Dana Lawton is a tenured faculty member at Saint Mary’s College in the Performing Arts Department, a faculty member at Shawl-‐Anderson Dance Center, and Co-Director of the Enchanted Ridge Dance Retreat. A founding member of Bay Area’s acclaimed dance company, Janice Garrett & Dancers (Garrett+Moulton), Dana has had the honor of performing works by Joe Goode (Joe Goode Performance Group), Randee Paufve (Paufve Dance), Nina Haft (Nina Haft & Company), Rebecca Salzer (Rebecca Salzer Dance Theater) and Cathy Davalos (Davalos Dance Company) among others. Lawton was awarded Outstanding Performer in the 2000 Vision Series, for her own solo choreographic performance, and nominated for an Isadora Duncan Award (Izzy) for her performance in Garrett’s Wayfarers in 2002. Awarded Artist-In-Residence at Berkeley’s Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in 2006, she founded Dana Lawton Dances as a way to expand her own working process from individual choreographer to director of a full company. Over the past thirteen years Dana has been invited to present work at the Isadora Duncan Awards Ceremony, San Francisco; The Work Gallery, Brooklyn, New York; The Dallas Hub Theater in Dallas, Texas; and a variety of Bay Area festivals including the Women on the Way Festival, COUNTERPulse’s 2nd Sundays Series, Dance Mission’s Harvest Festival, the Vision Series, the Pilot and Flight Series at ODC, Summerfest Dance, the San Francisco International Arts Festival and, most recently, at the Flight Deck’s Artist-In-Residence, a new theater in downtown Oakland, CA. Dana’s artistic leap from individual choreographer to director of a dance company came in 2011 when she embarked on a two year project produce an entire evening of work to a score of original music. This project culminated in Beyond This Moment at the Ashby Stage, Berkeley in October of 2013, which was highly praised in Bay Area publications and sold out well before opening day. DLD was invited to tour to Santa Barbara at the Center Stage Theater in January 2014, which also sold out before the performance dates and received rave reviews from dance critics and audience members. The company has also toured sections of Beyond This Moment at the Royère de Vassivière Festival in Chamberet, France in July of 2014. Dana Lawton Dances “HOME” premiered in April 2015 at the Flight Deck in Oakland, CA. and toured to the Crescent Arts Center in Belfast, N. Ireland in July 2015.
Michael Armstrong received his bachelor’s in Dramatic Art-‐Dance from UC Berkeley as well as touring with their resident company. He then performed with Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre company for 10 years. Mr. Armstrong has danced with Nancy Karp & Dancers, Joan Lazarus/Dance and Robin Greenberg’s Dance Current and has been a member of DLD since 2010.
Leah Curran is a North Dakota native who transplanted to the Bay Area in 2007 via a stop in Montana. She graduated Magna cum Laude from the University of Montana with a B.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography and a B.S. in Business Administration. Upon moving to the Bay Area, Leah immersed herself in the dance community as a dancer and arts administrator. She has been part of Dana Lawton Dances since 2012 and has also performed works by Aura Fischbeck, Leigh Riley, Rebecca Ann Wilson, and Gretchen Garnett, among others. When not in the dance studio, Leah is helping to make dance happen behind the scenes as the Director of Operations of Oakland Ballet Company, as a Board Member of Dancers’ Group. She has also served as a grant review panelist for the City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program and for the CA$H Grant. When not dancing, Leah is most likely to be found practicing yoga, teaching prenatal yoga, exploring Oakland via bike, or baking. In July of 2016 Leah started her most important and rewarding job thus far – mother to the remarkable Mr. Edison.
Garth Grimball received an MFA in choreography and performance at Mills College where he performed original and repertory works by Merce Cunningham, Molissa Fenley, Mel Wong, Sheldon Smith, and Katie Faulkner. He performed with Asheville Ballet for five seasons under the direction of Ann Dunn. His choreography has been featured in ODC’s Pilot Program, SpectorDance Choreographer’s Showcase, NC Dance Festival, with commissions from Asheville Ballet, Wofford College, UNC Asheville, and NC Stage Company. In addition to DLD, Garth is the co-founder of Wax Poet(s) performance collective and dances with Oakland Ballet.
Leah Hendrix-Smith graduated in 2013 from St. Mary’s College of California, with degrees in Dance and Creative Writing. While a student, she had the great honor of performing at The Kennedy Center, Washington D.C., for the 2010 American College Dance Festival. Since college graduation, Leah is working and dancing in the Bay Area. She is proud to be learning and performing with companies and choreographers, Rogelio Lopez, Stranger Lover Dreamer, Jessie Barber and Tyler Eash. She is thrilled to be a new member of Dana Lawton Dances.
Jerry Lin has performed at the Kennedy Center as part of the National College Dance Festival, performing choreography by Janice Garrett. He has also been featured in an internationally know dance film “Chicken Boy,” choreographed by Jia Wu and directed by CarriAnn Shim Sham. Mr. Lin has been dancing with DLD since 2007.
