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Black Angels

Live Music and Dance

In tempore belli



The Nameless


Direction & Choreography:

Sarah Hixon

Performance & Choreography:

Ellie Bearss

Samantha Conte

Alex Graban

Alicia Hann*

Lisa Horton

Sarah Price

Anne Raspe

Sarah Vah


Music Performance:

Alicia Hui, violin

Gyusun Han, violin

Spencer Ingersoll, viola

Mary Davis, cello


String Quartet No. 8, Dmitri Shostakovich

Separation • Violence • Propaganda • Fear & Anguish • Destruction



~ Brief Pause ~



Within the Interstice

Interstice: A very small intervening space



Sarah Hixon


Ellie Bearss

Samantha Conte (Fri & Sun)

Alex Graban (Fri & Sun)

Alicia Hann* (Sat)

Lisa Horton (Sat)

Sarah Price

Anne Raspe (Fri & Sun)

Sarah Vah (Sat)


Piano Sonata No. 14, Mov. 1

Ludwig Van Beethoven


Approximately 10-minute intermission  ~

Black Angels


Sarah Hixon


Ellie Bearss

Samantha Conte

Alex Graban

Alicia Hann*

Lisa Horton

Sarah Price

Anne Raspe

Sarah Vah

Music Performance:

Alicia Hui, electric violin

Gyusun Han, electric violin

Spencer Ingersoll, electric violin

Mary Davis, electric cello


Black Angels: Thirteen Images from the Dark Land

George Crumb


Threnody1: Departure
Threnody 2: Absence
Threnody 3: Return

Music Director:

Jacob Reed

Percussion Advisor:
Seth Alexander

Electric Instruments generously provided by

The Loft Violin Shop

*The Victoria Alesi Company Position

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Please join us for a Talkback session with the artists following the performances on Friday and Saturday, moderated by

Dr. Hannah Kosstrin.

Please silence all cell phones.

No flash photography or video.

Production Team


Lighting Design & Production Manager:

Olivia Atley

Stage Manager:
Grace Glowacki

Running Crew:
Sarah Santilli

Percussion Advisor:

Seth Alexander

Kristin Walton

Box Office:

Jacob Reed, Jasmine Shafley

Board of Directors:

Robert Estice, Kelly George, Aaron Greene, Sarah Hixon, Justin Johnston, Jacob Reed, Sarah Santilli

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Very Special Thanks to:

The Loft Violin Shop

Music & Arts Westerville

Ryan Kilgore

Eric Doolittle

Matt Ellis

Patricia Reagan

J Lillian Gray

Brandon Abbott

Columbus Dance Theatre


Graeter's Ice Cream

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This production is supported by:

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When I began formulating the concept for this show, I had no idea its themes would be so timely. 

Each of the three works on tonight's program are connected through movement and subject matter. Together they represent an ongoing exploration of war, oppression, ritual, and refuge that has spanned two decades of my creative work. The two major pieces of music in this program are staples of the modern string quartet repertoire. Despite being composed by two very different artists from very different political and cultural backgrounds, these quartets were written only 10 years apart, and capture something essential about that period. As these pieces were chosen for their relevancy to these themes, I want to provide some more in-depth background on them.  

Dmitri Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 was written during a period of profound personal and political turmoil for the composer, and is often regarded as an introspective reflection on the oppressive climate of the Soviet Union under Stalin's regime and the composer's own struggles with authority and artistic freedom. In 1960 Shostakovich was sent to East Germany to work on the score for a Soviet film set during the bombing of Dresden. While there, he composed his Eighth String Quartet in 3 days and dedicated it "In memory of victims of fascism and war." 


