Meet The Team

 

Karah Abiog (Filipino/Afro-Caribbean)
Karah has served as an Artistic Advisor for ZiRu Dance since 2013, helping to slowly shape the company, repertory and programming.

This is Karah’s 12th year as the LINES Ballet | Training Program Director and is now also the Summer Program Director. She takes pride in creating an environment of discovery, creativity, and transformation for students, educators and guest artists from around the globe. A priority is placed on diversity, versatility, and individuality as both genuine dance artists and human beings.

Karah is originally from Saratoga, California and received her Bachelors Degree in Dance from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. For over twenty years, she enjoyed dancing and touring with various companies including Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater and worked with many choreographers ranging from modern pioneer Katherine Dunham to today’s Camille E. Brown. Karah has also taught extensively over the years - youth to professionals. She has been abroad in Canada, China, Spain and mostly in Brazil as a guest teacher, performer and adjudicator at the International Seminar of Brasilia for 15 years and is still bringing Brazilians back to the US to train. She was a full-time visiting professor for the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. For many years, Karah also taught throughout the LINES Ballet Education Programs.

 

Christian Burns (Born in Denmark)

Christian Burns has been choreographing, teaching and performing in the Bay Area for 21 years. His pursuit for finding meaning and purpose through dance has yielded a dynamic range of interdisciplinary dance works for stage, video and visual art.

In the San Francisco Bay Area his work has been presented by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, ODC Theater, Counter Pulse, The Garage, Headlands Center for the Arts, Z Space Theater, Dancers Group Studio Theater, Shotwell Studio Theater, Howard Street Studio Theater. Beyond, his work has also been presented at The Walker Art Center, Canal Danse in Paris, Taipei Artist Village in Taiwan, Nightingale Theater in Brighton UK, WINLAB Independent Festival in London, Escapade Festival at MovingArtsBase in London, The Dada House in Zurich Switzerland, OT301 in Amsterdam NL, The Southern Theater in MN, as well as performances in numerous independent studio locations in Brussels, Oslo, Copenhagen, Scotland, Wales, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Southern France, New York and Western Massachusetts. His dance-video work has been shown at Pacific Film Archive Berkeley Art Museum, Impakt Festival (NL), Dutch National Television (NL), Moving Pictures Festival for Dance on Film and Video in Canada, Roberta Beck Cinema (NY), Santa Fe Art Institute and Stuttgart FilmWinter Festival in Germany.

His commissions include Hope Mohr Dance, The Cambrians, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, James Sewell Ballet, Stanford University, USF, Mt. Holyoke College, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, The Laban Center London, Interlochen Center for the Arts, LINES Ballet BFA at Dominican University and LINES Ballet Training Program. He created over 70 dance pieces for the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance during its fourteen year history between 2004-2018.

 

Charmaine Butcher (Irish/Finnish)

Charmaine is a dancer, teacher, and creative artist based out of San Francisco and Seattle. After graduating high school with an Associate's Degree, she continued her training at Alonzo King LINES Ballet's Training Program in San Francisco. Charmaine has worked professionally with various choreographers, including Amy J Lambert, Babatunji Johnson, Beth Terwilleger, Cameo Lethem, Dwight Rhoden, Petra Zanki, Robert Dekkers, Robert Moses, and Vanessa Thiessen. Additionally, she’s performed with Coriolis Dance, Post:Ballet, the Seattle Opera, and Verlaine & McCann’s Burlesque Nutcracker, and Sarah Van Patten’s Tahoe Dance Camp. In 2019, Charmaine completed her bachelor’s degree in Marketing & Entrepreneurship.

Vincent Chavez (Hispanic/Native American)

Vincent Chavez was born and started his dance career in Albuquerque, NM. At age 17 he began his pre-professional dance training, studying with several organizations including Dance Theatre Southwest, Ballet Hispanico, Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre and the LINES Ballet Training Program.

 

Drawing on the training, education, and experience he has gained, Vincent is currently a freelance dance artist in the Bay Area. He spends the majority of his time his time choreographing, teaching, and dancing.

 

Vincent is not only one of the founding members of ZiRu Dance, he is also one of the active company dancers for ZiRu Dance.

 

Vincent has enjoyed the opportunity to dance and collaborate on many projects and with many other companies, including New Mexico Ballet Company (2003-07), Nevada Ballet Theatre (2007-2011), Robert Moses' Kin (2012-present), and Oakland Ballet Company (2013-present).

