Koresh Dance Company

Koresh Dance Company Presents

A new dance production inspired by Matisse’s famous painting “La Danse”

Feb. 5, 2022

Dorothy Menker Theater

Moraine Valley Community College acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Illinois Arts Council Agency

Artistic Director Roni’s “La Danse” inspiration

This painting has a unique history as the image of “five in the nude in a circle “ actually appeared in three different paintings. The first time this circle appears as a small image in the distance as part of a larger painting of five woman called “the joy of life”.  Later Matisse brought this image from the background and painted it alone in a work entitled “La Danse” (the dance) depicting the circle as all women.

Years later Matisse was commissioned to paint the image again in what became the most ic­­onic of the series.  In this version of “La Danse” Matisse changed the color of the dancing bodies from nude to red and included both men and women in this circle.

I found the latest version to be most impactful to me. This particular painting was hung in my home ever since I was a child. At a young age I admired it, but never really explored the hidden meaning behind it. As an adult, and a choreographer, I started to investigate the reasons why I am so fascinated by this image.  As an artist who constantly seeks inspiration, the evolution of this painting and Matisse’s choices in that development intrigues me. For instance, why had he added men into the painting? In the words of the poet Karl Mullen

the space of a life and the dance,
the joy of a pain and holding on,
the red hand of love

In the palm of my hand, green earth, blue sky,
fingernails deep in the universe, flesh, flat space, human race ...

Ronen Koresh

Ronen Koresh, Artistic Director
Ronen (Roni) Koresh was born and raised in Israel. He received early dance training from his mother, a folk dancer in the Yeminite tradition, and from teachers Alida Gera, Micha Deri, Nira Paz, and Moshe Romano. Koresh joined Martha Graham’s Batsheva 2 Dance Company before enlisting for 3 years in the Israeli army. In 1983, he moved to New York to study with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He began performing with Shimon Braun’s Waves Jazz Dance Company in Philadelphia, and in 1991, founded Koresh Dance Company in Philadelphia followed by the Koresh School of Dance in 1993. Koresh has established a repertoire of over 80 works and develops 2 to 3 new works each year. These have included commissions for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Giordano Dance Chicago, GroundWorks Dance Theatre, Las Vegas Contemporary, Odyssey Dance Theatre, Spectrum Dance Theater, the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, and Dance Celebration. Koresh teaches master classes across the country and participates in festivals including Jacob’s Pillow and the Northwest National Dance Project. Recipient of a Philadelphia dance community Rocky Award from FringeArts and Dance/USA Philadelphia, Koresh is an avid collaborator and supporter of emerging artists. His interdisciplinary works have been supported by multi-year fellowships and grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Koresh has set new and repertory works on the dances of MADCO (commissioned for St. Louis’ New Dance Horizons series), Point Park University, Jacksonville University, and East Carolina University, as well as mentoring students at performing arts high schools across the country.

John Levis, Composer
John Levis, a native Philadelphian, has served the Philadelphia dance community since his graduation (Magna Cum Laude, Bachelor of Music) from the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts (now the University of the Arts) in 1981. As a composer and accompanist he has worked at Philadanco, Temple University, the Gwendolyn Bye Dance Center, the University of the Arts (where he is the Accompanist Coordinator), the Rock School of Dance Education, and Koresh Dance Company. In July 2018, John will be returning to the School at Jacob’s Pillow for his 22nd year, where he will be serving as Music Director for the Contemporary Program under the direction of Milton Myers. John has composed for such artists as Milton Myers, Beth Hirschaut-Iguchi, Thang Dao, Manfred Fischbeck, Marguerite Donlon, Ana Marie Forsythe, Gwendolyn Bye and Roni Koresh. In 1991, John created a musical score for Koresh’s Burning. Inner Sun is Roni and John’s second collaboration.

Karl Mullen, Composer & Poet
Karl Mullen, was born in Dublin, Ireland, and lives and works in Philadelphia. He has developed his own non-traditional approach to art making and materials, utilizing walnut oil, raw powder pigment and a wax medium that coalesce into color-saturated, luminous images. Karl Mullen also takes a highly original approach to music making – painting with sound. He avidly documents city and street sounds and transforms them into soundtracks for theater and contemporary dance companies. He is regularly commissioned by Philadelphia’s Koresh Dance Company, and has guest composed for Donald Bryd Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle.

