2023 Teaching Artists

Alicia Graf Mack


Alicia Graf Mack began her inaugural season as the Dean and Director of the Dance Division at The Juilliard School in fall 2018. She enjoyed a distinguished career as a leading dancer of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and was a principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. She has also danced as a guest performer with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, Beyoncé, John Legend, Andre 3000, Alicia Keys and Jon Batiste. She has appeared in numerous galas and festivals and has performed in honor of such legends as Arthur Mitchell, Jessye Norman, Carmen De Lavallade, Judith Jamison and Masazumi Chaya. Graf Mack graduated magna cum laude with honors in history from Columbia University and holds an MA in nonprofit management from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2016 she was given the honor of the Diversity Business Leaders Award by the St. Louis Business Journal. In 2007, Smithsonian magazine named her an American Innovator of the Arts and Sciences. She is a recipient of the Columbia University Medal of Excellence, an annual award given to an alumnus who has demonstrated excellence in their field of work. In 2008, she delivered the keynote address to the graduates of Columbia University’s School of General Studies. As a dance educator, Graf Mack most recently taught as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Houston and was a visiting assistant professor at Webster University. She is a co-founder of D(n)A Arts Collective, an initiative created to enrich the lives of young dancers through master classes and intensives. 

Dale Allsopp

The Art of Business and Entrepreneurship

Dale Allsopp is Director of Strategy and Operations at Google, helping develop product strategies while delivering amazing experiences for Google’s users and customers.  Prior to this role, Dale was Chief of Staff for Google Shopping and Travel after working for 10 years as a leader in Google Finance.  He has also worked in a strategic/consultative capacity for United Airlines, Merrill Lynch, Mercer Management Consulting, and JP Morgan.  Dale is a proud alumni of “Prep for Prep” where he also serves on the Board of Trustees.  A native of Brooklyn, New York, he graduated from the Calhoun School, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Wesleyan University and his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania– with a semester at the IESE Business School in Barcelona. His core values are his faith, his family and service — in particular, promoting CS and Entrepreneurship within underserved communities.

Jacquelyn Allsopp

Beginner and Intermediate Ballet

A native of Brooklyn NY- Jacque has been a soloist with Feld Ballets NY/Ballet Tech, Smuin Ballet SF, Metropolitan Opera Ballet,1st National & International tours of West Side Story, and Momix. She was also the Associate choreographer for the West Side Story productions in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Broadway’s 1st national tours here in the US (under the direction of Arthur Laurents & Joey McKneely). Jacque has set pieces for Eliot Feld at The Juilliard School and was Associate choreographer and swing for the Broadway showcase of “Shadows” a new dance musical. Jacque has done both modeling and print work. Her credits include Elle magazine, Baryshnikov Dance Wear, Revolution Dance wear, Dance Magazine, Pointe Magazine, Dance Spirit, Runway shows in Bryant Park & Lois Greenfield Photography. 

Claudio Arnell

Painting on Canvas

“One’s journey, one’s escape, one’s exile are according to me a stream of accidents where Man drifts away in search of evidence.”
Claudio Arnell was born on the island of Saint-Martin. Today, he lives and work on the island. HIS CREATIVE PROCESS •
PAINTING, SCULPTURE and PHOTOGRAPHY are the main mediums with which he challenges himself. They permit him to reflect and express his creative drive towards boundless potential, where he constantly search, question and (re)discover various characteristics of those 3 mediums in hopes to find balance and alignment throughout the parallel paths between reality and imagination. Claudio Arnell aims to grow as a visual Artist by challenging himself every step of the way with those mediums while upgrading his process through the lenses of his era: VIRTUAL REALITY. Claudio Arnell is always keen to savour, visually speaking, the essence of the term ‘Melting-Pot’. His main focus is centered around pictorialism: where matter, texture, color and layers are brought to life through mix media concepts. He explores works in series as if they were digital sketches, where he questions endlessly the notion of lines within compositions. How each line can be referred as a frontier, a limit or a boundary and what does it take to break free or over step it?
The Caribbean is his cradle and his culture, the source of his creativity and the initial point of view of his work.

