Leslie began her singing career as a voice student at the Hartt School of Music and at the Artists Collective in Hartford. In 1988, she became a singer and later musical director for a cappella gospel singing group Women of the Cross, founded at the Artists Collective. As musical director, Leslie composes all of WOTC’s songs. They have toured throughout CT and the East Coast most recently performing at the University of Hartford, the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Hartford Stage Company, the Old State House, the Hartford Symphony, and Billings Forge Community Works in Hartford. They were featured at Philadelphia’s Museum of African American Art and at the Martin Luther King Commemoration in Litchfield CT joining renowned cellist/composer David Darling. In 2001, Leslie became a Teaching Artist for the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism and has since completed several residencies in Connecticut schools. She has also been a lead teaching artist on JDPP’s collaborative teaching team at York Correctional Institution, as well as at Synergy Alternative High School, Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts, Parkville Community School and with Hartford Performs. Leslie composed the song score for three JDPP performance pieces and received a Meet the Composer Grant from NEFA for her work on the JDPP production of Dreamings in 2009. She composed and sings the entire vocal score for In This House.
Blu lived in NYC for 20 years where he was resident designer at the Cubiculo and La MaMa E.T.C., was a Bessie Award winner, and lighting designer for such renowned dance theater artists as Eiko and Koma, Ping Chong, Donald Byrd, Sally Gross, Nancy Meehan and Paula Josa Jones to name a few. He now lives in Bloomfield with his wife, Judy and their family of dogs, turtles, fish, birds, frogs, toads, and bats.
Kathy is the Associate Artistic Director of JDPP. She is the coordinator for the residency program Moving Matters! which has had programs at the Parkville Community School, Burr Elementary School, Kinsella Magnet School for the Performing Arts, Naylor Elementary School and Moylan Elementary School in Hartford, CT, where she also teaches along with the team of JDPP teaching artists and is a guest lecturer in the Department of Theater and Dance at Trinity College. Kathy is part of the teaching team at York Correctional Institution in Niantic, CT for the performance-based project with the women in addition to the program for Moms and Kids. She has been involved in the program for Youth With Incarcerated Parents since it began in collaboration with Families in Crisis at the Church of the Good Shepherd and has expanded to include A.I. Prince Technical High School, M.D. Fox Elementary School, Moylan Elementary School, and Parkville Community School, Hartford, CT. Kathy received a B.S. with a specialty in Dance from the George Washington University in Washington, DC. Her continued dance studies took her to New York City, Wisconsin and Florida performing with Maida Withers Dance Construction Company, Dance Alliance, Michael Kasper Solos, Merce Cunningham Summer Repertory, Fusion Dance Company, KBG and Dancers and Orion Dance Theater and JDPP. She was a founding member of Dance Services Network, on the Board of the Connecticut Dance Alliance from where she received the Distinguished Achievement Award in 2009 and a Master Teaching Artists with The Office of the Arts for the CT Dept. of Economic and Community Development.
Robert is a New Haven native whose love for dance and drama has been instilled and evolving since childhood.
Although not ever formally trained in dance, Robert served as member and co-captain of New Haven’s Mob Squad Drill and Drum team for over 7 years, where he performed competitively in front of large and small crowds, leading his team to numerous victories. He made his dance debut in JDPP’s production of “In This House,” playing the role of Adam Jackson.
Ensemble Member, MM! & BB Teaching Artist
Mellissa is a first generation American; born into Jamaican parents. She is an accomplished dancer in Modern, African, and Caribbean folk forms, as well as a trained stilt walker. She got her start as a dancer as a Company member with the Cultural Dance Troupe of the West Indies, and pursued dance as an avid hobby and passion starting at age 10. Ms. Craig holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Trinity College. For the past 5 years, she has been building a career as a dancer, performer and instructor in the Hartford area. As a founding Company member of Island Reflections Dance Theatre Company, Mellissa has had the pleasure of working along Artistic Director, Stephen Hankey and the other Company members to build a strong foundation in dance, education, and empowerment for the community of students and families. Ms. Craig is currently employed by the Capital Region Education Council (CREC) as a Core Faculty member at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Elementary and Middle Schools. Mellissa has been a member of Sankofa Kuumba Performance Ensemble for the past 7 years. She is driven by the organizations commitment to authentic art forms from the African Diaspora. She teaches dance, theater and stilt walking and acts as a consultant, and curriculum development specialist for Sankofa Kuumba Cultural Arts Consortium and the Hartford Performs program. Mellissa is a current company member and teaching artist for the JDPP and Sankofa Kuumba, and has enjoyed great success in performing and touring throughout CT and New England. She is the proud mother of one son, DeAndre, and would like to one day open her own stilt walking company in the Hartford area in the future.
Angela is a recording artist who has travelled the world singing and experiencing music with all walks of life. She is also a certified massage therapist with a special focus on the ancient art of Maya abdominal massage. For several years she worked as an animal control officer rescuing strays and injured wildlife. She supports animal rights organizations, Organic Bee Keepers, United Plant Savers, Save the Children, and recyclers everywhere. From the ground up, Angela is committed to making change one seedling, one belly, one song at a time; which is why she prides herself most on the work of raising her two loving children, Joanie and Grace. After living several years on the west coast, she is delighted to be working once again with JDPP creating profound living art with the incarcerated women of the York Correctional Institution.
