The Houston Metropolitan Dance Company now known as, METdance, is concert based repertoire company with 10 dancers that are contracted from September- September and are in-house trained. METdance complete season includes five main performances per year in Houston at the Wortham Center/Cullen Theater, MATCH, Hub Studios, Discovery Green and the Miller Outdoor Theatre. METdance also has Educational and Community Outreach component that aims to excite, inspire, and expose the art of dance to as many spectators as possible. The company conducts master classes, workshops and residencies in private studio, high school and university settings, both local and nationwide. The dancers serve as teachers, mentors, choreographer and most importantly ambassadors for the company. The company tours nationally and performs in the local festivals and community events and was voted by Houston Press "Best Contemporary Dance Company" in 2005 and 2014.
“The Met has clearly mastered artistry and creativity. If you didn’t catch them in April, don’t wait another 15 years.” -Mandy Oaklander, Houston Press, April 2011
"METdance’s gorgeous dancers push the choreography to its fullest and most generous capacity, while sharing the joy and electric verve of their craft with the audience."
- Adam Castaneda, Houston Press, May 2016
"The DanceFest highlight came from METdance of Houston. Kate Skarpetowska’s Consumed, beginning with an awesomely frenetic solo and then into a brilliant ensemble number, with the dancers in black business suits and white shirts, displaying quickly contorted body movements and jaw-dropping cohesion, was out-of-this-world thrilling."
-Mark Lowry, Star Telegram, September 2015
Marlana Doyle, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR of the METdance Company is originally from Massachusetts and graduated from Point Park University in 2001 with a BA in Dance. Marlana has been dancing with METdance for the past fifteen years and was a major part of the company’s reorganization in 2003. Under her direction, Marlana’s artistic vision has taken the company to new levels of excellence and growth while holding tightly to the company’s long tradition of diversity and versatility in its dancers, choreographers, collaborators, and content. Through her commitment and drive, the company has performed at venues across the country including Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival Inside/Out (2012,2014), Destiny Rising at the Joyce Theater in NYC, Dance Chicago, Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, Dance St. Louis, and the17th Annual Choreography Festival in Palm Springs, CA, in addition to local venues such as the Dallas Dance Festival and Austin Dance Festival. Her strength of vision has brought many sought-after choreographers to METdance and the Houston public including Robert Battle, Camille A. Brown, Larry Keigwin, Peter Chu, and Katarzyna Skarpetowska. Marlana represents METdance as a member of Dance Source Houston, Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) and Dance USA, spending the last nine years as an emerging leader at both APAP and Dance USA. She was awarded the Dance USA Leadership Mentee Fellowship for the institute of training in 2012 and is currently serving as a Dance USA Artistic Director Council Chair for the 2016 – 2017 Season. Marlana has also served on many grant and organizational panels for the Houston Arts Alliance. As a dancer, Marlana has performed works by many of the talented METdance choreographers and continues to delight audiences on stage with the company. Marlana is a regular faculty member at the METdance Center and directs the highly successful MET too youth company, an intense program focused on preparing young dancers for dance programs at universities and a career in dance performance. Marlana is also a guest teacher and an award winning choreographer for her students throughout the US. She lives in Sugar Land TX with her husband Ben and her two adorable daughters Olivia and Evie.
Michelle Smith, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of the Houston Metropolitan Dance Company (aka METdance) has more than 24 years of ballet training including training with the New York City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Texas Christian University and during her college years she performed at Summer Stock/Casa Manana Musical Playhouse earning leading roles in "Grease," "Oklahoma," and "Chicago." After graduating from TCU in 1981 she and her husband moved to Houston. Her passion for dance lead her to join the Delia Stewart Dance Company. Over the next 15 years she performed as a principal dancer with the company and was a primary faculty member for the school. In 1985 she became the Manager of the professional dance company and added the role of Director of the Delia Stewart Dance Center in 1989. She established a children’s program and diversified the classes offered in the program for adults. She balanced performing with the company and being Director of the Dance Center while having three children, who are now young adults. Simultaneously she managed three commercial real estate firms for seven years. In 1995 Delia Stewart retired and Smith focused her passion and energy on becoming a full time arts entrepreneur. She transformed the Delia Stewart Dance Center into the Houston Metropolitan Dance Center. Smith developed the schools clientele to its current enrollment of 1,000 students – both children and adults. Today there are more than 450 children, from 3 years to 12 years old, who take class weekly and perform in an annual recital. More than 700 adults enjoy a diverse mix of classes including ballet, jazz, broadway, modern, tap and hip-hop. METdance offers training for the beginning student up to and including professional level training. The Dance Center also includes a pre-professional training program, MET too, which focuses on student’s ages 13 to 18 years old, with the vision of these students pursuing dance in college and beyond. In 2001 she retired as a dancer to focus on the growth and development of the school and professional company. For 10 years Smith championed a need for a new facility and in June 2013 METdance moved into a new space featuring four studios and ample parking. This space allows for the expansion of METdance’s programs as well as much needed rehearsal space to the Houston dance community. Her appointment will allow Smith to focus on the continued growth of the school and professional company. Michelle Smith believes that dance can help to develop self-esteem and discipline in students of all ages which contributes positively to their life on many levels. She has been involved in the Houston arts and dance community for more than 30 years.
