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 Melange’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.
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.
Kendra Unique is a performer and creator originally from the DMV area, where she studied theatre and dance at Shenandoah Conservatory. Now based in New Orleans, she dabbles in just about everything, including acting, singing, dancing, choreographing, and directing, all for both film and stage. Her favorite and most frequent discipline is karaoke. Her recent musical theatre forays include playing Lorraine in Hairspray with Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre and choreographing Grease and Willy Wonka at St. Martin's Episcopal School. Kendra can be found in several independent films such as Alien, Baby! and Pink Elephant which is now available on Amazon! Another of her film projects, The God Inside My Ear, will be playing at over a dozen indie film festivals across the US and Canada in the fall of 2018. Kendra is serving on the selection and planning committees for Infringe Fest New Orleans which helps to bring the most bold DIY theatre to many downriver stages.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Melange!) and is currently in school for nuclear medicine technology.
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.
Aaron grew up in Houston, Tx where he began dancing at the age of four. He studied in Vaganova ballet technique as well as tap, jazz, modern, and theatre through high school. Aaron then obtained a BFA in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College. After a few years in New York he moved back down south to New Orleans. Locally, Aaron is currently a member of Marigny Opera Ballet and has performed with New Orleans Ballet Theatre, Melange Dance Company, Rivertown Theater, and Delta Festival Ballet. He is very excited to perform with Melange in RISE. He hopes you will be inspired by the performance to save and preserve our Mother Earth.
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 Melange 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.
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. She is excited to join Mélange for the premiere of RISE for Mother Earth.
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.
Justice Hues is a multi-disciplinary artist from Natchitoches, LA. Justice began their dance training as a freshman in college at Northwestern State University, where they studied tap, ballet, jazz, and modern dance. Since then they have performed in plays and musicals, such as Young Frankenstein, with various theatres around the country. Justice enjoys hiking, singing, and drawing birds. Their time with Mélange has been a blessing, and they are ecstatic to be a part of the movement that is RISE for Mother Earth.
Photos by Kristina Ganssle