In 2009, Jessica moved to NYC to continue dancing for Backspace and developed more collaborations with companies like Amy Campbell's Crooked Mouth Dance Company and Davon Chance Dance. After 5 years, she moved to L.A. and became the choreographer for Fugitive Kind Live Theater under the direction of Ovation award-winning director Amanda McCraven. Jessica performed in the ensemble and choreographed dances for Shine Darkly, Illyria, and also co-produced and performed in Fugitive's first full-evening dance work My Sister was the First to Fly. Her last project was dancing and working as lead choreographer in a new music video for Ray Salas aka Superliminal, directed by Lou Baldanza. She is currently a yoga and dance teacher in Canton, and after a very successful and exciting CDP Fall showcase, she is so very happy to be working with Cleveland Dance Project again!!!
Tessa Cannon grew up as a gymnast and competition dancer in upstate New York, where she learned styles ranging from jazz and hip hop to ballet, tap, and modern. She continued dancing in college as a dance minor at Ohio Wesleyan University, where she performed and choreographed for both student- and faculty-directed shows. Tessa moved to Cleveland three years ago to dance professionally as a Canton Charge Girl and Cleveland Gladiator Girl and, most recently, as a Cleveland Cavalier Girl for the 2016-2017 season. Tessa is excited for the opportunity to choreograph and perform with the Cleveland Dance Project and believes there is no greater feeling than sharing your passion through performance.
Kate Ely found her twin loves of dance and yoga while growing up in Michigan. Following those loves, she received her B.A.in Dance from Western Michigan University and 200 hour yoga certification with Yoga to the People NYC. Kate’s time in New York afforded her the opportunity to study both yoga and dance, while performing with the (Alex)andra Taylor Dance Company. Coming back to the Midwest, Kate has refocused on teaching. Currently, you can find her at several local yoga and fitness studios, and most evenings at Fairport Dance Academy. Kate enjoyed her time performing with the first Cleveland Dance Project showcase so much, that now she is back to choreograph as well. Remember that no matter how intense life can seem, a few goofy dance moves can put a smile on anyone’s face.
By day, Nina Rossi is a Production Manager at Goldfarb Weber Creative Media and a local activist. In addition to running her own nonprofit, Bright Thoughts, Nina also volunteers and sits on the board of many civic organizations including women's clinics, AAF Cleveland, and the Litterbugz. By night, Nina lets her passion run rampant via creative arts, particularly dance. She began dancing as a toddler, teaching dance in her twenties, and continues to cut a rug whenever - and wherever - possible. With a strong emphasis on hip hop and fusion performances, she is excited to share her love of the art form with the CDP family while putting together meaningful pieces that spark both conversation and positive vibes!
Anna Cerveny is the founder and director of Cleveland Dance Project. She began her dance training under Joanne Morscher at the Royal School of Ballet at the age of 7. She received her BS in Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University and her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Columbia University. During her 7 years of school, she spent much of her time dancing, choreographing, and directing her university's respective dance organizations and taking dance classes at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and Broadway Dance Center.
Arielle Strosser has been passionate about dancing since the age of 3. She is originally from Lancaster, PA, where she was recognized at an early age for her creative choreography talents. She choreographed for multiple dance teams in the area from the age of 16. She taught dance at the Lititz Academy of Dance, and was a part of their Cojomotion Dance Company. This company gave her the opportunity to perform at many charitable events including their annual Christmas show, helping to raise over $250,000 for the Make-A-Wish foundation. After majoring in Dance at Radford University in Virginia, Arielle moved to Ohio to attend Cleveland State University with a major in psychology and a minor in dance. Currently, Arielle is a bartender in downtown Cleveland and just finished her first season with the Cleveland Dance Project. While she loves performing, Arielle’s main passion in the dance world is choreography. She is excited about starting season 2 with the Cleveland Dance Project and sharing her artistry with Cleveland!
Brittany Balside began dancing at the age of 4 at a small home run studio in her home town of Warren, Ohio. After taking 5 years of tap and jazz as a child, it did not take long for her to develop a hunger and passion for dance that followed her throughout her life. Brittany began studying at the James Dance and Performing Arts Center her Freshman year of High school where she began competing with the company team her Sophomore year until Senior year and growing her experiences in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, Musical Theater, Lyrical and Contemporary. While at Kent State University in between pursing her BS in psychology, she continued her training in Jazz, Modern, and Contemporary. In 2008 Brittany became a dancer for Ohio Semi-Pro football’s the North-coast Vikings, and has been performing for various Semi-Pro football teams all over NEOhio for 9 years. In 2015 she took on her first coaching position for NEO Prowlers Semi Pro Cheer and Dance squad and since then has taken countless workshops and classes studying under different artists in NE Ohio in attempts to become a stronger and more well rounded dancer. Brittany finally found her “niche” in the dance world when she discovered CDP and joined CDP’s cast for its inaugural season in the fall of 2017. Brittany uses dance as an outlet to let go of the stresses of being a full registered nurse and would be lost without dance in her life.
