CREATIVE TEAM for "Strings Attached"
Artistic Director, Executive Producer & Director - Madeline Leavitt
Madeline Leavitt is an eclectic stage director, choreographer, and producer. Her work expands the boundaries of dance and musical theatre by combining different forms of movement with the use of multimedia. Previous productions include Eating Rocks for Hunger (2009) at Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica, as well as Holding Up the Sky (2003) and The Bride and the Brothel (2001), both at Gascon Center Theatre in Culver City. She was also the director, choreographer, and producer for Santa Monica Alternative School House Theater Arts Program for nine years, where she mounted fifteen productions. Leavitt was the co-director and choreographer for Ishvani Dance Company, which performed classical dances of Southern India (Bharata Natyam) combined with theatre pieces. For her work with Ishvani Dance Company, Leavitt was chosen by the California Arts Council as an artist-in-residence.
Leavitt was also the artistic director for The Mother Wrappers, a women’s theatre company that combined comic and Felliniesque sensibilities to the portrayal of women's issues. She was also the director, choreographer, and producer for the premier avant-garde theatre group Angels of Light Theatre Company. The San Francisco Bay Area Critics Drama Circle nominated Leavitt for “Best Principle Performer” in the production of Holy Cow. Leavitt’s influences include Judith Jamison from Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Martha Graham, Rudolf Nureyev, Pina Bausch, Federico Fellini, Satyajit Ray, Hanne Tierney, James Thierrée and Victoria Thierrée Chaplin.
“Strings Attached is most directly influenced by Tierney’s oeuvre,” says Leavitt on the impact of the East German-born artist and storyteller Hanne Tierney on the new work. “Hanne creates theatre without the realism of human subjects. She has a wonderful way of using abstract objects in her performances to communicate drama, gesture, and symbolism.”
Production Designer - Evan A. Bartoletti
Designer Evan A. Bartoletti’s award-winning scenic designs are created for the stage, screen, opera, and dance events. He offers up a unique visual style that enhances visual storytelling and enriches the audience’s imaginings. His background in fine art, as well as experience as a founding member and production designer for theatre fofo, established his impressive skill set based in creative concepts and collaboration. Whether giving creative expression to the pageantry of a beloved musical, or a world premiere drama, or an intimate solo performance, his innovative work contributes to stronger movement, performance, and spectacle. Past Bartoletti projects range from world premieres of Dinner at Home Between Deaths (Odyssey Theatre) and The Engine of Our Ruin (Victory Theatre) to the West Coast premiere of Enter Laughing at the Wallis Annenberg Center. He also contributed to sensational productions of musicals Dreamgirls and Chicago at North Shore Music Theatre in Boston. As a guest designer, he worked on productions of Amadeus, South Pacific, Les Misérables, and Rent for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl. Bartoletti previously worked with Leavitt and Voices Carry on the original musical The Bride and the Brothel (Gascon Center Theatre) as well as on the dance project Eating Rocks for Hunger (Miles Memorial Playhouse). He is thrilled to be working with Leavitt again on Strings Attached, welcoming the opportunity to explore the human condition through artistic collaboration. Bartoletti has received design awards from LA Weekly, Drama-Logue, Backstage West, and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle. He has a BFA in Fine Art from UCLA. He and partner Lisa D. Lechuga comprise Lechetti Design.
Puppeteer Choreographer & Assistant Producer - Lisa D. Lechuga
As a young art student, inspired by the love of being creative, Lisa Lechuga immersed herself in the world of visual and performing arts. She studied fine arts at California State University, Long Beach and received her MFA in Theatrical Scenic Design from UCLA. Over the last 20 years, her work has led to successful productions such as Treasures of The Walt Disney Archives with The Walt Disney Co., five seasons with The Hollywood Bowl summer musicals, and productions at UCLA. She has volunteered for over 10 years with Virginia Avenue Project, a youth at-risk theatrical program as a mentor and prop maker, and as a guest designer and instructor for The Global Theater Theatre Project and Creative Corps. Lechuga is thrilled to be collaborating again with Madeline Leavitt and Voices Carry, Inc. on Strings Attached, bringing the unique production to life. Through the gifted tutelage of artist Hanne Tierny, Lechuga and production designer Evan A. Bartoletti, have been able to incorporate the sensitivity of Tierny’s core concepts into the creation and choreography of the production. The one-of-a kind puppets developed for the production embody an enhanced representation of emotion that is both abstract and delightful. Lechuga is deeply grateful to be working again with design partner Bartoletti & Lechetti Design, whose constant insight and talent is an inspiration every day. They have previously designed other puppet and mask making creations for P.S Production in Las Vegas, giant puppets with company theatre fofo”, and Deaf West Theater Theatre. Her love for the arts has taken her down a path of constant discovery, joy, and learning. In her spare time, she dances Hula and continues her fine art as a ceramicist.
