Meet the Dancers
Born and raised in the sunny isles of Nassau, Bahamas, Gabrielle Shipley discovered her love for dance at a very early age. Throughout her years in the Bahamas, Gabrielle has trained and performed under the tutelage of Dr. Anne Peterson, Dr. Marilyn Deveaux and Dr. Melanie Wilkinson. In 2012, Gabrielle and her dance partner won 1st place in the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Competition in the Lyrical Duet Division. The following year, Gabrielle had the honor of performing in Istanbul, Turkey as a part of outreach under the Youth with A Mission organization.
Over the past few years, Gabrielle has had the pleasure of performing in various humanitarian – focused works by local choreographers such as Errin Weaver, Anne Howard (of Levity Dance), Akane Little, Katherine Dyke, Erin Pennebaker and Lauren Holler. She has performed for consecutive years at local events such as Parade the Circle and Station Hope. Gabrielle most recently performed in works for Cleveland Dance Project’s Showcase and Terre Dance Collective’s, “Layers”. She is grateful for every opportunity that has presented itself through gracious teachers and choreographers. She looks forward to continued learning as she believes that dance is a boundless art form that she has not even began to scratch the surface of.
Christian Sims, born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, realized his love for dance at an early age in church through praise dancing. He began technical training at the age of 17. He then became a dance major at Bowling Green State University and served as a prominent member of Elem3nt dance Team and BGSU Dance Alliance. As a former member of the Duffy Litt Dance Ensemble, Christian danced under Terence Greene and the Greene Works Dance Company. He was a principal dancer in The Wiz, at the Karamu House, and performed on many stages throughout the state of Ohio. Most recently, he has danced as a part of Errin Ministries, under the direction of Errin Weaver. Mr. Sims is looking to continue to grow and touch as many people through the art of dance.
A dancer by day and doctor by night! Munirah fell in love with ballet at the age of 4 and has been dancing ever since. Over the years, she has studied a wide variety of styles including Latin dance, heels, hip hop and traditional dances of the African diaspora. Muni has trained and performed in Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, England, France, Israel, Palestine and Spain.
Her mission is to use her Caribbean roots and classical training to create a new form of movement. When she is not in the studio, she serves as a primary care provider on Cleveland’s west side.
Aseelah Shareef MA, SHRM-CP
Aseelah Shareef is the Director of Operations + Community Engagement at Karamu House. Ms. Shareef is a dancer, teaching artist, and arts administrator. She leads efforts for efficiency across the organization's product lines, curates and develops culturally responsive programming, and facilitates arts education for lifelong learners. Her previous experience includes former Dance Director of Cleveland School of the Arts, Project Manager for Cleveland Metropolitan School District's Department of Arts Education, Adjunct Professor of Dance at Cuyahoga Community College, and master-teaching artist for the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning. Ms. Shareef is an Ohio Citizens for the Arts Board Member, a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Ms. Shareef is a member of the inaugural class of the Arts and Culture Leaders of Color Fellowship sponsored by Americans for the Arts and American Express. She earned her bachelor's degree in Exercise Science and master's degree in Arts Administration from The Florida State University.
Dijon is a native of Washington D.C., and has been dancing for 19 years. She trained at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts as a dance major under the tutelage of Adrain Bolton, Charles Auggins, Sandra Fortune-Green, and Katherine Smith. Dijon also studied at The Ailey School, Princeton Ballet School, Maryland Youth Ballet, and Alonzo Kings Lines Ballet. She holds a B.A. in dance with a concentration in modern dance performance, from Point Park University. Upon graduation, she performed with several pick up companies like Hollow Dance Project, Capitol Movement, The Brown Dance Project, and Archedream for Humankind. She joined the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company 2nd Company (DCDC2,) in 2013 for two seasons, before becoming a member of the Cleveland Cavalier Girl NBA dance team in 2015. While on the dance team, she worked with choreographers like Kailynn “Kay Kay” Harris and Melissa Maniscalo “Jersey.” She is apart of the 2015-16 NBA championship team! She also, had the opportunity to travel to Nanjing China to dance for the NBA China’s 5v5 tournaments. Dijon was a member of the team for four seasons, and served as a co-captain her last season (2018-19.) Dijon joined Mojuba Dance Collective in October 2019.
Sharonda Whatley has been dancing for over 15 years. She trained and performed at Leap of Faith Dance Studio (Columbus, OH) in ballet, modern, jazz, and liturgical. She also performed with Tapestry Performing Arts Company (Columbus, OH) for two years and with the Cleveland Dance Project for three consecutive seasons. Sharonda has been a a dancer with Errin Ministries since 2016. Sharonda has used the medium of dance to grow spiritually, artistically, and culturally. Off stage Sharonda is a certified Fitness Instructor and works as an Urban Planner for the City of Cleveland.
Community Company Members
Marissa Thomas is a dance artist currently residing in Cleveland, Ohio. Marissa is also currently dancing with Dancing Wheels in Cleveland, OH for their 2019/2020 season as an Apprentice. She is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University (OSU) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and dual minors in Society and Environmental Issues and Nonprofit Management. Marissa graduated with focuses in dance performance, education, and community engagement. Additionally, Marissa is a dance instructor for the Creative Arts Academy Dance Mastery Community Program at Cuyahoga Community College and at Mayne Attraction Studios.
Marissa is a former company dancer for Hixon Dance in Columbus, OH and danced during their 2018/2019 season. During her time at OSU, she has performed works by Merce Cunningham in a MiniEvent directed by Daniel Roberts, danced in the School Tour Company directed by Edward Taketa, and has had many opportunities performing in student choreography. Marissa has also performed works by André M. Zachary, Jillian Peña, Marianela Boan, Pam Tanowitz, and Annika Sheaff.