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 Erck. 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.
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. In 2014, Alexa co-founded Mélange with Monica Ordoñez. Alexa is an epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and mom to two sweet boys aged 8 months and 3 years.
Aaron Wiggins was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Growing up, he trained in Vaganova ballet technique, tap, jazz, and musical theatre from the age of 4. He went on to attend summer programs from American Ballet Theatre, the School of American Ballet, Joffrey Ballet School and Houston Ballet. Aaron then graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a B.F.A. in Dance. He is currently a member of New Orleans Ballet Theatre.
Aaron is so excited to join Melange once again for The UpStairs Lounge! He hopes you enjoy the sense of community and respect this production brings. And that the performances will inspire audiences to continue spreading acceptance and love for all, in the face of adversity and hate.
Adrienne Simmons is a dancer, singer, and actor, who began their formal ballet training at the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre. Adrienne has trained on scholarship at intensives nationwide including DanceWorks Chicago, University of the Arts, Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway, Peridance Center, Brenau University, Dallas Ballet Company, The Washington Ballet, and Nashville Ballet. She is pursuing bachelor's degrees in business management and theatre at the University of New Orleans. Recent credits include Closer to Heaven (Shell), Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Sagot), and Is God Is (stage manager). Adrienne focuses on work with inclusive representation for diverse audiences in hopes of widening perspectives. IG: @adriennecsimmons
Bayleigh Breanne grew up in Draper, Utah where she began dancing to selections from The Little Mermaid. 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. Bayleigh recently finished her third year teaching 5th Grade Social Studies at KIPP Leadership Academy, where she also helped coach the Dance Team and assisted with the production of The Lion King, Jr. In addition to Mélange Dance Company, Bayleigh has danced with ELLevate Dance Company and Artivism Dance Theatre here in New Orleans. She has also performed in the works of Arouna Guindo and Jakki Kalogridis and trains in Waacking and Krump with local mentors. Bayleigh is passionate about making change through dance.
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.
Clinton received his dance training from LSU and the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre in modern, ballet, and jazz. He danced with Mélange from 2015-2019 and performed in Once Upon a Dream, Herstory, Journey of Dreamers, La Résistance, and Love Letters. After a brief break, Clinton is honored to return to perform with the company as a lead dancer of “The Upstairs Lounge” show.
David Martinez is a first generation Colombian American living in New Orleans.
They’re a full time artist, producer & designer creating works of art under the stage name Eddie Lockwood.
They’re a local burlesque star and an aspiring designer. Find out where to see them next by checking out their production company at Prettieboi.com
New Orleans native Mr. Spots, began his dance training with Baderinwa Rolland “Mama” at the very first New Orleans Charter Middle School in New Orleans. After taking his first ballet class under Diane Carney and Harvey Hysell, he began his formal ballet training at the Schrammel Conservatory of Dance. He then attended the Walnut Hill School for the Fine Arts as a Ballet Major on a full scholarship in Boston MA, graduating in 2009. Mr. Spots also trained at Joffrey Midwest in Michigan, The Joffrey Ballet School in NYC and The Washington School for Ballet in DC. In 2010 he entered The Ailey School as a scholarship student in NYC. Then he was giving the apprenticeship for the Ailey II company. His professional touring career began with Ailey II, where he performed and taught internationally in more than 8 countries and toured domestically. He has danced with Urban Ballet Theatre, New Orleans Ballet Theatre, Civic Scranton Ballet, Delaware Dance Company, and Marigny Opera Ballet. He has worked with many choreographers including Daniel Catanach, Camille A. Brown, George Faison, Jennifer Archibald, Francesca Harper, Troy Powell, Judith Jamison, Earl Mosley, Thang Dao, , Jennifer Muller, Sonia Dawkins, Willy Laury, Benoit-Swan, and Robert Battle. He has been seen on FOX's hit tv show So You Think You Can Dance, and Bulgaria’s Dancing with The Stars. Mr. Spots has modeled for Dance Magazine, Essence Magazine, and the New York Times, and appears in the recent Omni bus film; “American Rhapsody" directed by Garret Bradley. He was recently featured in an International Walmart commercial directed by Seth Rogan and choreographed by Tricia Miranda, which aired during the 2017 Academy Awards.
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.
Jakki is an artist, dancer, choreographer, costume designer, and writer. She holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Recent collaborations include TANGENT SPACES, a multi-media trilogy featuring sound by Kerrith Livengood; Fast-Paced World with sound and projections by Mendel Lee; The Negative Space Project, a movement/sonic installation with sound design by Kerrith Livengood; Untitled (Ode to a New Atlantis) with music by Miles Hancock, projection art by John Boesche, and choreographed lighting design by Elliot Hubiak; Emergence, with music by Miles Hancock and featuring live band Loose Willis; Elements, a short film with choral director Kristen Hedegaard; and The Library, with sound design by Clare Marie Nemanich. Kalogridis was a recipient of the Moe Family Dance Award in 2022. She has been a Featured
Designer at New Orleans Fashion Week and was awarded New Orleans Fashion Designer of the Year in a Raw Showcase in 2014. From 2001-2019, she taught numerous colorguard and band programs across NC, LA, and MS and was founder and Program Director for New Orleans Colorguard Arts, The Proposition, and Fortitude Independent.
Jason Derek North
Jason Derek North is a multifaceted multidisciplinary contemporary artist. Jason was birthed onto this Earth in Fairfax VA, and glided up to New York to begin his collegiate studies at Pratt Institute(‘05) where he garnered a BFA in Photography. After spending over a decade in NYC gathering a plethora of skills, he discovered the intoxicating, anything is possible, energy of New Orleans and settled into following his dream of producing events and creating immersive indelible experiences for audiences. Photography, theater, installation art, set design, fashion design, performance art, dance, art direction are a handful of the mediums North pulls from to create his visions of a better, beautiful world for all beings on this planet. The Upstairs Lounge will be North’s first professional dance company debut.
Jay is a New Orleans native and a Northwestern State University graduate with a BS in Theatre. While the study of acting and directing was his focus, he was always excited by movement. After studying different dance styles with varying results, he landed a role in NSU’s Modern in Motion. Since graduating in 2017, Jay has performed in productions around the city, including The Polar Express, as well as the Tennessee Williams Theatre Company’s The Mutilated and Suddenly Last Summer. He is honored by both the opportunity and challenge of being cast alongside the wonderful dancers within Mélange. As a former professor of his said, “the point of performing is to move others to move others.” It is his hope that through art and community we all push for a brighter, more empathetic future.
Jo grew up dancing in New Orleans and is thrilled to get to dance with Melange this season. She is grateful to Diane Carney, Ballet Hysell and all the teachers and dancers at the New Orleans Dance Academy, NOCCA and NORD for offering technical foundations alongside a love for dance, whether it be on the stage, in the street or down the grocery store aisle. She also has the great joy to dance as part of the Missalettes/Mxalettes fantasy dance team.
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. Find him on Instagram: @joelhochman
Justice Hues is a multidisciplinary artist with a passion for telling the stories of people in the margins. They studied Musical Theatre at Northwestern State University in their hometown of Natchitoches, LA. Eventually moving to New Orleans in 2021 to widen the scope of their artistic opportunities. You may have seen Justice locally as Charlie Price in Kinky Boots (Rivertown), Hannah Jelkes in Night of the Iguana (TWTC), and Siobhan in Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Le Petit). They will be returning to the Upstairs Lounge in September as Dale in JPAS’ production of The View Upstairs. Justice is humbled and honored to be a young Trans-person able to openly tell trans/queer stories without shame.
Dedicated to Regina Adams.
UNITED WE STAND.