Company member Bios
SARAH M. BARRY, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Sarah is a choreographer and Artistic Director of Yonder Contemporary Dance Company. She is also a choreographer for the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre. She works as an Associate Professor of dance at the University of Alabama where she teaches contemporary technique, choreography and improvisation, dance pedagogy, and dance history. Sarah’s choreography has been shown across the U.S. and in Sorrento, Italy, Biel, Switzerland, and several times at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. Her work has been commissioned by the Alabama State Council on the Arts and set on contemporary company, Sanspointe. Sarah’s screendance “there, again” was selected for the Kalamata International Dance Festival, the Festival Miden in Greece and the San Francisco Dance Film Festival. Her film “so you want me always to paint flowers” was selected for the Utah Dance Film Festival and Motion Captured as part of Dance Month in Houston, TX. She has been a guest artist for Alabama State University, Emory University, the Alabama Dance Festival, the American College Dance Association, the Children’s Dance Foundation, and the Alberta School of the Performing Arts.
MARK BARRY, CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Maddie began dancing in Baton Rouge at the age of eight. After moving to Tupelo, MS, she began dancing under the direction of Jan Dijkwel. While there, she performed ballets such as Giselle and La Bayadere. In 2015, she began studying dance at the University of Alabama. She has performed with Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre and performed with Alabama Colorguard and Alta Marea Winterguard.
Born and raised in Priceville, AL, Whittney has trained under Jennifer Erickson, Arleta McCall and Tracey Boone at Dancers Incorporated. She is a member of the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre and has been featured in choreography by Sarah M. Barry and John Virciglio. She has performed in both Dance Alabama and Dance Collection. Whittney was awarded with a scholarship to the Gus Giordano College/Pro Intensive for the summer of 2018. She has also attended the Rockette’s summer intensive in New York.
Ellie, a Memphis Native, began her dance training with New Ballet Ensemble under the direction of Katie Smythe. Here she had the privilege to work with artists such as Blakely White-McGuire, Elizabeth Corbett, Kaori Ogasawara, Kim Jones, and Noelia Garcia Carmona. She is currently a member of Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre and works as a counselor American Ballet Theatre’ summer intensive program.
Emily is from Nashville, TN. She started dancing at the studio Artistry in Motion, later transitioning to the performing arts high school Nashville School of the Arts under the direction of Stacie Flood-Popp. Emily has worked with Morgan Burke, Andre Fuentes, Erica Sobol, Travis Cooper, and Roe Brown. She performed Swan Lake with the Nashville Symphony and collaborated with the country star Chris Young. Emily produced and choreographed Hinter Dem Zaun, an evening length work in 2015. She is currently a company member of Dance Alabama and Dance Collection.
As the granddaughter of Gus Giordano, Sarah has been exposed to a great deal of dance. She began her training in the Chicagoland area, studying at Gus Giordano Dance School. She was a company member of Gus Giordano Dance School and Inaside Youth Program. At the 2011 Arizona Jazz Showcase, she received the “Most Outstanding Dancer” award. Sarah has worked with Cornelius Carter, Sarah M. Barry, Lawrence Jackson, Rebecca Salzer and John Virciglio in Alabama. She was a scholarship student, in the Professional Semester Program at New York City’s Broadway Dance Center and the Gus Giordano College/Pro Intensive in Chicago where she worked with Marcus Alford, Sheila Barker, Dee Caspary, April Cook, Jim Cooney, Jimmy Locust, Pattie Obey, Phil Orsano and Susan Quinn.
Kendra (Sterling, VA) began her dance training with Ravel Dance Studio under direction of Janet Hall. While there she performed both soloist and corps roles in the ballets Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Giselle, The Nutcracker,and Coppelia, and other contemporary and modern works. Kendra has trained at summer intensives with the Joffrey Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and Richmond Ballet. She has worked with American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive program for the past 2 summers. Miss Giles has been a member of Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre for 2 years. She has also performed with Dance Alabama.
Born and raised in Tuscaloosa, AL, Caitlyn has been dancing since she was three years old. She has studied Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Contemporary, Graham, Cunningham, Hip-Hop, and Tap. Caitlyn trained at The Academy of Ballet and Jazz, The Alabama Ballet, and The Dance Centre. Caitlyn has worked with choreographers such as Nick Lazzarini, Chantel Aguirre, Jaci Royal and Benoit-Swan Pouffer. She’s attended American Ballet Theatre summer intensives, The Collective in California, and New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts summer intensive. Caitlyn attended SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Dance and was accepted into programs such as the Boston Conservatory and The University of Alabama.
Marilyn was born and raised in Southern NH, where she began her training at the age of six. She attended the Walnut Hill School of the Arts in Natick, MA and The Boston Ballet School. Marilyn received a full scholarship to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater professional division summer intensive and was accepted into programs such as Dance Theater of Harlem, Atlanta Ballet School and Orlando Ballet school. Marilyn has attended the Darc Dance festival, studying and performing in Chateauroux, France. She attended SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Dance and was accepted into other programs such as Alonzo King Lines Ballet BFA program and Point Park University BFA program.
