Avree Walker began his early training at the West Las Vegas Arts Center, under the direction of Dr. Marcia Robinson. Mr. Walker is a proud an alumnus of the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, and attended the University of Nevada Las Vegas as a dance scholar, representing the dance department in South Korea, Canada, Europe, and throughout the U.S. Mr. Walker became an artist with the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theatre (Contemporary West Dance Theatre) under the direction of Bernard H. Gaddis, touring and performing works by Alvin Ailey, Ulysses Dove, Elisa Monte, Rennie Harris, Milton Myers, Zane Booker, Hope Boykin, and many others. Regional credits include Dreamgirls, Once on This Island, The Color Purple, Black Nativity (Las Vegas and Atlanta), The Music Man, Spamalot, The Wiz, Cinderella, Matilda the Musical (regional premiere), and The Prince of Egypt the Musical (Dreamworks). Mr. Walker performed in Donn Arden’s Jubilee! at Bally’s Las Vegas from 2015 to 2016. Prior to the COVID 19 pandemic Mr. Walker was a part of David Saxe productions, Vegas! The Show at Planet Hollywood on the Las Vegas Strip. Mr. Walker currently serves as resident choreographer for Contemporary West Dance Theatre and is proud to be the Program Artistic Director of the CWDT ARTSWORK Conservatory and pre-professional program. In 2019, Mr. Walker joined the dance faculty of the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts as the first full-time African American dance instructor in the school’s history.
Rachel Young was born in Southern California. As a young child, Rachel moved to Las Vegas where she was raised and began dancing at a local studio throughout her adolescence. Moving forward, Rachel started studying dance at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and graduated in fall of 2013 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography. While attending UNLV, Rachel received the Millennium Scholarship; Greenblatt Scholarship; UNLV Dance Scholarship and the Devos Scholarship acknowledging her hard work and devotedness to the College of Fine Arts. While attending UNLV Rachel was one of a few chosen by the department to travel and perform in Seoul, Korea. Right out of college Rachel began her professional career as an apprentice with The Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theatre under the direction of Bernard H. Gaddis. Today Rachel is a full time company member with The Contemporary West Dance Theatre (formerly LVCDT) and Head of Wardrobe. Rachel has performed with CWDT through out all of Las Vegas, California, Chicago, Dallas, New York and Philadelphia to name a few. Rachel is also known for her abilities to design and execute costumes. Many of she and Bernards collaborations can be seen on the wonderful dancers of CWDT, as well as the beautiful dancers all through out Las Vegas. Rachel’s most treasured moments within the company are performing Ulysses Dove’s, “Vespers”, under Bernards guidance and Bernard’s duet entitled “Fractured” be set on she and another company member. Rachel would like to thank Bernard and the dancers of CWDT for the countless memories, beautiful moments and LOVE for the past years, plus many years to come.
Zoe Sloane was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and began her dance career at the age of two. While watching a dance program, Zoe became fascinated with movement and her mother took her to a friend who owned a local dance school. Zoe started dancing at the International Dance Education Academy under Karent Otjes, Heather Nelson, Stephan Reynolds, and founder Carol Sampson. During her years at IDEA, she learned ballet, jazz, and tap, while also dancing with the Royal Academy of Dance. In 2013, IDEA closed but Zoe still focused on ballet exams in the Royal Academy of Dance for the next year with Heather Nelson. She was accepted into the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts to further her dance training. Zoe also trained with the Contemporary West Dance Theatre under the direction of Bernard H. Gaddis, participating in their summer program and Dancer to Dancer program. In 2016, Zoe auditioned and was accepted into the second company of CWDT and in 2018, she was accepted to be an apprentice in the first company. Zoe is grateful for Bernard Gaddis and all the company members of CWDT for helping her improve her skills and making her dreams come true.
