Education Faculty

Our faculty are professional generative artists as well as trained arts educators, and we celebrate the ways in which their artistic and teaching practices are each shaped by the other. BAX faculty are dedicated to educating the whole child, to creating community and building equity through artistic processes, and to learning continually from the exchange they have with young people. BAX selects faculty for their deep understanding in the development of children and how that translates into the training of a young artist in today’s world. BAX faculty are provided with ongoing professional development to hone their skills, share their experiences, and ensure continuity of the BAX educational experience.

Anna Vomacka

Anna Vomacka

BAX Teaching Artist

Anna Vomacka is a dancer, activist, and yoga teacher/practitioner based in Brooklyn, NY. Anna is driven by her curiosities and cravings for community, connection, and spaces of shared learning / (un)learning. Perhaps it is through this desire to connect and preserve her continual-curiosities that Anna found (and stuck with/got stuck to) dance and movement. Anna grew up dancing in the BAX studios with Helen Tocci and Rachel Lane as her teachers. While at BAX she also trained at Joffrey Ballet School. She went on to attended The Ohio State University where she collaborated with Bebe Miller on two original works. In 2016-17 Anna worked with former Trisha Brown dancer Vicky Shick on a recreation of Glacial Decoy (1979) which she performed as her graduation capstone. Anna’s choreographies explore idiosyncratic-difference, connection, intimacy and intersect with her commitment to social justice. Anna has has the honor of working with Nami Yamamoto since 2018. During her time with Nami, Anna has performed Marge… and then (a working title) at Center for Performance Research in 2018 &  Troopers Brother (working title) at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2019. Anna has also performed with Mei Yamanaka, Treeline Dance Works, and as a community performer in Faye Driscoll’s work. Anna began teaching dance in 2017 at the YMCA. She has gone on to teach in the public school system under Together in Dance, and in 2020 she began offering self managed outdoor, COVID-safe, kids classes. 

Dani Criss (she/her)

Dani Criss (she/her)

BAX Teaching Artist

Affectionately known as Dani Criss The Artist; a dancer, actress, activist, creator, and writer, Dani Criss seeks to explore the individuality in humanity, the concept of self liberation, and the use of ourselves and our work as catalyst for social change. She is heavily influenced by the African diaspora, her heritage, and the history we stand on as she implements thorough research elements and processes through her artistry. Trained extensively in the dances of the African Diaspora, predominantly in West African and Congolese techniques, various stylings of modern, jazz, musical theatre, hip hop, and liturgical dances. Dani is a graduate of High Point University with a B.A. in Theatre Performance and Dance. As an actress, she studies authentic storytelling and uses techniques such as Meisner to connect to true places of empathy. From comedic relief, to the undeniable underdog, and the powerhouse, Dani grasps the essence of character work as if it’s her story; having worked in her collegiate theatre company, performing in outdoor theatre projects, collaborative theatre, and writing works of her own. She has trained with Collage Dance Company (Durham, NC), the American Dance Festival and their faculty (Durham, NC), Otesha Cultural Arts Ensemble (Winston Salem, NC), Urban Bush Women and the Summer Leadership Institute(New Orleans, LA & Brooklyn, NY), UBW’s The Generative Dancer, The Honorable Chuck Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble (Durham, NC), Bloodline Dance Theatre (Brooklyn, NY), Ase Dance Theatre (Brooklyn, NY) as well as numerous other professional artist around the country. Her work has been seen at High Point University (High Point, NC), the American College Dance Association (Tennessee and Mississippi), Mark Morris Dance Center (Brooklyn, NY), Headlong Theatre (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), The Durham Arts Council (Durham, NC), The Black Spectrum Theatre (Queens, NY), 2018 Upstart Space Grant Recipient at Brooklyn Arts Exchange (Brooklyn, NY), NYC Public & Charter Schools, and other various festivals, schools, and venues in NC and NYC. Dani strives to create and display authentic work that will ultimately touch, inspire, and change lives. She is a native of Durham, NC and currently works, trains, teaches and performs as a teaching and freelance artist in Brooklyn, NY.

