Mentorship Program

A major component of the BlackLight Summit is to light the way for artists through the mentorship program. The BlackLight Summit’s mentorship program acts as a catalyst, for cultivating a gentle army of artists, thought-leaders and cultural architects navigating possibilities of artistry–yours, mine, ours.

Intimate dance families composed of two working professionals, one recent graduate/emerging artist and one college student. This re-imagined configuration of the BlackLight Summit's mentorship model offers various points of intersection, fellowship, affinity and opportunities to learn from each other within intimate artistic ecosystems.

Mentorship program meetings will include individual guidance, small working groups, larger cohort workshops and opportunities to deepen connections and collaborate with fellow artists across comprehensive programming, including: artist talks, panel discussions, guest speakers, choreographic workshops, master classes, opportunities to share your own work and participate in meaningful feedback sessions, etc.

Education Coordinators


Ronya-Lee LaVaune Anderson

Ronya-Lee LaVaune Anderson is the daughter of Pauline and Roxroy Anderson; the granddaughter of Madge McLellan and of Mavis Lawrence, both healers and entrepreneurs. She is an Afro-Caribbean woman of Jamaican heritage. An artist, scholar and educator, Ronya-Lee works with movement, spoken word, costume design, film and original music. Her multimedia work has most recently been commissioned and supported by Dance Place, Duke University, the Maryland State Arts Council, Aunt Karen’s Farm and The Kennedy Center. A former member of the Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble and Liz Lerman’s Dance Exchange, Ronya-Lee has performed and taught both nationally and internationally. She has collaborated with choreographers Erica Rebollar and Tarik O'Meally, mixologist, Rita Burns, visual artist, Alonzo Davis and dance film maker, Carlos Funn. She has published articles in the Journal of Dance Education, Sojourners Magazine and the UCC Journal of Worship, Music and Ministry. Ronya-Lee is the recipient of the 2021 Pola Nirenska Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. She holds a Master’s of Divinity from Duke University, an M.F.A. in Dance, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Theater and Performance Studies.

Sarah Beth Oppenheim

Sarah Beth Oppenheim earned her B.F.A. at SUNY Purchase and M.F.A. at the University of Maryland. Career highlights include dancing in forsaken storage closets and performing for Baryshnikov with kale in her incisors, along with gigs at Dance Omi, Ponderosa, The Kennedy Center, Dance Place, The Duke on 42nd St., Marfa, TX, on top of the Chelsea Hotel, National Gallery of Art, U.S. Botanic Garden and secret performances in Lincoln Center’s Koch Theater when she was done cleaning up at the end of the night. As an inaugural Artist in Residence at Dance Place from 2018-2020, she programmed and facilitated community events for students and choreographers, created new works exploring hypermagicalrealism, politics and race and established a research practice of land, music and movement acknowledgment. She currently works as Artistic Director of Heart Stück Bernie, Community Organizer with 120 Project, Education Coordinator for the Blacklight Summit and Adjunct Professorial Lecturer at American University and George Washington University. Current research includes site-specific meaning making, social justice community engagement, acknowledgement practices and subversive and durational studio pedagogy.


2022–2023 Mentors


Malik Burnett

Malik Burnett, a Washington, D.C. native, is currently the Dance Programming Coordinator at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. His dance career has spanned from performing in the Merce Cunningham Trust’s MinEvent as a part of the Cunningham Centennial Celebration,in addition to being a member of Maurya Kerr’s tinypistol. He has performed works by Tariq O’Meally, Britta Joy Peterson, Shen Wei, Helen Pickett, Robyn Mineko Williams and Juel D. Lane. Burnett holds a B.F.A. in Dance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and an M.A. in Arts Management from American University.




paris cyan cian

paris cyan cian is a movement architect, educator and bodypoet working with and through various interdisciplinary forms of dance, drawing, film, photography and sound. Rooted in New Orleans, cyan’s creative work mobilizes embodied memory and ecological play into a worldmaking practice. cyan cian received her B.F.A./B.A. in Dance with a concentration in social justice, gender women’s studies from Hollins University (2018) and Masters of Fine Arts in Choreography at Roehampton University, London, U.K (2021). 




