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Primavera 2006


Tonia Shimin Valerie Huston
Christopher Pilafian Stephanie Nugent
Keith Johnson Jane Dudley
Janna Diamond  


Tonia Shimin

Tonia Shimin (Choreographer, Waterwheel) has performed with The Martha Graham Company in Primitive Mysteries and has toured throughout the USA, Europe and the Mid East with the Jose Limon Company, Pearl Lang Company, and as a soloist with Anna Sokolow’s Player’s Project, Mary Anthony Dance Theater and Repertory West Dance Company. She has created over 35 works for The Dance Division of The University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Dance Alliance, Santa Barbara Dance Theater and the VUS Company in Prague, The Czech Republic. Tonia has taught extensively in the United States and in Mexico, Israel, France, Italy and The Czech Republic. Since 1980 she has been on the faculty of the Department of Dramatic Art/Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara, currently as Professor. Awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowship and an Individual Artist Award from The County of Santa Barbara Arts Fund. Her dance film Passage won a Cine Gold Eagle Award. Her most recent contribution to dance filmmaking, the video documentary, Mary Anthony: A Life in Modern Dance, premiered at The Dance on Camera Festival, Lincoln Center, New York in 2004 to a standing ovation. It received a Certificate of Recognition for esthetic achievement and contribution to the field of screendance from The American Dance Festival’s Dancing for the Camera Video and Film festival has since been screened nationally and internationally. Tonia received the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance and is currently working on a new film with the acclaimed dancer Nancy Colahan.

Valerie Huston

Valerie Huston (Choreographer, Two Blues) began her training in the San Francisco Bay Area with Olga Ziceva, the Christensens of the San Francisco Ballet School, Robert and Carol Hanlin, and Alan Howard. She holds a BFA from the University of Utah. 1976-1985 she directed the Valerie Huston Dance Theatre, a ten-member professional contemporary ballet touring company based in Santa Barbara. She is the recipient of three National Endowment Fellowships in choreography. In 1983 Valerie joined the faculty at UCSB. She has also been a guest instructor at the University of Hawaii, the Fifth International Dance Festival in Hong Kong, and has served as an adjudicator for the Southeast Regional Ballet Festival. She was awarded an Independent Artist Award for Choreography in 1995 by the Arts Fund in Santa Barbara and in 1999 the Lifetime Achievement Award in Dance from Santa Barbara Dance Alliance. In addition to her position at UCSB, she teaches at the Santa Barbara Ballet Center and serves as an advisor to the Santa Barbara Festival Ballet Board of Directors.

The pas de deux, Two Blues was created for Chelsea Retzloff and Victor Fung for the 2006 Summer Sessions dance concert. The work explores the relationship of two individuals. They begin the dance involved in their own worlds and slowly develop a playful awareness of each other. The work is set to the second movement of Maurice Ravel’s Sonate pour violon et piano - Blues, moderato.

Christopher Pilafian

Christopher Pilafian (Choreographer, BASK Quartet) has danced on stage, television and in film with choreographers Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, Charles Moulton, Louis Falco, Matthew Diamond and others. In New York, after attending The Juilliard School, Mr. Pilafian became a founding member, principal dancer and Associate Artistic Director of Jennifer Muller/The Works, touring throughout Europe, The Middle East, North, Central and South America from 1974 to 1989. His over 40 choreographed works include commissions for Princeton University, Dance Kaleidoscope, Jennifer Muller/The Works, Repertory-West Dance Company, San Diego Dance Theater, Santa Barbara Dance Theatre and American Repertory Dance Theater. He is co-creator with UCSB Professor Catherine Cole, of Five Foot Feat, which was performed in New York City and toured internationally. In 2003 he created The Pilafian Project for San Diego Dance Theater and collaborated with composer Joel Feigin and visual artist Lane Clark on Thin Skins for Santa Barbara Dance Theatre. With colleague Nancy Colahan, Mr. Pilafian created and performed Dream Dancing at the Glendale’s historic Alex Theater for the American Repertory Dance Company. He also choreographed the award-winning feature film Boy Culture, directed by Q. Allan Brocka. He is currently in preparation for a production in Xian, China. Mr. Pilafian has taught ongoing or master classes in New York, France, Guatemala, Israel, Argentina, Canada, Switzerland and the Netherlands. He joined the faculty of UC Santa Barbara in 1990.
Photo – 3/1/07

Stephanie Nugent

Stephanie Nugent (Choreographer, Frame / ReFrame) is a choreographer, performer and educator with special interest in dance/theater and improvisational dance forms. An Associate Professor of Dance at the University of California Santa Barbara, she specializes in teaching modern dance techniques, improvisation, and contact improvisation. Ms. Nugent holds a BFA from the North Carolina School of the Arts and a MFA from California State University -Long Beach. She is Artistic Director of Nugent Dance and a performer with Keith Johnson / Dancers and choreographer/film maker Victoria Marks.