Melissa Rector

Melissa Rector, Assistant Artistic Director and Dancer
Originally from West Virginia, Melissa started dancing at a young age with Monica Folio. She graduated from the University of the Arts in 1993. Melissa has been dancing with Koresh Dance Company since its inception in 1991 and is the company’s Assistant Artistic Director. She is also an instructor at the Koresh School of Dance, where she teaches her unique style that blends modern jazz and Luigi technique. Her work has been performed locally at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the Annenberg Center, Drexel University, the Grier School and Brandywine Ballet. She frequently travels around the country to perform, teach master classes and set choreography on students. In 2008, Melissa helped to establish the Koresh Youth Ensemble and serves as their artistic director, setting both original choreography and company repertory on the group.

Micah Geyer

Micah Geyer, Dancer
Raised in North Carolina, Micah started dancing at a young age with Nina's School of Dance in Durham. He later joined the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble under the direction of Gene Medler. During his career, he has had the privilege of performing at the Kennedy Center and the Joyce Theater for Tap City, as well as touring throughout Europe and South America. He received his BFA in Dance Performance and Psychology from East Carolina University and joined Koresh Dance Company in 2007.


Kevan Sullivan

Kevan Sullivan, Dancer
Kevan grew up in Millford, CT and started his dance training at the age of two. He studied at the Lee Lund Studio of Dance while also traveling to NYC to train. In 2009, Kevan received the Director’s Talent Scholarship, which awarded him a full tuition scholarship to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Kevan was also selected to study at the School of Jacob’s Pillow Contemporary Traditions Program in the summer of 2010. Kevan has danced for Alchemy Dance Company as well as Tommie Waheed Evan’s “Waheed Works”. Kevan joined Koresh Dance Company in 2013.

Robert Tyer

Robert Tyler, Dancer
Robert Tyler grew up in Batavia, NY and began dancing at the age of 10. He studied under the instruction of Robin Cotler at her studio, Images in Dance. In 2008 he began studying at the University of the Arts and graduated in May 2012 with a BFA in Dance Performance, majoring in ballet. In the summers of 2010 and 2011, he worked with Robin Cotler’s dance company, Images Evolution, and performed at the International Dance Festival in Poland. Robert joined Koresh Dance Company in 2012.

Sarah Shaulis

Sarah Shaulis, Dancer
Sarah Shaulis sought out dance at a very young age at Oxford Center for Dance under the direction of Dina Gazzerro-Kinney, in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Her achievements consist of performing as a child actress at several professional theaters including Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster, PA and Hershey Park's Music Box Theater. In 2012, she began her pre-professional training with the Koresh Youth Ensemble, working with Roni Koresh and Melissa Rector. After graduating high school, Sarah moved to the city and is now continuing her training with Roni Koresh and Koresh Dance Company.

Paige Devitt

Paige Devitt, Dancer
Paige Devitt, originally from Detroit, Michigan recently graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts in Dance from Point Park University. There she performed works by Adam Hougland, Sonya Tayeh, Alexandra Damiani, Jessica Hendricks, Troy Powell, and Garfield Lemonius. In 2017, Paige had the opportunity to perform works by Paul Lightfoot & Sol León and Václav Kuneš at Nederlands Dans Theater Summer Intensive, as well as a work by Ohad Naharin at Springboard Danse Montreal. She has also trained at programs such as Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Movement Invention Project, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Paige joined Koresh Dance Company in 2018.

Callie Hocter

Callie Hocter, Dancer
Callie trained at Jody Phillips Dance Company in Kansas City before moving on to study dance with a concentration in Jazz at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. While at school, she was privileged to perform in many choreographic works including pieces by Ronen Koresh, Larry Keigwin, James Gregg, Jim Cooney, Adam Hougland, Mark Burrell, and Kiesha Lalama. Along with performances at school, Callie has danced back up for Weird Al Yankovic at the Benedum Center and at Hershey Park's Music Box Theatre where she was able to work with Broadway's own, Chip Abbott. Callie joined Koresh Dance Company in 2018.

