StaffKeshet Dance & Center for the Arts
* Indicates this staff member is part of the Keshet Teaching Faculty in one or more of our Dance Education Programs:
- Community Classes
- Keshet’s Pre-Professional Program (KP3)
- Movement + Mentorship = Metamorphosis (M3)
- Mixed Ability Dance
- Fine Wine Dance
Ana Lopes Arechiga*
Director of Programming
Ana was born in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico, and began dancing at an early age. She has a BA in dance and psychology, having graduated with honors Summa Cum Laude in Psychology, Magna Cum Laude in Dance from the University of New Mexico. She apprenticed for the Keshet Dance Company in 2013, Kamea Dance Company in Israel in 2014, and then returned to New Mexico, re-joining Keshet as a Company Dancer in 2016, and has been dancing with Keshet ever since! She has also danced for the Santa Fe Opera, Jewell and Company, Blythe Eden Dance Company, J. Garcia Dance Company, lisa nevada dance, and Esteban Garza Dance Company. While she continues to dance for many of these companies, Ana additionally teaches some fantastic classes each week!
Sarah Elizabeth Bennett*
Sarah received her BFA in Dance from the University of the Arts (Philadelphia) and MFA in Dance at the State University of New York (Brockport). She has been a company dancer with Philadanco II, a soloist with Koresh Dance, and was an Americorps member and company director of the Buen Viaje Dancers with New Mexico’s VSArts Program. Sarah is a founding member of Keshet where she helped create the organization’s mixed ability dance program, co-facilitating Keshet’s first residency workshops with AXIS Dance Company in 1998. She has been working in the field of Mixed Ability Dance for the past 22 years. Fun facts: She is the original “Nutcracker on the Rocks” Rat Queen, and Keshet’s Studio 2 is named after her, honoring the critical role she played in building the foundation for Keshet.
Database Systems Coordinator
Alija has worked across the social impact sector as a participatory researcher and creative technologist to advance equity. At Keshet, Alija engages the lived expertise of arts and justice communities to inform the collaborative design of data systems to be more transparent and accountable. As the Database Systems Coordinator, Alija approaches data management with an ethics lens to drive empowered decision-making to inform Keshet’s programs and mission. All while keeping the experience people have engaging with data systems at the forefront. From ensuring inclusive data collection processes with affirmative consent to privacy considerations in data storage and reporting. The vision is to shift the power dynamics between people and data to remove barriers for communities to access resources. Alija holds a B.A. Urban and Environmental Planning with certificates in Emerging Technology Ethics, Machine Learning Engineering, Data Science, and Digital Media. For their work, Alija has been honored with social innovation awards in technology, public policy, Diversity-Equity-Inclusion leadership, and participatory design.
Originally from Timisoara, Romania, Sonia has been a New Mexico resident for the last 14 years. She has dedicated her life to dance since the age of 16, studying modern, contemporary, hip hop, ballet, Latin ballroom, and most recently, Mexican Folklorico. Sonia graduated with honors from the University of New Mexico with a B.A. in Contemporary Dance in May of 2013, and has been teaching and dancing at Keshet ever since. Keshet has provided Sonia with numerous opportunities, including teaching in Keshet’s Movement + Mentorship = Metamorphosis program, guest teaching at Cohesion Center for Dance & the Arts in Montana, playing the role of Marie in Shira Greenberg’s 20th annual Nutcracker on the Rocks in 2016, and playing the role of Alice in Keshet’s Alice: an adventure of wonder and wondering. In February of 2017, Sonia performed with Keshet resident company, Navarasa Dance Theater in the world premiere of their original production Snake and Ladder at Keshet Center for the Arts. She then performed various Navarasa productions (Story and a Song, Snake and Ladder, Encounter) in New Mexico, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Vancouver. Sonia has also performed locally with the j. garcia dance company and Esteban Garza Dance Company. As an educator Sonia has taught at the Public Academy of Performing Arts and at the University of New Mexico as adjunct dance faculty. Considering the impact dance has had on her life, she believes that art can make a significant impact on anyone’s life, whether they are on stage or in the audience.
