2011 Dance Forum | Speaker Biographies

Alan Brown, principal of WolfBrown, is a leading researcher and management consultant in the nonprofit arts industry.  He has studied audiences, visitors and patterns of cultural participation in almost every major market in the U.S.  His work focuses on understanding consumer demand for cultural experiences and on helping cultural institutions, foundations and agencies to see new opportunities, make informed decisions and respond to changing conditions.  He has authored numerous articles and reports on audience behaviors, trends in cultural participation, engagement practices and the value system surrounding arts activities, and speaks frequently at national and international conferences.

Peter DiMuro, Director, Dance/MetroDC has been a working artist for thirty years, creating dance and theatre. He choreographs, teaches, directs and facilitates, engaging artists and the public in the processes of making and viewing performance - using his 15 year's experience as a collaborator and artistic director at Liz Lerman Dance Exchange as well of knowledge. Since 2008, Peter has directed Dance/MetroDC, a regional branch of Dance/USA, with a focus on creating advocacy and engagement among the region's artists and the public, including a series of commissioned flash mobs for spring's Dance Is The Answer Festival, co-producing VelocityDC Dance Festival, and producing the MetroDC Dance Awards. New to programming this year is a artist's mentoring circle Forward Five.

David Dorfman, Artistic Director of his vainly named company David Dorfman Dance and Professor of Dance and Chair at Connecticut College, since 1985. His recent projects with DDD include underground (activism, inspired by the Weather Underground), Disavowal (race, inspired by John Brown-radical abolitionist), and Prophets of Funk/Dance to the Music (inspired by Sly and the Family Stone and danced to their music). POF/DTTM begins multiple year touring with its premiere this February (support from NDP), and this summer DDD begins work on Come, and Back Again, to the music and poetry of Patti Smith for a 2012 premiere.    

Simon Dove, Director of the School of Dance, Arizona State University, and co-curator of Crossing the Line, the annual trans-disciplinary fall festival in New York produced by the French Institute. He was previously Curator and Artistic Director of Springdance, the international festival of new developments in dance and performance in the Netherlands for eight years. Prior to that he ran one of the first National Dance Agencies in the U.K, the Yorkshire Dance Centre in Leeds, was the founder and Artistic Director of Vivarta – the first contemporary South Asian performance festival in the U.K., contributed to national dance policy development with the Arts Council of Great Britain, and programmed an innovative arts centre in London. He has written articles for the Dance and South Asian press, devised and presented a series for BBC Radio on Dance and Music, and extensively mentored students and professional artists from many countries in developing their creative practice.

Lane Harwell, Director, Dance/NYC Lane became director of Dance/NYC in September, 2010. Prior to joining Dance/NYC, he was the director of development at New York's arts-wide advocacy group, the Alliance for the Arts. His lifelong history in the arts also includes training at the School of American Ballet, a performance career with American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, and management experience in diverse theater and service contexts. Lane attended the Professional Children's School while performing with ABT. He is currently pursuing an MBA at Columbia Business School, focusing on the applicability of for-profit management approaches to the nonprofit sector.

Judy Hussie-Taylor, Executive Director, Danspace Project at St.Mark's Church in New York City. Before moving to New York she lived in Colorado where she worked at the Colorado Dance Festival, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Contemporary Art-Denver and served on the faculty of the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Colorado-Boulder. After taking the helm at Danspace Project in 2008 she launched an initiative entitled Choreographic Center Without Walls (CW2), which includes the critically-acclaimed, artist-curated PLATFORM series. She is currently an advisor to the National Dance Project and to the new Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) at Wesleyan University (to be launched in July, 2011).

Ishmael Houston Jones
is a writer of fiction and essays, a curator of dance and performance, a performer and a choreographer. He lives and works in New York City. From 2002 until 2007 Ishmael Houston Jones was the Coordinator for the Lambent Fellowship in the Arts of the Tides Foundation and served on the board of Danspace Project from 1984 until 2007. He is currently on the board of Movement Research, and on the advisory board of Culture Push. Until recently he served on the board of Headlong Dance Theater in Philadelphia. He is an artist member of Performance Space 122 and Dance Theater Workshop and a member of Dias y Flores Community Garden.

Ben Johnson, Director of Northrop Concerts and Lectures, University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, which is home to the historic Northrop Dance Series, a series dedicated to the presentation of ballet, modern, and contemporary dance.  He's previously worked at the University Musical Society - University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI), Ordway Music Theater (St. Paul), and American Dance Festival (Durham, NC).  He has worked extensively in the field of dance curation, community engagement, and audience development, and Northrop Concerts and Lectures is currently a hubsite for the National Dance Project.

Nunally Kirsh, Producer of Spoleto Festival USA since 1996 where she oversees the producing, presenting and commissioning of a wide range of nationally and internationally renowned work from across all disciplines.  Prior to joining Spoleto Festival USA, she served as Associate Producer at the then newly created Lincoln Center Festival in New York.  Kersh’s work experience includes Director of Public Relations for Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and several years in the experimental theater and dance arenas, where she produced various theater and dance projects and managed national and international tours. Other work included special projects/consulting with such New York-based cultural institutions as Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), PS 122 and the French Cultural Services.    

Rena Shagan, President, Rena Shagan Associates, Inc., an organization that represents dance companies for touring in the U.S. and abroad. Some of the international companies she works with include Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, The Forsythe Company, and Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. U.S. companies include Martha Graham Dance Company, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Susan Marshall & Company, Ballet Hispanico, and the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. Shagan was a founder of Dance/USA, serving as chairperson of the Task Force for a National Dance Organization, successfully rallying a diverse and divided field. She has been on the boards of the American Arts Alliance, Western Arts Alliance, and Dance/USA as well as served as a panelist for the NEA Dance Program. She studied ballet at the American Ballet Theatre School, graduated from the High School of Performing Arts with honors in Dance, performed with the May O’Donnell Dance Company, and worked with a variety of other companies.  She has B.A. and M.A. degrees from New York University in History and Political Science.

Janet Wong, Associate Artistic Director, Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, was born in Hong Kong and trained in Hong Kong and London.  Upon graduation she joined the Berlin Ballet where she first met Bill when he was invited to choreograph on the company.  In 1993, she moved to New York to pursue other interests.  Ms. Wong became rehearsal director of the company in 1996 and associate artistic director in August 2006.