Mason/Rhynes ProductionsTranslating the African-American experience through dance and theatrical presentations, the critically-acclaimed members of Mason/Rhynes Productions return to Millennium Stage for more electrifying performance.Holly Bass (Madame Chloe) is a poet, writer and performer. Her poems have been published in Callaloo, Cave Canem 2000 Anthology and Black Prison Writings. She presented readings of her solo performance at Arena Stage and Woolly Mammoth Theater in D.C. Translating the African-American experience through dance and theatrical presentations, the critically-acclaimed members of Mason/Rhynes Productions return to Millennium Stage for more electrifying performance.
Holly Bass (Madame Chloe) is a poet, writer and performer. Her poems have been published in Callaloo, Cave Canem 2000 Anthology and Black Prison Writings. She presented readings of her solo performance at Arena Stage and Woolly Mammoth Theater in D.C. She has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post and American Theater Magazine. She recently completed a fellowship with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University. She has performed her poetry at numerous universities and arts centers, including the Kennedy Center, the Whitney Museum, and the Apollo Theater. She was awarded two Artist Fellowship Grants from the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities.
Michael Bjerknes received a Master’s in International Management from the University of Maryland University College after a twenty-year career as a dancer, teacher and ballet master. He was a former principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, Washington Ballet and Houston Ballet. Gerald Arpino, Robert Joffrey, Agnes de Mille, Moses Pendleton, Ben Stevenson and Choo San Goh choreographed original roles for him. Internationally recognized as a teacher and Ballet Master for the Washington and Universal Ballet companies, Michael has also coached dancers from American Ballet Theater, Joffrey Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Michael continues to work with those who love dance, whether professional or student, at every opportunity.
Lisa Biggs’ theatre credits include productions with Lookingglass Theater, Chicago Theatre Company, Arena Stage, ETA, Healthworks, Ivanhoe Theatre and the African Continuum Theatre Company. She is a former member of the Living Stage Theatre Company’s performing ensemble and recently starred in the Theatre of the First Amendment’s production of Bee-Luther-Hatchee, directed by Jenifer Nelson, and Abiyoyo, a children’s theatre piece for the Bethesda Academy of the Performing Arts. She appeared in the CBS TV drama Early Edition, numerous industrials, television and radio spots, and a national commercial featuring former Chicago Bull Scottie Pippen. She looks forward to working later this year in the Woolly Mammoth Production of Big Love at the Kennedy Center.
Alexandra Gardner is a composer and sound artist creating instrumental music, electronic music, and multidisciplinary works incorporating dance, visual art and theater. Her compositions have been presented internationally, and her music has received awards from the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, Meet the Composer, MacDowell Colony, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Montgomery County Arts Council, Maryland State Arts Council, and the Peabody Conservatory of Music. She studied music composition at Vassar College, the California Institute of the Arts and The Peabody Conservatory of Music. She currently lives and works in the Washington, DC area.
Reggie Glass, a native of Petersburg, VA, is a dancer and choreographer based in the Washington metropolitan-area. He began his intense dance training in 1995 while attending Virginia State University. During this time, he worked with Jackie Stokes-Brown, Karen Moore and former Alvin Ailey principal dancer, Elbert Watson. After taking a year off from dance, he relocated to Washington, D.C. in 1998 and enrolled in American University's (AU) graduate dance program. While attending AU, he presented his solo work, "Reflections of R", at the Southern Regional American College Dance Festival in March 2000. Since being in DC, he has worked with several choreographers including Alice Howes, Ann Halligan-Donahue, Ohad Naharin, from Israel's Bat-Sheva Dance Company, Gesel Mason, Joy Kellman, Helanius J. Wilkins, Adrienne Clancy, and Carla Perlo. His choreography has been commissioned and included in the repertories of Orchesis Dance Theatre of Virginia State University and The Community College of Baltimore County-Essex. Most recently, he has performed and toured with Mason/Rhynes Productions as a principal dancer in "No Less Black" and "Back in the Day". Currently he is a member of Mason/Rhynes Productions, Carla and Company, and the newly formed all male dance company, Edgeworks Dance Theater.