Kedric Bateman was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in January of 1996; he then moved to California in 2001 where he became interested in dance. He began training in ballet and tap in 2006 at Media City Ballet in Burbank, CA. In 2008, his family relocated to Henderson, NV, where he auditioned to be in Las Vegas Academy’s Dance Department. Kedric started his freshman year in the lowest level and with hard work, dedication and the support from the teachers at the school, progressed to the highest level in the Dance Department by senior year. He fell in love with many modern dance styles, but nothing felt more natural to him than Horton. Kedric was trained by Thomas DiSabato (Horton), Tara Foy (ballet), and Jeneane Huggins (Graham). During his sophomore year of high school, he was competing at Inspire Dance Company, directed by Robert Contreras. There, he progressed in improvisation, hip-hop, ballet training, and post-modern movement. After high school, Kedric suffered an injury from a motorcycle accident, putting him out of dance for a few years. He was longing to get back into dance and started training again, and over time, got his technique back. He was then referred to Contemporary West Dance Theatre where he has had the privilege to dance since June, 2018. Kedric is extremely grateful and blessed for the support from Bernard Gaddis, his family and dance teachers over the years.
Koura Wright is a dancer, teacher and choreographer from Ithaca, NY. At age 10 she began her ballet training in Knoxville, TN with Amy Morton-Vaughn, Jan Valenti, and Peggy Burks, and studied Graham technique with Irena Lynn. She later attended Austin-East Magnet High School and studied modern dance techniques with Karen Duren and Kimberly Matibag. Magical summers were spent attending programs with Randy Duncan, the Ithaca ballet, the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts, and the Ailey School. Koura danced as a company member with the Ithaca Ballet from 2009-2010, where she performed as a Russian Candy in The Nutcracker and a Jewel Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty. After returning to Tennessee in 2011, Koura taught modern dance at Van Metre School of Dance until 2017, and danced with the affiliated company, The Appalachian Ballet Company. She danced many featured roles with the company including, “Big Lil” in Lil’ Lil and the Swing Singin’ Sax, The Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid, and the Arabian Soloist in The Nutcracker. In 2020, Koura graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a B.S. in Dance under the direction of Marsha Barsky and Margaret Brooker. There she was featured in works by Alia Cache, George Staib, Will Gill, and Colleen Barnes. While attending school, Koura taught modern dance and ballet at The Dancer’s School in Murfreesboro, TN, and Cannon Arts Dance Studio in Woodbury, TN. Koura is now the Director of the Training Division for the Artswork Conservatory, under the direction of Bernard Gaddis and Avree Walker. Koura is headed into her second season as a Company Artist with the Contemporary West Dance Theatre, and is anxious to sink her teeth into the delicious new and classic works by such esteemed choreographers. She also loves to hoola hoop and make art!
Sophie Henning is a native of Omaha, Nebraska, where she received her training through The Omaha Academy of Ballet and Creighton University. While in Omaha, Sophie performed as a dancer with Ballet Nebraska II and a contemporary dance company, Maya Taylor Dance. Sophie received additional training from Kansas City Ballet, The Rock School, American Ballet Theatre, and Ballet Austin. Sophie recently graduated with a BFA in dance performance and choreography from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory. While at university, she performed works by Christopher Huggins, Ray Mercer, Gregory Dawson, and Kirven Douthit-Boyd. This is Sophie’s first season at Contemporary West Dance Theatre.
Rosemary Shahani grew up in the Los Angeles area training at California Dance Academy, primarily with Laurie LeBlanc and Randall Graham. She quickly became a very versatile dancer who excelled in multiple styles including ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap, hip hop, and Bollywood. She rose to perform roles such as Sugarplum Fairy, Snow Queen, and the principal role in Paquita with California Dance Ensemble, and also started to earn recognition for her choreography. Rosemary spent her summers training at Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, and Colorado Ballet where she was trained by Alonzo King, John Gardner, and Amanda McKerrow, and was able to perform ballets by Twyla Tharp, Anthony Tudor, and others. Rosemary has spent the past three years with Colorado Ballet where she performed in The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, George Balanchine’s Serenade, and Septime Webre’s Wizard of Oz. Rosemary is thrilled to join Contemporary West Dance Theatre and looks forward to working with the amazing talent here.
