The Sacred Dance Guild is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors with administrative support provided by organization management firm Next Wave Group. Please note that as at February 2023 we have removed the specific email addresses for each Board member as we were receiving many phishing/spam emails. Our apologies for this action but if you would like to be in touch with any of the Board of Directors please send an email to the office at firstname.lastname@example.org and they will forward on your message.
Board of Directors 2023-2024
Wendy Morrell – President
Wendy (Ottawa Ontario, Canada) will be continuing for this next year and would be thrilled to have a “co” President to work with during this next year, Is this the time for YOU to bring your time and talents as we dance into an exciting future?? Wendy was Co-Director of Programs from ’07 –’13, was a founding member of the Canadian National Network in 1997, Co-Chair of Festivals 2000, 2010 & 2012, Chair of the 50th Anniversary Festival 2008, and PR Director from ‘01-’04. A project manager by profession, Wendy was an independent management consultant for 15 years before joining the Government of Canada in 2002 to manage a national information technology project focused on environmental assessments which she retired from in 2014 and now dedicates more time to her passion for dance as a sacred art and to the Sacred Dance Guild! She has been dancing since birth as a form of creative expression and spiritual understanding and has studied most dance forms as a personal passion. She is the artistic director of dance choirs in Ottawa churches, coordinates dance offerings at many local community events and creates and leads workshops on dance as a sacred art both online and in person. Wendy is curious about this coming year as we continue to personally, collectively and globally transition into whatever our new reality is responding to what emerges in our world.
Tricia mary Lee – Co-Vice President
Tricia mary Lee (Australia / NZ ) grew up in Celtic Yorkshire, England and is now back living in West Australia after two years exploring Sacred Dance in NZ. She continues in this her 9th year as Co-Vice President. Her wisdom in the Sacred Arts was enriched through her working exposure to the Australian Indigenous cultural practices and her spiritual journey into the Great Mystery. Her book “The Sacred Mystery Manuscripts” started circling in 2003 and was published in 2010. It was working in the Kimberley region in the far north of WA in 2002, on a DVD of Indigenous song and dance for children, that she first became aware of “Sacred Dance”…. and searching the internet she found the SDG in 2003. In 2008 she was blessed to receive a scholarship to The SDG Festival in Connecticut and knew she had found her “Calling” and then in 2015 she attended the “Festival of Sacred Song and Dance” at Findhorn Community in Scotland with Laura Shannon, enjoying the highlights of its focus on both Circle and Gypsy Dancing. In her Sacred Dance Offerings she weaves many rich strands from her professional training and experience in teaching, healing, therapeutic movement arts as well as from her personal sacred journey work. She has been honoured to have led four Sacred Dance Retreats to Bali. She was a guest speaker at the online “Sacred Dance Summit” with Leslie Zehr in May 2019 sharing her journey through “Sacred Healing Dance”. Additionally, she has opened the F/B page “Sacred Dance Community” to respond initially to the needs of Sacred Dancers in the Southern Hemisphere and to further support the Sacred Dance Guild. She is passionate to see the growth of the SDG across the globe and offers her love and time for this end, encouraging all she meets to be “Barefoot, Blessed and Beautiful”. For the 2023/24 -year Tricia will continue to focus on and partner with Co-VP Marylee Hardenbergh in the creation and support of the “SDG Legacy” program – particularly in the area of SDG approved Sacred Dance Facilitators. During the 2020/21 year she created and led an on-line pilot programme through SDG called “Moving through Grief” which was then offered again as an 8 week – weekly program in the spring of 2022.
Marylee Hardenbergh – Co-Vice President
Marylee (Minnesota, USA) is a site-specific choreographer, a director of Movement Choirs, a board-certified Dance/Movement Therapist, and a Certified Laban Movement Analyst having studied with Irmgard Bartenieff for many years. She is honored to be the Co-Vice President of the Sacred Dance Guild. She directs Global Site Performance, and was the Artistic and Executive Director of Global Water Dances from 2008-2015, and now continues on the international Steering Committee. She has created site-specific dances over the last 35 years for such places as a sewage treatment plant, on skyscrapers, on a bombed-out Parliament Building in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on a clock tower on the Volga in Russia, on a Mediterranean beach in Israel. Since joining SDG, she has taught and created community performances at the Ottawa Locks in Canada, and at the Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne. She has received numerous fellowships and grants for her choreography. Dance Magazine has highlighted her work in two articles (1996 and 2006). Her choreography constitutes a chapter in Site Dance: Choreographers and the Lure of Alternative Spaces. The American Dance Therapy Association invited her to lead several annual conference Movement Choirs and in 2015, she delivered the keynote speech as the conference’s Marian Chace Foundation Awardee. Marylee co-facilitated the SDG Sacred Dance Journey to Bali in 2022 and will be the main facilitator at the SDG 65th Anniversary “mini” Festival “Space Harmony: Portal to the Sacred” in July 2023. She relishes being on the Sacred Dance Guild Board of Directors!
