Meet the

Precious Present Cast

AndreaAriel_HeadshotCrop1_StephenPruitt (1).jpeg

Andrea Ariel


Andrea Ariel is the Artistic Director of Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre based in Austin, TX where she produces, choreographs, and performs in multidisciplinary dance theatre works created in collaboration with artists working in dance, music, theater, multimedia, and visual art. She has created over 50 original works since forming the company in 1990. Her work has been presented in Texas, California, South Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, New Mexico, and New York. Andrea teaches in schools through the company’s ARTSPLUS, arts-in-education program as an Arts Partner for Austin ISD. She also facilitates Community Voices, a program that brings unique creative opportunities to the community. Andrea was selected by the City of Austin as a 2019 Creative Ambassador for Dance representing Austin, TX in Spain at the International Soundpainting Think Tank. She is a Certified Soundpainter and Educator for this revolutionary and boundary breaking form of live composition used in multidisciplinary improvised performances. Andrea has received special citations from the Austin Critics Table, The Sound and Vision Award, for visionary cross-discipline work and the Site for Sore Eyes and Ears Award, for her invigorating site-specific performances. Other recognitions include twelve nominations and four awards for LUMEN (2016), HEART (2014) and The Bowie Project: A Rock and Roll Soundpainting (2014, 2015, 2017) also named #2 of the Top Nine Big Bang Dance Concerts of 2015. Andrea’s choreography for film and television includes commercials for Shiner Beer, KFC, Grand Marnier, Time Warner, HEB (with Emmitt Smith), and Reid’s Cleaners starring singer/songwriter Erin Ivey, receiving national recognition. Feature films and TV include Rick Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some, Waiting for Guffman directed by Christopher Guest, Infamous with Sigourney Weaver and Toby Jones, Wild Texas Wind starring Dolly Parton, As the Bell Rings (Disney Channel), and Mama Dallas an HBO TV series pilot. She holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Illinois and is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer.


Jeremy Arnold


Jeremy Arnold holds his MFA in Dance and Social Justice from the University of Texas at Austin. He received his B.A. from Muhlenberg College in 2012. He is a graduate of the tap program at Jacob's pillow under the direction of Michelle Dorrance and is a former member of the nationally touring Shelley Oliver Tap Dancers. Jeremy was a principal dancer with Tapestry Dance Company from 2014-2017 and has danced and choreographed with Charles O Anderson’s Dance Theatre X since 2013.  From 2015-2020 Jeremy worked as a lecturer on the faculty of the University of Texas Dance Department, teaching courses in rhythm tap, jazz, composition, and music theory. Jeremy tours nationally with Revive Dance Convention and the National Dance Honors. He has served on the faculty of the Soul 2 Sole festival, True Sound Rhythm festival, Riff, Phoenix Tap Fest, Tap Ties, Little Rock Tap Fest, SynCoPate, Dance Olympus, Dance Masters of America, DanZa, and the Cecchetti Council of America. Third Coast Rhythm project, Tap Ties, McLennan College and Tapestry Dance Company have all commissioned his work. Most recently, Jeremy can be seen dancing alongside Karissa Royster in Mood Indigo, a short dance film.

Screen Shot 2019-10-09 at 8.42_edited.jpg

Kelly Bach


Kelly's wellness journey began in college when she started working at Texas State University's Rec Center as a group fitness instructor. While teaching step, cycling, toning, and other classes she fell in love with wellness and fitness. After moving to Austin, Kelly completed her 200 hr vinyasa training at Yoga Yoga and now has over 200 hours of teaching experience. Kelly loves to be outdoors. She also loves to dance, sing, and live her best life every single day while encouraging others to do the same in their own way. You can often find her riding her bike, hula-hooping, or dancing around Austin.  When you come to Kelly's class, you can expect to have fun and to sweat! Kelly loves to teach a challenging class that is accessible to all levels by giving alignment-based instruction and offering many modifications and advancements. Her positivity and excitement are contagious, and her smooth and calming voice will help guide you through your toughest postures to your most relaxed state. Kelly seamlessly intertwines western anatomy, yogic philosophy, pranayama, and meditation to create a holistically nourishing experience.


