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KIVA Dance Collective was founded in 1998 with six members and has since grown to fourteen, ranging in age from 20s to 60s. The members of KIVA combine their diverse artistic backgrounds—modern, African, folk, ballet, and jazz dance forms—and, as a collective, share the role of choreographer. Each member has an opportunity to create dances for the group.

“KIVA” is a native American term meaning “the sacred meeting place in the center of the village.” KIVA Dance Collective shares their artistic vision with the community in an annual concert performance, inviting the audience to witness their “sacred place.” 

Home: About



Patti Buchanan received a BS in Education from the University of Connecticut and has taught and danced in the Connecticut area for over 35 years.  As the former Associate Director of the Brass City Ballet (BCB), she co-founded a community outreach dance program, studied Vaganova technique with Elizabeth Barisser, danced with BCB and choreographed numerous modern works.  She has been selected choreographer for Dance Services Network, Artspace, and the CT Choreographer’s Forum.  Patti studied and performed with Ernestine Stodelle and has also performed works for Mary Barnett.  She was the Head of the Dance Department at Westover School in Middlebury, Connecticut for over 12 years.  Patti is a co-founder and member of the KIVA Dance Collective.




Meghan Buchanan started dancing at Brass City Ballet at the age of five, under the tutelage of Elizabeth Barisser. While in high school, she had the unique experience of living in Berlin, Germany and danced at Danceworks Berlin and Vogel Dance. She has trained mostly in ballet, although she has studied numerous other forms of dance including modern and jazz. Some notable choreographers and instructors she has worked with are Mary Barnett, Ernestine Stodelle, and Joan Kunsch. She became a member of KIVA in March of 2008 and continues to pursue her love of modern dance.  Meghan is the current Director of Dance at Westover School in Middlebrury, Connecticut


Having grown up at a dance studio, Mackenzie Callahan has never known life without dance. Through the years, she has trained with Brass City Ballet, Ernestine Stodelle, Westover School, and the UCONN Ballroom Team, broadening the scope of her movement vocabulary. She was thrilled to join Kiva Dance Collective in 2012 and dance alongside her mother, sister, and such a talented community of artists



Tatiana Fonseca DaSilva began dancing at the age of five with Brass City Ballet.  She spent thirteen years studying the Vaganova technique under the tutelage of Elizabeth Fisk Barisser.  Tatiana took a break from dance to earn her Honors Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in art history at the University of Toronto, and her Juris Doctor at Quinnipiac University School of Law,  She rejoined the dance world when she joined the KIVA Dance Collective in 2015.


Judith Ehrman-Shapiro, MA, BC-DMT, is a dance-movement therapist, dance educator, and dancer. She is the founder and director of The Evolving Center, LLC in Litchfield, CT. She has been a member of the Department of Psychiatry at Waterbury Hospital for the past 25 years and is an adjunct professor of Dance at Naugatuck Valley Community College. Judith is a founding member of the KIVA Dance Collective. When she isn’t dancing, she is probably walking a dog or taking photographs.



Gina Ferrara-Bates is blessed and honored to have danced with KIVA since its inception in 1998. Prior to this, she trained and performed with a variety of modern dance professionals in California, Washington DC and Connecticut. Gina studied dance at The George Washington University and received her MA from UCLA in Dance/Movement Therapy. Gina facilitated creative movement and dance classes for young children and older adults in the area for over 15 years and currently uses dance and movement in her work at the Connecticut Valley Hospital. Gina and her Kivo husband, John Bates, reside in Middlebury.


Deborah Durham Jeanfavre loved dancing before she ever took a dance class.  Growing up in Webster Groves, MO, she took enough ballet and modern dance classes to join the dance company at Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio), while earning a degree in biology.  After college, Deborah moved to Berkley, CA, to pursue dance and found performance opportunities as a member of a small, eclectic dance company that performed jazz and modern ballet.  She later entered the MFA dance program at Mills College (Oakland, CA), but left her thesis unfinished to marry her husband, Alan, and move to Litchfield, CT.  Deborah danced and performed with KIVA dancers Patti, Val, Gina, and Rolanda before the collective was formed.  She is thrilled to be reunited with KIVA members now, bringing full circle a love of dance and a second chance to explore her skills in choreography.

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Susan McLain received an MA in Dance with an emphasis in Performance and Choreography from George Washington University and a BA in Dance and Psychology from University of Iowa. Before coming to Connecticut in 1981, she performed in Washington DC and New York. She studied and performed for many years with Ernestine Stodelle and co-founded Dancers in Concert. Susan joined KIVA in 2003. She currently teaches modern and ballet at Cheshire Dance Centre and physioball at Westover School.


Valerie Rodgers is a founding member of KIVA. She has performed with Brass City Ballet, TOii (Theatre of the Intuitive Improv), Thomaston Opera House & Waterbury Civic Theatre. She is certified in Art Education and is the lead museum educator and coordinator at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury.

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Laura Tortora has studied dance in its various forms since the age of three. She is thankful to share this love alongside her husband, Mark Tortora. Her love for dancing can be expressed by altering one of the more notable lines from the 1981 film Chariots of Fire: "When I 'dance,' I feel His pleasure."


Mark Tortora has previously danced with Brass City Ballet, Middlebury CT, The Performing Arts Center of Connecticut in Trumbull and Yale University Ballroom Team. Mark is always open to challenging himself with different forms of dance. Mark earned a BA in Business Management at Quinnipiac University and a MA in Sociology/Globalization at University College Cork in Ireland. Mark was inspired by his high school sweetheart (now wife, Laura) to dance, and truly loves that they can share this together.  “Dance is the hidden language of the soul” ― Martha Graham

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Home: Meet the Company



Since 2000, Kiva Dance Collective has been making a breakthrough in the performing arts industry with its cutting edge shows and performances. As a renowned performing arts company in Waterbury, we believe in providing our audiences with engaging and impactful productions. Want to see one of our shows? Check out our calendar and reserve your tickets today!

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Thank you for joining us for our 21st annual concert! We look forward to seeing you next year.

Kiva Dance Collective has a wide range of events to offer its audiences. Get in touch and join us at one of our upcoming events today!
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"Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body."


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