The Accent Dance NYC Company is a professional concert dance company committed to exploring the artistic, cultural, and humanistic connections among people of all backgrounds. We commission and showcase the work of a diverse array of emerging and established choreographers, including Cuban choreographer Pedro Ruiz, Mexican choreographer David Fernandez, Argentinian choreographer Dardo Galletto, Spanish-American choreographer Lucia Jackson, Colombian choreographer Elisa Toro Franky, Haitian choreographer Steven Vilsaint, and American choreographers Christina Coleman, Falosha Martin, Josh Johnson, and Zay P.
As a metaphor for cultural acceptance and convergence, the Company fuses diverse dance styles, including ballet with hip hop, flamenco with contemporary dance, tap with hip hop. Pressing issues of social justice, climate change, inclusion, and identity also are explored and highlighted.
Artists hail from across the globe, perform a wide range of dance styles, and have danced with prestigious dance companies including Alvin Ailey, the Cuban National Ballet, New Jersey Ballet, and Dance Theatre of Harlem, as well as with well-known hip hop artists, folkloric dance companies, and in international tango competitions.
The Company partners with cultural institutions throughout New York City and beyond, performing as part of NYC’s Summer Streets Festival, Battery Park Dance Festival, iHeart Dance NYC Festival, the City of New Rochelle’s ArtsFest, at the Bronx Music Heritage Center, Teatro LATEA, and Ballet Arts, and contributes to community celebrations of Hispanic and Black history, Juneteenth, and LGBTQ Pride.
Leonel Linares started dancing in his hometown of Merida, Venezuela where his studies included Venezuelan folklore, latin jazz, hip hop, contemporary, acrobatics, modern and ballet. He was awarded a scholarship to study with the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City and went on to dance professionally with Ballet Nuevo Mundo de Caracas, Ballet Teresa Carreno, Compania Danza Actual, and Ballet de Marjorie Flores. He worked as a choreographer for one of Venezuela’s TV networks, performing for many Latin singers, Dancing with the Stars, and for one of the largest beauty pageants in Venezuela. He performs with Accent Dance NYC and has also performed with Imagen Latina in Los Angeles, Ajkun Ballet Theater, Contemporary Ballet Theater, Revolución Latina, Morales Dance, among others. Leonel is the ballet master of Staten Island Ballet and is the Executive and Artistic Director of Sol Dance Center in Queens, New York.
Pedro Ruíz is a well-known choreographer and dancer who was born and trained in Cuba, as well as in Venezuela. Pedro had a 21-year career with Ballet Hispanico as a principal dancer during which he also choreographed for the company. Ruiz is the recipient of The Bessie Award, the Choo-San Goh Award, The Cuban Artists’ Fund Award and The Joyce Foundation Award. He has been the subject of two PBS documentaries: “Pas de Deux” and “Coming Home”.
Erin Gallagher began her formal dance training at the Academy of Dance Arts in her hometown of Red Bank, New Jersey. She continued her studies at Studio Maestro (currently Manhattan Youth Ballet) in New York City with Deborah Wingert and François Perron. Erin also participated in training programs at The Rock School of Dance Education, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School, American Ballet Theatre, as well as several summers in Washington D.C. studying with Suzanne Farrell at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Professionally, Erin has worked with New Chamber Ballet, Connecticut Ballet, Staten Island Ballet, Rebecca Kelly Ballet, Neglia Ballet Artists, TranscenDance Group, Accent Dance NYC, and Ballets with a Twist. Erin Gallagher is a graduate of the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School.
Tsubasa Nishioka was born in Japan where he started taking ballet classes and later began studying modern and contemporary dance. In 2017, Tsubasa was accepted to The Alvin Ailey School where he subsequently became a scholarship student. He has performed as part of Ailey’s Spirit Gala and “Battlefield” at Lincoln Center. Tsubasa currently performs with Accent Dance NYC, i KADA Dance Company, Vashti Dance Theater, and Yu.S.Artistry.
