World Dance Alliance - Americas

Current Administrative Leaders
(Updated March, 2016)


President: Cristina Goletti (USA)
Past President: Mary Jane Warner (Canada)
Vice Presidents
     North America: Jillisa Cotten (USA)
     Central America (Atlantic/Caribbean:) Alejandra Garavito Aguilar (Guatemala)
     South America: Alba Viera (Brazil)
Treasurer: Karl Gossett (USA)
Secretary: Tanya Evidente (Canada)
Board Members
     North America: Casey Avaunt (USA)
    Zihao Li (Canada)
    Catherine Limbertie (Canada)
     Central America and Atlantic/Caribbean Islands: Ray Schwartz (Mexico)
    Alejandra Garavito Aguilar (Guatemala)
     South America: Alba Viera (Brazil)
Ex-Officio Board Members:
  Grant Strate (Canada)
Ruth K. Abrahams (USA)
Genevieve Oswald (USA)
Adrienne Kaeppler (USA)
Dawn Lille (USA)
     Creation and Presentation: Falon Baltzell (USA)
    Melissa Sanderson (USA)
     Education and Training: Ann Kipling Brown (Canada)
    Sara Murdock (USA)
     Research and Documentation: Linda Caldwell (USA)
    Evadne Kelly (Canada)
    Lourdes Pelaez (Mexico)
     Support and Development: Jilissa Cotten (USA)
     Sherri Segovia (USA)

casey avauntCasey Avaunt is a Ph.D. student in Critical Dance Studies at the University of California, Riverside. She is concurrently working towards her MA degree in Southeast Asian Studies. Casey is a Gluck Fellow and Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellow at UCR. She completed her MFA in Choreography at Taipei National University of the Arts and received her BA in Drama/Dance from Colorado College. In 2007, Casey was an artist in residence at the Taipei Artist Village and performer in residence at the Cité internationale des Arts in Paris in 2008. She later joined Taiwanese 8213 Physical Dance Theater to perform and choreograph throughout Taiwan and internationally. Her pieces have been shown in Hong Kong, Jakarta, and at Joyce Theater in NYC. Casey’s most recent work is a mixed-media collaborative project titled On the Line supported by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). Casey has enjoyed presenting at World Dance Alliance Global Summits including New York (2010) and Angers, France (2014). Email:

Falon headshotFalon Baltzell, a native Mississippian, attended the 2015 WDA Conference in Hawaii, where she choreographed a site-specific quartet, Ohana, and performed her site-specific solo, Desktop Reverie 2. She has premiered her choreography in Western New York and Northeast Ohio, throughout NYC, Mississippi and Pennsylvania. She has performed as a guest artist for Bill Evans Dance Company, Hollins University, James Hansen Assemblage Dance, The Movement Project, and continues to showcase her own choreography in Baltzell Dance. In 2014, Baltzell was a Teacher Fellow at the Bates Dance Festival. She holds a K-12 Teacher Licensure, a BFA in Dance Education and MFA in Dance, Performance and Choreography. She has taught choreography and modern dance technique during American College Dance Festivals at Penn State and Hofstra University, and presented scholarly research in Mississippi, and Western New York. Baltzell is currently dividing her time as the Director of Upper School Dance at Hathaway Brown School, and developing her choreographic artistry.   Email:

Jilissa Cotten, Assistant Professor of Dance at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, began her dance training under the direction of Nancy Sulik and Corpus Christi Concert Ballet.  Her Bachelor’s degree is in Spanish with a minor in Russian from the University of Texas at Austin and she holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Choreography and Performance from Sam Houston State University.  While in graduate school, Ms. Cotten’s choreography was nationally recognized at the American College Dance Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington D. C.  Ms. Cotten also owned her own dance studio, InStep Dance Studios, and, after eight years, decided to accept a tenure-track position at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi in order to continue creating new works. She continues to choreograph for many different genres ranging from ballet and modern to jazz and musical theatre. Email:

IMG_0880.PNG EVIDENTETanya Evidente, MA in Dance, York University, is an Assistant Professor in the Dance Program at Ryerson University, where she teaches ballet and mentors students in the program. She was also course instructor for York University and George Brown College dance courses. She is the Secretary for the World Dance Alliance – Americas. Tanya trained at Toronto Dance Theatre, Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto and Prodanza in Havana, Cuba. Her professional career began in Havana, with La Joven Guardia directed by Laura Alonso and with Ballet Nacional de Cuba under the artistic directorship of Alicia Alonso. She continued to dance in Europe for several years, then joined the National Ballet of Canada in 1998. She worked closely with world renowned choreographers such as James Kudelka, Glen Tetley, Alicia Alonso, Jean Pierre Perrault, Stanton Welch, Arnold Spohr, and others. In 2006 the National Ballet of Canada awarded her the William Marrié Award for Dramatic Excellence for her role as Le Petit Gendarme in An Italian Straw Hat. Email:

