First Hand 2017


UCLA’s Department of World Arts & Culture/Dance proudly presents First Hand, an evening of in-progress dance works by four leading U.S. choreographers: Lynn Dally, Jeanine Durning, Sheetal Gandhi, and VersaStyle choreographers Jackie Lopez and Leigh Foaad.  First Hand offers the rare chance to witness the early formation of choreographic projects devised through a broad scope of approaches. Each choreographer works closely with WACD’s Dance students throughout spring quarter and shares these choreographic and improvisational experiments during First Hand.

Jackie “Miss Funk” Lopez and Leigh “Breezelee" Foaad present "Wings of Light” and “In The City.” Utilizing street dance styles such as Hip-hop, Popping, Locking and House dance, these works profile the experiences of the dancers as they navigate their lives as Angelenos, always finding light and hope, even amidst hardship

Jeanine Durning shares her “nonstopping” practice with an ensemble of graduate and undergraduate dancers who work to uncensor movement and speech. A liberatory practice, Durning applies herself and her dancers to radical acts of freedom where the body (and the collective) can become an imperative force for potential and change.

“Stuck” is Sheetal Gandhi’s latest dance-theater work engaging dynamic movement, precise text, complex vocal rhythms, ironic humor and live singing to address our current political climate. Three dancers, Red, White and Blue (AKA Danish Bhandara, Anna Weideman and Chantal Cherry) embody and animate the American Flag.

Lynn Dally presents “Two Dances,” a Legacy Project in tap choreography that draws on two different sources from the touring repertory of the Jazz Tap Ensemble (1979-2012). Dancers working with Dally have learned original choreography and bring it into performance both as written/composed and as thematic material for live improvisation.


Jackie Lopez aka Miss Funk & Leigh Foaad aka Breeze-lee are the Founders and Artistic Directors of Versa-Style Dance Company. Together they share a common passion for dance and performance, this connection resulted in the creation of Versa-Style in 2005. As LA Natives, they embrace the culture and honor the history/legacy of Hip-hop dance by passing it on to the future generations. They have been guest choreographers for Santa Monica College, LA Valley College, Columbia College and University of Utah. Lopez and Foaad served as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. through the Arts Envoy Cultural Exchange Program in which they were able to perform, teach and lecture in countries such as Israel, Egypt, India, and Colombia. As a mainstay of Hip-hop culture, Lopez and Foaad have traveled to several Hip-hop dance battles nationally and internationally, winning many victory titles in places such as Korea, Italy, Canada and France. Lopez and Foaad company website: http://versastyledance.org/

Jeanine Durning who is WACD’s 2017 Movement Research Exchange Artist, is a choreographer, performer, and teacher from New York, creating solo and group works since 1998. Her research is grounded in choreography as ontological inquiry–exploring questions of who we are, the nature of perception and relation, and the slippery terrain of invented narratives of self and other.As a performer, Jeanine has had the privilege over the years to collaborate with many choreographers of diverse creative concerns and priorities including Susan Rethorst, David Dorfman, Lance Gries, Chris Yon, Zvi Gotheiner, Martha Clarke, Richard Siegal, and Bebe Miller. Since 2005, Durning has worked on and off with choreographer Deborah Hay in the capacities of performer, choreographic assistant and most recently, from 2011-2013, as consultant to the Motion Bank, conceived by William Forsythe, on Ms. Hay’s choreographic and scoring practices. Jeanine Durning website: http://www.jeaninedurning.com/

Lynn Dally co-founded Jazz Tap Ensemble in 1979 with Fred Strickler and Camden Richman. She is recognized for her role in the renaissance of tap dance in America. As dancer and choreographer, she has created a large body of original choreographies for the concert stage (disc 1) and performed in worldwide touring with the JTE. As Artistic Director of the Jazz Tap Ensemble since 1986, she has continued to innovate in the field of rhythm tap with live jazz music, honoring the legends while mentoring gifted young artists. In April 2012, Dally and the Jazz Tap Ensemble were selected by the US Department of State to represent the United States in a month-long cultural exchange, Dance MotionUSASM, in the African countries of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo where JTE engaged with professional dance artists, youth ensembles, and at-risk youth populations in workshops, master classes, concerts and lively informal sessions. The Ensemble was both honored and privileged to be afforded this life changing experience. Lynn Dally Company website: http://www.jazztapensemble.org/

Sheetal Gandhi is a multi-talented performer. Sheetal Gandhi’s work has been described as “eloquent, inventive, virtuosic dance-theater” by the Philadelphia Inquirer utilizing “incisive commentary offset by brilliant touches of humor” (Narthaki). She is a multi-hyphenated artist (singer, dancer, choreographer, actor) with a career that has spanned genres and disciplines including work as a creator and performer in Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion, playing a leading role in the Broadway production of Bombay Dreams, dancing throughout Ghana with the traditional West African dance company Novisi, and singing with the New York based, all-female a cappella group, Anamcara. Sheetal Gandhi website: http://www.sheetalgandhi.com/bio.html

First Hand Performers: Alex Almaraz, Allison Cosca-Baresh, Danish Bhandara, Zena Bibler, Casey Brown, Chantal Cherry, Jenna Filippelli, Ava Gaughen, Courtney Goffney, Levi Gonzalez, Stephanie Hing, Lluvia Ibarra, Maya Kell-Abrams, Malia Lam, Christy Li, Delilah Gamson Levy, Kelsey Manes, Michelle May, Pearl Marill, Ricky Medina, Madison Olandt, Michelle Olson, Darrian O’Reilly, Matthew Rogers, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Kristianne Salcines, Allison Schwarz, Oscar Tsukayama and Anna Weideman.

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World Arts and Cultures/Dance (WACD) draws upon multiple disciplines and artistic approaches while encouraging students to position their work within broad social contexts and diverse cultural communities. WACD’s path-breaking programs are committed to academic excellence, diversity, freedom of expression, activism, and social transformation through the arts.

(For more information contact Ginger Holguin at 310 825-2129)

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UCLA Department of World Arts Cultures/Dance
Box 951608, 150 Kaufman Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1608
Tel 310.825.3951
Email: wacinfo@arts.ucla.edu