The dancers and artistic team I have the good fortune to work with for this iteration of A Friend Like You are amazingly accomplished and distinguished. As a choreographer, I feel extremely lucky for the chance to work with them at a new theater for dance in Washington, DC at The Dance Institute of Washington.
Rachael Alexandra (Eeyore) is a professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher based in the DMV area. She is currently a company member of Uprooted Dance and has performed for various choreographers, including Alvin Mayes, Erica Rebollar, Sylvana Christopher, and Sinclair Emoghene. Rachael has also choreographed dance works to be performed at the Atlas Performing Arts Center and Dance Loft on 14. Her own works include Songs My Mother Taught Me (2019), #GirlBoss (2021), and Choose Your Own Adventure (2022). Rachael has a B.A. in dance from James Madison University and is currently working toward her M.F.A in dance at Hollins University. Aside from dancing, she is a special educator at the Ivymount School and a dance teacher at Imagination Stage.
Covenant Babatunde (Kanga) is a DMV choreographer, dancer, and actor who has presented work at several venues in the East Coast. She’s recently presented work in concerts hosted by Glade Dance Collective, Light Switch Dance Theater, and performed as Stepsister in Synetic Theater’s Cinderella. Covenant has a BA in Creative Writing and a minor in Musical Theatre from the University of Mary Washington. Her strong background in writing has greatly influenced her as an artist – with her focal point always being the creation of well-rounded characters and thought-provoking story. As best said by two of her favorite spoken word artists: “Turn off the music, listen to the quiet. Whisper: Thank you for stopping by.”
DeAunna S. Blackwell (Tigger) is an alumnus of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy and The New School where she attained her BS in Global Studies with a minor in Dance Education. There, she focused on using dance as transnational advocacy in conflict-ridden countries; Ms.Blackwell has used this platform to travel abroad to numerous countries, such as Rwanda, Africa. She has taught private and public school sector in New York City, where she has been teaching for six years; She has directed and choreographed a number of performances including Broadway Jr. productions as well as Off-Broadway productions. Ms. Blackwell is well versed in teaching all levels of ballet, modern, theater dance, hip-hop, jazz, contemporary ballet, and West African; also Beg/intermediate tap. Ms. Blackwell continues to use her gifts to inspire the next generation as the dance education teacher at EL Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, DC and as Artistic Director of Inspired Collective Dance Theater; making sure that every student feels welcome, confident, and encouraged, three things that make up a healthy, positive and secure learning environment.
Sara Bradna (Owl) is originally from Chicago, Illinois. She began her dance training in Oak Park, Illinois, at the Academy of Movement and Music with Stephanie Clemens, where she performed with Momenta!. Sara continued her training with Homer Bryant, performing with Bryant Ballet of Chicago. She went on to train with Dolores Lipinski-Long and Larry Long at Ruth Page Center for the Arts where she performed with Ruth Page’s Chicago Civic Ballet. She has attended summer programs at Boston Ballet and Prague International Ballet Masterclasses. Since relocating to the Washington, DC area, Sara joined Moveius Contemporary Ballet in 2016, and has also performed professionally with Olney Ballet Theatre and with Nancy Flores. Aside from dancing, Sara holds a BFA in Fine Art Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. In her spare time, Sara enjoys spending time with her husband, Trevor, and their two dogs, Lula Mae and Milo, as well as participating in competitive yoga.
Adam Chavis (Christopher Robin) is a North Carolina native and started his ballet training at age 7 under Charlotte Blume in Fayetteville, NC. He also received his training from The University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the School of American Ballet, as well as summer study with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. He danced with Carolina Ballet as a Soloist from 2009-2017 and received his bachelor’s degree of Psychology from William Peace University in 2017. Adam has worked as a guest artist and teacher for Duke University, City Ballet of Wilmington, Raleigh School of Ballet, and Ballet School of Chapel Hill. Adam joined D.C. based Moveius Contemporary Ballet in 2019 and currently lives in Washington, D.C. He also teaches and freelances in the D.C. area. He recently graduated from Howard University where he received his master’s degree of Social Work with a focus on mental health practice in May of 2021. Adam joined Whitman-Walker Health Clinic as a Licensed Graduate Social Worker providing therapeutic support and medical case management for youth and families in the DC area.
