DEBUTAUNT is an immersive dance-based show in which audience members are invited to attend a southern debutante ball. We're drawn into this rarefied world as darling debutantes primp and prepare for their transition into "women of society." Thematically the show explores tradition, etiquette, and gender roles. DEBUTAUNT is made possible by producers, Bettina Barrow, Lydia Thew, and our fiscal sponsors, The Field. More about our team below...
*Photos on home page were taken by Mary John and feature the cast listed below
Mary John Frank is a choreographer, filmmaker, and director making content for films, fashion, music videos, the web and stage. Recent works include directing content for Condé Nast and New York City Ballet and her films and choreography have been featured in Vogue.com, the New York Times, W Magazine, and Refinery 29. She has an M.F.A. in Dance from the Tisch School of the Arts and seven years of experience in film production at studios including Miramax, Paramount, and Warner Bros. In 2011, Mary John received Panavision's New Filmmaker Grant and directed, choreographed, and wrote her first film, EINSTEIN'S DANCE. The film received festival recognition and awards at festivals included the Women's Independent Film Festival in Los Angeles. Mary John recently directed, choreographed, wrote, and produced her first live, immersive show entitled DEBUTAUNT, which blended dance, theater, and film projection. She is based in New York and loves collaborating with artists and brands to create memorable content for the big (and small) screens. Thank you for stopping by!
Bettina is a film and theater producer based in Austin. Bettina and her producing partner, Lily Rabe, have optioned the rights to a novel from a New York Times best-selling author, and the film is currently in development. Bettina is producing two additional independent films, both of which will go into production this year. Before becoming a writer and independent producer, Bettina was a lawyer at a large, international law firm in Los Angeles, specializing in entertainment and employment law. However her background in the creative arts, namely her experience as a professional actress, inspired Bettina to exit the legal world and pursue her passion for film and theater.
Lydia is an executive producer in business news. Before that, Lydia was a reporter, writer and producer at Bloomberg TV and Radio. Lydia began her professional career in the world of finance. She has a B.A. in Comparative Literature with a certificate in Visual Arts from Princeton University. She has a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern University.
Catherine is pleased as punch to join this talented cast and present them to Society. Born in Manhattan and raised in Fairfield County, Connecticut, Catherine remembers learning the importance of proper etiquette from her grandmother who attended Miss Velton’s School for proper young ladies of New York Society early in the twentieth century. Since studying with Bill Esper and graduating from NYU, Catherine has had the good fortune to work on many unique projects on stage and film while attempting to raise four socially conscious (and well-mannered) children. She will soon be seen in four independent films including 42 Seconds of Happiness, an experiment in multi-camera, long form improv, dancing with Andre Braugher in Outliving Emily, and battling demons in In The Dark, a horror suspense thriller, which she now thinks she is brave enough to watch.
Melanie grew up in western Massachusetts, a true New England girl at heart. She earned a bachelors degree in Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University in 2013 and has since been honored to collaborate with a range of contemporary and theater artists in New York. Melanie is so excited to have a second chance to play in this "taunt"ing world and share the stage with these amazing performers. Thanks to my family for supporting my rebellious spirit and obsession with "party shoes" since the beginning. #HeForShe
Rachel Guest is an active artist and philanthropist residing in the NYC area. Some favorite works she has done range from America's Got Talent at Radio City (Backup Dancer), "The Little Mermaid" (Ariel u/s), and BC Beat (Produced and directed by Jennifer Jancuska). She is a core company member and PR for "ALMA NYC", an artistic company that embarks to empower and unite humans around the world through international and local outreach work. She is thrilled to continue her "Debutaunt" shenanery (She hopes you may share something with her that starts with an "alco" and ends with a "hol".) and hopes you share a dance with her! Endless thanks to Mary John and all involved! Cheers! www.RachelGuestPerforms.com // www.almanyc.org
Cara Seymour began her training in Ashtabula, Ohio under the tutelage of Shelagh Dubsky and Clover Robinson and continued her studies at The Juilliard School, where she received her BFA in 2011. Upon graduation, Seymour joined MOMIX Dance Theatre and toured internationally with Moses Pendleton's ReMIX for two seasons. Recently she has been working closely with the circus community, dancing as part of Spiegelworld's latest show Vegas Nocturne as well as choreographing acts for several circus artists. Throughout her career she has performed works by Gideon Obarzanek, Elisa Monte, Ohad Naharin, Alexander Ekman, and Mark Morris. She is thrilled to be working with Mary John and the rest of the Debutaunt cast!
