Staff & Teaching Artists
Bianca Morgan was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She began her dance training at Ruth Williams Dance Studio at a young age. She later trained with Mary Barnett, former Associate Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, in ballet, jazz, modern and African dance. Morgan has also studied under Melba Lucas, Aziza, Rae Ross Sandifer, Ann Vachon, Ruth Williams, Laura Williams, Bruce Hawkins, Kariamu Welsh, Chuck Davis and a list of others. Bianca holds a BA in Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Mass Media and an Ed. M in Dance from Temple University. Morgan served on faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. She has taught in various schools, studios and camps including The New Freedom Theatre and National Youth Sports Program. In 2000 Morgan co-directed an arts consortium that aimed to heighten appreciation and skilled development in dance called Cayenne Entertainment. Morgan has performed with Kariamu & Company Traditions, and has recently received certification in the Umfundalai technique, which is a Pan- African contemporary technique developed Dr. Kariamu Welsh. She toured nationally and internationally with Chuck Davis and The African American Dance Ensemble, partaking in residencies, dance workshops, lecture demonstrations and outreach, celebrating African dance through Love, Peace and Respect. Morgan has served on the board of Charlotte Dance Festival and was named best Choreography at the Charlotte Emerging Dance Awards in 2009. During that same year she received a choreography award from the North Carolina Theatre Conference for Studs Terkel’s Working. In 2012 she was awarded the John W. Parker Award for Excellence in Directing from the North Carolina Theatre Conference for Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. For six years, Morgan has choreographed main stage theatre productions with the Union County Performance Ensemble under the direction of Larry Robinson. Morgan served as dance educator for seven years at Central Academy of Technology & Arts in Union County Public Schools. She resides in Monroe, NC with her husband Charles and daughter Chase.
Jennifer Bakane grew up dancing in North Carolina, studying ballet, jazz, tap, modern, and musical theatre. She received formal training in Classical Dance from the Infinity Ballet Conservatory in Apex, NC under the direction of Debra Sayles-Senchak, Lori Christman-Bourtasenkov, and Timour Bourtasenkov while having the opportunity to train with various master teachers such as Marina Medvetskaya, Luba Gulyaeva, Alaine Haubert, and Valery Lantratov. Ms. Bakane has enjoyed opportunities to dance professionally with ballet and modern companies in both North Carolina and Colorado, including the Ballet Ariel Company and Avatar Movement Dance Company in Denver. She has been a dancer for NLL and NBA D-League teams and has performed in musical theatre productions, including some of her favorites: Cabaret, Follies, and The Goodbye Girl. Ms. Bakane holds a BA in Theatre from Meredith College and a MLS in Arts Development and Program Management from the University of Denver. Ms. Bakane has formal pedagogy training in the Complete Teaching Method of Classical Dance developed by Vera Kostrovitskaya and based on the work of Agrippina Vaganova at the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia, taught by Professor Peggy Willis-Aarnio. Ms. Bakane has served as the head of the dance program at Cardinal Gibbons High School and on faculty at Infinity Ballet Conservatory, The Ballet School of Chapel Hill, High Pointe Dance Academy in Evergreen, CO, and The Academy of Colorado Ballet. She is excited to return to North Carolina and begin her work with the NC Dance Theatre in the department of Education and Outreach!
Skyla Caldwell, A.R.A.D (Associate of the Royal Academy of Dance), trained at the Charlotte School of Ballet under Gay Porter Speer and The Point Park Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA, as a scholarship student under the direction of Roberto Munoz.
She has danced for the North Carolina Dance Theatre as an apprentice under Salvatore Aiello and Jerry Kumery. Caldwell has also danced at the National Ballet of Cuba under Laura Alonzo in Havana, Cuba, and is associated with the Royal Academy of Dance in London. Caldwell has also danced with the Moving Poets Theater of Dance for the last eight years and is currently Ballet Mistress for The Union County Youth Ballet in Monroe, NC.
Ethan Goodman is a 22 year old graduate from Winthrop University with a B.A. in Dance. During his years at Winthrop University Ethan has performed in every Winthrop Dance Theatre, musicals Once Upon a Mattress and Chicago, and many other concerts and short plays. Ethan has also choreographed for South Pointe High School’s production of All Shook Up in Rock Hill, SC. Ethan’s other involvement in the Rock Hill community includes performances with the York County Ballet Company in their productions of Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. One of his favorite roles was the role of Gaston for York County Ballet’s Beauty and the Beast. Ethan began dancing at the age of three and grew up as a dancer at Easley Dance Conservatory in Easley, SC. Ethan is currently dancing with Caroline Calouche and Company as an adjunct dancer. He is very excited to be working with North Carolina Dance Theatre as one of the new teaching artists and looks forward to his future involvement. He would like to thank his mom for all her support as his mother and teacher.
Gretchen Jax graduated from Winthrop University with a BA in Dance Performance. She performed inMeredith Monk’s Obie Award winning Quarry at the 2003 Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. She has also studied and performed the works of Sandra Neels, David Parsons, Marjorie Palmer Perry, Mary Beth Thompson and Duke Young. She was the recipient of the 2000, 2001 and 2002 Alpha Psi Omega Best Choreography Award from Winthrop University. In 2006 she was one of eight selected to study at the School of Jacob’s Pillow Choreographer’s Lab.
Jax is the co-founder of Sinergismo, a group of dancers, artists, poets, and musicians using collaboration as a means to produce choreographic works. Sinergismo has performed at venues throughout the southeast including the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Sumter Museum of Art, Southern Holiday, NC Dance Festival Saturday Series, Winthrop University and the Charlotte Dance Festival. Jax currently teaches modern at Davidson College and choreographs for their dance company The Gamut. Jax has been a faculty member at the School of Dance since 2003.
Elsie Mufuka, Teaching Artist, is a current candidate of Arts Administration Masters at Winthrop University. Coker College graduate of 2008 of Dual Bachelor of Art degrees in Dance and Communications, some of her references are The Amy Marshall Dance Company residency of New York City, The Wanda Project, and Choreographer/Mentor Natty Mncube. After her undergraduate completion in 2008, she accepted her first opportunity in South Africa with Ntosana Contemporary Dance Theatre director Sello Pesa. For slightly two years, Mufuka worked with this company as well as Taelo Dance Theatre-Gustin Makgeledisa, DTL Entertainment-Tumie Letsoenyo, Lorcia Cooper, additional work of teaching in the townships of Soweto and Alexandra. Not only as a dancer but administrator, executive assistant, and dance facilitator. Both internationally and locally, Mufuka has developed even more experience in her craft of dance and now enlightens her skills back into her own country in MufukaWorks Dance Company, Community Outreach teacher at Johnson C. Smith University, Board Member of Charlotte Dance Festival, and proud new teaching artist of North Carolina Dance Theater.
Freddie D. Rivera (Percussionist)
Freddie Rivera began drumming at the early age of five with the Cuban Conga drum. He began studying the Djembe drum with lead musician of the Chuck Davis Dance Company, Mr. Ronald Love. Mr. Rivera has worked with Lee Strasberg School of Acting, Myers T’chaka Ensemble, Dance Africa New York, Stevie Wonder, Stacey Latersaw, National Ballet of Guinea West Africa, Chuck Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble.
Freddie Rivera can be noted as one of the first musicians to perform Ballet Monsoka. In 1992 he was the first drummer to open the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre School to traditional Guinea style drumming. Mr. Rivera is currently working in the Education and Outreach department with North Carolina Dance Theatre.