PRESENTER & PERFORMER BIOS 2010

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PERFORMER - TZIONA ACHISHENA

Tziona Achishena Zilbershtein lives in Northern Israel, where she performs her moving original compositions and teaches singing, Torah, and prayer. She is a mulit-instrumentalist who plays guitar, piano, riq (a Middle Eastern tambourine), harmonium, and the Persian santur. After living in California, performing improvised music with free Jazz giants such as Charles Gayle, and producing story-theatres and an album of original music, she returned to her Jewish roots and moved to Israel. She channeled her diverse backround, which includes intensive studies of Ballet, Tap, and Jazz, Traditional dance in Indonesia, Tai Chi, Western vocal training, Persian classical singing, and creative writing, through a lens of Torah and Mitzvot. Shedding the chaff and harvesting the essence, she uses these skills to express the heart of Jewish prayer through original songs from the Siddur (prayer book) and especially Tehillim (psalms). Since then, she has produced four albums of music, and inspired countless women and girls to express themselves through singing in holiness, and to find their own unique way to connect with G-d. Her students, some as young as 10 years old, compose their own songs and have even recorded CDs under her guidance. She performs solo, and with various drummers and instrumentalists, including violinist and vocalist Chava Rachel Saban. www.koltziona.com

GLASSBLOWING, ARTIST - SHEVA CHAYA SAIVAN

Light, color, joy, and depth define the work of Tzfat artist, Sheva Chaya Shaiman. Sheva Chaya grew up in Denver, Colorado where wide open skies and the majestic Rocky Mountains inspired her to begin her career as an artist. She studied at Princeton University, majoring in visual art and art history, with a concentration in painting. After graduating from Princeton in 1997, Sheva Chaya immigrated to Israel. There, the land, the people, and a rich tradition of spiritual teachings brought a new, deeper dimension to her work. Sheva Chaya now loves living in the Old City of Tzfat, Israel, with her husband and three children. www.shevachaya.com

SCREENWRITING - ESTHER RACHEL RUSSELL

Esther Rachel Russell MA, is a screenwriter, performer, producer, laughter therapist and the creator of the Comedy Improvisation Workshop: To Break Through Barriers. Most recently, she performed in the acclaimed off-Broadway comedy, A Match Made in Manhattan - The Interactive Jewish Wedding Experience where she played the role of Rivky Lowenstein, mother of the bride. Her improv comedy career began at the famous Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles where she wrote and performed in numerous comedy sketches. Esther Rachel is the writer/producer of the internationally acclaimed one-man show Gathering the Sparks starring her husband, actor/comedian Reuven Russell and has recently written and directed the cutting-edge documentary Shame, Shanda & Silence. Currently Esther Rachel is teaching Screenwriting at Stern College in New York City. In her previous incarnation, she worked on various television sets in Hollywood as a producer of Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Benson and Wheel of Fortune. She received her Master's degree in Theater at NYU.

VOCAL TECHNIQUE & THE VOICE, PERFORMER - BRACHA ADREZIN

A native of Maine, Bracha Adrezin left at an early age for Europe, where she joined the prestigious Mozarteum, in Salzburg, Austria, the home of Mozart. She trained under world renowned maestros at the Vienna State Opera, and developed expertise in traditional Italian Bel Canto singing. She became a specialist in the music of Puccini and Verdi. As a professional opera singer in Europe, Bracha used to perform extensively as a concert soloist for grand balls in ancient castles. For many years, Bracha has combined the secret breathing techniques of the old opera masters, with her formal training in psychology and psychotherapy, to help women release stress, and become psychologically and physically healthier. Bracha sings in English, Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino, and Italian. She also composes her own music and is available for workshops and concerts nationally. Bracha believes that the physical and emotional energy generated by original Italian Bel Canto techniques can be used to release and heal deep physical/emotional blockages held in the body. Bracha received advanced training in psychology and psychotherapy from the University of Vienna. After studying many forms of body/mind healing, Bracha specializes in assisting women in releasing their inner power and joy through deep voice/breath release and movement. Bracha is sensitive to her clients' releasing and processing in a safe, honoring manner and her workshops are noted for their fun and mental/emotional/physical satisfaction.

