JAMES J. KAUFMANN grew up in Ames, Iowa in a family that loved to make music together. By the time he was in high school, he was performing at small establishments accompanying his own voice with his piano playing. Most of his training at this point was through the ear. Desiring more "technique," he found Dr. Marion Barnum at Iowa State University, who opened him up to the rich world of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Prokofieff, Bartok, Gershwin, etc. He immersed himself in this universe, spending every spare hour he had listening and practicing. He auditioned and won a scholarship to study with Howard Aibel at the University of Northern Iowa.
After two years at this institution, he participated in a one-year exchange program at Kansai Gaidai, near Osaka, Japan. Language and culture were the focus of the school, but he found time to continue his piano studies. He also worked as a pianist at upscale restaurants and hotels in Japan, studied piano with Japanese composer, Yuki Morimoto, and graduated from the UNI with a BA in piano. He was accepted into the classical masters program at the Manhattan School and the jazz program at Eastman, and chose the latter. While in school, he began accompanying ballet for Diane Lewis at the Hochstein School. He began playing ballet repertoire for those classes, but it was necessary to cut great music to fit combinations, and even when modified written repertoire was rarely was a perfect aesthetic fit for exercises and combinations. He learned to improvise in a way that approached written composition, and ended up being highly valued by Lewis as an accompanist.
After graduation from the Eastman School, he was hired to accompany dance at SUNY Brockport where he worked until 2011. He was also employed at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Rochester, NY, where he absorbed a rich musical tradition of an African American spiritual community, and with the salsa/merengue group "Fama sin Gafas," where he deepened his internalization of popular Cuban and Dominican grooves. He also continued to produce and direct music for special projects, such as a collaboration between a native Japanese composer, Yuki Morimoto and choreographer Sondra Fraleigh, his own settings of poems of Lucille Clifton and Calvin Forbes for quartet and octet, and many compositions and performances of pieces at Brockport for student and faculty choreography. He has played for the dance workshops of Limon, Bill Evans, Doug Varone, and Tulsa Ballet. Recently, Kaufmann worked for the dance program at UT at El Paso, where he was concurrently pursuing a master’s degree in classical piano under Dr. Dena K. Jones. He is now furthering his classical study with the coaching of Dr. Du Huang at Luther College.
ANDREA VAZQUEZ (MFA: SUNY Brockport, BFA: Escuela Naitional in Mexico D.F.) is an interdisciplinary dance artist. She was a scholar under FONCA*, and has danced in several professional companies in Mexico and the United States. She is currently serving as visiting assistant professor of dance at Luther College, contributing and supporting the Movement Fundamentals curriculum. She is enjoying the journey as a future Projective Kinetics Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst and creating and performing work for Another River Interdisciplinary Ensemble. *Federal Council for Culture and Arts in Mexico
ANA PAULINA ESPARZA POSADA holds a BFA in dance from Escuela Nacional de Danza Clásica y Contemporánea in Mexico City. She has performed in recognized modern dance companies like Barro Rojo Arte Escénico and Ballet Independiente touring throughout Mexico, Germany and Cuba with the latter. In 2012, she was the recipient of a scholarship to study with the Limon Dance Company in New York.
In 2013, Ballet Independiente gave her an award for best female dancer. In 2014, she started collaborating with Nómadas directed by Cecilia Lozada. In 2015, she joined Axenti Danza Contemporánea directed by American pianist and choreographer Duane Cochran where she has had the opportunity to perform in major venues in Mexico, including Palacio de Bellas Artes. She recently came back from a residency in Madrid, Spain where she worked with choreographer Carmen Werner.
NANAKO HORIKAWA MANDRINO is originally from Sapporo, Japan. She holds a BFA in Dance with a Minor in Theater from The College at Brockport, SUNY. Nanako is a freelance dance artist, currently dancing with Mariah Maloney Dance Company and Heather Roffe, Dance. Nanako had a privilege to work with and perform works by Bill (William) Evans, Larry Keigwin, Richard Haisma, Frank Kuhn, Mariko Yamada, and Vanessa Van Wormer. She also had opportunities to study with Trisha Brown Dance Company, Limon Dance Company, Gallim Dance, Batsheva Dance Company, and many other artists including Fumiyo Ikeda from Rosas and Jean Laurent Sasportes, a former Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal soloist. Nanako has been seen at venues such as DUMBO Dance Festival, La MaMa Moves, Rochester Fringe Festival, WAXworks, Green Space, Eastman School of Music, and Hochstein School of Music. She also has toured internationally with her own project, making stops at Spain, France, Romania, Moldova, and Japan.