Jacque is currently on faculty at Ballet Tech NY as director of Eliot Feld repertory, while finishing up a master’s degree in dance education. Jacque lives in NJ with Dale Allsopp and her three amazing children.

Maud Arnold

Tap Dance

Known as one of “Tap’s Leading Ladies” and cover girl for Dance Spirit magazine’s Tap issue, Maud Arnold is a member of the female tap band, the Syncopated Ladies, widely known for viral videos that have accumulated over 70 million views, the most successful being their tribute to Prince and their cover of Beyoncé’s Formation, which Beyoncé shared on all of her social media and then hired Syncopated Ladies to perform at her Ivy Park active wear clothing line launch at TopShop, London. Maud also performed live with the Syncopated Ladies on ABC’s Good Morning America, the Ellen Show with Pharrell Williams and N.E.R.D. and sold-out concerts in Los Angeles, Dubai, New York City, and Washington, DC, receiving rave reviews in The New York Times and more. Maud has quickly become a sought after teacher, judge and performer worldwide. Mentored and trained by Debbie Allen, Maud has taught at Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles. Further to teaching in the USA, Maud has taught tap dancing and Afro-Funk in Dubai, Brazil, Japan, Spain, Haiti, United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, Croatia, Ukraine and Russia. Maud’s Television Credits Include: Black Lady Sketch Show, BET Experience: 106 and Park, The Late Late Show With James Corden, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, Switched at Birth, Secret Talents of the Stars as a featured dancer with Mya, The Today Show and Syncopated Ladies winning Season 11 of FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance: Dance Crew Battle. Maud can be seen in national commercials and print ads for Toyota, GAP and CANTU and has worked with Beyoncé on several commercials and music videos. Maud’s choreography has been featured on Good Morning America and she made her directorial debut with Dola’s Space Daughter series. Maud is the co-director and producer of the critically acclaimed DC Tap Festival pioneering new experiences for dancers and artists worldwide. and with her sister Chloé Arnold they were recognized by the US House of Representatives as arts preservers and ambassadors. Maud is also a female entrepreneur and podcast host that holds a degree from Columbia University. The Maudcast releases new episodes weekly and is available wherever you stream podcasts! Further to teaching, she oversees Chloe and Maud Productions and their many entities including their clothing lines: I LOVE TAP and UniLove as well as their tap dance workshops and after school programs.

Maud exudes her passion for tap dancing with her high energy, fun and action-packed dancing


Nicole Baker

Musical Theatre Dance

Nicole Baker is originally from Tampa, FL.  Her recent credits include: Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Rockette), The NY Spectacular (Rockette), The Spring Spectacular (Rockette), West Side Story, National/International Tour of Fosse (Tap soloist) and “I Wanna Be A Soap Star”(Principal). Nicole is featured as a dance model in the book THE FOSSE STYLE. She has performed in several events with the Rockettes including: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Tony Awards, The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Live with Kelly and Ryan, New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, The Colbert Report, The Presidential Inaugural Balls, MLB All-Star Home Run Derby and America’s Got Talent. She teaches dance to all ages in various cities. Nicole has a BFA in dance from the University of Arizona and is certified in Pilates. She currently lives in NJ with her husband and 4 kids. 

