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Staff + Board


Jamila Glass | Photo by Zack Whitford

Jamila Glass

Artistic Director

  • Founding Company Member in 2005
  • Artistic Director in 2021

Filmmaker and Choreographer Jamila Glass is known for creating cinematic journeys of movement, shaping characters, and building worlds that reflect what makes us human. In addition to creating work as the Artistic Director of L.A. Contemporary Dance Company (where she joined in 2005 as a founding member), she has choreographed extensively in film and television. Her choreography work includes projects on Netflix, HBO, Hulu, BET, and PRADA and garnered mentions in NY Times, L.A. Times, Essence Magazine, Ebony Magazine, and Mashable.  She recently choreographed and co-directed two commercials for Splice, the music industry's highest quality, royalty-free sample library.

Glass began her formal training as a nine-year-old scholarship student at The Discovery Dance Group in Houston, Texas. She continued dancing in her spare time as a vocal music major at the multi-Grammy award-winning High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Jamila graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Cinema-Television (Film & Video Production) and a Minor in Advertising.

As a performer, she has worked with Ryan Heffington, Galen Hooks, Nina McNeely, Kathryn Burns, David Dorfman, Adam Parson, and Mecca Vazie Andrews.  Other credits include Netflix Original film Mascots from Christopher Guest, American Horror Story, Paul McCartney, Colbie Caillat, Foster the People tour, Mastercard, American Apparel, Samsung, & the NY Times Best Selling photography book Dancers Among Us.

Beyond the stage, Jamila, a director/screenwriter, has produced films through her production company The Cutting Room where she has directed 20 critically-acclaimed short dance films, a television pilot, and 2 music videos that have garnered international praise, including film screenings in London, Paris and Lebanon. Her previous work as a freelance editor includes documentary shorts, national radio commercials, and an award-winning independent television network. Her directorial work for LACDC includes and then life was beautiful, INSECTOS: arte y vida (commissioned by the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain), and SUMMON (featuring the music by Emmy and Oscar award-winning and Grammy-nominated Kris Bowers).  She previously served LACDC's Media Director and Summer/Winter Intensive Director, elevating the company's visibility across continents.

She has taught at Schools: Pace University, UCLA, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Fullerton, Texas Christian University, Hussian College Los Angeles and has created work for LACDC, Texas Christian University, Cal State Fullerton, University of Illinois Edwardsville, and Co/Motion Creation Intensive (Boston).  

Recent News: Texas Christian University’s (TCU) dance students had such a wonderful experience with Jamila Glass during her Spring 2023 residency that their School of Classical & Contemporary Dance invited her to return in the Fall of 2023 to do another teaching & choreographic residency. She was honored to share the bill for their 2023 Fall Concert with world-renowned choreographer Sidra Bell.

Jamila is represented by Movement Talent Agency and is a member of the Television Academy, the Choreographers Guild and SAG-AFTRA.

Watch her teaching reel and check out her class schedule.

*Headshot by Zack Whitford

Napoleon Gladney | Executive Director

Napoleon Gladney

Executive Director

NAPOLEON W GLADNEY has a diverse performance and arts management background which spans seasons and international tours with dance companies including Odyssey Dance Theatre, The Dance Cartel and Backhausdance. National Broadway Tour credits include Wicked The Musical, as Dance Captain/Swing/Chistery Understudy.

In addition he has been involved in the creation of new musicals/shows Me and Caesar Lee (Choreographer - NYMTF Nominee), Dear Evan Hansen (Choreography Lab), and Better for Night (Featured Artist). His work with production companies, hip hop dance teams, and commercial projects span both coasts. Napoleon has worked with artists Agnes Carlson, Meaghan Smith, and Shinedown. Other projects include promos for the FIFA World Cup, music videos for Funny or Die, and commercials for Budweiser and iBillionaire.

As a choreographer and teacher, Napoleon has had the opportunity to travel to teach classes and set choreography on dance companies, teams, university programs and studios around the United States. And was the Program Coordinator and a Full-Time Faculty member for Hussian College LA’s Commercial Dance Program.

As an arts administrator Napoleon has stage managed the mobile opera Hopscotch by Los Angeles’ The Industry and created or held positions for non-profits the Theater at the 14th Street Y and LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture in New York City; MUSE/IQUE, Grand Performances, and Greenway Court Theater in Los Angeles. He has been the Audience Development Manager and Cultural Equity Producing and Programming Manager for Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University and is currently Executive Director of LA Contemporary Dance Company and Director, Theatrical Programming & Presentations for the Kimmel Cultural Campus.