Erik (Cheeto) Zito has been dancing for 10 years and minored in dance at The University of Akron. As a dancer, he has performed in many venues and with many groups such as the Indiana Pacers. He originally started dancing as a member of Great Expectations Show Choir in Twinsburg, Ohio and has received many honors such as best performer, best choreography,1st overall, and platinum in competition dance. As a dancer, he has performed in a variety of pieces ranging from modern dance to Hip-Hop. As a dance enthusiast, he is the founder and was the lead choreographer for the University of Akron’s Hip-Hop club. Erik is the Program Coordinator of Ballet in Cleveland’s “Guys Dance Too” Initiative, and helps to recruit and encourage male dancers to enjoy the many benefits of ballet!
Jessica Tischler is a proud Cleveland-Born dancer. From a young age, she has loved dancing, and always dreamed of being a pretty ballerina en pointe. Over the years, Jessica cultivated her love of dance through dance studios and the competitive cheerleading world. Upon reaching high school, she noticed that there were limited opportunities for her to dance non-professionally, and continued to train on her own.
Jessica is so excited to have found opportunities for adults to continue dancing, through programs such as the Cleveland State Department of Dance and Cleveland Dance Project. She is so grateful to be dancing again, and to be continuing on in her path of self-expression and movement, as a Choreographer for CDP’s 2nd Season.
Elizabeth Pollert started dancing at 13 in Atlanta, at the Academy of Ballet Arts. She has since had the privilege of studying with Marc Arentsen, Steve Rooks, Stephen Wynne, Lauri Worrill- Biggs, Amy MacIntosh, Dance New Amsterdam, and Ballet Magnificat! After graduating from Belhaven University with a BFA in Dance in 2004 she moved to Cleveland, OH to train with Inlet Dance Theatre. Elizabeth has performed and choreographed both in the U.S. and abroad, including China, India, and Easter Island, Chile, with work touring the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and parts of Mississippi. Now in her 14th season with Inlet, she is a performing Company Member and serves as the Inflow Education Coordinator. She also serves as an Instructor and Choreographer for Inlet, the ITAP programming, and Newton D Baker School. Locally, she has taught at several studios and served for 5 years as a teaching artist for Dance Cleveland’s “Read to Learn…Dance to Move” dance literacy program. Along with teaching, Elizabeth was privileged, in 2011, to be one of the collaborating and performing artists for the project “Without Words…Moving against the Sex Trade” under the direction of Mikaela Brown and Mackenzie Valley. In 2017, she choreographed for CDP’s inaugural fall showcase.
Rachelle Kucharski started dancing when she was 13 at Interpretations Dance Academy (formally Dance By Gloria) and quickly developed a deep passion for the art form. It was not long before she was teaching and her passion grew as she helped others perfect and love the art form. In addition to teaching Rachelle majored in dance at Baldwin-Wallace University and has been involved in a number of community dance programs. Rachelle works full time in Human Resources and holds her MBA in HR and SHRM-CP Certification.
Jessica Bennett studied at the Canton Ballet for 14 years and then completed a dual degree at Ohio State University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Modern Dance and a Bachelors of Art in Psychology. She danced professionally with TUPACO Dance, Lori Belilove, High Jinx, Anna and the Annadroids, and the Backspace Performance Ensemble.
Richard Oaxaca grew up in Texas competing in gymnastics and cheerleading and was named "America's Number One Male Cheerleader" 4 times by the National Cheerleaders Association. He graduated from Case Western, where he currently teaches, with a Master of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance. While in school, he had the privilege of performing in works by Larry Keigwin, Mark Morris, and Gary Galbraith. Upon graduation, he studied at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in NYC. In 2015, he performed as a member of Diavolo: Architecture in Motion Company B, which was recently seen on America's Got Talent. He has been a back up dancer for Patti LaBelle and danced in Hey, Mr. Producer! He joined Norwegian Cruise Lines as a principal acrobat and dancer, then toured internationally as an aerialist and fire eater with Aerial Angels Circus Company and Aerial Experience Productions. In 2011, Oaxaca worked with MTV and CMT in conjunction with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus to coach circus performers for the reality TV show Made. Most recently he performed as a main stage dancer and performer in Disney's Aladdin, A Music Spectacular, aboard the Disney Fantasy Cruiseship. Currently he is a part time lecturer at Case Western.
