Raison D’être Dance Project

Raison D'être Dance ProjectRaison D’être Dance Project was founded in 2017 by Erin Levy and Genevieve Trygstad-Burke in Bozeman, Montana. The idea was born out of their deep-rooted love of dance and music, and the desire to share their artistic passions with the community. Our purpose is to foster collaboration with artists, musicians, choreographers, and philanthropic organizations…while providing an avenue for visions and ideas.
Erin Levy
(Artistic Director)
Erin Levy is from Jacksonville, Florida, where she started her dance training from an early age. Starting in 1992, summers were spent training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) with Marcia Dale Weary and staff in Carlisle, Pennsylvania for their 5 week summer intensives. Junior year of high school, training continued at Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts in their 4 year pre-pro program, while continuing the summer program at CPYB. At 19, she moved to New York City and danced with Eglevsky Ballet, Blue Muse Dance Project, and Ballet Long Island. She continued training in New York with various well known teachers at Steps on Broadway, through their work-study program, and took classes at PeriDance, Dance New Amsterdam and Ballet Arts.Raison D'être Dance Project
She has an Associates Degree in Jewelry Design from FIT in New York and a BFA in Metalsmithing with a Minor in Small Business/Entrepreneurship from MSU. Erin currently teaches Ballet at Bozeman Dance Academy, is a committee member of IndepenDANCE, and the manager of Riddle’s Jewelry in Bozeman. Her involvement in Bozeman’s Dance Community has inspired a dream for fostering collaborations between musicians and dancers, and nurturing choreographers to bring their ideas to fruition with Raison D’être Dance Project.
Genevieve Trygstad-Burke
(Artistic Director)
Growing up in Bozeman, Montana, Genevieve Trygstad-Burke has been a part of the local dance community since age 4. She trained in classical ballet at Montana Ballet Company and Main Street Dance Theatre. She has attended summer ballet intensives at Ballet West in Salt Lake City, Boston Ballet, and Alvin Ailey in New York City. She attended New York University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Neural Science. While in New York, she attended the Pushing Progress contemporary dance training program, working with some of today’s premier choreographers such as Loni Landon and Bryn Cohn. She also took ballet and contemporary classes throughout the city at Peridance Capezio Center and Steps on Broadway. Her love of the mountains Raison D'être Dance Projectdrew her back to Bozeman, where she is now fulfilling her dream of directing a professional dance company.
Tess Arvesen
(Choreographer)
Tess Arvesen grew up in rural Minnesota where she trained at a competitive dance studio since the age of 4. After graduating from high school she made her way out to Bozeman, MT and tackled a demanding degree in graphic design at Montana State University while continuing her passion for dance. Tess quickly found a love of teaching and has been instructing at Tanya’s Dance Company in Belgrade, MT since 2010. If Tess isn’t teaching a dance class, you can find her and her dachshund, Demi, hanging out at Demi Dancewear, a local spot for dancers in the community to find what best suits them.
Annie Valle
(Dancer/Choreographer)
Annie Valle (Anne Mercy Morabito) started dancing at 6 years old in Santa Cruz, California. She danced on scholarship at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School, School of American Ballet in New York City, and with Suzanne Farrell at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. She has a degree in Agroecology from the University of Wyoming. She currently lives on her husband’s family ranch with their two children and an assortment of dogs, horses, cows, chickens, etc. Annie is excited to joinRaison D'être Dance Project Bozeman’s newest ballet company this summer for their inaugural season.
Nina Tucciarelli
(Choreographer)
Nina Tucciarelli, also known as Damsel in the Dollhouse, is a dancer, choreographer, photographer, electronic music artist, costume designer, visual media artist, and cabaret/burlesque performer. Throughout her career she has performed in theaters and nightclubs in New Jersey, upstate New York, New York City, and most recently Bozeman, Montana. Since 2011 she has choreographed and performed locally in the annual IndepenDance Community Dance Performance. She holds a BA from Bennington College in choreography and video production and has shown her work at the Dance on Camera Festival and the Empire State Film Festival in New York, and the Moving Pictures Festival of Dance on Film and Video in Canada. She currently resides in Bozeman with her husband, Rob, and their two felines. You can view Nina’s artistic portfolio at www.damselinthedollhouse.com.
