Hannah Abair found the beauty of dance when she turned 19 because of the dedication from the Artistic Director of Middle TN State University, Kim Neal Nofsinger. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Theatre and Dance, she continued studying modern and ballet technique with local dance companies which led her to perform with guest artists such as, Wendy Allen, Stephanie Bland, Ursula Payne, and more. She then had the opportunity to participate in the start of the Nikolais/Louis Dance Intensive held in New York City. Through that intensive and praise from Aberto del Saz, Phyllis Lamhut, and Murray Louis himself, she realized her calling to become a choreographer. As any true artist, her works come to her through odd inspirations, interesting sounds, or life events, most of which get written down and await production. Just recently, she worked on the production crew for the American Dance Festival held in Durham, North Carolina, helping in all areas of the stage to produce over 200 performances, featuring companies such as, Stephen Petronio, Monica Bill Barnes, Larry Keigwin, Brian Brooks, Pilobolus, etc.. She hopes one day to run her own modern dance company, but, for now, is grateful for Circle in allowing her to become a core member and learn the ins and outs of a company. She would like to dedicate all her future works to her loving husband, Tyler Abair.
Mary F. Alford has studied dance for 30+ years during which time she has performed with the Knoxville Opera Company, City Dancers, Momentum Dance Lab, Optasia Productions, Studio Arts for Dancers,the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and Circle Modern Dance. She continues to work at her day job as Dr. Mary, serve on the artistic committee and as a core member for Circle, and live with her large white puppy and 2 precious angel miniature schnauzers on 5 acres of rampant vegetation in Blount County.
Nate Barrett has been involved with Circle Modern Dance since 1996. Starting as an accompanist to classes and performances, Nathan has evolved over the last decade to now be a dancer, choreographer, and performance director. He has directed and co-directed Modern Dance Primitive Light in 2008 and 2009 as well as conceptualized, directed, and performed in Authintensity, a salon style show featuring improvisational movement and spoken word.
Nathan is also well known around Knoxville as an accomplished drummer and percussionist, having performed and recorded with many local acts such as Greg Horne, Jodie Manross, Artvandalay, Same As It Ever Was, The Bearded, and many others. He currently can be seen performing with Hudson K. He is a founding member of Capoeira Fundo da Mata, Knoxville’s first organized group for the Brazilian art of capoeira. Nathan also serves on the faculty for Knoxville’s Community School of the Arts as a percussion teacher.
Mary Biggs is 18 years old and has lived in Knoxville her whole life. She began dancing at an early age (mostly to her dad’s Chuck Berry tapes in the living room!), and her formal dance education began with children’s classes at the Knoxville Dancer’s Studio. She attended modern and ballet lessons on and off throughout elementary and middle school, and began Irish step dance when she was 10 years old. She is now a competitive Irish dancer with the Drake School, but she did not become serious about modern dance until she found Circle. From the first technique class she took when in 8th grade, she knew that this was a company where she could learn from amazing people, participate in beautiful performances, and have the freedom and the support to find her own dancing style. Circle has even supported her as she takes her first steps in choreography, something she hopes to pursue as she begins the next stage of her life at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She does not know exactly what her future holds after college, but dance will definitely be involved!
Laura Burgamy received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance from the University of Georgia. She has studied with and performed works by Bala Sarasvati of CORE Concert Dance Company, Matt and Emily Kent of Pilobolus, and Elsie and Serenity Smith of Cirque du Soleil, among others. She has had the privilege of traveling the country as well as the world with dance education and performance. Laura began her journey into the world of dance at the age of 3 in Birmingham, Alabama. Upon moving to Knoxville, she trained at Studio Arts for Dancers, and later with Go! Contemporary Dance Works, under the direction of Lisa Hall McKee. Currently, Laura is focusing on continuing her training in aerial dance as well as tapping in to the treasures found in the practice of Capoeira. She dreams of growing her own pair of wings in the future.
Morgan Fleming received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Choreography and Performance from Ohio University. She has performed works by choreographers including: Sean Curran, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, Donald MacKayle, Kraig “bopi” Patterson, and Mark Morris. Her own choreography has been performed in New York, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. She credits her early training with Karen Gibbons-Brown, Mountain Movers Modern Dance, and many summers at the American Dance Festival for fostering her love of dance. When not working as the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s Data Coordinator, she is a core/artistic committee member of Circle Modern dance and serves as the Vice President of the board of directors for the Tennessee Association of Dance.
Valerie Kelly received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a minor in Dance Performance from the University of Tennessee in 2007. Since then, she has continued dancing and performing as a core member of Circle Modern Dance. Recently she opened Riversong Dance Studio in South Knoxville, a studio which she owns and directs. She teaches dance of all styles to children and adults as well as Zumba classes for adults for the past two years. When she’s not dancing, she enjoys reading and spending time with her husband and their beagle.