 

Alysia Chang (Taiwanese/Italian American)

Alysia Chang, born in Berkeley, CA, is a freelance dancer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from SUNY Purchase with a BFA in Dance and a Minor in Arts Management (magna cum laude).

 

Alysia was introduced to ZiRu Dance in 2013 when she was invited to dance and tour to China with the company. ZiRu helped to create an exchange opportunity to enable her to study with Cloudgate Theatre in Taiwan.

 

Her professional experience includes dancing for Sacramento Ballet, The Metropolitan Opera Ballet, and The Radio City Christmas Spectacular in New York. In California, she has danced for Smuin Contemporary Ballet, San Francisco Opera Ballet, Oakland Ballet, DawsonDanceSF, SFDanceworks, and Red Brick Company. Alysia has originated featured roles in new works by Amy Seiwert, Helen Pickett, Gabrielle Lamb, Val Caniparoli, Jennifer Archibald, Yannis Adoniou, Melissa Barak, Graham Lustig, and Janice Garrett/Charles Moulton, to name a few. Her repertoire includes works by Ron Cunningham, Lila York, Paul Taylor, Mark Morris and George Balanchine.

 

Alysia loves teaching and hopes to instill the joy of dance in the next generation. She teaches the Ballet Barre Int. level class for ZiRu Dance's new initiative, Project Dance O.F.F.

"I think that the second we stop trying to be something we want to emulate or somebody else, we realize what we have to offer and I think that is true in the Dance studio and in life in general."

 

Lucia Flexer-Marshall (Jewish/Italian)

Lucia Flexer-Marshall is a freelance contemporary dancer and teacher based in the Bay Area, holding  BA in Dance from UC Santa Cruz. Growing up in the East Bay, she trained at the Oakland Ballet School, before joining the Shawl Anderson Youth Ensemble in high school. She has attended a number of summer programs, including Alonzo King Lines Ballet Summer Intensive, California State Summer School for the Arts, Camping in Paris, and  b12 in Berlin. Lucia’s professional experience includes work with Janice Garrett, Fullstop Dance, Alyssa Mitchel, Tandy Beal, and Robert Moses. She also teaches at RoCo Dance, Oakland Ballet School and Shawl Anderson Dance Center.

Claire Fisher (Japanese/Hungarian/Panamanian/Eastern Indian/Carribbean)

Claire was born and raised in Tracy, California. She trained at The Academy of Performing Arts under the direction of Deborah Skinner until the age of 16. She has participated in summer programs such as Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Northwest Dance Project, Alonzo King LINES Ballet and San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. Claire moved to San Francisco to train in the LINES Ballet Training Program for two years and then one year at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. From then on she has freelanced around the Bay Area working with choreographers, companies and colleagues including Liv Schaffer, Nicole von Arx, Khala Brannigan, Fullstop Dance, The MoveMessenger(s), Dazaun Soleyn, RAWdance, Hayley Bowman, and Garrett + Moulton Productions. Claire is excited to be joining ZiRu in this process and sharing space with all of these wonderful artists!

Sawako Gannon (Japanese)

Sawako Gannon (any/all) is a freelance dancer based in the San Francisco Bay Area from Japan. Upon moving to San Francisco from Tokyo, Sawako graduated with a B.A. in Dance from San Francisco State University. Sawako trained with Ray Tadio and Cathleen McCarthy, as well as academic instruction from Yutian Wong. Sawako had the privilege to work with choreographers such as David Herrera's David Herrera Performance Company, Natasha Adorlee's Concepto4, Andi Salazar's A Pulso Dance Project, Joe Landini’s dog+pony, Jesselito Bie's STEAMROLLER Dance Company, Alyssa Mitchel, Anna Harris’s Driven Arts Collective, Jennifer Gerry, Joselyn Reyes, Erin Yen, Raissa Simpson’s PUSH Dance Company as a Pathway program dancer as well as numerous artists.

Philip Garcia  (Filipino American)

Philip is a longtime collaborator with ZiRu Dance. He has produced all of the music and video content for ZiRu Dance since 2007. Philip is a music producer, blogger and media coach who was born in Los Angeles. Philip’s music has been featured on numerous spots for TV, Film, artists, and brands. His credits include NBC, Warner Bros, MTV, Fox, Miramax, and countless Grammy nominees. He founded VisionQuest Sound in 2010 and has been instrumental in helping artists and brands to share their art and stories to the world. 

