Body Rhythm Dance Theatre

Black Bottom Paradise Cast Members


























Shirley Bryant (Artistic Director)


Shirley Ann Bryant a native Detroiter, who graduated from Detroit Northern High School, BA in Computer Science from Marygrove College. Shirley was introduced to modern dance at the age of 10. Training includes Modern, Jazz, African and Dunham dance techniques locally and out of state. She studied under local artist Jacqueline Hillsman, BaBa Ali Abdullah, MaMa Fabio Manzira, Carole Morisseau, Jeri Sterrett, Greg Curry and Crystal White-Cade. She has performed in plays and festivals throughout the Detroit Metropolitan area.  Her dance experience includes:  Afro-Dance Workshop (1979-1982), Experimental Movement (1980-1982) artistic director Jacquelyn Hillsman, International African Cultural Arts Exchange Center (1991-1994) artistic director Ali Abdullah, Detroit City Dance Company (1995 - 1996) artistic director Carole Morisseau and Jazz & Spirit Dance Theatre of Detroit (1997-1998, 2002) artistic director Jeri Sterrett. She has worked as an IT   Specialist since 1987.  Co-Owner of ‘Body Rhythm Aerobics’ in Detroit Michigan and Founder of ‘Body Rhythm Dance Theatre’.

Carmela Adams  (Associate Artistic Director)

Carmela Adams a native of Detroit, Michigan trained at Toni’s School of Dance at the age of 11. Training includes ballet, tap, jazz, modern, African, hip hop, and Dunham Technique. She danced and choreographed for local artist and dance companies throughout the Detroit area.  Onyxx Dance Company, Freedom Danz  Xpressionz, Passions Dance Company and Detroit-  Windsor Dance Compay. She studied under Gina Ellis, Ray Mercer, Shashu Amenra, Deborah White-Hunt and Greg Curry. She had the pleasure of performing in the 2006 Super Bowl pre-game show with Stevie Wonder, India Arie, Joss Stone and John Legend. She left Detroit in 2006 to tour nationally with My Little Pony and Sesame Street Live.


Gina Ellis (Dance Director)

Gina Renee’ Ellis a graduate of Cass Technical High School, Eastern Michigan, Gina holds a MA from Wayne State University and a second master’s in Education Administration from Concordia University.   As a physical education major, Gina was the first African-American to receive an athletic scholarship and compete as an all-around gymnast at EMU.  Upon graduation Gina moved to New York to pursue a career in dance. Her career in New York began on scholarship at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and blossomed into a very successful career working with dance legends including George Faison, Louis Johnson,  Donald McKayle, Rod Rodgers, Mike Malone, Debbie Allen and Eleo Pomare to name a few.  Commercial credits includes dancing and dance captain duties in the European tour of Body and Soul, the national, company of The Wiz with Stephanie Mills, HBO’s The Josephine Baker Story, Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, Perlie Victorious, assistant stage manager and dance captain for the national company of Five Guys Named Moe, and assistant director to George Faison in Bubbling Brown Sugar starring Diahann Carroll.  Arriving to Renaissance in 1994, the Renaissance Dance Workshop has appeared at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., 3 gala performances of the National High School Festivals in Miami, Fl., Philadelphia, P.A., and Long Beach, CA. 5 gala performances in Michigan Youth Arts Festival and 3 appearances in the Evening of Fine Arts at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.


Michael White (Acting Director, Willie Brown)

Mike's professional career began after a chance meeting with Ron Milner, attending a rehearsal with a friend for a play called crack steppin, he was asked to read in place of someone who wasn't available, after which Ron wrote a small role into that play for Mike. Since that time He has appeared in numerous Milner/Hankerson productions including The Rhythm and The Blues, One Monkey Don't Stop No Show, Checkmates, and others... Mike has also produced and directed several productions, including Family Love, by Robert L. Douglas and Portraits of Milner..a tribute to the late Ron Milner...Mike is currently in production for the film Portraits of Milner...a Ron Milner Biography, featuring interviews, and "Portraits" of his works.

Al McKenzie (Music Director)

Musical endeavors are as diverse as his musical interests. From conducting for Aretha Franklin to playing for the Children’s Choir at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan, Al has always been unafraid to meet the challenges of his demanding music menu. His tools come honestly with teachers like Charles Coleman, Arthur Labrew, Earl Van Dyke, Ernie Rodgers and the great Teddy Harris, Jr. After winning several awards in high school, it was a natural progression for Al to attend Interlochen School of Music.