Kristina Blunt

Yoga and Meditation

Kristina Michelle Blunt affectionately called Kris has been a mover “literally and figuratively” upon entrance into this world. Her exploration of movement began with her dance career, working for reputable companies such The Lion Kingon Broadway and Alvin Ailey 2 in New York City. Her love of movement allowed Kris to travel the world performing in famed theaters such as Carnegie Hall and The Bolshoi Theater. Her path to yoga was a natural progression from the world of dance. In 2007, Kris received her 200-hour teacher training certification through YogaWorks. Following her training, she immediately began leading a yoga warm up to the cast and crew of Broadway’s, The Lion King. In 2008, she returned to YogaWorks to deepen her knowledge of yoga and teaching principles by completing her 300-hour training. The YogaWorks family invited Kris to join the teaching staff of YogaWorks in NYC where she happily taught for two years. In 2011, Kris relocated to Las Vegas where she can be found teaching at Trufusion Summerlin and Blue Diamond locations and pre-natal yoga at Belly Bliss. Kris is E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance, as well as a Continuing Education Provider. Kris holds additional certifications in Pre-Natal, Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga and has more than 108 hours in Yoga Anatomy. In addition to being a yoga teacher, Kris is the founder of Vegas Gone Yoga! Festival, a full weekend festival bringing out 500 + yogis. Vegas Gone Yoga! offers a variety of yoga classes, a marketplace, interactive art component, musical entertainment and lots of fun!!! For more information on Vegas Gone Yoga! Festival, please visit  http://vegasgoneyoga.com.

Marlon Daniels

Music & Youth Orchestra

A laureate of the 2018 Bucharest Symphony Orchestra International Conducting Competition, American conductor Marlon Daniel has been described as “a natural and enormous talent” by the Chicago Sun-Times and as “fabulous and exceptional” by Pravda – Moscow. He is one of the most dynamic conductors of his generation and is a bright light for diversity in the world of classical music, who has performed in in Asia, Europe and the United States, from Carnegie Hall to the Rudolfinum. He is also a recipient of the ‘Voice of the Artist’ Award from the United Nations, and an Honorary Key to the City of Chicago for Outstanding Musical Achievement. Educated in both Europe and the United States, he has studied at Manhattan School of Music, the Prague Academy, Le Conservatoire Américain (Fontainebleau) and Centro de Estudios Musicales Isaac Albéniz (Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía). His teachers have included Jiří Bělohlávek, David Gilbert, Tomáš Koutník, Miriam Němcová and Jorma Panula. He has also benefited from the advice of Sir Simon Rattle at the Berlin Philharmonie as a winner of the John and Mary Virginia Foncannon Conducting Award and Iván Fischer at the Beethovenfest Bonn as the recipient of the James and Lola Faust Fellowship. He is the world’s foremost exponent of the music of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, and a champion of works by composers of African descent, especially William Grant Still and Pulitzer Prize winning composer George Walker, who was one of his mentors. Most recently, he has made débuts with Chineke! in London, the Havana Lyceum Orchestra, Sofia Sinfonietta, Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra and the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Cuba, where he was the first and only African American to date invited to conduct the orchestra in its sixty-four-year history. He has held positions as Associate Conductor of the Praga Sinfonietta, Principal Guest Conductor of the Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra and has been a Guest Lecturer at Columbia and Yale Universities and a Panelist for the Sphinx Organization’s SphinxConnect Conference. Currently, Mr. Daniel is Music Director of Ensemble du Monde, Artistic and Music Director of the Festival International de Musique Saint- Georges, Artistic Director of the Discovery Opera Project in Cuba, Director of the Diversity in Classical Music Program at Columbia University Teachers College, Director of Orchestral Ensembles at Fordham University and Associate Conductor of the Florida Grand Opera. In the 2022/23 seasons plans include appearances as Guest Lecturer at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and Guest Conductor of the Hamilton Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfónica EAFIT Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Cuba and Tafelmusik Orchestra.

Richard Fields

Winds & Brass

Richard Fields made his solo debut at age sixteen with the New World School of the Arts high school in Miami. He went on to win awards in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Competition hosted by Wynton Marsalis. Based in New York City. He performs regularly with ensembles such as the New World Symphony, Miami Symphony, Broward Symphony, Ensemble du Monde and the National Symphony Orchestra of Merida Mexico. He has also participated in international music festivals that include, Bravo Vail Valley Festival, Las Vegas Music Festival and the Luzerne Music Center. As a smooth jazz artist Mr. FIELDS is in high demand and currently featured as a performer and composer on the new CD Walk Away alongside Mike Marrocco. He received his B.M., M.M from Suny Purchase State University of New York and is a Doctoral candidate at Columbia University Teacher’s College. His principal teachers were Graham Ashton, Rich Klemer and Lee Soper. He is a founding member of Parallel Brass and is currently a member of the Norfolk Symphony Orchestra.

