The Petite Stage: Bios

 Angela Polite is an actress, singer and arts educator.  Off-Broadway credits: Theater for the New City (Flambeaux), Classical Theatre of Harlem (Trojan Women, Emancipation), Fire This Time Festival (Exodus, Outcry), Juneteenth Theater Festival (Darasa: a musical) and Abingdon Theater Company (Foggy Bottom).  Regional credits: New York Stage and Film (Exodus), Berkshire Theater Festival (Can You Hear Me Baby?) dir. Jayne Atkinson Gill, The Kennedy Center, (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof w/ Mary Stuart Masterston and Dana Ivey) dir. Mark Lamos, Fords Theatre (A Christmas Carol ) dir. Matt August and Signature Theatre (The Gospel According to Fishman) dir. Eric Schaeffer.   TV: Blue Bloods, The Wire.  Film: Acceptance.  As an arts educator, Angela works as a Teaching Artist with Center for Arts Education.
 
The Elsewhere Ensemble is an eclectic group of artists coming from different cultures, generations and disciplines. The group is not defined by its form; it is neither a music group nor a theater group (but it can be any one, or any combination of these) ;it is defined by the desire to find a way of working together so that the whole is somehow greater than each part... the belief that art should be born out of the ties which bring us closer together, reminding us of our common humanity. With the continued hope that "classical" music and "theater" are not for an elite but a human necessity. Works created by the Ensemble include His Majesty, the Devil a play with music (59E59 Theaters, FRINGE NYC, and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival); The Happy Prince for piano quartet/or two violins and narrator (New York, Paris, Beirut and Montreal); Chekhov Triptych ,three Chekov stories in concert (Paris, New York, Boston); Invocation,a prayer for peace (premiered with Japanese/Palestinian soprano Mariam Tamari at the summer festival at the Chateau de Machy, France), and The Velveteen Rabbit a concert for children (Paris, London).
 
Gio Kusanagi is a contemporary dancer/performance artist who is a native of Japan and holds a MA in Exercise Physiology/Kinesiology from Tokyo University and is a Certified Evans Method Modern Dance.  He studied Butoh with Moe Yamamoto, Toru Iwashita, Kunisuke Kamiryo, Yoshito Ohno, Yukio Waguri, Seisaku & Yuri, Ko Muroboshi, and Kayo Mikami; and Modern Dance with Bill Evans, Don Halquis, Angela Dennis, Kristina Isabella, and Pilobolous Dance Company.  Gio was also the Artist in Residence at Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance in June 2012, was a commissioned choreographer for the Asian American Dance Festival (produced by Yangtze Repertory Theatre) in September 2012, a featured choreographer at Judson Memorial Church Performance Series in 2010,  a commissioned choreographer/dancer at Pittsburgh First Night on 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, a featured artist at Pittsburgh Asian American Silk Screen Gala in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, a featured choreographer/dancer at Dragon Boat Festival in Pittsburgh in 2010 and 2011, a featured and commissioned choregrapher/performer at Dayton Performance Art Festival in February 2008, a featured choreographer/dancer at SOS Art in Cincinnati in June 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012,  2014, and 2015, and a featured choreographer at various other festivals.

Jill Melanie Wirth is an actress, singer, and writer who has performed at such prestigious venues as Lincoln Center, Playwrights Horizons, Carnegie Hall, BAM, Vineyard Theatre, The York Theatre and The 92nd Street Y. Jill has worked in theatre, film, television, concerts, and commercials in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and London.  Jill Melanie Wirth & David Wirth have created dramedies which examine End-Of-Life Issues, Historical Topics, and Sexual Matters. Many of these pieces have been developed under the auspices of The Field and Dixon Place.

JJ Duo is a musical duo, consisting of Guitarist, Jesse Hokyung Choy who graduated from Berkeley College of Music in Boston, and Vocalist, Junghwa Park who graduated from Manhattan School of Music in NYC. A Composer, Guitarist, Jesse Choy arranges various styles of songs and he harmonizes classical Western sound and Asian melody creating a new music. The beginning of JJ Duo's performances was at Weill recital hall at Carnegie Hall where they represented one of the new songs Birds, Birds, Bluebirds, which includes Korean traditional melody. The general repertoires include classic, classical crossover, and Jazz music. It is our hope that, through our performance, people find time to relax and enjoy diverse music. Also, the colorful new international music will be accessible to people of any ethnicity and nationality.