Joe Celej, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, is a New York City based creative artist whose career spans nearly fifteen years of professional concert dance performance, choreographic investigation, and passionate instruction and mentoring of students. Joe graduated summa cum laude with a BFA in dance performance from SUNY Buffalo, where he was a performing and creative arts honors scholar, and supplemented his training with scholarships to Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, The Edge, and the Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles. Joe is an honored recipient of a 2010 Presidential Scholar Teacher Recognition Award from the US Department of Education. Joe began his relationship with METdance, then called Houston Metropolitan Dance Company, as a dancer in 2001, and worked with artists such as Robert Battle, Kate Skarpetowska, Peter Chu, Mario Zambrano, and Eddy Ocampo. During this time, Joe served as Resident Choreographer of METdance, creating several works for the company including audience and critic favorite, What More? (2005). In the fall of 2005, Joe relocated to New York City and performed for over eight years with the internationally touring/acclaimed concert company Elisa Monte Dance. As a senior company member and soloist, Joe performed extensively throughout the US (including multiple Joyce seasons) and Europe with EMD, most notably meeting and performing for the Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg. Through the EMD choreographic initiative, Joe enjoyed creating six works for the company, and was honored to have his Joyce Theater choreographic premiere in 2011. During this time, Joe continued his relationship with METdance as a guest choreographer, creating new works including ForeverFleeting (2007) and primed (2014), guest faculty, and served on the company’s advisory board. Joe is incredibly honored to have been appointed Associate Director of METdance beginning during its 2015-16 20th Anniversary Season. Joe is a guest teacher/choreographer throughout the US and Europe at a variety of educational institutions including Steps on Broadway, Peridance Capezio Center, SUNY Buffalo, Rice University, Salve Regina University, the High School for Performing and Visual Arts Houston (HSPVA), Episcopal High School, St John's School, and the Hetrick-Martin Institute. Joe is proud to have been a teacher/mentor to dancers performing with LA Dance Project, Lar Lubovitch, Ballet Hispanico, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, the Radio City Rockettes, and Disney, as well as current students/graduates of the Juilliard School, Point Park University, NYU, SUNY Purchase, SUNY Buffalo, Chapman University, University of Arizona, SMU, and many other secondary educational institutions. As an independent artist, Joe has presented his choreography at numerous venues including the Reverb Dance Festival/APAP, the Dance Gallery, the Pink Ribbons Project, the Big Range Dance Festival, the Great Friends Dance festival, Zodiaque Dance Company, Extensions Dance Company, Dance Harlem, American Dance Guild, Vision of Sound, Dumbo Dance Festival, The Tank, Pushing Progress Showcase Series, Cool NY Dance Festival, and the Solar Powered Dance Series. Joe is a co-creator of a new digital comic book entitled Drawn In: The adventures of Jamo Lady and Magners Man. www.joecelej.com
*Listed in Alphabetical Order by Company Members and then Apprentices
JESUS ACOSTA is originally from Guanajuato, Mexico. He studied at Sam Houston State University and performed in works by Rennie Harris and Bill Evans. While at METdance, he has performed in pieces by Larry Keigwin, Robert Battle, Camille A. Brown, Joshua L. Peugh, Sydney Skybetter, Lauren Edson, Kiki Lucas, and Joe Celej. Jesus has been working with MA Dance and Auxiliaries for twelve years teaching, choreographing, and judging all over the United States. He has been an adjudicator for The Iowa State Solo Championship and The Iowa State Team Championship in Des Moines, Iowa. He also works nationally with many high schools teaching and choreographing for their dance teams. His choreography has won national titles in jazz, kick, military, pom, lyrical, contemporary and has received Gala Status at Regional Dance America Festivals. Mr. Acosta has danced nationally in venues such as The Ailey Theater in New York City, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., The Paramount Theater in Boston, Massachusetts and The Rose Wagner PAC in Salt Lake City among others. Jesus has been a guest artist for Dangerous Lorraine’s Dance Theatre, Recked Productions, Aimed Dance, and was a company member of The Kista Tucker Dance Company for two seasons. Jesus danced for Hope Stone Dance Company in Houston, Texas for three seasons and is a founding member and rehearsal director for NobleMotion Dance currently on their eighth season. Mr. Acosta is in his third season as a company member with METdance and teaches at many dance studios in Houston and the surrounding areas.