Barbara Fahringer – Secretary-Treasurer
Barbara (New York City, New York) – after a hiatus from the role of Secretary-Treasurer for two years, Barbara is coming back for the 2023-24 year re-appointed to the role of Secretary/Treasurer and working on the On-Line Journal project. She has been the treasurer of the NY-SW Connecticut Chapter since 2008. Barbara has a BA from Penn State University in Journalism and an MA in Dance Education from New York University. She is also a licensed massage therapist and has completed studies in many healing modalities including Polarity Therapy and Huna bodywork. Barbara also has years of bookkeeping experience in the business world.
Jennifer Payne – Programs Co-Director
Jennifer (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) is relatively new to dance but enjoys the challenge of using artistic modalities such as dance, song, spoken word and other art forms to communicate important messages particularly around social justice issues. This is Jennifer’s 3rd year on the Board of Directors and this year she is moving from Co Public Relations Director to Co Programs Director. She enjoys dancing and has been involved in the liturgical dance choir at her church in Ottawa for about 13 years. Jennifer has also been a member of the Sacred Dance Guild for a number of years and participated in SDG Festivals and other community sacred dance offerings. She enjoys exploring other forms of movement and dance such as ballroom dance, salsa, Afro Caribbean dance, yoga and walking. Jennifer worked as a public health nutritionist and public health epidemiologist in Ontario for 16 years. During which time she collaborated with local newspapers, radio, cable, the chamber of commerce, schools, foodbanks, and many other community partners to promote health programing. She later worked with the Canadian federal public service for over 20 years as an epidemiologist and Senior Policy Analyst focusing on areas of social justice such as sex, gender, equity, and inclusion before retiring in 2022. Jennifer is interested in using various forms of artistic expression to convey important social justice messages. As well as participating in Sacred Dance related activities, she currently co-facilitates expressive writing workshops and participates in other social justice projects in Ottawa focused on
Debra (Debbie) Donaldson – Programs Co-Director
Debbie (Gananoque, Ontario, Canada)– To Dance is Debbie’s passion. Debbie has danced since the age of 3 years old and her Dream was to be a Dance teacher. Debbie took a turn after high school and became a Registered Nurse though her heart was always with dance. She did follow her Dream when her 3 daughters wanted to start taking dance lessons and she started her dance school Debbie’s Dance Academy. She has never looked back, she has taught all forms of dance at her school which grew into a Performing Arts School “Dreams In Motion Performing and Fine Arts School”. Debbie has taught school curriculums, senior centre programs, summer camps and workshops both in Canada and the U.S. She studied Cecchetti Ballet with Jean Spear and became an examined member of the Canadian Dance Teachers Association. Debbie has directed plays and choreographed for several musicals. Debbie started taking lessons in the Duncan style of Dance with Jeanne Brescianni in NY city . From this style of dance she grew with dance as she felt the spiritual pull to dance Liturgically. She has choreographed and been a Liturgical dancer for Churches in the U.S. and Canada. One of Debbie’s passions through dance is to be able to portray and make come alive issues that many do not want to talk about such as depression, suicide, mental illness, and to this end she produced and directed a show called “Shaping Words” which dealt with many of these issues in dance, music, visual art, poetry and drama. Recently with a select group of dancers they participated in the Global Water Dances and the main issue for the St. Lawrence being Climate change and how it affects all living things. In Gananoque where she lives, they did a Dance Challenge with the Song and Dance Jerusalema. Debbie was the Dance Coordinator and with 12 groups agreeing to do this around the town a video was made to share joy, laughter and smiles after the pandemic had slowed down. Throughout the pandemic Debbie has been able to share dance Liturgically with several Churches with the ability to record and Zoom. She has also taught Line Dance Classes for free just to make sure people kept smiling. Debbie is thrilled to come on the Board for the Sacred Dance Guild.