The quartet, however, was profoundly personal for Shostakovich. One of the most striking aspects of the work is its prevalent use of a 4-note theme derived from his own initials: D-S-C-H in German musical notation. This personal signature, which recurs throughout the work, adds an additional layer of meaning, suggesting a self-examination on the part of the composer. The quartet uses motifs and quotations from many of Shostakovich's earlier significant works. In a letter to a friend, he wrote, "I reflected that if I die someday then it's hardly likely anyone will write a work dedicated to my memory. So I decided to write one myself. You could even write on the cover: 'Dedicated to the memory of the composer of this quartet.'" Yet Stephen Harris wrote that the work "...transcends individual pain to address all human despair. It is this which explains its profundity. The torment that it voices is the tragic, human agony of all those who have experienced grievous loss whether it be due to fascism, war, or personal bereavement."

We have attempted to reflect the heart-breaking tragedy depicted in the music through the choreography. Using the layered richness of the quartet as inspiration, the dance explores two interwoven themes: the horrors of war, and the burden of personal grief and psychological trauma. 

Black Angels (Thirteen Images from the Dark Land) by avant-garde American composer George Crumb ranges from disturbing, dissonant, and frightening to melodic, delicate, and hauntingly beautiful. The composition is for electric string quartet, and is dated "Friday the Thirteenth, March 1970"-- completed 54 years ago this week--and during the Vietnam War. The piece is structured in three threnodies, or laments, from which the entire arc of the work is built. Musicologist Robert Greenberg believes that the recurring "Night of the Electric Insects" image is a reference to the military helicopters used so prominently by the US Air Force during Vietnam. 


The music is deeply philosophical, even mystical. Crumb describes the piece as the portrayal of "a voyage of the soul" and considered it a parable for a troubled contemporary world. In addition to symbolic numerology in which the numbers 13 and 7 are significant (transformation, divinity, fate, destiny), the work is full of allusions to or quotations of tonal music from different time periods such as Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" quartet or Tartini's "Devil's Trill." In addition to playing the instruments with extended techniques, the musicians are called upon to shout, whisper, strike tam-tams, maracas, and bow tuned crystal water goblets. The effect is ethereal and surreal. 

The choreography moves through a series of dream-like impressions that are rich with gesture and meaning. It draws on different cultural aesthetics, from Baroque court spectacles to traditional Asian theater practices. The inspiration for the movement closely aligns with Crumb's ethos, touching on themes of human ritual, spirituality, community, and nature. 

This evening includes a light-hearted work with a connection to Absurdist Theater: a post-war exploration of existentialist ideas around what happens when human existence lacks meaning or purpose. The dancers, entirely focused on themselves and their own illogic, gain nothing from their physical efforts and end where they began. The dance is set to what is arguably one of the most familiar works in the classical music repertoire, but with a twist that adds to the absurdity. 

Our program has been years in the making, and we hope that you are moved by it. It has taken incredible hard work and dedication to bring to the stage, and I want to personally thank each and every dancer, musician, and production team member. Without them this work would be impossible, and I am extremely grateful for their artistry, tenacity, and authenticity.

Thank you for sharing this experience with us!

- Sarah

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Hixon Dance is a modern dance performing ensemble founded in 2007 by Sarah Hixon that is active in the performing arts throughout central Ohio and beyond. The company regularly collaborates with other artists—especially musicians—and experts in other fields to inspire, create, and produce new work. The company is committed to a multidisciplinary creative process and is known for presenting impactful works that are accessible to audiences. Past collaborators include The Columbus Ohio Discovery Ensemble, Opera Project Columbus, The Worthington Chamber Orchestra, and others. They have recently worked with composers Jacob Reed, Lauren Spavelko, Michael Rene Torres, and award-winning poet Maggie Smith.

Hixon Dance has been a mainstay of the Columbus dance community, participating in a wide array of community-centered performances including the Columbus Dances series, GCAC's New Choreography Project, Columbus Summer Dance Festival hosted by The Ohio State University, Vox Novus, Global Water Dances, OhioDance Festival, Ten Tiny Dances, and others. They host City Dance Showcase, an annual presentation of local independent dance makers.