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Quinn O'Connor

Company Manager

Quinn O'Connor (she/they) is a producer, stage manager, and arts administrator who has worked at various institutions across the country, including The Public Theater, East West Players, Opera UCLA, L.A. Dance Project, IAMA Theatre Company, and the LA Philharmonic. She is currently the Season Producer for IAMA Theatre Company, commissioning new plays for Los Angeles audiences. Originally from Southern California, Quinn works at the intersection of performance and disability access, both in audience experience and representation by consulting with arts organizations and approaching access through a lens of disability justice. They are involved in various modes of advocacy, ranging from representation in the arts to accessibility in higher education. Quinn intends to open perspectives surrounding disability in the arts sector and create a more equitable environment for all. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Disability Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.

*Photo by Roxy Morris

Photo by Jenna Beasley

Danielle King

Media Manager

Danielle King was born and raised in Northern California and has since relocated to Los Angeles to pursue her career in the entertainment industry. She attended Loyola Marymount University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance, Minor in Graphic Design and Emphasis in Public Relations. Danielle is a multi-medium artist and creative, currently represented as a professional dancer, choreographer, model and actress. She has worked with brands and artists, such as Doja Cat, J Balvin, Dillion Francis, SZA, Ariana Grande, Kelly Clarkson, Tyga, Wiz Khalifa, Karol G, Loren Gray, Isabela Merced, Disney, Ford, Geico and more. Danielle's credits also extend to TV/Film, notably on the Grammy's, Billboard Awards, Dear White People (Netflix), A Week Away (Netflix) and more.

King also freelances for major companies, artists and brands as a creative director, producer, director, writer, designer, event coordinator, media manager and videographer/editor. There are no limitations on who and what you can be in Danielle’s eyes, and she prides herself on pushing herself and others past their perceived limits. Danielle is actively pursuing a long-term career in creative direction/directing to share her visions with the world in hopes to expand and shift perspectives.


*Photo by Jenna Beasley

person in white button down and short black hair looking at the camera

Jessie Lee Thorne

Community Relations Manager

Jessie Lee Thorne (she/they) is a multifaceted artist hailing from Los Angeles, California, with a skill set spanning dance, choreography, filmmaking, and creative production. Beginning their performance journey in Italy under Walter Matteini, Jessie toured extensively across Europe, Israel, and Russia. Later, as a founding member of Micaela Taylor’s The TL Collective, Jessie spent six years touring across the US, Canada, Panama, and Germany. Their prowess extends to directing and choreography, evident in award-winning films and stage productions like "Topia," commissioned by Boston Moving Arts, which received accolades such as "Best Dance Film" at the Paris Play Film Festival and "Best Screendance Short" at Indie Short Fest. Jessie's live adaptation of "Topia" premiered at The Odyssey Theater LA in 2023. Upcoming commissions include: The Boston Conservatory, Backhausdance and Mash Up Dance Company.  Their commercial dance and choreography work can be found in music videos for renowned artists including but not limited to RY X, Emmit Fenn, David Archuleta, Kevin Mchale and films like Universal's "Bobbleheads" among others. As an educator, Jessie has shared their expertise through classes and workshops at esteemed institutions like The Boston Conservatory, Chapman University, and UCLA. Jessie Lee Thorne is dedicated to a lifelong pursuit of cultivating connection through the transformative power of art.

*Headshot by Nick Gonzalez

Board Members

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Kate Hutter Mason

Board Member

Artistic Director 2005-2015
LACDC Co-Founder 

Kate Hutter Mason is founder and owner of Stomping Ground L.A. – a community arts complex founded in 2020 on the native lands of the Kizh, Chumash, and Tongva Nations known as El Sereno/East L.A. As a foundational experience for this next step in her artistic and entrepreneurial career, Kate co-founded the L.A. Contemporary Dance Company (LACDC) in 2005, and held the Artistic Directorship from 2005 - 2015. Today, she serves as the President of the Board of Directors. Additionally, Kate works in the corporate sector applying her skills learned in non-profit arts as Director of Strategic Initiatives for the aerospace design and manufacturing company, Click Bond, that was founded by her parents and is in its 2nd generation of leadership as a family-owned and operated company. Kate is thrilled to hold many careers in balance and see how each is informed by the other including continuing to instruct dance, choreograph, and be the mother of two spirited and wonderfully free willed children, Charley and Rory, with her husband Eric.