Devon Larcher

Devon Larcher, Dancer
Devon Larcher is a native of Pawtucket, Rhode Island where he graduated from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Devon started his career traveling the world on the Royal Caribbean cruise line as a dancer and aerialist. He has been a member of the Bill Evans touring company as well as Urbanity Dance Company since 2014. Devon not only loves the stage but also to choreograph and create which he has had the opportunity to do both in the states and internationally. Devon joined Koresh Dance Company in 2018.


Mikal Gilbert

Mikal Gilbert, Dancer
At the age of 18 Mikal took his first creative movement class at Salem Visual and Performing Arts Academy in Virginia Beach VA, where he also studied music performance in saxophone and piano. Upon graduation he attended The University of the Arts studying Jazz performance; it was there his passion for dance grew upon encouragement from several faculty members. Mikal went on to continue his formal dance education at Norfolk Academy, under the tutelage of Elbert Watson, and Patricia Sorrel. He has since trained at programs such as, Dance Theatre of Harlem Summer Intensive, Complexions Contemporary Ballet Pre- Professional Program and as a scholarship student at The Ailey School. This is Mikal’s first season with Koresh Dance Company.

MIcahela Harrington

Michaela Harrington, Dancer
Michaela Harrington hails from Stillwater, Oklahoma, where she received her early dance training at Encore Dance Studios and Tulsa Ballet Center for Dance Education. She competed at Youth American Grand Prix (Houston) and placed in the Top 12 in both the Classical and Contemporary divisions. During the summer, she gained additional experience at Paul Taylor American Dance Company, American Ballet Theatre New York, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, River North Dance Chicago, Ballet Austin, San Francisco Ballet, Walnut Hill, Perry Mansfield, and Broadway Dance Center, frequently as a scholarship student. In May 2019, she graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arizona with dual degrees: a BFA in dance performance and a BS in neuroscience and cognitive science. While at UA, she performed works by numerous choreographers including Ohad Naharin, Jerome Robbins, Martha Graham, Christopher Wheeldon, Nacho Duato, and Darrell Moutrie, and had the opportunity to collaborate with the Tucson Symphony. Michaela is thrilled to begin her first season with Koresh Dance Company.

La Danse (2019)

Choreography: Ronen Koresh
Original Composition: John Levis
Words and Voice: Karl Mullen
Costumes: Ronen Koresh

Melissa Rector, Paige Devitt, Micah Geyer, Michaela Harrington, Callie Hocter, Mikal Gilbert, Devon Larcher, Kevan Sullivan, Sarah Shaulis, Robert Tyler

Full Company

Hold my Breath
Melissa Rector, Devon Larcher

 Put on your Red
Callie Hocter, Micah Geyer

Let’s Dance
Sarah Shaulis, Michaela Harrington, Robert Tyler, Kevan Sullivan, Devon Larcher

Full Company

We Live and We Let
Sarah Shaulis, Kevan Sullivan

Fingernails deep in the universe
Paige Devitt, Micah Geyer, Robert Tyler

The Hidden Room
Full Company

--- Intermission ---

The Muse, excerpts (2022)

Choreography: Ronen Koresh
Original Composition: John Levis
Costumes: Ronen Koresh

Endless Desire
Melissa Rector, Kevan Sullivan, Devon Larcher, Micah Geyer, Robert Tyler, Mikal Gilbert

Full Company

Box Office: (708) 974-5500

For more information on these events or other performances or to purchase tickets online, visit www.morainevalley.edu/FPAC

Fine and Performing Arts Center Staff

Technical Director

Assistant Technical Director

Manager of Theater Operations and Services


Art Gallery Coordinator

Front-of-House Staff

Technical Crew

Sean McIntosh

Amanda Hantson

Julian Tillery

MaryAnn Luciano-Smith

Cecilia Vargas

Ramsey Bauer, Karen Datro, Page Domikaitis, Tom Gerez, Robin Kmiec, Jim Novak, David Roczkowski, Lisa Rock, Sujith Saju

Jaclyn Bobbitt, Nathan Carpenter, Alex Craig, Samm Hilger, Jessica Miller, Tom Schoenbeck, Guadalupe Sosa, Quintin Turnbow

By attending this performance, you acknowledge that you have granted permission to appear in photographs, video capture and capture by other media in all public spaces in the Fine and Performing Arts Center. Your image may be used by Moraine Valley Community College for promotional purposes. This blanket permission releases and  waives any claim against the college and its employees arising from the use of such images in any medium.