John McConville has danced for Victor Anderson, Sally Streets, Robbie Nichols, Janet Johnson and James Newton as well as Douglas Dunn and the NYU Music and Dance Ensemble. Mr. McConville has choreographed two of John Craig Cooper’s Operas under the direction of Broadway Director, Tom O’Horgan and has been an ongoing performer with Wing-it! Performance Ensemble since 1990. He holds a Masters in Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA with an emphasis in dance in liturgy. He taught dance for over ten years in Bangkok, Thailand, establishing a Dance Program at the International School Bangkok and teaching Choreography at Chulalongkhorn University. John joined DLD in 2013.
Colin MacDowell began dancing in London in the 70’s and has worked with Sally Silvers, Bill Colemen, Kate Foley, Betsy Hulton and Janet Lilly. His own work has been presented at PS 122 in New York and the Picnic House in Brooklyn. Mr. McDowell joined DLD in 2012.
Robin Nasatir started performing in 1980 as a founding member of Mobius Dance company. She then worked with various choreographers in the Bay Area and New York City and found her way to Dana Lawton Dances in 2010. She also performs with Ruth Botchan Dance Company in Berkeley, and is a proud faculty member of Shawl Anderson Dance Center, where she started dancing as a child. Recent performance credits also include works for Nina Haft & Co., Mira Katz, Carol Kueffer, Kate Mitchell, AXIS Dance Company and Ballet Afsaneh.
Vera Schwegler performed at the Kennedy Center for the 2010 American College Dance Festival and worked with Janice Garrett and Charles Moulton on their production of “The Experience of Flight in Dreams” in 2011, for which the cast was nominated for an Isadora Duncan award. She has danced with many Bay Area choreographers and believes each one of them has taught her something beautiful and new. Currently she dances for ka·nei·see | collective with whom she has domestically toured in addition to Dana Lawton Dances. She is a certified yoga instructor and loves her dance students at Ace Dance Academy and their willingness to make art on any given day with her.
Jennifer Smith has been performing and teaching dance for over 25 years. She had the great fortune of beginning her dance training with Frank Shawl when her mother, also a dancer, brought her to a modern dance class at Shawl Anderson Dance Center – she was hooked. As a performer Jennie has danced with a variety of Bay Area choreographers and has been a member of DLD since 2007. As a teacher, she has created multiple dance programs – from middle school to graduate school programs in public and private institutions. Jennie received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, Berkeley and her Master’s Degree in Kinesiology from Saint Mary’s College.
Olutola Afolayan is a Nigerian American who transplanted to Oakland California in 1995. She began exploring dance at an early age and discovered it was an effective approach in combating depression. While in boarding school in Nigeria, at the age of eleven, she began using dance as a medium to connect and communicate her spirituality and relationship with God. Olutola has had the pleasure of training with various choreographers including Dana Lawton, Nina Haft, Reginald Savage, Carla service, Muisi Malonga of Fua Dia Congo,Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of Urban Bush Women, Carolyn Goto Algin Sterlin, and Mathew Wickette. She has been part of Dana Lawton Dances (DLD) since March 2018 and is honored to be a part of the DLD family. She received her BFA in Theater Arts with a Minor in Sociology from CSU East Bay as well as a BA in Theology is from Shiloh Bible College. Additionally, Olutola has an MBA from the University of Phoenix.
From an early age Michelle’s love for performing won her many competitions. Attending Tanglewood she received a full scholarship at St. Louis Conservatory with continuing studies at New England Conservatory and Harid Conservatory. Her concentrated studies were with Jean-Marie Gammard at the Paris Conservatory, Leslie Parnas and Johanne Perron. Performing in Europe, Canada and throughout the United States, she has been with the Florida Philharmonic, Palm Beach Opera Company, Berkeley Symphony and the American Tour as Principal with the Bolshoi Ballet.
Recording and touring has gone hand in hand with Michelle, she has recorded and toured with several artists such as Leonard Bernstein, Placido Domingo, Andrea Bocelli, Natalie Cole, John Cage, MANA, Usher and Rhianna. She has performed all of the cello solos for ‘Call of Duty’, and has a solo album out called ‘Dolce’. Currently, she lives in L.A. recording and performs with Sean McCue, guitarist and singer songwriter from the alternative rock band ‘Summercamp’. Their new album “After The Fire” has just been released.
Ted Curran is a singer, guitarist, and electronic musician with over 25 years experience performing in diverse styles and venues. Ted has been a company musician with Dana Lawton Dances since 2014, touring with the company to Santa Barbara, France, and Northern Ireland. His digital art, photography, and music can be found at Trueschool Creative.
Arwen Lawrence is a vocalist, dancer and player of traditional Latin American rhythm guitars. Lawrence toured and recorded with Grammy-winning L.A. mariachi heavyweights, Los Camperos de Nati Cano, performing in New York’s Lincoln Center, Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall and Guadalajara’s Teatro Degollado. Lawrence also performed throughout Mexico as a lead vocalist of Jorge Saldaña’s “Nostalgia”. For 15 years, Lawrence is co-director, vocalist and dancer of Latin American music ensemble Cascada de Flores. “She does not sing for of our ears, she knows how to reach deeper into our souls” Jorge Saldaña (Canal 11, Mexico)
Jorge is guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, educator and culinary phenomenon. From Mexico City, he was raised in the art of the Flamenco guitar, accompanying dancers from Mexico and Spain in important venues throughout Mexico. Now in the San Francisco Bay Area, he is an indispensable part of the Bay Area’s Flamenco community. He has been part of notable groups such as the innovative quintet Potaje, and is musical director and guitarist of Virginia Iglesia’s Flamenco Dance Company. Mr Liceaga is co-founder of Latin American music ensamble Cascada de Flores of 15 years. Jorge also composes and arranges music for recordings and performances of children’s music.
