Sixteen Dancers Chosen for the National Choreographers Initiative 2016

Sixteen dancers from across the country have been chosen to participate in annual southern California project

National Choreographers Initiative

July 30, 2016 at 8pm


Irvine Barclay Theatre
4242 Campus Drive, Irvine CA | 949.854.4646
Tickets: $60, $34 general, $20 student

For interviews, contact:
Molly Lynch, 949.637.0108|


Artistic Director, Molly Lynch, is announcing an ensemble of sixteen professional dancers and three apprentices for the National Choreographers Initiative.

The dancers needed for this type of project have special qualities. The schedule is physically quite demanding and the process requires an adventuresome spirit, an open outlook to try new things, and the ability to adapt quickly. Each dancer will be assigned to work with two choreographers throughout the project.

The dancers chosen for the 2016 project are:


Julia Eisen – Nashville Ballet

Julia Feldman – Sacramento Ballet

Erica Felsch – Smuin Ballet

Sabrina Holland – Richmond Ballet

Beth Maslinoff – Eugene Ballet Company

Keenan McLaren – Nashville Ballet

Allynne Noelle – Suzanne Farrell Ballet

Chantelle Pianetta – Menlowe Ballet



AJ Abrams – Freelance

Thomas Baker – Oregon Ballet Theatre

James Cunningham – Cincinnati Ballet

Zachary Guthier – Los Angeles Ballet

Evan Swenson – Freelance

Mate Szentes – Richmond Ballet

Dustin True – Los Angeles Ballet

Benjamin Tucker – Nevada Ballet Threatre


Natalie Matsuura
Skye Schmidt
Tiffany Yamasaki

The 13th annual National Choreographers Initiative will take place this summer from July 11 to July 30. During the three weeks of intense creative effort at the dance studios of University of California, Irvine, four choreographers and sixteen professional dancers will produce new dance works culminating in a public performance at Irvine Barclay Theatre on Saturday, July 30 at 8pm. The evening will include a question and answer session, moderated by Artistic Director, Molly Lynch, giving the audience the opportunity to discuss the production with the four choreographers.

Since its founding in 2004, the National Choreographers Initiative has become an important incubator for creating new dance works and professional development of choreographers. It differs from many other new work projects by imposing no restrictions on the type of work created and allowing the choreographer to keep his/her own work since it is not being commissioned by a company. National Choreographers Initiative has hosted 48 choreographers, 107 dancers from 41 different companies, and has produced 48 new works − 25 of which have been produced by companies throughout the United States.

The four chosen choreographers are: Tom Gold, Nicole Haskins, Stephanie Martinez and Ben Needham-Wood. For more information about the choreographers, go to:

NCI Website | NCI on YouTube | NCI on Facebook | NCI on Twitter

View and 
download photos of past NCI showings.

Molly Lynch - Artistic Director of National Choreographers Initiative

Molly Lynch is an award-winning choreographer and artistic director, with over 30 years of experience creating, producing, and presenting dance and is currently an Associate Professor of Dance and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Affairs in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC, Irvine. Ms. Lynch is the Founder and Artistic Director of the National Choreographers Initiative.

Ms. Lynch was the Artistic Director for Ballet Pacifica from 1988 to 2003. During her tenure, she established Ballet Pacifica as Orange County’s leading professional dance company and one of the area’s top arts organizations. Among her innovative trademark programs was the Pacifica Choreographic Project. Under Ms. Lynch’s direction, the com­pany worked with forty choreographers, premiered more than forty new ballets and re­staged some of America’s most beloved classics by George Balanchine, Antony Tudor and Choo San Goh. Ms. Lynch recently created new ballets for Sacramento Ballet, Festival Ballet, Nashville Ballet, BalletMet (Columbus, Ohio), Dance Collage (Hermosillo, Mexico), Academies of Ballet in Philippines (Manila) and Singapore Dance Theatre.

She began her dance training with Lila Zali, received a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet and performed as a soloist and principal dancer with the Louisville Ballet and Ballet Pacifica for over 10 years. In 1992, Ms. Lynch was given the esteemed Outstanding Alumnus Award from UCI and was named one of OC METRO magazine’s “Ten Women Who Make a Difference.” She is also the recipient of the Red Cross Clara Barton Cultural Arts Award and the Boy Scouts of America Women of Excellence Award in 1996. She is the recipient of the 2001 Choo San Goh Award for Choreography and the 2007 Outstanding Arts Organization Award for her National Choreographers Initiative from Arts Orange County. In April 2008 she was honored with the Irvine Barclay Theatre’s prestigious Jade Award for her extraordinary leadership and creativity.

Press Contact:
Karen Drews Hanlon
Irvine Barclay Theatre