Alison Gaines

Cello & Bass

Alison Gaines is the Ron Crocker Chair of Orchestra for the University of Nebraska in Kearney. She also serves as Assistant Professor of Orchestra and Bass and is the Music Director of the Kearney Symphony Orchestra. She holds a Doctoral degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Kansas, Lawrence and a Master’s degree from U.S.C. in Los Angeles for bass performance where she won two Orchestral Leadership awards. In addition, she has served as a clinician and guest conductor for music associations throughout the Midwest and for the Chicago Bass Festival. During her doctoral studies she received assistantships from both the orchestral and jazz departments where she worked and studied with British conductor, keyboardist and recording artist Brian Priestman and with jazz educator, arranger and composer Dan Gailey. She has also received fellowships from through the League of American Orchestras, Chorus America, the Conductor’s Institutes in South Carolina and at Bard College in New York. Her experience as a bassist includes Tanglewood and New York String Ensemble fellowships, an Aspen Music Festival scholarship, the Spoleto, Italy Opera Festival and co-principal with the National Repertory Orchestra for two summers. She also won a substitute audition with the St. Louis Symphony and served for eight years as principal bassist of a full-time orchestra in Oklahoma. She has also performed chamber music in the United States and in Europe and has been a featured soloist with the National Repertory Orchestra, Tulsa Philharmonic, Breckenridge, CO Festival, and Rockford, IL Symphony.

Rasaan “Talu” Green

West African Drumming

Percussionist and Composer Rasaan ‘Talu’ Green(he/him)’s performances include ones with Fela! on Broadway, the Brooklyn Nets, Soutsatzka the Musical, and MAZE, along with band collaborations with Ms. Patti Labelle, Ms. Lauryn Hill, The Roots, Aloe Blacc, Estelle, & H.E.R. Green has performed globally in Africa, North America, Australia & New Zealand, and Europe. He is a resident musician with Resura Arkestra and provides musical arrangements for dance companies and master workshops throughout New York City. He holds a BFA in music from Long Island University.

Lee Gumbs

Modern / Contemporary Dance

Lee Gumbs started dancing at age 5 and by 7 he received scholarships for ballet & jazz classes. He went on to win numerous regional & national dance competitions. Lee started traveling solo at 15 to L.A., New York, Las Vegas & Virginia Beach to take advantage of scholarships he had won. At 16  he was the first boy chosen by Dance Spirit magazine as 1 of the top 3 cover models out of thousands of entries. Lee became an alumni of the Young Arts and attended Marymount Manhattan College in NYC. He has been a guest performer in multiple Nutcrackers and Gala’s. Lee has danced back up to sensation Gwen Stefani, Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance touring numerous countries with the hit show Rock the Ballet and more recent show Romeo & Juliet. Lee was lucky enough to be a part of Disney’s 60th anniversary special on ABC dancing with Derek Hough, Travis Wall and legend Dick Van Dyke. Lee also had the pleasure of touring with contemporary company Shaping Sound. Recently he performed on Ellen for band Panic At the Disco, and was a part of the 2017 Oscars. 

Karisma Jay

West African Fusion Dance

True to her name, Brooklyn-native, Karisma Jay is the epitome of Multi-Hyphenate. Dancer, Actress, Singer, Director, Playwright, Choreographer, Coach, Teacher, Entrepreneur and Host, she has been performing, curating and creating for three decades.  Her work has been featured on Netflix, Lifetime, BET, MTV, NBC, and VH1. In 2013, Karisma joined STOMP and 2016, Family Circle magazine coined her a “Local Hero” & Lifetime TV- a Female Entrepreneur to Watch. In 2017, she won the “Power Women in Business” award for her work as Artistic Director/Founder of AbunDance Academy and CEO/Founder of AbunDance Studios and AbunDance Gear in Brooklyn. Annually, she writes, directs, produces & co-stars in musicals that AbunDance presents. A recent Summa Cum Laude Dance MFA graduate of Hunter College, she also Guest teaches Dance/Culture at Hunter and is a Guest Teaching Artist at The Juilliard School, Laguardia Arts High School, Ballet Tech and Broadway Dance Center. She was also the choreographic apprentice of David Byrne’s American Utopia and her most recent choreographic work can be seen in COMMON’s music video, “When We Move”. She is a Dance Teacher Magazine’s 2021 Dance Teacher Award Recipient and Co-Director and Co-Writer of the new short film, CROWN. 

