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Meet the Dancers of Making Moves Dance Festival 2021

For 12 years, Making Moves Dance Festival, presented by the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL), has served as a platform to promote new, emerging and underrepresented dance companies. After pivoting to an online model in 2020 due to COVID-19, JCAL is now returning this storied festival to the community. Making Moves Dance Festival 2021 ~ To Life is a free two-day event set to take place on the outdoor stage of the Jamaica Performing Arts Center (153-10 Jamaica Avenue) on Fri., Sept. 17 and Sat., Sept. 18, starting at 7pm on both days.

Making Moves Dance Festival 2021 ~ To Life is a testament to the rich diversity of Queens and New York City as it presents both traditional and contemporary influenced dance styles. This year, JCAL offers what is, by far, its most diverse lineup ever, with styles that include Ballet, Afro-Latin, East Asian, Middle Eastern, Afro-Caribbean, East Indian and more. Along with the outdoor presentation of the festival, all residents of Southeast Queens will be able to check out the process, as rehearsals will be held in full sight of the community on Jamaica Avenue.

Following an open call for applications in April, a panel of professional jurors selected nine NYC-based dance companies, which are being presented in three sections: Emerging Artists, Early Career Artists and Commissioned Artists. The two Commissioned Artists are Ranardo-Domeico Grays with VISIONS Contemporary Ballet and Patrick Coker.


RSVP to Making Moves Dance Festival 2021 here!


Meet the Dancers


Cory "Nova" Villegas

Cory “Nova” Villegas  has been training in  Salsa since she was five years old.  She has trained at The Ailey School, Lehman, and Hunter College.  Cory is interested in the intertwining, of Afro-Latin forms with traditional styles,  technique, and its marriage with music and poetry. She has  worked with Latin artists such as  reggaetón sensation Don Omar. In February of 2019, she co-founded her company as artistic director of Soul Dance Co.: The Soul Experience. She also attained her BA/MA and certification in Pre-K-12 in dance education from Hunter College in  May 2020. Cory is currently the dance educator at Beacon High School in Manhattan.


Patrick Coker

In 2019, Coker joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where he is currently still dancing. Coker’s choreography has been commissioned by the Ailey School (both Professional and Junior divisions), Skidmore College, San Antonio Met Ballet and Earl Mosley's Diversity of Dance.  His work has been showcased at the 92nd Street Y’s Future Dance Festival, the Williamsburg Movement and Arts Center's Moving Beauty Series, the JCAL’s Making Moves Festival (previous years), and New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble’s Inkubate Installation.


Charly & Eriel Santagado

Sisters Charly and Eriel Santagado have presented work at many festivals including KoDaFe, Dumbo Dance Festival, Triskelion’s SummerFest, Waxworks, Peridance's APEX, and Koresh’s Come Together Dance Festival. Their work has been produced by HERE Arts Center's Co-op Sublet Series, Inclined Dance Project's inQuad Split Bill Series at Dixon Place, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning's Friday Nights Series, The Berrie Center at Ramapo College, and Jersey City Theater Center.

Guanglei Hui

Originally from China, Guanglei is an independent artist, choreographer, dancer and teacher. In 2005, Guang-lei joined the first modern dance company in China, Guangdong Modern Dance Company. In 2013, Guang-lei joined White Wave Young Soon Kim Dance Company. He began working with Shen Wei Dance Arts in 2014. In 2016 he was invited to Taipei Dance Round Table Project to work on a new original piece. He has toured to international arts festivals in more than twenty countries.


Persephone Dacosta

In 2005 Persephone DaCosta started her own company as the Artistic Director of Batingua Dance & Drum Productions LLc.  Ms. DaCosta served as the Cultural Director of Sesame Flyers International and represented the Caribbean at the 2020 Thanksgiving Macy's Day Parade. She is also the recipient of the Brooklyn Arts Council BAF Award 2018 - 2021, NYC Fund For Teachers Award, Charlene & Ella Entrepreneur Award and the Nina Simone Arts Award. Her mission is to preserve, educate and celebrate cultural arts by focusing her choreography on building unity and healing communities through sharing arts and culture from West Africa and the Afro Caribbean Diaspora.


QUABA Venza Ernst

Quaba is a recipient of the 2019 Thayer Fellowship in the Arts and was a member of Ballet BC in 2019/2020. Quaba has been featured in the NY Times for performances at BAM Fisher & Jacob’s Pillow. His piece titled “String Theory” was selected to be a part of the 2019 New Century Dance Festival & his dance film “Astomi” was selected as a winner in the 27th Quinzena de Dança de Almada – International Dance Festival (2019). In 2021 he will be one of The Ann & Weston Hicks Choreography Fellows at Jacob’s Pillow & was selected as an Early Career Artist for the 12th Annual Making Moves Dance Festival.


Ted Thomas and Frances Ortiz

Ted Thomas and Frances Ortiz met while earning their Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in dance at the State University of New York at Purchase. They then went on to achieve their Masters of Arts degrees in Dance Education at New York University. The two founded Thomas/Ortiz Dance in 2003 and while choreographing and continuing to perform, Mr. Thomas was for two years Artist-in-Residence at Barnard College and 2018 Connecticut Artist Fellow for Excellence in Dance. Ms. Ortiz is the dance teacher at Greenwich High School and was a guest teacher and choreographer at Yale University. Thomas and Ortiz along with her twin sister Ginna Ortiz are co-owners and directors of the New England Academy of Dance and New England Dance Theater in New Canaan, CT.


Thuy Wyckoff

In 2018, Thuy Wyckoff graduated from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance having earned her BFA in Dance Performance with a Minor in Arts Management. During her time at Purchase, Thuy performed works by Taryn Russell, Kimberly Bartosik, Gary Jeter, Stuart Loungway and multiple works by George Balanchine. Additionally, Thuy has trained at San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, BalletX, Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell and The Washington Ballet among others. In 2019, Thuy founded WyckoffCollective, a new and emerging collective based in NYC with the mission to celebrate women as strong leaders capable of being at the forefront of the dance industry. WC has premiered her work in theaters located in New York, Los Angeles, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Along with being the founder and artistic director of WyckoffCollective, Thuy Wyckoff was on Faculty at Drexel University for their 2021 Summer Term and is currently the Company Associate for Gibney Company.


Ranardo-Domeico Grays

Ranardo-Domeico Grays is the Founder/Artistic Director of VISIONS Contemporary Ballet, an ethnically diverse company. An alumnus of The Juilliard School, California Institute of the Arts (BFA), Alvin Ailey and Interlochen Arts Academy, he has performed with Rebecca Kelly Ballet, LaToya Jackson Tour, Celebrity Cruises, Sensedance, Zach Morris, and Urban Wash, and has acted in film, TV and theater (SAG/AFTRA, AEA). He is a brain cancer survivor!

Grays was awarded LMCC Creative Engagement and UMEZ Arts Engagement grants for self-produced VISIONS concerts: In Truth and In Light 2021, Traces 2019, and Healing Works II 2018, performed in NY and Michigan. VISIONS has been presented by Harlem Arts Festival; Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center; Dixon Place; Green Space; Wassaic Project; ACS/Making Strides Central Park; BAAD and others.