Josh Johnson is a Harlem-born and raised tap dance artist, speaker, and published author. His life and work have been featured on the Ellen DeGeneres show, in the New York Times, and in many other news stories. Most recently, Josh performed with Accent Dance NYC as a tap dance artist in connection with our educational performances celebrating Black History Month.
David Fernandez is a New York-based choreographer. One of David's most acclaimed works, Five Variations on a Theme, was created for New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Joaquin De Luz. The work premiered as part of the acclaimed Kings of the Dance tour and was performed to standing ovations in New York City, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Kiev, and Odessa. Other notable choreography commissions include David’s “Vitruvian Man”, which has over 800,000 views on YouTube, and pieces created for leading dancers of the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Kings of the Dance Tour, Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble, Youth America Grand Prix Gala Concert, and his whimsical work based upon Mexican folklore creatures, commissioned by Accent Dance NYC, El Regalo de los Alebrijes.
Christopher Francis is a New York-based actor, artist, choreographer and educator. He graduated from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and is currently working on his MFA in Choreography. Moving to New York in 2017, Chris passionately practices and teaches yoga, holistic health, art, and dance to all ages. Chris also teaches jazz fusion classes at Gramercy Dance Studios and acts as an assistant teacher at Broadway Dance Center. He is an avid photographer and videographer. Career highlights include working on the film, ‘Marry Me’ starring Jennifer Lopez, Maluma and Owen Wilson, performing at Lincoln Center, acting in commercials, dancing in music videos, dancing in the Iguzzini Showroom in Paris, France, and performing dance works by beloved mentors and colleagues globally and at home. Chris loves the community, joy, and connections that dance inherently creates and is enjoying his professional experience with Accent Dance NYC.
Paige Cowen started their dance training in Oklahoma under the direction of Kristin McQuaid, Joshua Stayton, José Antonio Checa and Manny Cross. They continued their training in New York at Marymount Manhattan College, where they graduated with a B.A. in Dance Studies. While in school, Paige performed works by Michael Thomas, Nancy Lushington, and Andrea Markus. In 2016, they performed in a flash mob choreography by Celia Rowlson-Hall. In addition to their extensive training at Marymount, Paige has trained with artists such as Ximena Carnica, Jennifer Monson, Alexandra Beller, Andrea Miller, Mary John Frank, Mårten Spångberg and Laura Aris. Paige has had the pleasure of performing with Accent Dance NYC, Arsenal Movement dance project, The Lowcoco, and the LEIMAY Ensemble.
Rose Barbantan is from the village of Barbentane in the South of France. She was a finalist in the Youth America Grand Prix (Paris). At the age of 15, she moved to Portugal to pursue a professional dance career. Rose is a graduate of the Certificate Program of The Alvin Ailey School and has performed “Memoria” alongside the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre Company and Ailey II. Rose is quadrilingual in French, Portuguese, Spanish and English. Rose currently performs with Accent Dance NYC, Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet, and the Shift Dance Company. She also has performed as part of “Table of Silence” at Lincoln Center with the Buglisi Dance Theater.
Sarita Apel was born in Wiesbaden, Germany. After receiving the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds scholarship of the Netherlands, she went on to study at the The Alvin Ailey School. Subsequently, she was a member of Graham 2. In addition to her regular appearances with Accent Dance NYC, Sarita performs with several other professional dance companies both in the United States and Europe. Sarita also has performed at various prestigious tango venues and was a 2019 U.S. Tango Salon Champion and a Tango Salon Champion at the SoCal Tango Championship.
Zay P is a Bronx native and a professional creative director, choreographer, dancer and teaching artist. He works and tours regularly with many well-known hip hop artists. Zay P. also loves teaching students of all ages, and has worked in many public school and community center settings. He has led the Saturday Academy program for Accent Dance NYC at PS 246 in the Bronx and guest teaches for us throughout New York City and Westchester. Zay P’s ultimate goal is to inspire, motivate, and lead other creatives to be the best versions of themselves and to build their own creative platforms.
