Elise Alabbas is an action oriented and motivated person with the goal to impact the lives of others. She joins the Fort Wayne Dance Collective with eleven years of experience in the nonprofit sector. In previous positions, she has worked at the Paul Clarke Nonprofit Resource Center and as the Executive Director/Curator of a county history museum. Elise has served on nonprofit boards, been a grant reviewer, and speaker.
Prior to working full time at mission driven organizations, she worked as an archaeologist, Grant and Scholarship Manager in higher education, and was an Associate Professor in Humanities.
Elise is thrilled to combine her leadership experience, creativity, and passion for the arts at the Fort Wayne Dance Collective.
Mandie Kolkman is a graduate of Butler University where she performed as a member of the renowned Butler Ballet for four seasons. Originally from New Orleans, Mandie is now a choreographer, dancer, and teacher based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her extensive dance training began at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. During her youth she was
accepted into programs hosted by Atlanta Ballet, Boston Ballet and was on a scholarship at Houston Ballet leading up to her graduation from high school.
Mandie has choreographed award winning pieces for competitions, festivals, and other art showcases. A true lover of all art forms, Mandie has modeled in several commercial photo shoots and has been featured in national television ads. As a former sports marketer, she has also produced major branding campaigns for professional athletes in the NFL. With arts advocacy always on her mind, Mandie has been successful in generating unique ways to introduce the arts to her community. As the former Event Director of The Philmore on Broadway, Mandie created original community wide events including the Broadway Street Stroll festival, which featured nine bands and eleven venues on the historic Broadway Street in Fort Wayne. She also created a podcast called “Art to Heart” in
which she interviewed some of the most distinguished artists in the greater Fort Wayne area.
Mandie started working with the Fort Wayne Dance Collective in 2014 as part of the Touring Company. Over the past few years, she has choreographed for the winter and spring shows, the Choreographer’s Lab and the annual Halloween Show. She was Hermia in the Collective’s immersive theater production of “Lovestruck” and worked as stage manager for “Art Moves”. Mandie recently co-directed the FWDC’s 2016 Halloween Show. As a teacher for the on-site school and outreach programs, Mandie strives to be a catalyst for growth and encourages creative minds through her passion and knowledge of the arts.
Ashley Benninghoff is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher, living in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She began her dance training at The Fort Wayne Ballet. While there she performed lead roles in The Nutcracker, Paquita, and Sean Curran’s A Soldier’s Tale. She was selected to travel abroad as a representative of the Fort Wayne Ballet as a part of their cultural exchange with Corppo di Ballo di Ragusa in Sicily, Italy. Ashley also attended summer workshops with Joffrey Midwest, Boston Ballet, and Dance Space in New York City. She continued her training at Southern Methodist University where she received a BFA in Dance Performance. While at SMU she performed in works by Martha Graham, trained under Larry White and Jeremy Blanton, and was selected to perform in original works by Robert Battle and Max Stone. She also produced a full length dance show of her original works entitled Sides, and was a nominee for the prestigious M Award.
She then moved to New York City, where she furthered her dance training at Dance New Amsterdam and Steps on Broadway. Ashley then moved to Indianapolis, became a member of the (Re)Collective Company, and received the Motus Award for Outstanding Choreography before becoming a Core Artist with them. While with Motus Dance, she choreographed and performed in a number of shows, and was in charge of the Work Study Program, Outreach opportunities, and taught Modern and Ballet. Mrs. Benninghoff taught and choreographed for the Lawrence Central High School Dance Program, and The Dance Refinery, teaching ages four through adult. She choreographed award winning pieces for their Regional and National competitions. Ashley is currently an Artist in Residence with Indy Convergence, a non-profit Indianapolis based arts organization dedicated to the growth of artists and their communities. She travels with Indy Convergence to their annual residencies in Toronto, and Oban Haiti. In Haiti she worked and performed with Gran Lakou, Haiti’s nationally recognized folk dance troupe.
Ashley has come back to Fort Wayne to share her talents and experience with the community she grew up in. She was Frenchie in the Fort Wayne Civic Theater’s production of Cabaret, Titania in Lovestruck, and she produced Trajectory, which won Best in Show in the 2016 Fort Wayne Fringe Festival. Ashley is currently a company member of dAnce.Kontemporary, teaches and choreographs for the Fort Wayne Dance Collective onsite and through outreach, and is the Artistic Director of the Pineapple Dance Project.
Cassie Herndon was drawn to the Fort Wayne Dance Collective by her strong creative background and over 5 years administrative experience working for local businesses. Having never felt more welcomed and excited to contribute to any organization, she’s looking forward to utilizing her passion for helping people and being in an environment where self-expression is strongly encouraged.
At an early age she discovered her enthusiasm for the arts having been regularly involved in programs in and outside of school for painting, crafting and photography. More recently becoming immersed in the art of sewing, you can find her behind her Singer or perusing the local thrift stores for new projects when she isn’t at work.
FWDC Board of Directors
Kathleen Alter, Board President –CEO, Women’s Bureau
Leslie Snare, Vice President – Account Executive, Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.
Beverly Redman, Secretary – Chair and Professor, Department of Theatre, Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne
Karissa Reeves, Treasurer – In-Charge Accountant at Baden Gage & Schroeder LLC
Jared Baker – Attorney, Urberg Law Offices
Kate Brogan – Attorney and Partner, Eilbacher Fletcher, LLP
Vicki Gallagher – Account Executive, Comcast Spotlight