Past Dancers and Collaborators

Emily Stein (Associate Director Emerita/Ballet Mistress) began dancing and choreographing for Zephyr Dance in 1993, and was named Associate Artistic Director in 1997.  Over eighteen seasons, she had the privilege of performing and presenting work with Zephyr at numerous Chicago venues and throughout the country. Her choreography has been seen in New York City at the Mulberry Street Theater and Cunningham Studios and in Toronto at the Winchester St. Theater.  Her work has also been seen at the Cleveland Public Theater, Ohio; the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, FL; the Margaret D’Houbler Theater, Madison, WI and Barking Legs Theater in Chattanooga, TN, among others. In 2002, she participated in Deborah Hay’s Solo Performance Commissioning Project, and has performed Hay’s solo, Beauty, in Chicago, Washington and Michigan.  Her choreography has been nominated for a Ruth Page Award and a Chicago Dance Achievement Award, and has been seen in the Dance Chicago festival and Chicago’s NEXT Dance Festival.  She has also created dances for students at Niagara County Community College, the Dance Center of Columbia College, and the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater.

Teaching has been an important aspect of Emily’s dancing life since 1983, when she began teaching in the University of Iowa’s Talented and Gifted children’s program. Widely known in the Chicago area for her classes in ballet technique, she has worked with students from myriad backgrounds and all levels of experience, and enjoys the challenges of helping them  connect with ballet technique as a tool for their own bodies’ dancing. She is currently on the faculty at the Dance Center of Columbia College, where she teaches ballet and is the Ballet Coordinator.  In addition to teaching, her duties include collaborating on curriculum development and evaluation for the technique track.  Prior to coming to the Dance Center, she served for five years on the faculty of the Barat College Conservatory of Dance teaching technique, dance composition and dance history.  Emily has taught widely in private studios and for other professional companies, including The Space/Movement Project, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, and Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater, where she also managed the school.

Since 1998, Emily has also worked as a teaching artist in public schools in Chicago and the surrounding area. Using the Zephyr Model of arts integration to connect the art to the core curriculum, she has created unique dance experiences for students at all grade levels in subject areas from Language Arts and Social Studies to Science and Math.  She has been part of the Zephyr team developing innovative and powerful models for assessment in the arts, which earned Zephyr Dance the opportunity to provide state-wide training in assessment for teaching artists sponsored by the Illinois Arts Council.  She has taught professional development workshops for teaching artists, classroom teachers and college students, helping them to develop and refine their teaching practices.

Emily began her dance training in Buffalo, NY, focused on classical ballet. She was also exposed to musical theater, jazz and mime. Emily attended the University of Iowa, and earned her BA in Dance in 1993. It was at Iowa that she began teaching and first experienced modern dance. It was also at Iowa that she discovered choreography. After graduating, Emily moved to Chicago, where she worked with many companies and choreographers and appeared in countless Nutcrackers. In order to explore her interest in choreography and teaching, she left Chicago in 1990 to pursue her MFA at Smith College. She served as a teaching fellow at Smith College, Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. While at Smith, Emily’s choreography was chosen to represent the college at the American College Dance Festival at Bennington College.  Upon returning to Chicago in 1992, she began to produce her own choreography independently, and joined Zephyr Dance in 1993.  As Associate Director Emerita, she continues to teach Zephyr Dance company class and collaborates with Zephyr artists both in and out of the studio.

Sabrina Danielle Baranda (dancer) began her dance training at Oakland School for the Arts under the direction of Reginald-Ray Savage. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dance, with a concentration in performance, and a minor in Early Childhood Education at Columbia College Chicago.  Sabrina’s past performances include works by Merce Cunningham, Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company, Parijat Desai Dance Company, Khecari Dance Theater, Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater, and various performance art installations by ROOMS Gallery/ TKesh Productions. She has been a member of Zephyr since 2014.

Andrea Cerniglia (associate artist) performed with Zephyr from 2004-2013.  She earned a BFA in dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  With Zephyr Andrea has performed in Chicago at, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Dance Center of Columbia College, and the Ruth Page Center for the Performing Arts, as well as in New York City at  Mulberry Street Theater, Triskelion Arts, and the Ailey Citigroup Theater.  She has also appeared in productions at the Harold Washington Library Theater, Links Hall, the Athenaeum Theater, Dance Space Studio, and the Cunningham Studio Theater.  Andrea has been a part of Zephyr residency and master class work at Columbia College Chicago and Illinois Wesleyan University.  She teaches in the Chicago public schools through Zephyr’s arts integrated education programs uniting classroom curriculum with dance.  Andrea is the founder and artistic architect of dropshift dance and has presented her own work locally and internationally.

