Amanda topaz, artistic director and aerialist
Amanda started her performance career on the ground with Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and Ornette Coleman at Lincoln Center “?Civiliazation”, and grew into a NYC Aerialist travelling the globe performing at such unlikely events as aerial bungee for the Turkish Pop-Star Tarkan in Baku Azerbaijan on a New Year’s eve. Many patrons seeking to make their events memorable have sought after her unparalleled aerial arts.
Recent creations include Co-Creative director and Choreographer for the film “Fundipendulous” with clothing designer Victoria Bartlett of VPL which featured aerial performance from man-made structures in nature, an aerial Fabric installation for Cedar Lake Dance, working with sculptor Marianne Vitale to create an aerial component to fill vertical space in an installation for Performa, and aerial collaboration with Larry Keigwin Dance Company for “Keigwin Cabaret”. Additionally, corporate work: two years of The Genius Gala at the Liberty Science Center — a cube act to honor Erno Rubik, and a crescent moon number honoring Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Buzz Aldrin – and aerial silks to accompany opera singer Denyce Graves signature aria “Habenera” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. She draws inspiration from learning about the people for whom she creates, and especially the beauty of the ceilings where she hangs.
Amanda holds a BFA from The New School for Social Research Jazz and Contemporary Music Program.
Sonia olla, creator, choreographer, dancer
Born and raised in Barcelona, Sonia Olla earned a degree in Spanish Dance and Flamenco at the esteemed “Instituto de Teatro y Danza of Barcelona”. She then completed her training with the legendary Merce Esmeralda, Manolo Marín, Mariquilla and Antonio Canales. In 1999, Sonia made her professional debut with the illustrious Rafael Amargo, as part of his world-renowned company in the critically acclaimed production “Amargo.” Since then, Sonia has toured as company member and soloist, sharing the stage with flamenco greats such as Antonio Canales, Domingo Ortega, Aída Gómez, Eva la Yerbabuena, Rafaela Carrasco, María Pagés, La Farruca, Alejandro Granados and the famed Nuevo Ballet Español.
In 2011, Sonia premiered “Entretiempo” with celebrated flamenco singer Ismael de la Rosa Fernández at the prestigious Teatro Lara of Madrid, her first production acting as director, choreographer, and principal dancer. Sonia has performed at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Le Poison Rouge, Instituto Cervantes, Birdland, featured regularly at Spain’s most notable tablaos, and recently choreographed the number, "La Isla Bonita" for Madonna's Rebel Heart tour.
Sonia Olla has been featured in The Washington Post as well as numerous Spanish newspapers, including ABC, El Pais, El Periódico de Aragón, El Diario,Qué, La Voz, and Diario de Jerez. Sonia has also made television and radio appearances on Tele 5, the “Victorio Duque Show” (Cadena Cope), the “Eva Cordón Show” (Radio Nacional de España), the “Goyo Gonzalez Show” (Punto Radio), the “Ana Cámara Show” (Onda Cero), the “Asunción Borderas Show” (Cadena Ser), as well as the renowned Internet show “Flamenco TV.”
Mark lonergan, director
Mark Lonergan is the Founding Artistic Director of Parallel Exit, a three-time Drama Desk Award nominee for Unique Theatrical Experience. As a director for the past 20 years, he has overseen numerous plays, musicals, variety shows, and dance productions, including EVERYBODY GETS CAKE, ROOM 17B, CUT TO THE CHASE, and THIS WAY THAT WAY (all at 59E59 Theaters); TIME STEP (The New Victory Theater); EXIT STAGE LEFT (Lincoln Center); I LOVE BOB and POWERHOUSE (Joyce SoHo); and VELOCITY (Guggenheim Museum). Mark’s work has toured throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, at festivals such as the Festival of Dreams in Austria, the COS Festival in Spain, the We Love Dance Festival in Japan, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the United States, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland (Awarded: Spirit of the Fringe). Mark is the Guest Director of the 2015-16 Big Apple Circus production THE GRAND TOUR. He also leads workshops and master classes in acting and physical theatre for a number of colleges throughout the country. You can learn more about Mark and Parallel Exit by visiting www.parallelexit.com.
Pedro ruiz, choreographer:
Pedro Ruiz is a renowned choreographer and dancer who was born and trained in Cuba, as well as in Venezuela. He and his family arrived in the United States in 1984, and he became a U.S. citizen ten years later. He was a principal dancer at Ballet Hispanico for 21 years, where he also choreographed three critically acclaimed ballets for the company. Ruiz has also choreographed works for The Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Chicago’s Luna Negra Dance Theater.
Ruiz has performed at the White House for two presidents. His dances have been called “a silky, sexy joy” by the New York Times, “especially fine work of form and structure” by the New York Post, and “timeless” by Time Out magazine. He was recently featured in the documentary “Coming Home” on channel 13.
For information on Pedro’s future cultural exchange projects in Cuba, go to www.thewindowsproject.org.