Nicole McClam graduated from East Carolina University with a BFA in Dance Performance and a BA in chemistry. She apprenticed with Pennsylvania Dance for their 2000-2001 season, and is currently a member of Carla and Company.
Jodi Aleen Staub is currently working on her Maters Degree in Dance from American University in Washington, D.C. She received her BA from Goucher College with a degree in French and Dance. She began performing with the Harrisburg Dance Conservatory of Pennsylvania where she will return as a guest artist this spring. She has performed musical theater in both the United States and Europe. While living in Boston, she performed with the ltalian Theater Company, the MJT Dance Company and the International Festival of Wheelchair Dancing. Ms. Staub also spent time performing with "Ballet Creole", a contemporary African Dance Company in Toronto, Canada. She has created and directed Community Outreach Programs for CityDance Ensemble of Washington, D.C., with whom she also performed, choreographed and composed musical scores for dance for 3 years. She teaches dance to both adults and children at the Joy of Motion Dance Centers, American University and the Washington Very Special Arts Center.
Andy Torres has performed with the dance companies of Fred Benjamin, Talley Beatty, Glen Brooks, Eleo Pomare, Billy Wilson, Asadata Dafora, as well as Nancy Havlik’s Performance Group, and Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. His Broadway Stage credits include Arms too Short to Box with God, Guys and Dolls, The Wiz, Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope, Purlie, Indians, and Bubblin’ Brown Sugar at Westbury Music Fair and the Shubert Theatre in San Francisco. He also sings gospel at Colonus/C.H.A.W.
GESEL MASON is co-founder, artistic director, choreographer and performer for Mason/Rhynes Productions and Gesel Mason Performance Projects. Ms. Mason was a guest performer with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, toured Germany with the Repertory Dance Theatre of Utah and performed for DanceAfrica America as a member of Umoja, directed by Chuck Davis. She taught and performed in Poland, in 1995 with the Silesian Dance Theatre as part of the Minnesota Dance Exchange and returned in 1999 with Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. She spent four seasons with Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and currently teaches advanced modern dance classes for adults and a class for the Teen Exchange, which she began in 1998. Ms. Mason’s work has been presented by numerous venues including the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Diverse Works in Houston, Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts in College Park, MD. She has performed at the International Association of Blacks in Dance and attended the Bates Summer Dance Festival as an Emerging Choreographer. Her choreography has been commissioned by Dallas Black Dance Theatre, University of Maryland, Sandra Organ Dance Company, Georgetown University, University of Memphis, Houston’s High School of Performing and Visual Arts, and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas. A native of Dallas, Ms. Mason enjoys the martial arts and furry little animals.
CHELES RHYNES is co-founder, technical and managing director for Mason/Rhynes Productions. Mr. Rhynes has worked as a lighting designer, stage manager, and assistant director for the Pocket Sandwich Theatre in Dallas, TX for the past eight years. His numerous touring experiences include traveling with the Flying Karamozov Brothers and with the Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis. Since moving to Washington, DC, Mr. Rhynes has worked with Living Stage Theatre, DC Jewish Community Center, the Shakespeare Theatre, Joy of Motion Dance Center Jack Guidone Theater, Dance Place and Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, where he was production coordinator, company manager and stage manager. In addition, Mr. Rhynes has been technical director and lighting designer for numerous groups including Helanius Wilkins' Edgeworks Dance Theater, Sylvia Soumah's Coyaba Dance Theatre, Toni Blackman's Freestyle Union, Cross Currents Dance Company, Baltimore/Chicago Contemporary Dance Company, Georgetown University Dance Department, City Dance Ensemble and Nomad's Theatre Workshop. Mr. Rhynes' work with Nomad was recognized at the Regional One-Act Play Competition for Best Technical Production. Mr. Rhynes is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Metro DC Dance Awards, a galvanizing event celebrating the metropolitan DC/MD/VA dance community.