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2018-2019 Choreographers

Choregrapher: Robert Dekkers

Sean Carmon

Named “25 To Watch” by DANCE Magazine, Robert Dekkers is founder and Artistic Director of San Francisco's Post:Ballet. Collaborating with eclectic artists to present performances that are “anything but risk averse” (SF Chronicle), Robert has created new works for Post: together with artists in film, visual art, animation, architecture, sculpture, fashion design, and new music.

Robert has received commissions from Kansas City Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Smuin Ballet, sjDANCEco, San Jose State University, Southern Methodist University, and Quixotic Cirque Noveau. His work has been presented at venues including Tanzsommer Festival (Vienna), Ballet Builders Showcase (New York City), and West Wave Dance Festival (San Francisco). Robert was resident choreographer with Novaballet from 2008-2009 and was resident choreographer at Diablo Ballet from 2015-2018, where he created ten original works including Red Shoes and Carnival of the Imagination. Robert’s choreography for Post: has been featured at Jacob’s Pillow’s Inside/Out Festival, the SF International Arts Festival, and Seattle’s Against the Grain Festival. Post was named “Best New Dance” of San Francisco by 7×7 Magazine and has been nominated for three Isadora Duncan Awards.

Robert danced professionally with Ballet Arizona, ODC/Dance, Company C Contemporary Ballet, and Diablo Ballet. He was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Award for “Outstanding Performance- Individual” for his 2012-13 season with Diablo Ballet, where he danced leading roles in works by choreographers including George Balanchine, José Límon, Val Caniparoli, KT Nelson, Trey McIntyre, Septime Webre, and Mario Radacovsky. Robert has also performed work by Twyla Tharp, August Bournonville, Maurice Causey, Lar Lubovitch, Dominic Walsh, Jodie Gates, Ib Andersen, Paul Taylor, Brenda Way, and Julia Adam.

Robert is also the Artistic Director of Berkeley Ballet Theater, a school and youth company dedicated to building on the traditions of classical ballet to move the art form forward for the next generation. He teaches company classes for LINES Ballet, Smuin Ballet, and ODC/Dance, as well as master classes and workshops throughout the country. In addition to his work as a choreographer, teacher and dancer, he holds a degree in business from Rio Salado College. Find out more at

Photo credit: Daniel O'Neill

Choreographer: Norbert De La Cruz III

Sean Carmon

Norbert De La Cruz III is born in Bayombong Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines and raised in Los Angeles, CA. He is a NYC and LA-based freelance contemporary dance choreographer and educator. Since receiving his BFA from the Juilliard School in 2010, he has danced professionally with Balletto Teatro di Torino, Metropolitan Opera House, Lustig Dance Theatre, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet to name a few. His work has been commissioned to for Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Tulsa Ballet II, Barak Ballet, Hubbard Street II, James Sewell Ballet, Attack Theatre, Ballet X, Peridance Contemporary Dance Company and Grand Rapids Ballet. De La Cruz has been awarded fellowships from the Jerome Robbins NEW foundation, the Princess Grace Awards - USA, The Jerome Foundation, The Wolf Trap Foundation, and the Commissioning Choreographers Campaign.

He has been selected for professional development programs such as the NY Choreographic institute (an affiliate of the NYCB), the National Choreographers Initiative (Irvine, CA), Hubbard Street¿s National Choreographic Competition (Chicago), Joffrey Academy of Dance Winning Works (Chicago), Alvin Ailey New Directions Choreography Lab (NY).

His work has been presented by the Joyce Theatre (NY), Brooklyn Academy of Music (NY), Wolf Trap (VA), Ailey CitiGroup Theatre (NY), Martha Knoebel Dance Theatre (CA), Peter Jay Sharp Theatre (NY), Blanch Touhill Performing Arts Center (MO), Aspen District Theatre (CO), Lensic Performing Arts Center (NM), Wallis Annenberg (CA), Kelly Strayhorn Theatre (PA), the Broadway Playhouse (IL), Irvine Barclay Theatre (CA), and McCallum Theatre (CA). In teaching and choreography, his credentials include The Juilliard School Summer, Ailey/ Fordham University, Princeton University Ballet, University of Hartford Dance Division, The University of Richmond Department of Theatre and Dance, SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, Marymount Manhattan College, NJ Performing Arts Center, Center Of Creative Arts (St Louis), Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Ramon C. Cortines Visual and Performing Arts High School, Windward School for the Arts, Westside Dance Project, Hawkins School for the Arts, Charles Maple Youth Conservatory, No.OneArthouse, and the International ballet Summer Intensives in Gdánsk, Poland. He conducts seasonal workshops and projects in both New York City and Los Angeles.

Additional honorable mentions include the Asian Arts Alliance Jadin Wong Award, McCallum Theatre Choreography Festival, and Dance Magazines Top 25 to watch in 2016. Working as a freelancer, Norbert is simultaneously pursuing his Masters degree in Fine Arts in dance at Hollins University Graduate Program.