began working with JDPP in August 2008 as a guest performer of one of her original texts in JDPP’s production of Dreamings. As the daughter of an inmate at York Correctional Institution in Niantic, CT she spoke for the often forgotten children of Connecticut’s prison population. She performed additional writings in JDPP’s What I Want To Say retro-mix performance. In the spring of 2009, Suzi was invited to be part of a pilot program with JDPP helping children with a parent in prison learn how the arts can help to communicate their feelings concerning the forced separation of incarceration. She has continued to work ever since in what has become a comprehensive in school and afterschool outreach to this population through JDPP’s Bridging Boundaries Program. As a teaching artist, Suzi piloted a yearlong Moving Matters! residency at Kinsella School of Performing Arts, Suzi continues working with students on creating and scripting original and inspiring performance pieces. Through Hartford Performs, Suzi is instrumental in the writing/spoken word aspect of JDPP’s residencies and since 2013 she has scripted the stories for the culminating performances of the Moving Matters! residencies with Parkville Elementary school. She has also worked with the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students at Renzulli Gifted and Talented Academy in Hartford, on creating personal narratives. In addition, Suzi is a teaching associate for JDPP’s performance residency at York Correctional Institution in Niantic, CT. Suzi is also JDPP’s Programming Associate, helping with the logistics, coordination, and implementation of programming, particularly Bridging Boundaries.
Heidi is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and the Hartford Conservatory, and has attended Wesleyan University taking graduate courses in Dance and Movement Studies. She has served on the dance faculty of Eastern Connecticut State University, Saint Joseph College and The Hartford Conservatory among others. She currently is owner and Director of the Stafford Academy of Dance LLC, and Directs the Figments Youth Dance Ensemble. Heidi teaches creative movement at the Preschool for the Arts in Ellington and Tolland, and also choreographs a musical production for children each summer with Act Out, Sing and Shout.
Ensemble Member, MM! & BB Teaching Artist
Tracy received a BFA from Adelphi University. She performed with Adelphi Dance Theater for two years, studied with Frank Hatchett for one year andparticipated in a Broadway Dance Center Showcase in NYC. Tracy also performed with Sonia Plumb Dance Company for five years.Presently, Tracy is teacher and choreographer of New Steps Dance Center in Glastonbury. In addition to being a long-standing member of JDPP’s Ensemble, she is also a lead teaching artist in the Bridging Boundaries Arts Intervention residency programs.
Ensemble Member, MM! Teaching Artist
Lisa received her BA from Trinity College, Hartford, CT., where she was awarded the President’s Fellowship in Theater and Dance. She has taught and performed with several companies throughout the Northeast. Lisa currently teaches at Trinity College and at her own studio, Lisa Matias Dance Centre. Lisa has been with the Ensemble of JDPP since its inception and continues to be inspired by Judy’s work.
Alexa began her dance training with Estelle Jones. She earned her BA in Dance from Hofstra University and holds an MA in Dance in Higher Education and Administration from New York University. She has had the opportunity to perform with choreographers Eleo Pomare, Remi Charlip, Rosalind Newman, Robin Becker, Stormy Brandenberger, Lance Westergard, Lili Weiss, John Mead and Ching Wen Yeh. Alexa has been affiliated with a number of groups including Washington Square Repertory Dance Company, Sonia Plumb Dance Company, Works /Laura Glenn Dance and Miss Porter’s School. She is currently the Dance Department Chair at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts in Hartford.
Marcela is an Interdisciplinary visual artist and Professor of Theater Design at Wesleyan University. Marcela received her BA in Fine Arts at the University of Chile. She earned a MFA in Design for performing arts at California Institute of the arts. Her grant awarded pieces are Interdisciplinary performances, including collaborations with composers and choreographer to create hybrid works, such as: “The heart play” by Heiner Muller a music-based dance theater piece (composer Alba Triana) And “Pornographic Angel” with director Claudia Tatinge Nascimento, a digital media and performance play. As a designer she has worked in over twenty productions for theater and Dance. Marcela has an extensive visual art exhibition record, both in the US and abroad.
Christine graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford with a BFA in Dance Performance in 2009. During this time she also had the privilege to train at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance on scholarship. She is currently in her 6th season with dancEnlight as a dancer and company teacher. Christine Perry has taught in various schools around Connecticut including Eastern Connecticut Ballet, Premier Dance School and Yale. She is on faculty at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and Limelite Dance Center. Along with dance she is a professional stage and production manager and has done extensive technical theater work in locations including the Baryshinikov Arts Center in New York City, St. Joseph College, the Garde Arts Center, Charter Oak Cultural Center, Foxwoods and the Wadsworth Atheneum.
Kathy was a resident at York Correctional Institution and is now employed as the Volunteer Coordinator for CCAR (Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery). She is an active member of the Connecticut Coalition for Judicial Reform and the Windham Reentry Roundtable. While at York she participated in Wally Lamb’s writing group and two of her pieces are part of his latest anthology of writings by York women entitled “I’ll Fly Away: Further Testimonies from the Women of York Prison which received the Connecticut Book Award last year. Kathy participated in all of the York residencies of the Judy Dworin Performance Project during her time there and was a writer and narrator in the performance pieces that culminated each residency. She has performed her work ‘Love Letters’ at the Warner Theater in Torrington as part of a fundraiser for Chrysalis programming at the prison, at 40 Forward! at Trinity College, as well as Wesleyan University, Eastern Connecticut State University, and UConn.
Haley is a Connecticut native, who graduated Magna Cum Laude from SUNY, The College at Brockport, with a BFA in dance in the spring of 2014. During this time Haley had the privilege of working with world-renowned teacher/choreographer Bill Evans and former Trisha Brown Company Dancer, Mariah Maloney. Haley attended the American Dance Festival on full scholarship in the summer of 2013, where she had the pleasure of reconstructing and performing Merce Cunningham repertoire with former Cunningham dancer Andrea Weber. In the summer of 2014 she worked at the Bolshoi Ballet Summer Intensive in CT as a modern teacher and senior staff member. Currently, Haley is working as a dance teacher at Stafford Academy of Dance and New England Dance Conservatory, and is also a member of DancEnlight under the direction of Lorelei Chang.