Mariah Layne French|
Mariah (Founder/Artistic Director, Choreographer, Costume/Lighting Designer/ Outreach Coordinator, CEO and Principal Dancer) earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance from The Ohio State University in 2005, where she was awarded the Undergraduate Research Grant for her Honors Thesis, "Forging New Territory in Artistic Expression." Before attending OSU she majored in dance on scholarship at Ball State University, and performed as a member of the Ball State Dance Theater from 2001-2003. Mariah also studied Spanish, African, and Caribbean dance at Florida International University in Miami. She received her primary training from the Fort Wayne (IN) Ballet under the direction of Michael Tevlin, and from Northeast School of Dance with Beth Schiebel, where she performed as a member of its nationally recognized Jazz and Tap Companies. Mariah has worked closely with many distinguished masters and choreographers, including: Jeff Shade, Diego Salterini, Gregg Russell, Bebe Miller, Gary Lund, David Reuille, Lori Belilove, Freddie Moore, Susan Hadley, Rosiland Pierson and Yvonne Peters. She continues to cultivate her craft as an active member of the Columbus Dance Community.
Mariah has been an instructor at Charisma Centre for the Arts since 2004, teaching Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, Modern, African and Dance Repertory. Her award winning choreography has been performed in Indiana, Florida, Colorado, and in Ohio. It has been featured at many community events throughout central Ohio including performances at The Columbus Dance Theater, BalletMet Columbus, The Bluestone (formerly BoMA), King Arts Complex, Columbus Performing Arts Center, in the Columbus Dances Series, in 60x60 produced by New York based Vox Novus, and at The Ohio State University's Sullivant Hall.
In 2007 Mariah and her husband Phil founded Xclaim. They reside in Columbus, Ohio with their four vivacious children. Mariah thanks God for the overwhelming provision and opportunity he has given her to share and pursue work she loves.
J. Shannon Filmore
Shannon (Dancer/Choreographer) joins Xclaim for his third season. He is a 2006 graduate of Fort Hayes Performing Arts High School, where his passion for dance began. He has also studied at BalletMet Columbus, the Columbus Youth Ballet, with Alfred Dove, Shelly Steward, and under Hip Hop masters BHB and Dynesha. Shannon's performances include OSU Dance Linx, The Dove Project, work as a background dancer and choreographer with various recording artists, participation with various Vitality Energy productions, dancing in Africa to America presented by Judah Performing Arts. His choreography has been featured in a Michael Jackson Tribute in the Fort Hayes 2010 Spring Concert, OSU Dance Linx, and in the Xclaim 2011 Premiere Elemental. He currently teaches Street Jazz at Richland Academy.
Crystal (Dancer/Choreographer) has a Bacherlor of Arts from Anderson University in Politcal Science and Finance with a minor in Spanish. She began her dance training at a young age with Majorie Jones school of Ballet, and spent several years studying at BalletMet and Charisma Centre for the Arts. She has trained under notable masters including: Doug King, Freddie Moore, Yvonne Peters, Aaron Chen, Daryse Osborne, Jeff Lewis, A. Randal Flinn, and Cherly Cutlip. Her notable performance and choreographic experiences include: Dancing as a member of the ICEJ International Dance Company, performances in many high school musicals, two Summer tours with the Young Continentals, and various performances during her four years at Anderson University including Candles and Carols and the student led Hip Hop concert. Recently Crystal spent three years with Eagles Wings ministry where she was given the opportunity perform and choreograph across the nation. Today she can be found at the Ohio State University pursuing a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography. She is happy to join Xclaim for her second season.
Sara (Dancer/ Web Mistress/ Photographer) has been dancing since the age of 10. Her training has included classical ballet, modern, jazz, African, lyrical and ballroom, studying under Robert Cole (formerly of The National Ballet of Canada), Mariah Layne French, Daryse Osborne, Freddie Moore, Aaron Chen, Jeff Lewis, Lisa Cole, and Franklin White (formerly of Britain's Royal Ballet). She performed four and a half years with the Central Ohio Youth Ballet, including lead roles in The Nutcracker, Giselle, Swan Lake and Rodeo. Sara is a 2010 high school graduate and currently keeps busy pursuing her interests in photography and traveling. She is excited to join Xclaim for her fourth season.
Kelsey (Dancer/Choreographer/ Publicity & Fund-raising) was born in California, but grew up in Macedonia, Ohio, where she spent her school years dancing and cheerleading competitively. Kelsey has a bachelor's degree from John Carroll University and will graduate from Ohio State University this spring with a PhD in Biophysics. During her years at John Carroll, she founded the JCU Dance Ensemble, which allowed her to grow as a dancer, choreographer, and director. Recently, Kelsey has trained in aerial and acrobatic dance with Morph Dance Theater's Director Chloe Gonzalez and Infinity Aerial. She is an active participant in the Neighborhood Pride Talent Mentors program and an instructor at NorthPointe Dance Academy. This is Kelsey's fourth season dancing with Xclaim. She aims to inspire others through dance, as dance continuously inspires her.
Deena (Dancer/Choreographer/Costuming Assistant) grew up in Minneapolis, MN. She trained at Summit School of Dance, Ballet Arts Minnesota, the Boston Conservatory (summer intensive), and the University of Akron where she received a B.S. in Mathematics, Biology and Dance. Deena also has a M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Math from Cornell University. While a graduate student, she was a Principal Dancer with the Ithaca Ballet Company, dancing lead roles in The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland to name a few. Deena has worked with various dance companies, student groups, and many distinguished artists/choreographers, including: Sean Curran, Luis Fuente, Tom Smith, Andy Caroll, Byron Suber, Jim Self, Jumay Chu, Risa Cohen, Cindy Reid, Rafael Grigorian, Linda Muir, James Sewell, and Barry Leon. This is Deena's fourth season with Xclaim. As for her day job, she is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Mathematical Biology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Laura (Dancer/ Choreographer/ Rehearsal Assistant/ Wardrobe Mistress/Makeup Artist/ Board Secretary) was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. She was nine years old when she began dancing at Charisma Centre for the Arts where she is now an instructor. Laura has studied jazz under Mariah Layne French since 2005. She has also studied with notable masters, Jeff Lewis, Aaron Chen and Freddie Moore. She continues to pursue professional dance training through various venues. Laura has performed as a part of the Exaltation Dance Company and junior company from 2003. She is a founding member of Xclaim, and works diligently in many capacities to keep the company afloat. She has danced with Xclaim in "Columbus Dances", "60x60", various community outreach and arts events and all of Xclaim's mainstage performances.