Emani Brooks is currently a student at the University of New Mexico. She is the Co-Chair of Keshet’s Youth Leadership Council through Keshet’s Arts & Justice Initiatives which works to fight against the injustices within our government system. Emani says, “Being biracial I have seen the setbacks within the system and how it affects the people in my community. I want to work towards correcting those wrongs and creating an open and positive environment for our youth and elders to grow in. By incorporating the arts into our system, we allow our youth to rehabilitate and express themselves in a healthy way that not only heals but inspires.”
KCA Theater and Facilities Director
Edward Carrion is a stage manager, production manager, and general theater technician who finds joy in helping bring art to life. Being based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, allows Eddie to enjoy time with his family and friends while he works on festivals, music and dance shows, cabarets, and the occasional large-scale public event. After graduating from the University of New Mexico with a BA in Design for Performance in 2016, he spent time in Las Vegas as an Intern Stage Manager with Cirque du Soleil, followed by taking a handful of shows on small tours, performing in Taos and Las Vegas, NM; Tucson, AZ; and Vancouver, BC, Canada. Here at home, Eddie spent a few years as a member of Tricklock Company, is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Albuquerque Theater Guild, and freelances regularly with numerous performance companies across the city! Eddie is most excited to bring art to Albuquerque, and share magic with the world!
Paul’s passion is to connect with people and to transform lives by being Love in Action. He delights in realizing this through creative expression. Whether it be the written word, the painted image, or expressions with light; the idea of connecting with others lies at the heart of Paul’s work. After a long and exciting career lighting and photographing film, stage and television productions all over the world, Paul came to Albuquerque seeking new modes of expression, and a more relaxed way of life. Serendipity led him to Keshet where he was reacquainted with his first artistic love, lighting for dance. Paul finds great joy in meeting the challenges of serving the warm and welcoming dance family that is Keshet.
Full Charge Bookkeeper
Danielle has an Accounting degree from Drexel University and has worked within the non-profit sector for over 14 years in various roles but mostly in an accounting and bookkeeping capacity. After working in payroll for a large human services organization in Boston from 2009-2011, she switched gears briefly and became a day program counselor working with adults with developmental disabilities in the Boulder, CO area. This experience is what drew her to Keshet and their Mixed Ability/Adaptive Dance Program. Danielle most recently worked as a Data Processor/Analyst within an Advancement Services team so she brings with her database and development experience. When not working, Danielle is out hiking, running and exploring the mountains with her dog!
Sebrena was born in Colorado and was quickly whisked away to sunny California, where she learned to love the beach, art and reading. She has since lived in many places, including Texas, Louisiana, Washington and Mexico before landing in Albuquerque in 1999. She has a degree in Psychology from the University of New Orleans. Sebrena discovered Keshet 10 years ago when her daughter wanted to take ballet classes. She has had various roles at Keshet, but you can find her most often at the front desk checking in students or at the Box Office window, and helping out wherever she can.
Community Education & Mixed Ability Program Director
Originally from Indiana, Sadie recently completed her Bachelors of Arts in Theatre and Dance as well as Educational Studies with an emphasis on Special Needs from Alma College. Her research on the benefits of dance for students with Cognitive Impairments allowed her to graduate with Honors in both fields Summa Cum Laude. Sadie has experience teaching dance in both studio and therapy settings. She has brought her dance experience to her previous positions as Behavior Technician at an Applied Behavior Analysis Autism Clinic; teacher at Live Laugh Dance, a summer camp for young adults with Down syndrome; student teacher in a variety of Special Education classrooms; and dance teacher for ages 5-15 at Academy of Performing Arts. Sadie is certified in Progressive Ballet Technique and has trained in ballet, jazz, modern, somatic methods, and Highland dance. After interning with Keshet as Outreach Assistant and Teaching Assistant in 2017, Sadie is thrilled to return to work at Keshet Dance and Center for the Arts.
