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MARCY AUERBACH-UNAL has been dancing since she was a little girl. She attended the Fine and Performing Arts High School in New Jersey where she learned and performed ballet, jazz, and modern dance. During college, she was vice-president of a student-led dance group where she fundraised, performed, and choreographed, while obtaining her bachelors degree in Biology. In Boston she danced with Kelly Donovan & dancers, and more recently, performed in San Francisco's Carnival with Tania Santiago. While a grad student in NYC, she co-founded Danza Washington Heights in Northern Manhattan, under the partnership of DanceNOW[NYC], producing outdoor dance events while promoting local artists, and building relationships with the community. Marcy is a virologist and yogi. She joined High Release in 2010 and is grateful to be dancing again.
Works choreographed for High Release: In Hands and Hips (with Elena Grindley, 2012), Cut Her Off (with Elena Grindley and Tammy Todd, 2016)

JULIA CANAVESE has been an active member of the Silicon Valley arts scene for over 15 years. Graduating from Santa Clara University with a B.A. in Theatre Arts with a Dance Emphasis, Julia studied primarily Horton technique, although she also has training in Graham, Cunningham, and Lewitzky, as well as jazz, tap, ballroom, and various folk dances. In 2012, Julia participated in a two-week dance intensive at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London where she studied a mix of contemporary technique, contact improvisation, choreography, and Flying Low technique. She is honored to be a member of Natasha Carlitz Dance Ensemble, Released Dance Coalition, and High Release Dance Company.

In addition to dance performance, Julia is a passionate arts administrator. She currently works for Silicon Valley Creates (formerly Arts Council Silicon Valley) as the LiveSV.com content editor. Volunteer activities include being Co-Chair of Marketing and Communications for genARTS Silicon Valley, a network of emerging arts professionals, and being on the staff of Fanime Black & White Ball, an annual ballroom dance event for more than 2,500 attendees. Julia enjoys every opportunity she can to engage in meaningful expression through the arts and is committed to the growth of the arts sector as a whole.
Works choreographed for High Release: Speaking Volumes (re-staged for High Release Dance, 2016)

NATASHA CARLITZ As a child, Natasha trained with Grace Butler, a former Nikolais dancer, and performed with SMDC and CHORD. She has studied dance in California, London, Amsterdam, Massachusetts, and Maine, including workshops on improvisation and choreography with Pilobolus founder Jonathan Wolken and aerial dance in the Sierras with Bandaloop. For the past 20 years, Natasha has choreographed and performed around the Bay Area in a variety of festivals and showcases. After presenting concerts of her own work in 2002 and 2005, she founded the Natasha Carlitz Dance Ensemble (NCDE), which staged its first performance in 2006 in collaboration with the internationally acclaimed California Guitar Trio. NCDE now produces an annual season in San Francisco, and in 2010 was invited to represent the United States at the Egyptian International Modern Dance Festival, presenting evening-length concerts in Cairo and Alexandria. A member of High Release from 1998 through 2005, Natasha rejoined the company in 2011.
Works choreographed for High Release: Surface Tension (1999), Linear Transformations (2000), Post-Op (2000), Mercury (2001), Portrait with Purple Hat (2001), From a Confined Place (2001), Plurality (2002), Circulation (2004), Luna (2005), Subtext (2013), Weather or Not (expansion of Subtext, 2014), Three Dances in Three Minutes (with Virginia Bock, 2016)

JOANN CHANG received intensive ballet training at Western Ballet and gymnastics at Twisters in the local Bay Area. In high school, she was a dancer on the drill team and cheerleading squad while being trained in Hip Hop, Jazz, and Lyrical dance. It was not until college that she delved into Modern Dance at UC San Diego's Theater & Dance Department under the direction of Patricia Rincon. Around the same time, Joann discovered a love for swing dancing especially lindy hop. Soon after, she became an avid salsa and blues dancer as well. Joann's passion is to use dance as a healing agent to others who have undergone trauma. In 2010, she danced with a traveling faith-based group to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Last year Joann traveled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to help young at-risk girls who have been sexually and or physically abused through dance therapy. Joann has choreographed many dance pieces used in conferences, churches, weddings, and recitals. Currently, she runs her own private studio teaching music and dance. She is really happy to rejoin High Release Company this year after a long hiatus.
Works choreographed for High Release: Take All of Me (2015), Mourning to Morning (2016)

