Mariah Steele

Mariah Steele, Choreographer & Artistic Director, grew up dancing at the Steffi Nossen School of Dance in White Plains, New York, with May O'Donnell technique at the core of a modern-dance based curriculum. Mariah graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with a major in Anthropology and minor in Dance. She combined these two passions by studying traditional Kandyan dance in Sri Lanka for two months and then writing her anthropology thesis about the experience: "Dancing Away the Divide Between Ritual and Art." Ze'eva Cohen and Rebecca Lazier were her main dance teachers and mentors at Princeton. She went on to perform professionally in New York City in the companies of James Martin, Beth Soll, and Kelley Donovan, and in Boston with Sokolow Now!, the Anna Sokolow archival company, Rebecca Rice Dance, Nell Breyer and Sara Smith, among others. In 2011, Mariah earned a Masters Degree at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, concentrating in non-profit management and conflict resolution. For her thesis about using dance in peacebuilding, she traveled to Ireland to study Irish Modern Dance Theatre's Fall and Recover by choreographer John Scott, a work with two professional dancers and eleven torture-survivors and asylum-seekers from different countries. Named a "Rising Talent" by The Boston Globe Magazine in 2013, Mariah continues to develop her unique blend of original choreography and anthropological investigation in her company Quicksilver Dance and through teaching, workshops, and commissions. Her choreography has been shown extensively on both coasts and internationally at the St. Ambroise Festival in Montreal, Quebec, where she was nominated for "Best Choreography" in June 2014. In August 2016, she completed her MFA in Dance at Hollins University.

Mariah's college teaching includes: Modern Dance, Dance History and World Dance Cultures at Endicott College in Beverly, MA (2012-2015); "Science, Dance and The Creative Process" at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Fall 2014); guest choreography at Santa Clara University in California (Fall 2015); and The Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh (Summer 2010). In 2018, Mariah became a full-time lecturer in the Program of Dance and Movement at the University of Rochester where she has created three brand new courses with her signature combination of dance with other fields: A Cultural History of Social Dance in America, Dance & Peacebuilding and Choreographic Voice: Dance & Physics Frontiers.

Since 2015, Mariah has collaborated with an interdisciplinary team of physicists and educational researchers at TERC, a STEM education think-tank. Thanks to a 2-year grant from the National Science Foundation from 2017-2019, this team's ongoing research explores how teaching Physics through dance can help black and Latino high school students – groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields – gain identities as scientists.

At other points in time, Mariah has tutored high school students, traveled extensively, and worked in international development non-profits. She is also a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher.

For more information about Mariah's dance background, please read this interview by Karen Krolak; and this feature article by Karen Campbell in the Boston Globe Magazine, published April 28th 2013.

Hans Rinderknecht

Hans Rinderknecht, Dancer & Technical Director, grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a constant reader, musician, and dreamer. He chanced into theater in the ninth grade, which quickly became an outlet for a creative energy he didn't realize he had. Arriving at Princeton University with an eclectic training in yoga, capoeira, tai chi and movement-based stage work, he changed his focus to dance, having discovered he is much better on stage when he keeps his mouth shut. At Princeton, Hans performed works by Ze'eva Cohen, Christopher Williams, Marianela Boan, Edisa Weeks, and Millicent Hodson. In 2005, he traveled to Kobe, Japan, to assist Ms. Hodson in setting her reconstruction of Nijinsky's "The Rite of Spring" on a Japanese cast for the opening of the Hyogo Performing Arts Center, in which he also performed. His chronicle of the experience was published in the Ballet Review (2006, Vol 34, #3) and on the website Hans graduated in 2008 with a major in Physics and a minor in Dance. Since then, he has performed continually with Mariah Steele, and collaborated with her in generating many new works. In addition to dancing, Hans has provided musical and technical support to Mariah Steele/Quicksilver Dance. In 2015 Hans completed a PhD in Physics at MIT, where he researched plasma physics with nuclear fusion applications. His dance "Into the Ring: a Fusion Odyssey" based on that research and performed live by MIT students won the Science/AAAS Dance Your PhD Contest 2014 in the category of Physics. He completed a Lawrence Postdoctoral Fellowship at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and is currently a Scientist at the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics.

