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Gibney Company Welcomes Six New Dancers

New members include Alexander Anderson, Rena Butler, Kevin Pajarillaga, Marla Phelan, Jake Tribus, Jie-Hung Connie Shiau and more.

Gibney Company Welcomes Six New Dancers

Gibney Company, the resident company of Gibney, the New York City-based dance and social justice organization, welcomes six new Company members, known as Artistic Associates. In these roles, they will advance the Company's artistry through performance and deepen its community engagement through advocacy for issues in the dance field and the community at large, such as diversity and equity, mental health, and economic empowerment.

The new members are: Alexander Anderson, who joins Gibney from Nederlands Dans Theater; Rena Butler, formerly of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; Kevin Pajarillaga, most recently a member of Portland's NW Dance Project; Marla Phelan, whose NYC performance career spans Sleep No More to Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway; Jie-Hung Connie Shiau, formerly of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; and Jake Tribus, who recently graduated with a BFA in Dance from the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. They join current Gibney Company Artistic Associates Zui Gomez, Jesse Obremski, Jacob Thoman and Leal Zielińska. Established in 1991 and based in lower Manhattan, Gibney Company is led by Artistic Director Gina Gibney with Directors Nigel Campbell and Amy Miller.

Last January, the Gibney organization announced a major gift from Andrew A. Davis, a Trustee of the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund, for the transformation of Gibney Company, including increasing the size of the Company. In the year ahead, Gibney Company also plans to commission new works from a variety of choreographers in anticipation of its debut season at The Joyce Theater in November 2021.

Gina Gibney, Founder, Artistic Director & CEO of Gibney, said, "Last winter, we could not have foreseen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our organization, and our field. We are grateful to be able to carry through on our plans to welcome these new members to Gibney Company, knowing that their artistic and advocacy contributions will augment and enhance our work together as we continue to navigate this uncertain environment. At every level of the Gibney organization, we are committed to taking steps forward to help rebuild and strengthen the dance community in New York City and beyond, and we look forward to returning to the stage and welcoming back audiences when it is safe to do so."

"We are thrilled to welcome Alex, Rena, Kevin, Marla, Connie, and Jake to Gibney Company," said Company Directors Nigel Campbell and Amy Miller. "Each brings not only their unique artistic gifts and lived experiences, but also a commitment to expand their creative energies toward a 'fierceness of service' within the dance community and beyond. Joining the returning Artistic Associates, this diverse collective is unified by a shared focus on generosity, both in and out of the studio. The new Gibney Company desires to generate, respond to, and navigate the now, while co-creating the future."

Gibney Centers remain closed, and Gibney Company has cancelled all performances through December 2020. Plans for 2021 will be announced at a later date.

Gibney Company Bios and Advocacy Projects

Alexander Anderson

Artistic Associate since 2020
Alexander Anderson, a South Florida native, attended the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts and went on to continue his training at The Juilliard School, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance in 2014. While at Juilliard, his choreography received Choreographic Honors and was featured in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater from 2010-2014. He is a 2012 recipient of the Dizzy Feet Foundation Scholarship Award, a 2013 recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation Scholarship Award, as well as the Alexander Bay Moore Dance Award. He began his professional career dancing for Nederlands Dans Theater 2 and later joined Nederlands Dans Theater 1 as a company artist.

In his Advocacy Fellowship, Anderson aims to address mental health and mindfulness in the dance community to enable longevity and sustainability in dancers' careers. In a time when artists in the field are struggling and are more isolated than ever, Anderson is creating a yearly retreat model that will provide artists with holistic tools and mindful practices-including meditation, reiki, and sound therapy-to move through trauma within and outside of the dance community at little or no cost.

Rena Butler

Artistic Associate since 2020
Rena Butler comes from Chicago, IL. She has danced in companies such as Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, David Dorfman Dance, Manuel Vignoulle/M-Motions, and The Kevin Wynn Collection. Butler trained at The Chicago Academy for the Arts. She studied overseas at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan and received her BFA from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. As a choreographer, Butler has presented her work at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The New Orleans Museum of Modern Art in collaboration with Academy Award-Winning composer Terrence Blanchard, CHTV Stories in Switzerland, and more. Butler served on the consortium for Chicago Dancemakers Forum, and in 2019 was the recipient of the Princess Grace Award for Choreography.

