Artists central to my choreographic practice

Jenny Bennett

Jenny Bennett is a dance artist and educator. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The University of Massachusetts, where she worked with Fritha Pengelly, Terese Freedman, Jen Rosenblit, Robert Battle, Trisha Brown/ Abby Yager, and Doug Varone/ Eddie Taketa. In San Francisco she performed with The Riley Project, Stacey Swan/ Daymare, and Kelly Bowker.

In New York, she performed collaborations with Meghan Frederick at Greenspace, Movement Research, and at The Judson Church. She has taught at studios across MA and the Chicago area, as well as creative movement in elementary schools through The San Francisco Arts Education Project and Yoga through mindfulness education at R.H. Conwell Elementary. Jenny is currently a guest lecturer at Keene State College and the assistant director of Hatchery, The School for Contemporary Dance and Thought’s pre-professional company.

Recently she has worked with Kate Seethaler, Katie Martin, and Barbie Diewald, performing at the Five Colleges, University Settlement, Jacob’s Pillow, and in Residencies at A.P.E. Gallery and The Iron Factory.

Leah Fournier

Leah Fournier is an improvisor, dancer, and dance-maker born and raised in Lewiston, Maine. She has collaborated with and performed in works by Angie Hauser, Chris Aiken, Sara Shelton Mann, Selene Carter, Stephen Koplowitz, Elizabeth Shea, Emily Lukasewski, and Shaina Cantino, and is currently in process with Barbie Diewald.

Leah is also the second half of Middle Space, a choreographic and improvisational performative experiment wherein she and collaborator Amelia Koper Heintzelman create works both set and unset in traditional and nontraditional performance spaces. Their most recent work, 50 ways to use latex, consisted of a two hour long performance in a silver-painted airshaft as a collaboration with visual artist Kricket Lane. Their work has been presented in New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, and France, where they were artists in residence at the Centre Pompadour, a neofeminist laboratory.

Leah lives in Easthampton, MA with her cat, Chewie, where she works and teaches at the School for Contemporary Dance & Thought and Pioneer Valley Ballet. (

Kate Martel

Kate Martel has recently relocated back to the Pioneer Valley after 15 years dancing in New York City. Most notably, she has been a collaborating artist with Laura Peterson Choreography for ten years, performing throughout NYC and internationally. She has also danced for choreographers Rebecca Brooks, David Hurwith, Luis Lara Malvacias, Juliette Mapp, Nora Stephens and Sarah White- Ayon.

Her own choreography has been presented by Women in Motion, Triskelion Arts, Dixon Place, Center for Performance Research and Rooftop Dance Series. She was a collaborator on Nicole Wolcott’s solo PaperPieces, and Conor Simpson’s film Jux Lucid, which premiered at the Flatlands Dance Film Festival. Kate has been part-time faculty at Adelphi University, Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and Western Connecticut State University. She earned her BA from Goucher College and MFA from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Kate is an AmSAT board certified Alexander Technique teacher who studied under Ann Rodiger at the Balance Arts Center.

Most recently she has been dancing in choreography by Barbie Diewald and teaching locally at The Center Dance, Ascendance Inner World Arts and Pioneer Valley Ballet. She is thrilled to return to the Pioneer Valley and immerse herself in its vibrant dance community as an educator, artist and mother.

Katie Martin

Katie Martin is a choreographer, performer, dance and movement educator, and recipient of the national Jacob K. Javits Fellowship in Dance. She has presented and performed her choreography throughout NYC and across the country, including Joyce SoHo, DTW, Danspace Project, Symphony Space, EMPAC, The Neurosciences Institute, New England Complex Systems Institute, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, A.P.E. Gallery, and 33 Hawley Street, as well as at numerous college and university performance venues.

Her work has been supported by such organizations as the Jerome Robbins Foundation, National Performance Network, Bumper Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Vermont Arts Council, Northampton Arts Council and selected for the National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center. She has had the pleasure of collaborating with and performing in the work of many artists, including choreographers Paul Matteson, Jennifer Nugent, David Dorfman, Susan Rethorst, Dana Reitz, Ann Carlson, Dante Brown, Wendy Woodson, Terry Creach, Keith Thompson, Meg Wolfe, Barbie Diewald, Kate Seethaler, Mark Dendy, and the Emergent Improvisation Project; with musicians Bill Nace, Jake Meginsky, Tatsuya Nakatani, and Chris Cooper; and with filmmaker Elliot Caplan.

Katie trained and performed for 10 years under the direction of American Ballet Theater principal ballerina Karena Brock Carlyle before receiving a BA in Dance at Bennington College and a MFA in Choreography and Dance Performance as a Teaching Fellow and Gretchen Moran Fellow at Smith College. She is currently on the dance faculty throughout the Five College Dance Department and at the School for Contemporary Dance and Thought.

Jazer Giles

Jazer Giles is an active composer, performer, and professor of interactive electronic music and multimedia at the University of Massachusetts. He holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in physics and music from Skidmore College and a Masters of Music degree in composition from the University of Massachusetts. Drawing upon the imbricate nature of mathematics, art, computers, language, and expression, Jazer transcodes audio and video to create immersive sound scores, installations, and interactive performances that include live signal processing, innovative computer synthesis techniques, and interactive video.

Jazer plays music for dance classes throughout the Five College Dance Department. He has collaborated with choreographer Barbie Diewald since 2014, and their work has been presented at Jacob’s Pillow, University Settlement (Performance Mix Festival 31), The School for Contemporary Dance and Thought, APE Gallery, the Northampton Arts Trust at 33 Hawley, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College, Smith College, Amherst College and Ponderosa, an experimental dance center in Germany.