Education and outreach are a central component of the company’s mission, and strongly believe that the performing arts enrich our community. They offer noncompetitive and inclusive classes for ages 2 through adult at their studio in Clintonville, OH.

They have been featured in The Columbus Dispatch, The Columbus Underground, The Columbus Alive!, The Clintonville and Worthington Spotlight, LifeLine Columbus, and other publications. 

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Sarah Hixon


Sarah Hixon is a choreographer, dance educator, and artistic director of Hixon Dance. Ms. Hixon studied choreography with Doug Varone, Bebe Miller, David Parsons, Susan Rethorst, Vera Blaine, Susan Shields, and others.

She trained at The Washington Ballet, American Repertory Theatre, and The Milwaukee Ballet, among others. She holds a BFA in Dance from George Mason University and an MFA in Choreography from The Ohio State University.

Hixon’s award-winning choreography has been presented at The Wexner Center for the Arts, The National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., Joy of Motion, The Short North Stage, The Lincoln Theatre, The Fairfax Center for the Arts, The Pivot Center, and others. She has worked with Opera Project Columbus, the Worthington Chamber Orchestra, CATCO is Kids, Vox Novus, COSI, and many collaborators throughout the region. Recent collaborative partners include The Columbus Symphony, The Movement Project, poet Maggie Smith, and composer Michael Rene Torres. She has received special commendations for her work from Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and Ohio House Representative Beth Liston. 
She has taught at several universities and pre-professional schools throughout Washington, D.C., and central Ohio including the OSU Department of Dance, BalletMet Columbus, New Albany Ballet Company, Wittenberg University, George Mason University, and The Peabody Institute among others. 

Jacob Reed

Music Director


Jacob Reed writes immersive and transformative music that pulls the audience into a distinct sonic world. As a pluralist, he draws on a diverse musical background to write engaging & thrilling music for orchestras, choirs, chamber & jazz ensembles.


Reed is intrigued by the intersection of music with other arts and collaborates frequently with choreographers, writers, visual artists. He serves as Music Director of Hixon Dance, composing and commissioning new music regularly and producing the live music that accompanies most Hixon Dance performances.


Jacob Reed began composing in high school at the Durham School of the Arts. He received his Bachelor’s in Music Education, and Masters degrees in both Music Composition and Music Theory from The Ohio State University (OSU). He is regularly commissioned to write new music for orchestras, chamber groups, choreographers, and others. Recent commissions include The Central Ohio Symphony, The McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra, The Ohio Music Teachers Association, Trinity Episcopal Church, Columbus Bicentennial Celebration “Finding Time,” and others. His music has been performed at the Spark Festival, Tutti New Music Festival, University of Central Missouri New Music Festival, Central Michigan University’s New Music Ensemble, and others.  Mr. Reed has over twenty years of experience as a drummer and band leader. He has performed in numerous jazz groups, including his own trios “The Jazz Elective” and “The Jake Reed Trio” which releases its first album this April.


Alicia Hann

Rehearsal Director

The Victoria Alesi Company Position


Alicia Hann began her dance training at Dublin Dance Center, and pursued her study of modern dance at Ohio University where she received a BFA in modern dance performance and choreography.

She is also a Dancing Mindfulness Facilitator, certified through The Institute for Creative Mindfulness and Mindful Ohio. Dancing Mindfulness is a form of conscious dance which incorporates meditation, improvisation, music, and community. She has had the privilege of facilitating at Amethyst Inc, a treatment center which helps recovering drug and alcohol dependent women and their families. Alicia is currently dancing at Hixon Dance as well as freelancing. She has worked with various choreographers from around the country. Notably, Miki Orihara, principal dancer from the Martha Graham Company in a reconstruction of Graham’s early works ‘Heretic’. She has also worked with Kelsey Bartman of Texture Contemporary Ballet, Hannah Williamson of MamLuft&Co. Dance, and was a guest artist for Alexandra Bodnarchuk’s ‘Something Pretty’ premiering at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburg.

