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Dance Storytelling


Al Blackstone

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Create your own graphic dance memoir with Al Blackstone + Tom Hart

April 5-23, 2021



Inspired by the power of graphic novels and comic books, this 3-Week Dance Storytelling Workshop will result in the creation of a personal graphic-dance-memoir aka dance comic strip. It will entail enhancing technique, developing choreography, photography and videography skills,  creating a personal dance comic strip and building long-lasting relationships. Mentees will work with choreographer AL BLACKSTONE, author and cartoonist TOM HART,  guest teachers, and guest speakers to acquire specific storytelling insight that they can use in their own practices as dancers and makers all while building long lasting relationships in the field. 

Finished Graphic-Dance-Memoirs will be shared on HAVEN’s website in the new HAVEN Haus Gallery.


  • 15 movement practice sessions 

  • 15 creation sessions

  • 7+ mentors

  • Special Guest Speakers

  • Creation of personal Graphic-Dance-Memoir 

  • Inclusion in HAVEN Haus’ Gallery


STRUCTURE (Pacific Standard Time)

Monday - Friday

9:30-10:45 am Movement Practice

11 am-12:30 pm Guided Creation of Personal Dance Memoir


Mentees can participate in Movement Practice, Creation, or both. Movement Practice and Creation Sessions take place Monday through Thursday, while Fridays are special sessions with Guest Artists.



Monday ~ Theatre Dance with Al Blackstone

Tuesday ~ Ballet with Tiare Keeno

Wednesday ~ Theatre Dance with Al Blackstone

Thursday ~ Contemporary with Lillian Barbeito

Friday ~ Guest Artists



Tuesdays & Thursdays: NY Times #1 bestselling author + Eisner-nominated cartoonist TOM HART

Friday, April 9: Laurence Olivier Award-nominated choreographer ARTHUR PITA

Friday, April 16: Dancer, Actor, Author, Motivational Speaker CARLTON WILBORN

Friday, April 23: Founder + Creator of Embodiology®, choreographer, + dancer DR. S. AMA WRAY




AL BLACKSTONE is an Emmy-winning director, choreographer, and educator based in New York City.  He loves to tell stories and believes deeply in the power of dance, community, and kindness.  


Born and raised in a dance studio, his passion for bringing people together to experience something meaningful has driven him to create work for concert, film, television, theater, boats, basements, parks, and many many stages.  This includes original dance narratives such as Freddie Falls in Love (Joyce Theater), Happy We’ll Be (Roseland Ballroom), Elephant in the Room (Arts on Site), NORMA (Steps on Broadway) and Brown Eyed Girl (Capezio A.C.E. Award for Choreographic Excellence).  Al has directed reinventions of classic musicals such as PIPPIN (Music Theater Wichita) and ANNIE (Axelrod Performing Arts Center) and has choreographed dozens more around the country and Off-Broadway.  Concert commissions include the repertory company 10 Hairy Legs (BAM), The Fire Island Dance Festival (five seasons), The University of the Arts, Pace University, and the Agnes DeMille commission for the SDC’s Abbott Awards in 2019.  His decade-long relationship with Dancers Responding to AIDS/BCEFA has inspired him to tell stories for charity events like Broadway Bares, Easter Bonnet, and Red Bucket Follies. 


In 2020 Al won an Emmy for his work on the iconic television show So You Think You Can Dance where he has been making dances since 2016.  Additional network television credits  include Good Morning America and The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  He continues to create self-produced short films including La Vista, The Suburbs, and A Good Thought (upcoming with playwright Rachel Bonds). In 2019 he choreographed the film Double Exposure (On the Rocks Films) and the next year he was chosen by the Irving Berlin Estate to direct and choreograph Isn’t It A Lovely Day to commemorate the 85th Anniversary of the classic musical Top Hat. 