MODERN DANCE WORKSHOP, PERFORMER - DAGES JUVELIER KEATES

Dages Juvelier Keates is a movement artist based in Brooklyn. She received her BA in dance from Bard College after attending Interlochen Arts Academy. She has performed for choreographers such as Noemie Lafrance, Jennifer Monson, Susan Osberg, Leslie Satin, and Kristi Spessard. She is currently collaborating with video designer Soraya Odishoo and studying Butoh with Tanya Calamoneri. Her collaborative work has been presented through the JCC, d.u.m.b.o arts festival, Food for Thought at St. Marks, Judson Memorial Church, BRIC, and Brooklyn Arts Exchange. Dages is also a board-certified Health Coach (American Association of Drugless Practitioners) and is the founder and director of Delicious Dialogues. Dages became passionate about Judaism in her early twenties. After spending a year in Israel studying at Neve Yerushalayim and with Sarah Yehudit Schneider, she returned to NYC to continue her learning with Rav DovBer Pinson at the Iyyun Yeshivah. Ever exploring different approaches to text, she went on to spend two years studying at Drisha Institute as an arts fellow.

THEATER DEVELOPMENT - AMY GUTERSON

Amy (Gordon) Guterson has her BA from Stern College, Yeshiva University, where she was the school’s first theatre major. She studied acting with Uta Hagen, and Mike Nichols, and has trained intensively in improvisation with Paul Sills. Amy is a graduate of The New Actors Workshop, a graduate level program in acting. A member of Actor’s Equity, Amy performed Off- Broadway before returning to observance. Now living in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and four children (ages 3-15), Amy has found new ways to express her creativity and skills. Twelve years ago she co-founded the Kol Isha Theatre group which consists of Jewish women from across the spectrum of Judaism. As Artistic Director for the group, Amy has taught acting and improvisation and directed play development for most of the group’s original productions and workshops (based on issues of Jewish womanhood and Jewish unity / disunity). She also has written and directed some of the groups full length plays, trigger scenes and workshops. Amy wrote, directed and produced the film “Becoming Rachel”, which premiered at the Pittsburgh Jewish/Israeli Film Festival and has been screened at festivals across the country (and currently in Israel). She also performs with Pittsburgh Playback Theatre, which “plays back” its audience’s stories and feelings through improvisation. Amy can be seen on screen as Agent Emes’ mother in the Agent Emes video series.

SONG COMPOSITION, PERFORMER - ESTHER LEAH MARCHETTE

Esther Leah Marchette is a singer, songwriter and former cantor who has been involved with music from a young age. She holds a B.A. in Songwriting from Berklee College of Music in Boston, which included studies in classical and contemporary composition, lyric writing, advanced music theory, jazz and rock arranging. Esther Leah plays piano, guitar and percussion. In high school and college, she performed in musical theatre productions, sang in choirs and ensemble groups and directed an a cappella singing group at Yale University. In her early 20s, she worked as a cantor for a number of years until making the transition to embracing a Chassidic way of life. Since that time, Esther Leah occasionally performs for women as well as leading classes and workshops in Jewish Spirituality. Currently Esther Leah works as the manager of a software company, organizes events and classes as co-director of the Boston Breslov Connection, and raises her children with her husband in Boston, MA.

DANCE COMPOSITION, PERFORMER - REINA POTAZNIK

Reina M. Potaznik began dancing at a young age, performed as a member of her high school's dance troupe and eventually held the position of squad captain. Reina graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College with a Bachelor's Degree in both Dance and Psychology. At Barnard, Reina focused on Modern dance technique as well as Contact, Improvisation, African, Flamenco, and Jazz, studying with teachers trained under Paul Taylor Dance Co. and Bill T. Jones. In addition, she studied theory and composition, culminating in two senior projects: a movement piece called Dance for 3, and a written thesis entitled Unusual Dance Spaces. Reina is currently teaching dance to preteens and is pursuing a Master's Degree in Dance Education at NYU. Dance Composition: Form through Content - is designed to understand and use the choreographic principles of time, space, energy, and design to create dance material. The movement created during this workshop will be inspired by Jewish literary and visual sources.