Joyce Griffen: An Actress/ Singer/ Writer/ Dancer and Equity and SAG-AFTRA member, counts among her most favorite theater roles as lead actress in COTILLION (New Federal Theater), FROM THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA (Negro Ensemble Company), and as Bag L. in the highly acclaimed HELL AND HIGH WATER (MultiStages).  She also counts being Dance Captain and lead Soubrette in the European tour and all incarnations of La MaMa E.T.C.’ s COTTON CLUB GALA as career high points.  Joyce’s screenplay  ROBIN and UNCLE BAY, and stage play THE SCRIPT in the CLOSET, both written as a Harlem Arts Alliance Writing Academy Fellow, are currently being submitted for production.  Joyce received an Arthur Miller Fellowship for FORMERLY KNOWN as SARAH, which she also performed at the Museum of the City of New York, Lincoln Center Institute, the National Arts Club (NYC), and at Philadelphia’s New Freedom Theatre.  Her festival performances include EST’s GOING TO THE RIVER. An accomplished jazz vocalist, her duo CD Alone Together can be heard at myspace.com/joycegriffen.  She can also be found on Facebook.[CB3] 

Maija Rutkovska is Latvian, she has performed with Elina Breice Co (Latvia), dancer in Meggie Boogaart CO(France), Jean Paul Goude productions (France), dancer in legendary Maher Benham ‘s Coyote Dancers (USA) and other beautiful souls. Currently developing her dance brand: Fantastic F.O.R. Dance Theater, working on a new piece with dancer and choreographer Jonathan Breton. I believe that dance is something that sets you free, it's a language that allows you to spit in the worlds face twice or embrace the beauty of it, force that keeps you going, there is never enough dancing.

Mari Meade Montoya
has spent time in California, New Orleans, North Carolina and New York. After training at Haller Classic Ballet and NOCCA (New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts) she received her B.F.A from North Carolina School of the Arts.  She started Mari Meade Dance Collective (MMDC) in 2009 after receiving the Kenan Fellowship at Lincoln Center Institute. MMDC aims to further explore giving audiences a physical, emotional and intellectual experience. Drawn from anthropological research, Mari uses repetition, rhythm, and character development to create accessible atmospheres. Humorous twists inspired by the dancers layer the work with a light and playful air. MMDC often produces multi-media work, collaborating with costumes designers, actors, writers, lighting designers, musicians and scientists.  MMDC has performed throughout New York, Nationally and Internationally. Highlights include Kenan Fellowship at Clark Theatre at Lincoln Center (NYC), Dance:Access at Danspace (NYC), STUFFED and Movement Research at Judson MemorialChurch (NYC), FLICfest (Feature Length Independent Choreographers) (Brooklyn), New Orleans Fringe Festival (LA), Asheville Fringe Festival (NC), FUBA Arts School (South Africa), Katlehong Arts Center (South Africa), Reverb Dance Festival (Boston) and the Battery Dance Festival (NYC).Mari has taught classes at Dance New Amsterdam (NYC), Lake Studios (Berlin), KAS Art Exhibition (South Africa), University of Southern Mississippi, Asheville Fringe Festival (NC), Dance Complex (Boston), and is currently a teaching artist for New York City Ballet.

Samsam Yung studied Simonson Technique at Dance NewAmsterdam, aka, Dance Space and holds a teacher's certificate in Simonson Technique. Her current practice and exploration is strongly influenced by somatic post-modern approaches with attention to weight and sensation. Since returning to training in 2012, Samsam has performed for Stephanie Landouer ,DanceAction, Nimbus Dance Works, Pavel Zustiak, Jacklyn Buglisi and Pascal Lambert. She completed DNA’s CIC program in 2013. Since then, she has presented her work in New York and Philadelphia,at DNA, Brooklyn Music School, Aileys, the Graham studio, the Brick, Red House Gallery and CHI Movement Arts Center.  Some of these works were made in collaboration with her dear friend and mentor Talli Jackson. She is currently also a member of Estado Flotante and Not For Retail.

Sean Thomas Boyt is a dancer and choreographer based in Philadelphia.  He currently dances for The Naked Stark, Nora Gibson Contemporary Ballet, and Anne-Marie Mulgrew & Dancers Company; collaborates with percussionist Dr. Andy Thierauf as stb x at (artists in residence at Soundspace 1525); and works on projects with Antonia & Artists, Vervet Dance, SKI BALL, and Kat J. Sullivan.  Sean's work has been presented at Omaha Under the Radar Festival, Triskelion Arts CollabFest, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Percussive Arts Society International Convention, Collage Festival, Ten Tiny Performances, 60x60 Dance, Ready or Not, SoLow Fest, Future Interstates, NACHMO, Jennifer Muller's Hatch Presenting Series, IUCC Experimental Microcinema, Green Space's Fertile Ground, and FringeArts Scratch Night, as well as at various colleges and universities in concerts and tours.  His work consists of a shifting combination of classical composition structures, nontraditional material generation, and theatrically-inclined performances.  Sean enjoys collaboration with other artists and working with video, improvisation, and text. By using performance as a vehicle for art-making, Sean is interested in finding new ways to ask questions and upcycling old methods to create different perspectives within dance as a medium.  As a choreographer, he operates under the phrase, "Dance like no one likes you."