Alejandra Garavito Aguilar is a dancer, choreographer and cultural manager based in Guatemala City. Her work seeks to create bridges of interaction between therapeutic tools and their ability to create dialogues with the public and the artists on stage. She graduated from Guatemala’s National Dance School “Marcelle Bonge de Devaux” with a degree in Arts specializing in contemporary dance, and also has a Diploma in Performing Arts from Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala. She is the co-founder of ConTacto Danza Contemporánea, a space that promotes contemporary dance in Guatemala. Currently she is finishing her BA in Clinical Psychology and is a freelance cultural manager for different cultural centers in Guatemala. She has organized and presented a variety of festivals like Festival Rondo, Chiripa, Ramblan and Ixchel, and was part of the organizing committee for the WDA-A 2011 Assembly. Email:

Karl Gossot


Evadne KellyEvadne Kelly is an active dance artist-scholar with a PhD in Dance Studies from York University. Evadne has written, presented, and published on the topic of danced experience and expression as a source of social change in esteemed dance studies and anthropology venues: Congress on Research in Dance, Pacific Arts Association International, Canadian Anthropology Society, World Dance Alliance, The Dance Current, Nexus, Pacific Arts Journal, and Fiji Times. Her doctoral research was centered on the political and social dimensions of trans-locally performed Fijian dance traditions. For this research, she received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Scholarship. Evadne’s postdoctoral research—at once critical and choreographic—explored danced expressions of choreographic exchange and built on her 20 years of professional experience as a performer, teacher, and rehearsal director for celebrated neo-expressionist Canadian choreographer, David Earle. She continues to press for disciplinary crossings and international dialogue for the benefit of the international movement-focused research community and society at large. Email:

ann kipling brownAnn Kipling Brown, Ph.D. is Professor Emerita of the University of Regina having worked for many years in the Arts Education program in the Faculty of Education. She works extensively in dance education focusing on assisting children, youth and adults find the passion and personal expression in dance. Her research and teaching include dance pedagogy, curriculum development, dance creation, and movement notation. In her professional and community service Ann has served on many committees: provincial (Saskatchewan Education, Youth Ballet & Contemporary Dance of Saskatchewan, Dance Saskatchewan Inc. and SaskCulture Inc.; national (Canadian Dance Assembly); and international (Congress on Research in Dance, Dance and the Child International, International Council of Kinetography Laban, World Dance Alliance Americas) that focus on the research and role of the arts/dance in community, education and professional programs. She has also been involved in hosting provincial and international dance and arts education conferences. Email:

Zihao LiDr. Zihao Li is a dancer, educator, and researcher. He received a BFA (Hons) from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, a BEd, and a MA from York University. He earned his PhD from Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. He has performed with numerous dance companies including the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, Hong Kong Dance Company, City Contemporary Dance Company, and German Hamburg Ballet. He has taught at different institutions and professional dance companies including Beijing Dance Academy, Liaoning Ballet, Tokyo Arts Center, York University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Wisconsin - Madison. His book, Endangered Species: Young Males in Dance is in press. His research includes topics in dance pedagogy; teacher/curriculum development; cross-cultural studies; gender and masculinity; and technology in dance education. Email:

Catherine Limbertie A PhD candidate in the Dance Department at the School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design at York University, Toronto, Catherine Limbertie is a practicing teacher, dancer, folklorist and historian. She has presented her research at many conferences; most recently at the daCi Global summit at Copenhagen, 2015. Her work is published in Dance Education around the World: Perspectives on Dance, Young People and Change, foreword by Sir Ken Robinson; Charlotte Svendler Nielsen and Stephanie Burridge (eds.). Abingdon: Routledge 2015. Prior to entering the academy, she was executive director of the Community Folk Art Council of Toronto, an organisation formed by members of Toronto’s many cultural communities to further the interests of maintaining multiple identities through dance. Email:

Sara Murdock is a hyphen-wielding trans-disciplinarian: artist-teacher, scholar-researcher, and cultural exchange facilitator-participant. She received a MA in Organizational Leadership sfrom Seattle University and a BA in Dance and American Studies from Kenyon College. She is currently a Culture and Performance PhD student in the World Arts and Cultures/ Dance Department at University of California, Los Angeles. Sara has facilitated movement workshops for professional dancers and community members in the USA and Asia. Her dance background includes competitive Latin and ballroom, Contact Improvisation, Blues/ Fusion, and extensive contemporary modern dance. She has also performed with Bread & Puppet Theater, Circus Smirkus, and Mob the World. Sara researches performing arts based cultural exchange programming through the lens of equity, including pedagogy and aesthetic hierarchy as trans-colonial factors. She is currently researching the Asian Pacific Performance Exchange, MovementExchange, and PAN Intercultural Performance programs. Email:

Lourdes Pelaez is a dance artist and teacher. Born in Puebla, Mexico, she began her training in ballet with Sonia Castañeda, Giselle Colás and later with Dorothy Lister and Jacques Cesbron at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York. Lourdes has performed for independent contemporary dance groups like Grupo Genesis, Ballet Danza Studio, and Udla Danza. Since 1998, her interest in improvisation has grown, and she has integrated other movement forms into her work including Bartenieff Fundamentals and BMC. In addition, she has studied composition and improvisation with Miguel Gutierrez, Neil Greenberg, David Zambrano, Sarah Gamblin and Jordan Fuchs. She holds a master´s degree in dance from the University of New Mexico and has served as a faculty member at the Universidad de las Americas, Puebla, Universidad de Sonora in Hermosillo, and the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California in Mexicali. She received her MFA in dance from Texas Woman´s University. Her work revolves around questions of perception and sensation in the dance making process. Email:

