About Jean Appolon Expressions and Artists

Based in Boston, MA, Jean Apollon Expressions (JAE) is a Haitian contemporary dance company directed by Jean Appolon. Combining modern technique and Haitian folkloric dance, JAE brings a new artistic vernacular to its audiences. With its dynamic repertoire, JAE educates audiences about Haitian culture, traditions, history, and current issues. JAE fulfills its mission to preserve Haitian folkloric culture while constantly enlivening the art form in a way that is vital, accessible, inspiring, and educational. JAE is made up of dancers from diverse backgrounds, each committed to JAE’s mission to use dance to share Haitian culture. 

Jean Appolon Expressions has performed at Jacob’s Pillow, Boston’s Paramount Center, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, ICA/Boston, and the Silver Spring (MD) Civic Center, among others, as well as in city parks and community spaces in free performances open to the public. JAE has been fortunate to share the stage with celebrities such as Danny Glover, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Edwidge Danticat and to collaborate with community partners around the greater Boston area. 


Jean Appolon 
In addition to being the Cofounder and Artistic Director of Jean Appolon Expressions, Jean Appolon is a choreographer and master teacher based in Boston and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Appolon received his earliest training and performance opportunities in Port-au-Prince with the Viviane Gauthier Dance Company and the Folkloric Ballet of Haiti. Appolon continued his dance education in the United States at the Harvard and Radcliffe Dance Program (1995–1996, Boston, MA), Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (1996–1998, New York, NY), and the Joffrey Ballet School (1998–2003, New York, NY), where he graduated with a BA from a joint degree program offered by The New School University. 

Appolon has also performed with Elma Lewis Productions (Black Nativity), Marlene Silva, North Star Ballet Company (Fairbanks, AK), Black Door Dance Company (Miami, FL), and the Atlantic City Ballet Company. Since 2012, Jean Appolon and JAE have received funding support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the Barr Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Performance Network, FOKAL, The Boston Foundation, Mass Cultural Council, Cambridge Community Founation, Eastern Bank, Haiti’s Ministry of Culture, and many individual donors. Appolon has been the subject of feature articles and interviews in the Boston Globe, Dance Studio Life magazine, World Vision Report, Boston Haitian Reporter, Le Nouvelliste, and National Public Radio, and he has received significant coverage from Haiti’s television and radio stations. 

Appolon is an inductee in the Haitian Roundtable’s 1804 List of Haitian-American Changemakers (2014) for his groundbreaking accomplishments in dance. Jean Appolon has been endorsed by E. Denise Simmons, Mayor of the City of Cambridge, for his positive contributions to the Cambridge community. Appolon is a member of The International Association of Blacks in Dance and Boston Dance Alliance. 

Jean Appolon teaches regularly at Boston Ballet, University of Massachusetts Boston, and The Dance Complex (Cambridge, MA), among others. Beginning in 2006, Appolon conceived and has since directed a free annual summer dance course in Port-au-Prince that serves young, aspiring Haitian dancers who do not have regular access to dance training. JAE’s 2022 Summer Dance Institute will be held in two countries for the first time, in both Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Lawrence, MA, making it possible to reach more of the company’s global students in both Hispaniola and the United States. 

Val Jeanty, also known as Val-Inc, is a Haitian Afrofuturist, drummer, turntablist, and professor at Berklee College of Music. Jeanty is a pioneer in the electronic music subgenre called Afro- Electronica (also called Vodou-Electro), incorporating Haitian Vodou rhythms with digital instrumentations by synergistically combining acoustics with electronics and the archaic with the postmodern. Jeanty’s Afro-Electronica past performance venues include the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Venice Biennale in Italy. She is a Van Lier Fellow and was commissioned by New York State Council on the Arts for a Roulette Intermedium Residency. Jeanty has worked with a diverse array of artists including Geri Allen, Anthony Braxton, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Francisco Mora Catlett. Other highlights include Fascinating Her Resilience, a Wesleyan University–commissioned multimedia collaboration with Professor Gina Ulysse, and a collaboration with Afro-Cuban bassist Yosvany Terry on his Grammy-nominated album New Throned King. 

IJ Chan (陳加恩) is a dance artist and educator from Boston, MA. She has dedicated her life to training and performing intensively in multiple dance genres and under many choreographers. In her own choreographic work, Chan is interested in intersecting with and exploring the Asian-American narrative. She is committed to bringing high-quality performing arts instruction to low-income and minority youth populations within Boston. She also works as a freelance graphic designer, visual artist, and seamstress. 