Butler's Advocacy Fellowship project offers teens from various socioeconomic backgrounds-dancers and non-dancers alike-a platform to craft artistic and leadership skills, and to investigate creativity from their personal identities and backgrounds. The course will incorporate dance, choreographic history, and critical thinking exercises to inspire youth to express themselves creatively and feel that they have a stronger voice in their communities.

Nigel Campbell

Gibney Company Director since 2017
Artistic Associate 2015-2017
Princess Grace Awardee Nigel Campbell was born and raised in The Bronx, New York. Campbell began his training at Creative Outlet Dance Theater and is a graduate of LaGuardia Arts High School, and of The Juilliard School, under the direction of Lawrence Rhodes. Campbell has received additional training from The Miami City Ballet School, The School at Jacob's Pillow, The Alvin Ailey School, and Springboard Danse Montreal. While at Juilliard, Campbell joined the Metropolitan Opera Ballet as a soloist. Campbell has danced for the Saarlandisches Staatstheater under the direction of Marguerite Donlon, Luna Negra Dance Theater under the direction of Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, the GöteborgsOperans Danskompani under the direction of Adolphe Binder, and has performed as a guest artist with Kyle Abraham's A.I.M.

In 2019, Campbell joined the faculty of The Juilliard School as an adjunct professor, teaching "Essentials of Entrepreneurship in the Arts" for dancers. The same year he also joined the faculty at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance as an adjunct professor teaching contemporary dance. A sought-after teacher and répétiteur, Campbell has set dances and given workshops throughout the United States and abroad at institutions such as The Juilliard School, Princeton University, Ballet Hispánico, SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, Springboard Danse Montreal, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Yale University, The Ballet Akademien Göteborg, No)one. Art House, MUDA Africa, & LaGuardia Arts High School. among many others. In addition, Campbell has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors including a 2019 Martha Hill Mid-Career Award, a 2011 Princess Grace Award, a National YoungArts Foundation Level 1 Award and a NAACP ACT-SO Gold Medal. Campbell is a 2004 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts and at 17, was featured on the National PBS documentary American Talent.

In 2015, with support from Gibney's Advocacy Fellowship program, Campbell co-founded MOVE|NYC| with his partner Chanel DaSilva. MOVE|NYC|'s mission is to cultivate greater diversity and equity in the dance field and beyond. The cornerstone of MOVE|NYC| is its tuition-free, Young Professionals Program which provides year-round access to 1-on-1 mentorship & college/conservatory prep for a diverse roster of gifted New York City teenagers. MOVE|NYC| aims to empower the next generation of leaders in our field by celebrating each young artist's unique cultural identity.

Zui Gomez

Artistic Associate since 2017
Zui Gomez was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Miami. She received her BFA in Dance from the Boston Conservatory, where she performed many classics. Gomez has danced with Ballet Hispánico and Ballet Hispánico Dos, Collage Dance Collective, DanceNOW! Ensemble, ArmitageGone! Dance, RuddUR Dance Company, as well as Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre & Zest Collective. She has also worked alongside Jamar Roberts in his premiere Veil in Miami. Gomez has appeared in GlamourSpain magazine, Dance Spirit Magazine, modeled for Good HyouMan, and enthusiastically participated in fashion week in the past. Gomez recently appeared in Times Square for a campaign with Volunteers of America (#TheWarInside) where photos were taken by Nir Arieli and movement direction led by Omri Drumlevich.

Gomez's Advocacy Fellowship aims to provide dancers with the resources and support to advocate for their own careers. CONFIDANZ offers dance photography classes, workshops, and services to dance professionals and students. CONFIDANZ workshops create a safe and supportive environment for dance artists to learn tangible tools and build 'confidanz' that will support them in participating in safe, successful, and empowering photo shoots.

