Raina Cephas, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Goucher College in 2011, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in dance and psychology. She was born and raised in Cambridge, Maryland, where she studied dance recreationally for many years with her county’s local Parks and Recreation organization and the Dorchester County Family YMCA. While taking a multitude of different dance classes at the YMCA, she was also asked to teach early childhood dance through beginning and intermediate dance students. In 2006, she began to train more seriously in dance by auditioning and becoming a dancer for the Eastern Shore Dance Academy’s Cambridge Ballet Company, artistically directed by Mrs. Jessica Hindman-Wheatley, where she performed roles as the Mouse King, Snowflake, Chinese, and Flower in a rendition of the famous “Nutcracker” ballet. She also performed for them as one of Swanhilde’s friends in the ballet, “Coppelia.” After a year training and performing with the company, she attended Goucher College and trained in a variety of dance techniques with many well-acclaimed instructors. While at Goucher, she had the privilege to perform in Elolo Gharbin’s interpretation of West Africa’s, “The Story Anase Told,” Doris Humphrey’s highly appraised and magnificent spectacle, “Soaring,” and Larry Keigwin’s exhilarating piece, “Mirror.” In 2010, she traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to study Brazilian dance forms, techniques, and history, which she later incorporated into her own choreographic work, presented at Goucher in 2011. Currently, she is teaching creative movement and private dance instruction in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is actively involved in taking classes at the Academy of Dance Arts, directed by Mrs. Wanda Plemmons. In the fall of 2012, she will be attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in dance with a concentration in choreography. She is thrilled to be a part of THE MARK dance company and is excited for the opportunity to work with the company’s Founder and Artistic Director, Arlynn Zachary.
Ava Zachary Frank
Ava Zachary Frank, started dancing in the spring of 2000 with Steppin’ Out Dance Studio in Petersburg, Alaska. While there she trained in jazz, tap, and ballet. In 2002, she was privileged to travel with her studio on the “Festival of the North” tour alongside Ketchikan Theatre Ballet. After moving to Waxhaw, NC, she continued her dance training with Trinity Arts Performing Arts School and Bonita's School of Ballet. During this time, she added the genres of modern and hip hop to her accruing movement vocabulary. In both 2005 and 2006, she had the opportunity to perform with “Project Dance” in Times Square, NY. She graduated in 2010 from Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) with her Associate of Arts degree. While at CPCC, she performed with their resident company, Dance Central. Over the past several years she has performed works by Mindy Anderson, MaryAnn Mee, Katharyn Horne, Lesli Todd, Bridget Morris, and Randall Flinn. In 2011, She graduated from South Eastern Institute, Magna Cum Laude, with a degree in Massage Therapy. She is currently dancing for Storling Dance Theatre in Kansas, and returns to North Carolina on occasion to perform with THE MARK. She is also working as a licensed Massage Therapist at Massage Envy.
Rayni Leigh Collins, MA, R-DMT, LPCA is a native of York, South Carolina. In May of 2008, she graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography from Columbia College. For a few years post graduation, Rayni performed with various contemporary dance companies in Columbia, South Carolina such as the Power Company, Sapphire Moon, Eboni Dance Theatre and Core, and Unbound. During this time of choreographing and performing, she also worked as a dance specialist, receptionist, administrator, and served tables at local restaurants, but sensed that her artistic self could be used for a greater good. In June of 2013, Rayni graduated from Antioch University New England with her Master’s in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling. She is a Registered Dance/Movement Therapist under the American Dance Therapy Association and is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in North Carolina. Currently, Rayni is serving as the Secretary/Treasurer for the Carolina Chapter of the American Dance Therapy Association and working at Outlook Behavioral Health. Rayni is looking forward to what is to come working with The MARK Dance Company.
