Cornish Dance Theater Spring 2017 Concert

SEATTLE, WA – Cornish Dance Theater, the performing ensemble of the 100-year-old Dance Department at Cornish College of the Arts, ends the season with the Spring 2017 Concert. This year, the Cornish Dance students perform the choreography of Leigh-Ann Cohen-Hafford, Wade Madsen, Karen O’Branovich, Alia Swersky, and Deborah Wolf.

Located in Seattle, Washington, Cornish College of the Arts' Dance Department was established in the 1916/17 academic year, making it the oldest continuing dance department in North America. Incipient modern dance forms as well as classicaly training were part of the curriculum from the very beginning. The many dancers who studied at Cornish include Bonnie Bird, Merce Cunningham, Robert Joffrey, Ezra Dickinson, Syvilla Fort, Amy O'Neal, Dana Sapiro, Louise Soelberg, and many more.

For the Spring 2017 Concert, Cornish graduate Alia Swersky’s site-specific piece will take place in the Cornish Playhouse courtyard prior to the stage production – "the sad sanctuary" explores the myriad ways women gather and inhabit space together, with special attention to notions of support and witness. Leigh-Ann Cohen-Hafford’s contemporary ballet piece "RISE!" tackles global violence towards women and is a call to rise and dance for defiance and revolution. The theme of female empowerment continues in Wade Madsen’s modern piece, "Alice," which is an exploration of the women’s movement in the late 1960s interpreted through the story of Alice in Wonderland. Deborah Wolf’s piece uses dance and vocalizations to investigate ideas of oppression and freedom. In "A Joyful Breath," Karen O’Branovich’s sweeping jazz piece, Bossa Nova and the Ziegfield Follies are reimagined and synthesized into an utterly modern and luxurious extravaganza!

Cornish Dance Theater Spring 2017 Concert

April 21 at 8:00 p.m. (site-specific piece in Playhouse courtyard to run from 6:45-7:30 p.m.)

April 22 at 2:00 p.m. (site-specific piece in Playhouse courtyard to run from 12:45-1:30 p.m.) and 8:00 p.m. (site-specific piece in Playhouse courtyard to run from 6:45-7:30 p.m.)
Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center

Tickets: $15 general, $7 seniors, $5 Cornish staff, students & Cornish alumni
Presented with support from the Bossak Heilbron Charitable Foundation

The Saturday, April 22, matinee performance will be followed by an informal question and answer period with Cornish Dance students. For more information on how to purchase tickets please
visit or call 800.838.3006. For TeenTix ($5 Tickets for ages 13-19) visit

More About 2017 Spring Cornish Dance Theater Choreographers

Leigh-Ann Cohen-Hafford has been teaching student and professional dancers for over 20 years, with over 13 years at Cornish Preparatory Program. She was Artistic Director of Conservatory Ballet of Washington and Director of the Ballet Department at Washington Academy of Performing Arts. She served as a dance faculty member at Oakland University, MI and assistant coach at Ballet British Columbia. She has taught master classes and guest classes across the USA and Canada. As a performer, Cohen-Hafford danced principal roles in numerous classical ballets, as well as in works by some of the most eminent contemporary choreographers including Ashton, Balanchine, Butler, Cranko, Tetley, and Forsythe. She was fortunate to work personally with many of these choreographers as well as with distinguished ballet directors, teachers and choreographers. She toured and performed extensively nationally and internationally with companies in North America, including Ballet BC, Ballet Jorgen, Metropolitan Ballet Theater and Pennsylvania Ballet, and was an invited guest artist for numerous schools and companies. Cohen-Hafford has a diploma in Dance Training from George Brown College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto and an advanced certificate in Spanish dance. Her choreography has been performed by companies in Canada and the United States and she has choreographed and staged for Cornish Preparatory Dance’s Spring concerts and the Nutcracker.

Wade Madsen has been teaching in the Seattle area for over 37 years. He has taught at Cornish College of the Arts for over 31 years and premiered nearly 33 dances for Cornish Dance Theater. Madsen currently teaches community classes at Velocity Dance Center. He finds new growth and stamina as a teacher with various workshops and performances throughout the country. He has taught at the Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop since 1982. His company, Wade Madsen and Dancers, has premiered over 200 works since 1977. A former member of the Bill Evans Dance Company and Tandy Beal & Company, Madsen has received choreographic grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Washington State, King County, Seattle Arts Commission, Artist’s Trust, and Allied Arts. In 2012, Madsen was honored by Velocity Dance Center for his body of work as a choreographer and teacher. He has received the ‘Outstanding Teacher of the year’ award three times during his teaching career at Cornish. He has teaching ranges from all levels of modern technique, choreography, modern partnering, Repertory, collaboration study and his work on the College dance company. His work has been produced internationally and in Seattle by the Allegro! Dance Festival, Seattle Dance Project, On the Boards, Bumbershoot, Rockhopper Dance, d-9 dance collective, Dance Gallery and Bellingham Repertory Dance in Bellingham, Spectrum Dance Theater, and Seattle Opera. Wade has been a touring company member with the Dayna Hanson group since 2004 and was recently seen in ‘The Improvement Club,’ a film based on the 2012 touring production of ‘Gloria’s Cause’ by Dayna Hanson.