Amy Miller

Gibney Company Director since 2013
Artistic Associate 2011-2013
Amy Miller is a NYC-based dancer, choreographer, educator and advocate. Formerly with the Ohio Ballet, she was also a founding member and artistic associate of Cleveland-based GroundWorks DanceTheater. Now a Gibney Company Director alongside Nigel Campbell, and a performing member of Gibney Company, Miller has facilitated numerous teaching residencies at Oberlin College, Brown University, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and Bates Dance Festival among many others. She was honored to receive an Arts & Artists in Progress "Pay it Forward" Award from Brooklyn Arts Exchange. Miller holds a BFA in Dance and is a recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for her choreography.

Miller focuses on Gibney's Community Action initiatives through facilitating movement workshops with survivors of trauma, conducting both local and international trainings for artists interested in engaging in social action, developing healthy relationship workshops for young people and raising awareness about the role of the arts in violence prevention. She has conducted Gibney's Global Community Action Residencies at Mimar Sinan University and Koc University (Istanbul), University of Cape Town (South Africa), DOCH: School of Dance and Circus (Stockholm), MUDA Africa (Tanzania) and most recently in Gisenyi, Rwanda.

Jesse Obremski

Artistic Associate since 2019
Jesse Obremski, a native New Yorker, graduated from LaGuardia High School and The Juilliard School, under the direction of Lawrence Rhodes, and has trained at The School at Jacob's Pillow, The Ailey School, Earl Mosley's Institute of the Arts, and Springboard Danse Montréal. Obremski, an Eagle Scout Rank recipient and Asian American Arts Alliance Jadin Wong Dance Awardee (2016) has performed with Diversity of Dance, Brian Brooks Moving Company, Peter Stathas Dance, Kate Weare Company, as a company member with Lar Lubovitch Dance Company (2014-2016), Buglisi Dance Theatre (2016-present), WHITE WAVE (2017-present), and has performed ensemble, soloist, and principal roles with The Limón Dance Company (2016-2019). Obremski was honored to perform for the Obama family at the inaugural White House Dance Series and at the FINA World Tournament 2019 in South Korea.

Obremski has taught at Montclair State University, The University of Hawaii at Manoa, The University of Wyoming, Brigham Young University, Chosun University, among others, and is on faculty for The Limón Foundation and Diversity of Dance. Obremski has assisted in the staging of José Limón's Missa Brevis at The Juilliard School and staged Limón's solo Chaconne on MOVE(NYC) and The University of Wyoming. Obremski founded his company, Obremski/Works, in 2018. His choreography has been presented at venues such as The New Prague Dance Festival, Battery Dance Festival, DUMBO Dance Festival (as the recipient of the DDF 2019 Choreographic Award), The Juilliard School's Choreographic Honors Showcase, Gibney, and at The Ailey Citigroup Theater. He has received commissions for new creations by The University of Wyoming, Fort Hamilton Joffrey Academy, and repeatedly by Diversity of Dance, Sacred Heart University, and Brigham Young University. In 2019, his dance film No Words was selected and presented by HBO at Lincoln Center through The Dance Films Associations. Obremski also proudly serves on the Board of Diversity of Dance.

Obremski's Advocacy Fellowship project OUR PATHS is an online platform for video, written interviews, and podcasts, celebrating and cultivating a world where WHY is at the forefront of how we see each other, ourselves, and our global community. OUR PATHS creates space for dialogue, highlighting dance professionals from across the field and exploring artists' individual motivations and ideas in an effort to foster communal empathy.

Kevin Pajarillaga

Artistic Associate since 2020
Kevin Pajarillaga is a Filipino American, born and raised in Silver Spring, MD. Pajarillaga trained at Citydance Conservatory, Point Park University and Springboard Danse Montréal. Professionally he has worked with companies including NW Dance Project, Yin Yue's YY Dance Company, Sonya Tayeh Dance, Bruce Wood Dance, PRIOREDANCE, and I.C movement project. He has guest performed with Parsons Dance Company, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and originated roles with choreographers Felix Landerer, Ihsan Rustem, Yin Yue, Patrick Delcroix, Andrea Pena, Sarah Slipper, Maleek Washington, and more.