Samuel Gaines Jr. was born in Washington, D.C. Samuel began his dance training at Divine Dance Institute, where he studied various forms of dance such as ballet, Horton, Graham, jazz, West African, and tap. Samuel recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Business Management from Goucher College, and received honors in Dance. While attending Goucher College, he performed works by Christian Von Howard, Kevin Jenkins, Loni Landon, and Milton Myers. He also performed works by Alan Greig while studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. Additionally, Samuel has received summer intensive scholarships from Dance Theatre of Harlem and Pneuma Dance Project, and has performed with companies including Dance Iquail! and Sound Xpressed. This is Samuel’s first season with Contemporary West Dance Theatre.
Kalie McLaughlin was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. She grew up in an artsy family filled with performers of all aspects: vocalists, instrumentalists, family bands, stage managers, lighting designers and theatre directors. In 2003 at the age of two, Kalie’s family started their own dance studio. In elementary school, Kalie competed in dance competitions and was later accepted into the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts dance department in 2010. She graduated from LVA in the highest dance level with an Advanced Honors Diploma in 2014. During her time at LVA, Jeneane Gallo-Huggins was her biggest supporter and inspiration. Kalie’s out of the box creativity, and Graham technique, is all owed to Mrs. Huggins. After high school, Kalie was accepted into the University of Nevada Las Vegas’s dance department with a full ride and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance and Choreography Degree, with a minor in Pilates. Kalie was also awarded the Certificate of Excellence Award in 2019 which is given to just one senior each year. During her time at UNLV, she traveled around and out of the country to teach Pilates, children’s dance classes, and performing. Kalie loves to travel and has been blessed to visit different countries during her time at UNLV. Kalie participated in a semester study abroad program to Seoul, South Korea and enjoyed learning the Korean culture while studying with the Korean National Sports University’s dance department. While with KNSU’s dance department, she studied ballet, modern and traditional Korean dance. During Kalie’s time at UNLV, she was a high-level collegiate and amateur Latin ballroom dancer competing and performed around Las Vegas with her ballroom partner, Gary Knox-Derry. Currently, Kalie lives in Las Vegas, Nevada working in the community as an elementary school teacher teaching kids dance, working in the physical therapy department with Pilates and is a brand new single mom! After her long break from dance to have her baby, Kalie is so excited and blessed to have the amazing opportunity to be dancing with the Contemporary West Dance Theatre. This is Kalie’s first season with Contemporary West Dance Theatre.
JP O’Donnell, a Kansas City native, began his dance training at Miller Marley School of Dance under direction of Tara Wells, and Christopher Barksdale. He went on to receive a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from the esteemed University of Missouri-Kansas City, Conservatory of Dance. He has danced in “Grease” at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, performed for Cedar Fair in Worlds of Fun’s “Grand Carnivale” parade, and on NBC, for The Plaza Lighting Ceremony, at the Country Club Plaza. He has also performed at Disney World in Downtown Disney, Union Station, the prestigious Kauffman Performing Arts Center and with Whidbey Island Dance Theatre in “The Nutcracker”. JP has collaborated with such artists as Christopher Huggins, Kevin Iega Jeff, Ronald Tice, Gary Abbott and Dee Anna Hiett. This is JP’s first season with Contemporary West Dance Theatre.
Albuquerque, New Mexico is an alumnus of Del Sol Academy of the Arts, and began his formal dance training at K.O. Knudson Middle School. In 2016, Mr. Pedraza joined the pre-professional dance company, Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater 2 (CWDT), where he continued his training in modern, classical ballet, and contemporary. Mr. Pedraza attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and in 2020 accepted an apprenticeship with Contemporary West Dance Theater. Mr. Pedraza is excited for his first season with CWDT.
Las Vegas, Nevada is a junior at Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, majoring in dance. Mr. Vidaña received early training from local institutions including the Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre. Mr. Vidaña was invited to join the West Las Vegas Arts Center Performance Ensemble, at which point he was introduced to the Contemporary West Dance Theatre. Mr. Vidaña is passionate about dance, and feels ecstatic at every opportunity he is able to be in a creative space. This is Mr. Vidaña’s first season with CWDT.