Core and Special Artists

Core Artists

Please check out our Artists Gallery to see our dancers in action!

Tanya Calamoneri

Aint No Swan Lake 2 by Adam AmengualTanya Calamoneri is Artistic Directof of New York-based Company SoGoNo (company videos) and a performer, choreographer and teacher who combines contemporary dance, butoh dance, physical theater, contact improvisation and yoga. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance at Colgate University.

Previously based in New York, she founded live-work studio-theater Studio 111, co-directed arts service organization The Field, and was a Project Manager of dance diplomacy program DanceMotion USA at Brooklyn Academy of Music. new York-based Company SoGoNo has won awards from the NYIT and received funding from the New York State Council on the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, AMC’s Live Music for Dance and Puffin Foundation. The company has presented work in New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Chicago, and Kyoto, Japan.

Prior to that in San Francisco, she was a member of Shinichi Koga’s butoh company inkBoat and danced for Kim Epifano and Jess Curtis (among others). She was a co-director of the performance troupe violent dwarf, and a founding faculty member of the Experimental Performance Institute at New College of CA. Tanya received her MA from NYU’s Gallatin School, and her PhD from Temple University.

Laura Zimmerman

Laura Zimmerman HeadshotLaura Zimmerman brings us, among many other things, Dance for the Camera. Dance for the Camera workshop participants will explore and learn how to create dance works utilizing the unique medium of film/video. Participants will learn the skills and craft required to create dance for the camera works including film/video composition, camera operation and skills, storytelling, and directing. Through this workshop, students will collaborate in teams to produce, direct, perform, and create their own short dance films.

Laura Zimmerman is a multidisciplinary modern dance choreographer, videographer, photographer, and sound designer. Laura has choreographed over 20 stage works, which have been presented at University of Wisconsin; Madison, the Overture Center for the Arts, Temple University, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. As a video dance artist Laura’s work has been presented at the Festival of Interarts and Technology, the Overture Center for the Arts, Temple University, the Philadelphia Dance Projects Motion Pictures Dance on Film Festival, Pregones Theater, and Crane Arts.

Laura holds two Bachelor of Science degrees for the University of Wisconsin- Madison in dance and education and a MFA in dance choreography and performance from Temple University.Laura has served as an adjunct faculty member at Temple University, and has taught ballet and modern dance technique within community settings. She is currently a lecturer and guest choreographer at Eastern Michigan University. Laura has served as a videographer at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival where she directed and filmed performance documentation for such companies as:

  • Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
  • Kyle Abraham/
  • Compañía Nacional de Danza 2 (CND2)
  • Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Christina Sears Etter

Christina Sears Etter

Christina Sears Etter, MFA, is a performer, choreographer and educator with professional experience in many forms of dance, including modern, tap, jazz, improvisational performance and site-specific work. She is Artistic Director of People Dancing since 2000, and teaches in the community and in higher education. She earned a BA from University of Michigan, and later, after working in New York City and London, UK, obtained a MFA degree from State University of New York: College at Brockport.

She is working or has worked in a lecturer or visiting professor capacity in the following programs: Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI, Wayne State University in midtown Detroit, MI, Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, MI, University of Michigan in Flint, MI, Towson University in Baltimore, MD, University of Toledo in Toledo, OH.

Special Artists

Chi and Ambyr Amen-Ra

chiamenraChi and Ambyr Amen-Ra (edited from

Presently, Chinelo combines all of his experiences — the knowledge and skills gained from both his formative drum teachers and his drum teachers from Africa as well as his literary studies of the African Diaspora — into a drumming style and presence unique to him.

Chinelo ‘Chi’ Amen-Ra was born into the Ngoma Za Amen-Ra started drumming at the age of two. As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, where he majored in African American Studies, he began to expand his artistry as a choreographer; applying his unique sense of African polyrhythm to the ‘art of stepping’. He was voted into the position of head step master and took on the challenge of choreographing routines. He also continued with his passion for Djembe drumming, performing at U of M (Ann Arbor, Dearborn), Wayne State University, Kettering University, Oakland University, Western Michigan University, and Michigan State University.This culminated into the honor of performing and representing Detroit artists at Ford Field during Super Bowl XL.