Ellen Brown, has always had a passion for dance. She began her dance training with Trinity Arts Christian School of Performing Arts in 2002, where she trained in Ballet, Modern and Hip Hop. While there, she was given the opportunity to perform at Dance Revolution, and in their studio’s ministry outreach program at festivals, churches, and homeless shelters. After high school, she went on to study Cecchetti ballet technique under the tutelage of Katharyn Horne at Central Piedmont Community College. Since then, she has received dance instruction from a variety of instructors, including E.E. Balcos (Open Door Studios) and Mary Ann Mee (CPCC). She has spent several years as an instructor of Praise Dance, teaching at both Miss Katherine’s School of Dance and Waxhaw Bible Church’s annual Creative Arts Summer Camp. While in college, she took a sabbatical from dance in order to focus on her studies. To supplement dance, she began training in Isshin-Ryu; an Okinawan form of karate. Throughout the years she has sought out many forms of non-classical movement expression; including attending the Urban Dance Festival in LA where she studied various forms of urban dance including Hip Hop, House, Street Jazz, Tribal Funk, Old School, Popping, Lock Dancing, and Latin Funk. She also spent one of her summers as an understudy for Echo Contemporary Dance Company. In 2011, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from South Piedmont Community College with a diploma in Therapeutic Massage. Now a licensed Massage Therapist and an assistant teacher for the Therapeutic Massage program at South Piedmont, she spends much of her time dedicated to her career in the healing arts. She is pleased to announce her apprenticeship with THE MARK dance company as she makes her debut back into the world of dance performance, and is excited to see where this takes her in the future.
Jackie O'Toole, was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA where she began her formal dance training. She received her B.A. in Dance and B.A. in Communications from Coker College. She received her M.F.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography from Florida State University. Along with interning at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, there she received her certification in Lester Horton Technique. Ms. O’Toole’s choreography has been presented in venues including the Cloud Dance Festival in London, DUMBO Dance Festival in New York, Panoply Arts Festival, South Carolina Dancing Festival, and the American College Dance Festivals. Ms. O’Toole has set choreography on West Chester University’s dance programs and was on the dance faculty at AMDA’s Los Angeles campus. She is a member of L.A. based Sarah Berges Dance Company, performing currently as a guest artist in her fifth international company season. Ms. O’Toole is an assistant professor of dance at Johnson C. Smith University, in Charlotte, NC.
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Arlynn Zachary, is a graduate from Goucher College with a degree in choreography, Magna Cum Laude, and has an Associate of Arts degree from Central Piedmont Community College. She has performed in works by Kim Robards, Charles Weidman, Doris Humphrey, Martha Graham, Sean Curran, and Jennifer Archibald. She has a background at Goucher in Stage Production and was a Technical Stage Production Intern with Bates Dance Festival in 2011, where she was honored with the position of Lighting Designer for both Jennifer Archibald and Lisa Race. Her choreography has been displayed at the American College Dance Festival, Goucher College’s Faculty and Guest-Artist Concert, the North Carolina Dance Festival’s Audience Choice Show, the Greensboro Fringe Festival, the Charlotte Dance Festival, Columbia College's Alumnae Concert, and is a resident choreographer for Charlotte's Wine and Dance concerts, to name a few. She danced professionally in the Charlotte area with The Wake Project (2011-13), worked for Echo Contemporary Dance Company as their Assistant Rehearsal Director, Stage Manager, and Lighting Designer (2011-13), taught modern dance for Johnson C. Smith University’s Outreach Program (2012-13), had the privilege of working with Kim Jones in the re-staging of Martha Graham's Panorama (2012-13), performed as an original cast member with Tap Root Ensemble in their production “Ophelos” (2013), and has worked with the Charlotte Dance Festival as both Board Secretary and Board Chair (2012-2015). Currently she is the Director of Dance for the Charlotte New Music Festival; Stage Manager for Moving Poets Charlotte; teaches modern and hip-hop in the Charlotte area, is a 2015 Regional Artist Project Grant recipient from the Arts and Science Council, and is the Founder and Artistic Director of THE MARK dance company.
