Megan Morse Jans, artistic director
Megan Morse Jans is a graduate of Kent State University, where in 2002 she received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance Performance. While at Kent, Megan had the opportunity to study with Andrea Shearer, Kimberly Karpanty, Tommy Parlon and Dr. Darwin Prioleau. During her stay at Kent, she was fortunate to be able to participate in guest artist residencies by Karen Love, Chung-Fu Chang, Peter Kyle, the Dance Alloy of Pittsburgh, and Bridgman/Packar. Since graduation, Megan has danced professionally for Ground Zero Dance Company, Tommy Parlon Dance Projects, Air Dance Bernasconi and she spent three seasons with award winning BosmaDance. While dancing with Air Dance Bernasconi, Jans studied aerial work with Therese Keagan and Elsie and Serenity Smith (the Trapeze Twins formerly of Cirque du Soleil). Currently on faculty at Anne Arundel Community College, she teaches Introduction to Dance a class that combines dance history with movement, as well as Jazz Dance Technique. Megan is proud to have served as a dance expert on the Maryland State Arts Council Grand Panel for 2006 and 2007 and is a 2009 recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Choreography. For the past 6 years, Megan has been practicing Vinyasa Yoga, and in 2008 she completed her teacher training with Shiva Rae affiliate Maria Garre. Her work is inspired by personal experiences as well as relationships, and she lists Jiri Kylian, Ohad Naharin, Larry Keigwin, and Mats Ek among her favorite choreographers. Megan is a proud mother to Jacob Bennett, born in October of 2008, and proud wife to Michael Jans.
Kristi Schaffner, dancer/director of education and development.
Kristi began dancing with Dragonfly Dance Experiment in the early stages of development in 2006 and is thrilled to return this year as the Director of Education and Development. Ms. Schaffner has a MFA in dance from the University of Oklahoma (2011) where she worked with Betty Jones, Dudley Williams, Derrick Minter, and Austin Hartel while performing in works by Martha Graham, Helen Simoneau, and Darrell Grand Moultrie among others. After completing her BFA in Dane Education from Kent State University in 2004, Ms. Schaffner performed with Nadeen O'Connor Dance Theater, Junction Dance Theatre, Jeslyn Dance Gallery, Tommy Parlon Dance Projects and Clawson Dances. Kristi studied Laban Movement Analysis at the Laban Institute in NYC through a University of Oklahoma Graduate Student Senate grant. Her Choreography has been presented in Oklahoma City, Washington D.C. and most recently at the Howard County Dance Festival. Ms. Schaffner has a passion for education and has designed specialized dance curricula for preschools and charter school students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. Ms. Schaffner is an adjunct faculty member at the Community College of Baltimore County and has enjoyed guest performing this semester with Anne Arundel Community College's Opera Workshop this semester. Kristi inspires to continue her research and development of educational programs that use movement and dance as tools to instruct and to facilitate learning within the public education classroom. Kristi is grateful beyond words for the opportunity to do what she loves, and cherishes the support from those close to her.
Jillian Barber, dancer and rehearsal director.
Jillian began her dance training in the Vagonova style of ballet technique at the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis (now Ballet Theatre of Maryland) for fifteen years under the tutelage of Edward Stewart, Leslie Bradley, and Heidi G. Menocal. She continued her training with a dual emphasis in ballet and modern dance at Towson University under teachers such as Dennis Price, Catherine Horta-Hayden, Stephanie Powell, Dana Martin, and Susan Mann. Jillian holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance Performance and Choreography. During her high school years, Jillian was a performer with the Broadneck High School Dance Company as well as the Anne Arundel County Dance Ensemble. While at Towson University, she performed with the Towson University Dance Company, working with many guest artists and choreographers. Notable roles include “Sing Sing Sing”, “9 Loves Songs and a Bucket of Tears”, and the Doris Humphrey role in “Shakers”. She also performed as a guest with the Stephanie Powell Dance Ensemble. She is now the director of the Annapolis High School Dance Program and is Co-Director of the Anne Arundel County Dance Ensemble. As Jillian’s dance career has shifted from that of the dancer to that of the dancer, teacher, choreographer, and director, she has realized that her love of dance is unparalleled, and the learning process never ends. Dance is ever changing, refreshingly experimental, and lends itself to collaboration with people from all walks of life. As Tywla Tharp said, “what we can learn about working creatively and in harmony can trans- form our lives, and our world”. She is thrilled to be a part of DragonFly Dance Experiment and director Megan Morse Jans' vision. This is Jillian's fourth season with DragonFly Dance Experiment.
April Ewaski, dancer.
April Ewaski received her B.A. in Dance from University of Maryland, Baltimore County in May 2010. She started dancing at the age of 5. At the age of 15 she started an intense training of Ballet, Jazz, and Lyrical at Sherry’s Dance Center in Owings, MD. During her time at Sherry’s Dance Center she participated in competitions and received Regional and National awards. After graduating high school she was an instructor for SDC but after two years decided that she wanted to study dance in college. She attended Anne Arundel Community College receiving her A.A. in Dance in 2008. While attending AACC she was a member of their dance company directed by Lynda Fitzgerald and was the active president her final year. In October 2007 she was a back up dancer for Tatiyanna Voche in The Miss Gay America Pageant in Memphis TN. In December 2007 she was a guest artist for Triple Threats’ Christmas Around the World choreographed by Paula Lynn. She was a member of the court in Deviated Theatre’s Lore in 2009. While studying at UMBC she worked with Carol Hess, Doug Hamby, Liz Walton, Sandra Lacy, and Charlie Abel. She received best choreography for “What the Flock?!?!” and “Never Have I Ever..” in 2010 voted by her peers in the dance department. She is very excited to be dancing for Dragonfly Dance Experiment and wants to thank Megan for being very supportive. This is April's third season with DragonFly Dance Experiment.
