Taylor Raines is a graduate of Bowling Green State University with a BS in Dance Education and BA in Environmental Policy. She began dancing at age 3 and teaching at 17. At Fordu School of Dance in Madison, Ohio she focused primarily on ballet, tap, jazz and lyrical. Her love for contemporary and modern dance bloomed at Carlisle School of Dance before continuing on to study at BGSU. While at BGSU she was a member and President of University Dance Alliance and choreographed several pieces for both club and academic showcases. Taylor has taught and choreographed for several studios, musicals, and dance teams in Northeast Ohio. She currently teaches at Dance Studio M in Solon, Ohio. She has participated in CDP for 3 seasons and is so excited to choreograph for Season 4!
Sha’Ran Marshall is originally from Toledo, Ohio, where she studied dance from the early age of 8 years old to the present; her studies began with Daryl Jervis Dance Studio; The Toledo Ballet; The Toledo Repertoire, and abroad in Jazz, Hip Hop, Ballet, Tap, Musical Theater, and much more. In between many competitions, workshops, classes; Sha’Ran still finds time to take class and educate herself with the likes of 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 five years, she has had the opportunity of dancing with talented young ladies from around the United States. Sha’Ran has also had the honor of teaching many talented students all over Northeast, Ohio, in many dance studios, colleges, and workshops classes.
Sha’Ran is the CEO and Artistic Director of Dance~by Sha’Ran, “Where Passion Meets Dance;” an Agency and Company that provides Dance Classes, Education, Mentorship, Consultation, Minority Scholarships and much more! Some of Sha’Ran’s dance work includes: Many Recitals and Competitions; Val in A Chorus Line; Anita in West Side Story, The Toledo Repertoire. Backup Dancer for Sister Sledge and Wade Robson, Cleveland, Ohio. Choreography for various High Schools; Colleges; Schools; Studios and Companies, Northeast, Ohio. Music Video, “Antidote,” Jenya, Cleveland Artist. Direction and Production of all Dance~by Sha’Ran Videos, Cleveland, Ohio. Fitness work includes: Aqua; Step; Stretch and Firm; Cardio Dance; Circuit Training; Barre; and much more! Sha’Ran Marshall, resides in Cleveland, Ohio with her three beautiful boys, T.J, Nicky, and Chrystian.
Heather holds a Master's Degree in Modern Dance from Case Western Reserve University. She has been a part of the Cleveland Dance Project since the beginning and it truly bring joy to her life. When she isn't dancing, Heather is a Digital Product Manager at Go Media, a graphic design and web development company in Ohio City, where she also serves as the Event Director for WMC: Off-The-Grid.
Mary Langan's passion for dancing began when she was 3 years old after watching a ballerina perform on T.V. Being the youngest of 7, her family didn’t have much, but she was determined to enroll in ballet at Laurie Krasnicki School of Dance in New Baltimore, MI. She continued studying ballet there along with jazz and tap for 10 years, until she moved to Virginia to attend Christendom College.
Her plans for college included dancing, but life led her down a different path. Meanwhile, her passion for dancing still controlled her ambitions. She decided to become a certified Zumba instructor and began teaching.
In 2014 she moved to Cleveland, OH in search of inspiration and new adventures. In Cleveland, she had the opportunity to perform in dance music videos with local artists and also dance with Cleveland Dance Project for 3 seasons! She currently teaches Hip-hop at Dance Concepts by Maureen Wagner in Olmsted Township. Mary is thrilled to share her energy and style with her dancers and watch her vision come to life!
Akane Little is a freelance dancer and choreographer who makes work about non-linear time, Japanese diaspora, and queerness. A lot of their dances are love letters in one way or another. A Mississippi-raised Ohio transplant, Akane began their dance career competition dancing in Starkville, MS. They have danced for two seasons with Cleveland Dance Project, and in addition have danced with Levity Dance and Physical Theater, Elu Dance Company, and Terre Dance Collective. Recently they have been honored to show original work at Layers with Terre Dance Collective, Interplay at SPACES Gallery, and a collaborative work with Heather Sakai at the FireFish Festival in Lorain. This will be their third season with CDP.