Jessica Abejar – Public Relations Co-Director
Jessica (New York City USA) is the Founder and Director of The Moving Prayer, introducing sacred dance to people all over the world. She especially enjoys reaching young people through dance, having presented at the Sto. Niño Youth Day in the Philippines, World Youth Day in Brazil and Poland, the National Catholic Youth Conference, the National Conference for Catholic Youth Ministry, and regularly working with organizations such as the Office of Youth Ministry for the Archdiocese of New York and Dominican Youth Movement USA. She has also presented for various events including the San Lorenzo Ruiz Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Our Lady of Antipolo Feast Day at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Sacred Dance Guild Festival, and more. Jessica is an alumna of Dance/USA’s Institute for Leadership Training, completing a mentorship program under sacred and liturgical dance pioneer Carla DeSola. She is also a former member of Dance/NYC’s Junior Committee and participated in Gibney Dance Center’s Institute of Community Action Training. Jessica has been a member of the Sacred Dance Guild for many years as a presenter at summer Festivals, on the Technical Team for the 2020 On Line Summer Festival, Technical Support for the Quarterly Conversation Series in 2022 and Administrative Coordinator for the Winter 2021 Mini Fesetival. Jessica has been enjoying the coordination of the SDG’s 65 Second Video Project in celebration of the Sacred Dance Guild’s 65th Anniversary in 2023-2024! Jessica is excited to be continuing on the SDG Board as the Co-Director of Public Relations for the Sacred Dance Guild..
John West – Public Relations Co-Director
John (California, USA) as a child studied dance at the Lester Horton School of Dance, and as a teen studied tap under Willie Covan. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in dance and theatre from Macalester College, he returned to Los Angeles and began a career of teaching and administrating at his alma mater, Mount Carmel High School. Continuing his professional education, Mr. West earned a M.Ed. from Loyola-Marymount University and a M.A. degree in Folklore and Mythology from UCLA with an emphasis in biblical literature and dance. Later, he began a long and varied career in the independent schools of Los Angeles, starting at Harvard/Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City. Throughout his teaching career he has taught not only in academic areas but also directed plays, taught dance and choreographed musicals. He has been a dancer and choreographer in the field of sacred and liturgical dance since 1967, when he assisted in the creation of an experimental liturgy in a parish church in St. Paul, Minnesota. At the administrative level Mr. West has served as Asst. Head of Harvard-Westlake’s Upper School, Headmaster of Mirman School for the Gifted, and President of Nardin Academy in Buffalo, NY. At the state level he served as the Vice President and Chair of the Elementary Board of Standards on the Board of Directors for the California Association of Independent Schools. Nationally, he was a member of the NAIS Call To Action for the National Association of Independent Schools V. P. of Equity and Justice Initiatives from 2000-2015. His work as Artistic Director of the Valyermo Dancers continues to be complemented by his roles as Sacred & Liturgical Dance Workshop Leader and Clinician and as Independent Educational Consultant on Equity and Social Justice. In 2013 he received the honor of “Man of Valor” from the NAACP. He lends his expertise to schools and organizational boards in Southern California. John says”
“So much of what we practitioners of sacred dance face nests in the misperception that what we do has no roots in one country or tradition or the other; that the sacred/divine have no comity or intersection with one another. The Guild controverts that; it provides ongoing proof that “We are!” It provides our art a level sustainability for all those who have come before and for all who will follow. I am proud to contribute to that end.” This is John’s 7th year as Public Relations Co-Director.
Leslie Zehr – Resources Co-Director
Leslie (Cairo, Egypt) is a sacred arts teacher, workshop leader, mentor, and author, who, for more than 30 years, has supported women to reconnect to the Divine Feminine within through the mysteries of ancient Egypt. A trained hypnotherapist, reiki master, astrologer, aromatherapist, and homeopath, Leslie is the author of two books –The Alchemy of Dance: Sacred Dance as a Path to the Universal Dancer, which has been translated into Spanish; and The Al-chemia Remedies: Vibrational Essences from Egyptian Flowers and Sacred Sites – as well as a CD entitled “Navel Portal Activation and Guided Visualizations.” Born in Lima, Perú, and educated in the United States, Leslie grew up in the theater and was exposed to performance arts from early childhood. Leslie also studied many forms of dance and has an extensive background in the theater arts; her first stage performance was at the age of six. In her youth, she was also drawn to alternative therapies and the occult sciences, such as tarot and astrology. She followed a calling to “return” to Egypt in 1986 to learn about and experience the ancient mysteries. In Cairo, Leslie founded and ran The Centre for Health and Well-being, which later became The Centre for Sacred Arts (1995-2015), a modern-day temple for learning and creativity honoring the Goddess Hat-Hor. In 2002, after an initiation experience at Dendera Temple in Luxor, she received and developed the Universal Dancer, a simple but profound method of Sacred Dance that works with sacred geometry, primordial energies, waves, and the chakras to unlock intuition, vitality, and creativity. Through dance, Leslie retells archetypal stories that take women back through time to the essence of their being, unlocking the esoteric wisdom buried deep within their psyche. Leslie’s lectures, workshops, and retreats in Sacred Dance and the Al-chemia Remedies have been attended by thousands of women of different nationalities and have taken her from Cairo, ancient Egyptian temples and archaeological sites along the Nile River, to studios and centers in New York, Maine, Maryland, Arizona, Washington, and Puerto Rico. As a prominent aromatherapist in Cairo, in 2006 Leslie presented a talk to the doctors at the National Research Center of Egypt as a way to introduce aromatherapy to the Department of Complementary Therapies. She has also been a consultant for companies in the emerging aromatherapy market in Egypt. Currently, Leslie offers courses through her online school, Universal Dancer Temple of the Sacred Arts, and she is the Host and Producer of The Universal Dancer Podcast.
