+ our team

Our Team

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Brandon Welch / Co-Founder
executive director

“I am awakening joy in movement.”

Brandon Welch is originally from Indianapolis, IN where he trained with Diane Gudat. He went on to receive a BFA in Dance Performance from SUNY Purchase. In 2010, Brandon studied on exchange at the Western Australian Academy of the Performing Arts and in 2011 began his professional career with Momix dance-illusionist. For two years, Brandon was a member of Doug Varone and Dancers. During his time with Doug Varone, Brandon performed at the Metropolitan Opera in Les Troyens and traveled to South America with Dance Motion USA’s cultural diplomacy program.  Brandon is currently a company member and artistic associate of Gibney Dance Company. As a member of GDC, Brandon facilitates movement workshops in Domestic Violence shelters and is the creator of an international network for dancers passionate about merging the arts and social justice. Additionally, Brandon has also performed works by Twyla Tharp, Nelly Van Bommel, Zvi Gotheiner, Stephen Petronio, Amy Miller, Lane Gifford, Hilary Easton, Keely Garfield and Ohad Naharin. As an educator, Brandon has taught in Armenia, Argentina, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey and across the United States.

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Hannah Welch / Co-Founder
artistic director

“I am awakening a union of strength and grace.”

Hannah Welch began her dance training in North Carolina. She attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and holds a BFA in dance performance. While at UNCSA, she had the privilege to perform works by Marius Petipa, Jerome Robbins, Agnes DeMille, Jose Limon, and Twyla Tharp along with original works by Susan McCullough, Brenda Daniels, Helen Simoneau, and Larry Keigwin. She has studied across the country with American Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Complexions, LINES, and Keigwin + CO. Hannah is currently dancing with Thomas Ortiz Dance. She is grateful to be a part of Awakening Movement.

 

 

Jake Bone
director of programming

"I am awakening an individual stamp of authenticity."

Jake Bone is originally from Dallas, Texas. He graduated with a BFA in Dance at the University of North Texas where he performed works by Bebe Miller, Kihyoung Choi, Anna Sokolow, and Bulareyaung Pagarlava. Jake’s choreography was selected for the adjudicated concert at the South-Central regional American College Dance Festival in 2012. Jake has had the pleasure of working with Gibney Dance, the Median Movement, the Metropolitan Opera, and BARE Dance Company since moving to New York. He joined Doug Varone and Dancers in 2015. Jake is the Programming Director for Awakening Movement and attends Liberty Church in Brooklyn.

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Whitney Dufrene
partnership assistant

“I am awakening the power of peace and deep, persevering love…at all times, in all things, in all circumstances.”

Whitney Dufrene, a native of Louisiana, is a performer, teacher, choreographer and musician based in Manhattan. She trained with Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre, Point Park University, and graduated with a BFA in dance from Belhaven University.  Whitney performed with Ad Deum Dance Company, and has also served as company director for Dance du Coeur and director of dance programming for Creative Dreams Outreach Center. She has choreographed work for Ad Deum, Dance du Coeur, Belhaven’s Dance Ministry, Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre, and Weave Dance Collective. She has also danced in Jerusalem with the Tabernacle Dance Company as a part of the beloved Feast of Tabernacles. Currently, Whitney is delighted to be a member of Doug Varone and Dancers, and serve on faculty at Kidville. Her deepest passion and joy is working to see the arts bring breakthrough, justice, hope, healing and freedom in individuals. Whitney is so deeply grateful to be a part of Awakening Movement. Soli Deo Gloria…All for the glory of God! “Let there be LIGHT!” – Genesis 1:3

 

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Megan Guinta
fundraising coordinator

"I am awakening our society to see the importance, relevance, and legitimacy of artistic expression."

Megan Guinta, a New Jersey native, has been dancing her entire life.  She was a member of the New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble under the direction of Nancy Turano, in which she performed works by Robert Battle, Twyla Tharp, Andrea Miller, Bradley Shelver, Kate Skarpetowska, and other acclaimed choreographers. Megan then attended the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase, where she performed works by Merce Cunningham, Mark Morris, Gregory Dolbashian, Nelly van Bommel, and Ori Flomin. Through the Conservatory, Megan enjoyed a semester abroad, studying at Beijing Dance Academy in China.  Since graduating cum laude with a BFA in dance from Purchase College in 2013, Megan has apprenticed for Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and toured Sri Lanka with SeaLegs Dance.  Megan is also a certified GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS®  instructor.  In addition to sharing these methods with people throughout New York City, she currently works with MADArt Creative and Natalie Johnson Dance.  Megan is honored to be a part of Awakening Movement. 