Kate is an alumnus of the Walnut Hill School and a graduate of the University of Southern California with a BFA in Theatrical Design. Kate also holds an MFA in Dance and Choreography from Purchase College, SUNY. Kate has presented her choreography at prestigious venues throughout L.A. including the Broad Stage, Celebrate Dance at the Alex Theater, Ford Amphitheatre, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, L.A. Theatre Center, Diavolo Dance Space and Highways Performance Space. Kate was also the movement director for the band Foster The People on their 2013 Summer Tour and part of the Move campaign by indie clothing retailer Alternative Apparel. Kate has been a visiting artist at USC, UCLA, California State Long Beach, Santa Monica College, Scripps College, Chapman University, Ohio State University, Wayne State University, and Loyola Marymount University.

*Photo by Malachi Middleton

Michelle Jolly

Michelle Jolly

Board Member

LACDC Co-Founder

Michelle Jolly (Mierz) is co-founder and previous Executive Director of the L.A. Contemporary Dance Company. She trained as a dancer herself since the age of four. Michelle combined her passion for dance and her business background to create LACDC with Kate Hutter at USC. Michelle graduated magna cum laude from the USC Marshall School of Business Honors Program/ Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies with a BS. Her professional credits outside of LACDC include work with the consulting firm, CounterIntuity, as a Project Manager, interim operations manager for the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood, Associate Producer with LA Stage Alliance for the 2004 Ovation Awards, and Associate Producer for the Choreography Media Honors 2008-2009. In 2011, Michelle graduated from Yale University's School of Management with her MBA. She now resides in her hometown of Seattle and is the Chief of Staff for Worldwide Sustainability at Amazon.

Casey Headshot

Casey Cowan Gale

Board Member

Casey Cowan Gale's extensive experience ranges from co-designing the lighting for the world premiere of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches to designing the architectural lighting for ABC's Nightline offices in Washington D.C. Her most recent work includes the lighting designs for The Music Man, My Fair Lady, Mame, Camelot and The Sound of Music at the Hollywood Bowl with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, all directed by Gordon Hunt. For her work she has received a Dramalogue Award, the L.A. Weekly Award, and awards from the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. She served for 6 years as a lighting designer for Walt Disney Imagineering, where she designed the lighting for various attractions at Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and Walt Disney World. She spent an additional 5 years at Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development researching and evaluating lighting technology for any and all branches of the Walt Disney Company. Casey was the Director of Lighting Design for the University of Southern California School of Theatre for 8 years, and is currently a freelance Lighting Designer.

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Elisa Smith

Board Member

Elisa Smith is a California native who has been part of the performing arts community the majority of her life. Her musical training began at an early age, 4 years old, with piano lessons. The lessons were classically-based, focusing on the Suzuki Method. In addition, she studied contemporary dance and ballet with local schools and companies.This eventually led to a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Music from the University of California, Riverside. In her last year of college, she had the opportunity to travel to and study the music of several countries which included: Venezuela, Brazil, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore and India.

She has worked as a ballet piano accompanist for classes throughout Los Angeles and in Pasadena. At Chapman University, she studied and worked as a music therapist while studying elementary education at the University of LaVerne and working as an elementary school teacher in public schools.

Currently, she has her own piano studio, teaching piano to children as well as adults, hopefully fostering an appreciation for music and the performing arts in general.

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Ramón Valdez

Board Member

Ramón Valdez (he/him/his) received his BA in Theatre with a focus on stage management from the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts, where he currently serves as the Assistant Director of Admissions. He is the Resident Stage Manager for Rogue Machine Theatre and has served on the board of L.A. Contemporary Dance Company since 2019.

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Clifton Smith

Board Member

Clifton Smith is a recent addition to the LACDC Board, having logged time in the artistic community at East Los Angeles College (ELAC).

He grew up in Pasadena, studied at UC Santa Barbara and returned to the area.  Logged almost thirty years in the corporate world at Southern California Edison Company and was awarded the Silver J. K. Horton Humanitarian Award for saving a life on the job.   Became Executive Director of Northwest Pasadena Apprenticeship & Training Program, a non-profit organization providing construction training for high school students.  

An early retirement provided the opportunity to devote his time to artistic endeavors: writing, acting, and music, his passions, second only to his love of his children, family, and community. While at ELAC he performed the role of Joey in the play Kindred written by Daniel Kelleher for which he was awarded the Irene Ryan Acting Commendation by the Kennedy Center.