BÉA RASHID (Founder/Co-Artistic Director) graduated from Northwestern University as a theater major with a concentration in dance. She has choreographed for numerous professional theatre and opera companies, including the Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Opera Theater, and Light Opera Works. In 1994 she opened Dance Center Evanston, and in 1997 the Ensemble was created to provide a professional performing experience for dedicated students. Béa has collaborated with composer and husband, Steve Rashid, on numerous dance and theater projects, including The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, 2001: A Dance Odyssey, and recently “Leonardo” from Body of Work. Béa is a recipient of the Evanston Mayor’s Award for the Arts.
CHRISTINA ERNST (Co-Artistic Director) began her dance career in Switzerland and performed with the Zurich Opera. On the American scene, she has developed choreography for numerous companies, including Dance Kaleidoscope, Chicago Opera Theater and the Goodman Theater. She has received grants for her choreography from the Illinois Arts Council, the Evanston Arts Council, the Chicago Office of Fine Arts, Chicago Artists Abroad, and won the Seven States Choreography Competition. She was Co-Director of ernst-watson dance, an international touring company, and a member of Chicago Repertory Dance Ensemble. Christina spent 20 years as an Artist-in-Residence with Urban Gateways, has taught extensively at area dance schools, colleges, and universities, including 10 years at Evanston Township High School. She is on the faculty of Dance Center Evanston. She continues to explore new projects and likes to add new movement practices to her experience like NIA and InterPlay.
ALLISON KURTZ VOLKERS (ede2 Artistic Director) is a Northwestern grad, a die-hard Bears fan, Associate Program Director of Dance Center Evanston, and Artistic Director of ede2. As a choreographer, performer, and educator, Ms. Volkers has collaborated with such organizations as Adventure Stage, Albany Park Theater Project, Barrel of Monkeys, Beserra Dance Theater, Dog and Pony, New Leaf, Piven, Raizel Performances and, most notably, Striding Lion Performance Group, where she was a founding member and served as Education Director. The Cecchetti Council of America has certified Ms. Volkers as a Grade IV Teacher of Classical Ballet Dancing, she serves on the board of the CCA’s Midwest committee, and she has led workshops for the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters. Ms. Volkers’ choreographic work has been singled out by TimeOut Chicago, The Chicago Reader and The Chicago Sun Times. She is proud to have collaborated with her husband, actor Joshua J. Volkers, on the recent production of Greta Grace Volkers.
PAULA SJOGERMAN (Company Manager) has been working in the nonprofit world for 30 years. She was the Executive Director of Gaia Theater and was the Managing Director of CircEsteem, Chicago’s Youth Circus. Paula has also worked as a freelance grantwriter for Little City Foundation, ArtsConnect, and the Chicago Health Connection. In addition, she is an actor, director, acting teacher, and co-founded Thin Ice Theater, a theater company for home-schooled youth.