National Choreographers Initiative

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2016 Choreographers and Dancers

Tom GoldTom Gold is the founder and director of Tom Gold Dance based in New York City. He was a 21 year member of the New York City Ballet where he was a soloist. Tom also performed with numerous companies around the world including Tharp, Donald Byrd/the Group, and New York City Opera. As a freelance choreographer Gold has created works for Oregon Ballet Theater, Vassar College, The School of American Ballet, The New York Choreographic Institute, Manhattan School of Music, The television show “Odd Mom Out” and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to name a few. He is the featured performer and choreographer in 2wice Arts Foundation’s Dot Dot Dot, an interactive iPad application. For his own company Gold has created over 30 original works and traveled to Bermuda, Israel, Italy, France, and Spain. In May he will create a new work for the St Louis Ballet. Visit his website
Nicole HaskinsNicole Haskins was born and raised in Venice Beach, California. She received her ballet training at the Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica under the direction of Yvonne Mounsey and Rosemary Valaire. Nicole’s enthusiasm for choreography emerged during her time at Westside, where she often gathered her friends together during breaks to try out ideas. Noticing her spunk and talent, the school’s directors invited her to choreograph for their annual spring showcase three consecutive years. Nicole danced professionally with Sacramento Ballet, Washington Ballet, and currently dances with Smuin Ballet in San Francisco where she is about to begin her fourth season. Nicole has been commissioned to choreograph for Sacramento Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Smuin Ballet, and many ballet schools across the country. Her choreography has been presented at the Los Angles Dance Invitational, the McCallum Theater’s Dancing Under The Stars Choreographic Competition, as well as numerous Regional Dance America Festivals. In 2010 she participated in the New York Choreographic Institute affiliated with the New York City Ballet, and in 2011 received the Institute’s Fellowship Grant. Coming up, Nicole will contribute to Amy Seiwert’s Imagery’s Sketch 6 series, her pas de deux La linea scura will be presented by Dayton Ballet, and she will create a world premiere for Smuin Ballet’s 2017 spring repertory season.
Stephanie MartinezStephanie Martinez is an award-winning Chicago dance artist with over 30 years professional performing experience on stage, film and television. During her 17 year stint with River North Dance Chicago, she worked with guest choreographers Ashley Roland, Kevin Iega Jeff, Daniel Ezralow, Frank Chaves, Sherry Zunker and Ron De Jesus, among others, and was merited the Ruth Page Award for Outstanding Performance. Her eclectic performance resume also includes guesting with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Luna Negra Dance Theater, Gus Giordano Jazz Dance, Ron De Jesus Dance, and as a featured dancer for The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the 2006 World Cup opening ceremonies with Diana Ross. Upon leaving RNDT, she made her 2009 choreographic debut, AviMar, for Luna Negra Dance Theatre’s 10th anniversary season, instantly securing her status as a sought-after dance-maker. Since then, she has been traveling across the country setting works on professional companies and universities. She is one of the 2015 3Arts Awards Recipients in Chicago, which recognizes women in the arts, and completed a residency at the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago as a 2014 "Winning Works: Choreographers of Color" award winner. Most recently she set a piece on the Kansas City Ballet for their New Works program. Forthcoming commissions include Ballet Hispanico, Eugene Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Neos Dance Theatre, Dance St. Louis and Dance Kaleidoscope.

Ben Needham-WoodBen Needham-Wood began his dance education with the Boston-based ballet company, Dance Prism. After graduating with distinctions from the renowned St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH, Ben went on to further his training at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, earning his BFA in Ballet, Magna Cum Laude. While completing his degree, Ben joined the Louisville Ballet under the direction of Bruce Simpson. There he performed a variety of classical and contemporary repertoire. Some highlights include Romeo in Alun Jones’ Romeo & Juliet, Armand in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, and featured roles in contemporary works by Adam Hougland, Helen Pickett, and Amy Seiwert, among others. Ben later relocated to San Francisco where he is currently an artist with Smuin Ballet, directed by Celia Fushille. His performance career continues to expand, recently including such choreographers as Garrett Ammon, Ma Cong, Jiri Kylian, and Michael Smuin. Ben received his first choreographic commission while an artist with the Louisville Ballet. Since then he has created premieres for such companies as Smuin Ballet and Dance Theatre of San Francisco, and has had his works presented at festivals across the United States and Canada. Ben has also choreographed for film, recently co-creating BaseBallet with Weston Krukow, produced by Comcast Sports Network. BaseBallet was aired during the San Francisco Giants pregame broadcast and is featured in the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame as part of “The Dancing Athlete” exhibit. Ben participated in NCI ‘10 as a dancer and is proud to be returning for NCI ‘16 as a choreographer.

Lighting Designer
Monique L'HeureuxMonique L’Heureux is an award winning lighting designer who has been working in the field of dance for over two decades. This year, she is celebrating her fourteenth collaboration with artistic director, Molly Lynch.  

Past designs include: Ma Cong’s French Twist for Smuin Ballet; Molly Lynch’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Anjani Ambegaokar’s Made in Mumbaii at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center;The Motion Picture and Television Fund event featuring Chita Rivera, Dick van Dyke, Shirley MacLaine, Hugh Jackman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer Hudson, and others; Charles Moulton’s Ball Passing piece in Fall for Dance at the Orange County Performing Arts Center; Robert Sund’s Alice in Wonderland; the National and Pacific Festivals of Regional Dance America; the summer season at the Hollywood Bowl; and associate design work on the Universal Studios’ Magical Starlight Parade in Osaka, Japan.  

She attended Pepperdine University and received her MFA from the University of California, Irvine, after which she apprenticed at the Los Angeles Music Center’s Mark Taper Forum. She has taught for the dance departments at Loyola Marymount University and Moorpark College and the theatre department at El Camino College. She is the recipient of four Lester Horton Dance Awards.  

She is an accomplished artist and photographer whose work has been shown in galleries including the Long Beach Public Library’s Art on Display, the Carl Broderick Gallery, VIVA Gallery, Long Beach Arts Center, City of Brea Gallery, and The Stage Gallery, as well as a permanent installation in the Glendale Adventist Medical Center. She is a member of United Scenic Artists.

2016 Dancers
Julia Eisen – Nashville Ballet
Julia Feldman – Sacramento Ballet
Erica Felsch – Smuin Ballet
Sabrina Holland – Richmond Ballet
Beth Maslinoff – Eugene Ballet
Keenan McLaren – Nashville Ballet
Allynne Noelle – Suzanne Farrell Ballet
Chantelle Pianetta – Menlowe Ballet

Thomas Baker – Oregon Ballet Theatre
James Cunningham – Cincinnati Ballet
Damir Emric – Royal New Zealand Ballet
Zachary Guthier – Los Angeles Ballet
Evan Swenson – freelance
Mate Szentes – Richmond Ballet
Dustin True – Los Angeles Ballet
Benjamin Tucker – Nevada Ballet Theatre

2016 Dancers
 2016 NCI dancers

All photos by Robert Salas and David Friedman

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