84 Euclid Ave
Hackensack, NJ 07601
NJ TTY 800-952-7897
Shirley Ubell, Founder, began teaching dance in her home in the 1950s, incorporated CMDE in 1962 as a non-profit community organization, and was its Director for most of the organization's existence. Ms Ubell has a BA in Psychology and a Master of Science in Movement Therapy from Hunter College, and is a Registered Dance Therapist. She took her first modern dance lesson at the late age of 19 from Maya Kyla, and continued at The Martha Graham School and at The Mary Anthony Dance Studio. After stepping back from running CMDE, she continued for many years to serve in an advisory capacity to CMDE's artistic and administrative staff and to assist with fundraising, all with the aim of having everyone experience the joy of dance. Shirley moved to sunny California in 2015 to be closer to most of her family.
Elissa Machlin-Lockwood, Artistic Director, began dancing at age 3 at CMDE, and began teaching dance over 30 years ago. She attended The Martha Graham School, Jacobs Pillow Summer Dance Festival, Bennington College, Simons Rock College, and the New School for Social Research. She has taught students ranging in age from toddlers to seniors and from beginner to advanced in a wide variety of settings, has developed and implemented numerous original programs for CMDE, and continues to teach and present her own choreography. In her role of Artistic Director, she manages all of CMDE's artistic and professional-development programming, supervises all staff, and is the primary liaison between CMDE staff and the Board of Trustees. Elissa is the Chairperson of the Committee for the Bergen County Week of the Young Child Family Fun Festival, a member of the Advisory Committee for the Bergen County Teen Arts Festival, a board member of ArtsBergen, a member of the Creative Hackensack Team, and serves on the ADA Advisory Board for the Bergen County Department of Cultural and Historical Affairs. She is a former member of the Bergen Arts Grants Panel and a former Board Member of Dance New Jersey. She is also a member of the musical group the Hipanonymous.
Kalena Brown was born in Bronx, NY and raised in New Jersey. She holds a dual (BA) degree from Penn State University in Dance and Psychology. Kalena began dancing at the age of 5 and has studied various genres of dance such as West African Dance, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and modern dance. She attended Five Star Dance Center during her early childhood years and was a part of the Repertory Company at Center for Modern Dance (CMDE) in Hackensack, New Jersey. In 2010 she attended the NYU Tisch Dance Program for high school students called Dancemaker. During the summer of 2012, she attended the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre Professional Division Summer Intensive Program where she studied with such prestigious choreographers and teachers such as Keith Alexander and Quenia Ribeiro. Kalena was a part of the Afi-Mojah Dance Company at Penn State where she danced and performed around Pennsylvania. She was a member, fundraising chair, and choreographer of Ambitions Dance Organization at Penn State. Also during her years at Penn State, she attended the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) where she networked and took dance classes to broaden her horizons of dance. Recently, she has finished a winter dance intensive at the Martha Graham School. Kalena has danced and choreographed for the dance company, Forza Malizia Dance Company in NYC where she performs many different genres of dance. Kalena is also a dance teacher at several studios/schools in New Jersey and New York and choreographed for Dwight Morrow’s High School musical Footloose. Kalena continues to train and works on becoming a wonderful dance artist and educator.
Joanne Koob Brown graduated from the University of Maryland as a dance major and has been dancing, teaching, and choreographing for decades. She is currently a Dance Instructor at Glen Rock Middle School in Glen Rock NJ, and has also taught at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark the National Wolftrap Early Learning Through the Arts Program. Joanne's honors include a Connecticut State grant for choreography, and she stays actively involved in promoting the arts in community. Joanne is a former faculty member at CMDE who now returns every summer to Co-direct the Summer Stars for Girls camp.
Yahaya Kamate is the Associate Artistic Director of the Seventh Principle Performance Company and the Founder of Kamate Traders, “trading art for smiles”. He has per¬ formed world-wide and soloed with companies including the National Ballet Cote D’Ivorie, Ballet D’Afrique, and Mask Dance Company. He is has taught at Mark Morris Dance Center ,for NY and NJ Young Audiences, Alvin Ailey, and elsewhere. He has been with Seventh Principle as principle artist/choreographer since 1997. He has taught and performed for CMDE since 2004.
Laura Jean Lopata has been a dancer all of her life. She grew up learning Hawaiian Hula dance from her mother from a very young age. She practiced ballet for 8 years as a part of her gymnastics training. She did cheer-dance in high school. Laura Jean graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Psychology. She has been learning and performing Middle Eastern Bellydance for 20 years. She has had the privilege of studying under many wonderful instructors, including Zarifa Sa'id, Bahija, Lateefah, and Miranda. She has attended workshops with Master Teachers from all over the world, including Nadia Hamdi, Bert Belledine, and Dahlena. She has experience in teaching and developing excellent individual and group choreography. Her goal is to create a safe and comfortable space for people to enjoy the many benefits of Bellydance for the body and spirit...to provide a class that is great exercise while teaching a beautiful art form and emboldening each person's confidence and joy!
