Making Connections: Partnerships in Dance Creation and Presentation

Thursday June 8 | 2pm – 3:15pm

Bonnie Brooks (Moderator)

Bonnie Brooks is Associate Professor of Dance and Director/Lead Curator for the dance presenting series at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. She chaired Columbia’s Dance Department from fall, 1999 – spring, 2011. While chair, she co-curated the Dance Center's dance presenting series. During the 2011-2012 academic year, she was Legacy Fellow of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and participated in the company's Legacy Tour. Her recent scholarly papers include "Queering Cunningham," for the CORD 2012 Special Topics conference; “The Last Dance: Choreographies of Closure” at the Dance Under Construction/CORD conference at UCLA in spring, 2013; and “Keeping it Local: Towards an American Dance Theater,” in progress. Her essay “Dance Presenting and Dramaturgy” was published in Dance Dramaturgy: Modes of Agency, Awareness and Engagement by Palgrave Macmillan in August, 2015. Brooks was visiting assistant professor in the World Arts & Cultures Department at UCLA (1996-99). She held numerous administrative posts in the dance field including executive director of Dance/USA (1990-98), executive director of Minnesota Dance Alliance (1985-1988), and managing director of David Gordon/Pick Up Co. (1982-1985). She began her arts administration career at the National Endowment for the Arts, where she worked in the Dance Program (1979-1982). Brooks holds a B.A. in Literature from Wheaton College (IL) and Master of Arts degree in English from George Mason University (VA).

Miki Ohlsen (Speaker)

As Artistic Director of the Island Moving Co for 35 years, Miki Ohlsen grown a small unpaid contemporary dance company of 8 members, into a not for profit organization with 10 full time professional dancers, an Executive director, a staff of 4 and an extremely active board of directors. IMC receives funding from many foundations, individual donors and the NEA. The company is about to embark on its first Capital Campaign to create a new home and Black Box Theatre.

IMC is an internationally recognized contemporary dance company, known for high quality work in all areas of our expertise. Collaboration with all artists, community members, institutions and funders, has been IMC’s signature and the key to its success. Miki has choreographed more than 40 works for the company and set her works on other companies as well. She brings in choreographers from across the country and around the world to create amazing new works on the IMC dancers.

The Great Friends Dance Festival, IMC’s signature touring model for companies with budgets less than one million dollars, has allowed IMC to tour both nationally and internationally. Most recently, the company toured to Kazakhstan and will return there this summer for two weeks. Through this touring exchange, IMC has also presented over 30 companies in Newport during its summer festival.

Miki has branded curriculum based dance education programs for elementary education through graduate programs at renowned Universities. These programs are provided to schools across the Northeast. With a constant eye on the evolution and growth of IMC, the company recruits dancers from around the world, through its audition process. Miki looks to the future of IMC with the expectation of its new home with a Black Box theatre and the addition of an associate director who shares her vision for the company.

Emily Behrmann (Speaker)

After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Music and Voice from UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance, Emily Behrmann began her work in arts administration. Over the past 25 years, she has held positions with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, the Kansas City Symphony, and the Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College, working in event management, box office, marketing and fundraising. After she was involved in the capital campaign to raise $20 million for JCCC’s Regnier Center and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Emily returned to the performing arts at JCCC as General Manager. Emily’s personal goal goes beyond booking artists, marketing events and raising money. Her vision is to create an arts hub in Johnson County, KS by presenting quality artists, championing arts education, and collaborating with the many talented organizations and individuals in the Greater Kansas City arts community to offer unique arts and culture experiences.

Emily was chosen by the Johnson County Library Foundation as the recipient of the 2013 Pinnacle Award for Excellence in the Arts, and is known to the Johnson County community as the host of several programs on the JCCC television channel. She serves on the Lenexa Arts Council, and is a board member for the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce and KC Metropolis, Kansas City’s Online Journal for the Arts.

Stephen Clapp (Speaker)

Stephen Clapp, M.F.A. is a choreographer, composer, performer, arts educator, writer and cultural activist. He is Co-Artistic Director of Dance Box Theater (with Laura Schandelmeier) and serves as the Executive Director for Dance Metro DC. Clapp and Schandelmeier have co-created and performed in eight original full-evening dance theater works, toured regionally and internationally, and received commissions from the Creative Communities Fund of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Clapp is a dedicated advocate for dance. Through his work with Dance Metro DC, he develops and implements programs that aim to help artist and professionals in dance to strengthen existing networks and build partnerships that contribute to a diverse and prolific cultural landscape. He is a certified Arts Integration Specialist and has facilitated movement-based cultural equity trainings and educational workshops for young people and adults. Clapp has received multiple awards from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Prince George’s County Arts and Humanities Council for Individual Artistry. He has performed and toured with the ClancyWorks Dance Company, CatScratch Theater, Kinding Sindaw and was a founding member of the Boston-based ensemble, The Other Theatre. For more information, please visit and

Heather Rigby (Speaker)

Heather Rigby is a Los Angeles native and Managing Director for the Ford Theatres, a historic, 1200-seat outdoor amphitheatre in Hollywood. The Ford Theatres is a Los Angeles County venue and its programming represents the rich diversity and cultural practices of the region. Heather found her path to the arts through the social dance world and is passionate about valuing and integrating authentic community partnerships and direct arts participation into the presenting field. She believes in the arts as a vehicle to experience everyday life, connect to personal and cultural modes of expression and build networks of community. She translates this passion into her work at the Ford where programming is firmly rooted in community; in addition to presenting artists of international and national renown, the Ford partners with local arts organizations and independent producers to present a series of music, dance, and theatre events, and supports their professional development, growth, and visibility. The Ford also produces a series of free events on the Ford stage and in local communities where artists and participants dance, play music, and engage together around a different cultural art form each night.

Heather previously served as the General Manager of Productions to the Los Angeles County Arts Commission where she also managed the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s Free Concerts in Public Sites program which supports 80 free music events across Los Angeles County each season, and produced the L.A. County Holiday Celebration, a 3-hour live television event that celebrates the diverse traditions of communities across the region through music and dance performance. Heather has a B.A. in Art History from Harvard University, an M.A. in Cultural Studies from Claremont Graduate University and serves on the boards of WAA and California Presenters.