Colleen Welch (dancer) received her degree in kinesiology with a major in dance and a minor in exercise science from Indiana University. She began her dance training in Indianapolis, IN at The Dance Company, where she is now a guest choreographer and teacher for their performing company. Colleen has been performing with Zephyr since 2011. She also currently dances with drop shift dance and has worked with ology dance and Project606. She has performed at various Chicago venues, including the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Links Hall, Lou Conte Dance Studio, Old Town School of Folk Music, Defibrillator Gallery, Hairpin Arts Center, Hamlin Park, and Holstein Park. Colleen teaches dance and acrobatics in the Chicagoland area. She also enjoys teaching fitness classes and is a certified Pilates mat instructor, American Council on Exercise health coach, and personal trainer.

Ayako Kato (guest artist) is a dancer, choreographer and curator originally from Yokohama, Japan.  Kato and double bassist Jason Roebke formed Art Union Humanscape (AUH) in 1998, and since have presented over one hundred long-form music and dance improvisation performances, and over forty collaborative productions in the United States, Japan and Europe.  Her works have been presented at Dance Theater Workshop, NYC; Joyce Soho, NYC; Die Pratze Dance Festival, Tokyo; Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg, France; Chicago Jazz Festival; The Other Dance Festival, Chicago and other festivals and venues.  Kato is an artist in residence at Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater as part of the Chicago Moving Company’s Dance Shelter Program.

Rosa Gaia Saunders (video artist) is an experimental cinematographer, video editor and producer raised in Alberta, Canada. At McGill University in Montreal, she studied English Literature and Cultural Studies, theoretically focusing on the disabled body in film. She moved to Chicago to be a digital media instructor while participating in a year-long program focused on communal living and social justice. Rosa has since pursued freelance videography and editing, primarily focusing on video installation and creative documentation of experimental or public performance art. Her video collaborations have been exhibited at Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery (DFB), Chicago Cultural Center, Venice International Performance Art Week, Mosnart Gallery, and Lincoln Center in NYC. Rosa has been involved in various not-for-profits including Free Spirit Media, Kartemquin Films, Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and DFB. At DFB, she served as the Director of Documentation and Director of Development for the Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival, and as a videographer, photographer and editor for many gallery events. In 2012 Rosa shot and cut twelve short video documentaries of the Out of Site public performance art festival. Rosa is currently the producer at Nolan Collaborative in River North, a high-end video content creation company that specializes in creative editing of short-form video.

Tom Jasek (composer/musician) is primarily known for theatrical sound design and live music. Past theatrical collaborations include working with James Palmer for Red Tape Theater; with Dexter Bullard at the Next Lab; and with Kristen Caskey for Fox Theatricals. His original music for John Cusack’s New Crime Productions’ staging of Jean Genet’s The Balcony received a Jeff nomination. Tom is a classically trained percussionist who has toured in the U.S., Canada, and Germany. He was an active musician in the Wicker Park music scene of the 1980’s and 90’s with bands such as Ominous Clam, Quaker Youth Ensemble, the Indigos, and Shrimp Boat, and can be currently heard in Chicago clubs drumming with the Impulsive Hearts and Sex Therapy.

Ronnie Kuller (composer/musician) is a multi-instrumentalist and composer, a member of Mucca Pazza, and is an artistic associate of Opera-Matic.  Since 2006, she’s been an Artist-in-Residence at Snow City Arts, where she teaches music to pediatric inpatients at Stroger Hospital of Cook County and Rush Children’s Hospital. Ronnie has performed at Lincoln Center, Millennium Park, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Montreal Jazz Festival, Mass MoCA, the Watermill Centre, and 92Y Tribeca. Her compositions have been performed live on Chicago Public Radio’s Morning Shift and recorded onto wax cylinder at Edison National Historical Park.

Michael Caskey (Composer) hails from rural Southwestern Michigan. Graduating Magna Cum Laude from Western Michigan University’s school of music in 1999, Michael has performed with artists as diverse as Chuck Mangione, Toni Tenille, Danilo Perez, Marvin Hamlisch, and John Sinclair. Currently, Michael is a part of Eastern Blok, a pan-cultural ensemble that performs and presents master classes throughout the United States. A DownBeat jazz magazine award winner and five-time Detroit Music Award recipient, Michael has performed for audiences throughout the United States, Canada, Poland, France, Germany, Denmark, and Belgium.

Heidi Dakter (Costume Designer) is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she trained in Wearables, Print Media, Spectacle and Puppet Performance. Heidi has worked extensively in design and construction collaborations with Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak, Blair Thomas and Co. Robin Richman and Holly Hunt. She was a guest professor at Thammasat University, Bangkok, teaching body extension shadow puppetry. Heidi is currently working as head assistant designer to the Istanbul based fashion label, Umit Unal. Her passion for wearables is rooted in narrative storytelling and the conceptualization of language. The pieces shown in Just Left of Remote are inspired by our forever changing identities, illusion of image and unrecognizable former and later selves.