Winifred Harris 

Winifred R. Harris is a multi-faceted artist, teacher, and community activist. As a choreographer, she consciously balances the inherently beautiful escapism of dance and the social realities that form today’s aesthetic and cultural values. She enjoys working with fantasies and dreams, as well understanding and taking responsibility for issues grounded in reality. In short, Ms. Harris is a visionary who creates art as conversation, a connective tissue to the world, and a means to see beyond what we think of as "limits." Her work is a strong balance of technical prowess and expression through gesture. Ms. Harris began her training under the guidance of Denver’s critically acclaimed Cleo Parker Robinson. She then went on to dance professionally for Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble for 10 years, Dallas Black Dance Theater immediately following, and also enjoyed a solo stint in New York and abroad during that time. In October 1991, Ms. Harris relocated and made her home in Los Angeles, founding the critically lauded and award nominated Winifred R. Harris’ Between Lines - a contemporary modern dance company. During the past fifteen years of Ms. Harris’ work as a choreographer, she has garnered special notice from both the Los Angeles Times and the California Arts Council for LA Cultural Affairs. In recognition of her work, she has been nominated for the Lester Horton Choreography Award as well as the Alpert Award. In recognition of her dedication and commitment in bringing dance to underprivileged youth through her teaching efforts within the Los Angeles community, Ms. Harris has received several awards from the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles.

Zaria Jackson (Black/Native American)

Zaria Jackson (Z),  started their classical ballet training at Alabama Dance Academy at  age 3. Throughout high school they  had the opportunity to train at multiple summer intensives, the most recent being BalletX’s SI in 2020.  After high school, Zaria attended the Alonzo King Lines Ballet | Training Program in San Francisco under the direction of Karah Aboig. In the program they performed works by Sidra Bell, Greg Dolbasian, Alex Ketely, Christian Burns and Carmen Rozestraten while having the opportunity to learn LINES Repertory.  After graduating the program in 2020, Zaria worked with Fermata Ballet Collective and shortly after moved to Salt Lake City to dance with SALT2. Now back in San Francisco, Z is pleased to be dancing with ZiRu for their Spring Season as well working with their outreach program.

Babatunji Johnson (African American)

Babatunji Johnson was born in Portland, Oregon and grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii. Though never formally trained as a child, Babatunji was always moving his body to the beat. At the age of 15, he discovered the art of hip hop.

 

Following over a decade of self-taught street performance, he has developed a unique approach to various styles of hip hop such as breakdance, popping, and krump.

 

While cultivating his own movement language, Babatunji began training in ballet, modern, and contemporary dance, going on to work and perform around the world with Alonzo King LINES Ballet for six years, among other inspiring companies.

 

Babatunji has been with ZiRu dance since 2011. In 2015, he was awarded a Princess Grace Award, as well as a Chris Hellman Award for his outstanding achievements and promise in the world of dance. Babatunji teaches the Break Dancing Basics and Breakdancing Skill Building classes for ZiRu Dance's new initiative Project Dance O.F.F.

"As a teacher my goal is to do for my students what my favorite teachers have done for me: provide a safe place to learn how to enjoy the beautiful struggles that one must go through to accomplish something that you never thought you would be able to."

Shaylen Keller (Filipino/Caucasian),

Shaylen was raised in Orange County, California,  has danced her whole  life and has trained in multiple genres from contemporary ballet to hip-hop. Upon completing her B.A. from Chapman University, she continued to dance professionally, dancing commercially in Los Angeles in addition to dancing for both modern and hip-hop companies. Shaylen has performed, choreographed and taught in:  the U.S., China, South Korea, Thailand, Mexico and has also been featured in news publications in Beijing, Daqing and South Korea with ZiRu Dance and Aerial Experience. 

 

In 2014, after completing ministry work with human trafficking victims, she felt called to further serve socially disadvantaged children and thus, transitioned to a career in education by joining Teach for America, Los Angeles. Simultaneously, Shaylen earned her Masters in Urban Education with a focus on Policy and Administration from Loyola Marymount University. For the past 7 years, Shaylen has been teaching lower elementary and special education. She has taught in Atlanta, GA and in the heart of Los Angeles, Boyle Heights and South LA at two title-1 schools and was a founding teacher for Gabriella Charter School : a dance charter school. 