Eleanor Jewel

Mindfulness and Meditation

Eleanor Jewel is an artistic leader and awe-inspirer. She integrates her experiences as a performing artist, transformational coach, and speaker-facilitator to empower individuals of all ages to journey mindfully within themselves, raise their joy quotient, and generate the self-permission needed to be unapologetic about who they are. She is a past recipient of a US Fulbright Fellowship and Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, and holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Ghana.  

Ville Mankkinen

Violin & Viola

Violist Ville Mankkinen is in high demand in his native Finland and abroad. He has performed in concert halls in Europe, Russia and both North and South America. In addition to being an orchestra conductor, he is also an accomplished violinist and both choral and opera conductor as well. He has made appearances with the Brazilian National Symphony Orchestra, the Americana City Orchestra (Brazil), the Kirkkonummi Chamber Orchestra and the Kemi City Orchestra (Finland), the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (China) and the Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra (Bulgaria). Mankkinen began to study violin at the age of six at the Mikkeli Music School in Finland. Later he studied violin and viola  at the Piteå Music Academy in Sweden and viola at the Rimsky Korsakov Conservatory in St Petersburg in Russia. His conducting studies were done at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in Tallinn, Estonia. His teachers have included Toomas Kapten and Jorma Panula. Mankkinen is a founding member of the Panula Academy in Helsinki, where he has been the conducting assistant of Maestro Jorma Panula. He has received support from the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Vuorio Foundation and the Svenska Kulturfonden. Mankkinen has won the Demetrio Kipman award two times. Mr. Mankkinen is currently the general manager and artistic director of the Kemi City Orchestra and artistic director of the Wasa Sinfonietta. He also is artistic director of the Sea Lapland Oratory Choir and the Sea Lapland Male Singers.

Shakira Marshall

Afro-Soca Dance

Kira Divine (Shakira Marshall) is a cultural artist of Guyanese ancestry born and raised in
Queens, New York. She is a singer, songwriter, actor, choreographer, writer, model, and dancer
trained in tap, jazz, ballet, modern, acrobatics, Afro-Caribbean, traditional West African, Hip-Hop, voice and piano. Kira is also a recent platinum billboard charting EDM artist/singer/songwriter with hit songs “Go Bang” and “Chameleon” of which she provided the vocals and music video performance for popular Australian Electronic Dance band PNAU. Kira worked extensively with PNAU on their last studio album “Changa” of which she voiced and
wrote on 7 of the 10 tracks. Her most recent single “Solid Gold” was nominated for Best Dance
ARIA award. Kira currently splits her time between touring and working on new projects, recording new music in the studio or teaching master classes. Kira started her dance career and training at the age of 4 in tap, ballet, jazz and Afro-Caribbean at various dance schools in Queens (JJ’s, Dance Studio ‘A’, Perfection, ESOTA). She began teaching at the age of 11 first as an assistant, then eventually blossoming into teaching Adult classes at 15 years of age. She was able to showcase her love for performing with NY hip-hop dance crew Queens Finest and KECDE! (Kerri Edge Children’s Dance Ensemble). After graduating high school, Kira attended SUNY Purchase College where she founded and led the first Caribbean student club S.O.C.A. (Students of Caribbean Ancestry) and received a B.A. in Media, Society and The Arts. After graduating Kira continued teaching, auditioning and gigging as a professional dancer in NYC. She made her Broadway debut with the Tony award winning
musical FELA! and continued as a member of the international touring company as well as the spin-off Afrobeat cover band “Chop and Quench.” Combining the elements of her two favorite dance music genres; Afrobeat and Soca, Kira coined her signature dance technique method “Afro Soca” and established classes and workshops in New York. She has since taken it to various countries in Africa, The Caribbean and even Australia. Afro Soca has since become a global dance music trend. Due to her influence in the Caribbean dance scene Kira has had the opportunity to work as a dancer, choreographer and songwriter with Soca artists such as Machel Montano, Alison Hinds, Elephant Man, Blaxx and more. Kira has also worked with Nas, Jill Scott, Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams and Pharrell Williams to name a few. She currently works with Ms. Lauryn Hill as a choreographer, featured solo dance artist and background vocalist. Visit www.kiradivine.com for more information.

