Meet The Directors 

Photogentically you. Captured by James MahKween 2019

Executive Creative Director

Chatiera “Cookie” Ray, a native of Cleveland OH, transitioned to Long Beach, CA, in 2014 to expand and explore her career in dance and youth development. She began dancing at the age of 11 and started training professionally under the tutelage of Michael Medcalf, Terence Greene, Desmond L. Davis, and Natasha Lee-Colon Ehindero, to name a few. During her adolescence, she garnered much of her training and experience at Karamu House, Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theater, Rainey Institute, and Foluke Cultural Arts Center.

Chatiera received her bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Fashion Merchandising while minoring in Dance Performance. During her undergrad at Kent, she had the opportunity to choreograph several dance works; being honored with the “Dance Choreographers Peer Award.”  Shortly after receiving the award, her choreography was selected for adjudication at the American College Dance Festival. Chatiera was granted the opportunity to train with the Garth Fagan Dance Company in Rochester, NY, and be a featured dancer in "Why I Had to Dance;” a choreo-poem written by Ntozake Shange and choreographed by Dianne McIntyre.

In 2015, after working with youth in unprivileged communities as an arts educator and mentor, she was inspired to create a black empowerment movement to allow black artists to express themselves creatively. That same year, she founded the CRayProject. Since its inception, Chatiera has created several works; granting her opportunities to collaborate with other performing arts organizations and companies around the United States. Her work has been presented with LA Unbound, RAW Artists, Lula Washington Dance Theater, MOD ARTS (New York), Long Beach Playhouse Theater, and more.

Chatiera is committed to making the arts accessible to several after school programs, recreation centers, and local non-profits. Through performance arts and education, she hopes to strengthen, empower, and inspire the communities she serves.

 

FUN Facts: Chatiera use to perform Opera during her adolescent years and play clarinet. She enjoys staying in on weekends watching Cartoon Network and enjoys cooking and event planning in her free time! Chatiera is also, a freelance fashion stylist that has collaborated with Lifeline Clothing Line, Richuals Clothing, and fashion designer Maurice Ladon.

Assistant Creative Director/ Program Development Manager

LaRonica “Ronnie” Southerland is a native of Columbus, Ohio. Discovering her passion for dance at the age of five, she began her training in ballet and lyrical dance; studying at Ballet Met, Columbus Youth Ballet, Leap of Faith Dance Studio, and Fort Hayes Pre-professional program with the Dance Theater of Harlem ballerina, China White.

Ronnie’s passion for movement led her to continue her studies at Kent State University, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. During her undergrad, she participated in American College Dance Festival, Kent Student Dance Festival, The BFA Senior Concert, and the Kent Dance Ensemble, a pre-professional traveling dance company. During an artistic residency with Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner and Brad Garner, Ronnie’s interest in artist development piqued. She made it her mission to teach artists the importance of longevity for their bodies, leading her to the road of educating young dancers in Los Angeles. 

Since being in California, Ronnie has had the honor of being the box office manager for Cirque du Soleil. Targeting demographics from toddlers to mature adults, she has developed both dance and fitness classes; educating people on the importance of staying healthy and being active. Her dual work as Assistant Artistic Director and principal dancer of The CRayProject has afforded her the opportunities to perform in LA: Unbound, RAW Artist, MOD Arts (New York), Lula Washington Dance Theater and debuting her choreography in Reflection: Dance Showcase and The Long Beach Playhouse Theater. 

 

Fun Facts: LaRonica participated in the 2008 Starlite debutante cotillion her senior year of high school. In her free time she loves creating beautiful sacred adornment jewelry for women and dabbles in natural nail care with her mobile wellness company SmartBodi3s. Her motto is “Your body, Your legacy.”

Captured by Kevin Paul Lawrence 2019

Photo Captured by: Kevin Paul Lawrence " El Matador" 2019

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