All people in our team are volunteers.
FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT
French from origin, Aurélia lives in Zurich where she has worked in various roles for large multinational companies, mostly in the field of leadership and organization development. She now is working as a freelance presence and public speaking coach.
Initially from a Literature and Business academic background, a career break gave her the opportunity to make a dream come true: bring an artistic and philanthropic project to life. Passionate about dance, the topic came to her very naturally.
“The What Dance Can Do Project was born from the belief that dance can change lives. And that more people should know about it. Dance is empowering in so many ways, it can play an active role in driving positive change at individual, community and society levels. Dance programs are not a cost, they are an investment in the future of humanity.”
Seasoned professional in the areas of brand management, strategic marketing and business development, Marie is based in Paris.
Being fascinated by visual arts, including photography and opera, Marie has discovered ballet dancing with Aurélia as an introduction to the What Dance Can Do Project. Realising how much she was herself moved by the poetry and energy of dancers made her grasp the power of dance. She therefore found herself aligned with the What Dance Can Do goal to promote dance as a change-maker for young people.
Marie is supporting the project from Paris where she aims to create events and develop the What Dance Can Do network.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Akram Khan is one of the most celebrated and respected dance artists today. In just over fifteen years he has created a body of work that has contributed significantly to the arts in the UK and abroad. His reputation has been built on the success of imaginative, highly accessible and relevant productions such as DESH, iTMOi, Vertical Road, Gnosis and zero degrees.
An instinctive and natural collaborator, Khan has been a magnet to world-class artists from other cultures and disciplines. His previous collaborators include the National Ballet of China, actress Juliette Binoche, ballerina Sylvie Guillem, choreographers/dancers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Israel Galván, singer Kylie Minogue, visual artists Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley and Tim Yip, writer Hanif Kureishi and composers Steve Reich, Nitin Sawhney, Jocelyn Pook and Ben Frost.
Khan’s work is recognised as being profoundly moving, in which his intelligently crafted storytelling is effortlessly intimate and epic. Described by the Financial Times as an artist “who speaks tremendously of tremendous things”, a recent highlight of his career was the creation of a section of the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony that was received with unanimous acclaim.
Khan has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career including the Laurence Olivier Award, the Bessie Award (New York Dance and Performance Award), the prestigious ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) Distinguished Artist Award, the Fred and Adele Astaire Award, the Herald Archangel Award at the Edinburgh International Festival, the South Bank Sky Arts Award and six Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards. Khan was awarded an MBE for services to dance in 2005. He is also an Honorary Graduate of Roehampton and De Montfort Universities, as well as University of London, and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban.
Khan is an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells, London and Curve Leicester.
PC JL Fernandez
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Kevin is the Artistic Director of the Royal Ballet. He was born in Yorkshire and trained at The Royal Ballet School and, through an exchange programme, with Royal Danish Ballet. He began his performing career with The Royal Ballet’s sister company Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, and stayed with that company as a Principal during its transformation into Birmingham Royal Ballet. During this time Kevin performed extensively in the UK and internationally, including as a guest artist with many leading companies. His repertory included all the leading classical roles, such as Prince Siegfried (Swan Lake), Prince Florimund (The Sleeping Beauty), Albrecht (Giselle) and Romeo (in BRB’s first performance of Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet). O’Hare worked with many leading figures in the ballet world, including Ninette de Valois, Peter Wright, Frederick Ashton, MacMillan and David Bintley, and created several roles, including Amynta (Bintley’s Sylvia). He also produced many galas and choreographic evenings.
O’Hare retired from the stage in 2000, entering into a traineeship in company management with the Royal Shakespeare Company. This led to the post of Company Director with BRB in 2001, and in 2004 he joined The Royal Ballet as Company Manager. He was made Administrative Director in 2009 before being appointed to his current role. In 2013 he was appointed to the board of Dance UK.
Of French origins, Véronique moved to Zurich 20 years ago. Enjoying the city’s cosmopolitan atmosphere and the wonderful landscape immensely, it was natural for her to acquire the Swiss citizenship along the way. The surroundings of Zurich have allowed her to learn and improve at new outdoor sports, of course skiing (with a preference for cross-country) and golf.
