Jayren Madera has a passion for dance and for shaping the lives of people of any age through dance. He began dancing at the age of 8 and hasn’t stopped since. His style of choice has always been Hip Hop, as it can be done anywhere at any time – but no matter what style of dance you do, Jayren loves that you can just be yourself. Jayren attended Rosa L. Parks High School of Fine and Performing Arts in Paterson, NJ, where he trained with Erin Pride in Ballet, Modern Dance, Hip Hop, and Jazz for 4 years. While still in high school, he joined the Inner City Ensemble (I.C.E.), under the direction of Nicholas Rodriguez , and was also a company member at the dance school Essence and took classes at Peri Dance in NYC. He is trained in CPR, certified in AED, and certified as a National Association of Sports Medicine personal trainer. Jayren was a high-school dancer with ICE when the company was invited to perform at several CMDE events, and soon after he graduated CMDE offered him a position teaching dance. Jayren is pleased to “still keep my way with dance and music” and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Alexandra-Evangelina Stavrou 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 the 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 three years old, when she was introduced to the beauty and freedom of the art by founder, Shirley Ubell. Born with spina bifida, Amanda navigates through the world via wheelchair, but that has never stopped her from doing what she sets out to do. It definitely doesn’t stop her from dancing. Starting with lessons Shirley developed especially for her, Amanda took classes at CMDE before branching out into other dance experiences, including with Meaningful Movements Dance Company and Marked Dance Project.
At one point, Amanda wanted to become a special needs teacher and to work with those, like her, born with a disability. A decade ago, she realized she could do that as a teacher at CMDE and so returned to the Center where she reached that goal by joining the faculty, and co-teaching a class, called Moving Experiences, which is for teens and adults with disabilities. She has taught at CMDE ever since.
Amanda represents CMDE and performs at the Abilities Expo in Edison each spring where those with disabilities can learn about job opportunities, new technologies, and can attend educational workshops in order to become more independent. Amanda also teaches three-to-five-year-kids with special needs at the CTC Academy in Fair Lawn.
Amanda holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science from Ramapo College, and a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Montclair State University. She continues to teach at CMDE. She is firm in her belief that anyone, even those with different abilities, can have a rewarding dance experience at CMDE. She believes modern dance is good exercise and gives those who would be otherwise too timid to start something new and different to come out of their shell, learn some technique, and have a good time being creative.
Katonya Rochester teaches a number of different classes at the Center for Modern Dance Education, including a wellness class called “Restorative Stretch & Movement.” She includes movements as part of her dance background in ballet, modern dance, jazz, hip hop, and African dance. Her goal in all of her efforts is to educate and motivate individuals to keep their bodies healthy and strong, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. Ms. Rochester has a degree in Exercise Science from Bergen Community College and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise Physiology and Physical Education and Health from William Paterson University. She is certified as a Personal Fitness Trainer and professional Group Exercise Instructor. Ms. Rochester is the founder of Glorified Bodies Fitness®, LLC, which educates, equips and empowers all people to be fit, healthy and strong in the best possible way. She is a member of the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA/NASM). Ms. Rochester is an award-winning author of the book “Joyful Cooking – Healthy Kat-Delicious Meals Made Easy”.
Barry Rochester was introduced to the Center for Modern Dance Education by his wife, Katonya Rochester, who is also an instructor at the Center. Mr. Rochester comes to the Center with a third-degree black belt in combat ju-jitsu. He also holds a first-degree in samurai sword, and is a tai-chi instructor. At CMDE, Mr. Rochester teaches non-combat martial arts. It is his opinion that there is a definite connection between
dance and martial arts. He sees his work as choreography, breathing, balance, and internal strength. For him each discipline is a form of moving meditation, a way to develop a person’s ability and to help them learn and evolve.
Mr. Rochester’s objective in all of his efforts is to share his experience and knowledge with his students, and to give them the sense of the freedom of movement while giving them the strength and confidence to live a safe and enjoyable life.
Mr. Rochester is the recipient of a number of awards, including a Russell Berrie Foundation Award for outstanding community service, a recognition of his work volunteering and running a mentoring program to interest and keep black students enrolled in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics field.
Mr. Rochester is an engineer by profession and is a fitness instructor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Mr. Rochester is a former Marine who served his country during the Vietnam conflict. He is proud to say that he participated in the retrieval of the container ship, SS Mayaguez, which had been overtaken by a unit of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge.
Mr. Rochester graduated from NJIT with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. In addition to his work at CMDE, Mr. Rochester also instructs police officers, correctional officers, and bodyguards. He is a member of the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA/NASM) and is certified as a Personal Fitness Trainer and professional group exercise Instructor. Mr. Rochester is
also a member of CMDE’s Board of Trustees.
Claire Porter holds down a number of different roles at the Center for Modern Dance Education. She is a member of the Advisory Board, as well as a frequent guest artist and choreographer for the company.
Claire has performed throughout the United States, including at The Joyce Theater, New York City’s Town Hall, the New York Horticulture Society, the American Dance Festival, the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, the Bates Festival, at Jacob’s Pillow in Massachusetts, the Florida Dance Festival, and the Kennedy Center, among others.