Samantha Conte

Company Manager


Samantha Conte is a performer, dance educator, and choreographer. Her previous training includes fourteen years at South Dayton School of Dance under the instruction of Gina Walther, Gigi Gardner, and Erin Robbins.


In 2012, Samantha was awarded the "Monticello Award for Emerging Choreography” for her work Inferno which was selected to perform in Montreal as a part of Regional Dance America. She continued her training at Ball State University where she graduated with her B.F.A. in Dance. She has been on staff at many local dance studios, as well as spending time in Hamilton area pre-schools to give children early exposure to dance. Throughout her professional career, Samantha has worked with guest artists such as Sidra Bell, Rodney A. Brown, Leslie Dworkin, Cody Szarko, John Litzler, Ruka White, William B. McClellan, Jr., and Debbie Blunden-Diggs. When not in the studio she spends her days as a College Planner, helping students with career exploration and college preparation! Samantha previously danced with Mamluft&Co. Dance in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is now in her fourth season with Hixon Dance.


Ellie Bearss




Eleanor Bearss received a degree in Dance studies and Political Science from Ohio Wesleyan University. On campus she was part of the departments dance company and college dance club.

In the past she has had the opportunity to train at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and UNCSA. She is so excited to be part of this collaborative company. She thanks her Mom, Dad, Anne Raspe, Jacey Scheffel and Rashana Perks-Smith for their continued support and love! This is her first season with the company. 

Mary Davis



Mary Davis, hailed as “an unusually fine cellist,” currently performs with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and is active as a recitalist and chamber musician. Her interests and activities have ranged from 


baroque performance—as principal cellist and soloist with the Columbus Bach Ensemble—to contemporary music, including premieres of many works and dedications of new pieces. Mary was featured as soloist in the Dayton Philharmonic’s recording of William Bolcom’s “Daedalus” from Inventing Flight, and her playing and arrangements can be heard on Lyrica’s disk, A Crystal Spring. She holds degrees from the Peabody Conservatory, the College-Conservatory of the University of Cincinnati, and The Ohio State University and has taught cello at Wright State University, Cedarville University, OSU, and currently at Ohio Wesleyan University. Mary teaches cello privately in Clintonville; two of her students have served as All State principal cello in recent years, and some of her earliest Columbus students now have their own thriving studios. She attends dog park religiously and enjoys yoga, cycling, knitting and Argentine Tango.


Alex Graban





Alex is excited for his 2nd season with Hixon Dance! He began dancing at age 3 at New Albany Ballet Company, training in ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, and tap.

After graduating high school, he joined Columbus Modern Dance Company; he  joined Columbus Dance Theatre and Hixon Dance a season later. He has choreographed for Columbus Dance Theatre, New Albany Ballet Company, Columbus Modern Dance Company, Weathervane Playhouse, WYART, and Granville High School.Some of his pieces have been featured in the Columbus Arts Festival and the New Albany Dance Festival. Alongside dance, Alex has also been involved in musical theatre, onstage and off. At Weathervane playhouse, WYART, and Granville High School, he has performed in countless shows including Cats, A Chorus Line, In The Heights, The Full Monty, and many more. Offstage, he has worked with theatrical lighting, sound, stage management, teaching, and choreography. Alex would like to thank his mom, dad, Mark, Carolyn, Lewis, and most importantly all of his pets for the endless love and support!

Gyusun Han



Violinist Gyusun Han was born and raised in South Korea, where she began her musical studies at age six. Ms. Han joined the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in 2021 as fourth chair in the first violin section.


Ms. Han made her debut as a soloist at the Universal Arts Center in Seoul, Korea at age 10, and she has been awarded distinctions at international and national competitions, including the Korea Times competition, Ewha & Kyunghyang competition, Strad competition, Music Journal competition.


Lisa Horton





Lisa Horton is a dancer, creator, and dance educator. She received her B.A. in Dance with a business cognate from the University of Akron.

