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Mariah Layne French
Mariah (Founder/Artistic Director, Choreographer, Costume/Lighting Designer, Outreach Coordinator & CEO) 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 five vivacious children. Mariah thanks God for the overwhelming provision and opportunity he has given her to share and pursue work she loves.



Kelsey Keller
(Aerial Director/ Dancer/Choreographer/Publicity & Fund-raising) Kelsey was born in California, but grew up in Macedonia, Ohio, where she spent her school years dancing and cheerleading competitively. She has a bachelor's degree from John Carroll University and a Ph.D. in Biophysics from the Ohio State University. Two years ago, Kelsey took her passion for dance and acrobatics into the air, through training with Morph Dance Theater's director Chloe Gonzalez. She continued her training as an aerial performer and instructor with Infinity Aerial here in Columbus. She has also had training sessions with Sailor Circus instructor Melissa Kellerman and Dance and Circus Arts of Tampa Bay instructor Taylor Lubecki. Kelsey now resides in Pittsburgh, PA, where she is an instructor at Fullbody Fitness Club and Abby Lee Dance Company, as well as a performer with Zany Umbrella Circus. This is Kelsey's fifth season dancing with Xclaim. She aims to inspire others through dance, as dance continuously inspires her.



Deena Schmidt
Deena (Dancer/Choreographer, Aerialist, 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 fifth season with Xclaim. Deena is a wife and mother and for her day job, a Postdoctoral Researcher in Mathematical Biology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.



Laura Schoessler
Laura (Dancer/Choreographer, Aerialist, 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 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.



J. Shannon Filmore
Shannon (Alumnus & Guest Choreographer) Performed and Choreographed with Xclaim for 3 Seasons and now participates as guest choreographer. 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 and 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 2011 and 2012 Xclaim Seasons. He has taught Hip Hop styles and Street Jazz throughout Central Ohio and is in the midst of relocating to New York City to pursue his career.



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