Founder (Director Emeritus)
Raised in Banff, Alberta Canada, Karen had the privilege of both working and studying at The Banff Centre. This rich exposure to the fine arts fuelled Karen’s passion for art and led her to pursue a career in dance. Karen began her training at the University of Calgary and continued her studies in both Singapore and Australia where she focused her attention on “Liturgical dance”.
When she returned to Canada in 1990 Karen founded the Christian Dance Fellowship of Canada in order to both network dancers and further develop dance as a faith-expressed art form. Recognising the growing need for quality dance training, which embraced a spiritual foundation, Karen began Crossings Dance Ministries, Canada’s first Liturgical dance training centre in 1992.
Under Karen’s direction, Crossings has become a thriving dance studio offering classes for over 300 students from beginner to professional level dancers. In order to provide professional performance opportunities for these dancers and introduce Liturgical dance to the greater arts community, Karen spearheaded the creation of Corps Bara Dance Guild and Corps Bara Dance Theatre.
Recognised as one of Canada’s leading pioneers of Liturgical dance, Karen continues to push the boundaries and raise the standard of dance as a faith-expressed art form. Sought after as a teacher, choreographer and speaker, Karen’s invaluable knowledge and experience ensure that Crossings’ students will continue to receive the highest quality training available. Through her passion for life, art and community, she continues to inspire her students and co-workers with a vision to achieve their God given artistic destiny.
Deanna Witwer has worked professionally with Corps Bara Dance Theatre for over ten years, during which time she has acted as Artistic Director, dancer, choreographer and rehearsal director. Witwer spent two years training independently in Brussels, Belgium, and in her travels fueled a passion to create art that
is not self-indulgent, but that fosters engagement and dialogue between artists, audience and beyond. In Brussels she had the opportunity to study under David Zambrano, Peter Jasko, Sun Xiao Jun and Dominique Duszynski, among many others, and in the summer of 2011 she attended ImPulsTanz International Dance Festival in Vienna. Deanna holds a BA in Dance from the University of Calgary, collaborative with Kinesiology and specializing in performance and choreography. She has performed in numerous projects with company kloetzel&co under the direction of Melanie Kloetzel, and has presented work and performed in Calgary’s Alberta Dance Festival. Most recently she choreographed for Corps Bara’s 2014 performance of State of Presence, and was commissioned to create a work on the University of Calgary’s first year dance majors for their Montage performance.
Artistic Associate/Company Manager
Jessalyn has had a life long passion for dance. She is involved in many areas of the Calgary dance community including performing, choreographing, teaching, directing and producing. She holds a B.A. in Contemporary Dance with distinction from the University of Calgary. Post - graduation, Jessalyn danced with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks Professional Training Program for three seasons. She has worked with dance theatre company kloetzel&co. for several seasons where she performed in Professional Series 2014, Toronto’s Dusk Dances, and in the full length work “The Alice Odyssey.” Jessalyn was a Corps Bara company member in 2014/2015 and was apart of the collaborative show “Absence” alongside Fire Exit Theatre. Independently, she has had the opportunity to perform and choreograph in: Alberta Dance Festival, Feats Festival, Fluid Festival’s Physical Therapy Cabaret and ContainR, Ignite! Festival, Soulocentric Festival, Shoes Off and Standing Room Only Cabaret, and Vancouver’s Tangents. In the last couple of years, Jessalyn has found herself in many producer and director roles. She was co- Artistic Director and producer of CrossCurrents Dance Productions which produced three full length shows involving professional choreographers and dancers. She is currently Artistic Director of Arise Dance YYC – a contemporary worship dance group. Jessalyn is excited to bring her passion for dance, her love for God, and her production skills into her new role in Corps Bara Dance Theatre.