PUSH

Raissa Simpson’s PUSH Dance Company Builds Vibrant Contemporary Dances To Gain A Deeper Understanding Of The Challenges Attributed To Mixed Heritage.
Dance and Diaspora

Meet our Artists

Our artists are the — connection and bridges — to our communities. They are movers and thinkers whose artistry is rooted in many dancing diasporas. We are committed to the care and agency of our Artists while ensuring the longevity of their creative spirits. Learn more about who the extraordinary human beings of PUSH are with us today.

Rehearsal Director | Company Artists

Ashley Gayle

Ashley Gayle graduated from UC Irvine with a B.F.A in Dance Performance and a minor in Business Management. She’s performed with Alayo Dance Co., PUSH, LV Dance Collective, David Herrera Dance Co., Mix'd Ingrdnts, and Urban Jazz Dance Co.. Ashley has taught at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, John Muir Elementary, UC Berkeley/Ailey Camp, Cal State East Bay, Los Positas College, Albany & Novato HS, PUSH Outreach and others. She Co-Directs Visceral Roots Dance Co., rooted in telling stories inspired by social justice for minorities. She’s worked as Shawl-Anderson’s Front Desk Program Manager before joining K*STAR*PRODUCTIONS as Program Manager.

Company Artists

Kao Vey Sebastian Saephanh

Kao Vey Sebastian Saephanh, a 2014 sjDANCEco ChoreoProject Award for Best Choreography winner is based in San Francisco. He is currently the co-artistic director of LV Dance Collective, principal choreographer for SF Movement Arts Festival, and dancer for PUSH Dance Company. He received his MFA at NYU, Tisch School of the Arts and BA from San Francisco State University. His choreographic works have been commissioned by PUSHLab, Boston Conservatory Dance Festival, ODC Take 5, ODC Pilot 63, SFSU, College of Alameda, and American College Dance Festival, among others. SF Chronicle noted Saephanh as a dancer who “moved with sinuous grace through the staging.”

Company Artists

Lydia Clinton

Lydia Clinton, Bay Area native, graduated from Point Park University with a BA in Dance (Modern). Since returning home, she has worked with PUSH Dance Company, Zaccho Dance Theatre, and Capacitor Dance.

Company Artist

Niara Hardister

Niara Hardister is a dancer and arts administrator from Riverside, California. In 2018, she graduated from Cornell University with a major in Hotel Administration and a minor in Dance. During college, she trained with Jumay Chu, Byron Suber, Nic Ceynowa, and Tucker Davis. She also founded the Cornell Dancers' Alliance and worked as a teaching assistant at Ithaca College. Currently, Niara is based in San Francisco. She is a company member of PUSH Dance Company, the LV Dance Collective, and Printz Dance Project. She is also a founding member of The Collective SF and an administrative assistant of David Herrera Performance Company.

Company Artist

John Paul Alejandro

John Paul “JP'' Alejandro is a dancer, teacher, and personal trainer in San Francisco. He graduated in 2018 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.S. in Dance, where he received a First Wave Scholarship for spoken word activism. He has attended Bates Dance Summer Intensive (2017) and performed works by Chris Walker, Li Chiao-Ping, Micheal Foley, Rennie Harris, and Gerald Casel. A personal trainer for 5+ years, he started a curriculum in strength and injury prevention for dancers. He’s been a Tier 3 trainer at Sports Club SF, currently works at ODC as a private trainer. He joined PUSH in 2020.

Company Artist

Erik Lee

Born and raised in Oakland, California, Erik K. Raymond Lee began dancing at UC Berkeley where he earned a BA in Dance & Performance Studies and Art Practice with a concentration in painting [2010]. He joined Dimensions Dance Theater under direction of Deborah Vaughn, as a company member and later choreographer. He participated in Black Choreographers Festival’s Artist in Mentorship Program and received his MFA in Dance from Mills College in 2017. He has danced with Zaccho Dance Theater and PUSH Dance Company. Erik served 11 years as choreographer and later Artistic Director of Worship in Arts Ministry (WAM) at Covenant Church.

Magic Makers

What People Are Saying

“They leapt across the stage like demigods.” – Katie Gaydos
“Each dancer is built very differently and has an individual way of moving.” – Amy Howton