Raven Taisce White is a visual and movement artist, a queer woman, an activist, a southerner, and an ocean-lover. Her practice is that of improvisation, the push to continually unknow herself and her surroundings, and the seeing of what happens.
She realized she was an artist when, at 15, she forgot to bring her music books to piano lessons. Her teacher said “Raven, your mind is foggy. Like an artist’s.” This marked the first time Raven accepted — if momentarily — the part of herself that was always lost in the world.
Raven went to Princeton University, where she majored in performance and visual art while advocating for queer recognition and rights. She began improvising at Princeton with Aynsley Vandenbroucke and discovered that improvisation was one of the rare dance forms in which a lost person was celebrated and a queer body was welcomed. Improvisation became the foundation of Raven’s work, and she went on to improvise with Susan Marshall, Rebecca Lazier, Rebecca Stenn, Sonja Pregrad, and Sidra Bell in various programs, processes, and performances in New York City and Berlin.
Raven founded BIRDHOUSE in 2017 with Emily Yetta Wohl, Bryn Hlava, Sebastian Abarbanell, and Maximillion Hawkeye Canion. She wanted to bring people she admired and cared about together to not only make art, but to create a community. Since then, her world has been transformed as BIRDHOUSE has grown into a powerful group of artists unique in their generosity and dedication to one another. This is more than Raven could have asked for, or even imagined. She now devotes herself to directing BIRDHOUSE with friend and co-director Bryn Hlava.
Bryn Hlava is a Brooklyn-based movement artist, from Portland, Oregon. She graduated with her B.S. in Dance & Psychology from University of Oregon, focusing on Developmental Psychopathology. Exploring improvisation, sensation, texture and sensuality, Bryn is interested in collaboration with artists of all mediums. She is fascinated with the human body and how we can change form within ourselves, in the context of others, within the spaces we find ourselves in. How do we manifest ourselves with the choices we make? How can we move authentically and collaborate with others as our true selves?
Returning again and again to the body, we dive deeper into what we truly desire. How we move, what motivates us, how we approach one another. Always questioning and finding answers are often irrelevant. We can always go deeper and move from a truer place. Understanding our bodies more every day, we learn we are always changing. Always adapting to the current moment. How can we be fully present within each moment? What do you see?
Bryn co-directs BIRDHOUSE, which she and Raven Taisce White founded in 2018 with Sebastian Abarbanell, Emily Wohl, and Maxi Canion. Bryn has performed under the directions of Michelle Boulé, Susan Marshall and Raven Taisce White at various venues including The Chocolate Factory (Long Island City), La Mama Downstairs (NYC) and TheaterLab (NYC). Bryn continues her research with Sidra Bell Dance NY, Shen Wei Dance Arts, Gallim Dance, New Dialect (Nashville, TN) and Gaga/people. She is a 200-hour certified Yoga Teacher with The Bhakti Center and Stanton Street Yoga and teaches yoga and meditation in NYC, furthering her research in movement and understanding the intricacies of the human body.
Sebastian Abarbanell is a New York City based dance artists originally from Berlin, Germany. He works as a performer, choreographer, teacher and has collaborated with a variety of artists.
Sebastian moved to New York City in 2015 after receiving his first class BA with honors at Trinity Laban in London. He has since worked with Andrea Miller’s Gallim Dance and is currently a company member of Sidra Bell Dance New York.
As a solo artist, Sebastian has presented his work at international venues and festivals in Poland, Germany, Spain, UK, Mexico, and the US, and with his partner César Brodermann he has co-created various works with performances in Canada and the US. His solo work parasites was awarded the 1st prize and audience prize at contact.energy Tanztheater Festival Erfurt 2018 and for Tian he received the Emerging Choreographer prize at SoloDuo Festival in Cologne, Germany.
Sebastian’s teaching credits include University of the Arts, New Jersey Dance Theater Ensemble, Marigny Opera Ballet, MICHIYAYA Dance, Ball State University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Black Studio in Mexico City, and The Underground Centre in Toronto, Canada.
Sebastian met Raven Taisce White in the Summer of 2016 when they both attended Springboard Danse Montreal. They started collaborating shortly after and Raven subsequently invited Sebastian to be part of her collective BIRDHOUSE.
Sienna Blaw is a dance artist born and raised in Austin, TX. From a young age she was exposed to movement simply as a means of creative personal expression. The sense of community and communication that practice imbued has never left her, and Sienna now finds a deep interest in collaborative dance practices and processes with fellow artists in New York City and beyond. She graduated with honors from SUNY Purchase, where she had the immense pleasure to perform a wide range of works by Rosalind Newman, Taryn Kashock-Russel, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Trisha Brown, Doug Varone and others. Sienna has since founded a repertory dance company with fellow graduates Claire Deane and Erin Landers. Their company, A-Y/dancers, aims to program dynamic repertory for a new audience in the Hudson Valley region. Their current season includes works by Merce Cunningham, Doug Varone, and Hannah Garner (2nd Best Dance Company). Sienna continues to collaborate with BIRDHOUSE, Emily Kessler, and others while pursuing her company’s vision across New York State.
