We are excited to announce the jury for DFF 22: Janeen Damian, Michael Damian, Ryan Dean, Maria Konrad Reach, Scott Poiley, and Rasta Thomas.

These jurors have a spectacular range of expertise, from dance to film to writing, directing, and producing, which they will use to independently select winning films in all categories. 

Janeen Damian is a producer and writer, known for High Strung Free Dance (2018), The Christmas Waltz (2020) and Flicka: Country Pride (2012). She has been married to Michael Damian since June 18, 1998.

With a prolific career both in front and behind the camera as well as in the recording studio, Michael Damian has starred on an award winning daytime drama, earned a #1 hit record on Billboard and been nominated for a Grammy for his starring turn on Broadway. He has also written and directed 12 films. Damian has just completed the second installment of his High Strung dance film franchise with the feature film High Strung Free Dance starring Thomas Doherty and Jane Seymour, which Damian co-wrote, directed and produced. He also served as Co-writer//Director on the holiday romantic comedy A Princess For Christmas starring Sam Heughan and Roger Moore. Damian has directed 3 films for 20th Century Fox, Flicka 2, Flicka: CountryPride starring Clint Black and Marley & Me: The Puppy Years. He also served as Co- writer/director/producer of the feature film Moondance Alexander released by 20th Century Fox and he wrote and directed the two romantic comedies, The Sweeter Side Of Life and Love By Design. Damian also co-wrote, directed and produced the indie crime comedy Hot Tamale and the television pilot Red Eye for Europe’s largest Television network TF1. Damian’s on camera work includes his eighteen-year run as Danny Romalotti on The Young And The Restless and his recurring role on The Facts Of Life. On the theater front, Damian’s starring turn in the title role of the Broadway production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, broke box office records in both Los Angeles and on Broadway and earned Damian a Grammy nomination. In addition to his Broadway career, Damian has released five albums and has had eight Top 40 hits including the #1 single “Rock On”, which earned him gold records worldwide. He won the BMI Song-writing Award for his hit single Was It Nothing At All and also wrote and produced tracks on Flicka 2 & 3, Marley & Me:The Puppy Years and A Princess For Christmas soundtracks.

Ryan Dean’s passion for cinematography began at an early age. Captivated by still images then inspired by the cinema, he naturally gravitated toward film and television. It is the manipulation of light, the ever-changing technology of the camera, and his love for storytelling that continues to propel his career.

Drawing from decades of experience in motion pictures for a project to be successful Ryan’s belief is in the process of collaboration. From reading a script to the final color grading and everything in-between, the entire process is exhilarating for him.

For Ryan, creating compelling imagery which evokes emotion that complements the story, is the heartbeat of his cinematography.

Maria Konrad graduated from the Dreyfoos High School of the Arts in West Palm Beach and then earned her BFA in Performing Arts at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a teacher in Philadelphia, Mrs. Konrad created the early-dance-education curriculum for the school of the Koresh Dance Company, which has been featured in Dance Magazine. Ms. Konrad’s choreography has been presented nationally in such venues such as the Spoleto Festival in South Carolina, The School of Colorado Ballet, The Harid Conservatory, Florida Dance Festival, Miami Dade Cultural Center, Florida Atlantic University, The Kravis Center, Next Generation Ballet and has collaborated with artistic organizations such as Palm Beach Symphony and Palm Beach Pops. Her work has been picked up by choreographic workshops in NYC such as The STEPS Beyond Foundation at STEPS on Broadway and Uptown Rising Series at The Bridge. Her piece “Portraits” was chosen to perform in the 2018 Come Together Festival hosted by Koresh Dance Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

She has been recognized by organizations such as Young Arts and Youth America Grand Prix for “Outstanding Choreography” (2015, 2017). She has been a guest teacher for institutions such as The Colorado Ballet School, University of the Arts, Florida’s Young Dancers Workshop, The Art of Classical Ballet (dir. Magaly Suarez), Next Generation Ballet, St. Paul’s School, Florida Dance Festival and Youth America Grand Prix. She has worked at both The Harid Conservatory and A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts. She served on the 2018 faculty at The International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. She is excited to join the YAGP organization this season as a judge and Master Teacher. She is currently a resident choreographer with The Next Generation Ballet (Dir. Philip Neal) and the director of the contemporary program at Florida School for Dance Education.

Scott Poiley began his career in 1982 as an actor in movies and national commercials. He competed and won several national dance competitions, including Mr. Teen Dance of America and the recipient of the prestigious Presidential Scholars Award in the Arts.

Scott’s tap mentor was Gregory Hines and he has graced the stage with Ben Vereen, Steve Condos, Jimmy Slide, Savion Glover and the world-renowned Duke Ellington Band, to name a few. His love for dance and acting led him to New York where he was cast in many theatrical roles including Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat and the national tour of Foot Loose. He later completed his BFA in Theatrical Studies from Niagara University and was forced to stop dancing when he found he had an enlarged heart. He channeled his creative energies into filmmaking and completed his MFA in Producing from the University of Miami.

On top of Scott’s dance career, he is an award-winning writer, producer, and director. He has won several awards including the iHORROR AWARD for Best Direct Release Horror Film and the GOLDEN SKULL award for Best Supernatural Film for LAST SHIFT. Recently, he won THE CREATIVE AWARDS GRAND JURY PRIZE for his Sci-fi script VITRUVIAN.  Scott began developing original feature-length content in 2013, and since then he has written and produced CASSADAGA (2013), MISSIONARY (2014), LAST SHIFT (2015), HER LAST WILL (2016). Scott wrote and directed, EXHUME (2016), MISFITS (2017), GOOSE (2017), The SECRET BOOK (2017), and The NUTCRACKER (2017).

