Creator and Director
Jill is also one of the dancers. Jill was born and raised in Knoxville, TN and graduated from North Carolina School for the Arts as an NC scholar and from New York University Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Dance Performance. She lived in NYC for 10 years dancing with Cilla Vee Life Arts, David Dorfman Dance, Ellis Wood Dance, Gina Gibney Dance, Jody Oberfelder and Company, Larry Keigwin and Company, and Naomi Goldberg-Haas Dances for a Variable Population (DVP) among others.
While dancing with Cilla Vee Life Arts she was introduced to a variation of Butoh, a dance form which originated in Japan. Jill performed with Cilla Vee for many years doing very slow-moving but extremely expressive dance (it may take 20 min. to walk across the stage). Jill says, “It was art, but it had me meditating before I knew what meditation was.” Years later during a Koan Meditation in Knoxville, Jill’s impulse to “dance the koan” was so strong that she started experimenting with moving very slowly, resting her mind and letting the koan direct her body. From this, Moving Ground came into being.
Jill has been immersed in Knoxville’s dance community since 2010. She began volunteering at Lotus Light Center in 2018. She is a dancer and choreographer for Go! Contemporary Dance Works, Cattywampus Puppet Council, and Circle Modern Dance. Jill is also teaches dance with the Mitakuye Foundation on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The Mitakuye Foundation was created to support and empower Native youth and address the ongoing teen suicide epidemic on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Jill is a 1000 hour certified Dharma Yoga Teacher. She teaches Yoga, Breathing and Meditation at the Glowing Body, Lotus Light and to private clients in their homes.
Ashley is a nomadic artist working in a variety of media including paint, installation, and performance. Recited in alternating tones of delight and exasperation, her work wrestles with macro questions at an individual and familial scale. Examining how the particulars and pace of our age interface with the messy complexity of our inner landscapes she questions socially constructed notions and ruminates on the relationship between physical and ideological structures.
She explores the transformative implications of relating to one another and our environments at the edge of our understanding. Issues of class are important to the way she thinks about who is invited into the conversation, and she makes work that functions as phenomena to be experienced and related to without societal barriers to entry or mediation from authority. Her work is collected internationally, she teaches workshops on creativity as an exploratory and healing force, and performs with Circle Modern Dance and The Katharine Slowburn Experience. Addair is currently pursuing her MFA at The Art Institute of Chicago.
Harper is a Knoxville-based movement architect and performer. Upon her move to Knoxville, Harper founded the online community The Iteration Project https://theiterationproject.org. She is currently a choreographer for Go! Contemporary Dance Works, where she and Jill have worked on many projects together, and is faculty at Walter State Community College, Studio Arts for Dancers, and Van Metre School of Dance.
Harper’s work has been supported by various Bay Area organizations including San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, The Garage, and Dance Mission Theater. Her work has been commissioned by Princeton University and Davidson College and presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Most recently she has set work for Go! Contemporary Dance Works, Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble, Circle Modern Dance, and Davidson College. She has danced with Robert Moses’ KIN, Lauren Slone, Loren Davidson, Copious Dance Theater, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.
Before relocating to Knoxville, she was a choreographer in residence at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance and the company manager for ODC’s teen company, dance Jam. She has also worked as an Inter Coordinator, festival Coordinator and on the development team at the Vail International Dance Festival in Vail, CO for 7 years and as a publicist and outreach specialist for the ODC Teen and Youth Program. She holds an MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from FL State University, a B.S. in Biology from Davidson College, a Certificate in Dance from The Ailey School, and an A.A.S. in Graphic Design.
Laura has been studying dance and movement for over 25 years. She graduated with a BFA in Dance Performance from the University of Georgia, where she fell in love with dancing in the air. Laura co-created The Wing Project, an aerial duo, and graduated from the Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Professional Training Program in Boulder, CO, continuing on to teach and perform with the professional company, most notably performing at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. She spent a year in New Orleans at Fly Circus Space, then returned to her hometown, Knoxville, TN, where she continues to teach, choreograph, and perform dance in the air and on the ground. Laura Bergamy and Jill Frere danced together with Go! Contemporary Dance Works.
Dancer & Costume Designer
Amelia danced in an early iteration of Moving Ground at the Glowing Body’s 10th Anniversary, and a Moving Ground fundraiser for the Mitakuye Foundation. Amelia has been choreographing and performing dance professionally for 12 years. In addition to the Knoxville dance scene, her work has been performed in Asheville, NC; Brooklyn, NY, Charleston, SC; Chattanooga, TN, and Lewisburg, WV. Amelia feels grateful to have studied with various artists including Art Bridgeman and Myrna Packer, Chris Burnside, Joy Davis, Cindy Dollar, Vicki Fink, Angie Hauser and Chris Aiken, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Tere O’Connor, Stephen Koplowitz, Leah Pinder, Shelley Senters, Nancy Stark Smith, Ray Elliott Swartz, Amanda Thom-Woodson, and Doug Varone and Dancers.