Pajarillaga co-founded Moving Forward Dallas, a non-profit dedicated to nurturing the thriving young artists in Dallas. He has appeared in GAP's 2018 spring campaign "Experiment in Color" and in Apolla Performance Shocks' campaign in 2017. He is the movement coach and choreographer for artist "BIG WILD", Jackson. He has choreographed for NW Dance Project's "In Good Company", The Juilliard School's senior showcase, the DREAMscape Gala, Booker T. Washington Ensemble, and Wanderlust dance project. Pajarillaga is the recipient of the "All County Performing Arts Awards" by the MCPS Arts Superintendent and the "All States Dance Award" at the Goucher College Dance Festival in 2011 and 2012.

Pajarillaga's Advocacy Fellowship project is a platform for diverse creators to produce socially relevant and impactful new works on film. In response to the lack of in person performance opportunities during this time, this project will also serve as an online archive and database of artistic films that will be open and accessible to the public. Curated films will challenge artists to reflect on their sense of purpose in a unified and collaborative space.

Marla Phelan

Artistic Associate since 2020
Maria Phelan's career spans Contemporary Dance, Broadway, Immersive Theater, FIlm, TV, Commercial Campaigns, and Fashion. Marla received her BFA in dance from The Juilliard School. Phelan has worked with Akram Khan, Hofesh Shechter, and Maxine Doyle. She made her Broadway debut in Bartlett Sher's Fiddler on the Roof and is currently the Associate Choreographer/ Assistant Director for the National Tour. Phelan joined acclaimed immersive theater company Punchdrunk in 2011 for their Off-Broadway debut of Sleep No More and their National Theater of London production of The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable. Recently, Phelan performed in Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise as part of The Shed's inaugural season and in the opera Ellen West for The Prototype Festival. On camera, Marla has danced in music videos Armor (Sara Bareilles) and Night by Night (Chromeo), in Comedy Central's Alternatino, CBS's The Late Show, specials for NBC and Netflix, the feature film The Kitchen, and in fashion campaigns for Desigual (dir. Jean Paul Goude/ choreo. Ryan Heffington) and H & M Studio. Phelan starred in and choreographed the short film Flow (SXSW), Cousin John (SXSW) and Lucid. Phelan has choreographed and directed movement for Fischerspooner's Top Brazil, Mazda's CRX commercial, and campaigns for GAP, Reebok, Stuart Weitzman, Refinery29, New York Magazine and The New York Times.

Feeling the need to create more opportunities for dancers later in their performance careers, Phelan aims to support mid-career and established artists in building on their artistic portfolios. By widening participants' skillsets within the field, the project's ultimate goal is to promote sustainable longevity in dance. The project will provide dancers with tools, resources, and guidance from leaders in the field to support their journeys in developing multifaceted career opportunities while still performing.

Jie-Hung Connie Shiau

Artistic Associate since 2020
Jie-Hung Connie Shiau was born in Gainesville, Florida, U.S.A., and raised in Tainan, Taiwan. She moved to the States to further her dance education and pursue a professional dance career at the age of 18. She received her BFA in dance from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. Shiau has worked as a collaborator with an array of companies including Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Gallim Dance, Helen Simoneau Danse, MeenMoves, Adam Barruch Dance, and The Kevin Wynn Collection. She has performed works by Crystal Pite, Ohad Naharin, Lou Conte, Brian Brooks, Peter Chu, Robyn Mineko Williams, Alejandro Cerrudo, Helen Simoneau, Sameena Mitta, Rena Butler, Alice Klock, Osnel Delgado, and Adam Barruch. During her time with Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, she assisted Abraham on the Untitled America creation process on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, she also restaged Abraham's works on numerous schools such as SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, Point Park University, Cornish College, Rutgers University, Princeton University, Queensborough Community College, and Booker T Washington Visual and Performing Arts High School.

In addition, Shiau was a recipient of Chicago Dancemaker Forum Greenhouse Artist in 2019, New Choreographer Project in Taipei, Taiwan in 2019, Dance Magazine's "25 To Watch" in 2018, Honorable Mention for Jadin Wong Award for Emerging Asian American Dancer in 2014, and Reverb Dance Festival Dancer Award in 2014.

Shiau's Advocacy Fellowship intends to address the issue of body-shaming through story-telling and ongoing conversations. Pulling from her own experiences, the project will offer dancers resources to create positive and healthy relationships with one's body. Shiau aims to dismantle cultural stigmas around body image and to reignite an inclusive "body love language."

