Author Archive for nini

Rachael Harding – Denver, CO

Rachael's headshot-1Rachael Harding grew up in northern California.  She holds an MFA in dance from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a BFA in dance and a BS in Business Management from the University of Arizona.  She was a member of the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and served as Assistant Rehearsal Director in her final season with the company.  Rachael toured the United States as a solo dancer with winds quintet, Imani Winds, in “Josephine Baker: A Life of Le Jazz Hot.”  In Denver, Rachael has performed in the productions Nixon in China, The Pearl Fishers and Rusalka with Opera Colorado.  She continues to dance professionally and has worked with Colorado based companies; Davis Contemporary Dance, Moraporvida, Interweave Dance Theatre, Kim Robards, Nancy Cranbourne and New Breed Dance Company.  Throughout her years of training she has worked with renowned choreographers such as Donald McKayle, Eleo Pomare, David Rousseve, Sean Curran, John Malashock, Richard Havey and Christopher Huggins.
Rachael has been teaching dance for over twenty years and has taught master classes at Denver School of the Arts, Loughborough University (UK), University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of Arizona and at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance School.  She has choreographed on Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Aspen Dance Connection, and for the Rusalka production with Opera Colorado.  Currently, Rachael teaches a dance history course for Red Rocks Community College and is the Artistic Director for Denver Dance Starz.

Leslie Merrill – Golden, CO

leslie-merrilLeslie Merrill is a choreographer, performer, teacher, and video artist. She received her MFA in Dance from the University of Colorado in 2007. At CU, she taught modern and jazz technique and directed the Contemporary Danceworks Touring Company. She has also taught at Dynamic Expressions, and Mosaic Movement Arts, and is currently on the faculty of Ascential Dance Theatre Colorado and Studio D, in addition to directing the dance program at Mountain Kids. She has enjoyed performing with Haan Dances, Move On Dance Company, and Louder than Words Dancetheatre, and dancing and choreographing for Interweave Dance Theatre. She is currently dancing professionally with the Cindy Brandle Dance Company and is enjoying her third season with Ascential Dance. In 2000, she co-founded and directed the Kentucky-based company, RADAR: Dance in Reverse, for whom she taught, choreographed, and performed before relocating to Colorado. Leslie co-founded the Boulder-based, Peekaboo Sole Productions (PSP) with Mimi Ferrie and Jessica England in 2009. PSP produces the work of emerging and established choreographers and facilitates collaborative exchange amongst dance artists and their communities. Leslie also works for the Colorado Dance Alliance as a website manager, newsletter editor, and writer. In Colorado, she has presented work as part of the Bliss Festival, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, the Denver Independent Choreographer’s Project, the Boulder International Fringe Festival, Femme Fatale Four, the Aspen Dance Connection’s Colorado Choreographer’s Showcase, the Installation Innovation exhibit at the UMC Art Gallery, and with Haan Dances as part of Beyond the Comfort Zone and Blessed and Broken. Leslie’s work has also been shown nationally as part of the American Dance Festival’s Dancing for the Camera Series, the TARLA Dance for Camera Festival, the Holland Project, and the Intangible Bodies Conference. Internationally, her work has been presented in British Columbia as part of the Collision Symposium on Interarts Practices and on tour with the Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema in Mexico and Germany.

Linzee Klinkenberg – Boulder, CO

linzeeBoulder native Linzee Klinkenberg began her dance career performing with local staples Interweave Dance Theatre, Helander Dance Theatre, the University of Colorado and her mentor Nancy Cranbourne.  She earned her BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA.  Upon graduation she began teaching at Whitman College, the University of Washington and Cornish College.  She has worked with North West favorites Spectrum Dance Theatre, Wade Madsen, Deborah Wolf, Michael Foley, Seattle Fringe Festival and Strictly Seattle, and New York based choreographers John Passifume and Mark Haim.  Most recently she has performed with Haan Dances and acts as Rehearsal Director for 40 Women over 40.  She is currently collaborating with Nancy Cranbourne in creation of a jazz piece premiering at the Dairy Center of the Arts and Seattle’s Full Tilt showcase this summer.  She is also a certified Personal Trainer and Bootcamp Instructor.  Linzee’s greatest work is her role as mother of four young sons.

BJDW Staff

Co-owners of BJDW, LLC:

Lara Branen – Co-founder, Executive/Artistic Director

Nini Coleman – Graphic Designer, Web-designer, Webmaster

Chris Harris – Assistant Executive/Artistic Director, Co-Director Student Performance

Daniel Morimoto – BJDW General Manager, Registrar

Heather Woolley  – BJDW On Site Manager

Other Administrative Staff:

Christy McNeil Chand – Student Advisor, Co-Director Student Performance

Tiffany Leise – Longmont, CO

Tiffany LeiseTiffany Leise Taskey made her way back to Colorado after spending 15 years in LA as a professional dancer, teacher, and choreographer. She was twice selected for The Colorado Tap Dance Residencies to study with tap greats Honi Coles and Jimmy Slyde. She performed for the premiere of the movie TAP starring Gregory Hines in New York. Her film and TV credits include Hoodlums, A Life In The Theatre, King of The Ants, Stanley’s Gig, and Opposite Sex. National tour, stage appearances, and industrials include Sugar Babies, The Flintstones, Tap Girls, McDonald’s, Intel, Compaq and Kraftmaid. Tiffany has taught at the EDGE Performing Arts Center and toured nationally with L.A. Danceforce (LADF), Urban Jamm and Tamjams. Tiffany is currently teaching in Longmont at her parents’ dance studio Dance Dimensions and continues to teach and choreograph nationally. This past year five of her tap student were selected to perform with the world renowned Tap Dogs at the Buell Theatre. She also choreographed a 20‘s themed event for The Painted Muse here in Boulder. Her greatest joy is working with young up and coming dancers and passing on her love and passion of dance.

