Director Biographies

Alexandra James  | Artistic Director of Crew
Alexandra James, originally from the Portland area, is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago, where she earned her BFA in Choreograph
y. Since graduating, she has taught and performed dance in Chicago, St. Louis, New York and Portland. While in New York, Alexandra co-founded Swift Urban Movement Project, a non-profit dedicated to promoting healthy, active and social lifestyles through arts and recreation.  While actively teaching, Alexandra is also diving back into creating, by means of improvisation. Her work explores the self in relation to the Other – the terms by which we define ourselves in relationship to, against and in accordance with one another.  Alexandra travels back and forth from Portland to New York to continue teaching, performing and working actively with Swift Urban Movement Project. She has also joined the Bates Dance Festival as the Admissions Director, and is excited to be teaching actively around the greater Portland area.


elizabeth-head-shot-150x150Elizabeth Lau | Community Programming Director

Elizabeth has been eagerly involved with Portland Youth Dance as a Board Member, Director of Dynamix and Choreographer since 2007.  She was originally drawn to PYD for its unique focus on the artistic process versus competition and its deeply rooted mission to serve those in need. She brings a great deal of experience to the Outreach Program through her previous work teaching at-risk children and teens at inner city schools in Washington, D.C. and Virginia, including the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, the Campagna Program through A Dream in Color Dance and various workshops with George Washington University’s performing arts group BLAZEN.  While attending GWU, where she received a degree in marketing and dance, she developed a love for hip-hop dance while taking classes with Culture Shock DC and at The Joy of Motion Dance Center.  Elizabeth currently teaches hip-hop, jazz, and dance imagination at Casco Bay Movers in Portland, Maine and enjoys teaching hip-hop at Bates. She’s proud to have worked with Slim Peace and be a part of Maine Girls, a documentary about immigrant and US born teens that come together to find a common ground through dance, food and a healthy lifestyle.   Her personal mission is to contribute to the community by sharing her passion for dance with all those who desire to express themselves through the art form.

Kate Marchessault | Artistic Director of Company & Company II
Kate has been involved with Portland Youth Dance as a ballet instructor and as a choreographer since 2001. She is thrilled to take the helm of the versatile, non-competitive, student dance company, with a primary focus on the creative process and sharing the joy of dance with the greater community. Kate’s prior experience includes performing throughout New England and NYC with Impulse Dance Co., The Choreographers Group, Ram Island Dance, Rhythm Factor, Artmoves, and indiedanceworks. She has over twenty years of experience in teaching and choreographing for private studios, UMass at Amherst Extension, Dean College, and outreach programs in K-12 classrooms throughout Maine’s public schools. Her students have gone on to major in dance at prestigious colleges and to perform professionally in the US and abroad. Kate serves as Director of Casco Bay Movers Dance Studio and teaches Jazz dance at Bates College.