As an educator Al is deeply indebted to the many brilliant teachers he has encountered throughout his life and does his best to uphold their principals and pass on their legacies. These values inform and inspire his classes which have been shared with dancers all over the world for more than two decades.  He is currently on faculty at Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center, and JUMP Dance Convention and in 2019 he was featured in the documentary film Uprooted which sheds light on the rich history and African roots of jazz dance in America.  He is proud to be a part of the New York dance community and in 2020 created MOMEN which highlights and celebrates the power of NYC dance through live events, workshops, and virtual offerings including a free community warmup and meditation every Monday.  He lives in Queens with his partner Abraham and has kept a journal since he was twelve.   

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TOM HART is a cartoonist. He started The Sequential Artists Workshop, a school and arts organization in Gainesville, Florida.


Before that, he taught at School of Visual Arts for 10 years, a did a bunch of other stuff (below.) 


His book about his daughter, Rosalie Lightning, was a NY Times #1 bestseller and been translated into French, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese, and was featured on many best of 2016 lists, and was nominated for two Eisner Awards.


Before that, he was the creator of the Hutch Owen series of graphic novels and books. The Collected Hutch Owen was nominated for best graphic novel in 2000. He was an early recipient of a Xeric Grant for self-publishing cartoonists, and has been on many best-of lists in the Comics Journal and other comix publications. He was called "One of the great underrated cartoonists of our time" by Eddie Campbell and "One of my favorite cartoonists of the decade" by Scott McCloud. The Hutch Owen comic strip ran for 2 years in newspapers in New York and Boston, and his "Ali's House", co-created with Margo Dabaie was picked up by King Features Syndicate. 


He was a core instructor at New York City's School of Visual Arts for 10 years, teaching cartooning to undergraduates, working adults and teens alike. Among his students were Dash Shaw, Sarah Glidden Box Brown and other published cartoonists like Leslie Stein, Jessica FinkJosh Bayer, Brendan Leach and many others.  



  • 16+

  • previous dance training & passion for movement

  • performance experience or curiosity about sharing dance with others

  • desire to adapt, create, connect, and contribute 



There is no fee to apply. 

Send the following materials to

  • Video Statement of Interest (talk to camera about yourself and why you are interested in this workshop with Al Blackstone and Tom Hart at HAVEN) 

  • Biography and/or Resume 

  • Links to Application Video(s)​

Please upload your Video Statement of Interest and Application Videos to Dropbox,  Vimeo, or Youtube, and provide links (include passwords if needed). Videos that need to be downloaded will NOT be considered.



Please include the following in your application video(s):

  • 1 minute of improvisation 

  • 1-3 minutes of performance or rehearsal footage (any setting acceptable)

Send links  (include passwords if needed) that connect directly to videos posted to Dropbox, Vimeo, or Youtube. Do NOT send videos that need to be downloaded. 


There is no hard deadline to apply. Submissions will be accepted until the program has reached capacity. We will indicate if and when the workshop is at capacity and no longer accepting applications in bright red on our website. 


$900  Full Program ~ 3 Weeks of Technique & Creation

$600  Creation Only 

$300  Unlimited Technique Classes (valid April 5-23)

$100   Five-Class Technique Pass (valid April 5-23)

$20    Drop-in Technique Class

FINANCIAL AID ~ Deadline March 28

Mentees who apply and are accepted are eligible for financial aid. To be considered for a scholarship, submit the following on or before March 28th, 2021 at 11:59 pm PST.

Step 1 - apply

Step 2 - receive notification of acceptance

Step 3 - send the following materials to

  • Written Statement of Financial Need

  • Two Letters of Recommendation


 FRIDAY, April 9 from 11-12:30 Pacific Time

ARTHUR PITA is Portuguese and studied dance in Johannesburg. He gained a Master’s Degree from London Contemporary Dance School. For the past 15 years, Arthur has run his own company, Ballo Arthur Pita. 


Recent and upcoming choreographic work include: Björk Ballet revival on San Francisco Ballet, AXIS! Dance Company in San Francisco, Casse Noisette revival on Paris Opera Ballet, The Life and Death of the Dizi Croquettes by Ballo Arthur Pita, The Tenant with James Whiteside at Joyce Theater Productions, The Mother with Natalia Osipova by Bird&Carrot, Björk Ballet by special arrangement with Björk at the Sound Unbound Festival, San Francisco A Dream within a Midsummer Night’s Dream revival on Ballet Black, Barbican & UK Tour, The Wind on Royal Ballet at the  Royal Opera House, The Metamorphosis at Joyce Theatre, The Little Match Girl at Jerwood Dancehouse, Romeu e Julieta on Grupo Dancando com a Diferenca, The Stepfather on Candoco Dance Company, Snow White in Black on Phoenix Dance at Sadler’s Wells & UK Tour – National Dance Award.

