Meet Nozama

Our Director

Dana Alsamsam, she/her
Artistic Director, Dancer

Dana Alsamsam is a first generation, Syrian-American dancer, choreographer, director, poet, editor, arts fundraiser and content creator based in Boston. Today, she is the Artistic Director of Nozama Dance Collective, bringing to life the company’s vision of collaborative movement and technical dance that represents intersectional experiences of identity. Dana has performed as a company member or collaborator with Sasso & Company, Ascendence Dance Chicago, DanceWorks Chicago ChoreoLab, wiss co, Lin Kahn’s Music Dance Collective, DePaul Dance Company, Moonwater Dance Project, and Boston Dance Theater’s Immersion Projects. Passionate about improvisation and process-based creation, Dana has set choreography on Nozama Dance Collective, DePaul Dance Company, Vernon Hills High School, Moonwater Dance Project, Onstage Choreography Residency participants, and Boston Dance Theater Immersion Project participants. / IG @danaalsamsam / TT @danas__day

Our Company Leaders

Julianna Willey-Thomas, she/her
Rehearsal Director, Dancer

Juliana (Jules) has been dancing since the age of 2. She trained at Eleanor’s School of Dance in Albany, NY and was a member of the competitive team from the age of 8 to 18. Jules began teaching and choreographing at the age of 15 which ignited her passion for the arts and the desire to pursue dance as a career. She attended the University at Buffalo and received a BFA in Dance and a BA in Psychology. UB credits include: American College Dance Association, Zodiaque Dance Ensemble, “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” Emerging Choreographers Showcase, Digital Poetry and Dancer’s Workshop. Jules has trained under various companies including Urbanity Dance and Martha Graham Dance Company. Upon graduation in 2016, Juliana moved to Boston to further her dance career, immediately joining Nozama in the spring of 2017. In January of 2021, she stepped into the rehearsal director position for Nozama and is loving every moment! In addition to performing with Nozama, teaching dance has become a huge part of her life. Jules is currently the tap, jazz and contemporary curriculum director as well as the contemporary company director at In Sync Center of the Arts in Quincy, MA. Full time during the week, Jules works as a mental health counselor in a partial hospitalization program in Brookline, MA.

Madison Florence, she/her
Marketing Director, Dancer

Madison Florence is a Boston based dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She started dancing in her hometown in Connecticut at the age of two. In high school, she trained heavily in many styles and was invited to dance in the dancEnlight Pre-professional Company. Madison attended college at Simmons University studying Public Relations/Marketing Communications and Graphic Design. Outside of her studies, she spent her time dancing and choreographing for Simmons University Dance Company (SUDC) holding multiple roles on the executive board. She recently concluded her position as the first Alumna-in-Residence with SUDC. She also has held a residency with Onstage Dance Company, self-produced a fully funded dance project titled hello how are we, and choreographed and danced for Onstage 360, Empower One Another, and NACHMO 2021. Madison currently dances with Nozama Dance Collective and works as the Marketing and Communications, Senior Manager for the New Art Center. She also holds the position of Marketing Director for Nozama.

Ava Untermeyer, she/her
Community Engagement Director, Dancer

Ava L. Untermyer is a Dance Artist who encourages us to embrace ourselves, our peers and our communities through movement. She currently performs throughout the Boston area with Evolve Dynamicz Dance Company, described by The Dance Informa as “choreography that takes it’s time to breathe and be present.” She previously danced with New York City based companies such as Bessie-Winner Sydnie L. Mosley Dances, Estado Flotante and the Lori Belilove & Isadora Duncan Dance Company. For the past 3 years, Ava was the Artistic Director of On Display Harvard, a site-specific performance with Heidi Latsky Dances that honors the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Her own choreography has been shown at venues such as The Dance Complex, The Arts at Armory and New England Conservatory. Ava co-directs the Dance Program at the Curley K-8 Boston Public School, creating arts opportunities for over 400 students at a range of backgrounds, ages and abilities. She led Professional Development Trainings for Dance Educators through the National Dance Education Organization, Harvard University and The Boston Public Schools. Ava holds an Ed.M in Arts in Education from Harvard University and a BA in Dance & World Literature from Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges, where she was awarded for Outstanding Performance in Dance.

