Thomas/Ortiz Dance

The Moving Beauty Series proudly presents:

 Thomas/Ortiz Dance

Ted Thomas

Artistic Director. Choreographer.

Thomas/Ortiz Dance performs on Sunday March 15th, 2015 in The Series.

Introducing A Fresh And Emotionally Engaging New Vision To Contemporary Dance.

Melding his urban athleticism with her Latin sensuality, and their combined choreographic and musical sensibilities, Ted Thomas and Frances Ortiz founded Thomas/Ortiz Dance in 2001. The company of twelve dancers from culturally diverse backgrounds performs a repertoire, which explores a multitude of thought-provoking and socially-relevant themes. For Love or Grace delves into issues surrounding sexuality and religion. Winter Sky exposes the effect of alcoholism on a relationship. Reflections depict a young woman’s search for self-identity and self-approval. Reviewing a Thomas/Ortiz Dance showcase at the Merce Cunningham Studios in 2004, Christina Giraldi of Show Business Weekly wrote: “Ethereal and rejoicing, intriguing, lighthearted, sexually charged, political, thoughtful – these are adjective that only attempt to describe the eclectic collection of pieces performed… Thomas/Ortiz is a young company which displays much talent and promise.”  

Thomas/Ortiz Dance made its debut at The Bronx Academy of Art and Dance in 2001. The company has since performed at Joyce SoHo, the Puffin Room, Clune Center for the Arts (CT), DeBaun Center for the Performing Arts (NJ), as well as performances at Bridge for Dance, Dance Space Raw Materials, DanceNow Festival, “The Remember Project” for Dancers Responding to AIDS at St. Marks Church, and Dance for Life in Bryant Park (NY). Their 2005 presentation at the Merce Cunningham Studios was singled out as a “critic’s pick” in Show Business Weekly. The company went on to perform their 2006, 2007 NY season at Dance Theater Workshop; 2007, DRA, Dancing at the Crossroads Time Square (NY); 2008 season at Alvin Ailey Studio; 2008, American Dance Guild at Dance New Amsterdam(NY); 2009 John Prinz and Friends at the Ailey Studios (NY); 2009 Dance New York Festival Lincoln Center(NY); 2009 Master Dance Series (FL); 2010 Nazareth College Rochester (NY); 2008, 2009, 2010, Latin Choreographer Festival (NY); and in 2010 a commissioned choreography for Connecticut Ballet (CT).c.


Ted Thomas

TED THOMAS, Artistic Director A native New Yorker, Ted Thomas attended the High School for Performing Arts (NYC) before receiving his B.F.A. from the State University of New York at Purchase. He went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in dance and higher education from New York University. He danced with Ballet Hispanico, Elisa Monte, and the Murray Louis and Nikolais Company prior to joining the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 1996. Subsequently, while choreographing and continuing to perform with Thomas/Ortiz Dance, Mr. Thomas was for two years Artist-in-Residence at Barnard College, Columbia University. He is an Associate Director of The New England Academy of Dance and The New England Dance Theater. (Photo by Diane Ingino)

Frances_HeadshotFrance Ortiz

FRANCES ORTIZ, Artistic Director A native of Puerto Rico, Frances Ortiz studied at The New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL. prior to earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance at the State University of New York at Purchase. While studying for her M.A. degree at New York University, she performed with Kevin Wynn, Tim Martin, and Carl Paris. Ms. Ortiz has taught dance and has been a guest choreographer at Yale University. Frances and her twin sister Ginna Ortiz are co-owners of the New England Academy of Dance in New Canaan, CT, and Frances is co-Artistic Director of the New England Dance Theater. (Photo by Diane Ingino)

Ginna Ortiz

Ginna Ortiz (Rehearsal Director) was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico where she began her early dance training. She studied at the New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL, and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Purchase College. A recipient of scholarships to both the Richmond Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), Ms. Ortiz danced with DTH from 1994 to 1998 and subsequently continued to work with independent choreographers in New York City. Ginna is presently the co-owner of the New England Academy of Dance in New Canaan, CT, and co-Artistic Director of the New England Dance Theater.

Mark Taylor 

Mark was born in Tuscon, AZ and raised in Houston, TX. He studied gymnastics starting at age seven and qualified for the junior Olympics at fourteen. He began his formal dance training at Ballet Austin while studying acting at the University of Texas and furthered his training at Houston Ballet. In 2002 Mark finished his BFA in dance at the University of Hartford while performing with Dance Connecticut (formerly the Hartford Ballet). Upon graduating, Mark trained with, and became summer intensive coordinator of, the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Mark has performed the works of Paul Taylor, Maxine Steinman, Christopher Caines, Nadine Yavel, Carolyn Dorfman, and Thomas/Ortiz to name a few. Teaching has always been a component of Mark’s professional career and he currently teaches for New England Academy of Dance and the Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company. A founding member, Mark is celebrating his 8th season dancing for Thomas / Ortiz.

