Meet The Staff
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.
Interim Director of Education
Lea D'Arminio is a lover of all things dance, math, Italian, and fun. Originally from New Jersey/NYC area, Lea D'Arminio started her dance training at the age of 5, and continues to this very day! Lea has performed and choreographed with a number of dance companies in and around New Jersey, NYC, Boston, London and Italy. In 2008, Lea choreographed for and danced in one of Urbanity Dance Company's first performances in Boston! She later moved on to receive her BA from Boston College and MA from Columbia University in Mathematics Education. For the past 6-7 years Lea resided in Northern Italy where she taught High School mathematics and dance in American International Schools. Both at home and abroad, Lea continues to enjoy teaching students from ages 2 to 62. She strongly upholds the educational philosophy that learning is a continuous, life-long process, no matter what the topic. Lea is totally pumped to return to Urbanity Dance as Interim Director of Education and cannot wait to work with it's team of talented and enthusiastic artists!
Casey Kemp was born and raised in Littleton, Colorado where she first fell in love with dance. She trained in a pre-professional company under the direction of Taami Bash, until she decided to attend Colorado State University. While she earned a BA in Communications and a BA in Sociology, she also developed a love for teaching and especially teaching dance. Working at A Dance Place in Northern Colorado, she took an instrumental lead in establishing and directing the studio’s Competitive Company, which has continued to grow and flourish. Casey continued to develop her love of teaching as an Americorps member working for a non-profit organization, Playworks, that focuses on creating inclusive and healthy communities at Title One elementary schools. Engaging with over 500 students daily, using play as a vehicle for student empowerment, she fell in love with the work and impacting communities through movement. Casey followed her love to Boston, where she is grateful to be a part of Urbanity’s mission of empowering and inspiring others through dance and beyond!
Artistic Operations Manager
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.
Marina Gearhart grew up dancing at The Dance Place in Newburyport, Massachusetts where she was in Joppa Dance Company, which collaborated with Exit Dance Theatre and local theater company Theater In The Open. She is trained in modern, ballet, pointe, contemporary, & classical jazz. In her first year of college, she set choreography and traveled with Joppa Dance Company to The Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. In May 2017 she completed her double major in Dance and Psychology at Connecticut College; where she had the privilege to perform works by Department of Dance faculty members Shawn Hove, Heidi Henderson, and David Dorfman, and guest artists Ohad Naharin and Shen Wei. Marina enjoys assisting the Dancing for Parkinson’s class both at her alma mater & at Urbanity. In addition to her development work for Urbanity, Marina is continuing research on body satisfaction and wellness in dancers and athletes in the Sports Medicine Department of Boston Children’s Hospital. Eventually, she hopes to continue on to graduate school for a masters in Dance Therapy & Mental Health Counseling.
Marketing & Communications Manager
Mariana Paes is a Journalist, Musician and Dancer who left Brazil in 2015 and moved to Boston to pursue her passions: Arts and Communications. She started volunteering at dance non-profits in 2016 and danced on flash mobs around the city. Mariana brings to the team her 13 years of experience working in PR, culture, music, marketing, events and management. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Masters in Cultural Management and her curriculum includes the development of Portuguese social media and website for the New England Patriots and Strategic Communications plans for companies from Germany (Sennheiser), Czech Republic (AVG), United States (Playphone, Shutterstock and Avid), China (We Chat), Brazil (AES Eletropaulo and Blue Tree Hotels) and Latin America region (Twitter Latam). Her career as a musician and dancer started when she was 7 years old, with voice, piano, jazz and ballet classes. She specialized in Belting Technique with the renewed Voice Coaches Wilson Gava (Brazil) and Teri Ralston (New York) and worked as a Voice Coach at music schools and theater companies in Brazil. Mariana also studied, performed and taught Ballet, Jazz and Flamenco after a Professional Dance training at Shiva Nataraj Dance School (Brazil). Her main professional goal is to empower women through dance and music.
Meet The Board
Anmol Mehra, who grew up in Texas, is a Portfolio Manager for Fidelity Investments. Anmol is the Board Chair and has been involved with Urbanity Dance for almost 3 years. A lover of all forms of arts, he also serves on the Board of Directors of Music For All an organization he was first involved with over 20 years ago. Anmol has a BS in Mathematics/Actuarial Studies and an MBA in Finance, both from the University of Texas at Austin. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the University of Texas MBA Investment Fund.
Dan Devoe is Director of Marketing at Legal Hero, Inc. Before entering the startup world, Dan was a practicing attorney at Ropes & Gray LLP. Dan graduated from the Boston University School of Law. He also performed the role of Joe in Urbanity's Within the Lines.
Liz Marconi served as the Treasurer of the Anthony Quinn Foundation for the past five years. Liz was formally a controller for AEW Capital Management’s direct investments group. Prior to AEW, Liz worked as an assurance supervising senior associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP in Boston. Liz is a Certified Public Accountant. She received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis.
