Shay Ishii Dance Company brings together five principal dancers who have a 15 year history of moving and creating together. Dancing and working together for so many years has forged strong emotional, physical and spiritual ties. The richness and integrity of their performance, is heightened by the connection of the dancers.
Quintessential to the power of the company's work is our cast of dancers who share a common and extensive background in the Hawkins technique. Erick Hawkins is known as the Poet of Modern Dance. His technique emphasizes movement that is organic, ergonomic and free of superfluous gesture and effort. This shared background provides a common vocabulary for the company that conveys a clarity and unity on stage. The result for the company is a homogenous approach to movement that honors the universal nature of the human form while celebrating the individuality of the human spirit: allowing the body to be a clean slate and an open instrument for the choreographer and the performer. The result for our audience is a sense of community and a continuity of light and beauty.
The generous spirit of every dancer is essential to the creation and performance of the work. Dancers are incorporated into the work not merely for their beautiful technique but also for their willingness and desire to share physically, emotionally and spiritually with one another and the audience.
As the Artistic Director of Shay Ishii Dance Company, Shay Ishii is realizing a vision of creating and performing dance with people whom she loves, trusts and respects. Her passion and vision for dance extends beyond performance to encompass exploring, choreographing and teaching movement. She has been teaching dance and Pilates for over fifteen years and holds an MFA in Dance from Sam Houston State University and a BS in Dance from Texas State University. Shay has spent the past six years studying and mentoring with Katherine Duke, Artistic Director and Principal Dancer for the Erick Hawkins Dance Company. She currently serves as an adjunct instructor and Publicity Coordinator for the Department of Theatre and Dance at Texas State University. Shay has performed with and choreographed for Opening Door Dance Theatre, The Creeps Dance Company and Ariel Dance Theatre. Her work has been presented in California, Nevada, Texas and Edinburgh, Scotland. In January of 2010, she debuted her choreography and SIDC in New York at the famed 92nd Street Y as a part of the Erick Hawkins Centennial Celebration. Shay has been invited to choreograph a new work honoring the influences of Erick Hawkins and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen for the 26th Annual Body Mind Centering Association Conference.
Anna Antoniewicz started her love for modern dance by taking a class for P.E. credit at TSU. Little did she know that it would change her life so dramatically. Wonderful teachers and peers created a haven for artistic expression and dialogue. As she dances with Shay Ishii Dance Company, she is grateful for the comradery and continuous beauty of movement.
Jennifer Besch began dancing at age 4 under the professional supervision of Broadway dancer "Toots" Johnson. Jennifer received training from Toots in ballet, tap and jazz for 8 years. In 1991 Jennifer began taking classes at the San Antonio School for Performing Arts and dancing with the Alamo City Dance Company. In 1996 Jennifer began dancing, teaching and choreographing with the Civic Ballet in San Angelo, Texas. She currently works with The Central Texas Ballet Conservatory providing instruction in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip hop, pointe and tumbling. She also appears as a guest dancer with the River City Ballet as well as serving as rehearsal assistant and guest choreographer. Jennifer is very excited to join Shay Ishii's Company for the first time this season. She holds a B.S in Psychology and Biology from Texas State University and currently teaches third grade at Fuentes Elementary in Kyle TX.
Kaysie Seitz Brown graduated from TSU in 1998 and currently serves on the faculty in the Department of Theatre and Dance. Brown received her MFA in Dance Performance, Choreography and Pedagogy at Case Western Reserve University in 2001. While in Cleveland, she joined Antaeus Dance Company with whom she toured to the country of Estonia in the fall of 2001 for the company's international debut. In New York City, she choreographed and performed with the company Notes In Motion as well as with other choreographers and on her own at venues such as Fielday, WAXworks and Hatch Performance Series. Her choreography has been produced in Texas, Ohio, New Jersey, New York and Costa Rica.
Amanda McCorkle has been dancing professionally in Austin for the past 9 years. She began studying dance at the age of 5 and has loved it ever since. She studied modern dance under Darla Johnson for four years and she has now studied the Hawkins technique for five years. Amanda has had the pleasure of dancing with many wonderful choreographers including Caroline Sutton-Clark, Sally Jacques, Andrea Ariel, Darla Johnson and Ashley Parker-Overton. In the fall of 2010, she embarked a new dance adventure to pursue her Master's Degree in Dance at Texas Woman's University. She has been a proud member of the Shay Ishii Modern Dance Company for the past six years and treasures each moment she gets to spend with her dance family.
Michelle Nance is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at TSU. Michelle's choreography has been produced in the U.S. and abroad. She has appeared with REALMdanceproject and Forklift Danceworks, both of Austin; and is Artistic Director of Interstate Dance Collective. She was recently selected to perform and teach as part of the "Promising Artists of the 21st Century" Program with Centro Cultural in San Jose, Costa Rica. Michelle was nominated for the 2005-2006 Austin Critics Table Award for "Best Female" performer for her solo "Accumulation: From 2 to 3". Her research in the Alexander and Hawkins techniques was published in the October 2006 issue of Exchange. From 1996-1998, she served as Assistant School Director, teacher, and understudy with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company in New York. She holds an MFA in dance performance and choreography from the University of Colorado. She is thrilled to be currently working with the Shay Ishii Dance Company.
LeAnne Smith LOVES to rehearse, teach and perform dance (and in that order). Her first role was in "The Powder Puff Mob's in Town", performed when she was 5 years old. Her first "real" choreography occurred in her 12th year and she wore pink stirrup tights, a pink shirt and danced to the original theme from the Pink Panther. (WOW!!!!) Oddly enough, LeAnne still remembers some of the steps. She can also do the hula dance: "To You Sweetheart, Aloha". She learned it in the 3rd grade and can not only dance, but also sing the entire thing. Now LeAnne Directs the Dance Program at Texas State University, from which she graduated in 1977. An MFA from Mather Dance Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio was earned (and she means EARNED) in 1983. LeAnne continues to choreograph and perform with dancers/friends who are spread throughout the United States. It is a privilege for her to dance with the Shay Ishii Dance Company which is composed of former students...is that nepotism of some sort??? LeAnne lives in San Marcos, Texas, the former home of Ralph the Swimming Pig.