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Mr. Pita’s works in film include Sunshine on Leith (dir. Dexter Fletcher) and Ex Machina (dir. Alex Garland). His work in theatre includes: Machinal (dir. Natalie Abrahami) and The Treatment (dir. Lyndsey Turner) at the Almeida; Saint Joan and Les Liaison Dangereuses (dir. Josie Rourke) at the Donmar Warehouse; Our Country’s Good (dir. Nadia Fall), Mappa Mundi (dir. Bill Alexander), Women Beware Women (dir. Marianne Elliot) at the National Theatre; The Winter’s Tale (dir. David Farr) for Royal Shakespeare Company/Round House NY; The Glass Menagerie (dir. Joe Hill- Gibbins) for Young Vic; The Bodyguard the Musical (dir. Thea Sharrock) in the West End; Show Boat (dir. Francesca Zambello) at the Royal Albert Hall. 


Mr. Pita’s work in opera includes: Street Scene (dir. John Fulljames) for Teatro Real Madrid, Opera Group, Young Vic; The Gambler (dir. Dalia Ibelhauptaite) for Opera Zuid; Carmen (dir. Francesca Zambello) for Royal Opera House/Den Norske Opera; Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and La donna del lago (dir. John Fulljames) at the Royal Opera House; La Bohème (dir. Francesca Zambello) at the Royal Albert Hall; The Death of Klinghoffer (dir. Tom Morris) for English National Opera/Metropolitan Opera; La Cenerentola (dir. Daniel Slater) for Garsington Opera; Orfeo ed Euridice (dir. Lee Blakeley) for Minnesota Opera.

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FRIDAY, April 16 from 11:00-12:30 am Pacific Time

Carlton Wilborn presents an elegant, powerful and professional presence. As an award-winning author and highly respected, life coach, host and performer, his dynamic style and unique configurations of strength and versatility have kept him front and center on many stages of life.

Wilborn began his professional career as a principal dancer with the world renowned Hubbard Street Dance Company in Chicago. Combining street savvy and urban sensibilities with an inherent elegance and commitment to integrity, he naturally commands the stage. As a dancer he is a force to be reckoned with; and as a choreographer, director, and dance instructor, he guides the pursuits of fellow artists with the same level of excellence and creativity he brings to his own craft.

FRIDAY, April 23 from 9:30-12:30 Pacific Time

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Dr. S. Ama Wray is an associate professor of dance and the University of California, Irvine. She is a former U.K NESTA Fellow (National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts – similar to the MacArthur Awards)—an improviser, choreographer, director, teacher and scholar. She self-titles as a 'Performance Architect', receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Surrey where she developed her theory and practice of Embodiology®, a neo-African approach to contemporary dance improvisation. Her TED talk articulates its distinctions and philosophy. In 2016 an essay on her neo-African approach to dance improvisation is in Black Dance British Routes, edited by Adair and Burt, 2017 published by Routledge. In 2014 two essays on jazz dance were published in the anthology Jazz dance: A History of its Roots and Branches, edited by Guarino and Oliver. As a performer in the UK she danced with London Contemporary Dance Theatre and Rambert Dance Company between 1988 and 2001. Wray is widely known for her role as the leading performer and legal custodian of Harmonica Breakdown (1938), choreographed by Jane Dudley. As its custodian she continues to restage the work globally and has completed a motion capture/Labanotation research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities research Council 2014-16. The dance is also the title subject of a documentary about Jane and this work. Her other films are for JazzXchange Special Request, epicting a journey from Nyabinghi drums to Hip Hop, shot on various locations in NY; and Red as Expected, an award winning film by Dennis Morrision with music by Byron Wallen.