Diane Tomasi (she/her)

Diane Tomasi (she/her)

AcroBAX I Director, BAX Teaching Artist

Diane is a queer cis white woman who performs on the ground and in the air, as a dancer and aerialist. She began as a gymnast at the young age of 2, later began to dance, and then was introduced to aerial through an inclusive, abled/disabled body workshop with Blue-Eyed Soul Dance Company in the UK. Diane has performed at Galapagos, Slipper Room, Jacob’s Pillow, The Wild Project, Dance New Amsterdam, The Muse Brooklyn among other places and with Phaedra’s Cabaret, Ko-Ryo Dance Theater as well as in her own work. Diane currently facilitates tumbling/acrobatics, aerial, and dance classes and is the director of AcroBAX 1 at BAX|Brooklyn Arts Exchange. Diane is interested in the ways in which these movement styles weave in and around each other and is constantly finding ways to fuse them together. Diane has been teaching since 2001 and is particularly interested in exploring the presence of fear and vulnerability in learning as well as the deep need for trust and community while moving through that fear. She is interested in the immense confidence and joy that can be attained through vulnerability and learning as well as the ability to move the body in new and exciting ways. Diane teaches all ages throughout NYC solely teaching ‘Open Level’ classes as she is interested in breaking-down the hierarchy of ‘talent’ vs learning ability and community. Diane’s classes are upbeat and welcoming of all ability, body-type, race, gender, and sexual-orientation.

www.dianetomasi.com www.thisbodylives.com

Donna Costello (she/her)

Donna Costello (she/her)

DPW XX Director, BAX Teaching Artist

Donna Costello is a dance artist working in the field of dance, theater and performance. She is drawn to investigative processes that asks questions, allows space for new discoveries and provides opportunities to share work within and for a community. Her practice and passion for the art form continues to deepen with the exchange she has cultivated over the past 15 years as a performer, creator and educator in dance. She has had the privilege to perform with Vicky Shick, jill sigman / thinkdance, Shannon Hummel/Cora Dance (founding member), Carrie Ahern, Jimena Paz and Mollie O’Brien. Additional projects that have shaped her as an artist include works by Stephan Koplowitz, Juliette Mapp, Naomi Goldberg Haas, Pele Bauch, Kelly Bartnik, Barbara Mahler, the human company, director Jennifer Sargent and collaborating with composer Anne Hege. In 2010, she taught and performed throughout Germany with the program Dancing to Connect for Aviva Geismar’s Drastic Action alongside Battery Dance Company. Her own work has been presented in New York by Movement Research at Judson Church, Dance Conversations at the flea theater, Green Space, Wow Café, Dixon Place, DanceNow/NYC, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, SWEAT dance series and at Performatica in Mexico. She was a space grant recipient at BAX in 2011. As a teaching artist, Donna dances with young people of all ages and ability in a multitude of settings. She has been on faculty at Poly Prep Middle School , Greenwich House Music School and Queensborough Community College. She currently creates and facilitates workshops for Lincoln Center Education and the Park Avenue Armory. She has taught at BAX since 1999 and very much considers this her artistic home.
* photo credit : Ann Billingsley

Ella Wasserman-Smith (she her)

Ella Wasserman-Smith (she her)

BAX Teaching Artist

Ella is a dancer and choreographer, originally from Athens, GA. She holds a degree in the arts with a concentration in dance from The New School, Eugene Lang College, where she studied a variety of somatic techniques. Her work has been presented at many venues around New York City under the name Dancews including Spoke the Hub, Triskelion Arts, and University Settlement, where she was a Performance Project Fellow. Her early dance and performance background includes musical theatre, tap, jazz, and ballet, but her first formal training was in competitive gymnastics. She has always loved being upside down, so much so that she would walk on her hands through the grocery store. Her teaching practice incorporates the rigor of her gymnastics background with the experimentation, somatic knowledge, and play of her dance and theatre training. As an instructor, she hopes to connect with children’s inherent excitement for movement and give it the space to develop into a lifelong love.