Leslie holds a B.S. in psychology from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, where she also majored in biochemistry. She also has international diplomas in homeopathy and hypnotherapy.
Leslie is currently at work on a third book about dance as a spiritual practice. She continues to live in Cairo, with her children and grandchildren.
Marilyn Green – Resources Co-Director
Marilyn (New York City) is Director of the Trinity Movement Choir, as well as a choreographer and interdisciplinary artist. This is Marilyn’s 8th year as Co-Director of Resources. Her work in dance, music, and visual arts/film animation have earned her extensive recognition, from a Millay Colony Award to a Ford Foundation Fellowship and grants in the arts and humanities for projects in several disciplines. Her technical work in dance centers on Rudolf Laban, both in terms of movement analysis and his philosophy of creating set choreography with room for personal expression, and on Butoh’s focus on the transformation of the dancer and audience in performance. Her content draws on Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and her own spiritual experience.
In addition to the above slate of officers and directors, two members will stay active as adjunct members and “SDG Ambassadors” on the Board for the 2023-24 year.
Elaine Sisler (Boston, Mass) will remain active on the Board as former Co-Director of Programs. Elaine is an experienced dancer, classroom teacher, arts educator and advocate who has developed, coordinated, and implemented a variety of integrated arts programs in Maryland, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Elaine spearheaded the Sacred Dance Global Outreach program for the Sacred Dance Guild and organized both CultureFest 2009 and 2012 held in Concord. Mass. Elaine performs with Encore Dance Ensemble and is a member of Skyloom Sacred Dance Group. Elaine was Co-Director of the “Dance A World of Hope” Sacred Dance Festival, held at Hope College in Holland, Michigan and in “Dancing on Waves of Grace”, held at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA in 2015. Elaine also created and organized the Sacred Dance Guild’s journey to England in 2017 with 22 participants including 14 student dancers from Mercyhurst University.
Mary Kamp (Cincinnati, Ohio) will remain active on the Board as former Co-Director of Resources. Mary is a teaching Artist in Ballet, Character, Tap and Jazz, a Dancer, Choreographer, Movement Specialist, Liturgical & Sacred Dance Workshop Leader. Her professional career spans nearly six decades performing throughout the United States and in Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, Egypt, and Japan. She brings a maturity and wisdom to her presentations of dance in worship services, sacred celebrations, concerts, and workshops. She has been the director of the Kennedy Heights Presbyterian Church’s Daughter of Miriam, a Liturgical Dance Ministry since 1999. They have offered dance at churches and events of many denominations in Ohio and Kentucky. Currently she is a Lead Teacher at de la Arts Dance Center, a non-profit performing arts center and a class instructor in the Dance for PD program, originally founded as a collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group, and now fully administered by the Mark Morris Dance Group. A Sacred Dance Guild member since 1999, she has served as Co-Director of Programs on the Board of Directors of the SDG. In the summer of 2010, she was Co-Director of “Simply Soaring” at Connecticut College, New London, Connecticut, in 2012, she was Co-Director of the “Dance A World of Hope” Sacred Dance Festival, held at Hope College in Holland, Michigan and again in 2015 she served as Co-Director of “Dancing on Waves of Grace”, held at Mercyhurst University in Erie , PA . Mary was also one of the 22 participants in the Sacred Dance Guild journey to England in 2017. Mary believes that we all are designed to see, create, express and experience beauty. The very nature of the arts can and will touch the very soul of each of us. Mary will continue to work with the Resource Team for the 2023-24 year.
Administrative support is provided by Next Wave Group (Maryland), a full-service organization management firm.