He has crossed paths with several master drummers from the African Diaspora, including Famoudou Konate (Guinea), Mamady Keita (Guinea), Epizo Bangoura (Guinea), Koto Ngum (Gambia), Kissima Diabate (Senegal), and Mama Mabiba Baegne (Congo). In addition, he has studied intensely with the renowned Daomba drummer and dancer Sulley Imoro (Ghana). He has also been afforded extensive facilitation experience, including conducting drum workshops for the YMCA, as well as being invited to co-facilitate the Ujima Sasa Dance Troupe’s annual youth program in Kalamazoo, MI. Most recently, Wayne State University brought him aboard in the capacity of Instructional Assistant in the College of Fine, Performing, and Communication Arts.

As a lifelong dancer, Ambyr is trained in Dunham, Afro-Haitian, Afro-Cuban, Horton, Graham, Ballet, Jazz, West African and Zumba. Daughter of Michigan’s only certified Dunham teacher and Master Guide, Penny Godboldo, Ambyr has been dancing since the age of 3. Ambyr has incorporated dance into every aspect of her life. A founding member of Cornrows Dance Company (2001-03) at the University of Michigan, Ambyr earned a Bachelor of Science in Movement Science from the School of Kinesiology. While working on her Master of Arts in Sociology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, she was a member of Inner Vision Dance Theater (founder, Keith Williams) a Dunham company in St. Louis, MO. In continuing dance and performance as part of the family business and legacy, Ambyr teaches and performs worldwide with her husband, Master Percussionist, Chinelo ‘Chi’ Amen-Ra.

She currently works in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Lisa LaMarre


Choreographer, Dancer, and Movement Educator Lisa LaMarre is an adjunct professor at Wayne State University and the originator of LaMarre and Dancers, an explorative group of dancers focused on interdisciplinary collaborations. Lisa is a principle artist of the Great Lakes Ensemble.

Lisa LaMarre’s choreography has been produced for DDCdances, Grand Valley State University, Oakland University, Michigan Youth Arts Festival, People Dancing, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts and numerous galleries/spaces/schools nationally.

Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Western Michigan University and was selected as the WMU Department of Dance Presidential Scholar. She has worked as the Education Director of DDCdances and as an artist in residency for VSA of Michigan. Lisa has presented her integrated, inclusionary teaching technique at conferences in Washington DC at the International VSA Arts Festival and in Grand Rapids, MI at The Heart and Spirit of Caregivers Conference. Her dance company work has included projects for DDCdances, stbdance, and Mack Avenue Dance Company.

Marcus White

mrw-headshot1Marcus White (from

A native of North Carolina, Marcus White, calls Michigan his new home. As a performer, White has had the opportunity to perform professionally for Theatre West Virginia, the North Carolina Black Repertory Theatre Company, Livestock Players and other local and regional dance theater companies and has been featured in the works of choreographers such as Jerome Robbins, B.J. Sullivan, John Gamble, Duane Cyrus, and Helen Simoneau. Most recently, he performed with the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble in “MoTown in Motion” at the Detroit Opera House as a part of their 20th Anniversary Season.

As a choreographer and director, White has choreographed works in North Carolina, Virginia/DC, West Virginia, and Michigan. He was recently invited to showcase his work, Com4t Zone, at the Alvin Ailey Studios as a part of JT Lotus Choreographer’s Showcase and is currently on faculty at Jackson School of the Arts (MI). White truly believes that all youth should have access to dance. Therefore, he founded Paradigm Dance, UNCG’s premier student-led dance organization dedicated to performing and community outreach by exposing area youth to dance who may otherwise have limited access to dance. As a young artist, White’s limitless passion for his craft is displayed best in his performance and choreographic endeavors.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance and Choreography at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While at UNCG, White trained in release, Graham, and Horton modern techniques as well as ballet (classical and contemporary), tap, jazz. He has had the opportunity to work with B.J. Sullivan, Duane Cyrus, Mabel Robinson, Angela Fuller, Sara Geffert, Jen Guy, and Jan Van Dyke during his time at UNCG. He has had the opportunity to train at the Triangle Center for Contemporary Dance, High Point Ballet, the American Dance Projekt under the tutelage of Scott Benson (Backstreet Boys, Michael Jackson, Madonna), Kameron Bink (SYTYCD), Bubba Carr (SYTYCD), and Michelle Butterfield (Tap Dogs). He has also attended the American Dance Festival on scholarship performing and training with Ursula Payne, Jeffrey Bullock, Mark Haim, and Stafford Berry.