Valeria Solomonoff, additional choreography:
Valeria Solomonoff is known for her innovative choreographies. In 1996, she founded, choreographed and danced for the first all-woman tango company, TangoMujer, which performed internationally to rave reviews from 1996 until 2006. Valeria created “Tango Intimo”, a show that was nominated for two ACE Awards for Best Direction and Best Production in 2009, and in 2010 she received the ACE Award for Best Choreography for her show “Tango por Ellos”. She was the choreographer of “Tango Fever” which won her the 2012 HOLA Choreography Award. In Argentina she was twice recipient of Awards as Best Soloist in 1990 and 1997 at Argentine Dance Festivals. She choreographed for the film, “The Caller” featuring Frank Langella and Elliot Gould as well as for the plays “Dona Flor y Sus Dos Maridos”, “Let’s Speak Tango” and “Locos de Contento”. As performer Ms Solomonoff was chosen to dance for the President of Argentina at the Metropolitan Opera House, shared the stage with Placido Domingo and the Washington Opera at DAR Constitution Hall and performed with some of the world’s leading tango dancers. Recognized by The New York Post as one of New York City’s top tango teachers, she is currently an adjunct professor at NYU Tisch, Drama Department. www.valetango.com
matthew baker, additional aerial consulting and coaching
Matt Baker was already a seasoned veteran of concert dance and musical theater when he was first exposed to the circus arts. In 1999 he took over the role of “La Cible” (the Target) in Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam and toured Europe with the show for two years, followed by Central and North America. This included 800 performances for over 1.5 million people. Although he didn’t create the role, he appears as La Cible on the Emmy Award-nominated video release and subsequent DVD of Quidam.
Under the tutlege of fellow Cirque du Soleil alum, Ivo Geourgiev (Drallion), and during a run of “Children Of Eden” at the Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C., he first began training on straps. As Dance Captain and Assistant Choreographer he also found himself to be the only cover for Ivo’s flying in the show. He learned it and actually had to go on a couple of times. After the contract was over he continued training on the straps and fabric, thinking it a “good upper body workout.” This led to him developing and performing an act on the straps, and over the years and in various productions of “Barnum” and “Carnival!”(Kennnedy Center) he has performed on straps, fabric, static and swinging trapeze, hand to hand, and tight wire.
Thierry Dehove, Photographer
Thierry has worked for years to create images that inspire, influence and ignite emotion. Specializing in industry brands and publications photographing luxury real estate, yachts and hotel consortiums. His work around the globe has taught him the beauty of different cultures and the importance of cultural education. He has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Yachts International, Conde Nast Traveler, Opulence Magazine, Carimo Magazine and Art Books, Maco Magazine, Professional Photographers UK, CameraPixo, Experience Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, Discover, Just Luxe NY, NJ Health and Beauty, Windsport Magazine, Kiteboarding Magazine and Layers Magazine.
marc Goodwin, photographer
Marc Goodwin is an architectural photographer with over a decade of experience working in several countries in Europe. He has been commissioned for six different books featuring the work of Rogers, Stirk Habour and Partners, MacCormac Jamieson Prichard, Edward Cullinan Architects, L35 Arquitectes, B01 Arquitectes, a forthcoming book about Event Spaces and a city guide to Barcelona. In addition, his work has been featured in countless publications in the architectural press such as: Archdaily, Wallpaper, Domus, Dezeen, Detail, A+U, ARK, AD, Green Places, Pro Interiors and many more. Marc has written a doctoral thesis on the subject of architectural photography; hence, in addition to his skills as a photographer, Marc adds the ability to write and give talks about his passion for architecture and photography.
david freitag, rigging
Dave Freitag has been working as an artistic rigger and renegade geographer in San Francisco for the past twelve years. When not holding the other end of the circus ropes, Dave can be found pursuing his habit for offbeat adventure. Dave is a union member of IATSE Local 16 in San Francisco, and was recently featured in Vice Magazine for his innovative tree house rigging designs in the redwoods of Northern California. Currently, Dave is looking up, and always stands under his work.
jason marin, lighting design
Jason Marin was born and raised in New York City, and joined the business in 1994. His programming has been seen on Broadway, live and syndicated television, and national tours. He has designed lighting for live events, permanent installations, and theatrical performances, and has handled lighting direction for concerts, festivals, and live broadcasts. He is also an ETCP Certified Entertainment Electrician.
emma wilk, sound and video design
Emma Wilk is a sound designer and technician living in Astoria, Queens. She has designed and associate/assistant designed shows at many theaters in Manhattan and beyond. Recently she has worked on shows at The Public Theater, The Atlantic, Manhattan Theater Club, New York Theatre Workshop, The Women's Project, Playwrights Horizons, and The Vineyard Theater, among others. She is experienced in music composition and audio/video editing. She has loved technical theater since the age of 13, when she played the role of "townsperson" in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and discovered she much preferred to be part of the action backstage and not, under any circumstances, onstage.
She has a BA in Film and History from Vassar College. She quickly realized after graduating that while she loves the study of film, her passion is rooted in the creation and collaboration of live theater.
katie kavett, stage manager
Katie Kavett is a freelance stage manager for theater and events. Recent credits include The Snow Geese (MTC-Broadway), Sky-Pony's The Wildness (Ars Nova), In Bed With Roy Cohn (Theatre Row), Blank! The Musical (New World Stages), and Handle With Care (Westside). Katie has stage managed for most of the major theater festivals in NYC and has worked on the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade for six years. Katie won the 2012 NY Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Stage Manager. www.katiekavett.com