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SUMAYAH MCRAE | Ballet Mistress & Coach, Contemporary West Dance Theatre

Sumayah McRae is from Queens, NY. She fell in love with dance at Bernice Johnson’s Cultural Arts center. She is a graduate of LaGuardia H.S. of Performing Arts, known as “The Fame School”. She continued her training as a scholarship student at Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. She earned her B.F.A. from The Juilliard School under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy.

Sumayah performed in concert dance companies such as, Fred Benjamin Dance, Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre, BattleWorks and The Parsons Dance Co. While at Parsons, Sumayah was privileged to perform David Parsons Signature Solo “Caught”. She also performed Caught with David Parsons in a rare duet at The Joyce Theatre’s Anniversary Gala. She assisted Mr. Parsons while he choreographed “Shining Star” on the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. She also taught and set his piece “The Envelope” on the Carte Blanche Dance Co. in Norway. Sumayah performed in Broadway’s 1st National Tours of Disney’s The Lion King and Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple. In The Color Purple, Sumayah played Olivia and was a Dance Captain. She also performed on Broadway in a tribute for The Wiz with several original cast members. She has also performed excerpt tributes of Hamilton, Chicago, West Side Story and Phantom of the Opera for E Plus Productions.

Sumayah has been a featured dancer with CHER for over 13 years performing in her Las Vegas residencies at Caesar’s Palace, The Park MGM, & MGM National Harbor in D.C. She has also performed in music videos and on her international and domestic tours, Dressed to Kill, Classic Cher, and Here We Go Again Tours. Sumayah has also accompanied Cher on private performances around the world.

She has performed on the BET awards with Toni Braxton. Her tv credits include, The Voice, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve w/ Dick Clark, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Got Talent, The Today Show, Good morning America, Billboard Music Awards, and The Oprah Show with Cher & Tina Turner. She also performed at The Met Gala with Cher. In Las Vegas, Sumayah was the Assistant Choreographer for the Donnie & Marie Christmas Tour. She also performed in Vegas The Show at Planet Hollywood. Sumayah was on faculty teaching for LaGuardia H.S. of P.A., Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech, and she taught and choreographed for The Joffrey Ballet School NYC Summer. She has also judged and taught for dance competitions such as Dancers INC, Sheer Elite, LV Dance Experience, ViewPoint and Regional Dance America.

Most recently, Sumayah is honored and excited to have been appointed Ballet Mistress and Coach for Contemporary West Dance Theatre and Conservatory under Founder and Artistic Director Bernard Gaddis.

BERNARD GADDIS | Founder and Artistic Director, Contemporary West Dance Theatre

Founder and Artistic Director of Contemporary West Dance Theatre (CWDT) formerly, The Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater (LVCDT) Mr. Gaddis’ dance studies began in Philadelphia at the High School for the Performing Arts, where he received numerous awards and scholarships; including a full scholarship to the prestigious Governor’s School for the performing Arts, a school for gifted dance students.

Mr. Gaddis has also received scholarships to Pennsylvania Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, Princeton Ballet, & The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Bernard’s first professional dance experience was with the Philadelphia dance company “Philadanco” under the direction of the renowned Joan Myers Brown. Bernard also studied and trained in the Horton modern technique under the tutelage of Mr. James Truitte, a first generation member and dancer with the Lester Horton Company and The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Bernard studied under Mr. Truitte as well as Ms. Althea Leslie and Faye Snow both protege of Mr. Truitte’s. to become a master teacher in the Horton technique. Bernard has since been a certified Master Horton and Ballet teacher that has been teaching for the past twenty years both nationally and internationally to many dancers in Universities and Professional companies. While as a member of The Philadelphia Dance Company, Bernard became the Co-Founder, Artistic Director and Choreographer for Philadanco’s second performing company D2.

Bernard has received numerous awards for his role as Artistic Director & Choreographer, most notably the prestigious award for Men Making a Difference in the city of Philadelphia presented to him by Senator Chakka Fattah and the Living the Dream award for community leadership and helping solidify the arts here in Las Vegas. A principal dancer with The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Bernard danced under the Directorship of the renowned Judith Jamison and danced iconic works such as Revelations, Memoria, Episodes, and A Hymn for Alvin Ailey and many other ballets. Bernard has performed for World-renowned dignitaries such as Nelson Mandela and the former President of the United States Bill Clinton. Bernard was best known for dancing roles such as Revelation’s Sinner Man, Wade in The Water and Ulysses Dove’s Bad Blood to name a few. Later, Bernard joined the L.A. cast of The Broadway Musical The Lion King as a principal dancer and chorus singer where he work with acclaimed director Julie Tamour. While in L.A., Mr. Gaddis was Event Coordinator and Artistic Director for Cienega Entertainment Group. Mr. Gaddis is formerly a Principal Dancer for Cirque Du Soleil’s Las Vegas shows: Zumanity and Mystere. Bernard has successfully produced, directed, and choreographed “Dance for Life 1 and II” where the performance raised money for women’s breast cancer and children living with HIV and AIDS. Bernard has performed with many companies as a Guest artist, such as, Oakland Ballet, Ballet Pacifica, The Koresh Dance Company, Pennsylvania Ballet, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Philadanco, Leja Dance Theater and the Paris company Zingaro.


Anthony Denaro, M.F.A, aka YNOT, explores the design, sustainability, history, and community of Hip Hop. Through a futurist lens, YNOT’s work manifests in dance, typography, music, and architecture.

YNOT’s reputation in the dance world precedes him. As a B-boy, he’s traveled the world extensively judging battles, teaching workshops, and building cultural awareness.

