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Chris Ferris & Dancers

Company Biographies

photo: Matthew Murphy

Chris Ferris, choreographer/dancer

photo: Steven Schreiber

Erin DeLucia-Benson, dancer

Michelle Gilligan, dancer

Erin DeLucia-Benson earned a BA in Dance from Point Park College in 2002, and went on to study abroad in Paris, France with Wells College. Erin is the artistic director of DeLucia Benson Dance and recently produced a full evening of work for the Rochester Fringe Festival. Erin has been dancing with Chris Ferris & Dancers since 2004, and with Tina Croll since 2007. She has also done work with Michael Mao Dance, Emily Faulkner, and Jenny Rocha Dance Theater. Erin is a certified MuTu Pro™ a certified Pilates instructor, an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and a member of the AADP. Erin DeLucia-Benson Pilates and Holistic Health offers Pilates, Nutrition, and Pelvic Floor rehabilitation. Erin is a mother of two, and she is happy to be performing.

Vanessa Ferranti, dancer

Warren Kloner, artist

Warren Kloner, is a painter and sculptor who has lived in New York for many years.  He holds a BFA in sculpture from S.U.N.Y. at Purchase and a Masters Degree in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute.  Over the years he has shown his work in many group shows in such galleries as Jack Tilton and Paula Cooper, as well as having several solo shows at The Gallery Of Graphic Arts.  His current work can be seen at WarrenKloner.com.  He is also a founding partner of “6 Foot 3 Design” whose furniture designs can be seen at 6FT3.com.  Kloner has recently played slide guitar for improvisational dances by Ferris.  He is pleased and honored to be working with Chris Ferris as a visual artist.

Loren Kiyoshi Dempster, uses a combination of computer, electronics, cello, improvisation, notated scores, to create and perform music. His compositions have been presented at The Stone, Roulette, Issue Project Room, Weseleyn College, and at Chez Bushwick, a 2007 Bessie Award winning performance arts space of which he was a founding member. He toured extensively with Merce Cunningham performing Interscape and Biped. He was music director and composer for Harrison Atelier for many works.  Interested in the relationships between movement, space, and sound, he may be found creating and performing music with many collaborators including Chris Ferris, Gabriel Forestieri, Dahlia Nayar, and Margaret Paek.  Recently moved to Appleton, WI from Queens, NY, Dempster has taught as a guest artist at Renaissance High School for the Arts, and has performed in the Fox Cities area at Wriston Art Gallery, Science Atrium and Esch Studio at Lawrence University. For more information: www.lorendempster.com 

Loren Kiyoshi Dempster, composer/musician

Michelle Gilligan received her BFA in Dance Studies from Long Island University, CW Post. She is a co-founder of Immersion Dance Company, which has performed in Europe, New York City and the New England area for the past 10 years. She has also worked with Kanji Segawa, Deborah Mauldin, David Appel and Karen Arceneaux. She has had the pleasure of working with Chris Ferris since 2014 and is also happy to be working with Tina Croll + Dancers.

Vanessa Ferranti is from Long Island, NY.  She earned a BFA in Dance from the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program in May of 2012, where she performed the original works of Alvin Ailey, Robert Battle, Joyce Trisler, Camille A. Brown, Sidra Bell, Anna Sokolow, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Scott Rink and more. During her senior year, she was invited to study with Jennifer Muller/The Works as part of the Scholarship/Apprentice Program.Vanessa currently dances with Martita Goshen’s Earth Works and Dance Visions NY, an Isadora Duncan repertoire company. She is thrilled to join Chris Ferris & Dancers in this opportunity to perform and share the wonderful gift of dance!