Jacob Thoman

Artistic Associate since 2019
Jacob Thoman, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio attended The School for Creative and Performing arts and trained and performed with Exhale Dance Tribe under Missy Lay Zimmer and Andrew Hubbard with additional training at Cincinnati Ballet. Thoman graduated from The Juilliard School, under the direction of Larry Rhodes and Alicia Graf Mack. He has had the pleasure of working with Benoit Swan Pouffer, Eric Beauchesne, and Ami Schulman at Cedar Lake 360 Intensive as well as Springboard Danse Montreal under Alexandra Wells. Recently Thoman performed in the production of Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise at The Shed, choreographed by Akram Khan.

As a member of the ever-expanding LGBTQIA+ family, Thoman's Advocacy Fellowship is a multi-prong biannual magazine featuring intergenerational artists across mediums. This publication will be dedicated to community care and self-practices that highlight senses of validation and grounding calmness.

Jake Tribus

Artistic Associate since 2020
Jake Tribus received a BFA in Dance with a focus on Business and Film from the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. Tribus has also trained at CC & Company Dance Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina, under the direction of Christy Curtis; as an apprentice at Next Generation Ballet in Tampa, Florida, under the direction of Peter Stark; and in intensives with Nederlands Dans Theater, Batsheva Gaga Technique, The Juilliard School, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Tribus has worked with Aszure Barton, William Forsythe, Travis Wall, Tessandra Chavez, Sonya Tayeh, Martha Nichols, Mandy Moore, Jason Parsons, Lauren Adams, and Jess Hendricks. Additional stage performances include Kirsten Russell's Fell Only Once, "Newsies" tribute at the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards, Capezio's 125th Anniversary Celebration, Youth America Grand Prix Gala, and the 2017 Emmy Awards. He has worked with artists including Janet Jackson and Lorde. Screen performances include: The Late Late Show with James Corden, the Dirty Dancing television remake, the Discover Los Angeles commercial for the LA Tourism and Convention Board, Taylor Swift's Look What You Made Me Do music video, and the Backstreet Boys' Chances music video. During his time at USC Kaufman, Tribus directed his own conceptual dance video titled Love to Change, collaborating with and utilizing the skills of film students at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Tribus continues to explore his passion for philanthropy, production, creation, and leadership through dance.

Recognizing the struggles of freelance artists in a time of limited opportunity and the inherent career hierarchy of the dance world, Tribus' Advocacy Fellowship aims to uplift emerging choreographic voices across diverse aesthetics and traditions through producing an eventual informal performance series. In addition to increasing performing opportunities for emerging artists, the project will also redistribute resources to young dancers who have been uniquely professionally impacted by COVID-19.

Leal Zielińska

Artistic Associate since 2018
Leal Zielińska was born and raised in Gdansk, Poland. She began her training with private ballet coaching from Bogna Ostapiuk, studied at Codarts Rotterdam Dance Academy and graduated from the Independent Program at The Ailey School in New York City. Zielińska worked with Sidra Bell Dance New York, during which she was featured on the cover of Dance Magazine. Zielińska attended Springboard Danse Montréal in 2016 where she worked with Bobbi Jene Smith, Alexandra Wells and performed works by Ohad Naharin and Elia Mrak. Off stage she has had the pleasure of being involved in multiple movement-based film and video projects working with directors and choreographers such as Celia Rowlson-Hall and Jovan Todorovic. Represented by commercial talent agency blocNYC Leal has performed alongside Ariana Grande for her recent MTV VMA performance, and appeared in a national campaign for GAP.

Zielińska's OKAY, LET'S UNPACK THIS aims to normalize the conversation on mental health in the dance community. Since March, when the pandemic caused the cancellation of shows, tours, and rehearsals the OKAY, LET'S UNPACK THIS collective quickly realized that many artists who rely on mental health services would struggle to access critical support systems due to significant loss of income. Over the past several months OKAY has cultivated a community of therapists and counselors who are offering free services to dancers during this unprecedented crisis. Their services are listed on OKAY's website,, alongside other mental health resources. The website also shares dance artists' own mental health stories in written and video form and offers comprehensive resource lists for anyone who might need additional support.

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