Karen Opper is a 2018 Case Western Reserve University graduate with her Master of Fine Arts degree in Contemporary Dance. During the spring of 2018, she received the esteemed Eva L. Pancoast memorial fellowship which assisted in summer travels to Italy, where she danced with Carlos Melis; who studied under Pina Bausch. May 2018, Opper and fellow CWRU graduate Richard Oaxaca were selected among NYC’s up and coming emerging artists to perform in the NEXT@Graham showcase, at the Martha Graham Dance Studio. Oaxaca and Opper also performedin the emerging artist concert at the 2018 Cleveland Dance Festival. Through funding from Friends of Dance at CWRU, she attended The Complexions Dance Workshop, ADF in CLE, and Pascal Rioult Summer Dance Workshop. During her time at CWRU, Opper performed in Karen Potter’s In Ancient Waters and Pleiades, Gary Galbraith's Strange Gardens and Imagined Odyssey, a collaboration with CWRU’s Interactive Commons, Jim Hansen's Fade to Snow and Grey, Larry Keigwin’s Triptych, and Nai-Ni Chen’s Bamboo Prayer. In 2018, she choreographed and performed in her thesis concert, Infinite Directions. Opper also danced works by previous thesis candidates, Andrea Alverez, Dani Dowler,Richard Oaxaca, Tingting Zhao, and Ziying Cui; and choreographed and performed for four MaDaCol Concerts. In 2013, Opper graduated from Central Michigan University with a BFA in theatre and interpretation with a minor in dance. She was a member of The University Theatre Dance Company and presented her choreography in the faculty concerts. At CMU, she stage managed, worked costume and make-up crew and directed one-act plays. Opper’s final project, earned her the privilege of working with tap artist Ellie Sciarra, co-choreographing the classic musical 42nd Street. Throughout junior high and high school, she was a part of several musicals as well as a competitive dancer from the young age of 8. While competing, Opper continually won several overall high scores, as well as several scholarships to travel to NYC, Chicago, North Carolina, and England. After attending CMU and before moving to Cleveland, Opper worked for 6 years at numerous Michigan dance studios, choreographing, and teaching for award winning competition teams.
Rebecca Burcher was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended Slippery Rock University (SRU) in Western Pennsylvania. She graduated in 2014 summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Science in Community Programs for Americans with Disabilities with a specialization in Adapted Physical Activity.
She has combined the two degrees and worked as a teaching artist for outreach programming for Attack Theatre and Dancing Wheels Company and School. Rebecca has performed with Marcia Custer, Kathy Diehl, Amanda Tarr Dance Company, The Movement Project, MegLouise Dance, and Carmen Caceres. Her work has been selected for presentation at SPACES Art Gallery, Cleveland Dance Fest, dotdotdot, and has been commissioned by The Movement Project. Rebecca has taught various masterclasses including classes as a guest artist at Slippery Rock University, Cleveland Dance Fest, and The Movement Project’s 2016 Winter Intensive. She has also worked as a Production Manager for Heidi Latsky Dance and IDACO Dance Festival.
Rebecca is currently the Education and Community Engagement Coordinator for GroundWorks Dance Theater and an instructor at Beck Center for the Arts.
CARLIN DIXON is a Cleveland native who grew up in his family’s church, True Holiness Temple. Carlin has come to appreciate the arts that his mother introduced him to in the church - being a singer herself, she helped shape him to appreciate all types of creativity. Carlin continued growing up in the church spearheading and choreographing dance groups, singing in the church choir, and creative directing special projects. After going to college for a major successful year at Wright State University, being a part of the colleges’ Gospel Choir, Christian outreach organization, and Freshman Vice President of the Black Student Union, Carlin took a sabbatical to figure out what he wanted. At the late age of 19, Carlin took his first professional dance class ever from American Ballet Theater Principal Dancers. He then received an internship in art administration and dance for Clevelands’ Ballet In the City for their Guys Dance Too Program. Still being led by his faith, Carlin received the opportunity to choreograph and be in a music video for one of his favorite Christian artist “Gungor” in New Mexico and started dancing and emceeing for an Entertainment Company “Rock The House” where he is now one of the new dance managers. He then began teaching hip hop and training at Above The Barre Dance and Gymnastics in Berea, and has performed for the company in “The Nutcracker” as the lead role of “Arabian” for two dance seasons. Carlin was able to dance and perform at Cedar Point in Fall 2015, and as an aerialist in Summer 2016. From there Carlin began teaching and winning awards for competitive dance companies like Above The Barre Dance Company, Elite Dance Academy, Dance Studio M, and Legacy Dance Studio.
He continues to work hard and keep his faith as more opportunities and dance projects come, such as the suicide prevention organizations “Alive on Purpose” Father/Daughter “Him and Me” Annual Dance, where he has choreographed productions for the event hosted by Danita Harris from Cleveland’s Channel 5 News.
Teaching hip hop, jazz funk, acro, and aerial Carlin Michael loves to see his students grow. As he continues his training, hard work and faith will only lead him to inspire more people along the way.
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. 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 senior 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, and many professional dance companies in the area. In her "spare" time, Anna is on the OhioDance Board of Trustees as the Chair of Marketing, 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!
Heather Sakai first took the stage at the age of three, when she began strict training under Jean Ann Corrigan, who taught her to jete over puddles. She has been lucky enough to receive training from many teachers over the years, but favorites include her long-time teacher Arlene Cassara, Richard Dickinson and Janiece Kelly-Kiteley.
