Elizabeth Yntema is the President & Founder of the Dance Data Project®. She is a member of the Board of Trustees for WTTW/WFMT and the Board of Directors of the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Liza was graduated from the University of Virginia in 1980 and is 1984 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, where she was awarded the Jane L. Mixer Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Social Justice. Ms. Yntema is a past member of numerous organizations in the Chicagoland area, including the Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Company, Women’s Bar Association, Trust for Public Land in Illinois, Winnetka Board of the Northwestern Settlement House, the Children’s Home and Aid Society, and the Junior League of Chicago, where she was named as Volunteer of the Year for her work advocating for homeless women and children.
Named to the final full year training cohort of The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW) in 2018, Liza spent a year honing her skills as part of “the next generation of strategic philanthropists.” TPW is a global network of over 450 selected philanthropists, from 26 countries.
Ms. Yntema has underwritten ballets for Sacramento and Pacific Northwest Ballets, the Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Company and BalletX, including world premieres by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa (Mammatus) and Stephanie Martinez (Bliss!). She has also supported works by Penny Saunders, Robyn Minenko Williams, Amy Seiwert and Eva Stone, as well as Nicolas Blanc and Christopher Wheeldon. Liza was Lead Sponsor of Crystal Pite’s work Solo Echo as part of the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Hubbard Street Dance Company. Most recently, Ms. Yntema is supporting Penny Saunders’ new production with Ballet Idaho and sponsoring Aszure Barton’s new work with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.
In May 2018, American Ballet Theatre announced the launch of its ABT Women’s Movement, a multi-year initiative supporting the creation of new works by female choreographers for the company. Ms. Yntema, along with the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, was an initial Principal Sponsor for this initiative and continues to support its development. Ms. Yntema recently joined the Boston Ballet’s multi-year initiative ChoreograpHER as a Lead Sponsor. Liza also actively supports the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s choreographic initiative for female students, New Voices.
Liza and Dance Data Project® have been featured in the book Women and Leadership: Journey Toward Equity by Lisa DeFrank-Cole, Professor and Director of Leadership Studies at West Virginia University and Sherylle J. Tan, Ph. D. a developmental psychologist and Director of Internships and KLI Research at the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College. Ms. Yntema has also been awarded the inaugural Top Tier Feminist Giver Award by Philanthropy Women in March of 2021.
DDP’s ground breaking work is featured in the book Turning Pointe: How A New Generation of Dancers is Saving Ballet From Itself, published in May 2021.
Shanti Aisha Drake
Strategic Operations Manager
Shanti is a former dancer who began her training in classical ballet, continuing in Graham, Horton, and jazz techniques, as well as African and Native American dance. Combining her love for dance with her passion for social justice and equity, she spent time as a teacher and choreographer, focusing on communities with less access to the study of classical ballet.
Shanti’s professional work outside of dance weaves together a unique tapestry of leadership experience in non profit fundraising, development, research and advocacy, business retail, and community engagement.
Connection and relationship being at the heart of Shanti’s collaborative leadership style, she is a strong proponent of access and representation. Proud to be a part of the DDP team, Shanti is thrilled to support work toward the advancement of equity in dance. Now the mother of a dancer, Shanti resides in the Chicago area with her daughter, Siberian Husky and rescue cat.
Research and Project Lead
Michayla Kelly holds a BA in Mathematics and Dance from Goucher College, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and received the Julia Rogers Research Prize for her capstone paper, The Fundamental Shared Essence of Dance and Mathematics. Michayla has performed with ballet, opera, and contemporary companies and is currently the Company Manager for VLA DANCE, an emerging contemporary company in Boston, MA. She is also an educator of both ballet and mathematics and has been commissioned by the state of Massachusetts as an independent data analyst. She is passionate about the intersection of mathematics and social justice and proud to join the DDP team in using quantitative research to advocate for a more just and transparent dance world. Michayla joined the DDP team in spring 2021.
Isabelle is a recent graduate of Butler University with a BFA in Dance Performance and BS in Mathematics. At Butler, Isabelle has been recognized with the Eileen Poston Dance Scholarship for outstanding performance, as well as the Amos Carpenter Memorial Award for excellence in mathematics. She recently joined Phi Beta Kappa and will be completing her professional certification in Data Science in the coming months before beginning her first season as a professional ballet dancer with Ballet Austin. Isabelle is eager to meld her interests while championing equity in dance.
Technology and Digital Lead
Jason has over ten years of project management, design, and software development experience, overseeing digital and design project for small start ups. He arrived at his current position through a circuitous route through studying literature, working in publishing, literary magazines, and other such ventures.
Jason and his team are behind the graphic design of the DDP website, reports, advertisements, and more. He joined the DDP team in 2018 and resides in Chicago.
