance Theater and Collective Body Dance Lab. She currently dances with Gabrielle Lamb, Indelible Dance, Rebecca Kelly Ballet and Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance. She has been featured on Dance Spirit and on Dance 212. As a choreographer she has created work for Uselessness Project (a collaboration with composer Francesco Beccaro) and Indelible Dance. Giorgia enjoys teaching to students of all ages, she recently joined the faculty at Joffrey Ballet School and she is an ABT® Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

Originally from France, Caroline Brethenoux is a freelance contemporary dancer & choreographer and Gyrokinesis® and Gyrotonic®  teacher. She has performed with Complutum Contemporary Dance Company and DaDaDanza Project in Spain, Projects in Movement and Company Contexte in Paris. In NYC, she has collaborated with Eryc Taylor Dance Company, Mare Nostrum Elements Dance Theatre Company, BalaSole Dance Company and independent choreographers. Two years in a row, she was the recipient of the “Emerging Choreographer Series” residency provided by Mare Nostrum Elements and LPAC. Her work has been shown at LPAC, Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theatre, Bloom Green Space Festival, The Current Sessions, The Intimate Series, Dixon Place, The Dance Gallery Festival, NACHMO Festival and Foro Performatica in Mexico.

Bryanna Brock is a choreographer, dancer, designer, and educator. She was born in Orlando, Florida and grew up the under humid sunshine and the tropical rainstorms that provided her with a vibrant curiosity of nature and the world around her. In 2015 Bryanna performed for Rosanna Gamson Worldwide’s 47 Duets at the REDCAT theater in Los Angeles, and was chosen as an emerging choreographer by Sarasota Contemporary Dance Company. She was also a recipient of the Sharon Disney Lund Theater Scholarship. Bryanna graduated from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Texas, and received her BFA from California Institute of the Arts. Drawn to both dance and the uses of technology, her BFA is a major in dance and a minor in digital arts. Bryanna has danced and collaborated in the creation of works for many choreographers including: Leslie Scott, artistic director of Body Art, Andrea Gise, artistic director of Aegis Dance and Kira Blazek.

Sarah Chien is a dancer, improviser and world traveler. She currently performs with Andre Zachery/Renegade Performance Group and root&risk, an improv collective of which she is a founding member. Among her influential training/performing experiences she counts working with Sydnie L. Mosley Dances, performing with Jody Sperling/Time Lapse Dance, living in Ecuador, studying at Barnard College and training at Deltebre Dansa. In 2013 she founded Floor Friends, an organization through which she curates and produces dance training, workshops and performances. In August of 2015, she produced and performed in Sketches, an evening length improvised work directed by Elia Mrak at Center for Performance Research. Before that she merged her interests in travel, improvisation and site-specific performance via the Dance Postcard Project which lives at She is currently building solo repertoire both on the ground and in the air, exploring gravity and full-body awareness through circus and contemporary floorwork.

David Fernandez is a choreographer, dancer, and ballet teacher based in New York. His most acclaimed choreography, entitled “Five Variations on a Theme,” was created for New York City Ballet's principal dancer Joaquin De Luz. The work was performed as part of the “Kings of the Dance” program, premiering in the Ukraine in November 2008. David's other choreographies have been created for leading dancers from the American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet. Other commissions include the Kings of the Dance Tour, Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble, Youth America Grand Prix, Opera North, Staten Island Ballet, and the Vassar Repertoire Dance Theatre. During David’s dance career, he performed with Chicago’s Boitsov Classical Ballet, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Ballet Theatre of Chicago, and in Indiana University’s production of “Don Quixote,” directed by Susan Jones of the American Ballet Theatre. David also had the honor of performing alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov in “The Doctor and The Patient” at the 2004 Lincoln Center Festival.

Gentry Isaiah George founded ZEST Collective November 02, 2013.  Also a former Dance Artist for the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ailey II, and a Juilliard alum, Gentry is an Associate Artist at New York Live Arts. He studied with the Founder of The Community Book and Dance Academy, Linda Agyapong, and Daniel Lewis before graduating from New World School of the Arts.  He was a scholarship student at The School at Jacob’s Pillow, The Ailey School, and The Miami Conservatory’s Thomas Armour Youth Ballet.  George is a recipient of a Level 1 ARTS award, given by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, and is featured on HBO’s “Masterclass,” also starring Jacques d’Amboise. In February 2015, George's company debuted an installation performance - 'A Matter Of Heart' with visual artist Brian Michael Reed, accompanied live by electronic performance duo Pax Humana at the Alchemical Theatre Laboratory. Gentry has created work on The Governor's School for the Arts in Norfolk, VA and has choreographed two ballets on the Peter London Global Dance Company: the most recent of which premiered in December 2015 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. George has presented work throughout New York City, New Jersey and Florida.  In New York City, ZEST has performed at the HarlemStage Gatehouse Theater, Ulster Performing Arts Center, Whitebox Art Center, Madiba Harlem, Marcus Garvey Park and the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood.

