Thursday, April 4 at 6PM

Join us to celebrate the 2023 Arts Council Choreography Fellows!

The 2024 NJ State Council on the Arts Choreographers’ Showcase celebrates the dynamic and diverse artistic visions of 14 of the 2023 Arts Council Individual Choreography Fellows.  These talented artists bring the beauty and athleticism of dance to the SOPAC stage!

Selected every two years, choreographers submit samples of their work to an independent peer panel, who selects recipients based solely on artist quality.  Artists can receive up to $32,000 to be used towards furthering their artistic goals.

This program is conducted by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, in partnership with the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.  To learn more about the Individual Artist Fellowship program, visit the Mid Atlantic Arts website.

Moving Into the Future: New Jersey Choreographers’ Festival is a co-sponsored project of SOPAC and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Performing on April 4

morgaine ann de leonardis
Cleo Mack – Rock Dance Collective
Gomathi Manoj – Soundarya Natya Kalalaya
Kevin McEwan – Kofago Dance Ensemble
Ramya Ramnarayan Tirumalai


For a complete list of the 2023 NJ State Council on the Arts Individual Choreography Fellows, CLICK HERE.


Meet the Choreographers

morgaine ann de leonardis

morgaine ann de leonardis is a dyslexic Irish-Italian American dance artist born in in Jersey City, NJ. de leonardis works as a choreographer and performer in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Her intimate and emotional dance-theater creations range from stage work, site specific, immersive and film.

de leonardis is currently working towards the 2024 premiere of a new gallery-specific evening length piece, Opening Reception, and performs with The Missing Theater Company (London, UK).

She has been invited to choreograph site-specific works for the lobby of the Ace Hotel Manhattan, the historic lobby of the Loews Jersey Theater, Dinner en Blanc Jersey City at Lincoln Park, and The CrossRail Rooftop Garden for Festival 14 in London. In May 2023, de leonardis premiered her first evening length work, No Place Like Home, an immersive dinner and show at The Box Cafe in Jersey City and was commissioned to make a dance film in Kefalonia, Greece.

Her piece, scenes from an italian restaurant, is a new study by morgaine ann de leonardis that will be shown as a work-in-progress at SOPAC x NJSCA Choreographer Fellowship Showcase. the work explores the nuances and dynamics of a restaurant on a slow night as we follow the joys and woes of the waiter, their admirer, a happy couple, and a desperate woman.

Explore more of de Leonardis’ work at and on Instagram @morgishborgg.


Cleo Mack – Rock Dance Collective

Cleo Mack is an award-winning choreographer and educator. She holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art from Wilson College and a BFA in Dance from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. Her work has been described as “a collision of quirky sophistication and unmeasured recklessness.” She has been commissioned by the Outlet Dance Project at Grounds for Sculpture, 10 Hairy Legs, Perpich School of the Arts, and Quad City Ballet. This year, Mack has been honored to receive an Individual Artists Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, in recognition of her high artistic merit.  Mack has been selected by Dance Magazine as one of the “25 to Watch.” She has enjoyed support from the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and has also received space grants from The Field, DTW, and Lincoln Center.

Mack’s performance work has been presented  at Joyce Soho, Dance Theater Workshop’s Fresh Tracks, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., WAX, P.S. 1 Moma, the Hungarian American Dance Festival in Hungary, and at NJPAC as part of Jersey Moves. 2016 marks the inception of Mack’s newest project, Rock Dance Collective (RDC) is focused on creating interdisciplinary work in traditional and non-traditional environments. Working in both nontraditional and traditional spaces, RDC’s artists respond to societal and environmental stimuli to create meaningful works through a largely collaborative process.  The collective’s belief that art creates the impetus for action in the world is what fuels our desire to pursue opportunities to create and foster work that is impactful.

Mack’s sculptural work was on view as part of the NJ Arts Annual “Dissonance” at the Morris Museum and the Olympia Project.  She also serves as the Director of Dance at the Middlesex County Magnet Schools and co-owner of Washington Rock Dance. She has been a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts and a teaching artist for the American Repertory Ballet Institute, DeSales University, Muhlenberg University and the University of Iowa. She was honored to be the recipient of the 2017 Hollins University Teaching Award.

Additionally, Mack is a professional costume designer and has created costumes for Alexandra Bellar, Pam Tanowitz, Meghan Frederick, Chein-Ying Wang, Randy James, Stephanie Batten Bland, Sean Curran, Jodi Spearling, Paul O’Campo, and Julia Ritter.