Choreographer: Alicia Diaz

Alicia Diaz

Originally from Puerto Rico, Alicia Díaz is co-director of Agua Dulce Dance Theater with movement artist Matthew Thornton. Díaz has performed with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Andanza: Puerto Rican Contemporary Dance Company, Donald Byrd/The Group (The Harlem Nutcracker), Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre, dANCEpROjEct, Contemporary Motions, and independent choreographers Sally Silvers and Marion Ramírez amongst others. Recently, she has performed as a guest artist with the Maida Withers Dance Construction Company in Washington D.C. Díaz's choreographic work has been presented in the United States, Spain, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Argentina, and Mexico. Her recent collaborations with percussionist Héctor “Coco” Barez explores Caribbean cultural memory and identity by referencing Bomba, the oldest Puerto Rican music and dance form, characterized by the improvisational dialogue between dancer and musician. Their work has been presented at Movement Research at Judson Church and Pregones Theater in New York City, the University of Turabo and Casa Ruth in Puerto Rico, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Richmond Dance Festival in Richmond VA, and the Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival. Alicia joined the Department of Theatre and Dance at The University of Richmond in 2011.

Photo credit: Tania Fernandez

Choreographer: Starrene Foster

Starrene FosterA Richmond native, Starrene Foster is a choreographer, dance educator and the Artistic Director of Starr Foster Dance. Starrene has been recognized as one of Richmond’s Most Prestigious 25 Arts Innovators,The Top 40 under 40 and is the beneficiary of the 2003 VCU Star Alumni Award where she is presently in her nineteenth year as an adjunct faculty member. Starr Foster Dance is the recipient of the Theresa Pollak Award for Artistic Excellence, has been featured on PBS's Virginia Currents, and for the last 16 years, has produced the highly recognized Mid-Atlantic Choreographers Showcase which provides other dance artists opportunities to present work. She has received grants from the Virginia Council for the Arts for her teaching and community outreach, as well as many commissions to create new dance works for universities, professional dance companies and independent artists. Starrene teaches and lectures throughout the country for various festivals and dance organizations, is an advocate for enriching the world with more art and is dedicated to mentoring young artists. Her choreography has been presented nationally which include: The Philadelphia Fringe Festival (PA), The Jack Guidone Theatre (DC), SUNY Buffalo (NY), The New World School (FL), Old Dominion University (VA), Cornell Unive ity (NY), James Madison University (VA), Dance Charlotte (NC), The Goose Route Dance Festival (WV), the Demetrius Klein Dance Festival (FL), University of Maryland, The Richmond Ballet (VA), University of Richmond (VA), Scranton Cultural Arts Center (PA), Baltimore Theatre Project (MD), The Lorton Workhouse (DC), International Festival of Music, Big River Dance Festival (WV) and the Festival of Choreography (NC). As a dancer, Starrene trained under many dance greats including Betty Jones, Jeff Slayton, Tatiana Akinfieva, and at the Neubert Ballet Institute. She has had the pleasure of performing works by Mark Taylor, Doug Varone, Sharon Kinney, Ronald K. Brown, Mark Dendy, Pewan Chow (Hong Kong), Raul Parro (Mexico), among many others. In addition to her faculty position at VCU, Starrene is in her 15th year as faculty at the Richmond Ballet.

Photo credit: Barbara Shore

Choreographer: Francesca Harper

Starrene FosterFrancesca Harper is an internationally acclaimed multi-faceted artist. After being named Presidential Scholar in the Arts and performing at the White House her senior year of high school, she joined and performed soloist roles with The Dance Theater of Harlem and later as a Principal Dancer in William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt.

Her Broadway credits include Fosse, The Producers, All Shook Up, The Frogs, and The Color Purple. Regional Tours include principal roles of Helene in Sweet Charity and Judith in Sophisticated Ladies. Her Off-Broadway credits include playing Sally in Anna Deavere Smith’s House Arrest, 50 Minutes with Harriett and Phillis, an original work in collaboration with Pulitzer Prize Winning writer Margo Jefferson and DJ spooky, Amandla in The CA Lyons Projects at The Alliance Theater, and Mrs. Poindexter in Langston in Harlem. Harper was a featured performer in Robert Wilson, Bernice, and Toshi Reagon’s Opera Zinnias, a featured dancer and vocalist in Carrie Mae Weem’s Grace Notes at The Kennedy Center, as well as a vocalist in Ms. Weem’s production of Past Tense. Harper was a featured actor and vocalist in Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More for three years, and most recently played Billie Holiday in Jag Production’s Lady Day at Emerson Bar and Grill.