Born and raised in Singapore, Ezra Goh flirted with many dance styles, including bboying, hip hop, jazz and salsa before stepping into his first ballet class at age 21. He enrolled into the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) shortly after. He now holds a Diploma in Dance Choreography from NAFA and a BFA in Dance from the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College, SUNY. Ezra's work has been presented at the Singapore Da:ns Festival and more recently at NewSTEPs here in New York City. He is currently a member of H. T. Chen & Dancers and Kizuna Dance. He also works as a professional photographer and a GYROTONIC trainer.

Jillian Greis is a Brookyn based ballet teacher and, as of tonight, a budding choreographer. Jillian Greis began her early dance training at Lowe Dance Studio and Southern New Jersey Academy of Performing Arts. Jillian then entered Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s rigorous training program; her teaching is heavily influenced by CPYB’s Artistic Director, Marcia Dale Weary. Jillian’s philosophy involves introducing the technical elements of ballet slowly and strategically in order to inspire confidence and competence. Jillian recently spent two years with the Western Pennsylvania Youth Ballet where she worked closely with Artistic Director Michael Villella to develop a comprehensive and cohesive ballet curriculum and she is very excited to bring this work to the Brooklyn Ballet School for the upcoming school year. In addition to teaching, Jillian is pursuing a degree in Psychology at Harvard University. 

Ariel Rebecca (Rivka) Grossman founded Ariel Rivka Dance in 2008. Born and raised in New York City, she began her dance training at the Joffrey Ballet School and LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and the Performing Arts. She earned a B. S. in Dance with honors and a Minor in Women’s Studies from Skidmore College and upon graduation was commissioned to set a work on Skidmore dancers. Based in New York/New Jersey, Ariel Rivka Dance (ARD) is a critically acclaimed all-female contemporary dance company led by a married choreographer/composer team, Ariel Grossman (Artistic Director/Choreographer) and David Homan (Executive Director/Composer).  Named one of Jersey (New) Moves Emerging Choreographers, ARD will be presented this summer at Rutgers University, White Wave Wave Rising Series and Inaugural Solo/Duo Festival, and celebrate its 9th Season Festival in May at New York Live Arts. Other performances include a JCC Manhattan engagement and New Jersey Tour of “The Book of Esther,” and choreographic residencies at LaGuardia Performing Arts High School and Moving Youth Ballet Company in New Jersey. ARD’s recent performances have included collaborations with Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company, Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch, Paul Dennis and Sean Curran, as well as engagements at the Saratoga Dance Museum, Gershman Y (Philadelphia PA) and Baruch Performing Arts Center.  The company was also the recipient of a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council grant and a Nathan Cummings Foundation grant.

Born to immigrant parents of Chile and Yugoslavia, Luisa Innisfree Martinez began her life in Manhattan, New York. She received her B. F. A. in Dance Performance and Choreography at Ohio University. Luisa is a movement teacher specializing in the young, ages 5 and under. She is passionate about teaching children and hopes to encourage their sense of awareness, agility and feelings of accomplishment. Luisa has been a company member for INSPIRIT, a dance company by Christal Brown, and Emotions Physical Theater. She now is embarking on creating her own work.

William Isaac, born on the island of St. Johns, Antigua, is an alumnus of The Juilliard School, The School at Jacob’s Pillow, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art; Performing Arts, Dance Theatre of Harlem School and Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. Mr. Isaac is a former company member of Armitage Gone! Dance, Ballet de Lorraine, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Alonzo King’s Line’s Contemporary Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Philadanco .In the fall of 2011 Mr. Isaac started his new repertory company Kymera Dance.The inaugural performance was on February 24th 2012 at The Little Flower Theater in New York City. Mr. Isaac is a former Van Lier Fellowship recipient(1992-1994), National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts Finalist 1995, Donna Reed Festival Finalist 1995 and has been awarded a William Loeb award 1997 and a New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) award 2007-2008.

Whitney Jacobs received her B. F. A. in performance and choreography from the Ohio University, June 2005.  She was a company member of Azaguno, a West African dance and drum ensemble, for thirteen years, and toured both nationally and internationally with the troupe.  She has worked at Contemporary Dance Theater of Cincinnati, Ohio, and performed with Forces of Nature Dance Theater, and Johari Mayfield in New York City.   Since 2007, Jacobs’ choreography has been presented at numerous venues throughout the NYC area including 14th Street Y Theater, Joyce Soho, The Living Theater, Center Stage NY, Triskelion Arts, The Tank, Aaron Davis Hall, Bronx Academy of Art and Dance, Chen Dance Center, Harlem Dance Theater, Brooklyn Lyceum, The Spoon Theater, Brecht Forum, and the Aronoff Center for the Arts in Cincinnati, OH.  She was a recipient of the New York Foundation of the Arts BUILD Stability grant, and the Field Work award.  In 2013, Jacobs obtained her M. F.A in performing arts with a concentration in dance from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. Jacobs is the Artistic Director of Jacobs Dance Collective, a vibrant contemporary dance organization based in NYC.  Jacobs has taught dance, physical education, and coached soccer for the past nine years.  Currently, she is full-time dance faculty at The Brearley School, NYC.