Karen O’Branovich grew up as a competitive figure skater, but after participating in musicals in college she fell in love with performing on stage and has been dancing ever since. After college, she moved to New York City where she worked as a figure skating instructor in Central Park, and was eventually hired to instruct Jazz and Tap at Steps on Broadway. She also performed within Steps’ Professional Training Program. In her career as a dancer, she's been a member of several professional modern and tap companies in Arizona, New York City, and Seattle, has performed locally with oaklanDrive, Redd Legg Dance, Badmarmar Dance, and is currently a proud member of MarloArizDance directed by Marlo Ariz. O’Branovich is now the Assistant Director of eXit SPACE School of Dance in Seattle, WA where she teaches dancers of all ages. She presented a piece in Full Tilt 2016 at Velocity Dance Center, and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Cornish College for the Arts teaching Jazz in their Dance Department. O’Branovich is excited to be presenting a new work in their 2017 Spring Cornish Dance Theater concert. A huge fan of MGM-era musicals, O’Branovich strives to bring that effervescent feel into the present while keeping the art of Jazz dance alive.

Alia Swersky is a movement artist, performer and teacher, engaged deeply in the vital act of dance improvisation. She graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in 1998 with a BFA in dance and has been an adjunct faculty member at Cornish since 2005. She has taught at Velocity’s Strictly Seattle Festival and the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation (SFDI). She was a long time Co-artistic director of Dance Art Group (DAG), a non-profit organization that promotes the practice and appreciation of dance and somatic education in the Seattle area, including the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation. Influences and inspiration come from her many years being immersed in movement practices and performance. Specific forms include contact improvisation, release/somatic techniques, yoga, Authentic Movement, Tuning Scores, Aikido, Buddhist meditation, and many pivotal dance partners and teachers. Swersky danced and toured nationally and internationally as a member of the LeGendre Performance Group. She has also collaborated and performed in the works of many Seattle artists some of which include The Maureen Whiting Company, Khambatta Dance Company, Jurg Koch, KT Niehoff, and Salt Horse. Swersky has been actively teaching, performing, and creating improvisational and choreographic works in Seattle since 1998.

Deborah Wolf began her professional career performing with the State University of New York at Brockport’s Company in Residence. Shortly thereafter she joined Concert Dance Company of Boston, New England’s premier modern repertory company, performing works by over 50 choreographers including Merce Cunningham, Laura Dean, David Gordon, Wendy Perron, Bebe Miller, Mark Morris, and Randy Warshaw. She became CDC’s Resident Choreographer and eventually added CDC’s Artistic Directorship to her duties. Other performance credits include Seachange Theater Ensemble, New York Chambre Dance Ensemble and Peter DiMuro and Associates. A recipient of a Massachusetts Artist Foundation Fellowship and seven Finalist Awards in choreography, Wolf has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Boston and Somerville Arts Lottery Councils, Seattle’s Artist Trust, and 4Culture. Deborah has choreographed for the Boston Ballet, the Boston Symphony Youth Concert Series, and numerous other companies both in New England and Seattle. Producer and performer of her own choreography through WolfWorks, she has also been produced by among others: Boston’s Dance Umbrella, Boston Dances, Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Series, New England Choreographers’ Showcase, and in Seattle area by Velocity’s Strictly Seattle and Under Construction, Rockhopper’s On the Side, Dance On Capitol Hill’s Choreofest and Intimate Works, Eastside Moving Company, Men in Dance/Against the Grain Festival of Dancing, Powell/Scott’s Composer/Choreographer #6, Lehua Dance Theater, Evoke Productions’ Full Tilt, Bellingham Repertory Dance Company and On the Boards’ 12 Min Max Mainstage and Northwest New Works Festival. Her choreography was selected for the A.W. A. R. D. Show! 2009 administered by the Joyce Theater Foundation, performed at On the Boards, and was a finalist for the event by audience selection. Her teaching credits include Harvard University, Rhode Island College, Boston Ballet, SUNY/Brockport, and currently as Professor of Dance at Cornish College of the Arts. She has served on the boards of d9 Dance Collective, Velocity Dance Center and as a panelist for New England Foundation for the Arts, Seattle Arts Commission and the Seattle Fringe Festival. Deborah received her BA in Dance from State University of New York/Brockport. Wolf was recently included in the Dancing Over 50 Project,, and is a co-producer for the Men in Dance Festival.