MIA ANGELINI is originally from Jefferson, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Point Park University with a BFA in Dance. While at Point Park, she performed works by choreographers such as Doug Varone, Kiesha Lalama, Sidra Bell, and Garfield Lemonius. She also had the opportunity to dance in the International Choreography Competition as a part of the Jazz Dance World Congress. In the past four seasons with the MET, she has performed works by Kiki Lucas, Joe Celej, Camille A. Brown, Peter Chu, Katarzyna Skarpetowska, Larry Keigwin, Jess Hendricks, Joshua L. Peugh, Caleb Mitchell, Lauren Edson, Jason Parsons, jhon r. stronks, Sydney Skybetter, and Jane Weiner. Mia has also performed with the METdance at the Inside/Out Series at Jacob's Pillow, Spring to Dance in St. Louis, Palm Desert International Dance and Choreography Festival, Great Friends Dance Festival in Rhode Island, Women in Dance Conference in Baton Rouge, Austin Dance Festival and the Dallas Dance Festival. Mia is excited to be in her 5th season with METdance!
KAYLA COLLYMORE is originally from Asbury Park, New Jersey. She graduated summa cum laude from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University earning a BFA in Dance. She has had the opportunity to perform works by renowned choreographers such as Stefanie Batten Bland, Julie Bour, Jennifer Muller, Trisha Brown, Rhapsody James, Dwight Rhoden, Brian Brooks, Camille A. Brown, Katarzyna Skarpetowska, Joshua L. Peugh, and Oliver Halkowich. Kayla spent one year in Beijing, China creating, teaching, and performing with HouYing Dance Theater. While overseas she proceeded to branch off as a free lance dancer performing in the 2014 Beijing Fringe Festival, for Audi in the 2014 Chengdu Motor Show, a fashion show for renowned Chinese clothing designer Make, and at 798's Cafa Museum as a part of Luo Wei's exhibition. She also took on the position as the founder and head of the Dance Department at Limai International School. Prior to living in China she danced with the Brian Brooks Moving Company, worked as an apprentice for Stephen Petronio Company during their 2012 Joyce season, and studied as a full scholarship student at Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival in the Movin' Commercial Dance Program under the instruction of Beyoncé’s team of choreographers and dancers. Kayla is ecstatic to move with Houston METdance in her second season as a company member.
DWAYNE COOK began dancing at the age of three at The Houston Ballet Academy/J.C. Sanderson Elementary for the Performing Arts. He continued his training at Lamar Fleming Middle School Fine Arts Academy and was accepted into HSPVA. He joined Exclamation Dance Co. in 2006 under the direction of Kenneth Epting. Dwayne has also trained at the Ailey School, the School of American Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Complexions Dance Company. Dwayne is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where he received his degree in Modern Dance Performance. Throughout his training and career Dwayne has performed works by such choreographers as George Balanchine, Ben Stevenson, Troy Powell, Earl Mosley, Christopher Huggins, Derrick Minter, Austin Hartel, Nathan Trice, Arthur Mitchell, Dudley Williams, Matthew Rushing, Camille A. Brown, Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson, Ronald K. Brown, Abdel Salla, Rennie Harris, Katarzyna Skarpetowska, Joshua L. Peugh, Kiki Lucas and Robert Battle. He was a principal for Philadanco for 4 years, and is currently in his second season with METdance. His commercial dance credits include dancing for Frank Gatson (Beyoncé), Chris Brown, Anthony Burrell, So You Think You Can Dance and Jazmine Sullivan.
