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Monica Ordoñez

Founding Artistic Director

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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

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 1 and 3.5 years.


Adrienne Simmons

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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.


Bayleigh Breanne

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Bayleigh Breanne grew up in Draper, Utah where she began dancing to selections from The Little Mermaid.  As an undergraduate, 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. 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 mentors in New Orleans and Austin. She is currently an MFA candidate in Dance as Social Justice at UT Austin, and is excited to be back in New Orleans for Fantômes!


Cade Garafola

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Cade Garafola, 20, is a performer and writer from New Orleans, LA. In the past, Cade studied Musical Theatre, including tap, jazz, ballet, vocal, and acting training at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, with additional dance training from the Metropolitan Dance Theater of New Orleans. Following his time in New Orleans, he studied Film and Television production at the University of Colorado, where he took on executive creative roles in a number of short films, including "Dependent" and "The Coldest Night of the Year" (2022). Today, he is a student at Tulane University, studying Environmental Studies and Public Health. Recent theatre and dance credits include Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn (JPAS), The View Upstairs (JPAS), 42nd Street (Tulane Summer Lyric), and Newsies! (Tulane Summer Lyric).


Cailyn O'Hara

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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.  


Edward Spots

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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.


Emma Perez

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Emma Perez is a native New Orleanian movement and performance artist, choreographer, and model. Emma grew up performing in ballet & pointe, jazz, tap, and acrobatics. She began training in classical ballet at the New Orleans Ballet Theater under Marjorie Hardwick and Gregory Schramel. Ultimately she began attending the prestigious liberal arts high school NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts) in the dance department and traveled to New York to study with Joffrey Ballet School, Alvin Ailey, and Steps on Broadway pre-professional program. Emma went on to attend SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree for Dance Performance and Composition in May 2023. She has worked with artists such Urban Bush Women, Rosie Herrera Dance Theater, Antonin Rioche, Johannes Wieland, Maya Taylor, Akira Yoshida, Guy Nader, and more. Emma has also trained in Berlin for short periods of time studying movement research as a freelance artist and exploring the art that is currently being curated there.


Gianni Reid

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Gianni Reid is originally from Kenner, Louisiana. Gianni started dancing at the age of three, studying tap, ballet, jazz and lyrical dance. Gianni went on to study ballet and modern at the University of Southern Mississippi where she performed and choreographed with the USM Repertory Dance Company. Gianni founded Rhythm of Change which uses the power of the arts to inspire and uplift individuals, while providing a positive initiative to promote social change. Gianni is the Associate Director of Audacity Dance Collective and in 2014, Gianni received a scholarship to attend Urban Bush Women’s Summer Leadership Intensive. Gianni teaches Dance Enrichment at Belle Chasse Academy


Elyssa Fonicello

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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. 


Hannah Alexis

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Hannah Alexis is a performing artist from New Orleans, Louisiana. She attended New Orleans Center For Creative Arts and Interlochen Arts Academy majoring in Musical Theatre and is a freshman currently majoring in Psychology and Theatre, Dance, and Media (TDM) at Harvard University. She has been featured in musicals like Pippin (Leading Player), Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey II), Jekyll & Hyde (Emma Carew), Jesus Christ Superstar (Soul Girl/Dance Captain) and various other shows. Alexis was an apprentice for local contemporary dance company ELLEvate Dance and has been featured in the dance film Wild (Her) and live project Darker, Brighter with them. Alexis was also a part of Lauren Ashlee Messina’s piece Louisiana Flood Stories: 1927, which premiered at the Contemporary Arts Center in July of 2022. Alexis received dance training from New Orleans Dance Academy and continued her training at New Orleans School of Ballet. She has attended various intensives such as Dance Theatre of Harlem’s 4-week summer intensive, Broadway Theatre Connection, and Actor Therapy, where she worked with Ryan Scott Oliver (35mm), Lindsay Mendez (Dogfight, Merrily We Roll Along B’way), L Morgan Lee (A Strange Loop B’way), and additional professionals in the theatre industry. Additional artistic endeavors include serving as the dramaturg for Jubilee Theatre’s production of How I Got Over, a choreographer for Douglas Peck’s Cosmos of Love, and director and writer of the self-curated 10-minute play miseducation…or how to pack your school bag when the bag ain’t big enuf, a surrealist  play about navigating academic institutions as a Black student that premiered in a workshop this fall. She continues to use her art as activism, a form of community building, storytelling, and a daily practice in empathy. 


Jakki Kalogridis 

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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.

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Jason Derek North

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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 Canova

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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.

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Jo Farley

Jo grew up dancing in New Orleans and is thrilled to get to dance with Mélange 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

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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 


Julia Lemann

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Julia Lemann is a dancer and jewelry artist born and raised in New Orleans. She first fell in love with movement as a competitive gymnast, and has gone on to explore ballet, modern, jazz, musical theater, contemporary, commercial hip hop, capoeira, partner acrobatics, stilt walking, and street styles such as breakin’, waaking, and house. She was a Choreographer and Creative Director for Fusion Dance Troupe at Boston University, and has been a youth instructor locally for the Country Day Creative Arts Program, Artivism, Dancing Grounds, and the International School of Louisiana’s Circus Arts Program. She is fascinated by the development and presentation of different movement styles based on cultural, social, and historical contexts, and is passionate about fostering accessible and empowering learning environments for the arts. 

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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


Kristina Ganssle

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Kristina Ganssle is originally from Baltimore, MD and has lived in NOLA since 2017. She studied dance and photography at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia where she was grateful to train 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 in Baltimore, where she worked collaboratively with dancers, musicians, and other artists to perform, participate in arts based community outreach projects, choreograph, and help organize/dance in art and movement festivals. She does photography for local dance artists (including Mélange!) and works at the Children’s Hospital as a nuclear medicine technologist. 


Lauren Saizan

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Lauren Saizan is a dancer originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. She has appeared in several Mélange performances including RISE, Fantômes, selections of HerStory, and The Up Stairs Lounge.

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Nicole Boyd 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 The Willow School in New Orleans and an adjunct professor at Tulane University.


Sophia Rose

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Sophia Rose is a visual artist and dancer originally from Montclair, NJ. Sophia’s artistry reflects her background in dance and music, as well as her studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned her BFA. Her work has been exhibited in cities such as New York, Richmond, Montclair, Baltimore, and New Orleans. She’s excited and honored to be a part of Mélange Dance Company.

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Waverly Evans

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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. 

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