Ben Hires joined the BCC in July 2009 as the Director of Programs. In this role, Hires is responsible for providing direction, management and coordination of all choir activities. Hires has held positions at the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras where he learned the importance of music in young people’s lives. Prior to the BYSO, Hires served as a counselor at an outdoor therapeutic program for teens in Paint Rock Valley, Alabama. Prior to BCC, Hires served as the Executive Director of the New England String Ensemble. Hires serves on the Board of Urbanity Dance, the Board of the Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation, Executive Committee of the Harvard Allston Public Realm Flexible Fund, Advisory Committee for the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center’s One Chinatown Arts Center and as president of the BU Arts Administration Alumni Association. He was also a community chair for the Boston Creates Arts and Culture planning process and has been part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of Massachusetts Bay and College Access Mentor program for the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. Hires earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Political Science, a Master of Theological Studies, and a Master of Science in Arts Administration from Boston University. Ben is an avid triathlete, competing in Ironman events.
From beautiful Monte Sereno, CA, Vanessa Driscoll is a Program Manager in Teradyne’s Defense and Aerospace group, guiding cross-functional engineering and operational teams throughout a program’s lifecycle. Vanessa studied ballet and danced in college spurring her lifelong dedication to the art form. Her affinity continues evermore as both a Board Member and Urbanity Underground dancer. Vanessa also seeks to improve Boston communities, promote voluntarism, and develop the potential of women as a member of Junior League of Boston, where she previously served as Director of Fund Development. Vanessa graduated from Boston University with both a BA in Biology and a BS in Business Administration & Management.
Vita Murrow is an artist, educator and seasoned non profit leader. She currently works as a children’s author crafting wordless pictures books together with her husband Ethan Murrow and Candlewick Press. Their most recent book “The Whale” is nominated for a CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal, the UK's oldest and most prestigious children's book award. Previously Vita was Director of a regional school partnerships program, and regularly collaborates with leading literacy organizations including Wondermore and Raising A Reader. Vita earned her MSEd in Education and Teaching Literacy from the Bank Street College of Education in New York City, and holds a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Vita previously served as a public school educator in New York City and Seattle and specialized in supporting students with learning differences. As an Artist, Vita has a for passion children’s media and literature, and has worked in publishing at Art with Heart (a nonprofit publisher of books for children in crisis), in television in the films department at Sesame Street, and was the co-creator of the short film “Dust,” Official Selection in the 46th annual New York Film Festival (produced with Harvest Films, Santa Monica, CA). Vita is an Urbanity parent to two young dancers, and grew up dancing and performing herself in regional theater and at a performing arts high school in her home town of Minneapolis.
Jennifer Fo is an equity research analyst at Fidelity Investments where she makes recommendations on investments in small cap healthcare companies. She joined Fidelity in 2009 after graduation from Boston College with a BS in Business Management. Hoping to continue pursuing her passion for dance and the arts, she was grateful for the opportunity to join Urbanity Underground and remains an active member. She has watched the organization grow from just an idea to what it is today and is honored to serve now as a board member. Jennifer is originally from Irvine, CA.
Gary Knell is a founding partner of the design build firm Studio FKIA. Since 1992, Studio FKIA has been a creative force in boston's design community; their ability to think outside the box and freely collaborate has garnered them respect among boston's best designers and entrepreneurs, such as CBT Architects, Flour Bakery, Winston's Flowers, and Hacin + Associates. Gary was exposed to Urbanity by his son Ethan, who was their first student, and he has since danced in numerous Urbanity performances. Gary has a Bachelors Degree in Architecture from Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Ray Pasciuto is the Director of Development and Member Services at The New England Anti-Vivisection Society in Boston. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Journalism/Public relations from Suffolk University. As a long-time development professional, Ray's personal mission is to increase the impact of nonprofit organizations, bolster the sustainability of their missions and the effectiveness of their staffs, by designing, implementing and spearheading successful fund raising programs. His development experience has spanned over twenty years, including Suffolk University, The National Center on Family Homelessness, Cambridge Friends School, The American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS), and The AATS Graham Foundation, and Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerages CARES. Ray lives in Peabody, MA with his husband Tim, and their pooch, Cosmo (a miniature schnauzer).
John Lee, originally from Chicago, is the Principal - Information Privacy & Risk Management at Raytheon . He was a nationally ranked figure skater in ice dancing and was trained by renowned national/international coaches. He continues to stay connected to the sport by coaching skaters of all ages and was introduced to Urbanity through a mutual friend. John has a MS in Investment Management from Boston University, MS in Accounting from Boston College, and a BS in Management from UMass-Boston.
Amy d'Ablemont Burnes
Meet The Advisory Council
Michelle Chasse Chair, Musical Theater Dance at Boston Conservatory
Thomas Kaplan-Maxfield Author, English Professor at Boston College
Juri Love Founder, Genuine Voices
Eric Martin President and CEO, Music for All
Ethan Murrow Graduate, Drawing and Painting Faculty, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Bill Nigreen Principal, Facilitation for Social Change
Julie Roper Marketing and Events Manager
Michele Rozen Principal, Rozen Communications
Michelle Smith Executive Director, Houston Met Dance Company
Myran Parker-Brass Executive Director, Arts for Boston Public Schools
C.A. Webb Partner and Co-Founder at Assemble VC