Sep 27-29, 2023

Ayodele Casel Rooted

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Four dancers are onstage dressed in tap shoes with black pants and a mix of black and white tops. One dancer is slightly downstage, while the other Three dancers form a semicircle around them.

Northrop Presents
Ayodele Casel


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Kari Schloner

Greetings, and welcome to Northrop! I’m delighted that you are joining us during the 2023-24 Northrop Season. In true Northrop fashion, this season brings a breadth of preeminent artists to the Twin Cities, offering audiences the chance to revisit long-time favorites, discover new gems, and even catch two world premieres of works that are part of the Northrop Centennial Commissions program. I hope you will explore everything we have to offer across dance, music, film, and this year’s Spotlight Series, Moving Through Injustice.

The performances that you see onstage are just one facet of each artist’s engagement with Northrop. In support of our mission to cultivate intersections between arts and education, there are a plethora of opportunities to dive more deeply into the artists and their work. Community roundtables, performance previews, workshops, classes, Q&A’s, and more offer insight into artists’ histories and processes, and give context surrounding the works you will see. Make sure to visit the “Learn More” section on each company’s event page on Northrop’s website to find interdisciplinary thematic connections, discover resources that provide more information on the performers, art forms, and artistic processes, and explore questions that will help engage you in conversations and reflections. Each of these elements are intended to complement and add new depth and dimension to the way you see the performances. I encourage you to visit the website now and often, as new engagements and resources are added throughout the year. While you’re there, explore the many other events happening at Northrop including concerts, lectures, comedy, and more!

Thank you again for joining us during the 2023-24 Northrop Season. I want to give a special thank you to our subscribers and donors. Your support is more important than ever before. Through your attendance and contributions, you help to ensure that Northrop can continue to bring world-class artists to the Twin Cities community. Thank you.


Kari Schloner

Executive Director

Jeff Bieganek

Greetings and welcome to Northrop,

We are thrilled, honored, and grateful that you are joining us for this performance. Northrop presents some of the greatest dance and music performers from all around the world and has been doing so for almost 100 years! We are happy that you are a part of our community who supports this amazing work and helps us achieve our belief that the arts are essential to the human experience. We are committed to cultivating intersections between performing arts and education for the benefit of all participants now and for generations to come.  

Northrop has been an integral center for the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota arts community for close to a century and we need your help to continue to do so. We hope you can be a champion and advocate for Northrop by sharing your experiences at Northrop with your friends, family, and community at large, as well as supporting our work financially when you can. You can learn more about how to support Northrop here.

As Chair of the Northop Advisory Board, we are delighted to share that we are growing in our work to increase the impact of Northrop on the stage, in the schools, and in the community. If you are interested in learning more about being part of the Northrop Advisory Board, learn more here or contact Cynthia Betz, Director of Development, at

Thanks again for joining us and don’t forget to say “Hi” and introduce yourself when you are attending a performance. I can’t wait to meet you!

Jeff Bieganek

Northrop Advisory Board Chair


Duration: 85 minutes with no intermission

Choreography by Ayodele Casel

Improvisation by the Artists

Direction by Torya Beard

Stage Manager / Production Manager, Erin McCoy

Lighting Design by Alan Edwards

Sound Design Consultant, Patrick Middlebrook

Wardrobe Stylist, Brittney Griffin

Five dancers and one musician appear in-motion onstage in casual clothing. Three dancers are slightly downstage, while the other three dancers and one musician are somewhat behind them on a raised platform.

Ayodele Casel. Photo © Tony Turner.

Ayodele Casel

Ayodele Casel

Ayodele Casel, a Doris Duke Artist in the dance category, is an award-winning and critically acclaimed tap dancer and choreographer named one of The New York Times’ “biggest breakout stars of 2019.” Born in The Bronx and raised in Puerto Rico, her practice centers highly narrative works rooted in expressions of selfhood, culture, and legacy.