KABBALAH OF DANCE, PERFORMER - YOCHEVED POLONSKY

Yocheved Polonsky, dancer and dance educator founded the CLI institute of dance, in Cleveland, Ohio, a Judaic dance and movement arts studio, to provide a holistic Jewish enviroment for the study of dance. The creation of CLI was inspired by her sincere desire to integrate the beauty of movement with the lofty spiritual messages and values of Torah, which was lacking in the local dance community. Her studio provides fun, dynamic classes in creative movement, ballet, Jazz, Pilates and Aleph Beis movement meditation, for women only. She travels worldwide to share her inspiration and vision through her workshops and performances: her belief that every person can utilize their natural talents and gifts to praise and connect with Hashem.

PERFORMER - SHAINDEL ANTELIS

Shaindel has been singing ever since she learnt how to talk, and started writing her own songs at ten years old. From when she was a young girl she dreamed about releasing an album of her own. Shaindel recorded a five song demo when she was seventeen years old, but she was still developing her own style and sound. Soon after, Shaindel went to Israel for the year not knowing what the future held. She fell in love with Israel at first sight! Shaindel came back from Israel and went straight into the studio to start recording her debut album “Heart And Soul”. The album was a family affair. Her father Moshe Antelis played bass, guitar, and arranged the album. Shaindel’s brother Jake Antelis produced, mixed, and played drums on the album. “Heart And Soul” has thirteen songs written by Shaindel with a pop/rock feel and meaningful messages. The title “Heart And Soul” represents the idea of bringing spirituality into every day life. Each song is like an excerpt from Shaindel’s diary that she poured her heart and soul into. With songs ranging from the pursuit of happiness, connecting to G-D, and getting through hard times, there is definitely something for everyone!

PERFORMER - MIRELE ROSENBERGER

Since 1969, Mirele has taught music to dancers and accompanied their dance classes on piano and percussion in various colleges and universities, some of which are University of Maryland, Julliard Schools of Dance, Drama, and Opera, Sarah Lawrence College, Purchase University, N.Y.U., and the Connecticut College for Dance in New London. Mirele was commissioned to compose two pieces for a professional dance company, the Liz Keene Dance Company, which have been performed throughout North America.

During this time, she became a religious Jew and mother of eight children. Her husband, a virtuoso jazz guitarist, formed a chassinah band with me, which has had the pleasure of providing music to numerous chossons and kallahs.

In 1986, Mirele became the musical director and pianist for world-known Israeli singer, Ruthie Navon, with whom she traveled the world, doing all-women's concerts as far as Melbourne, Australia and Curitiba, Brazil. Mirele composed three songs for Ruthie, which she recorded on her CD called "Lead Me To Your Way". Other singers she has accompanied include Kineret, Rachel Miller, and her daughter, Yocheved.

PERFORMER - YOCHEVED ROSENBERGER

Yocheved (Rosenberger) Perlman has been performing for over 15 years for Jewish women audiences all over the United States and Canada.She was fortunate to grow up amongst two very talented parents who are professional musicians. As a young girl, she studied with top vocal coaches. She has performed for Chabad Houses in Florida, California, Nova Scotia, and New York with her mother Mirele Rosenberger as her accompanist. Yocheved has shared the stage with such renowned singers as Ruthi Navon and Kineret. Yocheved continues to bring joy and inspiration through her beautiful and soulful voice.

SINGER - ELANA BELL

Elana Bell has been singing since before she could speak. Her first memories are of harmonizing to 1950's songs around the campfire with her parents in the woods of northern California. Elana has continued to use voice as her primary means of creative self-expression and communication, pursuing theatre, poetry, and song. In 2001, Elana performed at the National Black Theater Festival in Minus One, an educational musical about violence in teen relationships. In 2004 Elana was selected as the winner of the Stephen Dunn Poetry Award. A resident artist with the louderARTS Project, Elana has been a featured poet at Bar 13, the NuYorican Poets Cafe, Hunter College, Teachers and Writers Collaborative, The Bowery Poetry Club, Cornelia Street Café, and at the Indian Institute for Advanced Studies in Simla, India. Currently, Elana serves as the writer-in-residence for the Bronx Academy of Letters and sings in the women's world music trio, Saheli.