Composer - Ariel Blumenthal
Ariel Blumenthal is a composer and music producer who is committed to creativity and innovation across all musical experiences. Winner of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra composition competition, Ariel has written for the San Diego Master Choral, the Israeli Philharmonic, the Taiwan National Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony and soloists Avishai Cohen, Tomer Yariv, Gilad Dobrecky, Avi Avital and Ittai Shapira. As a partner in broadcast music house Creative Music Assets, Ariel has worked with Fox International Channels, Tokyo Broadcast System, National Geographic Channels, Keshet International and other producers and broadcasters in the international market. He has written for films in the US and Israel, and had placements in “The Heat” (20th Century Fox), “American Idol” (Fox) and “The Other Guys” (Sony). Blumenthal has created a permanent 3D, immersive music installation for the Plaza Hotel in NY, featuring over three hours of original big band, orchestral and electronic soundtrack played back via an advanced multi-channel sound system distributed throughout the building. In an artistic settings, he had created a similar 3D environment part of Ptero Dance’s Los Angeles production H2~Eau, featuring H2Awe for electronic track and the water piano, made of 24-wine and champagne glasses. Ariel Blumenthal is affiliated with the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and is a BMI and ACUM composer. More info: www.SentientMFM.com and www.CreativeMusicAssets.com
Choreographer - Christopher Bordenave
Christopher Bordenave was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Upon graduating from high school, Christopher went on to study at the Ailey School and the LINES Ballet School acquiring his BFA in Dance. Christopher has performed the works of Nacho Duato, Stijn Celis, Alonzo King, Idan Sharabi, and Gustavo Ramirez Sansano with numerous companies throughout the States and abroad. In 2014, Christopher co-founded No)one. Art House, an organization that promotes and produces quality interdisciplinary arts throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Additionally, Christopher acts as repetiteur for the works of Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, and is a freelance choreographer in the LA area.
Lighting Designer - Matthew Johns
Matthew Johns is a lighting and media designer based in Los Angeles. He has designed the west coast premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s The Lake Effect (TheaterWorks) and the world premieres of Lauren Yee’s In A Word (SF Playhouse), Stacie Chaiken’s The Dig (LATC), and Chad Eschman’s The Memory Tax (off-broadway). In 2014 he designed the immersive video installation for the premiere of Balbinka Korzienowska’s film Awaken , and is currently the production designer of the short film NEVER STOP, with frequent collaborator Chad Eschman. Matt is the resident lighting designer at the REDCAT in downtown LA, and received his MFA from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television. You can find more info, news, and his work at mattjohns.com.