Nadia Issa is a second-year Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School (HDS), focusing on the African and African American Religious Studies Area of Focus, due to graduate in May of 2022. At HDS, Issa continues work on spiritual reparations in Regla de Ocha-Ifá and other Black Caribbean diasporic traditions such as Candomblé and Umbanda, and continues research on Black Cuban womxn Akpwón/Apwanlás. Issa spent more than three years in Cuba and Mexico pursuing fieldwork and dance study for research projects that take form as auto-ethnographies and also for dance choreographies expanding reparation politics and the politics of being an Akpwón in Cuba and its diaspora. Issa is a company dancer with Jean Appolon Expressions and has received training from and performed in dance works by Cristal Brown, Frederick Earl Mosley, Vincent Hardy, Princess Mhoon, Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane, Bebe Miller, Bárbara Balbuena, Yeniselt Galata Calvo, Eva Despaigne-Trujillo and Obini Batá, Camille A. Brown, and Emilio Hernández González of the company RaícesProfundas, to name but a few. Nadia Issa’s dance choreography has been presented at Boston University, Hampshire College, La Fundación de Alejo Carpentier (Havana, Cuba), and Cambridge Carnival International 2020 festival. Issa is a Research Associate at the Pluralism Project, contributing research experiences in Afro-Caribbean spiritual-religious traditions. Issa continues to work through the lens of traditions and religions of African origin, survival, Blackness, and the Black Caribbean diaspora within dance and written works. Nadia Issa recognizes that dance is an embodied tool of ritual and resistance in Issa’s own research and training. Through dance and ethnographic research, Issa has been able to navigate and communicate Blackness, queerness, and the sacred. 

Velouse Joseph studied dance with Jean Appolon at the Jean Appolon Summer Institute in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and recently moved to Massachusetts, where she is now dancing with the company. 

Maya Luckett has been studying dance since childhood, training in ballet, Horton modern, and other styles such as hip-hop, belly dance, jazz, and Mexican folkloric dance. At Kenyon College, Luckett double-majored in dance and sociology, during which time she studied the development of African-American vernacular dances. Luckett has danced internationally, including practicing salsa, bachata, and merengue  in the Dominican Republic and traditional Kichwa dance in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In Boston, she has danced with choreographer Chavi Bansal and Vimoksha Dance Company as well as choreographer Papa Sy and the PasyNaay Leer Dance Company, a company that combines Senegalese sabar and modern dance. She continues her training in traditional West African dances and dances of the African Diaspora, such as Malian dance and Afro-Cuban folkloric dance. In addition to dancing, Luckett works as a therapeutic mentor and therapeutic support, doing in-home therapy, and as a Spanish tutor. 

Meghan McGrath began her dance training in New Hampshire and studied under Barbara Mullin, Dee Keri, Matt Mattox Jr., and Bryan Steele. She received her BA in psychology and dance from University of Massachusetts Amherst and her MEd in the creative arts and learning from Lesley University. McGrath is a founding member of the Jean Appolon Expressions dance company and has performed with Boston-based BoSoma Dance Company and Austin Allegro Dance. She is also an early-childhood educator, with over 14 years of teaching experience and a passion for bringing the arts and movement into the classroom, with a social justice lens. McGrath has her yoga certification through YogaWorks NYC and enjoys weaving this practice into her work with youth, as well as volunteering with Hands to Heart Center. She served as the Director of Operations for JAE from 2016 to 2020 and took over as Executive Director in 2020. She has worked alongside Jean Appolon and the company team to achieve JAE’s vision and mission.  

Buyile Toyvo Narwele came through one of Dance for All's (DFA) outreach programs in Nyanga township, Cape Town, South Africa, having been offered a dance-training scholarship. He joined iKapa Dance Theatre as an apprentice and was later promoted to professional dancer. After seven years of formal training at DFA, he was involved with numerous productions all over South Africa. He has worked with iKapa Dance Theatre, Cape Town City Ballet, South African Dance Trust, and Bovim Ballet, performing in all major cities in Southern Africa. In 2016, he joined a German cruise liner and has done 3 successful contracts with Tui Cruises. He has since worked in and around Cape Town and broader South Africa with groups as a consulting choreographer and dancer. Narwele still does freelance work and explores other forms of movement, teaching Afrofusion and other genres of dance, acting, and the arts.  