Sarah Williams Gonzales*
Pre-Professional Education Director
Sarah Williams Gonzales is a “dancing historian,” a dance scholar, and a dance educator with a research focus on American dance history and dance pedagogy. A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Sarah began her dance training at Jordan College Academy of Dance, the pre-professional program of Butler University. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance Performance/Choreography and French (Magna Cum Laude) from Hope College. In 2012, Sarah graduated with distinction from the University of New Mexico with a Master of Arts in Theatre and Dance with a concentration in Dance History and Criticism. Sarah is certified in ABT® National Training Curriculum from Pre-Primary through Level 5 and has trained in Vaganova, Cecchetti, and the French methods of Ballet. She is certified in Elementary Labanotation from the Dance Notation Bureau. Sarah is currently the Pre-Professional Education Director of Keshet Dance and Center for the Arts, in charge of the Keshet’s Pre-Professional Program (KP3) and JUMP programs. Sarah works to advance the field of dance through the daily teaching of technique classes, developing of dance curricula, and presenting research at conferences.
Juliana Gorena is a recent graduate of the Public Academy for Performing Arts and Keshet’s Pre-Professional Program (KP3) where she studied various art forms over the years. She is currently a student at the University of New Mexico, majoring in dance and minoring in sociology, hoping to pursue her work of social justice through art. In addition to being a Youth Leader at Keshet, Juliana volunteers with the Democratic Party of New Mexico and is a member of the executive committee of Keshet’s Arts and Justice Youth Leadership Council.
Founder & Artistic Director
Shira is the Founder and Artistic Director of Keshet, launching the organization in 1996 – utilizing dance as a catalyst for change. She has created over 60 original dance works for stage and film, including “Nutcracker on the Rocks” [“Any unmoved spectators had to be dead” – Arthur Alpert, Prime Time Magazine]; “Ani Ma’amin” [one of the most moving and beautifully designed dances this viewer has experienced…totally absorbing” – Jennifer Noyer, Albuquerque Journal]; and “A beast an angel and a madwoman” [“Transformative” – Matti Straub-Fisher, KaosPilots, Bern, Switzerland]. She has been recognized by multiple organizations and awards including the Martin Luther King, Jr Multicultural Council’s Keep the Dream Alive Award for “creating an environment where the medium of dance is used to build cross-cultural and social bridges to every aspect of society” and the former President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Her honors include the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Outstanding New Mexico Women; New Mexico Business Weekly’s Top Performing CEO of a non-profit organization, the New Mexico Humanitarian Award, and the New Mexico Ethics in Business Award recognizing the highest standards of ethical conduct, integrity and civic and social responsibility. She has been a guest speaker throughout the United States, Europe and Israel, sharing Keshet’s integrated approach of the arts in the areas of social justice and economic development. In 2013 with a $1,000,000 investment from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Shira led the organization in the creation of the Keshet Center for the Arts, a 30,000sf performing arts center in Midtown Albuquerque, and within it launched the Keshet Ideas and Innovation Community (KIIC), a business incubator and resource center for arts entrepreneurs, including choreographic residency programs. Shira is grateful to have the daily opportunity to follow her life’s passion intersecting dance, education, engagement, innovation, entrepreneurship along with the empowerment of multi-generational voices, and a dedicated pursuit of systems change with an eye towards justice, equity, accessibility, inclusion, and belonging. She is honored to continue to learn and grow with this incredible Keshet team.
Julian comes to Keshet through the M3 Program. While incarcerated in the juvenile justice system of New Mexico, Julian availed himself of the arts education opportunities presented to him via the Keshet M3 Program, which serves to introduce incarcerated youth to arts centered educational avenues. While working with the M3 staff inside the facility, Julian’s passion for creative expression and artistic awakening also ignited in him a passion for social justice, and an urgency to create meaningful transformation around the juvenile justice system. Julian brings excited curiosity and a deep well of talents to the Keshet family. It is with great excitement that he joins us here.
Alyssa is a former member of LOUD, Leaders Organizing to Unite and Decriminalize, and is currently a local freelance DJ and musician. Lyssa states, “Because of my past experience with juvenile justice work, I am now a strong advocate for bettering the system for youth. Music and dance have personally helped me overcome battles and develop the strength I needed to get to where I am today. Keshet played a huge role in this journey and transformation. I have been involved with Keshet since 2015. As of January 2019, I am now employed through Keshet as a Youth Leader. Being a Youth Leader allows me to help make sure the youth have the same opportunity that I did.”
Diana MacNeil is a choreographer and teacher dedicated to the movement arts. Her work over the last four decades has included initiating roles at the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts and the Lewitzky Dance Company. The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Loyola Marymount University, Occidental College, The Cerritos Center for the Arts and the Yorke Dance Project, among others, have commissioned her choreography and her credits include educational projects from elementary to post-graduate levels at home and abroad. She founded the PostHouse Dance Group in Los Angeles which has performed to critical acclaim. In 2017 Diana relocated to Albuquerque to further her work with Keshet.
AJI Community Connectivity Facilitator
Formerly the Director of Performing Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Elsa has spent more than 35 years working in theatre around the world as writer, director, producer and performer. Her work in theater education led her to teaching, writing, and directing in a men’s medium security prison which lead to the co-founding of BOOM!theatre, a theatre company within the prison comprised of individuals serving the longest sentences. She has been co-facilitator of the Cultivating Women’s Leadership retreat through Bioneers, and a co-founder of the Women Leading Change initiative. A certified life coach, Elsa also served as an Artistic Director and Core Artist of Tricklock Company, and a member of the Sofia Center’s Wild Leadership facilitation team. Elsa is a facilitator and teacher of various local, national, and international workshops, symposiums, and retreats. Her mission is love and her passion is to connect and co-create in intercultural environments with diverse groups of collaborators. Elsa utilizes the wisdom of play, creativity, and the physical body to support leaders of all ages toward personal, community, and social transformation and systemic changes that celebrate all forms of diversity and equitably lift and value all living things.
AJI Program Team
Interim Advancement Coordinator
Sophia Phillips was born into a family of artists in California, and began her movement training in capoeira at the age of 7. She shifted her focus to aerial dance in 2006, and performed nationally and internationally as an aerial dancer for the associated company of the Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Arts until 2015. Sophia received BAs in both Dance and Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2017, and during her schooling trained in house, hip hop, modern dance, West African dance, and improvisational forms. While in Colorado, Sophia trained in, performed, and taught African-Brazilian Dance with Samba Colorado Dance Company and School. In 2019, Sophia returned to the capoeira community through the United Capoeira Association. Sophia has participated in dance intensives around the world, and adores the universality of dance. She fiercely believes in the power dance has to connect us to our individual and collective humanity. Sophia began teaching in Keshet’s M3 Program in August of 2018, and has since had the pleasure of expanding her role at Keshet to include teaching community classes, KP3 classes, and working with Keshet’s Arts and Justice Initiatives. Sophia is honored to be a part of the Keshet community.
M3 Program Director
An Albuquerque native, Elysia began her dance training with Keshet Dance Company in 2001. She received a BA in Contemporary Dance from the University of New Mexico in 2016. She has danced professionally with Keshet Dance Company, the J. García Dance Company, lisa nevada and dancers, the SHIFT Dance Collective, Lawine Torrén based in Austria, and Yeztli Danza y Arte. Elysia has served Albuquerque nonprofit arts organizations for nearly a decade, teaching dance and working in development, fundraising, and marketing at organizations such as the National Institute of Flamenco, the University of New Mexico’s Friends of Dance Association, and Keshet Dance and Center for the Arts. In 2019, Elysia moved to Washington, DC, where she designed virtual events and fundraisers for People For the American Way, a progressive political nonprofit. Elysia is thrilled to be back in her hometown and with her Keshet community, serving as the M3 Program Director.
