Ashlee Merritt holds a BFA from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. She began her dance training at 3 under Liz Schmidt at Spotlight Danceworks. Ashlee has attended summer dance intensives with BODYTRAFFIC, Hubbard Street Dance, Chicago, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, The Dance Sessions, and Class. In April of 2015 she received The Copperfoot Award in recognition of her contribution to the repertoire at Wayne State University along with The WOW Award in recognition of Outstanding Achievement in performance. She has performed the works of Doug Varone, Swight Rhoden, Trey McIntyre, Meg Paul, Stefanie Batten Bland, Sonya Tayeh, Liz Schmidt and Nick Cave and more. Ashlee is currently a company member of LA Contemporary Dance Company and Acts of Matter. This is Ashlee's first season with Clairobscur, and she is so excited and grateful to be a part of it!
Natalie McCall was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She trained under the direction of Marat Daukayev until the afe of eighteen when she graduated and moved to New York to attend the Ailey School. In May 2015 she completed the two-year training program with LINES Ballet in San Francisco. Natalie has continued to explore movement through intensives and workshops with The Kirov Academy, School of Oregon Ballet Theater, BodyTraffic, Sharon Eyal and Nederlands Dans Theater. This will be Natalie's first season with Clairobscur.
Megan Pulfer was born in Omaha, Nebraska where she started dancing at age 3. Megan moved with her family to Huntington Beach, California at age 8; and received most of her training at Huntington Academy of Dance, studying the Cecchetti method, tap, jazz and modern. At 16 she was accepted at the North Carolina School of the Arts to study ballet, earning her high school diploma. Immediately after, Megan began her career with Cedar Lake 2 and worked with choreographers such as Benoit-Swan Pouffer and Laurie Stallings. In 2006 she started dancing with Missouri Contemporary Ballet. She worked with Quixotic as a freelance dancer in 2009. Megan was accepted to the MASA Dance Journey with Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in Israel, where she lived on a Kibbutz for a year. She was then hired by Kamea Dance Company and lived in Be'er Sheva, Israel for another two years. She has recently moved back to Southern California with her Israel dog, Mila, and is now teaching at her old dance studio. Megan began with Clairobscur in June 2014.
Evan Swenson left home at 16 to complete his professional training with Houston Ballet Academy. Since then he has worked with companies such as Houston Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and New York Theatre Ballet. Evan moved back to California in 2008 where he became a ballroom instructor and continued his career as a freelance dancer. He continually works with Luminario Ballet, Helios Dance Theatre, Long Beach Ballet, Westside Ballet, Barak Ballet and many other companies in the Southern California area. Evan has had the pleasure to work with some world-renowned choreographers such as: Ben Stevenson, Trey McIntyre, Stanton Welch, Lyla York, Melissa Barak and Christopher Hampton. Evan has been dancing with Clairboscur since 2012.
Andy Lawson began his classical training at an early age in Corona, California. He holds a BFA in Dance from Chapman University, where he studied with Jennifer Backhaus, Laurence Rosenberg, Dale Merrill, Sean Greene, Holly Johnston and Liz Maxwell. He has attened summer programs at American Ballet Theater, Backhausdance, San Francisco Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance, Chicago. In the summer of 2010, Andy traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland to Perm in the Fringe Fesival with Gallimaufry Performing Arts, under the direction of Steve Josephson. Andy has also performed as a guest artist with Anaheim Ballet, BARE Dance Company, Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy and Maple Conservatory. He has worked with such distinguished artists as Mark Haim, Mike Esperanza and Sean Greene. Andy was a member of Hubbard Street 2 for their final 2016 season. This is Andy's first season with Clairobscur.
Ellen Akashi began her training at Southland Ballet Academy under Salwa Rizkalla where she performed with their studio company, Festival Ballet Theatre and guest artists Irina Dvorovenko, Maxim Beloserkovsky, Jennifer Tinger, and Carla Korbes. She attended summer programs with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, LINES Ballet, San Francisco Consrevatory of Dance, Springboard Danse Montreal, and BODYTRAFFIC. Ellen received her BFA in Dance Performance from Chapman University where she performed in original works by students, faculty, Jiri Kylian and Merce Cunningham. After graduation, Ellen attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance's year-round program. She has performed with the San Diego Opera and has recently filmed a music video for Skylar Spence. This is Ellen's second season.
Samantha-Jane Gray was born in South Africa, but currently resides in Los Angeles. She has performed roles in classical and contemporary projects and with companies in Canada, USA, Germany and South Africa. Some of her credits include, the South African National Dance Trust, The Olympic Opening Ceremonies 2010, Vancouver City Dance Theater, the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada, and plastic orchid factory. In collaboration with lighting designers and musicians, she has choreographed and performed in her own works in Vancouver, Halifax and Calgary for Interplay Projects, Kinetic Studio and IGNITE! Festival and has created 2 dance films in Los Angeles. She appeared in an international documentary "Beyond Boxes" which aired at Bumble in 2012 and Sweden in 2011. Samantha loves teaching Pilates and GYROTONIC. This is her second season with Clairobscur.