Rena Butler, Co-Director + Choreographer
Rena Butler is a dance/choreographic artist from Chicago. She trained at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, studied overseas at Taipei National University of the Arts, and received her BFA from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. Companies she has danced for include Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Manuel Vignoulle/M-Motions, The Kevin Wynn Collection, and David Dorfman Dance. In 2013, Rena was featured as an Artist 'On The Rise' by Dance Magazine. Her choreographic work includes BalletX, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Boston Dance Theater, The New Orleans Museum of Modern Art, CHTV Stories in Switzerland, a dance film for Third Coast Percussion in collaboration with Dev Hynes/Blood Orange, The Ailey/Fordham School, SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, and more. Butler served on the consortium for Chicago Dancemakers Forum, and co-directed DanceLab — a free, choreographic course for local Chicago teens, where the students of varying socioeconomic backgrounds were able to find commonality in creation. In 2019, Butler was the recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace Award for Choreography. Butler recently joined Gibney Company as an Artistic Associate in New York City, and is continually shaping her choreographic voice by creating for various dance companies across the United States.
Talia Koylass, Co-Director + Filmmaker
Talia Koylass is a DC-based director and producer. She’s the founder of Motion/Pictures Dance Project, a production company dedicated to the creation of dance-based content, and has shown films at festivals around the country as well as been awarded commissions, residencies, and grants for her work. Talia has worked with companies such as Cineflix Productions, Food Network, Big Beach, New City, Vam Studio, Full Spectrum Features and other Chicago and New York based production companies on short films, feature films, television series and music videos. Talia spent the summer of 2019 working as the Operations Manager for the 47th Annual Dance on Camera Festival with the Dance Films Association and Film at Lincoln Center and began pursuing her MFA in Film at Howard University this Fall. Talia received her BFA from The Ailey School/Fordham University in 2013.
Darryl J. Hoffman, Film Composer
Darryl J. Hoffman is a Bronx, NY native composer, currently based in Chicago. With his life long love for music, he developed a curiosity for sound and began creating at the age of 13. His resume of compositions include works on Kansas City Ballet for choreographer Stephanie Martinez, in collaboration with cellist, Desiree Miller (2016); Danceworks Chicago with choreography by Owen Scarlet (2016); Visceral Dance Chicago's "Synapse", choreographed by Nick Pupillo (2017); Minnesota Dance Theatre, for choreographer Darwin Black (2017); three Philadanco works choreographed by Anthony Burrell & Christopher Huggins (2018-2019); works for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago & Ballet X, choreographed by Rena Butler (2018-Present); and compositions for Ebony Williams’ pieces entitled “Title lX” (2018) & “Victoria” (2019). In 2020, he served as Musical director for Regional Dance America’s National Choreography Summer Intensive.
Shawnee Dez, Vocalist
Shawnee Dez is a singer/songwriter and community builder, hailing from Chicago’s South Side. Having performed on various stages from Lincoln Hall, to Lollapalooza, Shawnee intently engages her audience by way of a dynamic multi-ranged alto melodic sound. When off the stage, she activates spaces for creative youth to express unapologetically. Shawnee earned her BFA in Cultural Studies from Columbia College Chicago, concentrating in Urban Studies and Black World Studies. Currently she works with a number of Chicago based organizations such as: Young Chicago Authors as a featured artist, LTAB judge, and guest host; After School Matters with West Town Bikes as a after school bike instructor, and Fifth Dimension Collective Studio, where she organizes and hosts a well-respected open mic.
Alencia Norris, Vocalist
Alencia Norris is an emerging singer/songwriter from Chicago with a passion for music of all genres. Alencia honed and developed her musical talents at Bradley University where she was allotted many opportunities, including singing backup for Barry Manilow and touring overseas in Denmark and Norway. Alencia's music is an amalgamation of colors and timbres from R&B, jazz, classical and neo-soul. Her love for writing poetry drives the lyrical intensity of her songs. Alencia's music tackles complex topics from societal division to unrequited love. Her song "Black Butterfly," about the challenges faced by black people in America was sung and toured by Chicago Children's Choir. She is influenced by artists such as india.arie, and Corrine Bailey Rae.