Her new piece for this showcase is titled In This Space I am Playing the Game.

Explore more of Mack’s work on Instagram @mackdances and @rockdancecollective.


Gomathi Manoj – Soundarya Natya Kalalaya

Gomathi Manoj, born in India and raised in Bahrain, stays deeply connected to her cultural roots through her artistic practice as an Indian Classical dancer, choreographer and educator for both youth and adult students. She has trained in three different classical art forms – Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam & Kuchipudi under respectable Gurus and has a Masters degree in Performing Arts from Tamil University in Thanjavur, India.

Manoj is a senior disciple of Guru Padmini Radhakrishnan (Mumbai) & continues to explore the Bharatanatyam repertoire under her tutelage. She has received several accolades during her training period in Bahrain & India as well as titles like ‘Singar Mani’ in 2007 and ‘Nritya Surabhi’ in 2009. Apart from classical dance training, Gomathi is also proficient in the art of Nattuvangam (the art of time keeping & rhythm required for an Indian Classical Dance Recital).

In 2023, Manoj was recognized as an Outstanding Performer of High Artistic Excellence and awarded the ‘Individual Artist Fellowship’ by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA) & Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. In 2021-22, NJSCA recognized her as a ‘Master Artist’ of extraordinary ability as part of the ‘New Jersey Folk Apprenticeship Grant’. She was awarded the ‘Spandana Service Award’ by the fundraising organization Spandana Foundation, for her efforts to Indian Classical Dance and to the artistic community in April 2023. In 2018, she represented the United States and the beautiful art form of Bharatanatyam at the 51st World Dance Congress at International Dance Council–CID, UNESCO in Athens, Greece. Manoj is sought after as an honorary judge for classical dance competitions across the United States for prestigious organizations. Recently, her performances for the Mercer County Annual Cultural Festival (in 2022 and 2023) and Kala Spandana – a fund-raiser event for People for Rural and Urban Education (in 2023) were well-appreciated. She has also been showcasing her art at the prestigious Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana Annual Festivals which is the largest Indian classical Music festival outside of India.

As the Artistic Director of her dance school, Soundarya Natya Kalalaya in New Jersey, Manoj has been diligently training both young and adult students for over nine years. She regularly showcases the art forms in the tri-state area as a performer in solo and group performances along with her students. She aims to spread the rich heritage and legacy of Indian classical art forms with diverse audiences through workshops, lecture demonstrations and performance showcases.


Ramya Ramnarayan Tirumalai

Ramya Ramnarayan is considered one of the leadings experts of Bharatanatyam dance today.  She is also a protégé of the Kalaimamani dance form, and studied under renowned teachers including SK Rajarathnam Pillai and Padma Bhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan.  Ramnarayan is recognized as a capable performer, choreographer, educator and a torch bearer of this art, who blends tradition with innovation.  Though her manner is often youthfully sweet, Ramnarayan’s performaces are filled with equal amounts of sternness and force.

Ramnarayan has won a Kalaimamani award from the Tamil Nadu State, among others, and she is an ICCR empaneled artist.  Recently, she received the prestigious “A” grade from Government of India Doordarshan (Indian public service broadcaster).

Ramnarayan has performed in prestigious venues such as the Madras Music Academy, Narada Gana Sabha, Kartik Fine Arts, International Fringe Festival, Asia Society,  Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana, Zollener Arts Center, and Lincoln Center in New York among others.  She has lectures at various schools, universities, colleges, museums, libraries under the auspicious of Young Audiences USA reaching out to over 10,000 audience members per year.  She is a visiting faculty at Rutgers University.

Through her production company and school, Nrithyanjali, Ramnarayan’s work retains roots in the collective history of philosophy, spirituality, mysticism, and myth of South Indian heritage while bringing the eloquence of Bharatanatyam to universal themes.


About the New Jersey State Council on the Arts

The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, created in 1966, is a division of the NJ Department of State and a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Council was established to encourage and foster public interest in the arts; enlarge public and private resources devoted to the arts; promote freedom of expression in the arts; and facilitate the inclusion of art in every public building in New Jersey. The Council believes the arts are central to every element we value most in a modern society including: human understanding; cultural and civic pride; strong communities; excellent schools; lifelong learning; creative expression; and economic opportunity. To learn more about the Council, please visit


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Title Banner Photo Credit: Steve Vaccariello, from his exhibition Just Dance in the Herb + Milly Iris Gallery.

Collage Photo Credit: stills from morgaine ann de leonardis’, Gomathi Manoj’s, and Ramya Ramnaryan’s choreography.