She also loves indoor fitness, especially dance, often participating in workshops, with great enthusiasm. She likes to surround herself with people who also like dancing and watching shows. Véronique had the chance to meet Aurélia while working at the same company. The What Dance Can Do Project resonated to Véronique immediately. As a mother, she is greatly aware of the importance of sport for the well-being during childhood and adolescence.
This is why and how she is very much looking forward to joining WDCD project as the treasurer, where she as a certified chartered accountant (CPA) can make excellent use of her experience in auditing and controlling.
CHIEF COMPLIANCE OFFICER
Selina is a Zurich-based freelance photographer. Young successful entrepreneur, she now aspires to grow her artistic potential. “It has been very exciting and inspiring to meet dance artists from diverse backgrounds since we started the Project!
“The What Dance Can Do Project” relies a lot on image, for online publications and for the book that we prepare. We also exhibited pictures and text in a large exhibition in partnership with the Royal Danish Ballet and Magasin du Nord in May 2018 in Copenhagen.
Selina descibes “Capture peoples’ unique moments and emotions in their true essence and turn them into something that ‘sticks'”, as her biggest ambition.
Thanks to Selina’s initial involvement, photography has been at the heart of the Project.
Other great photographers have been supporting our cause in various ways documenting on our action or donating photographs to the organisation: Sylvie Lancrenon, Gérard Uferas, Vincent Boisot, Laura Gilli, Mohamed Taher, Ann Ray, James Bort, Christian Lartillot , Giovanni Vecchi
PROJECT MANAGER BELGIUM AND VOLUNTEER DANCE COACH
PROJECT MANAGER UK (SCOTLAND) AND VOLUNTEER DANCE COACH
VOLUNTEER DANCE COACH AND CHOREOGRAPHER
VOLUNTEER DANCE COACH AND CHOREOGRAPHER
Initially trained in Lyon, France (CNSMDL), Laura Arend entered the Merce Cunningham Studio in 2009. In New-York, Laura was part of numerous creations, among others by Dai Jian, Judith Sanchez Ruiz or Kohran Basaran.
In 2011, after having presented her first own piece at the NY Judson Church, Laura started the LABORATION ART COMPANY. The same year, she joined the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company II (KCDC) in Israel.
Since 2016, Laura focuses on choreographing, creating the pieces YAMA, FIVE and ANNA. In 2020, Laura worked with Xie Xin on a piece called YIRO.
Born in 1979, Julien Benhamou lives and works in Paris. At the age of 12, he was offered a fully manual camera that would quickly become an exciting tool for him. He realizes that photographing people allows him to access a special relationship with them. After his photography studies, he became the assistant to several photographers in the world of advertising, fashion and contemporary art. He focuses his personal research on movement and becomes a dance photographer.
Collaborations with dance personailities, such as Marie-Agnes Gillot, Marie-Claude Pietragalla, Benjamin Millepied, Aurélie Dupont and Ohad Naharin, give him wings and fascinate him. Far from the academic image of classical ballet, he offers a poetic and sophisticated vision of dance. The poses are freed from conventions, artificial lights outline bodies and muscles, and dancers pose like moving mannequins.
VOLUNTEER DANCE COACH AND CHOREOGRAPHER
Mourad Bouayad discovers dance through Hip-Hop and meets with contemporary forms in the CNDC of Angers, France, graduating in 2015.
He then began his career which led him to work with European and Israeli choreographers such as Laura Scozzi, Hillel Kogan, Eyal Dadon and Amala Dianor.
In 2017 he joined the Batsheva Ensemble, directed by Ohad Naharin.
He is trained in the movement research called Gaga and became a certified teacher in 2018.
He created with Paul Lamy ACNO in 2019.
The premiere of the company's new creation, FOR THE HUNGRY BOY, will premiere in "Institut du Monde Arabe" in Paris on March 12th 2021, right before starting a new process with the 104.
Jem Badger Choi
VOLUNTEER DANCE COACH
VOLUNTEER DANCE COACH AND
OTHER PRECIOUS CONTRIBUTORS INCLUDE
Born in South West of France and living in Paris, Magali-Marie started dancing at the age of three and never stopped practicing. Always considering dance as a life companion, she decided to put as much of it as she can in her everyday life. Aspiring arts and culture journalist, she aims at promoting dance and ballet artists, theaters and companies.