Jordan Daugherty (Winnie-the-Pooh) was born in Louisville, Kentucky. She began her studies at Ellen’s School of Dance and continued her training at the Youth Performing Arts School, and The Louisville Ballet School. A 2011 Cum Laude Graduate from George Mason University with her BFA in Dance, she has performed works by Twyla Tharp, David Parson, Ohad Narahin, Lulu Washington Dance Theatre and Mark Morris. Jordan’s choreography has been presented at The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. Her professional credits include three seasons with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s Second Company, Cincinnati Black Theatre Company, Rockville Musical Theatre, and DC Contemporary Dance Theatre. Currently, she is a dance teacher for a DC Public Charter School and freelance contemporary dancer. She was recognized for her diligent work with her students on the Steve Harvey Show. Last year, she earned her Masters of Arts in teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education. She would like to thank her family and friends for their continuous support of her dreams.
Rachel Lawal (Piglet) is originally from Brooklyn, NY and now considers DC her home. She has been dancing for over 20 years and has studied multiple forms of dance, including modern, ballet, salsa, and bellydancing.
Anne Liberman (Projection Artist and Costume Designer) is a costume designer and teacher in Washington, D.C. She holds B.A.s in Visual Arts and Technical Theater from Ramapo College of NJ, and an M.F.A. in Costume Design from Mason Gross School of the Arts. Recent credits include ICONS Choreographic Institute showcases and Virtual Adventure (choreographed by Kyoko Fujimoto).
Kamillia McCracken (Rabbit) was raised in Richland, WA where she began her dance training with the Mid-Columbia Ballet under Debra Rogo. She had the pleasure of being a participant of Regional Dance America in the Pacific region where she was able to work with Kiyon Gains, Ashley Walton, Eva Stone, and Nicholas Ade. Outside of MCB, Kamillia supplemented her training and received various scholarships from programs including Pacific Northwest Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Colorado Conservatory of Dance, and Alonzo King Lines Ballet. She attended Point Park University on artistic scholarship, graduating in 2019 with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance, concentrating in ballet. There she worked with choreographers and instructors such as Darrel Moultrie, Matthew Powell, and Garfield Lemonius. She joined Moveius Contemporary Ballet, located in Washington D.C. during the summer of 2019, performing works choreographed by artistic director Diana Movius. Since joining Moveius, Kamillia has also guested with BalletNova Center for Dance, Mid-Columbia Ballet, SylviDances, PDM Productions.
Chelsea Wilson (Roo) grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where at age 3 she began tap and ballet. She attended the Shenandoah Conservatory and Vostrikov Academy of Ballet in Winchester, VA and trained at the Virginia School of the Arts in Lynchburg, VA for the final two years of high school. Chelsea also trained at several summer intensive programs including, North Carolina School of the Arts, Orlando Ballet and Princeton Ballet Theater. In 2009, Chelsea attended Boston University, receiving a degree in Environmental Policy and Analysis in May 2013. She attended classes at Boston University Dance Department, Boston Ballet, Harvard Dance Program, among other companies and schools throughout the city. She performed with the Boston University Dance Theater Group for several semesters and guested with Parsons’ Dance Visions. Chelsea has danced in Nashville, TN including with the Nashville Ballet Summer Intensive Program and Adult dance program, New Dialect open adult program, Vanderbilt Dance Department and The Dancer Project, where she joined for the inaugural season in 2017-2018. Chelsea relocated to the DMV area in the summer of 2018, where she found her way to the Dance Loft on 14. She has guested with the Loft for two Nutcracker performances in 2019 and again in 2021. She is currently collaborating with the ICONS Choreographic Institute at Dance Loft on 14 with choreographers Millie Parker and Elizabeth Watson, and SylviDances, with Artistic Director Sylvana Christopher.