Pacific University Dance Artistic Team

The Dance program includes some of the finest artists in their field pursuing and living their passion in choreography, lighting, and costume. Through their dedication to the art form our artistic team collaborates to complete the dance works in hope that they will inspire, express, and move our audiences— lighting design/set design captures the dancers and story of the work, costume design and construction further deepens the theme of the work and the dancers' lines, and the choreographer creates a living moving landscape that can tell a story or abstract the essence of an idea.  

Artistic Director, Jennifer Camp, our Technical Director, Tal Sanders, our Costume Designer, Maia Denzler, and James Healey (see faculty biographies) for each show.

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2023-2024 Featured Visiting Alum Guest Choreographers

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Brenna Calmer returns to Pacific University as a featured dance alum choreographer this fall.  She was a four-year member of the Pacific Dance Ensemble and graduated summa cum laude earning degrees in Dance and Mathematics.  Brenna returns as an alum choreographer for the second time, bringing a wealth of knowledge to share with our students.  She grew up in Beaverton, Oregon, where she began her dance training at Billings Dance Center in many genres, including ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, contemporary, and acrobatics, and then attended high school at the Arts and Communication Magnet Academy, where she furthered her training while performing with the school’s pre-professional company Dance West, under the direction of Julane Stites. She has presented choreography nationally at the American College Dance Association regional conference. Additionally, she has participated in many professional training programs across the nation, including the University of the Arts, Portland Festival Ballet, Polaris Dance Theatre, Northwest Dance Project, David Dorfman Dance, PDX Contemporary Ballet, Bates Dance Festival, and Sarah Reich’s Tap Music Project. Recently, Brenna completed her M.S. in Mathematics and currently teaches college math classes in addition to youth dance classes in ballet, jazz, tap, and contemporary. This past year, she became a certified judge in the Oregon Dance and Drill Judges' Affiliation.

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Leiana Petlewski  (they/them) is an actor, dancer, choreographer, musician, and
theatre maker who strives to make work that explores universal experiences within particular
circumstances. They hold BAs in Dance and Applied Theatre from Pacific University and a
certification from the Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble's Institute for Contemporary
Performance, which is where their passion for experimental dance theatre truly took root and
grew. Recent credits include Junie in Great Wide Open (Portland Playhouse) and Lavinia in
Titus Andronicus (Salt and Sage). Leiana’s process of creation is centered around collaboration
and exploring what it means to be human. They find joy in making multimedia art that involves
working with various art forms and artists. They are very excited and thankful to be making work
at Pacific again.

Guest Composer

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Michael Wall is an internationally recognized composer, performer, and an educator who collaborates with dancers, choreographers, and filmmakers worldwide. He composes original music, accompanies dance classes, and teaches sound design for dance and performance with Ableton Live. Michael has worked at Rutgers University, Princeton University, NYU, The Ohio State University, The Bates Dance Festival, The American Dance Festival, and is currently on faculty at The University of Utah, School of Dance. He’s supported independent artists in digital music distribution for the last ten years and offers a comprehensive online library of music for dance students, teachers, and choreographers. You can find all of his music at www.soundFORMovement.com

Maia Denzler headshot

Maia Denzler is a textile and theater artist based in the Portland metro area. Her costume designs and commissions have most recently been seen in A Dream Play (Portland State University), Great Wide Open (Portland Playhouse), The Magic Flute, and Good Country (Portland State University). Other recent costuming credits include What I Learned in Paris, A Christmas Carol, and Chicken and Biscuits (Portland Playhouse), The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, and King of the Yees (Profile Theatre), along with NW Dance Project and the Young People’s Theatre Project. Her textile artwork in The Born Project was also recently displayed in the Friends of Dorothy exhibit
at the Gallery at the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in Beaverton and the Lincoln Hall Gallery at Portland State University. Examples of her work can be found at www.maiadenzler.com.

 

Associate Professor; Director of Dance
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Jennifer Camp is an Associate Professor of dance and has directed the dance program since 2003. She currently teaches Ballet, Pointe, and Contemporary, Choreography, Anatomy and Kinesiology for Dancers, and Injury Prevention and Conditioning for dancers. She is recognized as a dynamically diverse performer, encouraging educator, and innovative choreographer, and has more than 25 years of professional experience in the field.

Since her arrival at Pacific, she has implemented essential courses and recruited prestigious guest artists and dance companies every year and established the dance major in 2012.  In 2004, Jennifer founded Pacific’s university performing company, Pacific Dance Ensemble (PDE), where she resides as the artistic director of the company.

Originally from Atlantic City, New Jersey, Jennifer earned her BA in dance at Arizona State University with an emphasis on dance education and dance science, and an MFA in dance from the University of California, Irvine. She has choreographed and taught nationally in pre-professional schools and universities across the U.S. and she has presented her choreography at the national level.

Jennifer is a Franklin Method Educator and Certified Fascia Trained and is currently completing her Pilates certification.  She is passionate about educating dancers on how to maintain healthy minds and bodies so they may have long sustaining healthy lives inside dance and out.

Associate Professor
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Tal Sanders is an award-winning designer with numerous national credits. He has designed for nearly every venue in the Portland Metro area, and has been awarded the Drammy Award for his designs on several occasions. Tal is also a seven-time winner of the Santa Barbara critics’ Independent Theatre Award. He is a member of the United Scenic Artists, and has designed lighting and scenery for many aspects of entertainment including: theatre, film, television, theme parks, concert stages, cruise ships, mall décor, and zoos. He holds an MFA in design from California Institute of the Arts.

James
Instructor
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James Healey, a native of Grants Pass, Oregon, received a BA from the University of Nevada–Las Vegas. James has been an adjunct professor at Pacific University (Forest Grove, Oregon) and an assistant coach and choreographer for the Canby High School Dance Team (Canby, Oregon) for over a decade. James is primarily a modern and contemporary choreographer, often a choreographer for the Pacific Dance Ensemble, and has led the Canby High School Dance Team to several Oregon State Athletic Association (OSAA) state championships in the Show Division, as well as Modern and Contemporary Category championship awards.  James finds the path that dancers take from high school environments to college refinement a rewarding and beautiful journey to mentor and guide.

Before returning to Oregon in 2013, James was a founding member of Shen Wei Dance Arts in New York (2000), where he served as a lead dancer and rehearsal director for over ten years. During his time with Shen Wei, James experienced the creation and refinement of Shen Wei’s “natural body development technique” and was among the original cast for many of Shen Wei’s groundbreaking works, including Near the Terrace, Rite of Spring, and Connect Transfer. James has been sought out nationally for his excellence in teaching and choreography. Other teaching engagements have included dance faculty at the Governor's School of North Carolina, guest artist at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Rutgers University, and Reed College in Oregon. Other professional performance credits include dancer and acrobat in Imagine at the Luxor in Las Vegas, Nevada, dancer with Malashock Dance in San Diego, California, dancer with Skinner/Kirk Dance, performer at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art's TBA Festival with Ten Tiny Dances, and a New Expressive Works Artist Residency.