Silinea Lucius, a Maryland native, began her ballet training at Jones-Haywood School of Ballet. Her love of dance eventually led her to Howard University, where she earned a BFA in Musical Theatre. She also trained with the Broadway Dance Center in NYC and the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England. She has taught at the Dance Institute of Washington, Dance & Body Works, and Hudson Repertory Dance, and has performed with various regional theatres including The Shakespeare Theatre and The Kennedy Center. She was a member of Seventh Principle Contemporary African Performance Company, and has been a member of the CMDE faculty since 2005.
Alexandra Evangelina Stavrou-Wilson has developed a repertory of expressive dance pieces which often incorporate the live performance of her own music. She has performed in New York City, throughout the US. Greece, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, at venues ranging from NYC's Brooklyn Academy and City Center, homeless shelters and mental health centers to dirt clearings in remote villages in Papua New Guinea. Reared with traditional Greek music and dance, Alexandra went on to train and perform with artists from Java, Bali, West Africa, and India. For 8 years she was a member of the NYC- based Haitian Troupe “Shango” which performed dances from the Voudon Ceremonies, and danced with the Balinese-American Dance Theatre. Invited to be a Guest Director by the National Theatre Company of Papua New Guinea, Alexandra remained as a Visiting Artist, where she was known as “meri bilong singsing” (woman who sings and dances) to the villagers. Next, she went to New Zealand, choreographing, teaching, and composing and performing with “Spartan Wave” at theatres and music festivals, for seven years. Alexandra received a BFA in Dance Theatre from Tisch School of the Arts, where she performed in works of Gladys Bailing, David Gordon, Yvonne Rainier, and Anna Principal . She was a Clark Center New Choreographer, and a NYFA recipient. She composed the music and dances and acted in “Gogol” at the Public Theatre, and was an original cast member of the Glass/Wilson opera “Einstein on the Beach” Returning to her native NJ, Alexandra was welcomed at CMDE . She currently teaches for CMDE's outreach programs for individuals with disabilities. She joined the faculty around 1997.
Amanda Trott has been dancing since she was 3 years old. She took a children’s class at CMDE until she was 9 and then she joined the Meaningful Movements until 2010. She became a member of the Meaningful Movements Dance Company in 2001 and performed with them all over the east coast for 9 years. In 2010, she joined marked dance project and served as the company’s Community Outreach Coordinator for 5 years. She returned to CMDE in 2009 as a student and joined the faculty in 2015, co-teaching a class for teens and adults with disabilities. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Ramapo College in Social Science and a Master’s Degree from Montclair State University in Counseling. She was born with Spina Bifida and she uses a wheelchair to dance. She believes that dance is for everyone.
Jason Warley received his training at Lehman College, Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, and Broadway Dance Center. He was the recipient of the Harkness Choreographer’s Space Grant, and has performed with Joan Miller’s Dance Players and Peter Pucci Plus Dancers. He has toured extensively in the US and abroad, and has choreographed for recording artists such as Backstreet Boys and En Vogue. Jason has been co-directing the CMDE Summer Stars For Boys camp for youth at-risk for many years .He recently started “Man in Motion”, offering the services of Male choreographers, teachers and dancers for permanent, substitute and guest artist positions. Jason began teaching at CMDE in the early 90’s.
Candace Hundley-Kamate, Featured Guest Artist 2015-16, is a multi-disciplinary artist who is trained in Modern Dance and Umfundalai, among other dance techniques, as well as in drumming, story telling, and visual arts, including fabric design. Candace has a BFA in Printmaking from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, and has worked as a visual artist and instructor as well as a performing artist. She studied movement with Kariamu Welsh Asante at Temple University, and with Peter McCoy, Craig Spider Moore, Karen Bamonte, Ron Brown, Mamadou Dahoue, Youssouf Koumbassa, Marie Basse, Wiles Rosangela Silvestre, Kevin Jeff, Marlies Yearby, Ned Williams, Gaynelle Sherod, Lamine Thiam, Hodari Banks, and Theo Jamison, and at the Dunham Institute. Her choreographic experience includes serving as Co Founder and Artistic Director of The 7th Principle West African-Modern dance company. Candace also has performed with Urban Bushwomen, and taught at Columbia University, Manhattanville College, New Jersey City University, The Ailey School, the Annenberg Center Institute for Arts in Education, Broadway Dance Center, and for Young Audiences NJ, Arts Horizons, and the NJPAC Teaching Artist program. She has worked with CMDE as a guest artist in the past, including providing workshops, and choreographing the successful NJSCA grant-funded community work "Violet Moon" in 2004. Her company The 7th Principle was also in residence at CMDE from 2000-2011. Candace says, "As a multi-disciplinary artist, my choreography and teaching reflects many experiences.....I think of dance as one beautiful expression that radiates from the heart; and adds to the legacy of art that has existed throughout the ages.." In 2015-16 Candace will be working collaboratively with dancers on the creation and performance of ONE LOVE, a dance and multi-media work made possible with a grant from the NJ State Council on the Arts.