She has performed in several shows with The University of Akron Dance Company in styles of ballet contemporary, modern, contemporary jazz and tap. Along with performing, her work was presented in the Spring UADC show through the Choreographer’s Workshop. In addition, she’s worked with various artists and companies like Gibney Dance, Body Traffic, Ben Needham-Wood, Dance Heginbotham and more. Lisa has worked as a dance educator at Martell School of dance for the several years, Weathervane Playhouse as an Akron after-school dance teacher and leader for the Neighborhood Playhouse Camp. This is her first season with Hixon Dance.

Alicia Hui



Alicia Hui, currently Principal Second Violin of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, began her musical studies at the age of four and made her orchestral debut at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, MD at age nine.


Since then, she has soloed with numerous orchestras including the Arlington Symphony, Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony, the Firelands Symphony Orchestra, the Nationals Repertory Orchestra, the Zurich Symphony Orchestra, the Latvian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. 

Ms. Hui was accepted into the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia at age 11 where she studies with Victor Danchenko and received her Bachelor’s Degree at sixteen. She received her Master’s Degree, Artist Diploma, and Professional Studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music under the tutelage of David Cerone, Paul Kantor, and William Preucil. In addition to her current position, Ms. Hui is also a member of the Columbus Ohio Discovery Ensemble and a regular performer and Director of Community Engagement of the Vivo Music Festival. She has also served as guest concertmaster with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, assistant concertmaster of the Akron Symphony Orchestra and the Firelands Symphony Orchestra, and as Principal Second Violin of the Canton Symphony Orchestra.

Ms. Hui participated and performed at the Ishikawa Music Festival in Japan, Soesterberg Music Festival in Amsterdam, the Keshet Eilon Master Course, and the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival. In addition, she was awarded fellowships at the Perlman Music Festival, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Aspen Music Festival, the Banff Chamber Music Festival, and the Bowdoin Music Festival. 


Spencer Ingersoll



 Spencer Ingersoll graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM), where he received his master’s degree under the guidance of Robert Vernon. Mr. Ingersoll was also part of the Intensive String Quartet Seminar at CIM.


His quartet, the Onyx String Quartet, won the senior division of the WDAV Young Chamber Musicians Competition at Davidson College in North Carolina. 

Mr. Ingersoll has a diverse course as a performer. Orchestrally, he was a member of the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas from 2018-2021. He is also a substitute for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. As a soloist, he performed with his alma mater, the Las Vegas Academy Philharmonic Orchestra, as part of their twenty fifth anniversary celebration in the Smith Center. He also has performed alongside renowned artists such as Thomas Robertello, James Buswell, Kathleen Winkler, Alan Stepansky, Alon Goldstein, Tomas Varga, and members of the Cleveland and Guarneri string quartets.

In the summer, Mr. Ingersoll has attended the Heifetz International Music Institute, Sarasota Music Festival, Spoleto Festival, Kneisel Hall, and was a three-time viola fellow at the Music Academy of the West. He also has participated in the String Quartet Seminar while at the Music Academy of the West under the tutelage of the Takács Quartet.

Sarah Price



Sarah Price is a performer as well as a teaching artist at Hixon Dance. Sarah attended Western Kentucky University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance.


While at Western, Sarah was a member of the WKU Dance Company as well as the National Dance Education Organization WKU student chapter. In 2021 Sarah choreographed multiple pieces for WKU student showcases including her piece titled, “See My Voice.” Sarah has had the privilege of training under various masters such as Nan Giordano, Ballet Hispánico, Roni Koresh, and Jon Lehrer.  Her training consists of an eclectic mix including Ballet, Pointe, Modern, Jazz, Musical Theatre, Contemporary, Irish, Acrobatics, and Aerial Arts. Sarah is thrilled to be dancing her first season with Hixon Dance.