Jamison Curcio

Jamison Curcio is an interdisciplinary artist and community curator. Working at the intersections of performance art and Black feminism, Curcio fosters stories of liberation and reimagining. As a graduate from Goucher College, Curcio holds a BA in Performance Art for Social Justice and the recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Brooke Pierce Award in Fine Arts for Choreography (‘19). Her dance film HOW WE GET FREE has premiered at the 38th Annual Choreographers Showcase, Celebrate 845, MODArts: Collective Thread, Mashup LA’s Showcase, The Southeastern Center for Contemporary of Art Black @Intersection Exhibition, and soon the Women in Dance Leadership Conference.




Lauren DeVera

Lauren DeVera is a movement and meditation artist, certified life coach and host of the "Thrive + Thread," wellness and entrepreneurial podcast inviting others to love themselves and pursue their purpose. The podcast was a finalist for the best wellness podcast at the 2020 Asian Podcast Awards. She’s a 2021 recipient of the iFundWomen and Neutrogena Health and Wellness grant. Known for her warmth, infectious energy and ability to curate healing spaces, she's been invited to speak and lead experiences for the Asian Mental Health Project, PCOS Awareness Association, LA Family Housing, NPR and Women in Tech to name a few. A proud dance alumnus of Old Dominion University, Lauren has been teaching and performing professionally for 12 years. Her credits include The Kennedy Center, Howard Theatre, Dance Place, Culture Shock DC, World of Dance, BET, CW Network and various universities. She's the proud founder of The Lion’s Den, an inclusive community connecting people through dance, wellness and self-expression. Lauren recently premiered her first evening-length work Nanay at Joe’s Movement Emporium as a 2021-2022 Arts Incubator Resident Artist. She seeks to reimagine the AAPI narrative and spread awareness of mental health.

Symara Johnson

Symara Johnson, a Portland Oregon native, currently residing in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, has immersed herself in interdisciplinary and choreographic studies globally. She is a recipient of the Dai Ailian Foundation Scholarship based in Trinidad and Tobago. Symara is a graduate of the Beijing Dance Academy and SUNY Purchase’s Conservatory of Dance program. She currently is a BAX Fall Space Grantee and a CPR 2022 AIR. Johnson has presented work throughout NYC and Germany. She is currently a company member with Urban Bush Women and has danced works most notably by and for Kevin Wynn, Ogemdi Ude, Jasmine Hearn, Joanna Kotze, Netta Yerushalmy, Christoph Winkler and more.



Mariama "Ama" Law

Mariama "Ama" Law began dancing with Kankouran West African Dance Company as a baby, both of their parents are founding members. They graduated with a B.S. in Biology and a certificate in Women's Studies from University of Maryland. While at UMD they enjoyed dancing, choreographing and leading DyNaMiC hip hop dance team. Law is co-director of Project ChArma, a collective of teaching artists, hip hop guardians, DMV representatives, parents, lovers, achievers, students and hip hop ambassadors who promote social change through movement. Pronounced “Karma” because it guides their lives. Law is also an alumni of local hip hop groups Culture Shock D.C. and KickRocks crew.




Michael J. Love

Michael J. Love is an interdisciplinary tap dance artist, scholar and educator. His embodied research intermixes Black queer feminist theory and aesthetics with a rigorous practice that critically engages the Black cultural past as it imagines Black futurity. Love is a 2021-23 Princeton University Arts Fellow and Lecturer at Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts. His work has been presented by Fusebox Festival and ARCOS Dance and published in Choreographic Practices. Recently, Love and frequent collaborator, film-based artist Ariel René Jackson, were the co-recipients of the 2021 Tito’s Vodka Prize. Love holds an M.F.A. from UT Austin. 




Christian A. Warner

Christian A. Warner is a multidisciplinary artist with a career that displays his curiosities in dance, theater, and film. He has danced repertoire from choreographers such as Alvin Ailey, Aszure Barton, Kyle Abraham, Alan Lucien Øyen, Guy Shomroni/Yaniv Abraham, Darius Barnes, Sonya Tayeh, Dwight Rhoden, & Yoshito Sakuraba. His company credits include Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Omar Roman de Jesus' Boca Tuya and TU Dance, in which he was a founding member of "Come Through" - an evening length collaboration with the grammy-award winning band Bon Iver. His musical theatre credits include productions such as Disney's The Lion King, Oliver! The Musical, Hairspray, and Little Shop of Horrors. As a creator, Christian's choreography and direction has been commissioned at Owen/Cox Dance Group, McCoy Dance Project, by New York Times Best-Selling Author Michael Levin, HSPVA (Once On This Island, Ragtime, Dance Dept.), James Madison University, TX State University, Jeremy McQueen's Black Iris Project, and the 40th Annual Battery Dance Festival.