Ann McCormack

Vocal Performance

Over the course of her ten year teaching career, Miss McCormack has worked throughout the five boroughs of New York and internationally, with student ages ranging from Kindergarten to senior citizens. Miss McCormack is a faculty member at Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and The Berkeley Carroll School. Alongside her extensive teaching, she has over 20 years of stage experience. Ann played the role of Maria in the 50th Anniversary World Tour of West Side Story. The performance techniques Miss McCormack garnered while working at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Theatre du Chatelet, Vienna Opera, and The Apollo Theater have greatly informed her teaching style. In 2014, Miss McCormack worked with Pulitzer Prize winning composer/trumpeter Wynton Marsalis at Jazz at Lincoln Center. While working with Mr. Marsalis, she recorded “The Abyssinian 200” with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, which is currently in the album catalog at the African American History Museum in Washington D.C. Her skills as an artist also extend into composition. As an advocate of new
work, Ann looks to amplify the voices of women within the world of new music. In 2018, Miss
McCormack premiered her composition “FREE SALLY: A Requiem” at the W.E.B DuBois Homesite.

Ryan Miller

Hip – Hop and Commercial Dance

Meet Ryan Miller. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. At age 20 he began to train and hone his craft in hip hop and street jazz styles. Since then he has worked with various artists and brands on multiple jobs including Lizzo, Travis Scott, Rihanna, Madonna Kelly Rowland, Netflix Karma’s world, All American, Tory Burch, Adidas, Nike and Moncler.

Vivian Nixon

Musical Theatre Dance

Vivian Nixon is the Associate Artistic Director of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. Some of Miss Nixon’s credits include Choreography: Kennedy Center Honors, Jazz Man (NETFLIX), 2020 Grammy Award’s Finale, Christmas on the Square, Grey’s Anatomy, Mariah Carey, Jane the Virgin & The Client List. She has entertained in TV: Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19, Power, Boardwalk Empire, The Client List, Smash, Glee, Weeds, Eli Stone & Everybody Hates Chris; Films: Vice, Ted 2, Top Five & 500 Days of Summer; Broadway: Women on The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Memphis & Hot Feet; Off-Broadway: Freeze Frame, Brother’s of the Knight, Little Me, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Twist, West Side Story, Bayou Legend & Ailey II; Nixon has also performed in a host of live broadcasts and award shows.