Choreographer: Chris Ferris

Dancers: Erin DeLucia-Benson, Victoria Ellic, Vanessa Ferranti, Michelle Gilligan, Bethany Logan, Annastasia Mercedes, Cecly Placenti, Rachel Russell, Diane Lynn Skerbec, Emily Reylea-Spivak, and Maho Takeshita

Composers: Loren Kiyoshi Dempster and Max Maples

Lighting Design: Joe Levasseur

Artist: Warren Kloner

Chris Ferris is the artistic director of Chris Ferris & Dancers.  Her work is based on an exploration of movement from a sculptural, dynamic and emotional point of view.  Its focus is to bring you design in space and time with a human element.  REAL - If This Were Not Real and Three Point Perspective were presented with selections from the Rampaging Light suite at Roulette, Brooklyn NY Feb. 2018 and at Second Sundays, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House March 2018.  Rampaging Light was presented 3/31-4/1 2017 as part of The Waxing Crescent (an evening of dance and music with guest artists presented by Ferris). An earlier version of Rampaging Light was performed at Take Root, Green Space Studio LIC Sept. 2016. Perfect Tension, was presented at the Martha Graham Studio Theater in Nov. 2014 after premiering at FLICfest in Jan. 2014. Urban Pastoral an outdoor improvisation with 10 sculptural lights by Warren Kloner, 10 dancers, and live music was presented, in June 2015 at Socrates Sculpture Park LIC NY, Battery Park City NYC, and Carl Schurz Park NYC.  In it’s Spring 2014 series we performed at Central Park NYC and Squibb Park/Bridge.  In the Fall of 2013 we presented at the Tobacco Warehouse, Brooklyn Bridge Park; The High Line, Manhattan; and Central Park NYC. Circuitous Body, was performed at Roulette, Bklyn NY 4/12 and Green Space Studio LIC, NY 11/12 where it was partially funded by a Mertz Gilmore Foundation Late-Stage Stipend. Chris Ferris & Dancers’ 2011 concert, Continental Drift, was presented at CPR – Center for Performance Research. Proximity Of Clouds (2010 full evening work), premiered at Joyce SoHo NYC.  Ferris' dances have been shown in New York at 3 season concerts at the Cunningham Studio Theater. Her work has also been presented at Triskelion Arts, WestFest, Green Space Blooms, Performance Mix, Solar Powered Dance Festival, Dance Conversations at the Flea, Movement Research at Judson Church, University Settlement, the 92nd Street Y, and a variety of other venues.

Maho Takeshita, dancer

Maho Takeshita graduated from the Limon Professional Studies Program in 2013, where she performed the works of Jose Limon and Alan Danielson.  She has also assisted members of the Matthew Bourne company at an international festival in 2013 and was a facilitator for children at a Communication and Dance workshop in Japan in 2014.  Maho is currently dancing for UrbanHumans, and Chris Ferris & Dancers. 

Max Maples has been performing, teaching, and composing all kinds of music in New York City since 2012. Based in Brooklyn, he performs, records, and produces as a sideman for local bands and artists, and he teaches world percussion group lessons at the Greenburgh-Graham Union Free School District in Westchester. He also works with several dance companies as a percussion accompanist and composer. He studied for six years at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and has a Bachelor of Music in Composition and a Master of Music in Jazz Studies.

Max Maples, composer/musician

Joe Levasseur (Lighting Design) has collaborated with many dance and performance artists including: Big Dance Theater, Jennifer Monson, John Jasperse, Sarah Michelson, Neil Greenberg, David Dorfman, Jodi Melnick, RoseAnne Spradlin, Jane Comfort, Ishmael Houston-Jones, and Amanda Loulaki. His lighting design work has been seen throughout the United States, Europe and South America, and has received two Bessie awards. In 2009, his Drop Clock installation was featured in the lobby of Dance Theater Workshop (New York Live Arts. In 2010 he showed a collection of original paintings at Performance Space 122 and in 2013 was commissioned to paint an original mural for AUNTS. Ongoing projects include lighting work for Chris Schlichting, Brian Brooks, Big Dance Theater, and Pavel Zustiak/Palissimo. www.joelevasseur.com

Joe Levasseur, lighting design

Victoris Ellis, dancer

Victoria Ellis, originally from Vestal, NY, earned her BFA in Contemporary Dance from The Boston Conservatory in 2015. Since graduation, she has been working as a freelance dance artist based in NYC. While in NYC, she has performed with CaptiveFlow Dance, Amalgamate Dance Company, Advanced Curation, LEMI Collective, and Casey Bagnall. Victoria is also a certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Victoria is thrilled to be working with Chris Ferris & Dancers.

