MOBBALLET FOUNDER/CURATOR

THERESA RUTH HOWARD is the founder and curator of MoBBallet (Memoirs of Blacks Ballet) a digital platform that preserves, presents, and promotes the contributions, and stories of Black artists in the field of Ballet. MoBBallet’s first digital installation And Still They Rose: The Legacy of Black Philadelphians in Ballet was funded by Knight Foundation in the first year of its founding.

Ms. Howard is a former ballet dancer and journalist. She began her Ballet training at the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts under Marion Cuyjet, at eight she began training at Pennsylvania Ballet School, and made her professional debut at the age of 12 with the Philadelphia Civic Ballet Company. She has performed with Dance Theater of Harlem, Eglevsky Ballet, and was a founding member of Armitage Gone! Dance. As a writer, her work has appeared in: OneWorld, The Source, Pointe, Expressions (Italy), and Opera America, and Tanz (Germany) Magazines. Currently she is a contributing writer for Dance Magazine.

In July 2019 she was invited to be a Jacob’s Pillow Scholar in Residence where her PillowTalk “Remembering Arthur Mitchell” with founding members of the Dance Theatre of Harlem current Artistic Director Virginia Johnson and former Soloist and Ballet Mistress Gayle McKinney broke attendance records and received a standing ovation, the first in Pillow history.

Ms.Howard is a leader in the world wide conversations surrounding diversity in Ballet and is sought after diversity strategist and consultant internationally. She assists arts organizations to better understand, design and implement Diversity Equity and Inclusion programs and initiatives. She works closely with Artistic and Executive, school directors, and board members of Ballet and Opera organizations to help shift the culture of both classical forms.

In partnership with the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) Ms. Howard was instrumental in the organization of the first annual audition for Black female ballet dancers at their 2015 conference in Denver. For three years she co-facilitated the audition as well as the dialogues on diversity in ballet with the 15 major Ballet organizations in participation.

She has she curated and moderated Pacific Northwest Ballet Beyond Ballet, a Town Hall a conversation investigating aesthetics, diversity, equity, and the efforts to redesign arts institutions.

She is a member of the curatorial team of the Dutch National Ballet’s bi-annual conference Position Ballet, which convenes over 40 European and international companies to discuss: Heritage, Identity, Diversity, and the culture of Ballet. She has twice served as one of its keynote speaker on the topics of Diversity (2017), and Culture and Leadership in Ballet (2017) respectively. She has recently been tapped to curate their 2019 Black Achievement Month celebration in October. In July 2019 Ms. Howard curated The Royal Opera House’s inaugural Young Talent Festival 2019, Symposium Exposure, Access and Opportunity: Exploring the Cultural Barriers to Ballet Training.

Presently she is a member of the Design and Facilitation Team of The Equity Project: Increasing the presence of Blacks in Ballet a three-year initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which has assembled a cohort of 21 North American Ballet companies into a learning community to address the issue of the lack of diversity in the field.

She has been a mentor for many of the young men and women that she has taught over the years. “The only way to make the world a better place, is to be better people in it!”

ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTOR

ANDREA (ANDI) YANONNE – had spent 27 years in the cultural arts sector in San Francisco before relocating to Albuquerque, NM in 2021. Andi worked at San Francisco Ballet from 1995-2001 and from 2011-2021. She was promoted to the position of Director of Education and Training at San Francisco Ballet in 2015, establishing the new department and all functions, including oversight of SF Ballet School administration, its student residences, and all education, community, and engagement programs for youth, families, adults, and school children, as well as strategic planning and board relations as a member of the senior executive management team. She was instrumental in establishing diversity, equity, and inclusion planning both within her department and organization-wide, raising DEI to a strategic priority. Just prior to leaving SFB in 2021, an 8-year partnership with the SF Conservatory of Music came to fruition with the opening of the Bowes Center Student Residence, giving SFBS students ages 13-19 a state-of-the-arts accommodation, just steps from SF Ballet School.  From 2001-2011, she held three positions at the San Francisco Symphony in the Education and Electronic Media departments, culminating with designing and launching the acclaimed Community of Music Makers program.  Her career in arts administration in San Francisco began in 1994 when she was the program director for The Hills Project, an afterschool arts program for underserved youth in the SF Western Addition neighborhood, which was a model for private-public partnerships—one of the first such collaborations in San Francisco—involving the SF Unified School District, the SF Department of Children, Youth and Families, and the SF Ballet, SF Symphony, SF Opera, and SF Museums of Fine Arts. Andi has gained a wealth of experience in partnerships and collaborations, program design and development, and strategicplanning from her career in arts administration and education. She is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Peabody Institute, with additional graduate studies at Ithaca College and the Florida State University.  She had performed as a professional musician for several years before shifting to the administrative side of the arts and education.  Andi is currently working as a consultant in the arts sector, and she is a board member of the Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program (NM) and Postpartum Support Center (Marin County, CA).  Andi’s hobbies include hiking, bass fishing, and cooking.