Olivia Moriarty, she/her
Assistant to the Artistic Director, Dancer

Olivia has been dancing since age 4, training in ballet at Dancing Arts Center, Mass Ballet, and modern under Perla Joy Furr. She danced, choreographed, and served as a member of the Executive Board with Emerson Dance Company throughout her time at Emerson College, while earning her B.A. in Theatre Education and Acting. In 2014 she was selected to choreograph for Emerson Stage’s X-Dance. After she graduated, she created, attended movement SLAMs, and performed with local movement company ParadiseMoves. Olivia is a full-time middle school theatre teacher and director for Newton Public Schools, as well as musical theatre choreographer in numerous schools and community theaters in Massachusetts. She recently earned her M.A. in Theatre Directing from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts and is thrilled to be creating live theatre again. This season is Olivia’s Nozama choreographic debut. She joined Nozama Dance Collective in 2018.

Our Dancers

Katie Logan, she/her

Katie Logan grew up in Annapolis, Maryland where she studied many styles of dance, then went on to graduate from Boston University with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Dance Performance. During her time at BU, Katie was a member of Boston University’s Dance Theatre Group under the direction of Micki Taylor-Pinney. Since then, she has danced with several companies in the Greater Boston area, including Nozama Dance Collective, Onstage Repertory, and Kelley Donovan and Dancers. She toured “Enough” with Paradise Moves and danced in “Alcina” with Opera Del West. In 2020, Katie had the opportunity to dance in several filmed works, including “Space,” produced by Madison Florence, and Parts 1 and 2 of “The Allyship Project,” produced by Azeb Freitas and Nozama Dance Collective. Katie has extensive experience with choreography and teaching movement improvisation workshops and has set pieces on Nozama Dance Collective, Dance Theatre Group, and the Onstage Residency Showcase for both live and filmed performances. In addition to her performance work, Katie practices pilates, Franklin Method, and is pursuing her certification as a Responsive Body Practitioner under Holly Johnston.

Nell Mancini, she/her

Nell Mancini is a contemporary dancer, choreographer and educator based in Boston, Massachusetts. She joined NOZAMA Dance Collective as a company member at the beginning of their 2021-2022 season and has performed in works by artistic director Dana Alsamsam and other company members. She also joined KAIROS Dance Theatre in 2021, just two months after graduating from college, and is now an apprentice with the company. While dancing with the company she was able to work with Paula Josa-Jones, Billie Jo Joy, and performed in the one act Opera, FOXY created by Artistic Director DeAnna Pellecchia. She received her BFA in dance from The University of Massachusetts Amherst in just three years and while there she had the opportunity to perform in the masterwork Boats Leaving by Doug Varone, where she was apart of the first ever non-company cast to perform the work in its entirety. She was born and raised in Massachusetts, and she attended the Acton School of Ballet for her formative dance training. She has also trained with Pantos Project dance, where is is currently a member of their Ensemble, Urbanity Dance, where she was a Junior Apprentice and a member of the Underground Company, David Dorfman Dance, and The Ailey School.

Mari Napoli, they/them

Mari has been dancing since the age of 2. They trained at American Studio of Performing Arts on Long Island, New York from the age of 9, going to a variety of studios before finding their perfect studio match. They competed from ages 10-18, and started choreographing for themself at the age of 16. They were a choreographer for musicals in high school, including The Wizard of Oz which was their favorite! They also choreographed and was a captain on their high school’s dance team, being a member of the team all throughout high school. Dancing, competing, and being a part of dance teams growing up really lit a match under them to want to use dance as a healing mechanism in their life and career. They studied Expressive Arts Therapy at Lesley University, doing a dual degree program and also completing their Master’s degree in Dance/Movement Therapy. In their time in undergrad, they were on the Lesley Dance Team, choreographing almost every semester of college and being a member of the executive board for the last 3 years. They joined Nozama the September after they graduated from undergrad in 2019 as they needed to keep dance alive in their life. They were a first time choreographer for Nozama the 2021 season. They are so excited to show what we’ve been working on!