Lexi’s dance career got started in Memphis, TN and she has since worked with Alexei Moskalenko, Kyle Hill, Andy Pellick, Natalie Fotopolus, Dashi Mitchell and Sarah M. Barry. Lexi was chosen as a Soloist in Los Angeles for The Dance Excellence International Festival and a counselor for American Ballet Theatre. Lexi has choreographed for both competition and conservatory stages, received national awards, and performed at both Dance Collection and Dance Alabama. She is a member of the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre and a dancer and choreographer for Yonder Contemporary Dance Company.
Lindsay began her training in Knoxville, TN at Studio Arts for Dancers. She went on to join Go! Contemporary Dance Works under artistic director Lisa Hall McKee in 2009. Lindsay attended the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts in 2014. She appeared as a featured dancer and dance captain in Footloose the Musical and The Addams Family the Musical, both under the direction of Leann Dickson. Lindsay choreographed for The Little Mermaid, Jr for Knoxville Children’s Theatre and Big River for the Wordplayers of Knoxville. She received the Lou Wall Award and worked with American Ballet Theatre’ summer intensive program. Lindsay is a member of Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre and performed in A Chorus Line at the Virginia Samford Theatre.
Born in Irmo, SC, Drew trained in a variety of styles at the Southern Strutt under the direction of Nancy Giles. He is a member of the Alabama Dance Repertory Dance Theatre, Dance Alabama showcase and the Dance Alabama Film Festival. His choreography has been featured in the Dance Alabama showcase along with other studio works. He received scholarships to train under Justin Giles and the Soul Escape Company, the faculty at the University of Alabama, and the faculty of the American Ballet Theatre. He is a recipient of The University of Alabama’s “Most Outstanding Dancer” award.
Originally from San Diego, CA, Kelsey started training at Allstar Dance and later, Evoke Dance Movement, and then California Ballet School in San Diego. There she trained under Maxine Mahon and Vitaliy Nechay. Her performance experience includes doing several performances with Allstar Dance in the Disneyland parades, Dance Alabama, and national competitions with Evoke Dance Movement. She plans to launch a dance therapy practice in the near future.
Morgan, a native of Florence, AL, started dancing under the direction of Laura Foster at Laura’s Studio of Performing Arts. She has worked closely with choreographers such as Joy Spears, Chris Jones, Cornelius Carter, Sarah M. Barry, Rebecca Salzer and Lawrence Jackson. Morgan is a current member of Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre and a performer/choreographer for Dance Alabama, Dance Collection and the Dance Alabama Film Festival.
Kendall, a native of Morris, a small town deep in Alabama, has many years of extensive dance training through programs such as Broadway Dance Center Professional Semester, Acting for Dancers Intensives and Complexions Contemporary Ballet intensive. Kendall has performed with, and assisted many renowned choreographers including Talia Favia, Matthew Fata, Chaz Buzan, Matt Cady, Phil Orsano, Lane Napper and Tom Richardson. He also toured with Celebrity National Dance Convention. As a choreographer, Kendall has received awards such as the CREATE Choreography Competition and had his works featured in select concerts and film festivals around Alabama.
Originally from Niceville, FL, Claire began her training at the Florida Ballet Conservatory at three years old. She trained at institutions across the country including the American Ballet Theatre, Florida State University and Pensacola State College. She trained at the The Calling Christian Dance Company and was offered a place in Northwest Florida State College’s dance program. Claire currently studies dance and environmental engineering at The University of Alabama. Here she has performed excerpts from Swan Lake and The Nutcracker with Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre and danced in the student choreographed shows Dance Alabama, Dance Collection, and directed a dance film for Dance Alabama Film Festival.
Eve, from Memphis, TN, started her dance training at Elizabeth Anne Brown’s Performing Arts. She also trained with faculty of the American Ballet Theatre, Atlanta Ballet, Broadway Dance Centre and a number Broadway touring casts. Eve worked as a dancer for the Miss Tennessee Scholarship Pageant from 2013 – 2015. She is a company member with Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre, and has danced with the Moscow Ballet on their Nutcracker tour. Eve has been awarded scholarships to the New York City Dance Alliance intensive as well as the SHOCK dance intensive in Chicago.
Lyndell T. McDonald, Technical Director, Lighting Designer
A native of Montgomery, AL. Lyndell T. McDonald is the Technical Director and Lighting Designer for Yonder Contemporary Dance Company. He is also the Technical Supervisor for the Department of Theatre and Dance at The University of Alabama. He is a member of the IATSE local 78 stage union. He has served as lighting designer and technical director for Dance Alabama, Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre, and lighting designer for Contemporary Choreographers Collective (COCO) Dance Festival in Trinidad and Tobago and for American College Dance Association South-West Region Conference at Texas Tech University.
