Jennifer McQuiston Lott
Jennifer McQuiston Lott enjoys a varied career as a dancer, choreographer, teacher, director and advocate for the arts. Company credits include Gibney Dance Company, Groundworks Dancetheater, Armitage Gone! Dance, Inlet Dance Theatre, Collective Body Dance Lab, Eglevsky Ballet, and others. Her choreographic works and short dance films have been presented by USC Visions & Voices and at the Newport Beach Film Festival, The LA Short Film Fest, Baryshnikov Arts Center, National Sawdust, Celebrate Brooklyn!, Chen Dance Center’s Newsteps, the Thang Dao Dance Festival, at The Dead/Live Festival (Boston), The Cleveland Public Theatre, New Haven’s Educational Center for the Arts, The Southern Theater in Minneapolis, and Festival Miden (Germany). She has created works for Cleveland’s Ingenuity Festival, Gibney Dance Center, the Laguna Dance Festival, Baldwin Wallace University’s Bach Festival, Rockford Dance Company, and has choreographed music videos for groups Son Lux and My Brightest Diamond. She assisted choreographer Jodie Gates with the creation of new works for Tulsa Ballet and Kansas City Ballet, and staged Ms. Gates’ ballets at Sacramento Ballet and Princeton University. Lott is a featured performer in the official Son Lux videos Undone (dir. David Terry Fine, chor. Tyler Gilstrap) and You Don’t Know Me (dir. Nathan Johnson/The Made Shop). Her critically-acclaimed film Caught in the Chamber, a collaboration with composer Andrew Norman and director Nathan Johnson, is currently being streamed by UC Berkeley's Cal Performances in virtual concert with celebrated chamber ensemble yMusic.
In 2012, Lott & Brent Whitney launched the Traverse City Dance Project, a seasonal company for professional dance artists in Traverse City, MI. In 2020, Lott developed and directed the TCDP's 2020 No-Distance Festival, a virtual showcase of collaborative works from over 35 artists worldwide. She co-choreographed Parallel 45 Theatre Festival's production of Hair: The American Tribal Love Rock Musical (2019) and The Sound of Music (2021), and has collaborated with the Traverse Symphony Orchestra on performances at the City Opera House and Interlochen Center for the Arts.
Lott earned her BFA in Ballet Performance from Indiana University, and her MFA in Dance from the University of California, Irvine, where she was awarded a Graduate Fellowship, the Medici Scholarship, and the Sheila K. & James J. Peterson Community Spirit Scholarship. She is certified in GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® and is an ABT® Certified Teacher in Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. She has served on the faculty of Interlochen Summer Arts Camp, and taught master classes and workshops nationally and internationally, including DOCH (Stockholm, Sweden), Ikapa Dance Theatre (Cape Town, South Africa), the Académie Américaine de Danse (Paris, France) and Muhlenberg College (PA). Since 2018, she has had the honor of being one of only eight North American instructors of Countertechnique, an innovative and athletic contemporary dance technique developed by Dutch choreographer Anouk van Dijk. In 2016, she joined the faculty of the USC Kaufman School of Dance as an Assistant Professor. She and her family divide their time between Los Angeles, Traverse City, and Indianapolis. www.lottdance.com, www.tcdanceproject.org.
Executive & Artistic Director
Brent Whitney currently resides in Brooklyn, NY where he is the Executive & Co-Artistic Director of the Traverse CIty Dance Project, freelance choreographer, and an entrepreneur in the wellness/massage industry. Originally from Traverse City, MI, he began his early dance training at Dance Arts Academy and Ballet Etc. It became evident around nine years old that dance was his truest profession. After high school Brent continued on as a dance major at Western Michigan University. His first professional job was with the Milwaukee Ballet Company where he performed a variety of classical and contemporary roles by some of the world's leading choreographers over the course of four years. After spending a few summers training in New York City, he knew he was destined for the big Apple and made the move. During his 11 years in NYC, he danced with Judith Fugate’s Ballet NY, BalletX, Connecticut Ballet, New York Theatre Ballet, San Diego Opera, Toledo Opera, Carolina Opera, Dance Key West, Lustig Dance Theatre, and the Oakland Ballet. Some of his performance highlights include William Forsythe’s Slingerland Duo, Balanchine’s Agon & Who Cares, Stanton Welch’s Orange, Iago in John Butler’s Othello, Karole Armitage Ligetto Essays, Jodie Gates Delicate Balance, and Mark Godden’s The Magic Flute. His classical repertoire includes Swan Lake, Giselle, Carmen, Nutcracker, Coppelia, Don Q, Dracula, Cinderella, and Romeo & Juliet. Brent is also a choreographer and has created work for a variety of dance and theatre companies.
In 2012 he and his Co-Artistic director Jennifer McQuiston Lott founded the Traverse City Dance Project (tcdanceproject.org) to bring professional dance to his hometown and create opportunities for dancers, choreographers, and musicians. Brent has been privileged to collaborate with two of the other professional arts organizations in Traverse City including a program he directed and choreographed with the Traverse Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kevin Rhoes. Last summer Brent and his TCDP Co-director choreographed the musical HAIR for Parallel 45 Theatre company. He previously served as the Ballet Master to NYC based contemporary ballet company Ballet Inc. He teaches professional ballet warm up class for a variety of companies including NYC Community Ballet, that offers subsidized ballet class for professionals. Brent is also a licensed Massage Therapist and has his associates degree in occupational health from the Harvard of massage schools, The Swedish Institute. He specializes in sports rehabilitation and injury prevention for dancers and other athletes at his private practice in NY and MI.