Bethany Logan graduated from Ohio University with a BFA in Dance & Choreography, a Minor in Psychology, and is a 200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher and a Certified Personal Trainer. She is thrilled to perform with Chris Ferris & Dancers. Past performances include Kelly Donovan & Dancers, The Physical Plant, Sandra Kramerova & Artists, The Median Movement, and Doug Neilson. Logan’s choreography has been performed at Fertile Ground, the American College Dance Association Gala Concert, University of Dayton, and in Mumbai, India, where she danced with Navdhara India Dance Theatre.

Bethany Logan, dancer

Emily Relyea-Spivack, dancer

Emily Relyea-Spivack (dancer) was born and raised in Demarest, New Jersey. She received her early training from; The Classic Ballet School, Nunnbetter Dance Theater, and The Ailey School, of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In 2015, Emily received her BFA in Dance from The University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 2017, Emily moved to New York City to pursue her dance career. She currently dances with Chris Ferris & Dancers and Six Degrees Dance. Emily is also a certified Comprehensive Pilates Instructor through Polestar Pilates.

Annastasia Mercedes, dancer

Diane Lynn Skerbec, dancer

Cecly Placenti received her MA in Dance Education from NYU and her BFA in Dance from Montclair State University. She has had the good fortune to perform with such companies and choreographers as Chris Ferris & Dancers, The Next Stage Project, Manuel Vignoulle, ESS/Danceworks, Sleepdance, C. Eule Dance, The Annie Sailer Dance Company, Linda Diamond and Dancers, Michael Foley, and Freespace Dance. Cecly's choreography has been presented at the Silk City Arts Festival, Merce Cunningham Studio, The Actors Fund Arts Center, Williamsburg Arts Nexus, The Physical Arts Center, Hatch, and the Cool New York Dance Festival at White Wave. Cecly is a dance critic for CriticalDance.com and was a guest choreographer at Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts. She is currently full time dance teacher at Bronx Preparatory Charter School.

A New York native, Annastasia Mercedes joined Chris Ferris & Dancers in 2014.  She is a graduate of The Hartt School Dance Division with a B.F.A. in Ballet and Dance Pedagogy, under director Stephen Pier.  In addition to her own training as an artist, she studied the art of teaching dance.  She has performed in both classical and contemporary dance works choreographed by Stephen Pier, Pascal Rioult, Charlotte Griffin, Jose Limon, Martha Graham, George Balanchine, Anthony Tudor, and August Bournonville.  In addition to concert dance, Annastasia has appeared in Hartford Stage’s productions of The Crucible and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, under Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak, and has appeared as a featured dancer in The King and I at the Monomoy Theatre.  Annastasia is also a dancer with Six Degrees Dance.  When not performing, you can find her working with the children of NYC at The Joffrey Ballet School, Ballet Tech, Ballet Academy East, and Rioult danceREACH.  Annastasia believes versatility is essential and thus enjoys exploring every opportunity to expand her limits and has a passion for sharing the art of dance!

Diane Lynn Skerbec  originally from Cleveland, Ohio, received her BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography Cum Laude from Kent State University.  After graduating, she had the privilege of studying with Jennifer Muller as a scholarship student. Miss Skerbec is currently dancing with New York City-based companies Chris Ferris & Dancers (director Chris Ferris) and Sleepdance (director Stephanie Sleeper), along with project-based company Tenth Intervention (curators Dorian Wallace and Hajnal Pivnik).  Previous company work included Kinetic Architecture Dance Theatre (director Arrie Davidson) and JT Lotus Dance Company (director Jessie Tomanek).  She is a full time dance educator, and is currently working towards her master’s degree at Hunter College for dance education.  

Cecly Placenti, dancer

Rachel Russell hails from Kansas City, Missouri and holds a BFA in dance from UMKC. After moving to NYC, Rachel spent several seasons with Ellen Stokes Shadle/DanceWorks and Eva Dean Dance, as well as performed with other choreographers, including Jacqulyn Buglisi, Thomas Scott, Andrea Andresakis, Kim LaRue and Peter London. As a choreographer, Rachel has collaborated with renowned "Urban Cowboy" writer, Aaron Latham, to create two original musicals, both of which received glowing reviews during the New York City International Fringe Festival. Rachel is currently a senior member of Six Degrees Dance, in addition to enjoying her second season with Chris Ferris & Dancers.

Rachel Russell, dancer