ERWIN COLUMBUS is a chemical engineer who discovered dance at Iowa State University in 2012. He has honed his talent performing with Orchesis I and II at ISU, and enjoys choreographing as well as performing. Erwin attended the American Dance Festival and has performed at FACES and Octagon Arts Festival in Iowa. In 2015, he moved from Iowa to California. His recent dance involvement includes work from Zohar Dance Company, ArtistEDGE and Natasha Carlitz Dance Ensemble. He joined High Release at the beginning of 2016 and is excited to be part of the upcoming performances.

ELENA GRINDLEY has danced for twenty years in Menlo Park. She has studied with Ronnie Brosterman and Gail Abrams at Scripps College and holds a degree in Creative Arts from San Jose State, where she studied with Gary Masters. Elena has performed in Claremont, Los Angeles, Berkeley, San Jose State, San Jose City College, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, DanceVisions, and her grandparents' living room. She has delved into modern, ballet, hip hop, capoeira, West African, Middle Eastern, and funk. Elena joined High Release in fall 1999. Dance 'til we die.
Works choreographed for High Release: 30 Movements to Fake Counts (2001), Goodnight (2001), Living Room Reverie (2001), Disconnect (2002), Day Sleeper (2002), Sweet Dreams (2003), Lamenting (2006), Winding Down (2007), Stages of Grief (2008), Ringtail Antics (2010), A Stroll Down Memory Lane (with Lisa Navarro, 2011), View from the River Styx (originally performed as Wild Rumpus, 2012), In Hands and Hips (with Marcy Auerbach-Unal, 2012), Sway (with Elizabeth Muller, 2015), Be the Swan (with dancers, 2015), Cut Her Off (with Marcy Auerbach-Unal and Tammy Todd, 2016)

SUSAN LEFTWICH The love of dance has characterized Susan's dance "career"--from taking ballet, tap, and jazz classes every day after school, to leading the high school dance team, to taking dance classes with the dance majors at the University of Texas and San Jose State University. Susan taught Jazzercise for 5 years in the 1990s but rediscovered her love for dance at Dance Connection and Zohar dance studios. Currently, Susan is a middle school language arts, science, and history teacher who also shares dance as an elective. She teaches worship dance workshops and performs with Ministers in Motion at assisted living facilities throughout the Bay Area. Susan joined High Release in 2009 as a way to challenge herself creatively and to reward herself for surviving breast cancer.
Works choreographed for High Release: Gathering the Pieces (2011), In Spring (with Julie DeBell, 2013), Walking on Water (2014), Two Doors Down (with Tammy Todd, 2014), Mixin' It Up (workshop piece, 2015), Humans (2016)

KARINA LIU grew up training and competing in Rhythmic Gymnastics. After leaving the sport in 2002, Karina dabbled in dance off and on, taking it up in earnest in 2008 when she began studying with NYC-based Simonson Technique teachers Laurie DeVito and Diane McCarthy. Karina moved to the Bay Area and joined High Release in 2015.

I-HENG MCCOMB started school when she was 4 years old and never left. In kindergarten, she wrote in her Me Book that she wanted to be a "mommy and a teacher" when she grew up, so three children and many thousand students later, here she is. What she didn't foresee then was that somewhere around the turn of the millennium, she would start dancing regularly and never stop. I-Heng joined High Release in 2006.
Works choreographed for High Release: Pieces of Grace (2008), Jekyll Jekyll Hyde! (2009), Woven in Smoke (2011), Tired of Sleeping (2011), Clockwork (2014, also performed in a version titled After Hours), Twine (2015), Dance Together (workshop piece, 2016)