 

Shaylen’s journey with ZiRu dance began in 2010 as a founding dance member for the 2010 Beijing, China tour. Shaylen continued her work with Philein and ZiRu Dance as a guest choreographer and served as the company Rehearsal Director for its 5-city tour through China for the 2013/14 season; which included teaching at universities in Beijing and Daqing.  After 7 years, Shaylen is excited to step into her new role as Administrative/Development Coordinator with ZiRu. As Administrative/Development Coordinator, she will be able to utilize her passion for blending dance arts with education by creating and developing educational outreach programs and partnerships between ZiRu dance and community partners in the Peninsula/Silicon Valley.

Sharon Kung (Chinese)

Sharon Kung was born in New York, and currently resides in the San Francisco bay area. She joined ZiRu in 2021.  Sharon received her early training at the Jean M Wong School of Ballet in Hong Kong, and continued in the bay area before graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of California, Irvine with a BFA in Dance Performance and BA in Economics. She is currently a freelance dance artist in the San Francisco bay area, performing, collaborating, choreographing, and teaching. Her repertory includes works by George Balanchine, William Forsythe, Bob Fosse, Yayoi Kambara, José Limon, Graham Lustig, Dexandro “D” Montalvo, Robert Moses, Donald McKayle, Crystal Pite, and Amy Seiwert. Her experience includes Dance Theatre of San Francisco, KAMBARA + DANCERS (San Francisco), Thodos Dance Chicago along with freelance projects and film collaborations in San Francisco, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, and Morocco. 

Sarah Mann  (Lebanese/French Canadian)

Sarah has been dancing since the age of 10, in a multitude of styles ranging from musical theatre to ballet to modern. However, her main focus and passion have always been for hip hop dance. Sarah studied at Chapman University in Orange, CA, from which she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance. After college, Sarah moved to Los Angeles to pursue a commercial dance career.

 

Since moving to L.A., Sarah's primary focus has shifted towards the fusion of aerial arts with dance, first with her company Jagged West, and now as a solo artist. Sarah has been featured on America's Best Dance Crew (with Jag6ed Crew), FOX's TV Show Mobbed (with both Jagged West and Mischief Makers), and in the documentary Off The Floor, which followed Jagged Contemporary Pole Dance Company. 

Sarah has her own production company, THE MADMANN, which specializes in nightlife shows and events. She currently works as a producer for The Toledo Show in Los Angeles, CA, as well as the production assistant for D’Amour Creative in Hollywood. She is also the co-founder and co-director of Madcap Creative, an LA based alternative cabaret company.

 

Sarah began her journey with ZiRu Dance in 2013 when she joined the company as a dancer and Rehearsal Director for ZiRu's 2014 China tour. Sarah produced the 2017 and 2018 Silicon Valley Dance Festivals, and acted as Company Manager throughout the 2017 and 2018 seasons. She is always thrilled to work with Philein and the cast of talented dancers that ZiRu Dance draws.

Jenna Marie Graves (Black/Puerto Rican/Native American)

Jenna Marie was born in Philadelphia, PA and began dancing with ZiRu in 2020.  She began her dance training at Olga Kresin's Ballet School and later attended The Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Jenna has participated in a number of dance competitions including The Youth America Grand Prix, where she was featured in the documentary “First Position.” As a scholarship student at The Ailey School, Marie became a member of Ailey II under the direction of Sylvia Waters. Following Ailey II, Jenna was a member of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Nai Ni Chen Dance Company, Momix, The Metropolitan Opera and Ballet Hispanico. She Has been a guest artist with The black Iris Project and has worked for artists such as Beyoncé, Romeo Santos, Nile Rodgers, and Betsey Johnson. Currently, Jenna is dancing with Post:Ballet and Robert Moses’ Kin and teaching at Berkeley Ballet Theater and Moving Arts Academy of Dance here in the Bay Area. 

Jennifer Harrison Newman (African-American)

New York based theater artist Jennifer Harrison Newman works extensively with artists across disciplines, pushing the boundaries of dance, opera, and theater.