Rachel Lanyi is a modern dancer and Tremont resident seeking to increase her involvement in the Cleveland dance community. In high school, Rachel danced competitively in the genres of jazz and musical theater and also studied and performed Filipino folk dance. She also has experience with tap, lyrical, and acro. Lanyi attended Case Western Reserve University where she studied modern dance under Gary Galbraith and Karen Potter in primarily Graham and Hawkin-based styles. She also took classes in ballet, choreography, and dance wellness. During her undergrad, she performed works by Mark Morris, Larry Keigwin, and Shannon Sterne. Rachel Lanyi graduated from CWRU in 2016 with a degree in Dance and Civil Engineering, and has been working as a project engineer with Shook Construction for about a year. This is her first season with the Cleveland Dance Project.
Brittany Sterling moved to the Cleveland area to attend Baldwin Wallace University, where she completed her undergraduate studies in Communication Disorders and Dance. During her time at BWU she was a member of the dance team and an active student/choreographer in the dance department. Brittany continues to reside in Cleveland working as a part-time Autism/Behavior Interventionist and the Head Track & Field Coach at Hathaway Brown MS, while studying for her master's degree in Counseling and Dance/Movement Therapy. Brittany is currently a member of the Expedition Dance company in Cleveland, OH and has recently performed in the CDP Showcase (2017), the Cleveland Dance Fest hosted by the Movement Project (2016, 2017, Ingenuity Fest (2015, 2016), and in BWU showcases as a guest artist. She is the co-creator of an internship program at Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare, where students lead psychiatric patients in creative movement classes. She is excited to collaborate with her dancers this season!
Michelle Sileo has over 30 years of dance experience. She began her training at Angela’s Dance Studio and Mary Kay Manning Dance Studio. She got her degree in dance and business at Eastern Michigan University. She was a member of both her high school and college dance teams. Michelle debuted her original choreography in the Eastern Michigan University student composition concerts and EMU Dance Team. Michelle opened Dance Studio M in 2007 where she instructs students of all ages in the genres of ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, modern, lyrical, contemporary, pointe, and acro. In 2015, Michelle received her certification from Acrobatic Arts in both Module I and II.
Michelle continues to train with conventions and master classes and supplemented her dance education with intensives and workshops throughout her entire career; training at American College Dance Festival, Broadway Dance Center, Millennium Dance Complex, Mark Morris Dance, Jump, Nuvo, Dancemakers, Pulse, Tremaine and the Edge PAC. Her work has been acknowledged with choreography and entertainment awards.
Jaime Bouvier teaches aerial silks and lyra at Sokol Greater Cleveland. She also performs professionally with the Shanty Circus Jacrobats, Stardrop Circus, and Wizbang Variety Theatre on silks, lyra, trapeze, duo-trapeze, duo-straps, partner acrobatics, as well as stilt-dancing while hula hooping. She has studied many circus disciplines and training methods all over North America and Europe, including at NECCA, Aloft, HAG, the Island Bristol, and Fred Deb’s Les Rencontres de Danse Aeriennes. She more recently became interested in dance to find ways to add structure, meaning, and a better pointed toe to highly technical circus skills. After having a fantastic time as a dancer in the Cleveland Dance Project’s inaugural season, she is excited to get an opportunity to combine circus and dance as a choreographer in its second season.
The Cleveland Dance Project is a dance, choreography, and performance outlet for dancers (18+) who want to continue performing and/or choreographing into their adult life. Our dance family includes everyone from the dance teacher, to the dance professional, to the person who's always wanted to boogie but never had the opportunity until now. CDP's mission is to provide a fun, yet professional, environment for dancers of ALL styles to come together as a community, to help us all find a balance between our work/home lives and following our passions, while allowing us the opportunity to showcase our creations together to our friends, family, and the greater Cleveland/Akron area.
CDP has 2 major seasons yearly - fall season (August-November) and spring season (January-May), each consisting of placement auditions (open to the public, all styles of dance and all skill levels), 10-12 weeks of rehearsal, and a showcase at the end of the season. Our shorter winter and summer seasons are full of open dance workshops designed to hone our dance skills, try new styles of dance, and cross-train with yoga and wellness classes!
We believe in making dance relatable to the community, embracing the talents of our local aspiring artists, and giving everyone a chance to dance for Cleveland!
Elizabeth "Mookie" Hany began dancing at the age of 10 at Class "A" Performing Arts in Oak Harbor, OH. Early on, Mookie focused her training on Modern- Contemporary dance techniques. She currently holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Ohio University. By day, Mookie is the dance instructor for the Great Lakes Visual and Performing Arts Academy located in Sandusky, OH where she instructs students in ballet, contemporary, and hip hop. By night, she is the Artistic Director and Owner of Mookie's Academy of Dance (M.A.D.) located in downtown Port Clinton, OH, where she instructs students in ballet, contemporary-modern, hip hop, jazz, tap, and yoga. Mookie has choreographed professionally for many different venues including: Ohio Bike Week, Sandusky State Theater, Cleveland Dance Project, Cleveland Dance Festival, and Dot dot dot.