Harper has choreographed works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, Tanz Graz, Hubbard Street II, Dallas Black Dance Theater, and her own company, The Francesca Harper Project, which was founded in 2005. Her TV appearances include Boardwalk Empire, David Letterman, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Harper also served as ballet consultant for the feature film, Black Swan, by Darren Aronofsky, and starring Natalie Portman. Harper enjoys her appointment as an adjunct professor at New York University, an Associate Professor at Barnard College, and continues the vital role of teacher and choreographer for The Ailey School, Fordham University’s BFA Program, and the Susan Batson Studio.

Harper is the Artistic Director for the Movement Invention Project® and also recently served as Movement Director for Nick Cave’s The Let Go, an exhibit commissioned by the Park Avenue Armory. Harper was awarded a two year choreographic fellowship with Urban Bush Women, providing support toward her latest dance theater work MyStory: Origins of an Unapologetic Body, still currently in development.

Her current engagements include a collaboration with Nona Hendryx in Refrigerated Dreams at The Public Theater.

Francesca Harper is committed to works rooted artistic expression, empowerment, and social awareness. She is grateful for the daily opportunity to do what she loves and is passionate about inspiring others to live their dreams.

Photo credti: Nina Wurtzel

Choreographer: Eric Rivera

Christian von Howard

A native of Puerto Rico, Eric Rivera earned his MFA in Choreography from SUNY Purchase College. During his performing career he danced with Ballet Hispanico of New York for 13 seasons where he helped to create over 20 original works. He also performed with Minnesota Ballet as principal dancer, Ballet Theater of Pennsylvania, Danza Jazz de San Juan and in the European tour of West Side Story. He has appeared as guest artist in different companies such as Connecticut Ballet, Thomas Ortiz Dance, Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico, Westchester Ballet and Brooklyn Ballet. Eric had the pleasure of performing choreographies of Ann Reinking, Mark Morris, José Limon, Kenneth McMillan, Margot Sapinton, Graciela Daniel, Kevin Wynn, Vicente Nebrada, Talley Beatty and George Balanchine.

His works have been presented by Dance Iquail, Ashani Dance, Owensboro Dance Company, ACDFA Gala at Little Rock, AR, NY Summer Stage and the show They Called it Rock. His television appearances include PBS¿ Setting the Stage, NBC's 20th Hispanic Heritage Awards, Hispanic Day Parade with Brenda Blackmon, Puerto Rican Day Parade with Ernie Anastos and the documentary "Pedro Ruiz Home Coming" among others.

Currently is an Assistant Professor of Dance at VCU. Eric taught at Western Kentucky University as an assistant professor where his works were funded by grants from WKU Research and Creativity Activity Program (RCAP). In his creative work as well as in his teaching, he is constantly exploring ways in which to dialogue with and share his Hispanic heritage. Mr. Rivera is an ABT Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT Teachers Training Intensive in Primary through level seven of the ABT National Training Curriculum.

Choreographer: Anne Van Gelder

anne van gelder

Anne Van Gelder, Faculty, Department of Theatre and Dance, Director of Dance, and Artistic Director of University Dancers holds a B.A. from Virginia Intermont College and an M.F.A. from the University of Utah, in Performance, Choreography, and Pedagogy. Ms. Van Gelder performed and served as ballet master in companies in Virginia and Utah. As a dancer, Ms. Van Gelder worked with a variety of educators and choreographers from all over the world including Alun Jones, Conrad Ludlow, Richard Munro, Tom Pazik, and Stanley Zompakos. At the University of Richmond, Ms. Van Gelder has worked with Stefanie Batten Bland, Kanji Segawa, Jacquline Buglisi, Bill Hastings, Billy Seigenfeld, and Francesca Harper, among others. Her choreography has been performed in collaboration with UR ensemble-in-residence, Eighth Blackbird. She has taught all levels of classical ballet technique at the University of Richmond, the University of Utah, Virginia Intermont College, and the Willam F. Christensen Center for Dance. In Utah, she served as Dance Instructor/Choreographer for gymnasts who were members of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team. Ms. Van Gelder also taught jazz dance in Utah and Virginia and created choreography for Theatre Bristol, Park City Shakespeare Festival, and the Ogden Symphony. She continues to study dance regularly, including workshops in New York where she enjoys studying historic dance. Ms. Van Gelder has created various works for University Players & Dancers, including collaborations with colleagues in the Department of Music. She worked with the Saratov Academic Youth Theatre and has created choreography for the following UR Players & Dancers productions: Wings, The Tempest, Fiddler on the Roof and The Chairs and The Bald Soprano directed by Italian director and filmmaker, Paolo Landi. She has lectured on dance history at the VMFA and regularly teaches at the American College Dance Association conference. Ms. Van Gelder teaches Productions Studies, Dance History-Theory, and all levels of ballet technique. Ms. Van Gelder considers her study of dance and pedagogy ongoing. She is a member of CORPS de Ballet International, Golden Key International Honour Society, and Alpha Psi Omega Dramatic Honorary Society.

Photo credit: Dixon Christian