Amelia founded the Chickamauga School of Art, a program offering art classes and camps to children and adults, 2009-2015. She founded BreedArts School of Art and Dance in 2015. Amelia has worked with children for 17 years in schools, museums, and art centers both in Virginia and Tennessee, including a decade of teaching at Garden Montessori in Knoxville. She also designs and creates a line of clothing for adults and children inspired by our natural world, intended to move beautifully with the body. She has designed various pieces for performance in addition to dressing families in Knoxville.
Semaj NuSense Johnson
Semaj is a Knoxville Native. He is an avid and passionate dancer and martial artist. He believes that everything that we channel our energy into is a conductor for self-discovery. He helps others express themselves through martial arts and dance. He loves working with groups of all ages, but as of late he has been focused on early childhood development and expression through movement. He knows that no one approach works for everyone, so he continues to educate himself in new techniques to better assist those who need it most.
He spent 10 years teaching Hip-Hop, Capoeira, and Tap in Knoxville before moving to Tucker, GA. Semaj currently is a dance and Capoeira instructor for Atlanta Dance Center and The Little Yogis. Semaj and Jill danced together in “The Water Project.” An interdisciplinary evening length piece addressing Environmental and Social Justice themes in a family friendly way with with a diverse cast.
Dancer & Community Workshop Teacher
Angela has had a 25 year career helping people feel better in their bodies first as a dance/movement educator and also in practice as a body worker and somatic practitioner since 2009. She is a trained parenting educator, coaching parents all over the world and is also trained in Somatic Experiencing®, a body-based approach to trauma resolution and The Hakomi Method, a mindfulness-based approach to supporting people to understand themselves. Angela is an award-winning choreographer and has performed and presented her work throughout the US and in Sydney, Australia. She has a BFA in Dance Education from Arizona State University and has dedicated much of her creative and teaching practice to working with diverse populations such as at-risk youth, refugees, and people with disabilities, using movement and creativity as a tool for community building, inclusion and social change. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in clinical social work, and she intends to focus on healing inter-generational trauma through social-justice informed somatic approaches. https://linktr.ee/angelahill
Abby is a percussionist and educator who is focused on performing and supporting continued growth of new music, and has expertise in contemporary and classical percussion. She was recommended to us by Kelly Jolly. Her style of Avant Garde soundscapes on traditional instruments as well as found objects is an ideal fit for this work.
Her solo and collaborative performances have been heard nationally and internationally including: Stony Brook University’s TEDx (Stony Brook, NY), Transplanted Roots Percussion Symposium (Brisbane, Australia and Guanajuato, Mexico), New Music Gathering (Baltimore and Boston), Festival Internacional de Músicas y Artes Sonoras Contemporáneas (Cuenca, Ecuador), Big Ears Festival (Knoxville,TN), Percussive Arts Society International Conventions, and One World Trade Center (NYC).
Abby is a dedicated educator and has presented recitals, lectures, and masterclasses at universities and colleges across the country. She teaches at University of Tennessee- Knoxville, Pellissippi State Community College, and maintains a studio of piano and percussion students in Knoxville, TN. Abby is the Managing Director for the contemporary music organization Nief-Norf, and she serves as a member of the Percussive Arts Society New Music/ Research Committee.
Abby holds degrees from Stony Brook University (D.M.A), New York University (M.M), and Lawrence University (B.M). She is supported by Marimba One, Black Swamp Percussion, and Vic Firth.
Ben Maney is a pianist/keyboardist, singer/songwriter and composer based in Knoxville, TN. Ben has been performing on the Knoxville music scene for nearly 30 years exposing him to a variety musicians and musical styles ranging from Prog Rock to Delta Blues and from Jazz Fusion to Americana. While performing with various bands, Ben has opened for nationally and internationally touring artists such as Johnny Winter, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Delbert McLinton, John Scofield, Pinetop Perkins, Acoustic Alchemy and The Turtles.
In 2005 Ben fronted Countless Sheep, a group comprised of some of Knoxville’s most talented and experimental musicians. The band's first recording entitled "Drinking the World from a Glass" consisted of Ben's original compositions and was critically heralded for its eclecticism and musical virtuosity. Ben has also been the front-man for a jazz quartet which has been performing regularly for almost 5 years.