Her projects include her concert and Bessie Award-winning film Chasing Magic, her one-woman show While I Have the Floor, and her theatrical and film series Diary of a Tap Dancer. She served as a tap choreographer for the Broadway revival of Funny Girl, which garnered her a 2022 Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Choreography. A frequent New York City Center collaborator, she created an interactive show for their inaugural On the Move five-borough tour and is one of their 2023 featured Artists at the Center. Her collaboration with Grammy award-winning Latin jazz composer and pianist Arturo O’Farrill is hailed by The New York Times as “next level” and “thrilling.” 

Casel was a 2019-2020 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, an artist-in-residence at Harvard University and Little Island, and is the recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship and Hoofer and Flo-Bert award. In 2021, Casel was depicted on a U.S. Postal Service Forever Stamp celebrating tap dance.

Casel has performed at The White House, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, and Off-Broadway with Savion Glover as the only woman in his touring company N.Y.O.T.s. (Not Your Ordinary Tappers). Her works have been presented at The Joyce Theater, Lincoln Center, New York City Center, Symphony Space, Dance Theater Workshop, The Triad Theater, and Joe's Pub at The Public Theater, among others.

Casel is an alumna of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and The William Esper Studio. A dance educator for over 25 years, Casel is the co-director of Operation Tap, an online tap dance educational platform, DLNY Tap Dance Project, and serves on the board of the youth arts leadership organization A BroaderWay Foundation.

Torya Beard

Torya Beard

Torya Beard (Creative Director/Director) is the recipient of APAP's Inaugural CIPA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Creative Producing and was featured in Variety and Lifetime's Power of Women: The Changemakers special for her work with A BroaderWay Foundation. Beard's creative partnership with Ayodele Casel has been a significant collaboration. The pair developed various projects, including; co-directing/choreographing the production of Sophisticated Ladies for University of Michigan's School of Music, Theater, and Dance (Fall 2022), Bessie Award-winning dance film Ayodele Casel: Chasing Magic, and Ayodele Casel + Arturo O'Farrill (The Joyce Theater); Ayodele Casel: Chasing Magic Live (American Repertory Theatre); (The Joyce Theater); Really Rosie (City Center Encores! Off-Center); Diary of a Tap Dancer V.6: Us (co-director) and Where We Dwell, (New York City Center commissions); Rooted for the inaugural five-borough tour of New York City Center's On The Move; Diary of A Tap Dancer v.4 (director), While I Have The Floor (producer); Beard and Casel are resident directors of Dance Lab New York's Tap Project and were co-curators of the Little Island Dance Festival. Beard's other projects; Funny Girl 2022 Broadway revival and National Tour (assistant director); Waitress 2021 Broadway remount (assistant director); American Repertory Theater 2022 Gala (director); Jesus Christ Superstar: Highlights from the All-Female Studio Cast Recording (executive producer), Idina Menzel 2017 World Tour (creative director). Torya is executive director, A BroaderWay Foundation; artistic director, Excellence Community Schools, co-founder, tall poPpy, and sits on the boards of Earl Mosley's Diversity of Dance, Sole Defined, and Raja Feather Kelly’s dance-theatre-media company, the feath3r theory (TF3T). Learn more about Torya at, @thatgirltorya.

Jared Alexander

Jared Alexander

Jared Alexander (Tap Artist) Born and raised in Clintondale, NY and currently residing in New York City, Alexander began dancing at the age of three starting with tap. He then went on to graduate from Pace University with a BFA in Commercial Dance in 2019. He is now an artist in residence at the American Tap Dance Foundation; a choreographer sponsored by Miller and Ben Tap Shoes; a part-time worker at Apple; a creative of multiple art forms, experimenting in Beat Making, Videography, Photography, “Hypebeast” Technology and Fashion, as well as illustrative exploration; the creator of Capture The Tap (an art installation project); a company member of Caleb Teicher & Co.; and performed under the direction of Ayodele Casel and Torya Beard in Chasing Magic (2022) at The Joyce Theater; MET Gala (2022); Fords Gala (2022); Bordeaux, France; Warner Bros.; and Little Island Summer Dance Festival (2022). Alexander’s dream is to create a multi-purpose Creative space that allows for focused Artistry, performance art, fine art, film production, and the purity of human connection to immerse in. @jared_alexandah