Coming from Houston, Texas, Cecily knows quite well what it takes to make an exceptional debutante. She made the big decision to bring her southern charm to New York City to attend Marymount Manhattan College. Upon graduation she has had the privilege to work with a wide range of diverse artists, and is currently dancing with Kinetic Architecture, under the direction of Arrie Davidson. It is her pleasure to once again immerse you into Mary John's fabulous world of debutantes and escorts! Many thanks to her wonderful mother who has showed her what it means to be a strong and thoughtful woman.
Brittany Posas hails from Raleigh, North Carolina, but immigrated to NC from Costa Rica, where she was born. Shortly after birth, her mother dressed her up in some fancy jazz shoes and Minnie Mouse ears, and a dance enthusiast emerged. Brittany holds an exercise and sports science degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and studied at the Ailey School and American Dance Festival 2013, where she was fortunate to perform works by Merce Cunningham, Matthew Rushing and Daniel Gwirtzman. As a southerner and Tar Heel, Brittany is thrilled to share in this experience that is Debutaunt. She wants to thank Mary John Frank for all her love, passion and inspiration, and the rest of the cast for their beautiful talent and motivation. Oh and hi mom!
Born and raised in Connecticut, Elizabeth has been moving as long as she can remember. She made the jump to New York City in 2009 to attend Marymount Manhattan College and pursue a B.F.A in Dance. While at Marymount, she had the pleasure of performing works by: Pedro Ruiz, Erick Hawkins, Shen Wei, Nancy Lushington and Lar Lubovitch among others. She is grateful to share this "debut" with such a special cast and director, and is thrilled to immerse you all into the world we have created!
Donna is thrilled to return to her former life as a dancer with this show. During her performing career she worked with Bill T. Jones setting work on the Alvin Ailey Company, Heidi Latsky Dance, Harlem Dance Foundation, Senta Driver’s "HARRY", and Dean Moss, amongst other New York choreographers. Additionally to her private practice as a psychotherapist, Donna has been adjunct faculty at Columbia University, lecturer at Mount Sinai Hospital, Bellevue, NYU, and Harvard Medical School Eating Disorder Conference. Along with her work in eating disorders, Donna has presented her work in ‘mental fitness’ for dancers and actors, working with The Juilliard School, The Actors Fund, and School of American Ballet. Upon publication of her book “Take the Fight out of Food”, she has been seen on MSNBC, Fox News, and NBC. She writes for The Huffington Post on body image, and is the eating expert for the blog: A Child Grows in Brooklyn. www.donnafish.com
Beck was born dancing. Once she learned how to walk, Beck had the fortune to train under the direction of ABT vets Elaine Kudo and Buddy Balou in northern New Jersey. During this time Beck also trained with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, L'Academie Americaine de Danse de Paris, and Batsheva. Beck continued dancing at NYU Tisch School of the Arts where she had the pleasure of working with Aszure Barton, Joshua Bergasse, Séan Curran, and numerous other acclaimed dance makers. Since graduating from NYU Beck dances as an ambassador for movement as a crucial force in mainstream culture, performing and creating for film, fashion, commercials, and music videos. This is Beck's first ever debutant ball, and she would like to thank Mary John Frank and the cast for making it a truly special experience.