Linda Mensch has a BA in Choreography from Bard College, and is currently the Artistic Director of The Moving Company in Warwick NY. She taught for many years at the Gowanus Arts Exchange in Brooklyn, at bard College, and at the Center for Modern Dance Education. Her choreography has been performed from London to NYC. In 2007 she choreographed the work “CMDE Family Tree” for the Center’s students, staff, and alumni, which was performed at the organization’s 45th Anniversary Gala. In 2008-2009, she taught people living with cancer at Gilda’s Club Northern New Jersey as part of the Can Dance! collaboration with CMDE. She currently teaches and assists with marketing at CMDE, and teaches in the Road Recovery program.
Lateefah Fleming began her dance career at the age of seven, as part of the Afro-Caribbean group La Rocque Bey Dance Company in Harlem NY. She earned a degree from City College of New York, and is certified in Pilates Mat , Pilates Reformer, Personal Training, Group Fitness, Pre- and Post-Natal Fitness, and Vinyassa Yoga, and also holds a Masters Degree in Natural Health. She has performed with The Perry Dance Company, the Middle Eastern Dance Company Rainbow Essence, Oasis, and her own company, Raqs la Majali World Dance Fusion Experience. She has trained in numerous dance techniques at Broadway Dance Center, The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, Steps on Broadway, Perry Studios, and with various masters of Eastern dance. She started her own fitness firm, empowerfit, and has extensive experience in the exercise and fitness fields. Lateefah taught Middle Eastern and other dance forms at CMDE for many years, and still returns to present occasional workshops and performances.
ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD (SELECTED MEMBERS)
Dian Dong, Co-founder and Associate Director of H.T. Dance Company/Chen & Dancers in NYC, began her dance training at CMDE and earned her BFA from the Juilliard School. She has performed with Anna Sokolow’s Player’s Project, Kathryn Posins, and Kazuko Hiraboyashi, and at Lincoln Center Institute and the American Dance Festival. Ms. Dong has taught at New York University, Montclair State College, CMDE, and the Arts Gate Center in Chinatown. In 2002, the HT Dance Company received the New York State Governor's Award for the Arts. Her two daughters both commuted to study at CMDE for many years, and they performed with Dian at CMDE's 45th Anniversary Gala in 2007.
Claire Porter has had her work per¬ formed in Germany, Holland, Latvia, Korea, India, throughout the United States, including at The Joyce Theater, NYC Town Hall, NY Horticulture Society, American Dance Festival, Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, Bates Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Florida Dance Festival, and the Kennedy Center, among others. She performed at the Mikhail Baryshnikov Art Center Gala, set a solo on Kansas City Ballet, and performs her one-hour forensic poetry piece about the muscles, Namely Muscles, at festivals, medical schools and universities. Porter has received many fellowships, including from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. Currently, she is working on a project supported by a Live Music for Dance Award, and receives support from the Jody and John Arnhold Foundation. She has an MA in Dance from Ohio State University, a BA in Mathematics, and is a Laban Movement Analyst. She was delighted to be working again with CMDE. More information at www.cportables.com. Claire is an advisory board member and frequent guest artist and choreographer for CMDE.
Susan Thomasson has performed with the companies of Kathryn Posin, Raymond Johnson, Bill T. Jones, Bill Evans, and Rosalind Newman, soloed with Anna Sokolow’s Players’ Project, and assisted in reconstruction of Sokolow’s repertory. Susan also tours a solo/duet concert of Pilobolus Dance Theatre’s work.. In addition to her own work, she now performs with Claire Porter, Elissaveta Iordanova and Mark DeGarmo. As a teaching artist for Lincoln Center Institute, she helped in the development of many of the Institute’s national affiliates. She has been a faculty member of Brooklyn College, the Rutgers University system, Hofstra University, Manhattanville College, Fairleigh Dickinson University, the University of Northern Iowa and Brooklyn’s Berkeley Carroll School. She is an artist-in-residence for the 92nd St. Y, NY City Center, the Joyce Theater, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the Theater Development Fund. Her work has been presented at DanceNow, NY’s 40Up Series, Dance Theater Workshop, the 92nd Street Y’s Harkness Dance Series, the American Dance Guild, NY International Fringe Festival, Flea Theater, New York’s Riverside Dance Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, Hopkins Theatre at Dartmouth College, and Iowa’s Cedar Arts Forum. She received a 2011 Choreography Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and was recently commissioned by the University of Nebraska’s Lied Center for an evening-length work. In 2006 Susan received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Teaching Artists and the New York State Council on the Arts and a Governor’s Award in the Arts from the State of New Jersey. Susan is a frequent master teacher and panelist, and a writer of arts and arts education materials. She holds a BFA from the University of Utah. Susan is on CMDE’s advisory board and she has performed and taught as a guest artist at CMDE.