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, known professionally as Ronya-Lee of Ronya-Lee and the Light Factory, is a Caribbean-American folk-soul singer-songwriter from Washington, D.C. Born from Jamaican immigrants, she spent most of her formative years in the suburbs of the nation's capital cultivating a career as a dancer/choreographer and performance artist, while garnering a Master's of Divinity from Duke University and an M.F.A. in Dance from the University of Maryland.


The 2021 recipient of the Pola Nirenska Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance, Ronya-Lee’s multimedia work has been commissioned by Dance Place, Duke University, the Maryland State Arts Council, Aunt Karen’s Farm and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The ukulele-playing fem-crooners' musical stylings are of a unique species fusing folk, soul, and rock with underlying strokes of psychedelia dazzlingly displayed on her forthcoming debut EP "THE LIGHT SESSIONS pt.1" and highlighted by her first single Light.


Ronya-Lee is a former member of the Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble and of Liz Lerman’s Dance Exchange. She has published articles in the Journal of Dance Education, Sojourners Magazine and the UCC Journal of Worship, Music and Ministry. Ronya-Lee is currently pursuing a doctorate in Theater and Performance Studies and is on dance faculty at American University.

Sarah Beth Oppenheim

Sarah Beth Oppenheim (she/her): I come from: 38 dance studios, 4 particular kitchens and 2 synagogues from the Wild Wild West, skyscrapered NYC, trampoline sidewalks of Berlin and begrudgingly beautiful sunsets over the Potomac. I like to use scraps, abandoned tools and painters tape to cut and paste curious inquisitions into everything from pelvis-motored site-specific choreography to burritos. I believe in the deepest plie to bend traditions, antiracist pedagogy to bend academia and dance as an everything salve. As a Teaching Artist Mom, I mine, swap and alchemically mix choreographic research, community engagement and arts & crafts between stage, studio, classroom and nursery. Work/love finds me as a Teaching Artist at Dance Place, Adjunct Professor at American University and the University of Maryland, Education Coordinator at The Clarice’s BlackLight Summit and Artistic Director of Heart Stück Bernie. I'm currently a 2022-2023 Fillmore Prize Winner for which I'm a resident artist at The Fillmore School where I program think-and-move-tank events: luscious deep dives in partnership with rigorous curiosity, persevering connections and heart-intensive dancers. In Summer 2023, I'll be a Parent Artist in Residence through Gallim (NY) and Marble House Project (VT). And you can catch my 40-person site-specific extravaganza Many Extra Only More at Extra Space Storage in Brookland July 8 and 9.

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 (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist and community curator. Working at the intersections of performance art, visual art and Black Feminism, Curcio cultivates and fosters stories of liberation and reimagining. Throughout her youth, she has been invited to study at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre Junior and Professional Division Programs, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and Dance Theatre of Harlem, and in college, had the honor to perform works by Shani Collins Achille, Tamara Thomas, Stephanie Powell, Loni Landon, Milton, Myers, Iquail Shaheed, and Iyun Ashani Harrison. Her professional credits include dancing with Christopher K. Morgan & Artists, Kyrtsal Collins/new growth collective, Gesel Mason Dance Projects alongside the Women Dance Artists of Cohort-DMV and Tariq Darrell O’Meally. As a graduate from Goucher College (2019), Jamison holds a B.A. in Performance Art for Social Justice and is the recipient of the 2019 Phi Beta Kappa Brooke Pierce Award in Fine Arts for choreography. Jamison has shown her most recent performance art work HOW WE GET FREE at the 38th Annual Choreographers Showcase, Celebrate 845 Showcase, MODArts Dance Collective: Collective Thread, Mashup LA International Women’s Day Showcase, The Southeastern Center for Contemporary of Art Black @Intersection Exhibition and the Women in Dance Leadership Conference. Upon graduation, Jamison interned at Jacob’s Pillow and served as one of the Community Engagement Interns in the Summer of 2019. Since then, Jamison has gone on to become the company manager of Christopher K. Morgan & Artists and the Audience Services Associate at Dance Place. Jamison has guest taught at the University of Houston and Colby College and continues to teach youth at Dance Place and the VIVA School of Dance.



