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2022 Weekly Classes and Workshop Teachers

Updated: May 20

Published 2/15/222

By Victoria L. Awkward


Weekly Classes Teaching Artists


Laila J. Franklin

Teaching Contemporary Wednesdays 10 - 11:30am


photo by laila j. franklin

Laila J. Franklin (b. 1997) is a Boston-based (unceded Massachusett and Pawtucket Land) dance artist and movement researcher from the Washington, DC area (unceded Nacotchtonk and Pistacatoway Land). She is a co-founder and current performing member of Dance Farm Collective, an experimental dance group loosely based in Iowa City, Iowa (unceded Sauk and Meskwaki Land), alongside collaborators Michael Landez, Mariko Ishikawa, and Juliet Remmers. She is a current dancer and collaborator with little house dance company (ME) under the direction of Heather Stewart.


Her performance and collaboration credits include projects with Ruckus Dance (MA) and Haus of Pvmnt (NY) and projects with Miguel Gutierrez, Dr. Christopher-Rasheem McMillan, Jennifer Kayle, Melinda Jean Myers, and Stephanie Miracle. While an undergraduate student, Laila had the opportunity to perform work by Keith Thompson, Aszure Barton, and Mark Morris.


Laila’s choreography has been presented through Third Life Studios (MA), Public Space One (IA), the Boston Conservatory, and the University of Iowa. She is a recipient of a 2022 Run of the Mills Residency through the Boston Center for the Arts Mills Gallery. She is also a recipient of a 2022 Alumni Choreographic Commission through The Boston Conservatory at Berklee.


Laila has been working as a teaching artist since 2018. She has taught contemporary dance classes as a part of the Midday Movement Series (MA) and served as a teaching assistant at the University of Iowa for 2000-level dance studies courses. She is an SY2021/2022 adjunct professor of dance at Salem State University (MA) and is a teaching artist with VLA Dance (MA). Expanding this work, she also serves as a consultant and collaborator for social justice education projects and programming for Midday Movement Series.


She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance Performance from The Boston Conservatory and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Iowa. She has completed additional training through the Trinity Laban Conservatoire (LDN), the Lion's Jaw Dance and Performance Festival (MA), Movement Research (NY), and the Bates Dance Festival (ME).


Tahimy Miranda

Teaching Flying Low Thursdays 10 - 12pm


Tahimy Miranda graduated as a professional dancer and teacher from the Escuela Nacional de Danza Moderna y Folclórica (ENA), La Habana, Cuba. She started her professional career in the Danza Contemporánea de Cuba company and later danced with the MalPaso Dance Company. In those Companies, Tahimy performed in several dance festivals in Cuba, Mexico, Canada and the United States including performances at The Joyce Theater in New York City and the Ted Shawn Theater at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. She has worked with award winning dance artists in numerous styles including Marco Goecke, Micaela Taylor, Shannon Gillen, Trey McIntyre, Ronald K. Brown, and Itzik Galili. She has been a guest artist in Residency for numerous universities around the United States teaching Master Classes and choreographing for Undergraduate and Graduate students. In 2018, she was a nominee for the Arizona Mayor's Art Award, the "Alley Award''. In 2019, she joined Boston Dance Theater as a dancer and became the Trainee Program Manager. She has been instructing Contemporary, Modern, Flying low Technique and AfroCuban Folklore for over 10 years.


Victoria L. Awkward

Teaching Contemporary Fridays 10 - 11:30am


I believe dance is uniquely positioned to help people slow down in order to: connect with self, acknowledge others and appreciate our environment. For this reason I aim to make work that asks people to check in and reflect on their actions socially, environmentally and internally. I also hope to emphasize the interpersonal experience that emerges when audience and performers are close in proximity and blurring the fourth wall. As a leader in dance, I strive to empower those I work with by reinforcing ethically sound formalities.

Originally from Massachusetts Victoria L. Awkward trained at Impulse Dance Center by LuAnn Pagella and worked with Boston-based artists such as Karen Krolak. She graduated from Goucher College with a degree in Dance, Visual Art and Education. While there she danced for the Goucher Repertory Dance Ensemble and performed in works by Sidra Bell, Christian Von Howard, Helen Simoneau, and others.

