Francisco Aviña, one of the featured dancers in SONDER

Francisco Aviña – MARCO

Francisco Avina has been working as a dancer and choreographer in movies, television, music videos, rock tours, and contemporary concert dance for more than two decades. He began his career in Hollywood in the hit Disney film, Newsies, and has since performed with and worked for Celine Dion, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, Bette Midler, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Gianni Versace, Christine W and Ricky Martin to name a few. Francisco moved to Chicago in 1998 where he danced with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, River North Dance Chicago, Ron De Jesus Dance, and the boundary pushing Lucky Plush Productions, whose brilliant Artistic Director Julia Rhoades was the recipient of the MacArthur Award.

Francisco’s choreographic credits include High School Musical Mexico- the TV show and the Movie, Yo Mexico -The centennial anniversary of Mexico’s Revolution; a large scale multimedia production involving more than 350 artists and was viewed by 1.5 million people live. He has choreographed for contemporary dance companies such as Hubbard Street 2, Luna Negra, The Second Company at the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, Dance Works Chicago and Thodos Dance Co. He wrote and directed the one-man show A.R.T. which was performed in Chicago and Los Angeles in 2014 and 2015. Francisco has taught for The Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street, The National Ballet of Mexico, Giordanos Dance Chicago, River North, The Edge Performing Arts Center, Broadway Dance Center NY, and Broadway Dance Center Tokyo.

Shawnee Jo Haycock, one of the featured dancers in SONDER

Shawnee Jo Haycock – PASCAL

Shawnee Jo Haycock graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dance from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in August of 2013. She was then accepted as an international apprentice with Budapest Dance Theatre for six months. Upon returning to Utah, she was invited to dance with Repertory Dance Theatre as a guest in their show Land in 2014.

While abroad, Shawnee worked with many international choreographers including Béla Földi, the director of Budapest Táncszínház; Sergei Ostrenko, a prominent physical theatre master; Adrienn Réka, of Kibbutz Dance Theatre; and Lorand Zachar. She was granted a scholarship by IUGTE for the Physical Theatre Conference which took place in Austria in December 2013. Notable recent performances include The Gala Concert with Budapest Dance Theatre; and Carmina Burana, a large scale collaborative project with artists from Santiago, Cuba.

Breeanne Saxton, one of the featured dancers in SONDER

Breeanne Saxton – ALEX

Breeanne Saxton grew up training as a gymnast, actor and dancer in the Salt Lake City valley. She continued her performance studies at the University of Utah where she earned her BFA in modern dance in 2015. Following graduation Breeanne has continued to perform professionally with companies such as Ririe Woodbury Dance Company, Utah Opera, Springboard Danse Montreal, and many others. Her choreography has been showcased at The Complex, Salt Lake Community College, The Salt Lake City Library, The Utah Museum of Fine Arts, and the Marriott Center for Dance. As an educator she was an Arts In Education specialist with Tanner Dance, has taught workshops and master classes at various studios, and participated in outreach with with organizations such as Movement Exchange. Currently she works as a Direct Service Professional with Rise Services where she works with foster children and children and adults with disabilities to facilitate behavior skills development, community skills, and community inclusion support. She is thrilled to be working with Sackerson and Brown Rice Productions on this magnificent show and looks forward to the future projects she is working on.

Eliza Tappan, one of the featured dancers in SONDER

Eliza Tappan – CHARLIE

Eliza Tappan moved to Salt Lake City from Long Island, NY in 2011 to pursue her undergraduate degree in modern dance at the University of Utah, which she completed in 2016. During her time in the university, she performed in works by artists such as John Beasant III, Eric Handman, Meghan Durham Wall, Daniel Clifton, Emmy Thomson, and Daniel Charon. Eliza is interested in creating work for intimate, alternative spaces that allows audiences to engage in more immersive, felt experiences with the performers and with themselves. Her recent works include “Good Grieve” performed in 2016 with violinist, vocalist, and poet Alyssa Pyper, “Day One” an evening-length duet choreographed and performed with Breeanne Saxton which was presented by Sackerson Theatre as well as the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, and a show “Play” produced at The Photo Collective in 2015 with Breeanne Saxton and Marissa Mooney. Eliza is currently working in creative partnership with Salt Lake City artist Nick Blaylock, whose work has been set and performed throughout the US.