Elizabeth Kirkwood has been dancing since she was 5-years-old. She studied ballet, modern, jazz, and hip-hop with the Kingsport Ballet before becoming a member of the University of Tennessee dance company in 2005. While with the UT Dance Company Elizabeth performed Martha Graham repertory and original modern works both locally and around the country at American College Dance Festivals. She joined Circle Modern Dance Company in 2010. She has choreographed for and performed in Modern Dance Primitive Light, Authintensity I & II, Spectre, Rossini Festival, and First Friday performances. She also co-directed Circle Modern’s summer showcase at 4th and Gill Community Center in 2011. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from UT. She currently works as a family nurse practitioner.
Elizabeth will be teaching open level modern technique on Sundays during September and October.
Meredith McCarroll began dancing at age 4 in a traditional studio in western North Carolina, and continued her study of ballet, tap and jazz until she left home at 18. She happened upon a modern dance class at Appalachian State University, where she took her shoes off, flexed her feet, turned her legs in and never looked back. After minoring in dance and performing regularly in the Appalachian Dance Ensemble and North Carolina Dance Festival, she moved to Atlanta where she dove into the world of contact improv. After a hiatus from dancing and performing, Meredith discovered Circle Modern Dance as she was pregnant with her first son and was cast in a piece that she performed at 7 months pregnant. Since that time, she has continued to explore, with movement, all the things that keep her awake and make her write (she teaches English, Film, and Gender Studies in her other life at Clemson). She, her partner, their two sons and dog recently moved to Greenville, SC and continue have living room dance parties which inspire her choreography and keep her laughing. She looks forward to continuing dancing with Circle as time and travel allow.
Maria McGuire choreographed her first dance right after attending her first Circle Modern Dance class, an audition. Today, after many opportunities to face her fearlessness, she loves to facilitate raw movement and storytelling improvisations with her cohorts. A teacher of such things and massage therapist, Maria also uses dance for assessment and healing, mulling over stuff, character sketches, general wellness, and keeping herself grounded and entertained. Fusing her backgrounds in ballet, yoga, energywork, tribal fusion bellydance, and monkey bars, Maria expanded into into partner acrobatics and aerial dance in 2009, co-created “The Wing Project” in 2011, and flies with several of her dearest companions from Circle. Out of her supportive network, she has also directed a variety of performances from modern dance to circus arts.
Amanda Merriss began dancing at the age of five in her hometown of Eureka, California. She was a Principal Company Dancer of Brava! Dance Eureka directed by Virginia Niekrasz-Laurent, dancing roles in The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, The Firebird among others, and she was accepted to summer programs for the Ballet West Academy in Salt Lake City, and Redwood Concert Ballet in Eureka, CA.
Modern dance came alive for Amanda when she entered college at Sonoma State University, performing in the university Dance Ensemble while earning a B.A. in Studio Art and a minor in German. She also studied for a year at the State Academy of Fine and Applied Arts in Stuttgart, Germany, where she pursued her passions for the visual arts and cultural exchange. Since her return, she has been seeing fewer divisions between visual art, dance, music and language. Amanda rejoiced when she found Circle Modern Dance, a community that celebrates the dancing spirit within and allows her to explore all the ways the body can move through space.
Callie Minnich received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance and Choreography from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is originally from Knoxville, Dancing from elementary through high school in the Knox county Magnet programs. She performed with the Austin-East Dance Company in high school and performed in and produced shows for the Reparatory Dance Company at USM. Soon, she will be teaching with Sizemology Dance. She is so excited to be a new core member of Circle Modern Dance and so excited to keep exploring dance with them.
Balázs Sipos a native of Budapest, Hungary, began dancing soon after he learned to walk. Through the years he has studied a broad variety of dances, while mastering his main focus: physics. He has expertise in ballroom dances, acrobatic rock’n’roll, salsa and tango. Shortly after leaving Europe and arriving to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Balázs decided to challenge himself in the art of modern dance and joined Circle Modern Dance. Nearly one year later he and Maria McGuire directed the 19th annual Modern Dance Primitive Light 2010 show. His current focus involves partner acrobatics, acrobalance, and the incorporation of those in modern dance.
Sarah Whitaker has been studying and performing dance for twenty years. She has a BA in Dance and a BBA in Business Management from Radford University. Before leaving for college, Sarah danced with Pointe West Dance Company. She has studied and performed with Pro Danza Italia in Castigleonccello, Tuscany, Italy. She has also recently taught at Ashley’s Dance Academy. When she’s not dancing she enjoys reading, painting, and cooking.