Marilyn Klaus formed Ballets with a Twist in association with composer Stephen Gaboury and costume designer Catherine Zehr. The company has been seen in a variety of venues — from Lincoln Center and PlayhouseSquare to SoHo House and Manhattan nightclub Stage 48 — across the country. In conjunction with many of its performances, Ballets with a Twist undertakes outreach activities including master classes, integration of young dance students into shows,musical collaborations, public presentations, and artistic residencies.

MMDC, founded by Brooklyn-based choreographer Mari Meade, aims to give audiences a physical, emotional and intellectual experience. Drawing upon anthropological research, Meade uses repetition, rhythm and character development to create sincere, atmospheric yet irreverent works that are technically challenging. MMDC often produces multimedia work, involving actors, writers, musicians and scientists. Meade seeks unique, collaborative voices for her company and frequently pushes her nine dancers outside their comfort zones, challenging them mentally and physically, asking them to think beyond their formal training. MMDC has performed internationally, including: the Kenan Fellowship at Clark Theatre at Lincoln Center, Dance:Access at Danspace, STUFFED at Judson Memorial Church, FLICfest, Battery Dance Festival (NYC); New Orleans Fringe Festival (LA); Asheville Fringe Festival (NC); Katlehong Arts Center (South Africa). This summer, MMDC has a creative residency at Lake Studio Berlin.

Lynn Parkerson is the Founding Artistic Director of Brooklyn Ballet. In recognition of her exceptional leadership contributions to Brooklyn’s cultural community, Ms. Parkerson received the Betty Smith Arts Award as part of the Women's “Herstory” Induction Ceremony and Reception on March 22, 2007. Lynn Parkerson’s choreography has been presented at many prominent international events and venues, including the Munich Theater Festival, Frankfurt’s Theatre am Turm, the Florence International Festival of Dance, Moers New Jazz Festival, Jazz Festival Baden-Baden and An Appalachian Summer Arts Festival in Boone, NC, among others. In New York City, she presented annual dance programs—notably the popular ballet series To the Pointe—as Director of Dance at Holy Trinity from 1991-2001. Her work has been supported by grants from the Harkness Foundation for Dance, Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation and Con Edison. 

Nellie Rainwater is a dancer/choreographer and arts administrator. Her choreography has been presented by Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Dixon Place, CPR - Center for Performance Research, and DANCE NOW at Joe’s Pub, among other venues. She received an MFA in Dance from Tisch School of the Arts/NYU, and a BA in Dance and English from St. Olaf College. She currently performs and teaches with Naomi Goldberg Haas/Dances for a Variable Population, and she is the Development Associate at Brooklyn Ballet.

Nikki Theroux is an East Coast native, originally from Massachusetts before relocating to New York City to receive her BFA in Dance Performance from Marymount Manhattan College, where she also discovered an impulse towards movement construction. She has presented work at Steps Beyond/REVERBdance, Gowanus Arts, Peridance Capezio Center, the Moving Beauty Series, and more. Nikki has had the fortune to work with Mike Esperanza, Max Stone, of bones || hollye bynum, N Squared Dance, Rachel Hettinger, Amanda Reichert, MersihaMesihovic/CircuitDebris, and Suku Dance Lab.

Eryn Renee Young is co-founder and resident choreographer of XAOC Contemporary Ballet, a New York City-based neoclassical ballet company founded in 2010. Her choreographic work has been showcased at The Ailey Citigroup Theater, the Young Choreographer’s Festival at Symphony Space, Boston Contemporary Dance Festival at the Paramount Theater, the White Wave Dumbo Dance Festival, the Martha Graham Studio Theater, the Counter/Pointe Series with Norte Maar and the Brooklyn Ballet at the Actor’s Fund Arts Center, the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition, the Brooklyn Dance Festival, the Choreographer’s Canvas at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, NYC10: an initiative for NYC Dance Week at Dixon Place, Dance New Amsterdam, Triskelion Arts Center, Steps on Broadway, the Moving Beauty Series, the Algonquin Arts Center, Peridance Capezio Center, the Boston Conservatory, the Bart Leukede Theater at Rider University, and New York University. Her awards include the 2015 Edward Villella Emerging Choreographer Award, a 2015 Manhattan Community Arts Fund Grant for her ballet outreach program “Project Ignite,” the 2014 Eryc Taylor Dance New Choreography Grant, selection as a mentee for the 2013 Dance/USA Institute for Leadership Training, and selection as a choreographer for the 2013 Women in Dance Series. Ms. Young holds a baccalaureate degree in Contemporary Ballet Choreography and Fine Art from New York University.

Margaret Yuen founded the Red Silk Dancers in 1985 and serves  as artistic director.  Her choreography incorporates elements of Chinese classical aesthetics,  traditional folk dance steps, martial arts moves, and improvisation with contemporary themes.