Very passionate about writing, always admiring artists, she wants to share her passion with as many people as possible.
Also involved as a volunteer in many cultural and dance related activities, she has always considered that giving time repays a hundredfold.
Being a team member of “The What Dance Can Do Project” is an amazing opportunity to bring all together everything she enjoys doing in life.
Maura Madeddu, journalist passionate about dance and ballet, contributor to fashion magazines in Italy – L’Officiel, L’Officiel Hommes, i-D, Flair. She truly believes that beauty will save the world and according to her, the combining of dance and fashion is one of the most beautiful pas de deux ever. She decided to contribute to The What Dance Can Do Project because she is convinced that (telling) dancers’ stories could have a positive impact on nowadays society.
Olivia Lecomte, freelance artist based in Luzern, Switzerland. After graduating from Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto, Canada in 2014, she immediately joined Codarts Hogeschool voor de Kunsten where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance Performance and was personally awarded the Jiří Kylián Foundation Scholarship. Since August 2016, she has been dancing and choreographing for internationally renown institutions such as: Tanz Luzerner Theatre, Berlin Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Het Nationale Ballet, HMT Rostock, Korzo, Staatstheater Regensburg and Schauspiel Hannover. In addition to dance, Olivia has been experimenting with film, photography, and writing. Olivia has been a collaborator for WDCD since 2018.
Rasmus Meldgaard is a 28-year-old Journalist from Denmark, currently based in London. Primarily working as a Culture Reporter and Correspondent for Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR). Previous work includes Berlingske, VICE, Soundvenue and Tivoli Gardens. Through his work, Rasmus has specialized in ballet and dance in general, producing several stories about dancers in and outside of Denmark.
Yeocheva Gabbay, originally from Paris, where she grew up in a very multicultural environment, currently studies languages and international business at the University Paris Sorbonne. Passionate about traveling, she decided to pursue her studies in Sorbonne Abu Dhabi.
Dancing has always been a big part of her life. It allows her to experience different cultures in her own way. Passionate about the power of education, she realized during her research that dance should be integrated into education. It allows societies to develop their identity and it is one of the most beneficial and effective ways of learning discipline and increasing creativity.
The What Dance Can Do Project New Zealand
The NZ Team shares WDCD’s exciting vision in bringing change through dance and is driving initiatives in New Zealand. We hope to start our activities before the end of 2020.
PROJECT LEAD NZ
Raina is Malaysian born but grew up in Dunedin, New Zealand. After graduating, she had a short stint in corporate law before working as a journalist in Kuala Lumpur. After 7 years she relocated to Wellington and resumed legal practice. Raina is an advocate for the important role that arts and literature plays in society. Ballet classes were instrumental for Raina as a young adult helping her through difficult times and giving her the tools she needed to face challenges, learn confidence and push forward. Having experienced what dance has done for her, Raina truly believes in the ability of dance and dance training to change lives and hopes to use dance as a tool to instil hope and improve lives.
VOLUNTEER DANCE COACH
Russian born Alina was a soloist with the Imperial Russian Ballet company. Alina was recruited for ballet training at the age of 10 and moved to Moscow to dance professionally in the scene after completing her classical Vaganova training. Alina also has a degree in media and communications. In 2015, Alina was touring with the company on a Swan Lake tour in Australia and New Zealand, when she met her partner. Alina relocated to Wellington shortly after that and is now an accredited Royal Academy of Dance teacher. Alina truly loves dance and has seen how it cultivates a culture of strength and character. She enjoys sharing her passion for dance and loves seeing her students’ responses to dance training. Nothing excites her more than to see her students exploring the world through the freedoms and disciplines of art.
Paula B.A. Westerby
Paula was born in Brazil and came to New Zealand as a student in 2007, staying ever since. Paula has a background in business administration and education management having worked for years with an organisation focused on offering and supporting school-leavers and second-chance learners seek training and qualifications. Paula is a lover of culture and the arts and believes that the arts can bring people together, heal and bridge gaps. Dance, in Paula’s view, both the experiencing and learning of dance, teaches values and resilience through new perspectives. It also gives kids a way of expressing themselves. Paula is excited to see how the initiative can build and change lives of New Zealand children.