2018 FALL PROGRAM CHOREOGRAPHERS: SANDRINE CASSINI, ROBERT DEKKERS, AND BEN NEEDHAM-WOOD
SANDRINE CASSINI, CHOREOGRAPHER
Originally from Nice, France, Sandrine Cassini studied at the Conservatoire Superieur de Paris and won the Professional Prize at the Prix de Lausanne before joining the Paris Opera Ballet. Sandrine joined Ballets de Monte-Carlo as a first soloist, where she danced major roles in works by Balanchine, Forsythe, Neumeier, Duato Kylian and Maillot. Her career then took her to Zuriche Ballet, San Jose Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, National Theater Mannheim and most recently, Bejart Ballet. She has performed leading roles in works by George Balanchine, William Forsythe, Nacho Duato, Jean-Christophe Maillot, Heinz Spoerli, Maurice Bejart, Alonzo King, and John Neumeier.
Sandrine has choreographed works on Staatstheater Regensburg, Ballet Victoria, Dances for Small Stages in Vancouver, and National Theater Mannheim. In the Bay Area, she has created a works on the LINES Ballet BFA Program and Dance Theatre of San Francisco. In 2014 she left the U.S. to become the Ballet Mistress for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Sandrine began working with DTSF during it's debut season in 2013. With a unique artistic awareness and an inspiring spirit, she creates striking works that are visually complex and beautiful and fit perfectly into DTSF’s innovative repertoire.
ROBERT DEKKERS, CHOREOGRAPHER
Named “25 To Watch” by DANCE Magazine and dubbed a “mad genius” by Huffington Post, Robert Dekkers is founder and Artistic Director of Post:Ballet. Collaborating with eclectic artists to present performances that are “anything but risk averse” (SF Chronicle), Robert has created new works for Post together with artists in film, visual art, animation, architecture, sculpture, fashion design, and new music.
Robert has received commissions from Kansas City Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Smuin Ballet, sjDANCEco, San Jose State University, Southern Methodist University, and Quixotic Cirque Noveau, where he recently premiered an evening-length production of Firebird set to an orchestrated arrangement of music by Radiohead. His work has been presented at venues including Tanzsommer Festival (Vienna), Ballet Builders Showcase (New York City), and West Wave Dance Festival (San Francisco). Robert was resident choreographer with Novaballet from 2008-2009 and is currently resident choreographer at Diablo Ballet, where he has created nine original works since 2013. Robert’s choreography for Post:Ballet has been featured at Jacob’s Pillow’s Inside/Out Festival, the SF International Arts Festival, and Seattle’s Against the Grain Festival. Post was named “Best New Dance” of San Francisco by 7×7 Magazine and has been nominated for three Isadora Duncan Awards.
Robert danced professionally with Ballet Arizona, ODC/Dance, Company C Contemporary Ballet, and Diablo Ballet. He was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Award for “Outstanding Performance- Individual” for his 2012-13 season with Diablo Ballet, where he danced leading roles in works by choreographers including George Balanchine, José Límon, Val Caniparoli, KT Nelson, Trey McIntyre, Septime Webre, and Mario Radacovsky. Robert has also performed work by Twyla Tharp, August Bournonville, Maurice Causey, Lar Lubovitch, Dominic Walsh, Jodie Gates, Ib Andersen, Paul Taylor, Brenda Way, and Julia Adam.
Robert is the Artistic Director of Berkeley Ballet Theater, a school and youth company dedicated to building on the traditions of classical ballet to move the art form forward for the next generation. He teaches company classes for LINES Ballet, Smuin Ballet, and ODC/Dance, as well as master classes and workshops throughout the country. In addition to his work as a choreographer, teacher and dancer, he holds a degree in business from Rio Salado College.