Sanderson, Melissa-HeadshotMelissa Sanderson, is a dance artist whose work takes the forms of choreography, performance, and dance film. Her choreography has been presented through the International Young Choreographers Project in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, at Ponderosa in Stolzenhagen, Germany, Austin Dance Festival, Texas Dance Improvisational Festival, American College Dance Association, and Big Rig Dance Collective's Co-Op. Sanderson has performed in a variety of festivals in the U.S.A., Switzerland, The Netherlands, and Germany. Her dance films have been presented by international dance film festivals in the U.S.A., Italy, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, and France. Currently, Sanderson is an Adjunct Professor at the University of North Texas, Eastfield College and Tarrant County College, Co-chair of the Creation and Presentation Network of the World Dance Alliance-Americas, and company member of Contemporary Ballet Dallas. She holds a B.F.A. in Dance from San Diego State University, where she received the 2014 Alumni to Watch Award, and a M.F.A. in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. Email:

Ray-SwartzRay Schwartz attended high school at the North Carolina School of the Arts, received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and his MFA from University of Texas-Austin. He is the founder of Performática: Foro Internacional de Danza Contemporánea y Artes del Movimiento and a consultant and teaching artist for ArcDanz International Dance Workshop. Ray co-founded four contemporary dance projects in the southern U.S.: Sheep Army, The Zen Monkey Project, Steve’s House Dance Collective and THEM. He has been a guest artist for diverse populations in the U.S., South East Asia, South America, and Mexico. He has served on the faculty of the American Dance Festival, Bates Dance Festival, MELT, the ZMP Summer Dance Intensive, the Colorado College Summer Dance Festival and SFADI, among others. His somatic studies include certifications in Body-Mind Centering® and the Feldenkrais Method™.  Additional studies include Zero-Balancing, Gross Anatomy, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, and Traditional Thai Massage. He is a research associate at the Center for Mind Body Movement and has been a guest lecturer at the Institute of Kinesthetic Education. He is a published scholar who writes about the interface of somatic movement education and contemporary dance practice, and he currently serves as Academic Coordinator of the Dance Program of the University of the Americas-Puebla in México. Email:

Sherri Segovia - HeadshotSherri Segovia, Ph.D. is a dancer, digital designer, and technology theorist with a passion for education. She is Senior Project Manager at Resources for Learning, LLC where she manages educational research and technology projects, including writing curriculum that blends dance and digital media communications. Sherri received her Ph.D. in Arts and Technology from the University of Texas at Dallas conducting research in videogame interaction as a literacy of the body. She received her M.F.A. in Dance from the University of California Irvine with a concentration in choreography. Sherri is an interdisciplinary choreographer who has collaborated with Agence5970 in digitally interactive museum installations at the Dallas Museum of Art, and La Fondation Vasarely, in Aix en Provence, France. Presently, Sherri is Guest Artist in Residence with Brookhaven College of Fine Arts for the 2015-16 cycle funded by the Takis Mouzenidis Endowment. Her project is a virtual reality dance experience using the Oculus Rift head-display that is 3D immersive in video and sound. Email:

Alba Vieira Brazil 2015Alba Vieira received her Ph.D. in Dance from Temple University and is an Associate Dance Professor at Federal University of Vicosa, Brazil. She teaches undergraduate courses on dance composition, dance history and somatics, and a graduate course on dance and education. She formerly taught dance in Brazilian Schools (grades k-12) and private studios (1985-1993). She is the leader of the Group of Transdisciplinary Research in Dance. Her digital book Education for the Arts was published in 2010. She is co-author of the report “Experts on Art Education in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Her work has been presented at NDEO, WDA/daCi and CORD conferences, and is published in several journals including Dance Therapy, Dance Current Selected Research, Possible Dialogues and Scene. Since 2012, she has served as a National Representative for daCi, and is a member of the Board of the National Associations of Dance Researchers. She has been coordinating several community and research projects looking at embodied dance education, and dance composition. Email:

Mary Jane Warner, Ph.D., is professor emerita of Dance, at York University in Toronto, Canada, where she held several administrative positions (Chair, Graduate Program Director, Associate Dean) and taught courses in history, movement analysis, ballet and pedagogy before retiring. She developed the dance education courses for York’s Faculty of Education. She organized the World Dance Alliance Global Assembly, in July 2006, at York University. A specialist in Canadian dance, she has published Toronto Dance Teachers: 1825-1925 (1995) and with Selma Odom Canadian Dance: Visions and Stories (2004), and has written numerous articles on dance in Canada. In 2005 she received a major research grant from the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council to document the work of several Canadian choreographers. She then joined Toronto Heritage Dance as Co-Director of the company to present and document remounts of important Canadian dance works. Recently she completed a research project funded through the Ontario Ministry of Health to deliver dance to older adults and special populations. Email: