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Monica Ordoñez, Founding Artistic Director
 

Monica Ordoñez is a Big Easy Award-winning choreographer based in New Orleans. Originally from Miami, Florida, she discovered her passion for choreography at a young age, rooted in a harmonious connection between movement, music, and cohesive narrative. Shortly graduating from Tulane University with a double major in Dance and Paralegal studies, she was selected by the Paul Taylor Dance Company as one of six choreographers to present work at the Marigny Opera House’s 2012 New Dance Festival, catapulting her into the dance scene in New Orleans. In 2014, Monica conceived Mélange’s mission and cofounded the company with Alexa Lambert. Monica pours enormous thought and meticulous research into her works to fulfill a vision that is purposeful, truthful, theatrical, and dynamic. She has choreographed numerous big easy award nominated productions that each uniquely integrate storytelling, history, and themes of humanity that inspire, educate, and entertain, often bringing little known stories to the forefront.. Monica is grateful to have worked with so many talented dancers, musicians, collaborators, and artists that help achieve a rich vision and is excited to continue growing and inspiring positive change in the world through dance.

 
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Alexa Erck Lambert, Founding Executive Director
 

Alexa Erck Lambert is originally from Wilmette, Illinois. Alexa began taking ballet class at the age of 12 and studied at the Center of Creative Dance and Ballet Chicago. She performed with Ballet Entre Nous and Kinesis Dance Company before heading to Tulane University where she studied Cellular Biology, ballet and modern dance and performed with Newcomb Dance Company. In New Orleans, Alexa performed with Tsunami Dance Company, New Orleans Dance and Alternative Collaborations. Alexa also had the opportunity to work with teenagers at New Orleans Hope Stone to facilitate the choreography of a ‘public health’ dance. Alexa is an epidemiologist and contractor for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Adrienne Simmons
Adrienne Simmons is excited to be joining Mélange for the first time in their production of Fantômes. She has performed in countless productions with the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre and has trained in a variety of dance styles at programs across the nation.  Adrienne also works as an actor in theatre and film while studying business management and theatre at the University of New Orleans.  She is currently stage managing Is God Is by Aleshea Harris with Theatre UNO, showing this November.  @adriennecsimmons

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Bayleigh Cragun

Bayleigh grew up in Draper, Utah where she began dancing in a neighbors' basement to selections from The Little Mermaid. Later, after being ignored by a dance teacher when she refused to dance, Bayleigh decided that dancing is always better than not dancing and has not stopped. She studied contemporary dance, sociology, and theatre arts at Brigham Young University (BYU). There, she trained with various choreographers and artists from around the country and Europe. She's certified to teach Promethean Spark Methodology (a method of teaching life skills through dance) and worked as a coordinator for the Utah Chapter of Promethean Spark International for two years. After graduating from BYU, Bayleigh moved to New Orleans to teach 5th Grade Social Studies--which is a fun way to get a headache daily ;). In addition to Mélange Dance Company, Bayleigh dances with ELLEvate dance company and trains in Waacking and Krump with local mentors. Bayleigh is passionate about making change through dance.
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Cailyn O'Hara

 

Cailyn O'Hara holds a BA in Music Industry Studies with a minor in Dance from Loyola University New Orleans, and is a dance instructor at New Orleans Dance Academy. She started dancing in high school, training in ballet, tap, jazz, musical theater, and contemporary, and has performed in concerts at Loyola University, in Southern Voices: Dance Out Loud, Et Tu? A Show of Life, Death, and Rebirth, and Inferno. She has also performed in many musical theater productions including Loyola University's production of A Grand Night For Singing, Bay Area Houston Ballet Theater's Thoroughly Modern Millie, East End Theater Company's Catch Me If You Can, and most recently in East End Theater Company's production of Mamma Mia! as Sophie Sheridan.  

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Elle Ciccarone Jones
 

Elle C. Jones began her artistic journey in State College, Pennsylvania, where she was inspired by the rolling hills, deep forests, and rich mixture of arts culture at Penn State University. She grew up training and dancing with a pre-professional company, and went on to receive her BFA in dance from Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi where she was awarded the Bezalel Award for outstanding artistic achievement. From there, she and her husband moved to New Orleans, where she directs her own dance company, ELLEvate Dance. Along with directing, Elle performs with ​Mélange Dance Company and The Marigny Opera Ballet, and also teaches dance and yoga at a variety of different programs in the city. In her sparse spare time, Elle takes her Chiweenie on long walks in whatever nature she can find hidden in the Big Easy.

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Elyssa Fonicello

Elyssa Fonicello is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. She studied public policy and dance at the University of Virginia, where she was a Miller Arts Scholar and recipient of the Ruth Caplin award for artistic achievement. Elyssa has performed original works by Kim Brooks Mata, Katie Schetlick, Samar Haddad King (Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre), Dante Brown (Warehouse Dance), and Kalila Kingsford Smith, among others. When she’s not dancing, Elyssa works as a local government consultant and enjoys biking and attempting DIY projects in her spare time. 
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Joel Ellis

Joel Ellis is a New Orleans-based actor and filmmaker who has most recently appeared in the short films Couch Knife(2022) and The Woods(2021). His next short, Xulectra, will be released this December. A graduate of Tulane University, Joel discovered acting while fulfilling a requirement in pursuit of his Computer Science degree. Since then, Joel has studied under Doug Spearman, Jenny Mercein, and Amy Chaffee and is an avid practitioner of Fitzmaurice Voicework. Joel is excited to make his dance debut with the Mélange Dance Company. Find him on Instagram: @joelhochman
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Joshua P. Bell

Joshua P. Bell was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Clinton, Mississippi. He is a young man full of many passions, dreams, and visions. One of those passions being dance and movement. In the spring of 2016 he graduated with a bachelor of art in dance from Belhaven University. Under the guidance of Cynthia Newland, Chair of Belhaven’s dance department, he flourished as a performer, choreographer, and overall artist. He had the opportunity to tour South Korea with a small dance ensemble called Bal Malhada the summer of 2015. He has completed his third season with Marigny
Opera Ballet in New Orleans, Louisiana. He worked as a guest artist in a principal role with Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet in 2018. He continues to pursue artistic expression through the medium of dance by connecting with various artist, performers, directors, and choreographers.
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Keisha Calderon

Keisha Calderon, a Florida native, has spent most of her life dancing, teaching, and performing. After studying dance and accounting at Emory University, she graduated from Florida State University with an MFA in Dance. Some of her teaching credits include Bates Dance Festival, Suzanne Farrell Young Dancer’s Workshop, American College Dance Festival, and Adjunct Faculty at FSU. She is the former director of The Tallahassee Ballet School, scholarship recipient of National Dance Institute Teacher Training Program, and has performed all over the US, as well as Israel and Spain. In 2014, she moved to New Orleans to found a dance program for a local charter school. Now, she is a licensed CPA and runs an education non-profit. She is thrilled to be involved with Mélange and the local arts community. 
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Kevin Real

Kevin Real is very pleased to be joining ​Mélange for their current production. For Fantômes, he brings his thespian training and excitement of performing (along with very little knowledge of dance and a great fear of being kicked in the face). Although growing up along the Red River in Oklahoma, the banks of the Mississippi River has been his home for the past decade. In New Orleans you might find him on stage as an actor in a theatrical production, as a dj spinning rare vinyls, or you could run into him in the streets as part of the Interrobang Parading Krewe. For more information visit Interrobangnola.org.
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Kristina Ganssle

Kristina Ganssle is originally from Baltimore, MD where she started dancing at a young age. Growing up, she studied dance and visual arts and later went on to earn a BFA in Modern dance performance and a minor in photography from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She studied with Curt Haworth, Christine Cox, Roni Koresh, Kim Bears-Bailey, and Jesse Zaritt. Upon graduating, Kristina freelanced and danced with Deep Vision Dance Company and The Collective. These companies focused on choreography building, collaboration, movement analysis, outreach, and performing. She toured the east coast with the piece "Matter Energy Human" and presented her own work in Baltimore. She does photography for local dance companies (including Mélange!) and is currently in school for nuclear medicine technology.
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Lauren Saizan
Lauren Saizan is a writer and dancer originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. At age 6, Lauren began dancing in a vacant elementary school classroom and went on to complete her minor in Ballet at Loyola University New Orleans. She has appeared in ballets such as Paquita, La Bayadère and Swan Lake, as well as original works. Lauren is excited to join the ranks of Mélange for this upcoming season. 
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Michelle Dinh
Michelle Dinh was born in San Jose, California and migrated to the Big Easy in 2009. She is a NOCCA alumni class of 2020. Her passions (besides dance) include glassblowing, aerial arts, fire breathing, pole dancing, and painting. She is currently attending University of New Orleans as a Psychology major. She would like to thank all her friends, family, and loved ones for their support in her first professional company show.
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Nicole Buckels

Originally from New Orleans, Nicole Boyd-Buckels began her dance training at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. She attended UC Los Angeles as a dance major and went on to receive her B.F.A in dance from Tulane University.  Nicole has been a company member with the Rod Rodgers Dance Company, New Orleans Dance Collective, Mudhoney Dance Collective, Tsunami Dance Company and has performed in the White Wave Dance Festival and Battery Park Dance Festival. She has had the privilege to study with Ron Brown, Camille Brown, Milton Myers, Lula Washington, Lula Elzy, Alton Geno, Denise Oustalet and attended the Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive. Nicole has choreographed musicals such as The Rocky Horror Show, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Dog Fight (Delgado Community College) under the direction of the late Timothy Baker.  She also directed actor Charles Holt in Never Fight a Shark in Water, written by Laura Naughton. Nicole is the recipient of two Big Easy Classical Arts Awards in choreography for her pieces Waitin’ on That 5 o’clock Breeze (1997) and High Heels and Grits (2003). She is currently full time faculty member at Lusher Charter School in New Orleans and an adjunct professor at Tulane University.
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Waverly Evans

Waverly Evans is originally from New Orleans where she started dancing at the age of four. She grew up in Peachtree City, GA where she studied ballet, modern, contemporary, tap, jazz, and hip-hop for nine years at Dance Contempra under the direction of Paola Jenkins, Katy Morgan and Kara Gillcrist. She attended the South Carolina Summer Dance Conservatory under the instruction of Susan Anderson. She returned to New Orleans to earn a BA in English Writing from Loyola University New Orleans. She later received her Master’s Certificate in Book Publishing from the University of Denver. She has been a company member of ELLEvate Dance company since 2019, where she has danced on water in Sift and was featured in ELLEvate’s dance film, Wild(her). She has performed in other dance events around the city including, MOVEment for Change and Art Klub’s Inferno. She is excited to be performing in her debut season of Mélange with the premiere of Fantômes.