ANDRES DE BLUST-MOMMAERTS is originally from Bogota, Colombia. Andres began studying ballet at age five, and at age twelve, entered the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp in Belgium where he trained in a wide range of dance techniques. During this time, he was invited to work with choreographers such as Tamara Roso, AnnVan den Broek, and Toru Shimazaki (whose company PATCHWORK he performed with in Japan.) Andres was selected for the Ecole-Atelier Rudra Béjart in Lausanne, Switzerland, giving him the opportunity to work with various international artists and to dance with Béjart Ballet Lausanne during part of its European tour. In 2008, Andres joined the Richard Alston Dance Company (RADC) in London, UK. At RADC, Andres performed extensive repertory as a corps and solo dancer in works by Richard Alston, Robert Cohan, and others, while undertaking significant touring with RADC in the UK, Europe, and the United States (including City Center and the Joyce Theater in New York City.) Andres has been a guest performer with the Donlon Dance Company and Saarlandisches Staatstheater in Saarbrücken, Germany, and with the Theater Trier in Germany, performing in shows choreographed by Sven Gruetzmacher such as Winterreise and The Tramp, and the role of Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, choreographed by Birgit Scherzer. Andres also enjoys choreographing and costume production/design. The production of Four Seasons, of which Andres’ choreography was featured, won the Best Performance award at the 2014 GraFiTi Festival in Trier. Andres is excited to join METdance for their 2016-17 season.
RISA D’SOUZA is a native to Houston, TX, where she began her training in the MET too Youth Company. During this time, she had the opportunity to perform works by Pattie Obey and Kiesha White, and also danced in Tidal Intersections by Katarzyna Skarpetowska with METdance in 2010. She graduated from Point Park University in December of 2013 with a BFA in Dance. During her time in college, she performed works by Randy Duncan, Alejandro Cerrudo, Ohad Naharin, Toru Shimazaki, Doug Bentz, and Garfield Lemonius, and worked with Cheryl Mann, Tobin Del Cuore, and Jamy Meek. She also was awarded a scholarship to the 2013 Parsons Dance Summer Intensive. After college, she danced with a Pittsburgh project-based company, Reed Dance, where she got to perform work by Terence Green and Christopher Huggins. She finished her second season with METdance performing work by Camille A. Brown, Steven Boyd, Joe Celej, Larry Keigwin, Jess Hendricks, jhon r. stronks, and her all-time favorites Kiki Lucas and Katarzyna Skarpetowska. Risa is extremely excited to start her third season with METdance!
KERRY JACKSON is a native Houstonian who started his professional training 6 years ago at the METdance Center with the MET too Youth Program. He has performed all around Houston and the United States and has received many astonishing awards such as a full scholarship to Point Park University Summer Dance Program, Millennium Dancer Award from West Coast Dance Explosion, Jazz in AZ Dance Scholarship, and Most Outstanding Choreography Award at the 2008 Black History Festival. Kerry has performed and worked with many great choreographers with METdance such as Robert Battle, Camille A. Brown, Larry Keigwin, Kiki Lucas, Marlana Doyle, Joe Celej, Peter Chu, Sidra Bell, Kiesha Lalama, jhon r. stronks, Julie Fox, Jason McDole, Erin Reck, Jane Weiner, Robbie Moore, Ricky Ruiz, Steven Vaughn, Lauren Edson, Steven Boyd, Margot Gelber, Joshua L. Peugh, and Katarzyna Skarpetowska. He has performed at Houston Press’s Artopia event, Bayou City Arts Festival, Grier School Gala, Texas A&M International University, Dance Gallery Dance Festival, Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Conference in New York, Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, Barefoot Brigade, Spring into Dance Festival in St. Louis, Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Dance Series in 2012 and 2014 in Massachusetts, Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival in Palm Desert, CA., Julydoscope with the Cinema Arts Festival, Dallas Dance Festival and Austin Dance Festival. Kerry teaches, choreographs and volunteers throughout Houston and this will be his eigth year as Poe elementary fine arts career day speaker. Kerry was on the magazine cover of the Aug-Sept issue of the Dallas Dance Fest Festival 2015. This is his eighth season with METdance and is proud to be a company member.