Adrienne Knauer has taught partner dance, including Swing, Lindy Hop, and Salsa, for many years. Jaime Bouvier has choreographed acro-dance pieces for the last two CDP seasons, despite having far less dance experience. They both teach aerial dance and acrobatics and have collaborated for years in creating the annual student showcase at Sokol Greater Cleveland. They also are both lawyers by day, circus performers by night, and love glitter.
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 and a new mom to a beautiful baby girl!
TESSA CANNON is returning for a third season choreographing and performing for the Cleveland Dance Project. Tessa grew up as a gymnast and competition dancer in upstate New York, where she trained in 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 productions. She has danced professionally as a Canton Charge Girl, Cleveland Gladiator Girl, and as a Cleveland Cavalier Girl for the 2016-2017 season. Tessa is thankful to have found an incredible dance family with CDP and can't wait to share the stage again with such dedicated, talented, and passionate dancers.
Matthew Jarrett Robinson hails from Southwest Virginia where he began his dance training in 2012. He has a diverse background of movement experiences including modern, jazz, hip hop, and 10 years of Si Lum Kung-Fu. Matthew holds a BFA in Dance from Radford University (Radford, VA) and during the course of his studies he worked with The West Virginia Dance Company and the Roanoke Ballet Theatre. He is currently dancing with The Dancing Wheels Company & School to help share dance, movement, and art with the Cleveland community and is eager to expand his connections and experience in The Land through the Cleveland Dance Project’s wonderful programs and company.
Mary Jo Rimke was not the typical dancer who began dancing at a young age. In fact she did not begin dancing until her junior year in high school and has not stopped since. Mary Jo had the privilege of training under the renowned teacher and choreographer Dee Hillier. As a member of the Dee Hillier Dancers she performed locally in many industrials, theaters, clubs and showcases.
Mary Jo received her ballet training at the Cleveland Ballet under Daniel Job, Ellen Costanza, Roni Mahler and Jeffrey Graham Hughes.
Shortly after high school, Mary Jo moved to New York City and studied at the Broadway Dance Center before accepting her first professional dance job on the Norwegian Cruise Lines under Jean Ann Ryan Productions.
Mary Jo continued her dance career while living in Los Angeles, performing in various shows and industrials including Universal Studios, Prince (the artist) nightclub, extra work in films and was also a Magician’s assistant. Upon her return to Cleveland, Mary Jo continued with her love of dance and began choreographing for many Cleveland industrials and events such as: Tis’ the Season- Cleveland’s Lighting of Public Square, Sister Sledge, NBA All Star Games, Opening of the Allen Theatre, Countdown to the Browns, The Ohio Games, Vitamix and more.
Mary Jo has taught in many dance studios throughout Northeast Ohio for over 26 years. She has choreographed for local high school dance teams, musicals and show choirs. While instructing at The Classical Academy of Dance under Pamela Hindall, Mary Jo formed the CAD Girl competition team in 1997. Her competition dances have won numerous regional and national awards and the CAD Girls are still dancing their hearts out. In 2004, emjaez Dance Studio opened its doors under the artistic direction of Mary Jo. She continues to keep up with the latest styles of dance and furthering her dance education by attending numerous conventions, seminars and workshops along with visits to NYC and LA. Mary Jo is super excited to be a part of the CDP dance family.
Fun fact: Mary Jo made an appearance on Doogie Howser MD AND taught CDP director Anna Cerveny jazz when she was a tween ♥
Jake Washabaugh most recently graduated from Mercyhurst University with a B.A. in Dance Performance and a B.S. in Educational Studies (Early Childhood/Special Education) in May of 2017. His performance experience afterwards includes dancing with the Dancing Wheels Company and Levity Dance & Physical Theater in addition to performing with Mercury Theatre Company (Carousel, La Cage aux Folles, SoHo Cinders.) He currently serves as the Director of Ballet for Creative Movement Center, choreographer for Mercury Theatre Company & Junior Company (FAME, SoHo Cinders, Newsies) and co-choreographer for Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School’s musical (Into the Woods) and show choir, “Music in Motion.” In February of 2017, Jake’s choreography for MTC’s production of “FAME” received recognition for choreographic excellence at the Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. Having only danced in Cleveland Dance Project’s third season, he is extremely grateful for the opportunity to become more involved with them as a choreographer in their fourth!
Brandon Leffler was most recently seen in the Broadway company of Wicked. Brandon has also served as a Dance Instructor and Choreographer at Broadway Dance Center in New York City.
