Betsi Graves, founder and director of Urbanity Dance, is originally from Kansas and Orlando, Florida, and moved to Boston in 2000. Her dance training includes studies in ballet, jazz, and modern dance under the direction of Gaymarie Tomlinson and later, performing with Southern Ballet Theatre, now Orlando Ballet. At the age of 17, she was selected by Mia Michaels to tour across the U.S. on full scholarship with LA Undergound. She taught ballet, modern, and jazz at Harvard University, Boston College, Regis College, and Boston Ballet (2002-2012). Graves is an alumna of Jacob’s Pillow Choreographer’s Lab (2006), Green Street Studios Emerging Artists Program (2008), and holds a BA in English from Boston College. She performed professionally as a modern dancer for Karen Murphy's Limón-based Falling Flight Project (2008-2010) and as a street performer for Theatre Mama and Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza (2008). As a choreographer, Ms. Graves has garnered grant support from Massachusetts Cultural Council, the City of Boston and Boston Dance Alliance. Recent commissions include works for A Far Cry, UMass, Regis College, Plymouth State, Boston Ballet School, Touch Performance Art, and a diverse array of corporate/commercial clients.
Since founding Urbanity Dance in June 2008, the company has experienced a roller coaster of growth; the company was voted “Best of Boston" and shortlisted for Bostinno's 50 on Fire in 2013. In the last three years, Graves' choreography for Urbanity has been presented at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival Inside/Out, Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater, Mass MOCA, Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, and venues across New England, New York, Virginia, Texas, and Florida. Graves takes great pride on Urbanity's emphasis on school and community, which touches over 5,000 people annually through it's programs. She leads Dance With Parkinson's classes, training under David Leventhal (Mark Morris Dance Group). In 2012, Graves founded the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, which hosts 35 contemporary dance companies from around the world. She is honored to be a leader within Boston's rising cultural landscape, thrilled to be a part of the global community elevating this art form, and grateful to all supporters who have touched Urbanity over the years.
Marco Carneiro first came to Boston as a music student and has been working with arts organizations throughout Greater Boston ever since. Before joining Urbanity, he was most recently the programs & marketing administrator at the Hopkinton Center for the Arts where he worked to build year-round and seasonal programs across the visual and performing arts for all ages, during which time the organization saw significant growth in engagement, program diversity and enrollment, and revenue. He also founded and served as the managing artistic director of the Boston Stage Company from 2008-2011. Highlights from his time with BSC included directing and designing the east coast premiere of the Satori Group's acclaimed original work iLove:, and curating Revue, a multidisciplinary arts festival featuring more than two dozen local artists. As a coach and music director, he has worked with community and collegiate theater groups and choral ensembles in Boston and MetroWest, in addition to leading voice and diction workshops for non-singers across multiple disciplines.
Marco has also enjoyed working for Dialog Projects, SongFest, Ashmont Hill Chamber Music, and Guerilla Opera, as well as serving as a community advisor for ArtWeek Boston and as a member of the Milford Cultural Council. Before graduating magna cum laude with his BA in Arts & Entertainment Management from Dean College, he studied voice performance at the Boston Conservatory.
Director of Education
Alison Merrill was born and raised in Ridgefield, CT where she began her dance training at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance. She attended Elon University and received a major in Public Health and Human Services. After graduating, Alison moved to Boston to serve as the founding dance instructor at Brooke Mattapan Charter School were she created an arts integration curriculum that served 500 students. Prior to Brooke, Alison was the Dance Director at Chimney Corners YMCA. There she facilitated a partnership with Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.She is currently dancing with one of Boston’s elite hip hop company’s, Concept Artists under the direction of Tarikh Campbell and Sean Bjerke. Past performance credits include but are not limited to Sony Music, the Orchard Record Label, Hottspot, World of Dance Boston, Monsters of Hip Hop, and RAW Boston Artists. Alison would like to thank Tarikh Campbell, Sean Bjerke, James Robey and her former colleagues at Brooke Charter School for their profound influences on her dance style and teaching ability.
Haley Day has been a mover and shaker (and perhaps an endorphin addict) from an early age. She danced her way from her hometown of St. Louis to college in Kansas City where she got a BFA in Dance Performance with a dual emphasis in ballet and modern; in the Fall of 2013 she moved to Boston to join the company of Urbanity. In the Fall of 2014 she came on as the School Principal of Urbanity as well as dancing in the company. In her spare time, she enjoys her two cats, her boyfriend, and Ben and Jerry's.
Michelle Thomas is a Artist and Author living in Boston, Massachusetts. She is most intrigued by issues of communication; from how people choose to use or shun labels, to the nonverbal communication of dance. Her work investigates how written and visual form can communicate together, often experimenting with format and process. She strives to call attention to issues within her own communities, and help to give a point of access and understanding to those outside of the community. Michelle graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. You can view her artwork and interactive dance installations at michellebthomas.com
Cayley Christoforou is a New England based artist who strives to blend her love of the arts with her skills in business. Her choreography has been presented at the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival (2014, 2016) and Southern Vermont Dance Festival (2015). She is currently an adjunct professor and choreographer for the Salve Regina University dance program. In November of 2016, Christoforou received the honor of being the assistant director of Salve's Extensions Dance Company Concert 2016.
Cayley received her masters degree in business administration, as well as an undergraduate degree in English communications and dance from Salve Regina University. During her undergraduate experience, Cayley was an integral part of the Salve dance program. She was a dancer and choreographer for Extensions Dance Company, the PR Coordinator of SRU Dance, and the first student to direct the Student Choreography Showcase. Upon graduation, Cayley received the Salve Regina University Dance Award 2015.