Suzann Kienast-Brown
(Dancer/Choreographer)
Suzann grew up in the west and requires expansive landscapes and four seasons to thrive. She’s been dancing her whole life, but discovered modern dance at Utah State University while pursuing her B.S. in Soil and Water Science. She was immediately hooked and dove in head first, taking advantage of every opportunity that came her way Raison D'être Dance Projectto study and explore movement. After completing her M.S. in Soil Science, teaching modern and African dance at USU, and working with various independent choreographers in Utah, Suzann had the fortune of becoming Artistic Director of Valley Dance Ensemble in Logan, UT. During her tenure as Director from 2003-2014, she enjoyed sharing her passion for expression and joy in movement, and the opportunity to grow as a choreographer, teacher, and dancer.
The company worked with many guest artists and experienced a wide range of movement possibilities, expanding her artistry in dance. In 2014, Suzann moved to Bozeman with her family to pursue advancement in her career as a soil scientist. Since moving to Bozeman, she has found a welcoming home in the dance community. She is now an independent choreographer, teacher, and dancer working with local studios and independent dance groups in the area. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to join RDE’s inaugural season.
Melissa Dawn
(Dancer/Choreographer)
Melissa Dawn is a native of South Carolina who moved to Montana after spending five years studying and performing in New York City. In NYC Melissa trained extensively at the studios of Trisha Brown and Merce Cunningham, and she completed theRaison D'être Dance Project Professional Training Program of the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio where she was a Merit Scholarship recipient. Melissa expanded her training by participating in workshops taught by Bill T Jones, Stephen Petronio, Mark Morris, and other modern dance choreographers. She performed in the companies of June Finch, Hiske Dooper, Himiko Minato, and Richard Decker while living in New York. In Bozeman Melissa has danced with Montana Ballet Company, participated in IndepenDANCE, and presented her own choreography independently. She teaches adult modern dance and is an independent choreographer, dancer, and visual artist.
Kelsey Elkins
(Dancer/Choreographer)
Kelsey Lau Elkins grew up in Anchorage Alaska and started dancing at a young age. She joined Alaska Dance Theatre’s Company at age 14 where she was able to participate in many wonderful opportunities including performing the Nutcracker with Ballet West, Cincinnati Ballet Company, and Oregon Ballet Theatre. Kelsey has also worked with several choreographers including Maureen Whiting, Min Tran Dance Company, and Patricia Barker, among others. After high school, Kelsey moved to Montana and began dancing at The University of Montana while also obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Kelsey graduated in 2011 from Montana State University with her nursing degree and moved to Bozeman with Her Husband.
Raison D'être Dance ProjectKelsey danced four seasons with Montana Ballet Company participating in their annual Nutcracker among other performances. She has also been fortunate to perform at Sweet Pea Festival and with the IndepenDance project. Kelsey has recently graduated with her Masters of Science in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Maryville University. Her family has recently grown with the addition of a beautiful, spunky baby girl Melanie and is excited to share with her the joy of dance.
Deann Snyder
(Dancer/Choreographer)
Deann Snyder was born and raised in Missoula, MT. She began ballet lessons when she as 8 years old at Virginia Wirth Dance Studio and later danced at Ballet Arts Academy with Michelle Antonioli and Pam Copley. After spending ages 9 through 18 performing in Missoula’s production of The Nutcracker and anything else she could dance in, she moved to Bozeman in 2006 to pursue a college degree in Microbiology. A brief stint on the MSU Dance Team re-inspired her to begin dancing at a studio again in the fall of Raison D'être Dance Project2009. She has been dancing at Bozeman Dance Academy (formerly Main Street Dance Theater) ever since, enjoying ballet, jazz and lyrical classes. Deann has also been a committee member for the IndepenDANCE Community Dance Project since 2012. She began teaching ballet at Bozeman Dance Academy Theatre the fall of 2014 and will continue teaching classes this coming year.

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