Board President / Company Photographer
Susan Kettering is the Board President of the Traverse City Dance Project and the Vice President of The Kettering Family Foundation. A longtime advocate for dance, Susan is also a member of the Advisory Boards of Boca Ballet Theatre, and The Atlanta Ballet. She also serves on the board at Glen Arbor Art Center, and Interlochen Center for the Arts. As a mother of four and grandmother of five, Susan loves to travel and visit with her family, and of course, they are always ready to join her in Northern Michigan in the summer. Susan has also been the Company Photographer for TCDP since 2014. View her photo gallery online at ssketteringphotography.com.
Hungarian-American violinist Hajnal Pivnick has developed a career as a performer and curator promoting community-driven music by modern and living composers. Her work has been recognized through foundational support from New Music USA, the Barlow Endowment, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She is co-artistic director of Tenth Intervention, a collective of musicians that explores the intersection of performance and experiential art, and its potential to reflect social issues. She is also the music director of the Traverse City Dance Company. As a soloist and chamber musician she has performed in festivals, conferences, and concert series in the United States, Cuba, and Europe. She attended Carnegie Mellon University, studying with Andrés Cárdenes, and received her master’s degree from the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary, studying with Eszter Perényi. Hajnal is a member of the violin faculty at Interlochen Arts Camp, Opus 118 Harlem School of Music, Greenwich House School of Music, and Lucy Moses School at Kaufman Music Center, and frequently works as a chamber music coach with the Face the Music/Kronos Quartet program. She is the program manager of Musicambia, which brings music learning and ensemble performance to prisons throughout the United States. Upcoming projects include the debut album of Shepherdess Duo, on New Focus Records in Fall 2020.
Justin Koertgen was a principle dancer for the Dayton Ballet for twelve seasons. Justin trained at Interlochen Arts Academy from 1995-2000, as well as the San Francisco Ballet, and the Joffrey Ballet. Highlights from his time with the Dayton Ballet include the roles of "Dracula", "Laertes", in Stephen Mills' Hamlet, "Romeo" and "Tybalt" in Septime Webre's Romeo and Juliet, "Don Jose" in Webre's Carmen, and the title role in Christopher Fleming's The Who's Tommy. Justin has also danced for Ballet Fleming, Charleston Ballet, Ballet Montana, Boca Ballet, Huntsville Ballet, Hawaii Ballet Theater, the Traverse City Dance Project, and the Tivoli Garden summer festival in Denmark. He has worked as the Ballet Master and the Repetiteur for the Dayton Ballet, the Traverse Dance Project and for Ballet Fleming. Justin has taught all over the country including Huntsville Ballet, Mercyhurst University, City Center Ballet, Berkeley Ballet Theater, The Montana Dance Arts Association, and Interlochen Center for the Arts. Justin's choreography has been showcased at Interlochen Center for the Arts, Mercy Hurst University, Northwest Michigan Ballet Theater, the Harvest Gathering Music Festival, and The Dayton Ballet. Justin has also staged the works of Christopher Fleming around the country. Justin is an ABT certified teacher. He is currently a freelance teacher, dancer, and choreographer, and coach for YAGP.
Grant Writer & Communications Consultant
Julie Hay supports TCDP with grant writing and communications consulting. She holds her B.A. and M.A. from The University of Michigan where she took one ballet class to fulfill an arts credit requirement. Julie is amazed by the talent and vision of TCDP, and she looks forward to amplifying the creative vision of the organization’s future endeavors. She resides in northern Michigan where she works as a professional grant writer and communications consultant.
Rachel Malehorn is a photographer, videographer, graphic designer, and ballet teacher based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During her 13-year career with the Milwaukee Ballet, Rachel developed a strong interest in photographing dancers. She relishes the challenge of capturing a sense of movement through still images, while also celebrating the inherent sculptural nature of ballet. Over time, she expanded her work into the videographic medium, collaborating with local musicians, directing, and shooting videos as meditations on her interest in time, memory, history, and growth. Rachel has helped to create marketing campaign materials for the Milwaukee Ballet, Engage Dance Academy, the Milwaukee Dancers' Fund, and is a veteran graphic designer for the Traverse City Dance Project.
Asia Pyron is a freelance choreographer and the director of PYDANCE. Asia is originally from Atlanta, GA but received most of her early training at Interlochen Arts Academy in Northern Michigan. After graduating highschool, Asia attended the Boston Conservatory at Berklee where she received her B.F.A. in Contemporary Performance and Composition in 2020. During her time in Boston, she formed her dance collective, PYDANCE, and performed in local dance festivals such as the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, Onstage360, and the Boston Conservatory WinterWorks concerts. Asia has been a guest artist for multiple companies such as the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, DanceLab NY, VLA Dance, and QuarIntensive. She has also been a finalist in various choreography competitions such as Choreography Online, the UNCSA Summer Residency program, and the Mare Nostrum Elements: Emerging Choreographers Series. Asia currently resides in Nashville, TN, where she continues to create work for PYDANCE and other dance organizations throughout the country.
Abby Schulze is a current dance and biology major at the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. She has attended summer studies at Inaside Chicago, University of South Carolina Dance Conservatory, and with Los Angeles based contemporary company BodyTraffic. Along with choreographing ensemble and solo pieces at local studio N-Step Dance Academy, she instructed ballet, jazz, and lyrical classes for four years. Abby is recognized as an international finalist for her work in DECA, a global marketing career development organization. She is a 2020 Scholar with Honor for her interdisciplinary art studies in the perception of dance and movement. She continues to explore the intersection of business and the arts, as well as choreography influenced by anatomical and biological studies of the human body.