Carlos Cippelletti

Carlos Cippelletti

Carlos Cippelletti (Pianist) Composer, pianist, and a leader of the young generation of Latin Jazz musicians, Carlos Cippelletti’s work celebrates the cultural and historical ties between Ibero-America and North America. He is a two-time winner of the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation Scholarship, and four-time winner of the AIE Scholarship (artists and interpreters Association of Spain). He was awarded first prize in both the Malaga International Jazz Festival Competition, Portón del Jazz and the international 7 Virtual Jazz Club competition and was awarded for his outstanding academic achievements at the Alfonso X el Sabio University. In 2018 Carlos toured Europe with the JM Jazz World Orchestra — the world’s premiere youth jazz orchestra led by renowned trombonist Luis Bonilla. In 2021, he graduated with a Master's degree in Latin Jazz from Codarts University of the Arts in Rotterdam and received a Fulbright Scholarship to do his second Master’s Degree at The New School, New York mentored by Arturo O’Farrill. Already a fixture on the New York Latin Jazz scene and performing with Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. His most recent project and first album entitled HYBRID/C, is a musical and cultural fusion project with a common point that is Afro-Cuban music and jazz.

Naomi Funaki

Naomi Funaki

Naomi Funaki (Tap Artist) is a tap dance artist from Tokyo, Japan, currently living in New York City working with New York-based companies. She was selected as a winner of Princess Grace Award 2023. She moved to New York to pursue her tap dance career in 2016, training at Steps on Broadway as an IISP student. She has worked for Ayodele Casel, Caleb Teicher & Company, Music From The Sole and Dorrance Dance. She is also an alumni of The School at Jacob’s Pillow for their tap dance program of 2017. Other favorite performance credits include Tap Family Reunion, Fall For Dance (New York City Center), Vail Dance Festival, Dance Against Cancer (Lincoln Center), and Ayodele Casel and Arturo O’Farrill (Joyce Theater), The MET Gala, YouTube Brandcast Event (Radio City Music Hall), Works & Process (Guggenheim), Infinity in Tokyo, and Chasing Magic (Joyce Theatre).

Brittney Griffin

Brittney Griffin

Brittney Griffin (Wardrobe Stylist) graduated from the University at Buffalo with a BFA in Dance. Credits include: Hairspray, 42nd Street (International), Dreamgirls National Broadway Tour (dance captain/swing), Dreamgirls Non-Equity and South African Tour (associate director/choreographer), Apollo Club Harlem, Aver Midnight (NCL). Film: Bolden, A Jazzmans Blues (Netflix). Winner of 2022 Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Best Choreography from her work on Five Guys Named Moe (Playhouse on Park). She is currently a creative consultant for lululemon NYC and the associate choreographer of Broadway's Kimberly Akimbo. Extra special thanks and appreciation to Ayodele and Torya.

Keisel Jiménez

Keisel Jiménez

Keisel Jiménez (Percussionist) is a percussionist specializing in timbal, congas, and drum set. Born in 1983 in Camagüey, Cuba. Jiménez worked as a session musician as well as live performer and is especially known for his work with Alexander Abreu y Havana D’Primera and Issac Delgado amongst others. Since 2017, he is an integral member of Arturo O’Farrill and Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and has regularly performed at renowned venues globally such as the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg, Germany.

Anthony Mcpherson

Anthony Mcpherson

Anthony Mcpherson (Poet) is a biracial-Black poet, dancer and Artist from Oklahoma, based in New York City. His work appears on Button Poetry, Write About Now, SlamFind, Huffington Post, Upworthy, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. Poems also appear in the Emmy-winning documentary Brooklyn Slams, and Love Beats Rhymes by Lionsgate Films. McPherson is a Rustbelt Poetry Slam Champion, a two-time Inkslam Champion, a three-time Brooklyn Poetry Slam Champion, and placed runner-up at the Individual World Poetry Slam. Currently a poet-in-residence with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, McPherson is represented by The College Agency.