Additionally Ben is also a prolific composer. Ben has composed over 200 original pieces specifically for production music use. A large portion of his catalog is currently available through ROBA Production Music. Ben recently completed a project with the Nashville Composers Association in conjunction with Belmont University to provide production music for a short film. Ben has also performed one of his compositions, “Peace Awaits” with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.
Alex uses music to get people together in uplifting ways. These days that means playing accordion in two local bands. The Spooky Ooos are Tennessee’s most sincere paranormal honky tonk band playing classic country about UFO’s witches and the like. The Thrift store Scores play rock, soul and blues covers. Alex’s more episodic and opportunistic musical projects revolve around devotional South Asian Kirtan music and providing mobile percussion in public places and during parades via a local Brazilian drum troop, Bateria Appalachia. Events played include Knox Pride, Martin Luther King Jr Day Parade, Dogwood arts festival, Labor Day Sunflower Project, Kickstand Bike Collective, First Friday drum circles, anti-DAPL events, climate activism and regional yoga festivals.
JD has a passion for music goes back as far as he can remember. He’s versed in a variety of instruments, starting with the piano at age six, and has performed solo and in groups/bands for more than 20 years. We connected to JD through Kyle Moore-Price, a musician an active Lotus Light Community member. By day, JD is an account director for the Knoxville-based Shelton Group, a marketing communications firm focused on creating market advantages for organizations working to create a sustainable future. At night, he works with local and regional artists to develop, record and curate their sound at his South Knoxville-based studio, Haywood Studios, under his independent label, Big Local.
Tim is a composer/arranger, singer/songwriter, producer/engineer, guitarist/lutenist, and many other slashes. As a composer, Tim is fluent in “classical” genres (orchestral, chamber, choral/vocal, marching/parade, church music) as well as in media music (film-scoring, promotional videos, etc) and experimental methods (electro-acoustic, interactive, auto-generative, alternative format, site-installation). His music has been featured in recitals and showcases in Nashville and Knoxville, most recently in the comprehensive outdoor installation piece “Music for Mailboxes: Parkridge,” produced in collaboration with Make Music Knoxville. Tim’s arrangement and production technique is versatile and multi-genre, but he has a special fondness for classic pop genres such as Vocal Big Band and Golden Age Broadway. Tim is currently in progress on a large scale orchestral recording project featuring performers from across the country, as well as two media-music commissions which are expecting release in the second half of 2021.
As a guitarist and singer/songwriter, Tim has performed at venues and festivals in Knoxville and around East Tennessee, including Scruffy City Hall, Union Place, Bearden Brickyard, Hexagon, Barebones 2020, The Verge 2021, the sustainable Future Center, and many others. Tim values bringing his audience novel encounters with beauty and lyricism, with elegance and pathos. Tim is an avid backpacker with around four-thousand miles of wilderness foot travel, and he strives to share music that cultivates the peace and dynamic presence of the backcountry. Tim graduated with his Bachelor’s of Music—Composition from Belmont University School of Music in 2014.
Darby O’Connor has been an active member of the Knoxville dance community for many years. Her training began at a young age at STUDIO ARTS for dancers. She is now on faculty, teaching modern, ballet and jazz since 2012 and began work as an administrative assistant in fall of 2017. During her education at STUDIO ARTS, Darby became a founding member of GO! Contemporary Dance Works in 2004. Today, she works as a choreographer and performer for the company. Also during that time, she began work with Circle Modern Dance as a guest artist in their annual production of Modern Dance Primitive Light in 2002. This work continues today, as Darby has transitioned to Core Member with CMD, fulfilling administrative duties, while dancing, choreographing and teaching for the company. Darby studied dance at Middle Tennessee State University from 2010 to 2011, performing with The MTSU Dance Theater. While at MTSU, she began work in a professional company, based in Chicago, directed by Erin Rehberg. Her work with Core Project Chicago, allowed her to travel on tour during the summer 2011, performing in many Fringe Festivals across the country. She worked with Core Project as Company Manager and Associate Artist until the organization dissolved in the summer of 2016. In recent years, Darby has worked with the University of Tennessee Dance Society as Modern Dance Choreographer, during BOSS Dance Company’s 2015-2017 seasons. She joined Momentum Dance Lab in spring of 2017, and is now an Associate Artist. Darby attended the American Dance Festival winter intensive during the turn of the 2018 new year and attended ADF in the summer of 2018 as Head Dorm Counselor. She is thrilled to continue teaching at STUDIO ARTS!