By the time Al was 20 years of age; he had played and recorded with an array of world- renowned artists: Martha Reeves, O.C. Smith, Esther Phillips and Marlena Shaw, to name a few. Al's career continued to blossom as the world opened up for him. Al first toured with Martha Reeves as her Music Director at age 18 and his credits after that read like the who’s who of music. The Spinners, The Temptations, Mary Wilson, Ali Woodson, Jean Carne, The Four Tops, Michael Henderson, Mary Wilson, Phil Perry, Penny Wells, Norman Conner’s, The Supremes, The Contours, Etta James, Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Holiday, Kim Weston and Anita Baker are samples of the artists Al has worked with. In 2008 Al was ask to work with Sony recording artist Human Nature whit the recording of their Get Ready CD. It went on to sell 1 million copies as well as reaching #2 on the ARIA charts. His quest for new challenges rewarded him with the opportunity to become the Music Director for Motown Records crown jewel, The Temptations. Four albums, two gold records, one platinum album and a Grammy later; Al was finally doing what he was truly doing what he was destined to do. Al followed his first Full Length CD  (“Is It Love” 2003) with multiply recordings including “Strawberry Noon” and “A Reason To Be”.  AMAC Records has wonderful talent from all over the world; Penny Wells (U.S.), Joan Crawford (U.S.), Charmaine Elliot (London) and Larry Crockett (Paris).

Paulette Brockington (Swing Choreographer)

Paulette has worked with modern dance companies, ballet companies, theatre companies and opera companies. A former Arts Educator of the Year and Michigan Heritage Award winner, she is an active artist-in-residence and workshop teacher; and, has choreographed and performed, receiving honors/awards for her work which led her to Japan, the UK, Sweden, Germany and Canada. The late Frankie Manning mentored her in Lindy Hop and other dances of the Swing Dance Era. On the swing dance circuit she is a former World Fast Dance Champions, World Swing Dance Champion and Open Hustle Champion. She directs the American Lindy Hop Championships, coaches and teaches around the world. She has had featured roles in a number of films the most recent being “A Royal Family Holiday” with Vivica A. Fox. She is Artistic Director of Detroit’s A Company of Dancers. She is on the faculties of WCCCD and the Worship Arts Conservatory and a Master Teacher at Michigan State University.


Gwen Foxx (Lula Brown)

Gwen Foxx is an international music artist and one of the most renowned singers to ever come from Detroit. A mesmerizing performer and a unique song stylist, she can completely electrify an audience one moment and melt their hearts the next.  Gwen spans the musical spectrum from R&B to Jazz to Pop to Standards. Her vocal range is remarkable – from the sassy bassy sounds of Sarah Vaughan to the soaring soprano notes of Celine Dion. In-between she can be sultry, wispy, dramatic, and powerful. She can deliver it all. She is a rare talent. Gwen has shared the stage with many of the Greats. She has performed with Chaka Kahn at The Blue Note Lounge, with Luther Vandross at the "Essence Music Festival", with KEM at the CNN Conference Center, with T.D. Jakes at the "Gospel Mega Fest", and with Aretha Franklin at her Annual Christmas Celebration.  Gwen has been the opening act or featured artist at concerts with "The Motown Jazz Experience", Will Downing, Brian McKnight, Bob Baldwin, Tom Brown, Marion Meadows, Gerald Albright, Keith Washington, Harry Connick Jr., KJon. She was also the vocal director and background singer for Mary J. Blige's "Share My World Tour".  Gwen’s solo debut CD, "Quiet Storm", represents a beautiful mix of velvety, jazzy R&B tinged with a little Hip-Hop flavor. The title track was written by Kern Brantley, music director and renowned bassist for "Lady Gaga”. Also featured is an indescribable rendition of Sade’s mega-hit, “Is It A Crime?”. Gwen also collaborated on a new recording with national recording artist "KJon" entitled "Shake It" on the CD "MAN".


Kiarra Ambrose (Dancer)

Kiarra Ambrose is a Detroit native who graduated from Renaissance High School.  Upon graduation, she attended Eastern Michigan University, where she received a Bachelor of Science for Secondary Education with a concentration in Mathematics and Language, Literature and Writing. She also holds a Masters in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University.  Kiarra currently teaches Algebra I and Geometry at University Preparatory High School in Detroit, MI.  As a child, she danced at Artistry in Motion Dance School and later at Renaissance High School as a part of Dance Workshop under the direction of Gina Ellis. Once she graduated from high school, she continued pursuing her love for dance by joining Diversion Dance Troupe at Eastern Michigan University.   

James G. Broxton Jr.