Jai Perez

Jai Perez

Jai Perez (Movement Artist) is a New York-based Artist who started his dance journey at the National Dance Institute where he cultivated a love for dance. He continued his training at the Alvin Ailey Junior Division. Perez is an incoming alumni of the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase where he received his BFA in dance. Perez is a company member of Buglisi Dance Theatre. He has performed works by Ronald K. Brown, Earl Mosley, Doug Varone, Norbert De La Cruz lll, and Martha Graham.

Raul Reyes

All artist headshots provided by the company.

Raul Reyes

Raul Reyes (Bassist) Seeking a new direction for his music career, Cuban-born bassist and composer Raul Reyes moved to the United States in 2010. Reyes has been described as a bassist with “advanced sense of rhythm, beautiful sound, time, and solos.” Reyes’s versatility in traditional jazz and contemporary jazz trends has earned him opportunities to work with Artists such as Arturo O’Farrill, Victor Lewis, Tia Fuller, and Ayodele Casel, among many others. In 2021, Reyes moved to New York City to attend The Juilliard School. Reyes can often be seen performing at premiere jazz clubs in New York City such as Birdland, Dizzy’s, Smalls Jazz Club, Mezzrow, and Blue Note.

Alan Edwards (Lighting Designer) Work includes the world premieres of Harry Clarke (The Vineyard, Lortel Award), Kill Move Paradise (National Black Theatre, Drama Desk nomination), and The Hot Wing King by Katori Hall (Signature NYC, 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Drama). Other New York work includes: Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, and Fires in the Mirror (Signature NYC); Twelfth Night (Classical Theatre of Harlem); Bluebird Memories featuring rap artist Common (Audible Theatre); and Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge by Greig Sargeant, and Elevator Repair Service (The Public). His work in dance includes: Where We Dwell and Chasing Magic by Ayodele Casel; Rhythm Is Life by Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards; and Lived, choreographed by Christopher Rudd for American Ballet Theatre. On Broadway, Edwards was the associate to lighting designer Jennifer Tipton on The Testament of Mary. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, where he is also an assistant professor of lighting.

Erin Mccoy (Stage Manager/Production Manager) Dance: Ayodele Casel Artists At The Center, Fall for Dance (New York City Center); Chasing Magic (The Joyce Theater & Spoleto Festival). Broadway/National Tour: Bernhardt/Hamlet, Hamilton. Off-Broadway: Ain’t No Mo, #BARS, Tiny Beautiful Things, Dry Powder, Buzzer, Fidelis (Public Theater), Twelfth Night (Public Works), The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest (Public Theater, Shakespeare in the Park), Sugar In Our Wounds (MTC). Lincoln Center Directing Labs, Lincoln Center Theater. Invisible Thread, Second Stage Theater. Regional: The Folks at Home, Shakespeare in Love, Jazz (Baltimore Center Stage); Moby-Dick (American Repertory Theater); Appropriate (Westport Country Playhouse). Thrilled to be part of this company!

Patrick Middlebrook (Sound Design Consultant) Middlebrook is very excited to be joining the Rooted team after working on the Chasing Magic show! His credits include venue audio engineer for Spoleto Music Festival, audio engineer for Impact Dance, and other stagehand work with his local community of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Northrop Acknowledgments

The Northrop Advisory Board

The Northrop Advisory Board is committed to the growth and awareness of Northrop’s mission, vision, and the continued future of presenting world-class dance and music in our community. If you would like more information about the advisory board and its work, please contact Cynthia Betz, Director of Development, at 612-626-7554 or

Northrop Advisory Board Members

  • Cynthia Betz
  • Jeff Bieganek, Chair
  • Kristen Brogdon
  • Dr. Robert Bruininks
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  • Deb Cran
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  • Bob McMaster
  • Katheryn Menaged
  • Gary Reetz
  • Robyne Robinson
  • Toni Pierce-Sands
  • Kari Schloner
  • Kao Lee Vang
  • Donald Williams

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This season’s listing is current as of 9/8/23

Please contact Trisha Taylor at if you have any corrections or questions.

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Thank you to the generous donors who continue to support programming for Northrop’s beloved Aeolian-Skinner Organ. It is because of you that this magnificent instrument’s voice will be enjoyed by many for years to come.

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