Costume Designer - Stephanie Petagno
As a sculptor and costume designer, Stephanie’s work engages objects, illustration, intuition, humor, and catastrophes of the heart to materialize personality and emotion into a narrative. Incessantly inspired by the task of endurance where humankind struggles to survive, Stephanie’s response to identity challenges what and how we endure modernity in any era, and how that creates a visual landscape. Using familiar artifacts of modernity, such as clothing, her work thrives simultaneously as a universally tremendous event and an internally microcosmic moment. Through process and play, Stephanie enjoys devising cultures, which often resolve themselves in immersive, site-specific, and surrealistic worlds. She believes that these landscapes are where her displaced expressions unapologetically emerge as refined and deeply relatable personal experiences. Stephanie is a costume designer for film, theatre, spectacle, and immersive entertainment. Her recent collaborations as costume designer include Early Morning Opera’s The Institute of Memory at REDCAT; Circle Jerk, which was an official selection of REDCAT’s NOW festival; The Fasting Girls, a new work explored in Bunraku puppetry at Automata, and the film, The Last Shift, which focuses on a group of young, female nurses during the 1979 revolution in Tehran. Stephanie has also recently had the pleasure of collaborating with the internationally recognized Moving Art Collective on Thirteen’s Spring and Metamorphosis as costume designer. Currently, Petagno’s work can be seen in the Ovation Award-winning experience, The Day Shall Declare It, which is enjoying its 2016 encore. By day, Stephanie designs and develops character costumes for themed and immersive worlds, which include collaborations with Dreamworks, Universal Studios, Fox, Disney, Focus Features, and the LA Clippers. She received her MFA in costume design from the California Institute of the Arts. More info: stephaniepetagno.com
Jungi Dezaki - Jungi Dezaki is a native of Japan. He started his dance training 9 years ago. His early training lies in the martial arts. He has black belt in Wado, for which he competed in the All Japan Contest in 2000. He picked by Monsters of Hip-Hop as the first male Japanese dancer, for which he received a scholarship for 2007. He began taking ballet classes shortly after and performing with Ken Dance Company, Kybele Dance theater, No)one arts house,KIN dance company and City Ballet of Los Angeles. In his dancing style, he mixes martial art, hip-hop and ballet.
Raymond Ejiofor - Raymond Ejiofor holds a Masters of Public Health Policy from University of Southern California and is a recipient of the prestigious Gates Millennium Fellowship. Raymond graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a B.S. in Decision Science and double minor in Engineering Studies and Technology and Policy. Raymond began his training under Judith Rhodes Calgaro in Arlington, VA. While balancing academics and artistry Raymond has worked with various choreographers including Daniel Ezralow, Aszure Barton, Lula Washington, Sidra Bell, Camille A. Brown, Kyle Abraham, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Cindera Che, Nina McNeely, Bryan Arias Christopher Huggins, and Robert Battle. Some of his performance credits include Audi | Shanghai, Toshiba International Industrial, Samsung, Apple, Beijing Dance Festival, Springboard Danse Montreal, SummerStage NYC, Jazz Dance World Congress and Pittsburgh Opera. Ejiofor has danced for artists such as Pharrell Williams, Little Boots, Gerard Way, The Acid, Moullinex, Fitz and the Tantrums and Daft Punk. This past summer Ejiofor joined the company of dance theater production PEARL which premiered at Lincoln Center | David H. Koch Theater. Under the direction of Greed Reed, Ejiofor was a founding member of August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble (AWCDE), which was named "25 to Watch" in 2012 by Dance Magazine. Ejiofor currently collaborates with various companies such as Lula Washington Dance Theater, L.A. Contemporary Dance Company, Kevin Williamson Dance, Pony Box Dance Theater, MOVEMENTmovement, and Oui Danse. As a teaching artist, he has been a faculty member/master class instructor of number of studios and universities in Los Angeles and the Greater Pittsburgh region such as University of Southern California, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, Laura Lynn's School of Dance, Hill Dance Academy Theater (HDAT), Camino Nuevo Charter Schools, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Morgantown Dance, Abby Lee Dance Company, Candy Apples Dance Studio and the Sweat Spot. A dynamic supporter of the arts Ejiofor serves on the Board of Directors for HDAT in Pittsburgh, PA.
Annalen Traylor - Annalee Traylor, from Huntsville, AL, attended the Alabama School of Fine Arts and later graduated high school from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a concentration in contemporary dance. After receiving her BFA with honors from Point Park University, Annalee became a founding member of the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, who were named “Top 25 to Watch” in 2012 by Dance Magazine. She has had the honor to work with artists such as but not limited to Robert Battle, Christopher Huggins, Kyle Abraham, Camille A. Brown, Kevin Iega Jeff, Sidra Bell, Earl Mosley, Kevin Wynn, and Darrell Grand Moultrie and to perform at venues such as SummerStages Central Park/Mainstage, Jazz Dance World Congress and Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out. Since relocating to LA in 2014, Annalee signed with Go2 Talent Agency and has had the opportunity to perform with LA Rock Opera, Clairobscur Dance Company, BrockusRED, Pennington Dance Group, and C. Eule Dance. Annalee is grateful to be surrounded by the incredibly inspiring artists’ that make up “Strings Attached” and wants to thank them for making the process such a special one!