 

Recent site-specific and theatrical work includes: We Were Everywhere (Princeton University); The Infinite Hotel (Prototype Festival); Angel’s Bone (Hong Kong New Visions Festival); Place (BAM/Next Wave Festival); If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must be a Motherf*cker (Yale School of Drama); an installation/walking tour of Seneca Village in Central Park (Bard Graduate Center for Material Culture’s Focus Festival: Ritual and Capital); la ronde (International Festival of Arts & Ideas); Bread of Heaven (LABA Live); The Children (Yale School of Drama); Three Women (Ojai Playwrights Conference); The Geneva Project (Yale University, Central Arts Festival in Seoul, Korea, JACK NYC, and Bronx Academy of Art and Dance); Bulrusher (New Georges).

 

Jennifer has been an artist in residence at Princeton University, Yale University, Central Connecticut State University, The Field, Mabou Mines, Baryshnikov Arts Center, 651 Arts, and Sisters Academy Inkost and has led workshops across the United States, Sweden, South Africa, China, and Mexico. Jennifer received her B.A. from UCLA and her MFA from Yale School of Drama. Jennifer first worked with ZiRu Dance from 2012-2014 as the Co-Artistic Director for ZiRu's successful multi-city tour of China.

Alejandro Perez 

Aleks is a first generation Mexican American from Los Angeles California. His introduction to dance came at the age of 14 when he joined a street dance crew where they choreographed works to compete in the U.S. as well as other countries. His passion for dance only grew when he enrolled in a dance arts high school and began training in classical techniques. Before graduating from high school, he received a summer scholarship for the UCLA dance and theater intensive where he met and started dancing with Versastyle Dance Company. His hunger to expand in versatility grew during college. He attended the Alonzo King Lines Training program where he received a full scholarship to attend in 2016. He was then recognized as a full scholarship recipient of the Jacob's Pillow Summer program. Since then, he has been expanding his opportunities to perform and choreograph. He has been presenting work all over Los Angeles for the past two years.

Fabiana Santiago (Guatemalan,Venezuelan, Italian and German)

Fabiana Santiago from Crystal Lake, Illinois, started dancing with ZiRu in 2020. She began training at the age of 4 under Judith Svalander. She attended intensives with the Boston Ballet, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, and the Bolshoi Ballet Academy (BBA) resulting in a full scholarship to study in Moscow, Russia. Fabiana completed her sophomore year with BBA in Moscow training with the international training class under the direction of Marina Lionova and performed in the historical Bolshoi Theatre stage as the lead gypsy in La Fille Mal Gardee and the Spanish Duet from La Cachucha. She was awarded a talent scholarship to attend Butler University in Indianapolis where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance Performance. Upon graduating Fabiana began her career with Menlowe Ballet in the fall of 2017 where she performed ensemble, soloist, and leading roles as well as choreographing for the spring season of 2019. She is currently a freelance dancer throughout the Bay Area working with multiple choreographers such as Alyssa Mitchel Choreographer, Marika Brussels, Ziru Dance, and Em(body) Dance Project. Fabiana is also a dance instructor in ballet and contemporary as well as a choreographer for competition with multiple schools throughout the Bay Area.

Simon Ting

Simon Ting is a marketing professional and performing artist. He has managed marketing campaigns for numerous tech companies in California and abroad. Beyond the marketing realm he has an extensive background in both music and dance. His musical journey began with piano at the age of 4 before later getting involved with drumming, singing/rapping, song-writing, and music production.  Simon has written and produced music for ZiRu dance shows and toured this music with the company in the US and abroad. He has also performed live drumming while on tour with the company. Besides his involvement with ZiRu Dance, Simon was also a Co-Director of Str8jacket - a Bay Area based competitive hip-hop dance team that thrives in creativity and that has performed on America’s Got Talent and NBC’s World of Dance. 

Areta Wang (Chinese/Taiwanese American)

Areta Wang (Chinese American) is a Visual Artist who has worked as a Key Creative Collaborator with Philein since 2007.  Her visual works are often used as a backdrop for Ziru Dance's set design and color schematics. Further, she reviews drafts of Philein’s choreography and provides insight and constructive guidance as each piece of work takes shape.

 

As a Female Minority Artist with Disability and Illness since 2008, she has overcome many challenging obstacles to remain present and dedicated when focusing her limited energy on creating new work. Her art is the culmination of a life full of and informed by her in-depth study of human movement and the aesthetics and mechanics of action and expression.