Maximillion Canion is a Queer movement/solo artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from El Paso, TX, they received a BFA in Dance Performance at The University of Texas at El Paso (2014). During their time in the border city they were welcomed into a rich multi-cultural/disciplinary community of eclectic artists where they had the opportunity to nourish and stimulate their own voice.
Through an in depth focus in improvisation, theory, somatic practices and consistent collaboration and creation they found a passion to investigate concepts of identity, the inner psyche, socio-political relations and the overall human experience through their work. Max thrives to create dialogue through performance and ultimately witness and experience the transformation and harmonious transgression where identity, individuality, potential and imagination manifest a glimpse into our realities.
Curious with the human form, its resilience and capacity to heal, Max has delved into their own movement practice and enjoys collaging somatic movement practices. They plan to pursue certification in Ilan Lev and Feldenkrais in the near future.
Since living in NYC, Max has been grateful to develop mentorship with artists such as Sidra Bell and Assaf Salhov. They have also to had the opportunity to work with Chuck Wilt (UNA Projects), Holly Sass (Breaktime) and LeeSaar the Company as well as perform throughout Texas, New Mexico, New York and Belgium.
Max met Raven Taisce White in the summer of 2016 where their consistent dialogue on experience and collaboration led to joining the collective BIRDHOUSE in 2017.
Mitchell Christie is a freelance dancer, creator and educator. Originally from a small town on the east coast of Australia, he trained strictly in classical ballet for most of his childhood. Hungry to explore the possibilities of dance beyond ballet, Mitchell moved to New York after high school to attend SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. Here was exposed to more dance than he knew existed and ignited a strong love for improvisation and collaboration. Meanwhile, he also developed an obsession with the Cunningham technique as he found that it shares a certain rigor and discipline with ballet but exists within a more experimental environment. For the past three years Mitchell has been involved in multiple restagings and performances of repertory with the Merce Cunningham Trust at New York City Center. Mitchell has also performed works by Doug Varone, Aszure Barton, William Forsythe, Stijn Celis, Fernando Melo & Ryan Mason.
Mitchell received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from SUNY Purchase (2017) and has since performed professionally with UNA Projects, 2nd Best Dance Company and Susan Marshall & Co. He has performed in two iterations of 'HOT WINTER' with BIRDHOUSE and hopes to continue working with Raven forever.
Mitchell is currently back in Australia collaborating with Sydney Experimental Arts Ensemble on a new evening-length physical dance work 'OLD LIFE/DEAD LIFE' directed by Eliza Cooper.
Clark Griffin, a native of the California Bay Area, started dancing at the age of fourteen after training in martial arts and gymnastics. In 2018, Clark graduated from Princeton University with a degree in anthropology and a certificate in dance under the mentorship of Susan Marshall and Rebecca Lazier. Throughout his college years, Clark supplemented his training in school with various summer programs including Springboard Dance Montréal, Vim Vigor and the Gaga Intensive in Tel Aviv to name a few. In recent years, Clark’s exposure to contemporary floor work and Gaga have been the most influential on his dancing and has instigated a strong commitment to a personal improvisational practice as central to his training. Clark sees dance as a means to know one’s body and thus connect with others on a different level in a world that generally neglects and separates the body from and in favor of the mind. Through his artistry, Clark hopes to encourage others to get more in touch with their own bodies and experience the joy he has found researching and studying his own movement.
Tiffany Ogburn grew up in Gig Harbor, Washington dancing in her backyard. She no longer has a backyard of her own, but continues to connect to her inner child and create her own worlds through her movement practices. This led her to meet Raven in the summer of 2017 and join BIRDHOUSE with much excitement and gratitude. She holds a BFA from NYU Tisch, and has worked with Gallim Dance and Susan Marshall & Co. Currently, she lives in NYC as a performer in Sleep No More.
Emily Wohl, a native of New Jersey, received early dance training at Princeton Dance and Theater. She continued her education at Princeton University where she studied Molecular Biology and Dance under the direction of Susan Marshall. There, she performed in works by Karole Armitage, Jodie Gates, Zvi Gotheiner, Loni Landon, Brian Reeder, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, and Doug Varone. She worked as a freelance dancer in New York City before joining the inaugural year of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's Professional Program, where she performed in Peter Chu's Space, In Perspective. Emily has attended the Nederlands Dans Theater Summer Intensive as well as Springboard Danse Montreal. She joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as a guest artist for Ohad Naharin’s Decadance/Chicago and was an apprentice with the company. She will be joining Ballett Augsburg next season, and is excited to work with BIRDHOUSE before flying off to Germany.