Community Volunteer Manager
Marissa Reynolds was raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and initially started exploring the world of movement through gymnastics, eventually leading her to modern dance. Marissa graduated cum laude from the University of New Mexico with her B.A. in Contemporary Dance. Throughout her career she has had the honor of working with many noteworthy artists, dancers, and choreographers that helped her develop her style, expand her technique and grow artistically. In 2013, Marissa became a Keshet Company member, and performed nationally and internationally with Keshet under Artistic Director, Shira Greenberg. Through Keshet, Marissa found a new passion for dance through teaching and as Keshet’s M3 Director from 2014-2018, instructing and mentoring students within New Mexico’s Juvenile Prison System. In 2018 after the birth of her second child, Marissa became Keshet’s Community Volunteer Manager – overseeing Keshet’s amazing Volunteer Program and working with the hundreds of incredible volunteers and community members who help make Keshet thrive every day!
Digital Content Manager
As a native Burqueña, Janel’s journey is dedicated to being kind, giving back and actively striving for positive involvement and growth within her community. With over 13 years as a Certified Pharmacy Technician, she desired a more intimate relationship within her home town. Janel holds two Associates of Arts degrees in Communication and Liberal Arts (Magna Cum Laude) and in 2019 decided to indulge in a career change and dove into the world of all things digital. She successfully completed the Digital Media and Internet of Things bootcamps through Deep Dive and holds a certificate from CNM in Unmanned Aircraft Systems. In her free time, Janel can be found volunteering, playing volleyball, kayaking, biking, and just about any activity that will allow her furbabies to attend or her adrenaline to surge. With a lifelong passion for the dance community Janel is beyond grateful to join the communications team and become a voice for a greater cause.
Youth Leader Program Manager
Lara fell in love with using movement as a form of expression as a small child. This love has carried her on a journey that has embraced many dance styles, a professional performance career, educational pursuits, creative curiosities, and curated offerings. She still finds delight in exploring new ways of moving and currently digs making dances with themes rooted in social justice, environmental consciousness, community engagement, joy and play. She holds an MFA with an emphasis in Site-Specific Choreography, wherein her passions for nature, movement and human connection meld and occasionally make magic. Lara is honored to serve as an Ambassador for National Water Dance and as Keshet teaching faculty, company dancer and Youth Leaders Program Manager with Keshet’s Arts and Justice Initiatives.
Human Resources Director
Lindsay began dancing at the age of 5 in Danville, CA. For 12 years, she studied Ballet, Jazz, and Modern dance techniques at the Ballet Conservatory in Aliso Viejo, CA under the direction of Alan and Rosemary McCarter. She spent several summers attending intensive dance camps, including the San Francisco Ballet School and Dance Aspen summer programs. As a dance scholarship recipient, Lindsay continued her dance training at the University of Arizona as well as the University of California at Irvine. She began her journey as a dance teacher in Tucson, AZ in 1999 and continued to teach in Orange County, CA and Dallas, TX. Lindsay began teaching at Keshet in 2007 and became involved on the administrative side of Keshet in 2012; first as Education Director and now as the Human Resources Director.
AJI Care Facilitation Director
Erin comes to Keshet with over 20 years of experience in social services and program development. Most recently, Erin was the Director of the Jewish Care Program, the Jewish social services for the State of New Mexico. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Erin received her master’s degrees in Social Work and Jewish Communal Service from the University of Southern California and Hebrew Union College. She began her career in San Francisco at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, after which she supported patients at Hospice by the Bay and worked as the Program Director at the Community Health Resource Center. After working in New York at a nonprofit focused on civic engagement, Erin moved to New Mexico in 2012. She is thrilled to be a part of the Keshet team, where she can blend her creativity and her passion for being present with people.