Teddy was born and raised in Northern New Jersey. Despite this, he was featured on seasons 6 & 7 of "So You Think You Can Dance" and has gone on to receive a BFA in Ballet Performance at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. While there, he had the privilege of working with many artists including Deborah Hay, Sidra Bell, Scott Jovovich, Netta Yerushalmy, Douglas Becker, and Nicholas Leichter. He has also been a member of Erica Sobol's collidEdance company since 2010. Since moving to New York, Teddy has been making his own work and dancing all the live-long day. Thanks to Mary John for providing the opportunity to learn some southern charm!
Julian Devine (Kai): Julian is a Dancer, Fitness Model (Wilhelmina Models), and instructor currently in NYC. Has had the pleasure of performing with Queen of the Night, Nai Ni Chen Dance Company, Steps Ensemble, Oui Danse, and Company XIV. He began as a self taught dancer through hip-hop and breakdancing and later trained through Hubbard Street’s Scholarship program. He is filled with love and life and is excited to join the cast of Debutaunt!!!
Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, Taner Edward Devlin Van Kuren has been breaking it down on the dance floor since age seven. Prior to Juilliard, his technical training included ballet, modern, and improvisational studies. While at school he had the pleasure of working with many wonderful choreographers and close peers. When not standing at barre he has a passion for music, acting and singing. Taner would like to explore new art forms through an adventurous disposition in the oncoming years. He thanks his mother and father for following him and his crazy passions.
Michael Spencer Phillips graduated from the University of Michigan with a BFA in Dance. He also trained at the Merce Cunningham School and performed with the Cunningham Repertory Group. He has been a member of RIOULT Dance NY for the last 14 years. His other credits include New York City Opera, Battleworks Dance Company, Jennifer Muller/The Works, and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Mr. Phillips is a teaching artist with RIOULT’s DanceREACH program, is on summer faculty at Interlochen Center for the Arts, guest faculty at Academie Americaine de Danse de Paris, and teaches master classes and workshops across the country. As a choreographer, Mr. Phillips has created work for Carnegie Hall, Universal Records, Cosmosis Productions, and the Ailey School.
Originally from Cabot, Arkansas, Jessica Hale is a multi-media dance artist who holds an MFA in Dance Choreography and Performance from Texas Woman's University and a BFA in Dance with a minor in Political Science from Columbia College in South Carolina. Hale worked as the Media Intern for multiple Dance Exchange Summer Institutes in D.C. and has made promotional videos for the Summer Institute, hula hooper Tara Baker and musician Mercy Bell.
In 2014, Jessica received a grant for the Experiential Student Scholar Program where she filmed and edited a 30-minute video installation stemming from Professor Jordan Fuchs’ current research into improvisational dance solo performance practices. Hale has performed and presented work at Dance-Forms Productions International Choreographer’s Showcase in Guatemala. She has also presented works ranging from live performances to video dances at the South Eastern American College Dance Festival, South Carolina’s SCAHPERD and Greenwood Dance Festival. jhaledance.com/ // Instgram: @JLHale12
Liene Dobraja is a Latvian-born costume designer for theatre and film. She has worked in Germany, Russia, and the Baltics, and now works and resides in New York. Trained as a Fine Artist and a graduate of the prestigious Academy of the Arts in Riga, Latvia, Liene has found her place in costume design, and has been designing for theater, opera, film and advertising since 2006. She holds and MFA from NYU: Design for Stage & Film: Tisch School of the Arts.
Kendell Pinkney is a Brooklyn based theatre writer, dramaturg, and is a graduate of New York University's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, where he was a recipient of the prestigious Dean’s Talent Scholarship. Kendell's collaborative works and songs have been performed at venues such as 54 Below, Two Rivers Theatre Company, Goodspeed Opera House, and NYU-Tisch, Musical Theatre Factory, and Joe's Pub, to name a few. He was recently commissioned by Pursuit Productions to pen a new play based on the Adam and Eve myth, which will premiere in Chicago in 2016.