Darian Parker, PhD

West African Dance

Darian M. Parker, PhD is a guest professor at The Juilliard School, where he teaches West African dance. He is also a guest professor of West African dance at The New School, and is a faculty member at Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance. His work has received support from the Jerome Foundation, Harlem Stage, and New Haven Arts Council. He has had the privilege of studying with Nzingha Camara, Aly Tatchol Camara, Mouminatou Camara, Marie Basse-Wiles, Esther-Grant Walker, Sandella Malloy, Ismael Kouyate, Youssouf Koumbassa, Ibrahim Doumbia, and many others.  Some of his performance credits include Step Up 3D and Dance Africa New York.  Darian’s commitment to teaching extends beyond dance. He is the Founder & CEO of Parker Academics (www.parkeracademics.com), which has provided over 70,000 hours of test prep/tutoring to over 1500 students on two continents since its inception in 2014. He is also an adjunct professor at NYU, where he has taught cultural anthropology and critical thinking. He is active in the Yale Alumni Association, conducting dozens of interviews yearly for prospective Yale admits. He is the author of Sartre and No Child Left Behind: An Existential Psychoanalytic Anthropology of Urban Schooling (Rowman & Littlefield Press, 2015), and “The Haze”, which appears in Pedagogies in the Flesh (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018). Fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a theoretical physicist, he returned to school in 2021 to pursue a double major in physics and mathematics at Columbia University’s School of General Studies. Darian graduated from Yale University in 2013 with a PhD, M. Phil, and MA in Anthropology and African American Studies, and from UCLA’s College of Honors in 2001 with degrees in anthropology and literature.

Clara Reyes

St. Maarten Traditional Dance & Song

Clara Reyes has been the head of St. Maarten’s Department of Culture since 2018. With a distinguished background in the arts, she is also co-founder and  former co-director of the National Institute of Arts. From the age of 3, Clara has recognized visual and performing arts as her calling, and she has many years of training in dance, visual arts, photography, film, musicals, drama and storytelling. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance and Choreography, with a specialization in teaching dance to students in grades K through 12. Ms. Reyes holds a Bachelor of Science in Dance and a Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Dance with a specialization in Dance Education from. The State University of New York at Brock Port. Ms. Reyes is a graduate of the Edna Manley College For visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica and has studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and Merce Cunningham dance studio’s. Ms Reyes is a former part time lecturer in Humanities and the Teachers Education Program at the University of St.Martin, and a former part time teacher of Creative Artistic Formation at St.Maarten Academy PSVE.

Leslie Samuel

The Art of Social Media and Technology

Leslie Samuel is digital content creator who seeks to inspire and educate others through his content. As a former university professor, he has a passion for education. He’s the founder of Interactive Biology, a website and YouTube channel dedicated to making biology fun for students and teachers worldwide. The channel recently surpassed 200K subscribers. As the head of training for the Social Media Marketing Society, he helps to ensure that social media marketers get the training they need to stay on the leading edge of social media. His message is simple – Create Content, Inspire Others and Change The World!

Changing the world one post at a time

Jazzston Williams

Short Film and Content Creation

Born in Houston, TX, Jazzston grew up with interests from drawing to sports, however, his first true love eventually came to be… storytelling. Jazzston began his storytelling journey in the art of poetry, and over the course of three decades, digital film-making across all media platforms grew to be his passion. From award-winning film and tv to music, and social media content for some of the biggest global brands (ABC, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Hyatt, Mattel etc..), Jazzston has shaped everything around one foundational standard, telling a story.

Tracy Ann Simmonds

Photography and Content Creation

Tracy Ann Simmonds is an artists artist who has always used her personal work as 2 means Caribbean heritage. She is a photographer by trade with a glamour and fashion portrait studio in Fort Lauderdale as well as a weekend wedding warrior, but she equally enjoys modeling and frequently sits for fellow photographers for art’s sake. Her passions align with continuing to validate the beauty aesthetics of Black girls and women as an ode to self-healing. Performing, drumming, dancing and teaching as a company member of Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago for four seasons while pursuing her B.A. in photography at Columbia College Chicago definitely shaped and informed her process, normalizing traditional African beauty and allowing her confidence to accelerate. Tracy Ann published “The Vision Project: A Coloring Book For Black Girls Who Rock” which features black and white portraits and symbols that celebrate the diverse magnificence of the African Diaspora in the United States. Fighting anxiety through the use of the arts is a recurring theme in her life and her interdisciplinary practice. She joined the Black Art in America team, tackling advertising sales, writing articles, contributing to social media and foundation groundwork to continue a legacy of excellence in arts entrepreneurship. Her mentors, teachers, and coaches include Frank Frazier, Amaniyea Payne, Dawoud Bey, The Edge School of the Arts. Najee Dorsey. Obediah Wright, Kevin lega Jeff, Crystal “The MOC* Chanel, Simone Kelly and Marie Forleo.