Along with directing VLA DANCE she is also a freelance artist, who most recently worked with Shura Baryshnikov and Levi Marsman at Boston Lyric Opera, with Ashani Dances, Attn: Dance, The Davis Sisters, Heather Stewart, Jenna Pollack and Ruckus Dance.


She has been a guest teacher at Salem State University and is currently the Head Dance Coach at Middlesex School in Concord. She continually deepens her teaching practices through her work as a mentee with Midday Movement Series and Alleyne Dance.

Victoria started VLA DANCE as the company she wish her younger self can look up to. Through her work with VLA she received the Boston Dancemakers Residency with Boston Center for the Arts and the Boston Foundation's Live Arts Boston Grant.


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Workshop Teaching Artists


Marissa Molinar of Midday Movement Series

Teaching Contemporary Tuesday March 9 & Thursday March 17, 10 - 11:30am


photo by @mondoshotme

Marissa Molinar is a contemporary dancer and Director of Midday Movement Series, a grassroots initiative cultivating a new generation of dance leaders. She holds a Bachelors in Environmental Science from Brown University with a focus in Urban Conservation and Environmental Justice, and she holds a certificate in Contemporary Dance from the Professional Training Program at Gibney Dance in NYC. A late-comer to contemporary dance, Marissa’s administrative and consulting work focuses on creating social change and sustainability by empowering artists in their fierce individuality while building fierce communities. She is passionate about centering artists and administrators of color at all levels of the arts ecosystem. Currently, Marissa is a freelance performer and a member of Nathan Trice / Rituals Dance Theater in Brooklyn, NY. She is a proud founding member of Ruckus Dance, directed by Michael Figueroa.


Heather Stewart of Little House Dance

Teaching Contemporary Saturday April 2, 11-12:30pm


Heather Stewart is a Canadian choreographer and dance artist. She is the founder and Artistic Director of little house dance, a multidisciplinary dance company based in Portland, ME, traditional territory of the Wabanaki Confederacy. In 2022 little house dance will premiere a new evening length performance titled “Hour Wolf in the Lighthouse” commissioned by Portland Ovations. “Hour Wolf in the Lighthouse” is also being presented by ODC Theater in San Francisco as part of their new festival, State of Play. Heather has been creating and presenting original work for performance since 2012. After attending Etobicoke School for the Arts in Ontario, Canada she went on to work professionally in Montreal, London, and Boston. The development of her choreographic work has been supported by residencies and organizations such as Centre de Création O Vertigo, The Place, The Boston Center for the Arts, New Movement Collaborative, Espace Marie Chouinard, Earthdance, Tufts University, and Tanzzentrale der region Nürnberg. She has received funding and awards for her work from The Canada Council for the Arts, The Maine Arts Commission, The New England Foundation for the Arts, The Boston Foundation, and The Somerville Arts Council.


In 2015 her work was shortlisted for the Deustche Bank Award for Creative Enterprises. Heather’s work has been presented internationally at several performing arts festivals including Conduit Dance+, The Expanse Festival, The Saint John Contemporary Dance Festival, Resolutions!, Beta Publica, and HubWeek Boston. Heather received her MA in Advanced Dance Studies, with a strong focus in choreography, from The London Contemporary Dance School in 2014. Fueled by physicality, her work offers intricate and complex meetings between movement and sound. Heather developed her work in collaboration with Montreal based composer dull from 2012 until his suicide in 2019. Together, they worked from a shared vision of performance as a place of refuge from the outside world.


Shura Baryshnikov

Teaching Contemporary Saturday April 30 & Saturday May 28, 11-12:30pm


Shura Baryshnikov (she/her/hers) is a Rhode Island-based multimodal artist who works broadly as a dancer/actor/improviser, somatic movement educator, director, and choreographer for projects across dance, theatre, opera, and film. She co-founded the Contact Improvisation research and performance ensemble Set Go and the duet dance project, Doppelgänger Dance Collective. Recent projects include an cinematic opera, Svadba, directed for Boston Lyric Opera as well as upcoming collaborations with cellist/composer Adrienne Taylor as well as Daniel Bernard Roumain and FirstWorks Providence.

Shura is Head of Physical Theatre for the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Program in the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University and maintains an active international teaching practice at festivals and training institutions. She employs work in the Viewpoints Technique, Safety Release Technique, Action Theater, and Contact Improvisation to create deeply-sensitized, collaborative spaces for learning and making. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and the American Guild of Musical Artists.


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