KAREN MCWILLIAMS began her performing "career" with the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps. While a student at the University of Santa Clara, she finally took a dance class, and since then has been performing with whomever would let her on stage, including Ariel Dance Company, the Valley Dance Theatre, and the Vanguard Alumni Corps. She was one of the founding members of High Release in 1994, and has retired at least four times but for some reason keeps coming back. In real life, Karen is sometimes a technical writer and always a mother of three wonderful kids. She also keeps busy creating custom wedding dresses and dance costumes.
Works choreographed for High Release: Statuary (1996), Like Sisters (1997), In the Garden of Souls (2002), Improvisation on Walking and Falling (2005), Overflow (2016)

HIDEKO SAKAMOTO After starting with tap and jazz dance in college, Hideko started to learn modern dance from Hideaki Ryo, former Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble dancer, to help with a chronic backache from her desk work as a software engineer. This not only fixed her back but transformed her life. Dancing became a much more regular routine after Hideko moved to the Bay Area and became a stay-at-home mom to twin boys. She has performed in productions of Ryuko Sasaki's Tap Dance Network and with Hideaki Ryo's Dance Continent in Tokyo, Japan. She has also performed story ballets created by Rodolphe Cassand in the Bay Area.

TRACEY STANELUN began ballet lessons as a little girl, and nurtured her skills in the family living room, dancing and singing along with recordings of Broadway musicals. She performed through high school with the State Ballet of Rhode Island, and discovered modern dance at Smith College where she received a BA in Dance. In Boston she performed in works of Peggy Brightman (Choreodance), Nicola Hawkins, and Marcus Schulkind, and appeared on stage with Click and Clack The Tappet Brothers (of Cartalk fame). Tracey moved from New England to the Bay Area in January 2010 and at the same time joined High Release Dance.
Works choreographed for High Release: There:Here (2013), Behind the Scenes (2015)

ERIKA TINGEY started studying dance at age 6 with Grace Butler, and continued through college where she studied with Libby Nye and Risa Steinberg, former members of the Limon dance company. In 1994 she graduated from Mills College with an MFA in Choreography, and went on to dance with Jennifer Brightbill and the Pneuma Dance Company. For a year she was a performing member of the San Francisco Taiko Dojo. Her work has been seen in High Release, DanceVisions, and Choreographers' Collective performances, as well as the Marin 21st Century Dance & Music Collaboration and "Assemble Emotion," an AIDS fundraiser in San Francisco. Erika joined High Release in 1999.
Works choreographed for High Release: Helix (2001), Intent (2003), Ebb Tide (2003), Scratched (2005), Passing Through (2005), Infrequent (2007), Whispers (2007), Dernier Cri (2008), Balancing Act (2009), Embrace the Crumbling World (2010), Drink the Wild Air (2012), Fractured (workshop piece, 2012), So Much Has Changed (2014), Enough (2016)

TAMMY TODD started taking ballet classes at the age of 3 at the Red Shoes Ballet School in San Mateo. She moved to Singapore when she was 7 and quickly found other interests in jazz, tap, musical theater and working on industrial shows and commercials. Upon graduating from high school, she returned to California. Tammy and modern dance did not meet until college, when she took her first modern dance class at Notre Dame de Namur in Belmont. While attending college in Belmont, Tammy danced for two years at Marriott's Great America. She graduated from San Jose State with an MA in Theater Arts with a Dance emphasis. While at SJSU, she danced with their resident dance company, Danceworks, under the direction of Candace Ammerman. She feels very fortunate to have worked with Gary Masters and Fred Matthews from the Jose Limon Company while at SJSU. She currently takes class at DanceVisions in Palo Alto where she also taught and choreographed. Tammy lives in Sunnyvale with her husband and three boys and works as a SCERTS Clinical Aide at the Center for Speech, Language and Occupational Therapy. She joined High Release in 2012.
Works choreographed for High Release: Farther to Go (2013), Two Doors Down (with Susan Leftwich, 2014), Simple Chaos (2016)





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