About Us:

Clairobscur Dance was founded by Artistic Director and resident choreographer, Laurie Sefton.  It's name is the French translation of chiaroscuro, a 17th century painterly term which means an effect of contrasted light and shadow created by light falling unevenly on an object.  Movement is obvious, (the light) but also contains a subtext (the shadow), which must be sought out and discerned by both the creator of movement and its spectator.

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Clairobscur Dance creates and presents issue based, emotional performance and accessible work for a global audience.  Through collaborations with compelling artists, designers, composers and creative technologists we pursue innovation, produce artistically excellent and relevant programming.  We create works for traditional theater venues, film, VR360 and site specific performance in which we utilize dance as a medium to address, examine and discuss universal questions, emotions and conditions of humanity.

Clairobscur Dance is a register 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization, and all contributions are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.


Photo by Denise Leitner

Photo by Denise Leitner

Ellen Akashi began her training at Southland Ballet Academy under Salwa Rizkalla where performed with their studio company, Festival Ballet Theatre and guest artists Irina Dvorovenko, Maxim Beloserkovsky, Jennifer Tinger and Carla Korbes.  She has attended summer programs with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, LINES Ballet, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Springboard Danse Montreal, Axis Connect and BODYTRAFFIC.  Ellen received her BFA in Dance Performance from Chapman University where she performed in original works by Jiri Kylian and Merce Cunningham.  After graduation, Ellen attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance's year-round program.  She has performed with the San Diego Opera, Fuse Dance Company and Backhaus Dance.  This is Ellen's fourth season with Clairobscur.

Photo by George Simian

Photo by George Simian

Camila Arana is Cuban-American dancer and choreographer born and raised in Miami, FL. Camila graduated with honors from New World School of the Arts/ University of Florida with a BFA in Dance Performance.  She has performed works by Robert Battle, Gerard Ebitz, Lara Murphy, and Ana Gonzalez. Camila has also, performed showings with Sidra Bell Dance New York, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and at the American Dance Festival in 2015.  This is Camila's second season with Clairobscur.

Photo by Denise Leitner

Photo by Denise Leitner

Samantha Blaz was born and raised in San Jose, California.  Her early training was with Cheryl Copeland's pre-professional company and work with such choreographers as Cindy Salgado and Shaneeka Harell.  Sam received her BA in Dance from Loyola Marymount University where she worked with Rosalynde LeBlanc, Cherice Barton and Lillian Barbieto.  She has completed summer programs with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the Bill T Jone/Arnie Zane Company.  Sam has had the opportunity to learn repertorie of Alejandro Cerrudo, Nachu Duato, Hofesh Shechter, Crystal Pite.  In 2016 Samantha was featured in Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane's work "D-Man in the Waters, Part 1," and in the documentary "D-Man," which shares the story of the making of the origial work.  Sam joined Clairobscur in 2017.


Sophie Diamond was born in Newcastle, Australia and received her early training at Marie Walton Mahon Dance Academy. Sophie went on to obtain her Diploma in Dance Performance at the National College of Dance, one of Australia’s most prestigious schools. Shortly after, Sophie moved to New York City to attend the Joffrey Ballet School where she was able to tour performing Balanchine’s Serenade. Sophie then moved to Boston to dance with Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre before moving to Los Angeles in 2016. Sophie has danced two seasons at the Sydney Opera House and trained with the Australian Ballet and Sydney Dance Company. Throughout her career she has worked with names such as Darcie Bussell, Lillian Barbeito, Tara Keating, Josie Walsh, and Rafael Bonachela.  

Photo by Denise Leinter

Photo by Denise Leinter

Haylee Nichele was born and raised on the west coast of Canada. She received her early professional training at Arts Umbrella (Vancouver, BC) and her BFA at The Juilliard School (New York, NY). Since her graduation in 2011, Haylee has been working as a freelance dancer in NYC and LA.  In NYC she has worked for Punchdrunk's Sleep No More  as Lady MacDuff, Third Rail Projects Then She Fell as Alice, Adam Barruch's Sweeney Todd, Brian Brooks Moving Company, Kate Watson-Wallace and the Met Opera.  In Los Angeles she has danced with BODYTRAFFIC, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, Janet Roston and Grace Phelan.  She has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Loyola Marymount University.  Haylee is thrilled to be sharing this wild ride with Clairobscur!


Jonathan (JP) Stanley began dancing at the age of 13 in Orlando, FL at Shooting Stars School of Performing Arts where he trained in ballet, jazz, partnering, lyrical, contemporary, hip-hop, and musical theatre and attended national conventions and competitions.  He was accepted into the Orlando Ballet School when he was 17. His credits include Alabama Shakes, The Mowglis, the Los Angeles Opera, Los Angeles Ballet Academy, Clairobscur Dance, and more! He is featured as a model with national brands such as Apple, American Crew, Janie & Jack, and more. JP assists and works creatively with choreographers such as Jeff Dimitrou, Nick Lazzarini, Sarah Brinson & others. When he’s not dancing, JP works as the Director for Inspire Dance TV - a workshop that travels the continent helping young dancers make a positive shift in their confidence and self-image.  This is JP’second season with Clairobscur Dance. 


Photo by Denise Leinter

Photo by Denise Leinter

Evan Swenson left home at 16 to complete his professional training with Houston Ballet Academy.  Since then he has worked with companies such as Houston Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and New York Theatre Ballet.  Evan moved back to California in 2008 where he became a ballroom instructor and continued his career as a freelance dancer.  He continually works with Luminario Ballet, Helios Dance Theatre, Long Beach Ballet, Westside Ballet, Barak Ballet and many other companies in the Southern California area.  Evan has had the pleasure of working with some world-renowned choreographers such as:  Ben Stevenson, Ty McIntyre, Stanton Welch, Lyla York, Melissa Barak and Christopher Hampton.  Evan joined Clairobscur in 2012.



Jason Chu, Hip-Hop Poet/Spoken Word Artist - Triptych:  Experience in Defiance

Mark Hadley, Composer - Bully, desiccated earth/California

Bryan Curt Kostors, Composer - Memory Lapse, Girl,Get Off, Concert Walls, Imminent Drift

Victoria Vasta, Composer - Imminent Drift

Lap Chi Chu, Lighting Designer - Girl, Get Off, desiccated earth/California, Bully

Dan Weingarten, Lighting Designer - Supremacy Ride, Triptych:  Experience in Defiance

Ruth Fentroy, Costume Designer- Bully, This Facility is Being Monitored for Your Protection and Security, Out of Life

Stephanie Luckey - Costume Designer - Supremacy Ride, Concert Walls

Leslie Karten, Costume Designer- desiccated earth/California

Claire Townsend, Costume Designer - Obviam Somes, I-5, Windmills

Velwynn Yossy, Costume Designer - More Please

David Hwang, Graphic Designer/Visual Artist - logo

Reiley Johnson, Graphic Designer/Visual Artist - Promotional design

D. Love, Tallworks, Graphic Designer

Erik Lohr, Visual Artist/Videographer/DJ- Obviam Somes (video/visuals)

OmniSpherica, VR360 producers