BEN NEEDHAM-WOOD, CHOREOGRAPHER
Born in Massachusetts, Ben's ballet training began at the age of 5 at L'ecole de Ballet under the instruction of Clarissa Eaton. He then went on to further his training with the Boston-based ballet company, Dance Prism, directed by Scott Ranegan and Mary Demaso. Ben spent his high school years attending the prestigious St. Paul's School in Concord, NH, where he continued his dance education under the direction of Rebecca Wright (2002-2004) and Sharon Randolph (2004-2006). During his time at SPS, Ben was the recipient of several awards, most notably the McLeod Prize, the Schlager Prize for Valor, and The Form of 1971 Visionary Award. Ben has danced professionally with Louisville Ballet, Smuin Ballet, Amy Seiwert's Imagery, and has performed as a guest artist with several companies across the United States – SFDanceworks (CA), Appalachian Ballet Company (TN), Dance China New York (NY), Dayton Ballet (OH), Fort Wayne Ballet (IN), and Bruce Wood Dance Project (TX), to name a few.
While Ben's career is still focused primarily in performance, he has always held a strong passion for choreography. He choreographed his first work in high school, and received his first commission while dancing with the Louisville Ballet. Louisville proved to be an incredibly supportive platform for Ben to develop his choreographic voice, offering him the opportunity to create several works on both the Company and its Youth Ensemble. He has continued choreographing professionally since relocating to the Bay Area, with main stage commissions from both Smuin and Dance Theatre of San Francisco. His works have been performed at festivals, concerts, and galas across the country, as well as Montreal, QC.
During the summer of 2015, Ben collaborated with his close friend, Weston Krukow, and CSN Bay Area on a new TV feature, BaseBallet. The response was overwhelmingly positive, landing BaseBalletin "The Dancing Athlete Exhibit" at the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame. Then, on June 4th, 2016, BaseBallet was honored to receive a Northern California Area Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in "Arts/Entertainment-Feature/Segment" recognizing Ben and Weston for their choreography. The success of BaseBallet prompted the formation of Athletic Art Productions - a new company, cofounded and directed by Ben and Weston, aiming to promote the athleticism of dance. Under this new heading a follow up TV special was produced, BaseBallet: Into the Game, and broadcast on NBC Sports Bay Area.
RJ MUNA, VISUAL ARTIST
RJ Muna has been photographing and filming dance for over twenty years. Combining the physical energy of dance with the keen observation of photography allows him to move seamlessly between still and moving images. RJ’s approach to both begins with an understanding of how the human body interacts with light and movement, combined with a strong conceptual foundation. His many dance collaborations over the years have resulted in creative relationships that influence the artists on both sides of the camera. RJ’s film work has been featured in many festivals including Dance On Camera Festival (NY), Dance Camera West (LA)San Francisco Dance Film Festival, and Art Basel Switzerland.
CHRISTOPHER DUNN, COSTUME DESIGNER
Christopher began costuming for dance in 2004 when he was appointed as Wardrobe Master for The Reno Dance Company (RDC). Over the next decade, Christopher designed and constructed costumes for RDC’s many productions including Cinderella and the Nutcracker. In 2011, Christopher left Reno to take his career to the next level in San Francisco where he founded Empire Costumes. Since moving to San Francisco Christopher has invested his costuming talent to support the birth of Dance Theatre of San Francisco. In 2014, he joined Oakland Ballet and has been producing costumes for them ever since. He has also created costumes for Bay Pointe Ballet, Company C Contemporary Ballet, Robert Moses’ KIN Dance Company, Napoles Ballet, and countless independent projects throughout the Bay Area. As a costumer for DTSF Christopher has been praised by the Huffington Post: “Costuming was a resounding success - impeccable and stylish all evening.” Christopher is also DTSF's Company Manager, and a dancer.
JACK BEUTTLER, LIGHTING DESIGNER / PRODUCTION MANAGER
Jack Beuttler has a bachelor of Arts in philosphy from UC Berkeley. He as created designs for Project B, Dance Theatre of San Francisco, Post:Ballet, ODC/School, LEVYdance, GERALDCASELDANCE, LINES Ballet BFA and Training Program, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Copious Dance Theater, Alter Theater, Lamplighters Music Theatre, UNA Projects, Risa Jaroslow and more. He has also worked in production management, technical direction, lighting direction for Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, Hope Mohr Dance, FoolsFURY, Oakland Ballet, LEVYdance, ODC/School, REDCAT, Kota Yamazaki, Chitresh Das, YES Theater, RAPT Productions, Sidra Bell Dance NY, Composer’s Inc. Jack also servers as a Production Manager for DTSF.