James G. Broxton Jr. born in Milwaukee, WI but moved to Inkster Michigan.  Coming from a background where young black men either lose their life to the streets or in prison.  Not getting trapped in his environment was his focus. After sharing the stage with some of the world’s greatest known dancers and dancing with the NBA he knew that he could be more.


Marijke Butler

Marijke Butler studied dance under teachings of Aimee M. Cox who danced with many renowned companies such as Alvin Ailey Dance Company. Under her leadership she taught, as well as learned at the YMCA in Detroit MI. During this time she also began to grow as a well rounded dancer under the leadership of Michael Means a former member of Dallas Black. Her passion for dance drove her to continue her education at Marygrove College in the city of Detroit under the teaching of Jordeen Ericson and Penny Godboodo.

Sherrad Glosson
(Dancer, Uncle Charlie)

Sherrad, learned how to dance in Detroit, Michigan. He gained interest in a style of dance known as 'Detroit Style Ballroom' or 'Motown Ballroom and is currently the 2016 Detroit style ballroom champion'. From there he started teaching and competing professionally around the country. With knowledge of over 30 different dance styles including but not limited to Detroit Ballroom, Detroit Bop, Waltz, Tango, Fox Trot, Rumba, Cha-cha, Swing and Country Western. One of Sherrad goals is to open up a dance studio in Detroit for the youth in hopes of showing them the way grown folks used to dance and have fun back in the day. 


Alexis Johnson
(Dancer, Juke Joint  Owner)

Alexis a professional singer, songwriter, actress, dancer, and choreographer is a graduate of Marygrove College with a B.A in Dance and a Masters of Arts from Kaplan University.  She is skilled in: Ballet, Modern (Horton Technique), Hip Hop, African and Jazz.  She is a member of New York City Professional Dance Company Forces of Nature, where she have the pleasure of doing Modern, Ballet, and African dance. She has danced backup for Stevie Wonder, John Legend, India Arie, & Jos Stone. Film and stage performances includes Hip Hop: Documentary Film on TV1 2008 and For Colored Girls who has Considered Suicide when the Rainbow Enuf (2006)

Nicole Johnson

Nicole studied dance at Western Michigan University. There she performed works choreographed by George Balanchine and Helen Tamiris, along with countless pieces choreographed by Western’s faculty, staff, guest artists, and students. Outside of campus, Nicole was a member of Gravity Dance Company, a guest artist with Wellspring Cori Terry & Dancers, dancer on the SCREAM 5 TOUR and the SCREAMEST 07’ TOUR. After receiving her degree, Nicole moved back to Metro Detroit where she now teaches ballet and jazz at Motor City Dance Factory. She is currently going into her 5th season at MCDF as a Company Director. As a freelance artist, Nicole is excited about all of the amazing opportunities the city has to offer and is thrilled to be a part of this monumental production!

Tyra Johnson

Tyra is a dance major graduate from Marygrove College in Detroit, MI from which she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in May 2015. She was honored with both a talent and academic scholarship and was an active member of the National Dance Honor Society, Nu Delta Alpha. Tyra has trained in ballet, tap, modern, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, musical theatre, and character dance. Prior to her studies at Marygrove she trained at the Creative and Performing Arts program (CAPA) at Churchill High School in Livonia (class of 2011), and the Motor City Dance Factory in Southfield, where she now teaches ballet, tap, and jazz. She is also a dance instructor for Ann Arbor Public Schools Rec & Ed Program and a part of Epiphany Dance Company.

Angela Pope
(Dancer, Anna Mae)

Angela, is an honors Marygrove graduate with a B.A in Dance and a 2x 4.0 graduate of the Master program at Kaplan University holding a Masters of Arts in Teaching  and a Masters of Science in Education with a concentration in Literacy and Language. She moved to NYC 2007 to dance with a renowned professional dance company "Forces Of Nature Dance Theater Company" which is deeply rooted in the African Diaspora and black contemporary dance.  She is trained in many genres ranging from modern, ballet, jazz, hip hop, & African dance. Angela have danced backup for Stevie Wonder, John Legend, India Arie Jos Stone, Alicia Keys and Charlie Wilson. Upon returning to Detroit 1 year ago, she is currently teaching fulltime at the new school founded by Dela Sigma Theta in Detroit's very own Mid-town "Detroit Delta Preparatory Academy for Social Justice."



Myron Thomas (Dancer)

Myron Thomas, born and raised in Detroit. He has been a social dancer since 1997 in dance styles such as the Detroit style ballroom, salsa, bop, steppin, Latin hustle, hustle, west coast swing, tango and KC 2 step.  He has competed in multiple dance competitions and taught group classes in early 2000.



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