Mary F. Alford has studied dance for 35+ years. She has performed with the Knoxville Opera Company, City Dancers, Momentum Dance Lab, Optasia Productions, Studio Arts for Dancers, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Appalachian Ballet Company and Circle Modern Dance. She continues to work at her day job as Dr. Mary, serve on the Artistic Committee and as a Core member for Circle, and live with her large white puppy and her small black angel puppies on 5 acres of rampant vegetation in Blount County.
Nate Barrett has been involved with Circle Modern Dance since 1996. Starting as an accompanist to classes and performances, Nathan has evolved over the last decade to now be a dancer, choreographer, and performance director. He directed and co-directed Modern Dance Primitive Light in 2008 and 2009 as well as conceptualized, directed, and performed in Authintensity, a salon-style show featuring improvisational movement and spoken word.
Nathan is also well known around Knoxville as an accomplished drummer and percussionist, having performed and recorded with many local acts such as Greg Horne, Jodie Manross, Artvandalay, Same As It Ever Was, The Bearded, and many others. He currently can be seen performing with Hudson K. Nathan is a founding member of Capoeira Fundo da Mata, Knoxville’s first organized group for the Brazilian art of capoeira. Nathan also serves on the faculty for Knoxville’s Community School of the Arts as a percussion teacher.
Amelia Breed has been choreographing and performing dance professionally for five years. In addition to the Knoxville dance scene, her work has been performed in Asheville, NC; Charleston, SC; Chattanooga, TN and Lewisburg, WV. Amelia has been a core member of Momentum Dance Lab and Circle Modern Dance, directing shows, choreographing, and teaching for both companies. She was the modern dance choreographer for the University of Tennessee Dance Society Showcase in 2013. She acted as administrator bringing two CounterTechnique workshops with Joy Davis to the Knoxville area in 2013 and coordinated the first Global Underscore site for Knoxville in 2014 with Lauren Phillis. Amelia feels grateful to have studied with various artists including Art Bridgeman and Myrna Packer, Chris Burnside, Joy Davis, Cindy Dollar, Vicki Fink, Angie Hauser and Chris Aiken, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Tere O’Connor, Stephen Koplowitz, Leah Pinder, Shelley Senters, Nancy Stark Smith, Ray Elliott Swartz, Amanda Thom-Woodson, and Doug Varone and Dancers. She teaches modern technique, improvisation, contact improvisation, and various forms of yoga to adults in the Knoxville area.
Ashley Corey moved to Knoxville, TN from Illinois in 2007 and has been loving life in the South ever since. She joined Circle from the world of color guard. Since age 11, Ashley has been performing with indoor and outdoor color guard groups in Illinois, Tennessee, and South Carolina. She has taught at various high schools in both Knoxville and her hometown of Peoria, IL. Ashley became a member of the Circle family in 2013 through Primitive Light and became a core member in 2014. She loves dancing, teaching, choreographing, and learning all she can. Ashley currently teaches Economics and Personal Finance at West High School where she also works with their marching band.
Morgan Fleming received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Choreography and Performance from Ohio University. She has performed works by choreographers including: Sean Curran, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, Donald MacKayle, Kraig “bopi” Patterson, and Mark Morris. Her own choreography has been performed in New York, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. She credits her early training with Karen Gibbons-Brown, Mountain Movers Modern Dance, and many summers at the American Dance Festival for fostering her love of dance. When not working as the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s Data Coordinator, she is a Core member of Circle Modern dance and serves as the President of the board of directors for the Tennessee Association of Dance.
Callie Minnich received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance and Choreography from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is originally from Knoxville, dancing from elementary through high school in the Knox County Magnet programs. She performed with the Austin East Dance Company in high school and performed in and produced shows for the Repertory Dance Company at USM. Callie loves working with Circle and is excited to keep exploring dance with them.
Darby O’Connor is originally from Knoxville, TN, and began her dance training at a young age at Studio Arts for Dancers. During her time at Studio Arts, she attended numerous master classes with Helen Starr, former director of the Louisville Ballet, and David and Anna Marie Holmes. Darby now teaches Modern Dance classes at Studio Arts. She completed her third year on faculty in 2015. Darby is a founding member of GO! Contemporary Dance Works and continues to work with the company as a guest artist. During her time with GO!, Darby performed with Circle Modern Dance in their annual production, Modern Dance Primitive Light.
Currently Darby is back in Knoxville after completing undergraduate education in dance from both the University of Alabama and Middle Tennessee State University. While studying with the MTSU dance program, Darby had the opportunity to work with Laurie Merriman and Teena Marie Custer as a student and performer. She has also attended master classes from Stephanie Batten Bland, E.E. Balcos, T. Lang and Alberto del Saz. She was an active member of MTSU Dance Theatre for three semesters and attended the American College Dance Festival in 2010 and 2011. Darby was privileged to represent MTSU in the ACDFA informal concert, performing Laurie Merriman’s work Family Portrait. Also while at MTSU, she studied under Erin Rehberg, artistic director of Core Project Chicago. Darby joined Core Project in January of 2011 and is still an apprentice with this professional dance company. In the summer of 2011, Darby toured with Core Project Chicago at Kansas City, Minneapolis, Boulder and Chicago Fringe Festivals. Darby became a Core member of Circle Modern Dance in March 2013.
Lauren Wilson Phillis studied dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she earned a B.S. in Dance Education. She completed internships in dance education at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival as well as Bates Dance Festival, where she spent four summers as a student in the Professional Training Program. Before relocating to Knoxville, Lauren taught dance full-time at Chatham Hall in Chatham, Virginia and Mt. Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, NC. Lauren now teaches dance at Beaumont Magnet Academy in Knoxville and regularly choreographs and performs with Circle Modern Dance and Momentum Dance Lab. She became a Core Member of Circle Modern Dance in 2014.
Julie Rauen began studying dance at age 8 at Dancers Studio in Knoxville. At Knoxville Catholic High School she was a cheerleader and member of the dance team. Julie continued her dance studies at the University of Tennessee where she earned her bachelor’s in Psychology. She started taking classes with Circle Modern in 2011, and has been a core member since 2013.
Sarah Whitaker has been studying and performing dance for twenty years. She has a BA in Dance and a BBA in Business Management from Radford University. Before leaving for college, Sarah danced with Pointe West Dance Company. She has studied and performed with Pro Danza Italia in Castigleonccello, Tuscany, Italy. When she’s not dancing she enjoys reading, painting, and cooking. Sarah is currently working on earning her M.B.A.
Sharon Soper White has been a dancer and teacher for most of her life. She studied, jazz, modern, tap and was trained under Cecchetti ballet method in Michigan. She performed nationally in the Be More You traveling show and danced in numerous theatre projects. Sharon later moved to Maryland where she continued teaching and was a principal dancer for the modern dance company, Kinetics. After moving to Tennessee, she continued to teach dance but then took a 10-year break to raise her children. Sharon has been a core member and teacher with Circle Modern Dance since 2012. Sharon is also co-owner of WhisperRoom, Inc., which manufactures and sells sound isolation enclosures worldwide since 1990.