Falosha Martin studied throughout her youth a wide range of dance styles, including West African dance, ballet, tap, salsa, capoeira, flamenco, modern, and jazz. She teaches, performs, and choreographs West African and other dance styles, and has performed with several professional companies, including Kow Teff, Harambee, Bambara Drum and Dance Ensemble, and the African circus company, Cirque Zuma Zuma. She also has had the honor of performing with Dance Africa, with the headlining company Wula, as the only American dancer representing Guinean dance. Falosha partners frequently with world-renowned percussionists, drummers, and other musicians, and has choreographed West African work for Accent Dance NYC, which features prominently in our Black History educational performances. Falosha also teaches for us at Webster Elementary School in New Rochelle through our comprehensive YMCA dance program, as well as with several of our partner schools in the Bronx, including PS 246, PS 226, and PS 140.
Kim Johnson is the Director of Educational Programming and Outreach of Accent Dance NYC. Kim is an experienced teaching artist, arts administrator and performing artist with a demonstrated history of working in non-profit organizations, especially in their work with the NYC DoE and arts placements in the NYC public schools. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University and has extensive training as a dancer, particularly at the Ailey School. She has years of experience working as an administrator in the arts and in youth development. As an educator, she has taught all ages, from toddlers to adults. She is skilled teaching classes in dance, theater and Integrated Art Education, and through the years has been a teaching artist doing residencies in NYC Public Schools for Brooklyn Academy of Music, Alvin Ailey American Dance, LEAP, Center for Arts Education and Henry Street Settlement, and has been on the faculty at Bronx House School of Performing Arts since 2011. She has experience teaching several styles and curriculums in dance from creative movement, and ballet to contemporary. In theater, she has taught acting, musical theater, improvisation, storytelling and playwriting. She also has created and taught curriculums that integrate the performing arts with history, literature and poetry. She is a triple threat performer - dancer, actor, singer - who also directs and choreographs. She is currently a performing member of LEAP Artists Live!
Christie Coleman is a teaching artist, professional dancer and choreographer with a Masters in Education in Dance from New York University. Christie is a lead teaching artist and curriculum development consultant for Accent Dance NYC in connection with both its in-school dance residency program as well as its youth programming for the YMCA Christie was raised within The Coleman School of Dance and founded Illuminations Dance Company. In addition to the Coleman School of Dance, Christie taught dance at Achievement First Charter School in East New York, New Rochelle High School, and Sacred Heart University.
Andrea Ziegelman is the Executive and Artistic Director of Accent Dance NYC and the President of the Erwin and Isabelle Ziegelman Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Andrea was born in Detroit, Michigan and comes from a family of classically-trained pianists, cellists, singers, and violinists who held leading positions in professional symphonies and opera companies in the United States, Europe, and the former Soviet Union.
Along with the study of piano, Andrea pursued rigorous ballet training throughout her youth, enrolling after high school in the ballet department of the University of Utah. Andrea also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in French literature from the University of Michigan and attended Georgetown University School of Law and Columbia Law School. In addition to maintaining a law practice in Manhattan, and being appointed by judges to represent children in family law cases as their attorney and as guardian ad litem, Andrea continues to enjoy taking regular dance classes, performing, and teaching dance to children of all ages. As a long-time patron of the arts, Andrea started Accent Dance NYC with her fellow teaching and performing artists to bring the highest quality of dance education programming to school-aged children in New York City and in neighboring areas.
Lucía Jackson, the daughter of a jazz musician-father and painter-mother, began vocal and dance training in Madrid, Spain, studying dance at the Professional Dance Conservatory of Madrid while also studying music at the school of Musica Creativa. At the age of eighteen, Lucía returned to her birthplace, New York, after being accepted into The Alvin Ailey School. Lucía has been a lead teaching artist with Accent Dance NYC in connection with its comprehensive dance programming at the YMCA as well as in connection with its virtual education program Project Access. Lucia enjoys sharing her wide-ranging musical, theatrical and dance talents with her students, teaching and choreographing works which incorporate elements of ballet, modern, tango, flamenco, jazz, and contemporary movement. As a jazz singer, Lucía has performed with various well-known jazz bands in New York City as well as toured throughout Russia.