Broadway and Off Broadway credits include: On The Town (Tom, Gabey u/s) Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Dance Captain), Wicked, Trip of Love (George), Fanny, The Golden Apple and Anyone Can Whistle. Brandon has also traveled the USA with the national tours of Wicked, A Chorus Line (Larry, Paul u/s, Mark u/s, Mike u/s) and Cats (Tumblebrutus, Mistoffelees u/s)
T.V. credits include: 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live, Gossip Girl, the Tony Awards, and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
***Music had to be removed from Brandon's video due to copyright :( Song is Not An Addict by K's Choice
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 in nearly every aspect of the art form. 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, to name just a few. 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 New York City to further her career and spent the next ten years auditioning and performing at theaters such as City Center, Madison Square Garden, Merce Cunningham, and many other venues around the country. She has worked with numerous choreographers and companies including 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. Rachel has also performed in fashion shows, music videos, and musicals. Since returning to Ohio to raise her sons, she has performed pieces for Annika Sheaff of GroundWorks, Sarah Carey of Dance Cleveland, Regina Petraoria, Anna Cerveny, Sharan Marshall and Maddi Jackson of Cleveland Dance Project, and B-boy Tony Fresh. Rachel has worked with Ohio Dance Masters to teach and evaluate scholarship students. She recently choreographed an extremely well-received piece for Cleveland Dance Project and continues to teach, choreograph and attend classes. She holds a certification in nutrition, is a state tested nursing assistant (STNA) and has 20 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.
Elizabeth Pollert started dancing at 13 in Atlanta, GA, where her early training was at the Academy of Ballet Arts. After graduating from Belhaven University with a BFA in Dance in 2004 she moved to Cleveland, OH to train in Inlet Dance Theatre's Trainee Program. 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 Mississippi. 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. 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 2016, she was the Assistant to the Choreographer for Inlet’s collaboration Among the Darkest Shadows, an evening length work addressing modern-day slavery. In 2017, she choreographed for Cleveland Dance Project’s inaugural fall showcase as well as it's second season in 2018. In 2018, Elizabeth also worked with Elu Dance Company on their upcoming production of ‘barefaced’.
In her 15th season with Inlet Dance Theatre, she is currently a performing Company Member and serves as the Inflow Education Coordinator. She also serves as an Instructor and Choreographer for Inlet's education programming, . Elizabeth would like to thank her husband Travis for all his support and her son Brighton for all his joy.
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.
Meghann Stell began her formal dance training in Ashtabula, Ohio at age 6. She went on to Wright State University’s Dance program under scholarship where she studied ballet, jazz and modern dance. While at Wright State she performed with Dayton Ballet II under the direction of Karen Russo Burke. Upon returning home she guest-performed with the Verb Ballets in Cleveland. Meghann completed her Bachelor’s degree at Kent State University while teaching dance at multiple studios around Ashtabula and Lake Counties. She has recently delved into the creative process of choreography for these studios and enjoys working in the contemporary/lyrical dance style and is currently teaching at Wildfire Dance Studio. Meghann has also been seen in some recent, local musical theater productions such as A Chorus Line, All Shook Up, Once Upon a Mattress, Company and The Producers. Most recently, she choreographed a flash mob for the Wine and Walleye Festival in Ashtabula. She has since been inspired to create her own artistic business, Milestones Choreography (find it on Facebook and Instagram) under which she has choreographed such musicals as Guys and Dolls, Little Shop of Horrors, Mamma Mia and Footloose and also enjoys creating First Dances for wedding couples.
The benefit of teaching dance for her is the opportunity to have a positive impact on a person’s life experience from the preschooler to the pre-professional to the adult dancer, while also maintaining an outlet for her own creative energy.
The Cleveland Dance Project is the largest all adult dance group in the greater Cleveland/Akron area! It 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 3 major seasons yearly - Fall, Spring, and Summer, 2 of which are performance seasons, open to dancers ages 18+, consisting of weekly rehearsals culminating in a performance showcase. The other season consists of weekly master classes designed to hone our dance skills and overall wellness, open to dancers ages 16+. Seasons alternate between performance and master classes.
We believe in making dance relatable to the community, embracing the talents of our local aspiring artists, and giving everyone a chance to come together to dance for Cleveland!
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 third season with the Cleveland Dance Project. While she loves performing, Arielle’s main passion in the dance world is choreography. She choreographed her first piece with CDP for season 2 and is excited about creating something new for season 4, and sharing her artistry with Cleveland!
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 a new mom to a beautiful baby girl!
Susan Kozawa began dancing at the age of 5 at the Academy of Dance Arts in Tennessee and competed with them to the National level. She received her BS and MS in Polymer Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University and is currently working on her PhD in Macromolecular Science and Engineering. During her collegiate career, she spent her time teaching and choreographing tap to both beginners and advanced dancers, was a member of the Spartan Dance Team and also received a minor in Dance from CWRU. She's ecstatic to be able to choreograph for CDP season 4 after performing in last season's showcase and finding a community of like-minded dancers who are talented, passionate, and overall want to bring the joy of dance back into their lives. Cheers to another season of CDP!