Lauren DeVera

Lauren DeVera is a movement and mental health artist, certified life coach and host of the Thrive + Thread, a 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 including Asian Mental Health Project, PCOS Awareness Association, LA Family Housing, NPR and Women in Tech. 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. She debuted her choreographic work Nanay (about the mother wound) in May 2022 at Joe’s Movement Emporium as a 2021-2022 Arts Incubator Resident Artist and most recently at the 2022 District Choreographers Dance Festival. Lauren is excited to continue creating work centered around mental health and intergenerational trauma as the 2022-23 NextLOOK Resident Artist, in partnership with The Clarice.

Symara Johnson

Symara Johnson, a Portland Oregon native, currently residing in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, has immersed herself in interdisciplinary and choreographic studies globally. Her work varies due to the different influences she’s embraced throughout her life. She is a recipient of the Dai Ailian Foundation Scholarship based in Trinidad and Tobago. The scholarship led her to Beijing, China where she spent two years gaining an associate in modern choreography at the renowned Beijing Dance Academy. Symara is a graduate of SUNY Purchase’s Conservatory of Dance program. She was a resident artist for Bearnstow, Gibney 6.2 Work Up, Gallim moving Artist, BAX's Fall space grant and CPR 2022 AIR program. She has had film works commissioned by Berlin based choreographer, Christoph Winkler. Johnson has presented work at the WIP Showing at Bates Dance Festival, Smush Gallery, The Craft, BAAD, CreateArtXGallim, WIM Salon, Mount Vernon Community Theatre, ACMA, The Forum Art Space, Moving Art Exchange, Chez Bushwhick, The Beijing Dance Academy Theatre and venues throughout NYC and Germany. She is an Urban Bush Women company member and is grateful to have worked alongside artists such as Ley Gambucci, Ogemid Ude, Jasmine Hearn, Pioneers Go East Collective, Rena Butler, Slowdanger and Joanna Kotze.


Mariama "Ama" Law

Mariama "Ama" Law (she/they) was born into Kankouran West African Dance Company in Washington, D.C. as both parents are founding members. Thus, the Africanist Aesthetic is an important foundation to her/their movement style. Ama completed undergrad and grad studies at the University of Maryland (UMD), graduating with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and an M.F.A. in Dance.


In between those academic immersions, Ama completed a rigorous internship at Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan, NY training under world-renowned choreographers such as Luam, Rhapsody James and Jared Grimes. Since returning, one goal has been to share knowledge with everyone. Ama has had the pleasure of teaching and choreographing at various institutions including Dance Place, Howard University, UMCP, Howard Community College, Baltimore County Dance Festival and Bates Dance Festival's Young Dancers Program. 

Ama and her life-partner Chris often teach and mentor together as “Project ChArma” (pronounced Karma), a dance theater company who promotes social change through movement. They most recently presented on Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage as part of the National Dance Day Festival. Ama has recently accepted the position of professorial lecturer at American University and is the Artistic Director of the Dance Company. Ama hopes to provide inspiration for the future generations of dancers to not only become fierce but knowledgeable individuals.



Michael J. Love

Michael J. Love (he/him/his) is an interdisciplinary tap dance artist, scholar and educator. He is a 2021-2023 Princeton University Arts Fellow and Lecturer at Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts. Love’s 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. He works between the fields of Black dance studies and performance studies and his writing has been published in Choreographic Practices. Love’s work has been supported and presented by Fusebox Festival and ARCOS Dance. Love has also collaborated with film-based artist Ariel René Jackson on video and performance projects that have been screened by The Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum in New York, featured in The New York Times Style Magazine’s #TBlackArtBlackLife Instagram series, and programmed by Digital Arts Resource Centre’s Project Space in Ottawa, CUE Art Foundation in New York, the Galleries at the University of Northern Colorado and the Jacob Lawrence Gallery at the University of Washington. Love and Jackson were the recipients of the 2021 Tito’s Vodka Prize. Love's performance credits include the Broadway laboratory for Savion Glover and George C. Wolfe’s Shuffle Along and roles in works by Baakari Wilder. Love holds an M.F.A. in Performance as Public Practice from The University of Texas at Austin and is an alumnus of Emerson College.



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.