Sha’Ran Marshall is originally from Toledo, Ohio. Dancing since she could walk, her studies began with the Daryl Jervis Dance Studio, The Toledo Ballet, and abroad. In between many competitions, workshops, and classes, Sha’Ran still finds time to take class with Dee Hillier and local teachers to stay updated on the “new”!
After moving to Cleveland in 1997, Sha’Ran has managed to keep her dreams alive with dancing, teaching dance, instructing fitness classes, and choreography work. A former member of the Cleveland Cavalier dance team for 5 years, she has had the opportunity of dancing with talented young ladies from all over Northeast Ohio. Sha’Ran and Dance by Sha’Ran are currently working on providing scholarship for minority students in dance. Some of Sha’Ran’s dance work includes A Chorus Line, and West Side Story; The Toledo Repertoire; dancer for Sister Sledge and Wade Robson; music video “Antidote” Jenya. Her fitness work includes aqua, step, stretch and firm, zumba, cardio dance, circuit training, and much more!
Sha’Ran currently resides in Cleveland with her three beautiful boys - TJ, Nicky, and Chrystian.
“Live the life that you love...love the life that you live!”
Jessica Bennett studied at the Canton Ballet for 14 years and then completed a dual degree at Ohio State University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Modern Dance and a Bachelors of Art in Psychology. She danced professionally with TUPACO Dance, Lori Belilove, High Jinx, Anna and the Annadroids, and the Backspace Performance Ensemble. In 2009, Jessica moved to NYC to continue dancing for Backspace and developed more collaborations with companies like Amy Campbell's Crooked Mouth Dance Company and Davon Chance Dance. After 5 years, she moved to L.A. and became the choreographer for Fugitive Kind Live Theater under the direction of Ovation award-winning director Amanda McCraven. Jessica performed in the ensemble and choreographed dances for Shine Darkly, Illyria, and also co-produced and performed in Fugitive's first full-evening dance work My Sister was the First to Fly. Her last project was dancing and working as lead choreographer in a new music video for Ray Salas aka Superliminal, directed by Lou Baldanza. She is currently a yoga and dance teacher in Canton, OH, and after a very successful and exciting CDP Fall showcase, she is so very happy to be working with Cleveland Dance Project again!!!
After graduating in 2013, Anna spent a year traveling internationally as the physical therapist for the Tony-winning Broadway play, "WarHorse", and taking dance classes around the world. Currently she works at University Hospitals as a physical therapist and the founder of UH's dance rehabilitation program, where she works with dancers from around the greater Cleveland area, including the Case Western dance program, Inlet dance, NEOS, and Verb. In her "spare" time, Anna is on the OhioDance Board of Trustees, and she teaches injury prevention seminars at dance studios and companies in the area, and takes dance classes (her favorite styles are contemporary and jazz!). CDP is her passion project, and she is so excited to see all the talent that the greater Cleveland/Akron area holds and is eager to provide dance, choreography, and performance opportunities in all styles of dance to adults looking for a new dance family!
Rachel Soucie is a performer, teacher and choreographer originally from Cleveland, Ohio. Aside from her two young children, the foremost focus in Rachel’s life has been dance. She received extensive training and has performed with the Medina Academy of Classical Ballet, Ohio Youth Ballet Company, Dee Hillier Dance, The Joffrey Ballet School, South Carolina Dance Conservatory, Cleveland Ballet, Ohio Ballet, and the Alvin Ailey School. She began her professional career with performance industrials around Ohio, and as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers Dance Team. At the age of 20 she moved to NYC and spent the next ten years auditioning and performing at theaters such as City Center and Madison Square Garden, and many other venues all over the country. She has worked with numerous choreographers and companies such as Mia Michaels, Jermaine Browne, Sheila Barker, the Underground Dance Project, Candace Franklin Dance, Clyde Bailey Dance Theater, and eventually as a principal dancer with the Vissi Dance Theater. Since returning to Ohio to raise her sons, she has performed pieces for Annika Sheaff of GroundWorks, Sarah Carey of Dance Cleveland, and B-boy Tony Fresh. Most recently she performed in the premier of the Cleveland Dance Project and is looking forward to sharing her choreographic vision this season as she continues to teach and perform all over the country. She holds a certification in nutrition, is a state tested nursing assistant (STNA) and has 15 years experience working with children. Rachel strives to motivate and inspire her students to learn and grow as both dancers and people, and to nurture the artist within.