Anne Raspe




Anne Raspe is a performer, choreographer, and dance advocate. She received a degree in Dance Studies, under the instruction of Rashana Perks-Smith, at Ohio Wesleyan University and maintained many leadership

positions within the campus dance company, clubs, and department board. She is passionate about keeping art accessible and has thoroughly enjoyed dancing alongside her company members. When she isn’t dancing she works at Opening Night in both Dublin and Gahanna. This is her first season with Hixon and has loved every moment so far. 

Sarah Vah



Sarah Vah received her B.A. in Dance Studies from Kent State University, along with a double minor in Arts Entrepreneurship and Disability Studies.


She was a 3-year member of the Kent Dance Ensemble and served as the Student Artistic Director and Social Media Representative. Sarah was also a member of the Student Dance Education Organization and served as the Event Coordinator and Social Media Representative. She has performed around Ohio at the Cleveland Dance Festival, The Ohio Statehouse Tree Lighting Festival, and the American College Dance Association Conference. Sarah has had the privilege of working with renowned artists such as Micaela Taylor, Lisa Viola, Hope Boykin, Stefanie Batten Bland, Catherine Meredith, Tiffany Rea-Fisher, and Ray Mercer. In 2022, Sarah choreographed her own piece for Kent’s student dance concert titled “Not Just Yet." Sarah is excited for her first season as a Hixon Company member! 


Olivia Atley

Lighting Designer



Olivia Atley is a graduate of Bowling Green State University ('00) with a degree in Dance Performance. Her fine arts experience spans over several decades on both sides, and wings, of the stage.

Olivia has been managing and lighting shows in the central Ohio area for 20 years. She finds pure joy in helping bring the vision of each artist she works with to life. Olivia is the proud mother of 2 sons (one of whom is a current BGSU student) and an 8 year old chihuahua, that resides in Columbus where she works within the field of maternal and infant health.

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Hixon Dance Supporters 2023-2024

Encore ($2,500+)

The Greater Columbus Arts Council
The Columbus Foundation  
The Ohio Arts Council
Cardinal Health
Victoria Alesi

Ovation ($500-$2,499)

The Greater Columbus Arts Council
The Columbus Foundation  
The Ohio Arts Council
Cardinal Health
Victoria Alesi

Cheers ($100-$499)

Jacqueline Ariail
Susan Barco
Katharine and Richard Burnett
Lindsey Christ
Ken Falk
Barbara & Byron Ford
Angelika Gerbes
Justin Johnston
Allison Potvin
Christy Price
Sarah Santilli
Nancy Taylor
Richard Vah

Applause ($1-$99)

Corey Baker
Tiara Bass

Margaret Bearss
Joe Bishara
Will Bonchu
Loren Bucek
Nina Burkill
Milena Carvalheira
Jed Duffey
Carlton Gammons
Alicia Hann
Jill Hann
Spencer & Amy Hixon
Brennan Johnson
Emily Koval

Kelsey Lee

Nicholas Malenda

Mark Minter

Ava Morgan

Danielle Mostow

Melissa Natrop

Thomas Pope

Andrea Price

Nancy Rafert

Elise Sheppard

Lauren Spavelko

Heather Spradlin

Jared Torr

Joshua W

Angela Wells

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Your contribution matters!

We are here to make dance accessible, meaningful, and joyful through our performance and education initiatives. Financial contributions are essential to help us do the work we do and allow us to have a more powerful impact on our community.


We gladly accept donations in any amount. Even as little as $20 can help fund our student scholarship program. $50 pays for the creation of a new costume piece. $100 helps sponsor a dancer!


Your donation is tax-deductible and can be made securely online here at our website or by mail.


Become a sponsor today, and thank you for supporting local independent dance!


Hixon Dance is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.



We value your opinion and want to hear about your experience. We hope you enjoyed the performance. Please take a few minutes to let us know about your experience. Your feedback will help us improve future programming and understand the ways our work is advancing our vision and mission for the community. Your responses are anonymous and confidential.

Thank you for joining us!

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