Aharon Simone, Costume Designer
Aharon Simone is so humbled to have the opportunity to work with Yonder Contemporary Dance Company. She has had many opportunities to collaborate with dance and each time it’s been an experience she will never forget. It has always been a dream of hers to create beautiful art around the world. Aharon likes to use her unique style of design, her knowledge of lines involving the body, music with a high frequency, and striking colors of warms and cools to push art to the next level. Aharon is passionate about design and all that it embodies. Anytime she designs anything, whether it be for dance, a play, a musical, or a really dope fashion show, she wants to show the world that it’s really about love and that she puts her all into it. Aharon is currently completing her final semester of graduate school at the University of Alabama and she plans to relocate soon after graduation to make a stamp in design around the world. Aharon wants to encourage every creator to look within and realize that you already have everything you need in life to get you to that next level. She sends love and respect to her queens: mommy and nana. Stay Kool & Roll Tide!
Meghan Poljak, Press and Promotions
Meghan’s focus is in public relations and hospitality management, specializing in nonprofit communication and event coordination. She merges her passions for advocacy and marketing by serving in organizational leadership roles such as Student Coordinator for The University of Alabama’s Orientation and Special Events, Vice President of Marketing for the UA’s Dance Marathon, Team Leader for the Center for Service and Leadership, and Account Executive for Capstone Agency.
COMPOSERS & Collaborators
Brianna is completing the second of her undergraduate degrees in Music Composition (BM) at The University of Alabama. She started composing during her junior year of high school under the direction of Christopher Johnson at the Fairfax Academy of Arts and Communications. She has had works premiered at the Dance Alabama Film Festival in 2017 and 2018.
Corey Fant (b. 1989) is an Alabama based composer, producer, recording engineer, and performer who has studied at the University of Alabama and Belmont University. Fant is currently studying composition at the University of Alabama under Dr. Amir Zaheri, and he has also studied with C. P. First. Compositionally, Fant is engaged in a numerous collaborations with his colleagues ranging from acoustic to electroacoustic works for a large variety of ensembles, with his most recent work for solo violin being released by Navona Records. Outside of his compositional work Fant has a focus on the recording, production, distribution, and publication of contemporary music and has recorded multiple pieces of his colleagues, performers, and his own. Additionally, he has been involved with the performance of new music working directly with the University of Alabama Contemporary Ensemble as a performer and as the Student Assistant Director. Fant can be reached at email@example.com.
Rebecca Salzer is a collaborative and multi-disciplinary art-maker. Her recent work for the stage has been seen at Links Hall Chicago, Highways Performance Space and Gallery in Los Angeles, and The La Jolla Playhouse. Since 2000, her award-winning films and videos have been programmed in national and international film festivals, and have been shown on public television affiliates KPBS-TV, KQED-TV, and WTTW-TV. Rebecca is a Jacob K. Javits Fellow. She holds a B.A. in Humanities from Yale University and an M.F.A. in Dance Theatre from the University of California, San Diego. In 2014, she joined the University of Alabama faculty as Assistant Professor of Dance.
J. R. Speake
J. R. Speake (b. 1993) is an Alabama-born composer, arranger, and conductor currently residing in Tuscaloosa, AL. In the fall of 2017, Speake received his Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Composition while studying with Amir Zaheri, and formerly with C. P. First.
With an eclectic style and a wide range of musical interests, J. R.’s music includes works for solo, chamber, and large ensemble; acoustic and electronic; music for dance, and music for film. His works have been performed regionally, nationally, and internationally, notably in France while at the 2017 Zodiac Music Academy & Festival where his commissioned work, Bounding Quake, was premiered. An active collaborator, engaged in participating with other artists, he worked with violinist Davis Brooks on his piece, Caper Fair, which was released on the album Early Musings: New Music for Violin on the Navona Label, with international distribution by Naxos.
As a composer, J. R. is interested in connecting with people through his music, hoping to make a positive impact on the lives of others through what he loves: creating art.
Dr. Amir Zaheri is an Assistant Professor of Composition, the Musical Director and Conductor of the Contemporary Ensemble, the Associate Director of the School of Music, and Director of Undergraduate Studies and Student Affairs at the University of Alabama. Zaheri held the distinguished Narramore Fellowship at the University of Alabama, where he received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Music Composition, as well as a Doctoral Minor in Musicology. He holds the Master of Music degree in Music Composition from Georgia State University and the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Western Kentucky University. Committed to pursuing the highest possible artistic level in both the creation and performance of the musical art form, Dr. Zaheri is a composer, conductor, and educator who is passionate about training musicians at all stages and all ages, instilling in them the importance of all musical experiences. Dr. Zaheri is the recipient of numerous commissions, prizes, performances, and publications at regional, national, and international levels. Additionally, his works are recorded and released on prominent labels. His compositional interests are wide-ranging and include classical chamber and large ensemble art music, music for screen dance, music for live choreography, electronic music, popular music, multimedia art, opera, and musical theatre. For more information, please visit amirzaheri.com.