Rebekah Fresco, dancer.
Rebekah Fresco grew up in Maryland. She is a recent graduate from UMBC with a B.A. in Dance. She has training in ballet, modern, jazz, lyrical, and swing. She began dancing at the age of 6 with L’ Ecole de Danse in Annapolis, MD. In high school, she began training with Ballet Theatre of Maryland in Annapolis, MD with Dianna Cuatto, Bryan Skates, Jamie Skates, and Jenn Yackel. During her senior year of high school, she was an apprentice to the company and performed in The Nutcracker, Giselle, and Excalibur. She later trained with Lynda Fitzgerald, Tommy Parlon, and Laura Garza at Anne Arundel Community College and performed with the AACC Dance Company from 2007 to 2009. While at AACC, she attended American College Dance Festivals at the University of Utah and Hollins University. She transferred to UMBC in fall 2009 and trained with Doug Hamby, Liz Walton, Sandra Lacy, Charlie Abel, and Tzveta Kassabova. She has performed in Baltimore Dance Project, in pieces choreographed by Doug Hamby: Nacht and his premiere piece, Dust. With UMBC, she attended the American College Dance Festival at Mulhenburg College. She performed a student piece choreographed by Michelle Brandenburg, Like Hell On Fire, and a guest faculty piece choreographed by Tzveta Kassabova, The Opposite of Killing. In May 2011, she performed a 4 hour installation piece, Pavillion Garden, choreographed by Tzveta Kassabova for the Reston Arts Festival in Reston, VA. This is Rebekah’s second season with Dragonfly Dance Experiment.
Racheal Labonte, dancer.
Racheal LaBonte joins DragonFly Dance Experiment through her studies at AACC, where she is completing her Associates in Fine Arts and continuing on to Towson University for her Bachelors in Dance and Education. She has lived and traveled across the U.S. and the world, studying dance at the Kirov Academy and Harid Conservatory, was president of the AACC Dance Company, and integrated a collaboration of ballet and performance in Amman, Jordan, with their first "Nutcracker Spectacular." Racheal is ecstatic about working with DragonFly Dance Experiment, as her travels has shown how important it is to have arts and education, and hopes to bring the joy and passion of her dance to DragonFly and the community! This is Racheal's second season with DragonFly Dance Experiment.
Jessica Markiewicz, dancer.
Jessica Markiewicz is very excited to be working with DragonFly Dance Experiment. She began her training at the Carter School of Dance and continued studying intensively at the Ballet Royale Institute of Maryland. Ms. Markiewicz has attended summer programs at The Washington School of Ballet, the Kirov Academy in Washington D.C., and American Ballet Theater in New York. In 2006, Jessica graduated from Goucher College with a BA in Dance. She recently completed an M.A. in Dance Education with a concentration in ABT Ballet Pedagogy at New York University. Jessica has also performed with Misako Ballet Company, dancing both classical and japanese-inspired repertoire. In addition to teaching in private studios, she is also assistant director of the Arundel High School Dance Company and is the dance instructor at Marley Middle School. This is Jessica's second season with DragonFly Dance Experiment and she is loving every minute!
Natalie Shea, dancer.
Natalie Shea began dancing at the age of 13 under the direction of Pamela Devenney at Broadneck High School. She has studied dance at AACC where performed with Anne Arundel Community College Dance Company, directed by Lynda Fitzgerald. She has also earned a Bachelors of Arts in Dance at University of Maryland, Baltimore County where her choreography was selected for performance at the American College Dance Festival. In 2006, she was also selected for scholarship to Randolph Macon Womens College to study dance in a summer program hosted by Pilobolus Dance Company. From 2006 to 2008, Natalie performed professionally with Baltimore Dance Project and performed incredible roles choreographed by Douglas Hamby, and Carol Hess. This is Natalie's fourth season performing with Dragonfly Dance Experiment and is enjoying every moment with the talented dancers of the company.
Kendra Smith, dancer.
Kendra Smith did not begin dancing until the age of 15. Her formal training began at The Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts. She graduated Cum Laude from Towson University where she earned her B.F.A. In Dance Performance and Education. While in college, Kendra performed with the Towson University Dance Company where she was first cast as Brynne in “Land Flat” restaged by Chris Elam, Artistic Director of Misnomer Dance Theatre, featured as a soloist in “Todo Cambia,” an original work by Dr. Susan Haigler-Robles and was selected to perform with VTDance among many other faculty and student works. She also received training from The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Ballet Theatre of Maryland. In addition to performing on a regular basis, Kendra collaborated with other artists on inter-disciplinary projects such as choreographing “Now What?” an award winning Dance for the Camera Project. Her dance photography collaboration “Portraits of a Dancer,” by photographer Raphael Soldi, was featured in the Spring 2009 issue of PDNedu. During the 2009-2010 season she was a soloist with Harford Ballet Company where she performed “Inevitable Pathways” by Katherine Richardson and “Caravan” by Shana O'Brien. Kendra also danced for Common Ground Modern Dance Company and Baltimore Ballet prior to accepting a teaching position with Anne Arundel County Public Schools as the former Director of the Dance Program at Annapolis Middle School. She is honored to share in the creative process with DDE and contributing to the mission of the organization. Kendra resides in Baltimore with her wonderful husband Joel and their newborn daughter Lyra Jane. This is Kendra's second season with DragonFly Dance Experiment.