Valerie Braaten - Valerie Braaten grew up training in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio. She moved to Los Angeles to study dance in the World Arts and Cultures department at UCLA. While in school, she had the privilege to work with choreographers such as Tarua Hall, Ana-Maria Alvarez, Darian O’Reilly and Bernard Brown. In addition, Valerie spent six months studying gaga language at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in Israel. Valerie graduated with her B.A. in June of 2016 and is excited for the opportunity to perform with No)one. Art House.
Drew McCourt - He chops , he dices , he slices , he's 11 herbs and spices . Hailing from the land down under , Drew piloted a giant Kookaburra one sunny afternoon and ended up in the city of Angels . With a hip hip hooray , he decided to stay and build theatres , play puppets and all manner of things. With a perpetual sense of adventure , Drew has indulged his passion for the performing arts by singing in various bands ,providing voice over talent to various live and on line promotional agencies ,dancing & touring with popular Australian children's entertainers , The Wiggles and as a principle puppeteer , stilt walker, aerialist and creative consultant with ERTH Visual & Physical inc . , creators of the 2 life sized Dinosaur puppets for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County on which project , Drew was lead puppeteer and program coordinator in its initial inception . Since settling in Los Angeles, Drew has lent his skills as puppeteer and performance coach to Marlborough School's production of the 'B.F.G ' , as a dancer ,singer, puppeteer , set builder and physical performer to The Purple Electric Play for Machine Project and has recently entered the world of flow arts under the instruction of Fire Groove . Drew is proudly brought to you by the letter 7 and the number Yes Please !!
Lisa McNeely - Lisa McNeely is a working performance artist, musician, and craft artist based in Los Angeles. Lisa grew up in Denver, CO where she studied dance, vocal performance, sculpting, life casting and theater. She recently moved from rural Northern California on a quest to continue writing, producing and performing her own music, as well as create and share magical original work. Lisa has a BA from Humboldt State University in Philosophy with a minor in Music. She is also a graduate of Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theater where she trained in Comedia, mask, acrobatics, clowning, and ensemble-based original work. Lisa currently works at the Natural History Museum and La Brea Tar Pits as a performing artists and a full suit puppeteer. There she can be found playing around as extinct creatures such as a triceratops and saber-toothed cat. You can also find Lisa singing, running, and playing in music videos, commercials, and always about town, striving… “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Hsuan-Kuang Hsieh - Hsuan-Kuang is a multimedia artist and video designer born in Taipei, Taiwan. Currently lives and works in Los Angeles. She works in puppetry, art, ﬁlm and performance. And constantly cooperates with theater director, choreographer and ﬁlm director as a video designer. Her past work has been showed at both national and international venues include: REDCAT, 3LD Art and Technology Center, New York; New Hazlet Theater, Pittsburgh; New Taipei Gold Museum, Taiwan; K11 Art Mall, Hong Kong and Exhaleunlimited Gallery, L.A.; Mr Wu Art Space, Taiwan and others. Hsuan-Kuang is particularly intrigued by the ways in which the transformation of traditional techniques encounter with new technology. She likes to integrates new media, video installation, puppetry, ﬁlm and hybrid forms of photography, sculpture and text to create live experience for her audience. Hsuan-Kuang often creates a collage visual picture, in which unfolds a subtle, yet mysterious world to her viewers. As a puppetry lover, her currently stage works include: Tungsten (workshop) by Janie Geiser (Getty Villa) and Fasting Girl (workshop) by Alexis Macnab (Automata) as a puppeteer. She also makes puppets and shadow play in H&G: an country out cry by Allison M Keating (Palma Street Studio). More info: www.HsuanKuang.com
Marie Bergenholtz - Marie Bergenholtz is a veteran of stage, screen and television covering three continents. She is a graduate of the Ballet Academy of Gothenburg and the Dance Academy of Stockholm. Marie started acting, singing and dancing professionally at the age of 14 and has enjoyed every minute of it. Some of the pinnacle points in her career were working with talented directors like Ingmar Bergman (Peer Gynt), Robert Wilson (Time Rocker), and Trevor Nunn (Cats). Marie has had the honor of working with Madeline Leavitt and "Voices Carry" previously in "The Bride and the Brothel", "Holding up the Sky" and "Eating Rocks for Hunger" and is happy to be a part of "Strings Attached." Marie also teaches to all ages. More info: www.missmaries.net and www.mariebergenholtz.com
