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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

Annastasia Mercedes, 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 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

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.

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.

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!

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!

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 and 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.  

Choreographer: Chris Ferris

Dancers: Erin DeLucia-Benson, Dexter Carlson, Vanessa Ferranti, Michelle Gilligan, Annastasia Mercedes, Aneyn O’Grady, Cecly Placenti, Rachel Russell, Diane Lynn Skerbec, Emily Reylea-Spivak, and Maho Takeshita

Composers: Loren Kiyoshi Dempster, Max Maples, and Helen Yee

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.  Our newest suite of works Rampaging Light includes: Narrow Doors Spinning World, When Gravity Fails, and Sonic Barrier was performed at Take Root, Green Space Studio LIC. Sept. 23 and 24, 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; incorporating sculptures that hang, swing, slash, glow, and illuminate. Ferris' dances have been shown in New York at 3 season concerts at the Cunningham Studio Theater. Her work has also been presented at 60x60, 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, MoustacheCatDance, and Chris Ferris & Dancers. 

Max Maples is a drummer, composer, and educator based in New York City.  He performs and records regularly for local artists, arranges and composes, and teaches world percussion at the Greenburgh-Graham Union Free School District.  He has performed with Jazz artists David Baker, Bob Sheppard, the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra, John McNeil, and Oliver Nelson Jr, and has worked as an accompanist and composer for the Mark Morris Dance Group, Joffrey Ballet, and Vashti Dance Theater.   

Max Maples, composer/musician

Helen Yee is a violinist, multi-instrumentalist, composer with experience in a broad range of genres. She has composed and performed music for plays including Miss Julia, Pillowtalk, Harry's Christmas, The Comfort of Numbers and Manon/Sandra. Often using violin with live looping and electronics, she creates and collaborates in other art forms including vocal work, and dance and spoken-word improvisation. She was honored to be a 2011 fellow at Music Omi International Musicians Residency, a collaborative music-making program. She was violinist for the eclectic string trio, Trio Tritticali and for ten years she was a founding member of Invert, a two-cello string quartet that released three CDs and performed original music composed by its members, with roots in rock, jazz and world music. A lifelong New Yorker, Helen began her music studies with Western classical training and, after earning her BA at Yale University, continued her schooling by joining rock bands and studying privately with jazz improvisation teachers. (helenyee.com)

Helen Yee, composer/musician

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.

Dexter Carlson, dancer

Dexter Carlson, a native of Tacoma, Washington, began her ballet studies under Artistic Director Damaris Caughlan at Metropolitan Ballet of Tacoma, where she became a member of the Performing Company in 2004.  In 2014 Dexter graduated with honors from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Dance.  Dexter has performed with Eros Movement Company, Shauna Sorensen and Dancers, Anne Easterling, Ellis Wood Dance, and Chris Ferris & Dancers.  In March of 2015 Dexter presented her first work as a choreographer in the Identically Different Dance Festival at The Actors Fund in Brooklyn, New York and has since created and performed work all over the city as the director of PETRICHOR Dance.

Rachel Russell, dancer

Aneyn M. O'Grady was born in San Francisco, but raised in New York City.  She began her training at a young age with ballet and Irish step dancing.  Her first experience with modern dance was as a member of the Harkness Repertory Ensemble at the 92nd Street Y.  She had the pleasure of performing works by Doug Varone & Dancers, the company-in-residence at the time, as well as Jean Erdman, Douglas Dunn, and Jerome Robbins.  While at Emory University, she continued her exploration of performance and movement through new works by Kyle Abraham, Monica Bill Barnes, and Atlanta Ballet Soloist Tara Lee.  Since graduating in 2015, Aneyn has moved back to the city and is currently serving as an Americorps member at the Department of Education as well as developing a new piece to premiere in May.  She is very excited to be a part of Chris Ferris & Dancer's larger work this season, Rampaging Light.

Aneyn O’Grady, dancer

Emily Relyea-Spivak, dancer

Emily Relyea-Spivack has been dancing with Chris Ferris & Dancers since 2017.  She had the privilege of attending the year-round training program at The Ailey School of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  Emily holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance with the initial 2 years of study at The Hartt School. She then transferred, for the completion her degree in 2015, to The University of Massachusetts Amherst.  In the summer of 2014, Emily had the honor of performing at The American College Dance Association's National Gala, held at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.  Emily has collaborated with Leslie Frye-Maietta and Niki Farahani on an original duet which they toured as part of Tom Vacanti's, FLUX: Dance Choreo-Lab and Jennifer Muller's/The Works, HATCH Series.  Emily is a certified Comprehensive Pilates Instructor through Polestar Pilates.