 

As a youth, she pursued art out of pure enjoyment, a constant and continued center, her focus based on the human form. Her interests in martial arts and her training as an actor naturally combined in a pursuit of stage combat and fight choreography- the craft of expressing story and nuance of human experience through action.

 

Over the years, her consistent interest led her to study physical therapeutic art; thereby deepening her understanding of the body and its function. Over the past decade, even as injury and illness turned her sights to exploring the body and life anew, she continued expressing her internal drive and passion for movement onto canvas with paint and brush and digital art.

 

Areta holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Boston University and has held solo exhibitions in prestigious galleries and Performing Arts Centers in the U.S. and China.

Philein Wang (Chinese/Taiwanese American)

An award-winning Chinese-American poet/choreographer and distinguished Artistic Director, Philein Wang leads ZiRu Dance. Over the last half century, Philein herself has firsthand lived through racism as a native of Oakland, California. As a result, she has developed deep ties to African-American, Latino-American, and other Asian-American communities over several decades.

 

Philein’s exploration of her own Chinese-American heritage led her to create a new dance form for the Chinese body and identity. Her goal is to build cross-cultural bridges, uniting generations of immigrants through a unique blend of dance elements from Asia, Europe, Africa, and America, in tandem with original music. Using a distinct combination of influences – modern dance, ballet, martial arts, and hip hop – she hopes to create something unique to offer Asian Americans, so they have a way to feel at home in their bodies and minds. Philein leads ZiRu Dance with an intrinsic understanding of how one experiences racism in this country. ZiRu is a company committed to continually bringing to light how we can grow and evolve in positive ways. This process of growth and healing from difficult, shocking, and divisive events and environments in the U.S. and worldwide is at the core of ZiRu Dance’s mission and work.

    “When a young Chinese person is feeling confused as I was, and looking for answers to the question, ‘Who am I?’ maybe this dance can help them find their identity, their culture, and their strength. Help them know where they belong.” – Philein Wang. 

 

She was a soloist with several companies, including Janice Garrett and Cloud Gate Dance Theatre. She also received choreography mentorships from the late Bella Lewitzky and Lin Hwai-Min, Artistic Director of Taiwan’s world-renowned Cloud Gate Dance and Margaret Jenkins. In 2016, she was recognized as an honoree at the first-ever Asian and Pacific Islander Heroes of San Mateo County reception. She has received awards from many foundations and institutions including the Community Foundation of San Carlos, twice awarded grants from the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Apple, Microsoft, the Fleishhacker Foundation, and San Mateo County Strong. Nancy Pellegrini of Time Out Beijing said, “Wang herself is a force of nature, raising money, creating projects, and sharing the stage with artists of every stripe. And that alone is well worth a look.” Pellegrini added that the multidisciplinary artist has a “…staggering level of broad-based talent… whatever you do, don’t miss her show.” When she’s not directing, choreographing, or raising her young family, Philein is dedicated to building new investment and community bridges to support the company. Philein is also a partner at SV2 (Silicon Valley Social Venture Philanthropy).

Nicholas Wagner 

Nick is in his second season with ZiRu Dance and grew up in the Seattle area. Nick graduated from Chapman University with a BFA in Dance Performance and a minor in Kinesiology. Since moving to the Bay Area, he has had the pleasure of working in the dance community as a performer with RAWdance, administrator, and somatic healer. Nick became a Certified Massage Therapist in California (CMT) in 2019 and a Responsive Body Level I Practitioner in 2021. In 2022, he started a private practice with the intention of helping bodies of all abilities learn and find embodied ways of being, which can be found at nwbodywork.com.

Em Withenbury 

Em Withenbury joined ZiRu Dance in 2010 as a founding dance member and arts administrator.  During that time, she traveled to China with the company 5 times and performed/collaborated on several new works with Artistic Director, Philein Wang and resident choreographers. In 2017, she opened and led Iconica Social Club in Northampton, MA as a café with an arts and events space in a historic carriage house. Upon selling the business in 2020, she has relocated to Lexington, KY and is developing the baking program at  Brevedé Coffee.  

 
Today,  Emily contributes as a grant writer and creative consultant to bring Wang's vision of a holistic and diverse future forward.  When not brainstorming or baking, she works on building her portfolio of poetry and creative writing.