PERFORMER - DENA ABERGEL

Dena Abergel began dancing at the age of 4. She grew up in Englewood, New Jersey, where she studied ballet with Dorit Koppel until the age of 13. She attended the School of American Ballet until she was invited to join New York City Ballet in 1990. Ms. Abergel performed numerous solo and featured roles in the company’s vast repertoire, originating roles in ballets by Jerome Robbins and Peter Martins. She graduated from Fordham University in 2000 with a BA in English. In 2009, Ms. Abergel joined the faculty of the School of American Ballet and was named Assistant Children’s Ballet Master at New York City Ballet. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and 4 year-old daughter.

PERFORMER - HANNAH LASKOW

Hannah Laskow, age 14, from Agouti Hills, California has been performing on stage from the age of four. Since then she has held major roles in dozens of musicals through school, camp and community theater, including Class Act and Kol Neshamah. What she loves most about theater is singing. At age 10, she began writing her own songs and producing them in her home studio.

This past year, she wrote the songs, trained the vocalists, produced the recordings, directed the stage show and marketed her very first all girls concert -- Shalosh! The audience members thought they were going to see a kids' show. The jaw dropping performance wowed the women who attended, who then leapt to their feet and gave a standing ovation. The concert was a smashing success and the talk of the town for several weeks. We've all heard family and friends of famous performers talk about how they knew someone was destined to accomplish their dream of success at an early age. Hannah Laskow is one of those people.

SINGER, COMPOSER - LEAH SIGAL

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Leah Sigal, who currently resides in Monsey, NY, has had a passion for music since her early childhood years. Besides being a busy housewife and mommy, Leah spends her time composing and arranging soul-stirring, heart-rending and uplifting music, drawing out the essence, holiness and inner beauty of words from the Jewish Prayer Book, the Book of Psalms and the Holy Scriptures. In addition, Leah writes her own inspirational lyrics in English, Spanish and Hebrew. To date Leah has produced two CDs, titled: “My Sister” - Songs of Encouragement, Hope and Praise, which was inspired by Rivky, her special needs daughter, and her newest release "Peace in Israel" - Yearning for Blessings and Redemption. With great excitement, she is currently working on her third album. Leah is available to sing for Women's concerts, tea parties, fund-raisers, good-bye parties or any women's events.

SINGER, SONGWRITER - MYRA ESTELLE

Myra Estelle is an English born songwriter, author, teacher, and mother of two sons, as well as a trained architect. Her songs come from her understanding of our spiritual yearnings, and the need for love within each one of us. Her two books are called:

  • THE WAY THE WORLD WORKS: The Journey from Chaos to Peace, which guides people through a practical understanding of the emotional and physical support we can find from the higher conscious energy that exists in us and in our world.
  • AWAKENING LOVE: A Spiritual Quest Into Judaism, explores the spiritual aspect of Judaism from a modern perspective. It uncovers significant kabbalistic wisdom that exists beneath the surface of Judaism. She teaches a monthly class about the spiritual path from a Chassidic perspective, including a short, Jewish meditation, at the West 75th Street Townhouse in Manhattan.

WRITER - PATRICIA ESZTER MARGIT

Patricia Eszter Margit is a writer, journalist, sociologist, art manager, healer and community organizer originally from Hungary. Her first novel, The Jewish Bride was published in 2009 in Hungary and sold out within 3 months. The book had been recently translated to English and is currently reviewed by U.S. literary agencies. Eszter moved to New York six years ago, she filled various leadership roles at the Carlebach Shul, Romemu Center and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. She regularly wrote to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Marie Claire magazine and the Jerusalem Report among many other publications. She is a kallah and lives happily with her husband Mordechai, a Torah loving musician.

Additional Performers Bios Coming Soon!