Helen Estrella – Denver, CO

HelenHelen was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Much of her youth was spent in the rigors of competitive artistic and rhythmic gymnastics through which she found her love of dance. Helen eventually moved to Los Angeles to dance with some of the industry’s top choreographers. In 2002 she found her way back to Sonoma County where she directed local competitive companies until the birth of her own, Estrella Dance Company. Helen is known for her cutting edge, contemporary style and is currently a faculty member of “Winterfest & Summerfest The Convention”. She is a nationally recognized instructor and choreographer who travels extensively teaching master classes and setting choreography on various dance companies. She can also be seen on tour with “Talent on Parade” as an adjudicator and Dance Directive faculty member. She currently teaches at Synergy in Colorado Springs.

Peter Davison – Boulder, CO

peterheadPeter Davison brings over 38-years of diverse performing experience to his role of Co-Artistic Director of Boulder Ballet. His childhood idols were Alexander Calder and Batman, influences that led to training in visual art, juggling, and dance. While a teenager, Peter began his professional career street performing in Los Angeles, and as a variety artist for Hollywood films. He moved to Boulder in 1980. Peter studied ballet with Larry Boyette, Ana Claire, Barbara Demaree, Finis Jhung and Donald Mahler; modern dance with Danelle Helander, and tap with Susan Hadley and Lynn Dally, among others. In 1982 Peter became a founding member of the trio Airjazz with whom he appeared at venues such as the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, BAM, and the Hong Kong Arts Festival. He has performed solo shows mixing dance, theater and object manipulation at the Carmel/California Performing Arts Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse, and Utah State Arts Tour, and has appeared as a featured soloist on the CBS, BBC and Fox television networks. Peter has received numerous awards and grants including the Arts Innovation Award from the Colorado Federation of the Arts, and the Performance Fellowship from the Colorado Council on the Arts. Peter has choreographed works for several Colorado-based companies, and he is a recipient of the 2009 Ballet Builders Award for Choreography, from New Choreographers on Pointe in New York City.

Raquel Medina – Los Angeles, CA

raquelRaquel graduated June 2013 from UCLA with a BA in Dance through the World Arts and Cultures program. There she acted as one of the executive directors of NSU Modern, a competitive hip-hop company from UCLA who competed in VIBE XVIII 2013, placed 3rd at The Bridge 2012 competition, and are the current four-time consecutive champions of Battle Royal. Raquel has studied with Malaya, Rennie Harris, Susan Foster, Ros Warby, Joel Smith, and Hesen Weiren.  She has been a member of several dance companies, including D.C. Tribe and D.C. Crew hip-hop companies from Sonoma County, which were directed by the late Gary Kendell, founder of the Jabbawockeez.  Currently she is dancing at the Edge and is pursuing a career in dance in L.A.

Sumi Clements – New York City, NY


Sumi Clements, Artistic Director of Summation Dance Company (NYC), is a Japanese-American who hails from California. Sumi received her BFA in Dance from the University of California at Santa Barbara where she was the recipient of the Patricia Sparrow Scholarship & Corwin Award for Choreography. She then moved to New York where she was a member of Peter Kyle Dance and involved in various projects around the city before returning to study at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Upon receiving her MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography, she went on to co-found Summation Dance, showing work at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Judson Memorial Church, Danspace at St. Mark’s Church, City Center, the 92nd St Y, Baruch College, La Mama, FlicFest at the Irondale Center, and Dance New Amsterdam. The company will be on tour this spring making stops in San Francisco (ZSpace) and at UW-Milwaukee. She has worked with Gerald Casel Dance Company, Dylan Crossman and Sarah Holmes Danceworks, and has performed in the works of Doug Varone, Alwin Nikolais, Kyle Abraham, Andrea Miller and Sydney Skybetter. Sumi has completed residencies at various universities nationally, and this will be her second year on faculty at the Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop.

Mark Haines – Riverside, CA


Mark A. Haines has been teaching dance in the Southern California area and around the nation for the past 20 years. He has worked with dance companies in Washington, Colorado, South Carolina, and California as well as choreographing for television, Industrials and Musical Theater.  After years of performing throughout the United States and Europe as an entertainer with King’s Productions, Sitmar and Princess Cruise Lines, Mark began his formal dance training at Riverside City College under the tutelage of Jo Dierdorff and Rita Chenoweth. He has since graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, and completed a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from University of California, Irvine, with an emphasis in Lighting Design. Currently, Mark is a Professor of Dance at Riverside City College, where he teaches Jazz Technique, Modern Repertory, Choreography, Dance Appreciation and Lighting Design for Dance. Mark also serves as the primary Lighting Designer and Graphic Designer for the RCC Dance Department and recently took on the role as Artistic Director and resident choreographer for the Riverside regional modern/ballet company, Intersect Dance Theatre.