GENENE MCGRATH is originally from Philadelphia, PA. She graduated with a BA in dance from Point Park University under the direction of Susan Stowe. While at Point Park, she worked with various choreographers such as Robert Battle, Melissa Barak, Whitney Moncrief, and Jason McDole. Genene worked professionally for three seasons with the Missouri Contemporary Ballet under the direction of Karen Mareck Grundy. While with the company, Genene worked with distinguished choreographers, including Kiesha Lalama, Jennifer Medina, Shannon Lee West, and Lisa Belrose. Before joining METdance, she performed with Peridance Contemporary Dance Company, in New York, where she performed pieces by Igal Perry, Bryan Arias, and Dwight Rhoden. While at METdance, Genene has had the great pleasure of performing works by Kiki Lucas, Joe Celej, Katarzyna Skarpetowska, Joshua L. Peugh, jhon r. stronks, Caleb Mitchell, Sydney Skybetter, and Jessica Hendricks. Genene is very excited for her third season with METdance!
PAIGE WHITE is originally from Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Georgia. She graduated from Pebblebrook Performing Arts High School as a Dance major and Drama minor, where she was cast in musicals such as Aida, Ragtime, and Hairspray. She has been a performer at The Strand Theater in Marietta, Georgia, singing and dancing in Motown Sound and Footloose the Musical. Paige was accepted into the Joffrey Ballet School Professional Ballet Trainee Program on a full tuition scholarship in New York, and danced there for the past three years. She has danced the parts of Lead Flower, Snow, and Chinese in Joffrey Ballet School’s Nutcracker and Canary Fairy in Sleeping Beauty. She has choreographed works such as Deliberation, Warriors, and Reluctance in Joffrey’s student choreography showcase. She had the opportunity to perform works by Earl Mosley, Michael Blake, Winnie Asawakanjanakit, Tiffany Rae-Fisher, Larisa Calera, Chris Coats, and Merce Cunningham (restaged by Andrea Weber). Paige is eager to perform this season with METdance.
BRITTNEY SMITH (APPRENTICE), was born and raised in Bulverde, Texas, and started her dance training at the age of three at a small local dance studio. Throughout High School she continued her training at Collective Dance Artistry in Helotes, TX. Brittney attended Point Park University and received her BA with a concentration in modern. During her time at Point Park, she had the opportunity to train under teachers such as Garfield Lemonius, Kiesha Lalama, Ruben Graciani, and Danielle Pavlik, and perform works by Mariah McLeod and Ron Tassone. She also was fortunate to perform in a student work choreographed by Sarah Hammond at the American College Dance Association conference in 2015. Brittney will be entering her second season with METdance as an apprentice. During her first season with METdance, she had the honor of performing works by Kiki Lucas, Marlana Doyle and Steven Boyd. She also had the opportunity to travel to several different dance festivals around the United States performing Katarzyna Skarpetowska’s work, “Consumed”. Brittney cannot wait to see what this second season will hold!
BRETT WOTHERSPOON (APPRENTICE), is originally from Detroit, Michigan. He began dancing in 1995 just shy of 3 years old at Allard Academy of Dance, under direction of Bonnie Allard. He has performed in “The Nutcracker” with both The Moscow Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. After graduating high school from Arts Academy in the Woods as a dance major, he continued his dance studies at Oakland University. On a dance scholarship, Brett performed works by Laurie Eisenhower, Stephanie Pizzo, Gregory Patterson, Ali Woerner, Thayer Jonutz, Bryan Strimpel, Kendra Portier, and Chin Ying. In May of 2013, he performed in the production of “Aida” with Eisenhower Dance and in September he began with Oakland University’s Repertory Dance Company. During Brett’s senior year of college, he became a member of Patterson Rhythm Pace, directed by Gregory Patterson. After completing his Bachelors of Fine Arts in August of 2015, he moved to Houston, Texas to begin his next chapter as a Trainee with METdance, where he has performed works by Artistic Director of METdance, Marlana Doyle, as well as Kiki Lucas, Camille A. Brown, Margot Gelber, and Steven Boyd. This is his second season with METdance.