In YNOT’s vision of the sustainability of Hip Hop, teaching and mentorship are paramount. Currently, his classes can be found on a workshop basis internationally, as well as online and in person through University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Arizona State University, and Texas Tech where he facilitates Breaking Technique, Stylized Letterform Design and Sound Design for Electronic Music Production.

Alongside his dance and professorship, YNOT both physically and digitally creates two and three dimensional visual works that construct a possible future of the Hip Hop aesthetic.

LORI WILSON | Principal Dancer, St. Louis Ballet

LORI WILSON is a 2006 graduate of Ballet Lubbock and a 2007 graduate of The Rock School for Dance Education where she participated in the Youth America Grand Prix. She attended the 2007 Chautauqua Summer Dance intensive where she performed in the North Carolina Dance Theatre’s world premier of Mark Diamond’s Maestoso. She is currently a Principal dancer with the St. Louis Ballet.

MICHAEL BURFIELD | Nashville Ballet

Michael Burfield studied at Ballet Lubbock and Lone Star Ballet. In the summers, he attended several programs on full scholarships, including Kansas City Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet School, Carolina Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. After graduating high school, Burfield returned to Pacific Northwest Ballet on full scholarship as a professional division student.

In 2010, Burfield joined Ballet Austin’s second company and was quickly promoted to the organization’s main company the following season. There, he spent three years working closely with artists such as Stephen Mills and Michelle Martin and had the honor of working on Mills’s Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. In addition to touring the work in Miami and across Israel in Akko, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Burfield was also selected to perform a section of the project at the Kennedy Center during Ballet Across America. Burfield also had to the opportunity to work with world-renowned choreographer Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa and toured her piece Requiem for a Rose to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Passionate about the organization’s diverse repertoire, Burfield made the move to Sarasota Ballet in 2014 as a coryphee member under the direction of Iain Webb. Some of Burfield’s highlights there include performing Dicken in Will Tuckett’s The Secret Garden, George Balanchine’s Jewels and Stars & Stripes, Rudolf Nureyev’s Raymond Act III, Christopher Bruce’s Sargent Early’s Dream, Paul Taylor’s Company B, Christopher Wheeldon’s The American, Sir Peter Wright’s Summertide, Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto, Dominic Walsh’s Wolfgang for Webb, and Anthony Tudor’s Continuo. In 2018, Burfield joined Nashville Ballet.


Born and raised in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, Flora Ferguson, is a multifaceted dance, literary, and visual artist. She is the recipient of the Christine Maria Cruz Scholarship, Edith Rosenhouse-Baehr scholarship, Stephen E. Somers scholarship, and the George J. Jakab Enrichment Grant. Flora has trained at the Quinte Ballet School, Canada’s National Ballet School, Joffrey Ballet School, ProArte Danza, and Springboard Danse Montreal. During her time at Juilliard, Flora has had the opportunity to work with and perform works by Hofesh Shechter, Trisha Brown, Spenser Theberge and Jermaine Maurice Spivey, Ohad Naharin, Sonya Tayeh, Andrea Miller, and Donald McKayle. In choreography, Flora has showcased her work in Juilliard’s Choreographers and Composers, Juilliard’s student Choreographic workshops, and premiered her newest work in Juilliard’s Senior Production Concert, this May. Flora is also a published poet, with work featured in the Young Writers of Canada Anthology, and The Juilliard Journal. Flora strives to gather all that she has learned through movement, creation, writing, speech, and visual arts, to give forward to those who are as curious and eager as she is about artmaking.

ROBYN GARDENHIRE | Founder & Artistic Director, City Ballet of Los Angeles

Ms. Gardenhire is the Founder and Artistic Director of City Ballet of Los Angeles. As the Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Ms. Gardenhire has developed ballet’s that are classical as well as cutting edge bring new stories and prospective to the ballet. She has also developed a dance institution that reflects the economic and racial diversity of

Los Angeles. A scholarship school that offers the lessons of dance to all as well as the professional division that nurtures students to go on to dance professionally. 

Robyn Gardenhire is a Los Angeles native who began her dance training with former Los Angeles Ballet, with Irina Kovsmoska and Tatiana Lichine.  Gardenhire continued her studies throughout her teenage years at the San Francisco Ballet School and in New York at the American Ballet Theatre School and New York City Ballet’s School of American Ballet (SAB).  At age 16, Gardenhire became the youngest African-American to be offered a contract with Joffrey II where she performed at City Center and Jacobs Pillow.   She later joined Cleveland Ballet under the direction of Dennis Nahat, and had original works created on her and performed principal roles such as “Choleric” in Balanchine’s Four Temperaments, “Arabian Princess” in The Nutcracker and “Russian Girl” in Serenade.   In an effort to expand her artistry, she joined the company of avant-garde choreographer Karole Armitage, touring all over Europe.  Upon returning to the United States, Ms. Gardenhire was personally invited to join American Ballet Theatre by Mikhail Baryshnikov and later performed with his White Oak Project working with choreographers Lar Lubovitch and Mark Morris.   

During her time at American Ballet Theatre, Ms. Gardenhire was the driving force behind the company’s diversity committee, which introduced minority children to classical dance through their “Build a Ballet” program.  Ms. Gardenhire was instrumental in providing many scholarships that were given to minority students to study at the school.  Its first student, Misty Copeland, the first African American women principal dancer at ABT, Ms. Gardenhire is also an alumni of SAB School of American Ballet (New York City Ballet) and is a founding member of its diversity committee and recipient of the New York City Ballet Fellowship Award. 

Ms. Gardenhire has developed and overseen City Ballet of Los Angeles for the last twenty years and has created a dance institution that’s curriculum covers Classical Ballet, Modern, Theater and World Dance and over sees students ages 3yr. and up. Developing and allowing students to develop and grow into ambassadors of art and able to cross through any cultural barriers they may encounter.

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