Special Projects Consultant
San Francisco native BRADFORD CHIN (he/him) is a San Francisco- and Los Angeles-based dance artist, scholar, and DEI/accessibility consultant & audio describer for dance. Described by LA Dance Chronicle as “conceptually fun,” his works have been presented at festivals, museums, and schools. Formerly with AXIS Dance Company, he has performed works by choreographers including Arthur Pita, Jennifer Archibald, and Robert Dekkers, and has additionally danced with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Contempo Ballet, and Laurel Jenkins among others. Specializing in physically integrated dance and inclusive teaching methods, Chin has taught ballet, contemporary modern, improvisation, composition, and jazz techniques in ten states and internationally. For two years, he co-directed stART in partnership with ARTX and with funding by Arts Council for Long Beach. His applied and scholarly research centers on equity, pedagogy, and aesthetics in Western concert dance culture. He earned his BFA in Dance from California State University, Long Beach.
Special Projects Consultant
Bailey is a senior dance education major at Southern Utah University. She currently sits as Associate Director for Southern Utah University Dance Organization. Bailey works and teaches throughout her community to bring awareness to and advocate for dance. She is especially passionate about advocacy and research related to gender equity within the arts. Bailey joined the DDP team as an intern in 2021.
Computer Science Consultant
Hayley is a recent Butler University graduate who received a BA in Dance Pedagogy and completed minors in both Computer Science and Mathematics. In addition to her schoolwork and performances at Butler, Hayley served the dance department as President of Sigma Rho Delta. Over the summer, she completed the Simonson Method of Teacher Training course becoming certified to teach Simonson Technique. Originally from San Diego, she is currently a freelance dancer and teacher in New York City. Hayley is excited to combine her love of the arts and sciences with DDP.
Ellen is a former professional ballet dancer with a wide variety of experience in the education, arts, and nonprofit spaces based in Indianapolis, IN. She has significant interest in women’s representation and equity in the arts, which led her to DDP’s work. She holds a M.S.Ed in Higher Education & Student Affairs and a B.S. in Ballet with an Outside Field in English, both from Indiana University. For DDP, she manages external communications, PR, and social media. She joined the DDP team in Fall 2020.
Lee Nah is a senior at Lane Tech High School in Chicago, IL. She has been a dancer since the age of three and currently works with Joffrey Ballet Community Engagement in their Exelon Strobel Dancers Program. As a member of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Chicago Youth Commission, she represents youth voices in Chicago and collaborates with city leaders to develop youth-focused outreach programs. She is an advocate for the destigmatization of mental health and body-image disorders and is passionate about arts equity and social activism.
Katherine Wang (she/her) is a freshman at Stanford University prospectively studying Symbolic Systems and Sociology with a minor in Dance. She previously attended Phillips Academy in Andover, MA, where she received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award upon graduating. There, she continued her thirteen years of concert dance training, served as a Head of the Dance Program and Captain of the varsity-level dance performance ensemble, in addition to having directed and choreographed for numerous productions. Through the CAMD Scholars fellowship, Katherine investigated the role of racial fetishism and cultural appropriation in concert dance, reflecting her dedication to instilling equity in the performance arts.
Jenesis Williams is a freshman at Columbia University studying data science and human rights. In her work, she hopes to use big data to solve even bigger problems in dance and beyond. She has studied the Cecchetti method of ballet and the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus for the past eight years. She joined the DDP team as an intern in 2019.
A Leadership Award recipient at Mount Holyoke College, Sophia is a senior majoring in data science with a domain area in dance. She discovered her interest in data research before college through an internship in the sociology department of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she resolved data issues that led to an acknowledgment on one study. Her long-term interests focus on using data science as a tool to actively support diversity and equity in the arts and larger social issues that we face today.
We appreciate the partnership between Mount Holyoke and Dance Data Project® in providing us with Sophia’s time this summer.
Elena Dalla Torre
Social Media Coordinator
Elena Dalla Torre is a senior at Montclair State University seeking a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of the Arts in Communications and Media Arts. She has both experience in choreography, as well as performance, participating in works choreographed by Stefanie Batten Bland, Shannon Gillen, and Ohad Naharin. As a student she advocates for equity and understanding through work in gender and race. Noteworthy awards include 8 consecutive semesters on Montclair State University’s dean’s list.
Christiana McLeod Horn
Christiana McLeod Horn is a recent alumna of Spelman College, with a Bachelor of the Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography. She graduated with honors, is a published author, and has an extensive history studying dance and dance theory. Originally from Augusta, Georgia, McLeod Horn is a movement artist with a passion for social change.
Dance Data Project® is grateful to Dr. Veta Goler, the retiring Spelman Dance Department chair, for promoting DDP and our internships to Spelman dance majors.
Junyla Silmon is a movement artist from Canton, Mississippi. She is currently a senior at Montclair State University earning a BFA in Dance Performance and a Minor in Business Administration. Junyla recently joined FreeSpace Dance Company of Upper Montclair, New Jersey. She has worked with notable choreographers including Fredrick Earl Mosley, Mark Dendy, Christian Von Howard, and Stefanie Batten Bland. With a love for community, individual expression, and the vast human experience, her art expands upon the desire to amplify humanity through physical storytelling. Coinciding with her artistic passions, Junyla is also a student representative in the Artist of Color Advisory Council and the ADVANCE team, which are two organizations committed to enhancing diversity, inclusion, and equity within the Theatre and Dance Department of her university.
Dance Data Project® would like to thank our friend Choreographer Stefanie Batten Bland for promoting DDP’s internship opportunities.