Tricia Wise

Tricia Wise is a graduate from University of California: Irvine, Bachelor of Dance. She is a studio owner and company director of “Oh Be Joyful” for over 20 years. She is a Dance Minister for several churches in the Ann Arbor area. Tricia directs and produces for Theatre Club of the Ann Arbor Christian School, where the most recent production was “Godspell, Jr.” Professional performance and/or choreography credits include Project Dance New York, Shepard of the Lakes Christmas Cantata in Brighton, Michigan and Fueled & Aflame Dance Company.

Amy Hutchison


Amy Hutchison began her classical ballet training with the Saginaw Valley Dancers under the direction of Doris Marsh. From 2006-2010 she trained and performed with the Farrell Ballet Theatre while earning her BA Psychology degree from Kalamazoo College. Since 2010 she has danced with People Dancing, a professional, non-profit modern dance company in Ann Arbor and has also performed with Lisa Lamarre and Dancers and The Factory Dance Company. Amy has had the privilege to study with the Paul Taylor Dance company in 2011 and 2012, Kista Tucker Dance Company and Sidra Bell Dance New York in 2012, and the Toronto Dance Theater in 2013. Ms. Hutchison is a certified yoga instructor and teaches ballet and modern dance throughout Ann Arbor.

Sherry Wilkinson


Sherry Jerome Wilkinson, Associate Professor of Dance, received her early ballet training in Arizona, studying under Mary Moe Adams and Constance Stine. She passed Royal Academy of Dancing levels through the majors elementary examination and spent summers at Ballet West Summer Dance Camp. She received her bachelor of fine arts degree in ballet with university honors from Texas Christian University where she was the senior scholar in the Department of Ballet and Modern Dance. She received her master of fine arts degree in dance, as a scholarship student, from New York University’s Tisch School of Arts. While in NYC, Professor Jerome danced with the Second Avenue Dance Company working with choreographers David Allen, Shapiro and Smith, and others. Professor Jerome has studied with such ballet notables as Fernando Schaffenberg, Li Chou Cheng, David Howard, Maggie Black, Bruce Marks, and William Christianson. Her modern training includes studying with David Hochoy, Danny Clark, Deborah Jowitt, and the many guest artists of the NYU faculty.

Professor Jerome dance professionally with the Carol Rioux Dance Ensemble, Ballet Long Island, and for many seasons with the Saint Louis Ballet. She has danced in a variety of principal and soloist roles in such ballets as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Cinderella, A Midsummer’s Nights Dream, and others. Locally, she has also performed with People Dancing under the direction of Christina Sears Etter. Besides numerous Ann Arbor concerts with People Dancing, she traveled, in 2005, with the company for a concert series in New York City.

Phil Simmons

phil headshot

Professor Phil Simmons is a native Oklahoman who holds a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Georgia. Additionally he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and English from Oklahoma State University. Before coming to Eastern Michigan University, he split his time between performing, directing, casting, and choreographing musicals around the world and in New York. His favorite roles included Will Rogers in The Will Rogers Follies, Hysterium in the Broadway First National Tour of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum opposite Rip Taylor, Anselmo opposite Tony winner Ron Holgate in the Broadway First National Tour of The Man of La Mancha, and Ozzie in the International Tour of Leonard Bernstein’s On the Town.

As a card-carrying Equity Actor and a Fosse specialist, Phil’s passion lies in training young performers not only in the foundational techniques and methods of acting, singing, and dancing but in the practical, day-to-day side of thriving in the unpredictable and competitive profession called show business.