Originally founded in St. Louis amidst performances presented by ANNONYArts, director Ashley McQueen relocated Smashworks to New York City in 2015. After three years of company development, McQueen joined forces with friend Ana Lejava to launch Smashworks Advocacy, an initiative dedicated to the integration of human rights activism and performance.
Justin received his BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, training at the Meisner Studio. He has trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. As an actor, he has performed Off-Broadway and in many other productions in NYC. He has workshopped solo work under Austin Pendleton at The Directors Company. He has been a teaching artist for 15 years. He is currently the Education Director and Operations Manager for Zara Aina, a nonprofit organization that brings theater to at-risk communities in Madagascar and the United States. He was hired by UNICEF to use Zara Aina’s theater work to mobilize communities in Madagascar to fight polio. He has devised, written, and directed several original shows based on Malagasy folktales with Zara Aina’s Malagasy Youth Company. He has brought Zara Aina’s work to rural Southern Alabama, building original pageant-style shows with community members ages 4-84. Justin has directed and taught clowning and the devised “moment work” of the Tectonic Theater Project at NYU Tisch, Columbia University, the Studio/NY, The Public’s Shakespeare Initiative, and Terry Knickerbocker Studio. Recently Justin devised, wrote, and directed documentary theater pieces about a Jackson Heights hoarder, a triple amputee who runs a Hospice Center, and a 90-year-old woman who used to hunt Nazis. In the fall of 2018 Justin directed an all-female production of Schiller's Mary Stuart for his theater company Pigeonholed, of which he is the Founder and Artistic Director. In the spring of 2019, Justin received a SU-CASA grant from the Queens Council on the Arts to build an original piece of theater with senior citizens in Queens.
Sarah Dodd hails from Syracuse, NY and recently graduated from the University at Buffalo where she earned a BFA in Dance. In her training, Sarah has attended Bates Dance Festival and performed works by Hilary Easton, Shen Wei Dance Arts, Robert Battle, Jennifer Archibald, and Koresh Dance Company. Sarah also presented choreography at the SUNY Undergraduate Research Conference and represented the school at the ACDA Northeastern Conference. Since her move to the city, Sarah has performed and continued to work with Smashworks Dance Collective and Now Dance Project.
Manon Hallay was born in France. She started dancing in the Conservatoire de Tarbes and went to Bordeaux at 13 to study in a pre-professional course. Two years later she has been accepted to the Royal Ballet School of Antwerpen and had the opportunity to work with choreographer as Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui or Micheal Shannon. She moved out to New-York 5 years ago to integrate the Alvin Ailey school as a scholarship student. She is now dancing for several dance company including Amanda Selwyn Dance Theater, Smashworks Dance, and Les Ballets Nomades.
Louisa received her formal dance training in her home state of New Hampshire and is a graduate of the Certificate Program at Peridance Capezio Center, New York, NY. During her time in the program, she was selected to perform works by Igal Perry, Loni Landon, Ronald. K. Brown, Charlotta Ofverholm, Oniin Dance Company, and Caterina Rago. After completing the program, Louisa was part of the inaugural group at the Barton Movement's Axis Connect, where she performed an original work by Cindy Salgado. She has also performed professionally in New York with such choreographers as Yvonne Rainer for the Museum of Modern Art's Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done exhibition, Diego Funes, Pat Catterson, Pramila Vasudevan, Michelle Thompson-Ulerich, Emily Bufferd, Jacqueline Dugal, Monica Hogan, Yuki Hasagawa, and Joyce King. Most recently, Louisa premiered her own work, Strange Girl Dances: A Visual Duet with Melissa Stern, as part of a seven-episode collaboration with visual artist, Melissa Stern, at Garvey|Simon Gallery, New York, NY. Currently, she is collaborating on projects with Cleo Mack/The Rock Dance Collective and developing a new multi-media installation work with visual artist, Danielle Riede. Louisa is also the rehearsal director for De Funes Dance. In addition to performing, Louisa holds her B.A. in English Literature and Art History from New York University and is a coach at Row House, Columbus Circle. She is interested in finding the intersections between different mediums and modes of communication in all of her work.
Hope Salas is a New York City based actress, writer, producer, educator and teaching artist. Her credits include Hamlet at The Public Theatre with Andre Serban, The Caucasian Chalk Circle at the Bertolt Brecht Theatre (Germany) with Niki & Ula Woltz, Inside Out at Lincoln Center Institute with Liz Swados, Festival Of Screen Writers at Nyorican Poets Café with Anne Bogart, The Trojan Women at En Garde Arts with Tina Landau, Henry IV (parts 1 & 2) Colorado Shakespeare Festival with Michael Addison, Tired by Chiori Miyagawa at Soho Repertory, Awakenings by Miyagawa at PS 122; Woman Killer by Miyagawa at HERE with Sonoko Kawahara, Cause for Alarm at St. Marks Theatre with Ken Rus Schmoll. Her resume also includes recurring roles on daytime TV dramas Another World and Guiding Light. She has taught theater classes in the US, Spain, South Africa, Uganda and Rwanda. While teaching in South Africa, Hope initiated a puppet program for orphaned children living at The Red Cross Children’s Hospital founded by Desmond Tutu, the only orphanage in sub-Sahara Africa. Hope received her MFA in Acting from Columbia University ; received her MS. Ed in Museum Education Early Childhood Education from Bank Street Graduate School of Education and received a certificate in puppetry arts from the University of Connecticut.
Sarah Starkweather is a dancer and fitness professional living in New York City. Since 2009, Sarah has performed over 100 times with professional dance companies from Texas, Missouri, and New York. Sarah has worked with choreographers such as Jennifer Archibald, Amanda Selwyn, Liz Imperio, Ashle Dawson, Mitzi Adams, Ashley L. Tate, Jennifer Medina, and Ashley McQueen. Sarah holds a BA in Psychology from The University of Texas at San Antonio during which time she also began her classical training with Catalina Garza, Ernesto Quenedit and Esther Mayer of The Cuban National and Royal Ballet, respectively. Sarah is a founding member of the San Antonio Dance Fringe, and continues to teach technical and leadership workshops across the United States through MA Dance, for whom she also adjudicates regional and national dance competitions. Sarah has been a certified fitness trainer since 2014 and currently teaches group fitness classes for Equinox.
Madeleine is originally from Austin, Texas. She first moved to New York to pursue her dance training at SUNY Purchase College in 2014. Madeleine graduated Summa Cum Laude from The Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College with a BFA in Dance Performance and a minor in Arts Management. During her time in college she had the pleasure of performing works by Larry Keigwin, Kevin Wynn, Merce Cunningham, Sue Bernhard and Keerati Junakunwiphat. Since moving to the city, she has had the honor to perform professionally with Smashworks Dance, LaneCoArts, Drye/Marinaro Dance Company Buglisi Dance Theatre, and Patmon Dance Project amongst others. Madeleine is thrilled to begin her first season dancing with Smashworks Dance!
LAURIE DÉZIEL was born in Shawinigan, Canada. She trained at L’École de danse contemporaine de Montréal, The School of Toronto Dance Theatre and was a scholarship graduate of The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance where she worked alongside Graham II. She performed in Heretic at The Martha Graham Company’s 90th Anniversary Season at the New York City Center. Laurie was a choreographer and soloist for the Balasole Dance Company’s season MIXTUS presented at the Ailey CitiGroup Theatre. She works as a freelance dancer, actor and model for various project companies in the city. She is excited to embark on her 3rd season with Smashworks Dance as a proud performing artist and human rights advocate.