Alana is a recent graduate of Keshet’s Pre-Professional Program (KP3) who has studied numerous genres of dance for the past 11 years. She is currently a student at the University of New Mexico, majoring in Psychology and minoring in both Chemistry and Health, Medicine, & Human Values, in the hopes of one day pursuing a career in medicine. Dancing has played such an important role in her life and she is elated at the opportunity to teach and serve the community that provided so much for her!
Carolyn Tobias, originally from Brisbane, Australia is a wife, mom to three and a lover of the arts. Carolyn brings over 25 years of public relations and communications experience with non-profits, agency, corporate and freelance sectors to the role of Communications Director with Keshet (since 2014). Carolyn was first introduced to Keshet as a Work Study and committee volunteer for her daughters’ dance classes (2011). Carolyn’s background is in theatre, her husband is a drummer and music producer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico and their whole family enjoys all artistic endeavors. Her motivation each day is to value the artist behind the art, first and foremost. Carolyn holds a Bachelor of Business Communications: Public Relations & Marketing (with Distinction) from Queensland University of Technology, Australia.
Adrian Moore Trask*
Director of Business Advancement
Adrian joined Keshet’s staff in 2016 with ten years of experience in strengthening arts & culture nonprofit organizations and advanced training in public humanities. Before moving to Albuquerque, Adrian worked as the development & communications manager at Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, leading fundraising and marketing efforts to support the state’s humanities community. Adrian maintains her connection with Rhode Island as a volunteer with Dance Legacy, supporting organizational systems and policies to effectively engage Dance Legacy’s dispersed network of volunteers and contractors. Early in her career, Adrian worked in the creative aging field as program director for Arts for the Aging and danced with Nancy Havlik Dance Performance Group in Washington, DC. Adrian has implemented projects that incorporate performance, fine arts, and history with American Dance Legacy Initiative, Everett: Company, Stage and School, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Y-Space (Hong Kong), the National Museum of American History, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Adrian has a bachelor’s degree in dance and anthropology from Wesleyan University and earned a master’s degree in Public Humanities from Brown University, focusing on community building and public engagement through arts and culture, specifically dance. Adrian came to Keshet in August 2016 and says, “with a personal mission to connect community through the arts and humanities and to support artists by providing business development support, Keshet is the perfect place for me! I’m very grateful to be part of this inspiring, creative community.”
Community Relations Manager
Alissa was born in West Virginia, but moved to New Mexico at a young age. She graduated from Manzano High School and got her nursing assistant certification at TVI. Alissa has been working with children and young adults with physical and developmental disabilities for the past 14 years. As the Community Relations Manager, Alissa is excited to contribute to Keshet’s community in a new way. Alissa has been part of Keshet’s community since 2011 when she enrolled her daughter into her first dance class, shortly after Alissa began taking classes and they both have been dancing ever since! Alissa and her husband are also Keshet volunteers. Alissa has been married to her husband, Mat for 13+ years, and together they have three children, Jordyn, Ryan and Devyn. When Alissa isn’t working, or dancing, she enjoys camping, hiking, swimming, going on road trips to visit family, watching her son play sports, shopping and cooking with her daughter, and checking out local breweries with her husband. What Alissa loves most about Keshet is how inclusive it is, any and all people are welcomed at Keshet, which is what has brought and kept her and her whole family as an active part of it.
Allyssa Trujillo is dancer, choreographer, educator, and student. Born and raised in Gallup, New Mexico, she received her early training and teaching experience at Foundations of Freedom, a studio and hip hop community residing in the Southwest. In 2018, Allyssa coordinated Gallup’s Donate and Dance Project which taught youth dance education in exchange for donations to local charities. Allyssa is currently earning her bachelor’s degree in Contemporary Dance with a minor in Arts Leadership and Business at the University of New Mexico. As an artist, Allyssa seeks to manifest joy, love, and community through her work, knowing that dance, in any form, can serve as a tool for empowerment, connection, and support.