Breanne Horne grew up performing with The Columbia City Ballet while studying at the adjunct conservatory. In 2001 she began training at the North Carolina School of the Arts focusing on classical ballet. In 2004 her interests shifted to contemporary dance, and in 2008 she graduated from the Contemporary Dance program at UNCSA, earning her BFA later in 2013. Since graduating in 2008, she has performed for several alumnae run companies including “ALBAN ELVED DANCE CO,” “87 Dance Productions/ Cara Hagan,” and “Helen Simoneau Danse.” She has also been fortunate enough to choreograph for community events such as the Wake County EMS Survivalist Ceremony in May of 2014, and through the Greensboro Ballet’s outreach program, “Build-A-Ballet,” which Breanne headed at Dudley High School. Her most exciting choreographic adventures include choreographing a collaborative work with weapons of Mass Projection for the 20th Anniversary of the Cucalorus Film Festival and SARUS Festival is Wilmington, and with the Triptych Collective in Charlotte. While in Charlotte she has performed with PLEXUS Dance Company/ Juliana Tilbury, Caroline Calouche, and the Triptych Collective. She loves creating and performing equally, and is starting to experiment with dance video making. Community outreach and art education are important to her, and her theories remain simple, while challenging the student/artist/dancer to fulfill the movement with genuine understanding of placement, awareness of its efficiency and, of course, joy of movement. She currently performs and creates throughout North Carolina with several exciting upcoming projects, so stay tuned.
Alexandria Nunweiler is from Greenville, South Carolina and began her dance career under the direction of her mother. She received her B.A. in Dance from Winthrop University in 2014 and has called Charlotte home ever since. During her time at Winthrop, she performed in many faculty and student showcases along with the American College Dance Festival Gala in Tampa, Florida, the Atlanta Fringe Festival, and Hairspray! the musical. She has also studied and performed with Staibdance in Sorrento, Italy. Alexandria has presented work on the dance collaboration process at Winthrop's CVPA Emerging Scholar's Program and the SOURCE Symposium. Most recently her work has been featured in the adjudicated concert of the American College Dance Festival Southeast and Charlotte's Loose Leaves Showcase. Alexandria is currently performing with Martha Connerton's Kinetic Works Dance Company and choreographing musical theatre productions at OnStage School of Performing Arts.
Julia Shockley grew up on a farm in Snow Hill, Maryland and began dancing at Salisbury Studio of Dance. After high school, she pursued her love for the art at East Carolina University in Greenville, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance performance. Upon graduating in 2014, Julia moved to Charlotte, NC and began dancing with Martha Connerton/Kinetic Works. In her time with the company she has performed in various works such as Momenta, Adrift, Around the World in 60 Minutes, and Moving Stories/Changing Lives. Julia is also a member of the Kinetyx Ensemble, which performs shows for children in schools. These shows presented the opportunity to dance in several cities across the Carolinas, including Charlotte. Julia started dancing with THE MARK Dance Company in 2015.
Amanda Grant graduated from Winthrop University in December 2013 with a B.A. in Dance and a minor in Health. In 2013, she spent two exciting weeks in Sorrento, Italy performing and taking dance classes in modern, ballet, gaga technique, yoga, and Batsheva rep. She participated in the 2014 and 2015 Charlotte New Music Festival first, as an off campus choreographer, and second, as a dancer. Amanda worked with Caroline Calouche and Company as an adjunct dancer for the 2014-2015 season and had the opportunity to choreograph for the Youth Ensemble Showcase, perform aerial at various festivals, and teach at the CC&co dance camps and summer intensive. More recently, she collaborated with Allie Nunweiler to present work in the 2015 Loose Leaves Showcase. She has danced with multiple choreographers such as Jennifer Archibald, StaibDance, Valerie Ifill, and Breanne Horne. Currently, Amanda works as a dance teacher at Move Studio Charlotte as well as the Upper Palmetto YMCA.