Alexa Manalansan

Alexa Manalansan, Dancer, a San Francisco native, is a spirited movement artist, yogi, and healer. She has trained at the Alvin Ailey School's Independent Study Program in New York City, B12 in Berlin, and at the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Intensive in Ga'aton Israel after receiving her B.A in Sociology and Dance from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has collaborated and performed nationally and internationally with Maligrad Contemporary Dance Company, Dance Mission Theatre, PULP, CatCallChoir, Kristin Damrow and many other independent choreographers since. Alexa is currently a nursing student, massage therapy student, and has recently completed her 200-hr Yoga Certification from Yoga Garden SF and Level 1 Reiki certification from SF Reiki Center. She intends to take a mind-body-spirit-emotion approach to the practice of traditional nursing and is excited to share her passion for movement and healing in a way that's accessible for all!

Nicole Sao Pedro-Welch

Nicole Sao Pedro-Welch, Dancer, earned her Masters in Fine Art in Interdisciplinary Art from Goddard College with focus in Choreography and Dance Pedagogy. She also earned a Masters in Education in Arts in Learning from Endicott College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance from Point Park University. For the past decade, Nikki has been the Coordinator of Dance, an Assistant Professor of the Dance program at Endicott College, and head coach of the Dance Team. Nikki’s professional works have been presented at the IUGTE Conference in Styria, Austria, along with professional venues around New England, and New York City. Her collaborative work has also been featured in Artscope magazine described as, "a sensory experience, professionally executed, and laden with layers of intellectual content." Nikki’s professional dance credits include; Quicksilver Dance, Peter DiMuro's Public Display of Motion, Danny Swain Dance Company, The Boston Celtics Dance Team, and Monkeyhouse (dancer/choreographer) of Boston, MA. Dancing for these companies, Nikki has performed in many festivals including Montreal Fringe (Canada), Dumbo Dance Festival and Cool New York, (Brooklyn NY), NACHMO (Boston, MA) among many other professional dance venues and shows.

Jenna Valez

Jenna Valez, Dancer, (she/her) is an artist, dancer, teacher, and yogi who currently resides in San Francisco, CA. She believes movement is a way to uncover our unconscious, which gives light to a path of deeper understanding and care. She currently performs and collaborates with Rhea Speights and Quicksilver Dance Company. She has also had the pleasure of performing with CatCallChoir, Cali&Co, Dog+Pony Dance Company, and Maligrad Contemporary Dance Company. Jenna worked as assistant director to Chirstine Cali (Cali&Co) in the curation and performance of WAH!Fest at Dance Mission Theater, San Francisco. She has danced, performed and taught in San Francisco, New York City, Northampton (Massachusetts), Ga’aton (Israel), Berlin, Amsterdam, and Arrezo (Italy). Her dance company, PULP, was founded in 2019 and most recently performed in Doug Varone’s DEVICES (NYC). She holds her 200-hour Yoga Certification from Yoga Garden SF and is currently studying for her 500-hour yoga teacher training. You can catch her on the weekends teaching yoga online to beginners and horse farriers/trainers! Jenna graduated with distinction from Sonoma State University with a B.A. in dance and psychology.

Oona Wong-Danders

Oona Wong-Danders, Dancer is an Oakland native. She received her early training at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, Berkeley Ballet Theater, and ODC/School, and completed her BA in Dance at San Francisco State University. Post graduating, she has been active in the Bay Area dance scene and has had the pleasure of dancing, creating and performing work by so many talented artists including ahdanco, Allegra Bautista, ayanadancearts, Brenda Way, Garrett & Moulton Productions, ka·nei·see | collective, Katerina Wong, Kimi Okada, KT Nelson, Kristin Damrow & Company, PULP, and Quicksilver Dance. If she weren’t so in love with dance, Oona, a pisces and an aspiring fashion icon, would ideally live in Tokyo, running an eco-friendly flower shop by day and the local watering hole by night!

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Last Modified: 21 Oct 2020
Designed By: Will Pickeral
Photos By: Jim Coleman & Eli Akerstein