Emily Batsford (she/her)

Emily Batsford (she/her)

BAX Teaching Artist

Emily is a theater artist with a particular love for new work. Her art is inspired by physical theater, puppetry, inclusion practices, and ensemble-based collaboration. Emily’s recent endeavors include productions at The Tank, SoHo Playhouse, Cherry Lane, 59e59, and regional theaters all over the country. She is also a Teaching Artist at CO/LAB Theater Group, providing a creative and social outlet through theater to individuals with developmental disabilities. Emily produces and hosts The Power Up Podcast, where she interviews guests about their super powers! Emily holds a BFA in Acting from Syracuse University. …all this aside, Emily most strongly identifies as ‘proud dog mom.’

Helen Styring Tocci (she/her)

Helen Styring Tocci (she/her)

AcroBAX II Director, DPW III Director, BAX Teaching Artist

is passionate about creating space for people of all ages to explore their unique creativity and discover the innate strength and wisdom that lives in every body. With over 20 years of experience as a professional dancer, vocalist and movement teacher in NYC, Helen is the co-founder of Varoom Group Dance Collective and her multi-disciplinary performance works with collaborator Calia Marshall have been presented at venues throughout the city and beyond including BAX, Joyce Soho, Judson Church and DTW. Helen has received artist grants from the Field and the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and was recently awarded BAX’s Dani Nikas Excellence in Teaching Award for her work with New York City youth. Helen is a certified yoga instructor and teaches privately throughout the city. She is also trained in CircusYoga and travels nationally teaching workshops and sharing this innovative and playful new practice, most recently presenting at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. She is a dynamic facilitator and is well-loved for her joyful approach to community building and art-making. Helen is a founding member of the Mantra Music band, Kirtan Soul Revival and has lead group singing experiences all over the country. She was a teaching artist at the Brooklyn Friends School from 2001-2020, and it has been one of the great joys of her life to create and explore with the BAX community for the past 20 years.

Jessica Lee (she/her)

Jessica Lee (she/her)

BAX Teaching Artist

Jessica is a dance artist, educator, and arts administrator who has been a part of the BAX community since interning for the Youth Education Department in Fall 2013. She delights in teaching and learning from the littlest BAXers – ages 18 months to 6 years – in teaching Creative Movement, Move and Groove, and as a Group Leader for the School Breaks Arts Program. Her artistic work and teaching practice are grounded in gender, racial, and environmental activism, fueled by the joy of movement, and dedicated to inclusive community building. Jessica dances with Sydnie L. Mosley Dances and Paloma McGregor | Angela’s Pulse (Building a Better Fishtrap), and is an Organizer for PURPOSE Productions. Jessica is also the Co-Director of The Sable Project, an alternative off-grid summer artist residency in Vermont. (www.thesableproject.org). She holds a BA in Dance and Environmental Studies from Middlebury College.

Kelindah Schuster (they/them)

Kelindah Schuster (they/them)

BAX Teaching Artist

Kelindah is a nonbinary educator and drag performance artist known as “Theydy Bedbug” who grew up in Singapore and Indonesia. They studied Drama and Gender studies at Vassar College and have been teaching, technical directing, and creating art at BAX since 2015. As their performance persona, they have performed and produced in venues such as Pioneer Works, Gibney Dance, Dixon Place, Triskelion Arts, Coney Island USA, The Stonewall Inn, UCB, Chelsea Music Hall, The Tank, BAM, VICE Headquarters, Columbia University, National Sawdust, and The Knockdown Center. They are the current reigning Mx. Brooklyn and since the pandemic have been co-producing a monthly online drag show which raises funds for a range of Black trans centered grassroots orgs and artists.Their teaching makes space for problem-solving societal dilemmas, imagining new possibilities, and expressing differences with joyful authenticity. They believe that access to spaces of genderful play in performance and creation is a step toward collective liberation. www.kelindahbee.art/radical-educator.