Nugent’s choreography, a unique blend of dance and theater, has been well received through out southern California, in North Carolina, Ohio, Washington, Kentucky, Minnesota, Italy and most recently in New York. As a collaborative artist she has worked with many west-coast dance artists, including Kim Epifano, Stefan Fabry, Carmela Hermann, Kristen Smiarowski and Shel Wagner Rasch; visual/media artists Erin Martinez and Catherine Siri Nugent; composers Eve Beglarian, duo Skin and Bones, and for twelve years, she has created and performed many new works with her husband, composer/violinist Robin Cox and the Robin Cox Ensemble.

In November 2006, Nugent's work Frame / ReFrame was premiered at Dance New Amsterdam, were the concerts were met with high praise and standing ovations. Other recent projects include several performance of Nugent’s solo show One in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and New York City and two shared evenings with Choreographer Keith Johnson in SB and LA. One, presented at DIAVOLO Performance Space in LA, garnered a special out-of-town review in the Santa Barbara Independent titled Peerless Performance, in which Elizabeth Schwyzer referred to Nugent as “a powerhouse of a performer, a prolific dance-maker and an articulate communicator of her chosen art form.”
Nugent's awards and honors include a junior faculty fellowship from UCSB; the 2002 Individual Artist Award for Choreography, presented by the Arts Fund of Santa Barbara; a Lester Horton Award for her performance and collaborative work in Victoria Marks’ Against Ending; two IHC visiting artist grants with which she brought avant-garde composer/performer Eve Beglarian and Choreographer Keith Johnson to UCSB for creative residencies; and a National College Choreographers Initiative Grant with which she and colleague Valerie Huston brought Sonic Dance Theater Artist Kim Epifano to UCSB for a two-week residency.

Keith Johnson

Keith Johnson (Artistic Director Keith Johnson / Dancers) is originally from Tempe, Arizona. He was a competitive gymnast through college before he became interested in dance. He received his MFA in dance with an emphasis in choreography from the University of Utah in 1991 where he received the Dee R. Winterton Award for Excellence in Dance. While in Salt Lake City, Keith danced in the Ririe/Woodbury Dance Company working with such choreographers as Alwin Nikolais, Murray Louis, Shapiro and Smith, Kei Takei, and Douglas Nielsen. In New York City he joined the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, touring the widely acclaimed work Still/Here both nationally and internationally. He also danced in the companies of Creach/Koester and Doug Varone and Dancers. He has also done pick-up work dancing in the companies of Spencer/Colton in Boston and Janis Brenner in California. As part of Doug Varone and Dancers, Keith performed with The Denver Opera and in a site-specific work Neither, which took place in The Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City. As a performer he has performed in major festivals and concert halls worldwide including the Joyce Theatre, Tokyo International Festival, the Melbourne Festival, and Queen Elizabeth Hall in England.

In 1998, Keith formed Keith Johnson/Dancers. The company received favorable reviews from the Los Angeles Times. Since 1998, the company has performed in California, North Carolina, Utah, and Arizona. Keith continues to perform, most recently with Colleen Thomas at St. Mark's Church in New York. Keith is currently on the faculty at California State University in Long Beach. He is an Associate Professor who teaches both composition and contemporary dance techniques. He is an advisor to the MFA candidates and the BFA students. In addition, Keith has been a guest teacher at the following institutions: NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Summer Program, The Julliard School, Dartmouth College, LaSalle College of the Arts in Singapore, The Ririe/Woodbury Summer Dance Intensive, Doug Varone and Dancers Summer Workshop, University of California at Santa Barbara, Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, Virginia Commonwealth University, St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, University of South Florida, Ballet Pacifica Summer Intensive, Southern Methodist University in Texas, the University of Utah, and Velocity Dance Center in Seattle.

In 2005, Keith was named “Most Valuable Professor” at CSULB. Keith received the Choo San Goh Award in 2002 for emerging choreographers and has had support from the Dance/USA Foundation. His work has been shown in various venues including the University of Utah (with Stephen Koester), The LIT Series, Joyce Soho (with Colleen Thomas), The Rose Wagner Theater in Salt Lake City, and The Diavolo Space.

Jane Dudley

One of the most important American choreographers of the 1940s, Jane Dudley, who also made a significant contribution to contemporary British dance, died in 2001 at age 89. A leading dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company in New York from 1937 to 1944 - and later a guest artist - she was, in 1970, a founder of the London Contemporary Dance School.

Her roots were in German expressionist dance, and her greatest artistic period was as part of the Jane Dudley/ Sophie Naslow/William Bales Trio, launched in 1942. Her unforgettable solo work Harmonica Breakdown (1938), inspired by the music of blues harmonica player Sonny Terry, expressed a link between the work of the great expressionist soloists - Mary Wigman, Hilde Holger and Gertrud Bodenweiser - but within an American social framework. Other work she choreographed in this period included The Lonely Ones and Conte Flamenco, inspired by La Pasionaria, Dolores Ibarruri Gómez, the communist Spanish civil war heroine. Dudley also appeared in Celebration, Primitive Mysteries, American Document and Letter To The World.

Janna Diamond