Dance Brigade

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About Dance Brigade

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dancer biographies

Krissy Keefer co-founded Dance Brigade in 1984 with Nina Fichter, both original members of Wallflower Order. She developed a new kind of modern dance-theater that was stylistically rooted in the martial arts, female athleticism and social justice issues. She received numerous grants and awards including San Francisco Magazine’s Arts Achievement Award for Dance, a San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie, and five Isadora Duncan Awards. Her work has been featured in Ballet Tanz, Kung Fu Magazine, Deborah Jowitt’s Dancing Image, and Artist’s Eye. Her work around creating a new aesthetic in dance is featured in the book Warrior Mothers, September 2004 and in Stacey Prickett’s San Francisco Innovators and Iconoclasts: Dance and Politics in the Left Coast City, May 2007.

Tina Banchero holds her BA in Dance from SUNY at Buffalo and a Yoga Teaching Certificate from Yoga Kula in Berkeley. Tina has performed with Ramon Ramos Alayo, Kim Epifano, Sue Li Jui, Jose Navarrete, Rapt Productions, and most extensively with Krissy Keefer's Dance Brigade. Tina has directed and choreographed for the Dance Mission Theater Youth Program, the Grrrl Brigade, Planned Parenthood’s Teen Reality Theater Troupe WNY, Trolley Dances SF, Devious Inc. Movies and the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. She has also taught for the Alvin Ailey Summer Camps in Oakland and New York City.

Sarah Bush has been dancing since birth, but her formal training began at age 3 when she asked for a leotard for her birthday. She was a member of Oakland’s New Style Motherlode Dance Company, mixing hip-hop with jazz, ballet, and modern dance. Sarah has performed with Wasatch Dance Collective in New York City, the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company in Salt Lake City, and the EMBAJE dance company here in San Francisco. She has had the opportunity to teach and perform her own choreography in the Bahamas, Mexico, the West Indies, Washington D.C., and Miami. At Destiny Arts Center in Oakland, she has worked with young people, using dance as a tool for the de-escalation of violence. Sarah has also been an artist in residence at several Bay Area schools. She is the choreographer for the S.F. Club Q Dancers and is also a liturgical dancer and choreographer. She attended the University of Utah’s Modern Dance Department for two years on the prestigious Elizabeth R. Hayes scholarship. She received a degree in Dance Performance and Choreography from San Francisco State University. Sarah is also a personal trainer in the Bay Area.

Richelle Donigan is a fierce performance artist, dancer, drummer, healer and all in all a real exhibitionist. She has graced more continents, stages, films, tabletops and venues with her unique style of performance then she cares to remember. She is passionate about what she does and what she gets to create with this outstanding cast.

Karen Elliot began her professional dance career as a member of Citicentre Dance Theatre in 1986 where she performed works by Diane McIntyre, Anthony Braxton, Hassan Al Falak, and Tally Beatty. She began dancing with Dance Brigade in 1990 and has enjoyed performing in venues ranging from Lincoln Center in New York City to the Fichter Farm in Wilder, Kentucky. She simultaneously worked with Project Bandaloop, a vertical dance company. As a member of Project Bandaloop, she has performed and rappelled in natural settings such as Yosemite National Park, and from various towers and skyscrapers around the world. Karen has also performed with Make-A-Circus, Raymond Johnson Dance Company, Kim Epifano, José Navarrete and many local nightclub performance artists.

Lena Gatchalian, Associate Director was born in Pittsburgh, PA. She began her dance training at the age of six in Manila, Philippines. She received her BFA in Environmental Design from Parsons School of Design in New York City, where she continued training and dancing s well. In San Francisco, she has performed with Pearl Ubungen Dancers and Musicians, Steamroller, Arturo Fernandez, Stephen Pelton Dance Theater, Unbound Spirit, José Navarrete, Dandelion Dancetheater, Anne Bluethenthal & Dancers, among others. She is a certified Pilates instructor and an ABT ® Certified Teacher (Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT National Training Curriculum). Lena has been performing with Dance Brigade since 1994.

Fredrika Keefer began dancing in the womb. She is graduate from San Francisco’s School of the Arts Dance Department. She dances with Allan Frias’ renowned hip hop dance company Mind Over Matter, is a founding member of Grrrl Brigade, the second company to Dance Brigade and has played Taiko for the past 5 years. She is also a teacher and choreographer in Dance Mission's youth program.

Kim Valmore has had the opportunity to study and perform with many talented choreographers and teachers. She has studied with Beth Hoge (since 1985), and various staff at Mills College. She has also studied at many other dance studios throughout the Bay Area. In 1992, Ms Valmore received her Masters in Fine Arts in Dance at Mills College. For the last 22 years, Ms Valmore has taught Ballet, Modern and Jazz at various schools in the bay area. Currently she works at Diablo Valley College, in Pleasant Hill, is a guest instructor at Danspace and College Prepartory School, in Oakland, and directs her contemporary dance company "COterie DAnce." Since 1992, Ms Valmore has had the unique fortune to work with Dance Brigade and considers some of her best growth as a dancer and performer have come from having worked with the company.



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Their work is richly detailed and nuanced; it also kicks ass...These women put on one hell of a show." - San Francisco Bay Guardian