Sean McCue, founding member of the alternative rock band Summercamp, landed a recording contract with Madonna’s Maverick Recording Company in 1996. Summercamp released their debut album “Pure Juice” in 1997 and Mr. McCue’s track “Should I Walk Away” became a no. 1 hit in Japan. Sean has toured the United States, Europe and Japan with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Tonic, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Third Eye Blind, and Rage Against the Machine. His music has been featured on television with an on-screen appearance in the hit show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in film (Baseketball, Double Take). Sean has been collaborating with Dana Lawton since 2009.
Jon Lawton has played music since he was 8, starting with piano at that age and picking up the guitar at 14. Jon has played solo, and with bands for the better part of 45 years. That is one crazy, long time!! He is a fantastic songwriter in the blues, country and folk vein. After meeting his wife Dana (yes that Dana) in 1991, they collaborated in the studio, the clubs and in life! The move to the SF Bay Area in 1994 after their marriage has allowed their family to grow in more than just numbers. This collaboration has been so supportive and positive. It reminds us all that we can do much more than we might think.
Amelia Romano’s Performing arrangements as dynamically and diverse as Bach and blues to Mexican Bolero’s, Amelia Romano blends latin rhythms and personal lyrics, to produce an intimate and energizing musical experience. She experiments with rhythms, tones and textures that demand the listener re-think the lever harp’s role in today’s music. Amelia takes the path less traveled. A composer and arranger, she draws on life experience and inspiration to inform her work, using the harp as her vehicle of artistic expression. Her experience in South Africa is written into the fabric of her latest album, New Perspectives — music inspired by a black South African township, the American South, Mexico, Spain, and Venezuela.
Dina Zarif is a performer and vocalist and designer. She combines western classical singing with Persian and middle eastern style and developed her unique sound. She performed at various festivals and venues such as Singing for La Tania Baile Flamenco at SF Palace of Fine Arts and in performed in chamber Opera “The Passion of Leyla”in San Jose stage, and performed in SF international festival of the arts.
As an actress she performed in Bahram Beyzai-One of the most influential researcher and play writer of Iran- “Ardaviraf’s Report” a play in Stanford university and most recently she performed the role of “Dancer/Singer” in Mr Beyzaie’s newest play “Tarabnameh” a 9 hour Persian traditional musical in Stanford Iranian studies department. She performed with Golden Thread Productions in Leyla & Majnun staged reading at BAMPFA as part of the symposium around Silk Road Ensemble & Mark Morris’ work In Cal Performances.
Currently she is performing as a shadow actress and also designed the costume in the Shadow play “Feathers of Fire” Persian Epic as the “Princess Roudabeh” which was performed at Fort Mason Cowell Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Metropolitan Museum in NY, Harvard, UCLA and toured in Poland, Taiwan & Canada.As a working artist in the community, She is Lead performance host at “Red poppy art house” in San Francisco and most recently curated the project ” Music of the Banned” in reaction to the Travel Ban, which is to Highlight the music of 6 Muslim countries ( Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia)”These countries are a source of rich music and art that we can explore in a journey of peace and understanding by inviting the artistic ambassadors of these countries to lay down the drawbridge to their countries’ soundscape and beauty, and invite us all in”.Her musical project “Love songs from around the world” a Vocal and Harp duo, headlined the stage of the Brava Theater (March 2017) in What Do the Women Say, 2017,Golden Thread’s celebration of International Women’s Day for a Syrian benefit concert, Dina received her MA in Landscape Architecture from University Of Tehran, College Of Fine Arts.
Linda Baumgardner (Lighting Designer)
Linda Baumgardner has been blessed to work with DLD as the company’s resident Lighting Designer and Production Manager since 2009. Designs for DLD include: Silence Of, Wax and Wire, Home, Beyond This Moment, Ashes, Inside, Horsethief Lake, Coasting, Del Mar, Meet Me at the Shenanigan and Who is She? Additional lighting design credits include: Readymade and Masses for ka•nei•see | collective; Volver for The Latin Ballet of Virginia; Wonderland for the San Francisco Circus Center; Time Sensitive and The Fortune Project: Complete Works for Ragged Wing Ensemble; Oh the Moon!, A Wintery Mix and Six Questions for Davalos Dance Company; Okeanos Intimate and The Perfect Flower for Capacitor. She served as Director of MFA Dance: Design and Production at Saint Mary’s College (2014-2016); and Resident Lighting Designer for the Saint Mary’s College Dance Company (2008-2016). She holds an MFA in Theatre: Design and Production from California Institute of the Arts, and a BA in Performing Arts from Saint Mary’s College..