Maira Duarte (she/her)

Maira Duarte (she/her)

BAX Teaching Artist

Maira Duarte is a Mexican New York artist, educator, and organizer. She directs Dance to the People, a collective that creates dance works and organizes donation-based classes and workshops, environmental dance research, community forums, and performance parties to address social and environmental injustice. In 2019, DTTP focused most of its work on public and participatory practices called Trash Outings, where participants picked up trash and then performed with it. Since then, members of the collective have used trash to produce elaborate costumes, props, and use them in choreographed performances in multiple public spaces. Other DTTP work includes The Tampon Piece, a cabaret-like feminist dance piece on how to use tampons, and Papalotl Muyus, a protest dance film in solidarity with migrant families at the US-Mexico border, made in collaboration with Semillas Collective and Mayday Space. Maira is faculty at Brooklyn Arts Exchange since 2014 and has taught for over 10 years in innumerable public schools in NYC and New Jersey, through BAX, The New Victory Theater and Dance Theater of Harlem. She was also a dance professor at the University of The Americas Puebla, Mexico in 2013. She is a contributor to the online publication Dancer Citizen and holds an M.A. in Dance Education from New York University.

Natalia Muñoz  (she/her)

Natalia Muñoz (she/her)

BAX Teaching Artist

Natalia is a Multi-disciplinary Arts Educator and activist with a diverse and eclectic background. Born and raised in Colombia, Natalia has always been fascinated about diversity, culture and tradition. She has trained in Afro-Brazilian, Haitian, Capoeira and several Afro-Colombian rhythms.

Nikki Calonge (she/her)

Nikki Calonge (she/her)

BAX Teaching Artist

Nikki has been an educator and performer in New York City with over a decade of experience. I earned my BFA from the Experimental Theater Wing/Playwrights Horizons Theater School at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and taught preschool at The Maple Street School in Lefferts Garden, Brooklyn. I work primarily with the very young as well as adults in theater, performance, and movement classes and workshops. I am committed to play and rooted in social justice, bringing my daily practices of yoga and aikido into the space and allow them to inform the creative, collaborative work that we do together. Here’s to experiments and expression!

Skye Montante (she/her)

Skye Montante (she/her)

DPW XX Director, BAX Teaching Artist

Skye Montante began studying ballet at Petaluma School of Ballet at the age of 8. In later years as she was introduced to other forms of dance; she found her true calling with Hip-Hop and Contemporary styles. She continued her dance through college and graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in Dance. While in school in San Francisco, she taught youth and adult classes at ODC School of Dance, City Dance Studios and after school programs and summer camps. She studied abroad in Argentina at IUNA University furthering her studies in Ballet and Modern dance. While studying in Buenos Aires, she began to work at PeiMei Studios, teaching Contemporary Fusion dance. Since moving to New York she has taught both youth and adult classes in multiple studios/schools including Brooklyn Arts Exchange, SassClass and Peridance-as well as being a guest artist at Frank Sinatra High. Skye’s focus as a teacher and creator is to help her dancers find their own individual voice and establish a safe space to move. She continues to work as a freelance choreographer, creating personal projects and looks forward to her continued growth as a part of the New York City Dance community.

Tamika Charles-Sims (she/her)

Tamika Charles-Sims (she/her)

BAX Teaching Artist

Tamika has instructed and coached gymnastics for the over 20 years in New York City. She has taught gymnastics and sports at the 92nd St Y. She coached competitive and recreational gymnastics at NYC Elite and worked for the non-profit Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation teaching gymnastics to all ages – 18 months to adult. Along with teaching artistic gymnastics, which includes vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise, she has taught many apparatus in rhythmic gymnastics as well as trampoline. She studied and has a strong background in various types of dance-ballet, modern, jazz, tap and African. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics Education and minored in music. Over the years, Tamika has developed a teaching philosophy that anyone can learn gymnastics as long as they believe they can and are willing to work hard. She is very happy to be a part of BAX!