Sarah Ready, she/her

Sarah Ready began her dance training at the age of three in her neighboring town, Attleboro, Massachusetts. Alongside her studio training, she has trained with Boston Ballet for five years and was a member of the Newport Rhode Island Moving Company’s rendition of the Nutcracker, performing the solo of the soldier doll for two years. Ready graduated from The University of California, Riverside in three years where she received her B.A. in dance and B.B A. While in her dance studies at UCR, she received the Chancellor’s Performance Award, was invited to the American College Dance Festival Association and was a member of the 2016-2017 UCR Gluck Touring Dance Ensemble. After college, Ready became a member of Ballet Carreras under the direction of Jose Gonzalez Pilar formerly of Ballet de Santiago, Kelly Lamoureux formerly of National Ballet of Canada and Sofia Carreras, former student of George Balanchine and Patricia Neary, who performed alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov. Ready also became a featured dancer in Avocado Dance Theater under the direction of Lori Craig Torok, former Radio City Music Hall Rockette. Upon returning to the east coast she joined Project 31 Dance Company (2018-2021) under the direction of Kenzie Finn. As of 2021, Ready is a company member with Evolve Dynamicz under the direction of Lisa Giancola and Nicole Zizzi, Fox Ballroom under the direction of Douglas Dombrowki and Madison Plummer and Nozama Dance Collective under the direction of Dana Alsamam.

Allison Penn, she/her

Allison Rebecca Penn, or ARP as she’s usually called, began dancing at age 5 at a small studio in Rhode Island. From childhood to present, she has trained in ballet, jazz, modern, contemporary, improv, and acrobatics. Originally from Providence, Allison moved to Boston in 2012 to pursue a Bachelor of Science in advertising at Boston University. There, she continued training and performing with Dance Theater Group. Shortly after graduating in 2016, Allison joined Nozama Dance Collective as a company member. In addition to performing with Nozama, she has performed with a variety of other Boston-based movement artists, including serving as the company manager, a workshop facilitator, and a dancer with ParadiseMoves, a former Boston-based movement company. Allison currently works as a copywriter and spends her spare time reading, thrifting, seeing dance shows, and taking dance class.

Jami Cunningham, she/her

Jami Cunningham is a Boston-based dancer and dance educator. She began dancing at the age of two and has trained in a wide variety of dance styles. Jami graduated from Dean College with her BA in Dance and her AA in Psychology. While at Dean, she performed and choreographed for a wide variety of dance concerts, showcases and musical theater performances both presented by students and faculty. She also was an active member of the contemporary dance team on campus. Her choreographic work has been adjudicated live by industry professionals such as James Kinney and Patrick Cook, and has been selected to present to Dean faculty. Jami has received an Artistic Excellence award presented by the Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance. Since graduating, Jami has trained as a class fellow with KAIROS Dance Theatre and has performed with Dance LAB at NACHMO. She also is on teaching faculty for the Boston Ballet School and Miss Maria’s School of Dance. Jami has joined Nozama Dance Collective as a company member in 2023.

Nicole Koontz, she/her

Joining us from metro Atlanta, Nicole Koontz is a movement artist currently based in Boston, who has developed her professional voice through experiences in both dance performance and research. Nicole is a practicing Registered Dance/Movement Therapist fulfilling the role of Expressive Clinician in residential psychiatric treatment, where she utilizes dance as a medium for therapeutic expression with adolescent clients. Since the age of two, Nicole trained at the Northeast Atlanta Ballet and choreographed a number of pieces in her youth, including Car Radio (2014), which received the World of Dance Viewers Choice Award. Nicole continued her dance career, entering the collegiate level at Kennesaw State University (KSU), where she received a Bachelor of the Arts in Dance with a concentration in Ballet and a minor in psychology. She performed a number of works with the KSU Dance Company and trained with various guest faculty in learning choreography, pedagogy, Gaga, and dance-focused filmography. Nicole invested in her dance community by serving the KSU Dance Company as both the Vice President-Elect and President-Elect. She also conducted IRB-approved research, EmotionsMoveUs, which focuses on the use of dance to increase self-regulation and social skills in children ages 3-18. In 2019, the American Collegiate Dance Association selected EmotionsMoveUs to be presented at their conference gala showing, which was the first demonstration of dance research in conference history. Nicole continues to practice her belief in dance as an agent of change, healing, and creating connection.