Elisa Toro Franky is a professional dancer, teaching artist, and choreographer from Bogotá, Colombia based in New York City. Elisa has been a teaching artist with Accent Dance NYC since its inception, leading several of its programs, including at the Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education in the South Bronx. Elisa has performed in the majority of Accent Dance NYC’s educational performances as well as performed professionally with the New Jersey Ballet, FJK Dance, Dardo Galletto Dance, and with Christopher Caines Dance. In May of 2021, Elisa was invited to collaborate with El Puente Presente and a New York Philharmonic string quartet as part of the Bandwagon series. In September of 2021, she was a featured ballerina in Rhina Valentin's 'Sancocho' production, in celebration of the Hispanic Heritage Month at Lincoln Center Restart Stages.
Dannys Gonzalez, a native of Cuba, trained and graduated from the Cuban National Ballet School in Havana, and began his professional career in the Cuban National Ballet directed by the famed ballerina, Alicia Alonso. In 2009, Dannys became a soloist in the Ballet de Cuba Company. His classical repertoire includes major roles in Swan Lake, Coppelia, Don Quixote, La Bayadére, La Sylphide, La Fille Mal Gardée, Paquita and The Nutcracker. Dannys has toured internationally with “Ballet Revolucion” as well as with other dance companies. After moving to New York City, Dannys joined the Alvin Ailey School and thereafter performed with various ballet and contemporary companies throughout the United States. Dannys is an exuberant, passionate, and committed teaching artist and choreographer who celebrates each student’s individuality, artistry, and creativity. Dannys is on the ballet faculty of the well-known School at Steps on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He also maintains an active dance teaching career for both adults and children at several studios in Connecticut and Westchester.
Dardo is from Cordoba, Argentina, where he began acting a the age of 12. Originally studying dance as a supplement to his acting, he gradually recognized it as his true passion and began to train intensively. Dardo graduated from a 3-year program at the prestigious school of dance, “Teatro General San Martín” in Buenos Aires, studying ballet, modern jazz and composition. He also studied at the “Teatro Colón” and coached with leading ballet masters of Argentina including Haichi Acamine, Enrique Lommi and Olga Ferri. After graduation, Dardo was invited to become a member of the world-renowed “Ballet Argentino”, directed by Julio Bocca, and toured with the company for one year. In late 2001, Dardo moved to New York City, and began performing with a number of U.S. modern and ballet companies.
Dardo is currently one of New York’s leading tango dancers and has created a unique method for teaching tango technique, combining elements of different dance disciplines and emphasizing the understanding of energy flow.
Mara Driscoll comes to New York from Boulder, Colorado, where she began her training at the Boulder Ballet. She also trained at the North Carolina School of the Arts and participated in workshops at Springboard Danse Montreal, Juilliard and American Ballet Theatre. Mara began her career at the Richmond Ballet and has since danced with Metropolitan Opera Ballet, FJK Dance, Dardo Galletto Dance, Armitage Gone! Dance and others. Alongside performing, Mara enjoys choreographing, teaching ballet, and teaching the GYROTONIC® expansion system. She has taught and designed workshops for the Young Artists' Exchange program and for Artists Striving to End Poverty. Mara holds a B.A. from New York University's Gallatin School for Individualized Study, where she focused on relationships between art, religion and society.
Steven Vilsaint was born and raised in Haiti and obtained a passion for dance at the age of 13. In 2014, Steven came to the United States to pursue his dream of becoming a professional hip hop dancer. Over the course of Steven’s career, he has performed alongside many well-known hip hop artists. Steven also performed for several years with a traditional Haitian dance company known as Ayikodans, and toured internationally with the company. Steven is a versatile artist, willing and able to learn new dance forms, and working collaboratively with professional ballet, tap, and other dancers. Steven currently is employed by the NYC DOE as a dance educator in Queens while continuing to teach for Accent Dance NYC, both at our partner schools and community centers in New York City and Westchester County.