Nikeva Stapleton

Modern / Contemporary Dance

A proud Nevisian raised in Chicago, Nikeva Stapleton is an actor, dancer, and model, currently residing in Los
Angeles. Her multifaceted career began with training as a dancer at a young age; her dedication and skill
landed her at the renowned Alvin Ailey School/Fordham University BFA Program in NYC. Upon
graduating, Nikeva’s professional pursuit in dance led her across stages, like the Metropolitan Opera to
Jubilee! in Vegas, and on TV performances from the Today Show to America’s Got Talent. Nikeva has
been a part of iconic music videos, like David Bowie’s final project “Blackstar,” and Beyoncé’s single
“Spirit” in the film, Black is King. Performing live with artists such as Jennifer Lopez and Chris Brown
have been major thrills, while the most memorable remains the “Formation” Super Bowl 50 halftime
performance with Beyoncé. Nikeva took her talents to LA to focus on her acting career. She is currently
an ensemble member of Hulu’s sketch comedy Sherman’s Showcase, and has had roles on BET’s
American Soul, Spike Lee’s Chiraq, BlacKKKlansman, and Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It, as well as
Marlon Wayans’ film Naked and NBC’s sitcom Marlon. Aside from performing arts, Nikeva is a fitness,
fashion, and commercial model represented by Wilhelmina. She has been featured in campaigns for
companies such as Balenciaga, Athleta, Nike, Adidas, Fila, MAC, and more. She is also a fitness
instructor for various platforms and brands like FitOn and Vuori. Nikeva is passionate about her
Caribbean roots; she is a citizen of Nevis and her family spreads throughout the West Indies. She shares
her love for the performing arts through educational outreach as a teaching artist for Art Saves Lives
Foundation in St. Maarten. Of all the passions she holds, working with the youth is Nikeva’s most
rewarding job. Her mission is to encourage young people to dream bigger and believe in the power of
dedication and diligence, while providing mentorship and inspiration as best she can.

Queen GodIs

Spoken Word

Queen GodIs is a poet, performance artist and art therapist who serves a host of communities seeking transformation through art. With a holistic approach to content and development, her interdisciplinary work engages audiences in dialogue and activism that extend beyond the page and stage. Queen has written and performed three off-Broadway shows (w/ LaunchNYC, Hip Hop Theater Festival and New York Live Arts), produced an album (Power U!) and been published in several international literary anthologies. She has headlined at venues including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Nokia Theater, Chicago Merle Reskin, Lincoln Theater, Brooklyn Museum, Kennedy Center and toured throughout Europe, South Africa, India and the Caribbean. Her creative process has been documented by MTV, NPR, BBC, WBAI, MSG Network, Channel 13 and the HBO series “Brave New Voices.” Queen is currently completing two books, an album and a multi-disciplinary, multi-media sci-fi performance inspired by the work of Octavia Butler and supported by the 2013 Creative Capital Award.

Zilla Duzon Hazel

Surface Pattern Design (Mural Design)

Zillah Duzon Hazel is a local Fashion designer, Surface pattern designer and since
recently a Mural Artist. She was born and raised on the beautiful Island of St. Maarten. Zillah is a wife, mother and entrepreneur. The name of her company is “Jolie Duzon”, a women’s clothing brand. The unique aspect of Zillah’s fashion creations are her eye-catching bold, colorful hand-painted prints. Her inspiration is drawn from the island St. Maarten and its beautiful surroundings. The nature, the climate, the lifestyle, the colors and landscapes are all inspirations for her and can be seen in the prints and patterns she creates.The Jolie Duzon brand is an expression of Zillah’s creative mind translated into
beautiful clothing and accessories. Jolie Duzon was created for women who are not afraid to stand out, women who are confident, women who are leaders, women who are passionate and love life. Zillah aspires to be an inspiration to others and to make people smile and feel a sense of happiness when they wear and see her work.