Re-inspired after her solo role in Wynton Marsalis' Harvard Lecture Series in 2012 and her residency at The Institute of Advanced Study (in Princeton) she re-launched JazzXchange in the USA and is developing an interdisciplinary festival of jazz and hip hop performance in Orange County. Currently her improvisation practice is extending into clinical research with UCI medical centre, using her dance improvisation methods as a form of therapy for patients who suffer from chronic diseases.And in 2015 UK's National Resource Centre for Dance invited her to place her archive within their permanent collection. In the realm of theatre she has successfully directed two of Mojisola Adebayo's plays directed Moj of the Antarctic - An African Odyssey and Muhammad Ali and Mewhich have toured the UK and South Africa supported by the British Council.

In London between 1992 and 2004 Wray was artistic director of JazzXchange Music and Dance Company, collaborating with musicians including: Gary Crosby - OBE, Julian Joseph, Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin and Zoe Rahman. For the UK's 2012 Cultural Olympiad Festival she was commissioned to choreograph The Brown Bomber, collaborating with Joseph once again, supported by the PRS Foundation. As a result of her 4-year NESTA fellowship, dance of the African diaspora, jazz and improvisation intersect in her concept of digitally enabled improvisation which manifests in the award-winning Texterritory. Texterritory is an interactive performance platform created in collaboration with Fleeta Siegel. Recent productions include Texterritory Congo, Digitally Ever Present and Texterritory USA.

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TUESDAYS, April 6, 13, & 20 from 9:30-10:45 am Pacific Time

TIARE KEENO a Utah native who received her BFA in dance at The Juilliard School where she performed lead roles in the works of Martha Graham and José Limòn. She also attended Springboard Danse Montreal where she performed the works of RUBBERBANDance Group, Aszure Barton and Artists, and Kidd Pivot among others. In her professional career she has been a company member of Nevada Ballet Theatre where she performed in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil and performed in Al Blackstone’s Freddie Falls in Love at the Joyce Theatre in NYC. Tiare joined BODYTRAFFIC in 2019 and has performed in works by Micaela Taylor, Matthew Neenan, and Richard Siegal. 

CLASS DESCRIPTION: This class will serve as a warm up that follows a simple ballet class structure. We’ll work through a flow of movement within classical forms and focus on coordination, breath, alignment and musicality. 


LILLIAN BARBEITO brings more than 35 years of dance experience as an artist, producer, director, and educator to her role as Founder and CEO at HAVEN. During the course of her career, she has been a performer with contemporary dance companies, the co-founder of a world renowned non-profit organization, and an internationally recognized, certified teacher of Countertechnique. 

Barbeito grew up in the desert under the blues skies of Santa Fe, New Mexico where she trained with the Santa Fe Dance Foundation and worked with The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Southwest Ballet and the Santa Fe Opera. She earned her BFA from The Juilliard School where she studied on a 4 year, full-tuition scholarship awarded by Tomorrow’s Leaders of America for her essay about the world dancing together in harmony.

Barbeito had an extensive performance career that took her to Europe, New York, and then finally to Los Angeles, where she founded BODYTRAFFIC with Tina Berkett. She has taught internationally for organizations such as

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CALARTS, Idyllwild Arts Academy, L'Artère and L’ecole de Danse in Quebec City, Lyon Opera Ballet, Northwest Dance Project, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Southland Ballet Academy, The Wooden Floor, and UCLA’s department of World Arts and Cultures. Barbeito is one of 36 teachers in the world who is certified to teach Anouk van Dijk’s groundbreaking Countertechnique. She has choreographed over 50 works for high schools, universities, competitions, regional ballet companies and professional modern dance companies throughout the US and Canada.

She is currently a Senior Lecturer at Loyola Marymount University and the  Director of Dance at Chaminade College Preparatory. Barbeito is married to filmmaker and environmentalist Grant Barbeito. They currently reside in Woodland Hills, CA,  with their 2 sons, Oliver who is 11 and Forest who is 6, two bearded dragons, and a puppy named Harvey. This summer, the Barbeitos are launching the Carmel Dance Festival. 

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