Rachel McSween

Rachel is a California native and a graduate of the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University BFA Program. She apprenticed with Complexions Contemporary Ballet and later went on to dance with Ailey II, Ballet Hispanico, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Lula Washington Dance Theatre and in Dallas Theater Center’s production of The Wiz. Ms. McSween has had the opportunity to perform for the opening of the US Embassy in Berlin, Germany. In honor of Sylvia Waters, she danced in the 2008 Dance Magazine awards and has been featured in Dance Magazine’s April 2009 issue. In 2011, Ms. McSween was presented on the cover of the Dallas Morning News Arts Preview Guide. Most recently, she performed with Diane McIntyre in Time Is Time for the New York Live Arts tribute to James Baldwin in which she was featured on the front cover of the New York Times arts review section. Currently, Ms. McSween is on faculty as the contemporary jazz instructor for the Ailey Teen Extension Program and is a special education teacher for the New York City Department of Education.

Gabrielle Gilchrist

Born in South Salem NY, Gabrielle received her early dance training at the New England Academy of Dance in New Canaan, CT. under the direction of Ginna Ortiz, Frances Ortiz, and Ted Thomas as well as attended Ballet Regent, American Academy of Ballet, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Gabrielle has since performed various lead roles in ballet such as the Nutcracker, Con Amore by Lew Christen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and George Balanchine’s Valse-Fantaisie under the direction of Bettie-Jane Sills. She went on to receive her Bachelors of Arts Degree in Arts Management at SUNY Purchase College. She is presently a teacher and rehearsal assistant at New England Academy of Dance and a member of Thomas/ Ortiz Dance.

Emily Pihlaja

Emily received her early dance training from the New England Academy of Dance under the directorship of Doris Driver, Ted Thomas, Frances Ortiz and Ginna Ortiz. She attended the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington DC where she graduated in 2009.  She then went on to study and the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre in Portland OR., under the directorship of Damara Bennett, where she performed for four seasons with the Oregon Ballet Theatre directed by Christopher Stowell. Ms. Pihlaja has been featured in ballets such as George Balanchine’s Seranade and Divertimento No. 15, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Giselle, The Nutcracker, George Balanchine’s Emeralds and The Four Temperaments. This is her first season with Thomas/Ortiz Dance

William Robertson

William, a native of Tennessee, began his dance training at Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he earned is Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. During that time, he worked and performed with notable artists and choreographers such as Hope Boykin of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ray Mercer of Broadway’s The Lion King, Debbie Allen, Camille A. Brown, and others. After graduating in May of 2013, he apprenticed with Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence, A Dance Company. Following the apprenticeship, he has gone on to work with other choreographers including: Dianne McIntyre, Kevin Iega Jeff, and Matthew Rushing. He has performed in a number of notable venues such as the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Art Museum, and the Athenaeum Theater in Chicago, IL. Outside of performing, William is also a certified personal trainer. This is William’s first season with the company.

Hannah Smith

Hannah is originally from North Carolina. She received her high school diploma with a ballet concentration from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and went on to receive her BFA in contemporary dance from UNCSA. Hannah has performed works by choreographers such as Marius Petipa, Jerome Robbins, Agnes DeMille, Jose Limon, and Twyla Tharp along with original works by Susan McCullough, Brenda Daniels, Helen Simoneau, and Larry Keigwin. She has trained across the country with programs from American Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Complexions, LINES, and Keigwin + CO. Since relocating to New York City, she has performed works for Inclined Dance Theatre, Awakening Movement, and various project based choreographers. Hannah is grateful to be a part of Thomas/Ortiz Dance.

Nicole Corea

Nicole is a founding member of Thomas/Ortiz Dance and is currently a dancer with Lar Lubovitch Dance. Originally from Palmyra, NY, she began training under Sandy Stramonine and Lynn Kareken until her acceptance to The Juilliard School, from which she graduated with a BFA in 2000. Upon graduation, she danced with Ballet Hispanico for two years before touring through Europe with Elisa Monte Dance. She has also danced with, and choreographed for, Ballet Memphis, producing six works on the main company and other compositions on the junior company. Her work has also been performed at the Thang Dao Contemporary Dance Festival in NYC, and other dancing credits include the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Nilas Martins Dance, Pier Group, New Century Dance as well as independent choreographers throughout the East Coast. Nicole is also a certified yoga teacher through the Registered Yoga Alliance.