Graham Brown, creator and choreographer on the SONDER creative team

Graham Brown  – WARNER

(BFA: U of UT; MFA: U of MD) Graham is invested in creating performance work that conveys personal narratives within a highly athletic and rhythmically infectious physicality. Graham has performed a short solo excerpt of You at the Open Look Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, the NextNOW Festival in College Park, MD., and in Havana, Cuba. His work has also been presented by Queen’s College (NY), The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (MD), The Roundhouse Theatre (DC), and The Sugar Space (SLC). In 2004 Graham founded the SLC based improv company Movement Forum, and co-directed it until 2010. He has free-lanced with many choreographers and currently tours with PEARSONWIDRIG DANCETHEATER (NYC/DC). Graham is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Brigham Young University and is sustained by his wife Lehua and their children Isobella, Oliver, Elliette, and Ana.


Elise Marie Beers, one of the ensemble dancers in SONDER

Elise Marie Beers

Elise Marie Beers is in her last semester at Brigham Young University where she is working toward her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance. Her choreography has been featured in the American College Dance Association gala concert, and she has been awarded multiple scholarships for her outstanding choreography. Elise has also made several films that have been featured in local dance film festivals. Her singing, acting, and dancing experience have combined and contributed to her style and choreography.

Rachel Kearl, one of the ensemble dancers in SONDER

Rachel Kearl – Ensemble

Rachel Kearl was raised in Salt Lake City, studying music with Meredith Campbell and Jack Ashton’s Orchestra. As a dancer, she trained with Odyssey Dance Theater and Bonnie Story. After serving a full-time mission in Oregon and Washington, Rachel is currently studying Dance Education at Brigham Young University, with a Music Minor. She is Jazz Instructor at BYU and also teaches at Riley Elementary School through the Arts Bridge program. Rachel has traveled to South Korea studying dance and interning at Soul Tanz Station (2011), and in Minzu, China at University in Beijing (2016).

Katherine Ledbetter, one of the ensemble dancers in SONDER

Katherine Ledbetter – Ensemble

Katherine Ledbetter was born and raised in Provo, Utah. She has performed with dancEnsemble and Contemporary Dance Theatre while pursuing a BFA in Dance at Brigham Young University. Through these opportunities, Katherine has performed works by Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig, Graham Brown, Kate Monson, Colleen West, Nathan Balser, Caroline Prohosky, Jiamin Huang, and Joni Tuttle McDonald. She is interested in all things unconventional and maintains a soft spot in her heart for tap and musical theater. Outside of BYU, Katherine has performed works by Kate Monson around Provo City as part of the On Site mobile dance series, and in the immersive work You by Graham Brown (2015) at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

Whitney Ellis, one of the ensemble dancers in SONDER

Whitney Ellis – Ensemble

Whitney Ellis is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Dance at Brigham Young University. Originally from Orem, UT, received her training at The Dance Club under the direction of Sheryl Dowling. She has performed works by Travis Wall, Peter Chu, and Joey Dowling. Whitney has received several regional outstanding dancer scholarships with New York City Dance Alliance.

Mikayla Ellison Phillips, one of the ensemble dancers in SONDER

Mikayla Ellison Phillips – Ensemble

Mikayla Ellison Phillips grew up in Frisco, Texas and studied dance at Brigham Young University. She graduated in 2014 with a BS in Human Development and a minor in Contemporary Dance. While at BYU, Mikayla choreographed and danced with dancEnsemble and also performed throughout the United States and Europe with the International Folk Dance Ensemble. Since graduation, Mikayla has been teaching children’s creative dance, submitted films in the Utah Dance Film Festival, and performed in folk dance festivals in France and Italy. Mikayla is also a current member of Wasatch Contemporary Dance Company II. Mikayla’s involvement with folk dance has given her a unique love for connecting with a community of people through the medium of dance.