She performed at the Mikhail Baryshnikov Art Center Gala, and danced a solo at the Kansas City Ballet. Claire’s work has been performed in many places around the world, including Germany, Holland, Latvia, Korea, and India. She is often called upon to
perform Namely Muscles, her one-hour forensic poetry piece about the muscles of the human body at many different festivals, as well as at medical schools, and universities around the country.
Claire 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 (for developing her piece, Pronoun Emergency, into a choral piece) and receives support from the Jody and John Arnhold Foundation. She has a Master of Arts Degree (MA) in Dance from Ohio State University, a Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA) in Mathematics from The College of New Rochelle, and is a Laban Movement Analyst. (Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) is an in depth study of movement created by
Rudolf Laban and developed by Irmgard Bartenieff.)
For a schedule of Claire’s upcoming shows and programs, please check her website: https://www.cportables.com/upcoming-events.
Linda Mensch wears many hats at the Center for Modern Dance Education. In addition to teaching classes at the Center, she helps the executive staff with marketing. A number of years ago, she choreographed CMDE Family Tree for the Center’s students, staff and alumni, as well as performing at CMDE’s 45 th Anniversary Gala. She teaches as well in the Road Recovery program.
Linda holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Choreography from Bard College and is currently the Artistic Director of the Moving Company in Warwick, NY. For many years, she has taught at the Gowanus Arts Exchange in Brooklyn, as well as at Bard College in addition to her work at CMDE. In collaboration with instructors at CMDE, Linda has taught classes to students at Gilda’s Club of Northern New Jersey, which helps them learn to live with cancer by feeling the power within their bodies. Linda’s body of work has been performed in many places from London to New York City.
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 worldwide 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 principal artist/choreographer since
1997. He has taught and performed for CMDE since 2004.
Candace Hundley has a long-standing relationship with the Center for Modern Dance Education. She began to teach at the Center after meeting Shirley Ubell at the Katherine Dunham Institute in 2000. It was then that Shirley invited Candace to both teach and rehearse as an artist in residence for both African and contemporary modern dance.
Candace attended school in Newport News, VA and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Magna cum Laude, from the Tyler School Art at Temple University in Philadelphia. Her work, entitled Transitions, completed while still a student, was accepted into the school’s permanent collection. She also holds a West African training certification as an Umfundalai dance technique instructor under Kariamu Welsh Asante, Ph.D at the Temple University Dance and Institute for African Dance Research and Performance.
For the last thirty years, she has been artistic director of The Seventh Principle Performance Company as well as an instructor and arts educator and performer. She has conducted workshops, performances, residencies, and community outreach in studios, agencies, and institutions throughout New Jersey.
Currently, in addition to teaching at CMDE, Candace has also taught at Young Audiences New Jersey/Eastern Pennsylvania, and in the Newport News Public School System. She is currently a fulltime art teacher at the Sedgefield Elementary School in Newport News.
Candace has longtime connections with artists throughout the modern dance world. She has participated in performance training with Peter McCoy (Bejart/Jubilation Dance Co), Craig Spider Moore (Eleo Pomare/New World African Dance Theater), Freedom Theater/University of the Arts, Kariamu Welsh Asante, Ph.D, Zero Moving Dance Co, Karen Bamonte/African Art in Motion, Arthur Hall Mamadou Dahoue/Youssouf Koumbassa/Amadou Boy/Marie Basse – Wiles, Rosangela Silvestre: Silvestre Technique (as guest choreographer, Dance Brazil), Kevin Jeff
(Deeply-Rooted, Chicago IL), Marlies Yearby/Ron Brown (Evidence), Ned Williams/Gaynelle Sherod (Dunham/the Dunham Institute, City Center, NY, and Lamine Thiam (Senegal), Ibeji Dance Co. (Hodari Banks/Theo Jamison (Dunham).
While Candace has relocated to her hometown, Newport News, she still teaches CMDE classes on Zoom. When she visits New Jersey, she often teaches classes at the Center.
Candace believes in the power of dance. “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.”
Silinea Hilliard: from the time she was a toddler, it was obvious to everyone who knew Silinea that she would be a dancer. Since 2005, when she joined CMDE’s faculty as an instructor, she has shared her professionalism, grace, and boundless ability to inspire her students to pursue careers in dance. For students, school age to seniors long since retired who come to CMDE just to have fun, Silinea has been there to guide them in learning how to feel the freeing joy of movement.
The Maryland native began her training at Jones-Haywood School of Ballet. Her love of dance led her eventually to Howard University, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theater. She also trained with the Broadway Dance Center in New York City and the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England. She has taught at the Dance Institute of Washington, Dance & Body Works in Clinton MD, and the Hudson Repertory Dance.
Silinea has performed with numerous regional theaters, including The Shakespeare Theater and The Kennedy Center. She was a member of Seventh Principle Contemporary African Performance Company in Hackensack. As of Autumn 2021, she is certified to teach AcroDance Module One (Levels Primary to six), Rhythm Works Integrative Dance (a rhythm and dance program designed for those with learning differences and special needs), yoga, and as a SEL facilitator. She is a member of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) and Dance New Jersey.