Elizabeth Nankin - I consider myself a visual storyteller. I create with my imagination and intuition as well as fabric, color and shape in costume design and puppetry. I started as a kid with shoeboxes, construction paper, found objects and Liddle Kiddle Dolls—to make dioramas instead of writing a book report. As a puppeteer I was mentored by the great Bob Baker at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in the heart of Downtown LA. Bob taught me that anything can be a puppet. He taught me to allow your emotions to go through the strings and know your puppet. Bob’s double crossbar marionettes and hand puppets set to vintage show tunes was the perfect mix of my love for Broadway and old MGM musicals. I also designed and fabricated puppets for the GRT production of A Christmas Carol. My costume design career included TV, commercials and indie films working with such great directors as Percy Adlon in BAGDAD CAFÉ and ROSALIE GOES SHOPPING I designed costumes for theater and at Lonnie Chapmans’ Group Rep Theater and Sierra Madre Playhouse. I also designed for contemporary dance and classic ballet for Marat Daukayev Ballet Theater and Pacific Dance Theater. Strings Attached is an amalgamation of all my worlds. Working with Voices Carry and the band of artists expands the language of what puppetry can be. I’m honored to work in a bigger shoebox with Madeline and Lisa in the heart of my hometown to tell another story. Much love to my husband and my three artistic soulful kids. I still don’t write book reports.
Monti Silva - Los Angeles, CA-based Entrepreneur and Artist, Monti has had an ongoing career as an adult as an independent award winning recording/touring performing artist, songwriter and producer leading her listeners to wonder how someone so young can create art that expresses life so authentically and wear both hats as an artist and business professional. However with a career that began in musical theater, singing, dancing, acting, and modeling at the age of five, it seems to make sense how she would return to her roots in the theater one day. Initially hired on as a Production Assistant for the Strings Attached Production, she was soon offered the opportunity to come on as a Puppeteer as well. Having no prior experience in puppeteering whatsoever, she took on the challenge and opportunity to learn and develop yet another form of expression through art. Now carrying the roles of both Puppeteer and Production Assistant, she truly is honored to participate in such a beautiful vision and making this production one that will remembered for a lifetime!
Stage Manager - Pat Loeb
Assistant Stage Manager - Mayra Pedraza
Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico where she started studying music and classical ballet at the age of three. She continued to studying ballet taking the vocational graded exams for the Royal Academy of Dance of London teaching the Advanced 2 level while studying other styles like jazz, modern, and hip hop. Moved to California in 2010 as an international student where she recently graduated from Golden West College with an AA degree in dance and is currently a dance major at CSU Dominguez Hills. Started dancing this year with KWDP and LA Unbound. Also works backstage as a stage manager for dance companies as well as the SoCal Dance Invitationals.
Leah Jaques - Puppeteer & Website designer
Bonnie Amos - Production Assistant
Bonnie Amos dreamed of moving from her small town in the heart of Texas to Los Angeles. Other than the missing pickle flavored snow cones it is everything she dreamed it would be; smog, bad drivers, and overpriced housing. She has worked in theater production and video production for over 7 years and hopes to continue as a video editor. In her free time she can be caught taking classes at UCB or pickin’ her banjo.
Monti Silva - Puppeteer & Social Media; see bio above
Paula Smail - Website Designer & Social Media
Hsuan-Kuang Hsieh - See bio above
Silvia Spross loves working on stage/sets and behind the stage/sets. Working as a Unit Photographer on film sets enables her to work besides talents such as Danny Glover, Martin Landau, Billy Zane, Paul Sorvino, Michael Rooker, Andy Dick … the list goes on. However as much as she loves taking Unit Stills and taking on the role of a “sharp-shooter” on set, there’s something very unique about photographing a stage performance. More freedom and less rules to go by. She certainly loves the process and being present at the dress rehearsal wondering around the stage capturing those once in a lifetime moments a performer may experience that specific day. For more info: Silvia Spross