CULTURAL COMPETENCY AND EQUITY COALITION ADMINISTRATOR/

MOBBALLET SYMPOSIUM EDUCATORS AND SCHOLARS FORUM PROGRAM MANAGER

CHANDRA MOSS-THORNE began her dance training at the School of Cleveland Ballet under the direction of Daniel Job and Nicole Sowinska.  Chandra attended Butler University graduating with a BA with honors in Dance Pedagogy. Chandra was a company member with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and The Cincinnati Ballet.  As a professional ballet dancer Chandra delighted audiences in many leading roles including Beauty in David Nixon’s Beauty and the Beast, the Lead Pas de deux in Nils Christie’s Sync, Principal in Butler’s Carmina Burana, Choleric in Balanchine’s Four Temperaments, Fairy Godmother in Morgan’s Cinderella and Lead Mazurka in Franklin’s Coppelia.  Her repertoire also includes works by choreographers Stanton Welch, Val Caniparoli, Kirk Peterson, Arthur Mitchell, Robert Garland and Geoffrey Holder.  Chandra had the privilege of working with numerous Repetiteurs from the Balanchine Trust including Bart Cook, Victoria Simon, Elyse Borne, Susan Hendl, and Suzanne Farrell.  Chandra has performed with the Washington and Cincinnati Operas. Most recently she performed in Philadelphia at Temple University and The Performance Garage.
As a teacher, she has been on faculty at Goucher College, Towson University, Bryn Mawr College, Cincinnati Ballet Academy and as a guest teacher at numerous schools around the country.  Chandra was the coordinator for CincyDance! the outreach program of the Cincinnati Ballet Academy developing programming and teaching classes. Currently she is a Visiting Artist at Stockton University and a Lecturer in Dance at Swarthmore College.

 

 

PATHWAYS TO PERFORMANCE PROGRAM MANAGER AND FACILITATOR

CHRISTIAN VON HOWARD- is the Artistic Director of the VON HOWARD PROJECT, a contemporary dance company based out of New York City. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii and nurtured in the Big Ole state of Texas, Christian is an international performer, teacher and choreographer. His professional career began as a teenager at Ballet Concerto, under the Artistic Direction of Margo Dean. He would later become a founding member and Assistant Director of JAADE Dance Theatre (A sister company to Fort Worth’s Jubilee Theatre) under the direction Keisha Breaker-Haliburton. In Texas, Christian also worked with Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth, Darryl B. Sneed (Former Assistant Director of Dallas Black Dance Theater), Dancers Unlimited, Mary Kay Industrials, Dian Clough West, NOVA Dancing Company and many others. Overseas in the mid 90’s, he graced the stage with the Trier Ballet (Germany) and Let’s Dance/Teatro de Reggio (Italy). In 1997, Christian co-founded 1*4*8 The Collective, a collaborative dance and theater company of seven artists creating work in the NYC area. From 2000- 2003 he served as the Artist in Residence at Columbia College (SC) and the Associate Director of The Power Company, South Carolina’s leading contemporary dance company under the Artistic Direction of Martha Brim. As a concert performer, Christian has worked with such artists as Doug Varone, Fernando Bujones, Douglas Becker, Mark Dendy, Randy James, and danced for many seasons with the Fred Benjamin Dance Company, Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company and the Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company. In 2006, Christian was awarded a Choreography Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts. In 2010, his choreographic work was selected to represent the Mid-Atlantic Region at the 2010 National. Conference of the American College Dance Festival Association at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. His choreography has been produced in various venues across the globe including Germany, Japan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Chile, South Korea, and in the states at Dance Theater Workshop (now New York Live Arts), Joyce SoHo, Dixon Place, DanceNow/NYC Festival, d.u.m.b.o. arts festival, the Ailey School and the Spoleto Festival (SC). He has also set work on various colleges and universities, which included University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Columbia College (SC), Jacksonville University, Texas Christian University, Winthrop University and various other schools of dance across the country. Christian has also been a member of the dance faculties of the Texas Christian University, Morris County Academy of Visual & Performing Arts, Mason Gross School of the Arts – Rutgers University, Columbia College (SC), and the Interlochen Arts Academy. Christian is a 2013/2014 recipient of the Distinguished Achievement in Teaching Award from Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts where he was part of the teaching faculty in the Department of Dance & Choreography from 2008 to 2014. His guest artist teaching/residency highlights include the Milwaukee Ballet, Centre International De Danse Jazz (France), Dance Masters of America, American Dance Festival, Dance It! Festival (Bulgaria),Peridance Dance Center, Steps on Broadway and the Korean Dance Festival. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre & Dance at Montclair State University and concurrently teaches at the Alvin Ailey School in NYC where he has been on faculty since 1998. Christian holds advanced degrees in Performance and Choreography from the School of Classical and Contemporary Dance at Texas Christian University and from Tisch School of the Arts, New YorkUniversity. He serves as the Northeast Regional Director for the American College Dance Association and as a Fulbright Specialist (2019-2021) for the United States.

DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT

PIPER THOMASSON is a Santa Clara University alumna, c/o 2016. There, she earned her Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Theatre Arts with a Dance Emphasis and in English with a Technical Writing Concentration. Upon graduation, she earned the Gracelyn Rillorta Bateman Inclusive Excellence Award by the president of SCU for her work with the LGBTQ+ community on campus. She was also granted the Anna Halprin Award for excellence in choreography, performance, and the stewardship of the art of dance.

​Piper now resides in Oakland, CA/unceded land of the Ohlone people. She feels grateful to live in a place with such a rich history and sense of community among those who want to preserve Oakland as the diverse, cultural hub that it is. Piper chose to reside in the East Bay rather than SF Bay because she feels the art that comes out of the East Bay (especially Oakland) has a depth and honesty that is resounding and inspiring–she is grateful to be contributing to such a legacy.

 

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