Meghan Riling has been dancing with JAE since 2014 and currently serves as Director of Media and Marketing in addition to dancing. She grew up dancing in Connecticut and moved to Boston to study at Boston University, where she joined the Dance Theatre Group and got interested in choreography and improv dance. Since graduation, she has performed or choreographed for the Harvard-Radcliffe Modern Dance Company, the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School Modern Dance Company, and Luminarium Dance Company. She codirected and choreographed for Calamity Co Dance, which performed goofy modern dance pieces and produced casual modern and pop-art variety shows. Outside of dance, she was one-third of the indie pop band One Happy Island, which played around the country and did some brief tours in the United Kingdom. Riling also taught high school math for a number ofyears and earned a PhD in math education at Boston University, researching creativity, social dynamics, and aesthetic experiences in the mathematics classroom. She is currently an instructor and researcher at the Wheelock College of Education and Human Development at BU. 

Lonnie Stanton is a Northern California native based in Boston. For the last decade, Stanton has been committed to dance education with a strong somatic focus as well as a professional contemporary performance career. She graduated from the Boston Conservatory with a BFA in dance and has completed her 200-hour yoga certification through YogaWorks. For ten years, she worked with Prometheus Dance, performing and teaching with the company. Stanton currently performs with Jean Appolon Expressions, Peter DiMuro/Public Displays of Motion, Lynn Modell, and Callie Chapman. During her time dancing in New York City, she worked with Kinesis Project Dance Theatre, focusing solely on site-specific performance. Stanton is passionate about sharing dance in unconventional, often outdoor spaces where a broad audience can be reached. She has produced and structured dance for film or public space for the Somerville Arts Council, Neoscape (advertisement), Tamara Al-Mashouk, Silvi Naci, Moe Pope, Linda Tegg, and Toni Lester (all visual or sound artists). In addition to Harvard Dance Center, Stanton is on faculty at Boston Ballet (Education and Community Initiatives), The School of Classical Ballet, and Deborah Mason School of Dance. Bringing dance education into public schools through Notes in Motion, New York City Ballet, and Boston Ballet has been especially rewarding for Stanton.  

Mcebisi Xotyeni, of Cape Town, South Africa, is a professional dancer, teacher, and choreographer. He began dancing with the outreach program Dance for All, where he trained extensively in ballet, African, contemporary, and hip-hop. He was awarded a full scholarship with Dance for All and eventually began working for the professional dance company iKapa Dance Theatre. He has also worked with leading companies in South Africa such as Cape Town City Ballet, Suede Productions, and Sibonelo Dance Project. He has performed in numerous festivals and has collaborated with international artists for performances and outreach projects. 

Artistic Director: Jean Appolon 
Executive Director: Meghan McGrath 
Director of Marketing: Meghan Riling 
Artistic Manager: Mcebisi Xotyeni 
Cultural Strategist: Nadia Issa 
Graphic Designer: IJ Chan 
Development Consultant: Dana Hiniker 
Administrative Assistant: Tammi Jean Fedestin 
Social Media Assistant: Caroline Bradbury 
Financial Consultant: Liz Smith 
Development Consultant: Nineequa Blanding 
Strategic Communications Consultant: Samantha Merkle 

Board Chair: Daniel Koff 
Board Vice-Chair: Jean Dany Joachim 
Board Treasurer: Marie-France Merisier 
Board Clerk: Amy Fenton 
Board Secretary: Molly Mackenzie 
Board members: Buteau Francois, Alicia Greene, Sahita Pierre-Antoine 
Board Governance Committee member: Sarah Hendrick 

JAE Advisors: Michel DeGraff, Danielle Legros Georges, Francie Latour, Stephanie Scherpf, Nadège V. White 

SOAR Team Consultants: Cindy Baratta, Beth Garvin, Nancy Keegan 

Barr Foundation 
Boston Cultural Council 
Cambridge Community Foundation 
Mass Cultural Council  
NEFA (Traka community workshops) 
The Boston Foundation 
The MAP Fund (Traka’s premiere) 
Numerous individual donors 


Jean Appolon Expressions is working hard to become a sustainable nonprofit organization that delivers on our mission to enrich and empower our communities through the art form of dance. Contributions in many forms are essential to propelling JAE’s vital work in Boston and Haiti. JAE has been recognized as exempt under IRS Section 501(c)(3), and monetary contributions to JAE are tax-deductible. There are two ways to make a gift:  
   1. Write a check payable to Jean Appolon Expressions and send it to Jean Appolon Expressions, PO Box 391173, Cambridge, MA 02139  
   2. Contribute online via JAE’s website: www.jeanappolonexpressions.org.  
If you would like to support JAE in other ways, please contact us at [email protected]. Thank you for your support!  

For more information about JAE, please visit www.jeanappolonexpressions.org or contact us at [email protected]. JAE can also be found on Facebook, on YouTube and at @JAEBostonHaiti on Twitter and Instagram. 

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