DEXANDRO "D" MONTALVO, CHOREOGRAPHER
Born and raised in New York City, D began dancing professionally at age 14 and began instructing dance classes one year later. After obtaining his BFA in Dance from SUNY Purchase College, D worked with many talented choreographers including Liss Fain, Kara Davis, and Robert Moses. Dexandro completed his professional dance career after dancing with Robert Moses' Kin for six seasons. D's choreographic work has appeared in music videos, television shows, and international venues, and has appeared on MTV, BET, Telemundo and Fox networks. D has also created works on Robert Moses' Kin Dance Company, Liss Fain Dance Company, Concept o4, LINES Ballet Training Program, LINES Summer Program, The Black Eyed Peas, Amp Live, Sleepy Hollow Performing Arts Center, University of San Francisco Dance Ensemble, Marin School of the Arts, and ODC's Youth Company. Dexandro received an Isadora Duncan Award for his choreographic work in Art Behind Bars (2014) which took place inside Alcatraz Prison. He was also nominated in 2014-15 for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography for his work entitled Impulse which was choreographed for the Robert Moses' Kin Dance Company. Dexandro won two Isadora Duncan Awards in the 2015-16 Season; one for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography for his DTSF work entitled Pent; and one for Outstanding Achievement in Restaging for his restaging of Robert Moses' Toward September, also for DTSF. Dexandro Montalvo began as a resident choreographer with DTSF in 2014 and served as the company's Artistic Director from 2015 to 2018.
ANGELA DICE NGUYEN, CHOREOGRAPHER
Angela was raised in Somerset, PA and she began dancing at Laurel Arts Dance Center in her hometown, and later studied at Rockingham Ballet Theatre while attending Bridgewater College in Virginia. Angela graduated summa cum laude from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she earned a BFA in Dance and was a recipient of a Rising Star Scholarship. At various venues in Chicago, New York, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Mexico, and beyond, Angela had the privilege of performing with DanceWorks Chicago over four company seasons. Additionally, she has worked with Dance in the Parks both as a dancer and choreographer, August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, Dayton Arts Project, Pursuit Productions, Ahmad Simmons, and Dance Chance, presenting her own work in Dance Chance: Redux 5.0. Angela’s film credits include Sorority Row, and she has played in regional productions of 42nd Street and The Pajama Game at Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown, PA. Photographer Jordan Matter also features her in the New York Times bestselling book Dancers Among Us. In addition to performance, Angela created Dreams for Whitney M. Young Magnet High School’s Guys & Dolls Dance Company, which received the honor of winning Dance Chicago’s Dance Slam 2013. Angela has presented her work independently at Dance Chance (Fireflies, 2013) and Dance Chance: Redux 5.0 (Woman, 2013), the latter also re-staged on Piel Morena Contemporary Dance in 2014. She has created for August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble (Grey, 2011); served as assistant choreographer for Pursuit Productions (Thirty Thousand One, 2012); and she recently had the pleasure of restaging work by Joshua Manculich for Chicago High School for the Arts’ senior showcase in spring 2014. Passionate about sharing dance as a teacher, Angela has also led master classes for diverse levels of dancers within the U.S. and abroad. Angela is the founder and artistic director of the Bay Area based company, The MoveMessenger(s).
DANIEL BERKMAN, COMPOSER
Daniel Berkman is a Bay Area electronic musician, composer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, looper and innovator of the Kora (a 21-stringed harp-lute from West Africa) and its modern counterpart, the Gravikord.
Daniel also has recordings under his electronic music moniker Colfax (also on Bandcamp). Instruments: kora, gravikord, guitar, handsonic, ukelin, synths, cello, uke, viol, keys and more. Daniel composed all the music for DTSF's 2016 film, Unspoken, directed by RJ Muna.