Shoko Tamai is a classically-trained ballet dancer who has performed with leading dance companies in various venues around the world. Since early childhood, and in keeping with Accent Dance NYC's own mission to promote multiculturalism, Shoko has studied various dance styles, including ballet, classical Japanese and Chinese dance, jazz fusion, African, Middle Eastern and Indian dance. Shoko’s period of study with Jamie H.J. Guan, martial arts trainer for the Beijing Opera, initially ignited in her a burning passion for martial arts.
Shoko studied at the Central School of Ballet (London, UK), The American Academy of Ballet (NYC), The Paris Opera (France), and The Madrid Ballet School (Spain). She has performed with many well-known dance companies, including Dance Theater of Harlem, Tokyo Ballet, and Cirque du Soleil, and has performed at venues including London’s Royal Opera House, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, The Theatre Royal in Glasgow, Lincoln Center, and Jacob’s Pillow, among others. Shoko has competed internationally, receiving the Solo Seal award from the Royal Academy of Dance in London, a Gold Medal in the New York Ballet Competition (American Academy of Ballet) and was a Finalist in The World Ballet Competition. Shoko was invited to represent Ninja Ballet at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as part of the 77th International Choreographer’s Festival with Dance Forms Professional in 2019, and was nominated for a New York Innovative Theater Award for Outstanding Choreography for her work in “The Tempest”, directed by Owen Thompson, at the Plaxall Gallery in New York City. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, including BroadwayWorld, Dance Enthusiast magazine, Metro US, and TimeOut New York.
Accent Dance NYC and Ninja Ballet have collaborated closely on several projects, including an exhibition of dance for college students, educators, and administrators at Boricua College in New York City. Shoko also has participated in other educational programming, including Accent Dance NYC's virtual educational performance series, Project Access, as both a performer and as a teaching artist.
A native from Córdoba, Argentina, Agostina Mocibob began her dance studies at Estudio de Ballet Sanda Recedo and then moved to Buenos Aires to study at the world-renowned Instituto de Arte Teatro Colón. Agostina thereafter moved to New York City to continue her studies at The Alvin Ailey School and with Dardo Galletto. Agostina has danced professionally as part of the Table of Silence, directed by Jacqulyn Bulgisi and performed at The Lincoln Center Plaza, as well as with the Ajkun Ballet Theater, the Benjamin Briones Ballet Company, Dardo Galletto Dance, the Enoble dance company, and the Calpulli Mexican dance company. She is a teaching artist for Accent Dance NYC in connection with both its adult and youth development programs with the YMCA as well as a teaching artist for Ballet Hispanico.
A native of Puerto Rico, Alonso dedicated his early life to the study of martial arts. At the age of 17, Alonso moved to New York City and studied on scholarship at the Alvin Ailey School. Alonso has performed professionally with many well-known dance companies, including Ballet Hispanico, Armitage Gone!, New York Theater Ballet, the Deborah Abel Dance Company, the Metropolitan Opera ballet company, and Dardo Galletto Dance. Alonso also started a not-for-profit entity, Alonso Guzman Dance Inc. to help promote understanding and appreciation among people from the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Alonso has appeared in many of Accent Dance NYC’s educational and professional performance initiatives, and also participates regularly in its open-access dance workshops.
Monica Deane is the Chief Operating Officer of Accent Dance NYC.
Monica possesses an astonishingly diverse set of skills, including in the world of dance as a choreographer, company director, and professional dancer, and in business, leading and growing organizations in media, technology, management, educational programming, and communications. Monica also epitomizes the heart and soul of our mission to inspire the younger generation to move, dance, and dream. We are thrilled to bring Monica into our Accent Dance NYC family!⠀
Copyright © 2021 Erwin and Isabelle Ziegelman Foundation,
a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization
Erwin and Isabelle Ziegelman Foundation
12 East 49th Street, 11th floor
New York, NY 10017