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Nicole Jones
administrative consultant

“I am awakening a loving environment for mind, body, and spirit.”

Nicole Jones, native of Pittsburgh, PA, holds a Bachelor of Arts in both Dance and in History from Point Park University.  Nicole has worked with Vertigo Dance Company’s international program in Jerusalem, Reed Dance (formerly August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble), and Norwegian Cruise Line as the West Coast feature in Broadway’s “Swing!”.  Nicole has been blessed to perform the works of Noa Wertheim, Ohad Naharin, Martha Graham, Christopher Huggins, Gerald Arpino, Douglas Bentz, Kiesha Lalama-White, and Patrick Franz among many others.  Nicole calls Hillsong NYC home, where she works with NYC project artists Katherine Maxwell and Carmen Carceres. Nicole believes in God’s ability to work through Awakening Movement to do awesome things in New York City.

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Hannah Newman
grant coordinator

"I am awakening faith in God’s power to turn hearts to Him through the universal language of dance."

Hannah is from Pittsburgh, PA and trained at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School. She graduated summa cum laude from the Ailey/Fordham BFA program in 2016 with a double major in Dance and English. She joined Peridance Contemporary Dance Company as an apprentice in September 2016 where she has performed works by Igal Perry, Jae Man Joo, and Marlena Wolfe. She has also performed professionally with Gibney Dance, Arch Contemporary Ballet, and Texture Contemporary Ballet. For the past two years, she has taught and performed dance in prisons with Shining Light Ministries, an organization that takes artists into secure facilities to bring hope to the inmates through the arts. Currently, Hannah works for Shining Light as a grant writer and communications coordinator. Hannah attends Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Morningside Heights, and she is honored and excited to be joining Awakening Movement this year as their grants coordinator. In all things, she strives to live in light of the truth of 2nd Corinthians 12:9: “But [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”

Kellyn Thornburg
special events coordinator

"I am awakening hope through movement and healing through creativity."

Kellyn Thornburg, originally from Dallas, N.C., holds her BFA in Contemporary Dance and Performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She has had the honor to perform works by Merce Cunningham, Lucinda Childs, Ohad Naharin, Lar Lubovitch, Shen Wei, Kimberly Bartosik, Helen Simoneau. She has also had the opportunity of attending summer programs at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Merce Cunningham Trust, and American Dance Festival. Since moving to NYC in 2015, she has worked as an rehearsal assistant with Twyla Tharp Dance Company, and a dancer for Aaron McGloin Dance and John Selya. She is excited for her first year working with Awakening Movement, and can’t wait to see what God has in store.

Sarah Zielinski
director of partnerships

“I am awakening honesty with others--being true--being connected.”

Sarah Zielinski, originally from Pittsburgh, PA, attended Point Park University and graduated summa cum-laude with a BFA in Dance and minor in Theatre.  Upon graduation and moving to NYC, she has worked with the NYC Metropolitan Opera & Doug Varone, Jessica Taylor-- DamageDance, ZviDance, Caleb Teicher & CO, Lorena Egan, and Gibney Dance GRIT. Other credits include: National Tour of The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, Starlight Express, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and West Side Story as Anybodys.  Currently, Sarah dances in Pittsburgh with Attack Theatre and teaches Pilates. She is extremely grateful to serve Awakening Movement and for the opportunity to choreograph through AM as well. Sarah is also part of Shining Light, an Arts Ministry that shares and teaches music, dance, singing, and spoken word to the incarcerated in prisons.   A verse that is dear and is a guiding Truth is  "Trust in the LORD with all your heart And lean not on your own understanding." -Proverbs 3:5

Devin Oshiro
director of marketing & design

"I am awakening my eyes to see God's beauty in all I do."

Devin Oshiro was born and raised in the Los Angeles, CA region. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from California State University of Fullerton where she performed works by Mike Esperanza and Jiří Kylián. Devin was a member of Entity Ultra Contemporary Company and Mosaic’s Urban Poets, which has given her the opportunity to choreograph and perform in Scotland, Germany, Japan and Singapore. Since moving to NYC, Devin has been a company member of Summation Dance, Bare Dance Company and Delirious Dances. Additionally, she has performed works by Maija Garcia, Patrick Corbin, Brice Mousset, Keely Garfield, Mariangela Lopez and more. In 2015 she joined Gibney Dance Company as a full-time Artistic Associate. As a member of GDC, Devin facilitates movement workshops in domestic violence shelters and is currently directing the Dancer’s Economic Empowerment Program (DEEP). Devin feels extremely honored to serve with Awakening Movement and finds her home with Liberty Church Brooklyn.