Once again, fate intervened and just as his film career was rising he was told his heart was working at 1% and he needed a heart transplant. In the summer of 2014, after a short 20 days on the heart transplant list, he was blessed with a new heart and the Dr.s told him he could dance again! Now, you will find Scott creating art through dance, music, story, and film on a daily basis.

Scott is the Co-Owner and Artistic Director of Skyra Studios, where he provides students with the highest level of training and real industry experience in dance, acting, and filmmaking.

Rasta Thomas has been the subject of feature articles in newspapers and magazines for over 30 years. He has been described as “a force of nature”, a hybrid of Bruce Lee and Baryshnikov. Born in San Francisco, Rasta trained in martial arts and gymnastics before attending the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. under the direction of Oleg Vinagradov (the longest-tenured director of the Kirov Ballet). He also trained at Maryland Youth Ballet and the Washington Ballet. His classical dance training was supplemented with Contemporary, Jazz, Modern, Lyrical, African, and more. He has garnered numerous dance awards including gold medals at the International Ballet Competitions in Varna, Bulgaria, and Jackson, Mississippi, making history as the first American and youngest dancer to ever do so.

At the age of 13, he was regarded as a prodigy and began his professional career by joining Le Jeune Ballet de France in Paris. In the years to come, he was a professional dancer with Joffrey Ballet, Tulsa Ballet Theater, Hartford Ballet, Inoue Ballet, Minnesota Ballet, City Dance, Mobile Ballet, Philadanco, National Ballet of China, Victor Ullate Ballet, DanceBrazil, Universal Ballet, Complexions, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Mariinsky “Kirov” Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Washington Ballet, K Ballet. Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, Rafael Amargo Dance Company, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Lar Lubovitch, Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Company, Dance Theater of Harlem, and American Ballet Theatre.

His classical repertoire includes Basilio in Don Quixote, Ali in Le Corsaire, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Prince Albert in Giselle, the Cavalier in Nutcracker, Prince Phillip in Sleeping Beauty, Othello, and more. Some of his other repertoires include works by George Balanchine, Roland Petit, Debbie Allen, Ulysses Dove, Roger C. Jeffrey, Michael Smuin, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Richard Move, Jerry Mitchell, Rob Ashford, Jerome Robbins, Alonzo King, and more. He has been mentored by Bruce Marks, Arthur Mitchell, Geoffrey Holder, Mikhail Baryshnikov and has worked with or performed alongside Patrick Dupond, Maya Plisetskaya, Tetsuya Kumakawa, Manuel Legris, Aurelie Dupont, Farouk Ruzimatov, Ulyana Lopatkina, Yulia Makhalina, Igor Zelensky, Diana Vishneva, Alexei Ratmansky, Evelyn Hart, Benjamin Millipede, Svetlana Zakharova, Joan Boada, Yuan Yuan Tan, José Manuel Carreño, Paloma Herrera, Angel Corella, Tiler Peck, Joaquín De Luz, Misty Copeland, Desmond Richardson, Mia Michaels, Travis Wall, Roberto Bolle, Joaquín Cortés and Savion Glover to name a few.

Rasta has appeared at some of the most prestigious galas including TITAS, the Vail International Dance Festival, Gala des Étoiles, 21st Century Ballet Stars, Spoleto, International Ballet Festival of Havana, Dance Open, Gigantes de Dance, etc. A few career highlights include dancing at the Oscars, shooting a GAP commercial, modeling for Capezio, starring in Twyla Tharp’s “Moving Out” on Broadway, performing at the White House, dancing for the Japanese Royal Family and the President of France, appearing on So You Think You Can Dance, gracing Harlem’s Apollo Theater and Athens’ Acropolis, talking about dance with Michael Jackson, making a movie with Patrick Swayze, appearing in TED 2 with Seth MacFarlane, dancing at the Special Olympics World Games opening ceremonies, charitable performances for various causes (Red Cross, Holocaust Survivors Fund, Tsunami Victims, Haiti Earthquake victims, Christopher Reeves Foundation, etc), rocking out with Elton John, Sting, Lady Gaga, Debbie “Blondie” Harry, Bruce Springsteen at Carnegie Hall and at various times sharing the stage with Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Aerosmith, and J Bavlin.

After working with over 20 companies, in 2007 he started his own dance company “Bad Boys of Dance” (BBD). BBD’s mission was to make dance accessible to a younger generation. BBD premiered at the 75th anniversary of Jacob’s Pillow. Since then they have toured the world has given over 1,000 performances, employed over 100 dancers, and entertained over one million spectators worldwide. BBD had the honor of being featured in the documentary “Never Stand Still” with Suzanne Farrell, Paul Taylor, Mercedes Cunningham, Mark Morris, and more narrated by Bill T. Jones. The documentary was released in selected theaters and later aired on PBS. BBD was invited to be cultural ambassadors for tours and workshops in India and Armenia both in association with the US State Department’s, Art in the Embassies Program. Rasta created and directed “Rock the Ballet”, “Tap Stars” and “Romeo and Juliet” all starring BBD. BBD has appeared on numerous TV shows in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. BBD has performed on Europe’s and Australia’s most celebrated stages. They also had the distinct honor of being a cultural ambassador on behalf of the US State Department for tours in India and Armenia.

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