Olivia Chacón


Olivia Chacón is a flamenco dancer, choreographer, and instructor with a uniquely powerful dance style and dynamic approach to teaching students. Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Olivia has danced flamenco for over seventeen years, and has spent five years studying flamenco and performing in Sevilla and Madrid, Spain with some of the world’s best flamenco artists. She spent two years touring internationally throughout Spain, Mexico, and Cyprus with the Cristóbal Reyes Compañia de Flamenco, and also performed as a soloist in flamenco clubs in Spain and Germany. Olivia aims to keep the dance form alive and well in this country by performing frequently throughout Texas and the region, and teaching flamenco to a new generation of dancers at her studio, Flamencura Music and Dance in Austin. Olivia is also co-founder and Artistic Director of A’lante Flamenco. Born in Austin in 2011, the 11-member company has garnered rave reviews and awards for their innovative ‘flamenco theater’ productions, including the Austin Critics’ Table Award for Best Dancer (Olivia Chacon 2013); and Best Dance Ensemble (2014 and 2015). A’lante Flamenco presents original choreography and music with the goal of connecting with audiences via creative storytelling. Their productions include The Red Shoes: A Flamenco Fairytale (2012); Prophecies (2014), based on the writings of Khalil Gibran; and most recently Desplazados (2015), in which company members told their personal stories of immigration and displacement via music, dance, and video. Olivia is also a dedicated flamenco dance teacher. She has taught flamenco dancers of all ages and levels since 2004, always with a special emphasis on understanding the pivotal role of music in flamenco dance. She has been an adjunct dance instructor at McCallum Fine Arts Academy since 2012, and loves exposing young dancers to the complexity, beauty, and tradition of flamenco. Flamencura students are also encouraged to show off their skills during performances several times per year in order to foment their artistic growth.

Robert_213 (1).jpg

Robert Faires has been active in the Austin arts scene since 1980, having worked on more than 90 productions across the city as an actor, a director, and a playwright. He is also a recovering arts critic, following his recent retirement from The Austin Chronicle after 35 years of covering the performing, visual, and literary arts there. His writing and criticism have been recognized with awards locally and nationally, and in 2019, he was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters.

Robert Faires


Francisco Graciano 


Francisco Graciano is a new dance artist to ATX. From 1999 to 2018 he was a professional dancer in New York where he was a member of several dance companies and projects. He danced with Taylor 2 from 2004 - 2006 and the New York Times hailed him as “a virtuoso star” when he danced in the Paul Taylor Dance Company from 2006 - 2017. In 2020 he was the inaugural choreographer for Dance Lab New York’s Nexus Lab and choreographed remotely for the Drama Desk Award winning Theater in Quarantine: Closet Works. In that same year he established Graciano Dance Projects as an entity to present his own choreography for live and digital theater. His work has been presented in New York City and other venues around the country. He holds an MFA in Dance from Florida State University and continues to work as a dance artist to all levels throughout the country and internationally. He is also a certified GYROKINESIS® Trainer and GYROTONIC® Apprentice Trainer.


Acia Gray


As soloist, choreographer and master teacher, Ms. Gray has toured extensively across the U.S. and abroad and in 1989 co-founded Tapestry Dance Company in Austin, TX with Deirdre Strand and currently serves as Executive/Artistic Director & Artistic Director of The Soul to Sole Tap Festival. A gradualte of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts/NYC, Ms. Gray has shared the stage with numerous legends and contemporaries of American tap dance throughout the US and abroad. She was chosen to work with tap legend Charles ‘Honi’ Coles in America’s first creative residency for tap at The Colorado Dance Festival and again with Jimmy Slyde and was featured in the documentary A Class Act: The Magic of Honi Coles. She was a founding member and Managing Director of the touring company Austin on Tap, served on the Steering Committee of The International Tap Association and was a featured soloist representing the US in the Dance Magazine Calendar. She has also danced, choreographed and taught for Columbia College, The Univerisity of Texas, The Colorado Dance Festival, International Summer School/Cyprus, Dance Masters of America, TASIS/London, Tanzsommer/Austria, The St. Louis Tap Festival, The Chicago Human Rhythm Project, The NYC Tap Festival, Le Festival De Danse Encore and many others. Her book The Souls of Your Feet – A Tap Dance Guide for Rhythm Explorers has been translated in the Czech Republic and China and has been an bestseller in its category. Her numerous awards include the “Hoofer Award” by The New York City Tap Festival and a premiere member of the Austin Arts Fall of Fame. She has received numerous "Best Of" awards by the Critics Table in Austn and her work The Souls of Our Feet - A Celebration of American Tap Dance was chosen as an NEA American Masterpiece production and toured throughout the US, Canada and China. Currently she can be seen in the tap documentary Tap or Die. Ms. Gray served as the President of the International Tap Association from 2008-2014 and is currently the organization's Director.

Sharon Marroquin
IMG_4408 (1)_edited.jpg

Born and raised in Mexico City, Sharon's choreography has been listed numerous times as one of the top ten dance events of the year by the Austin Chronicle, and she is a three-time winner of the Austin Critics Table Award for Outstanding Choreographer. Sharon has created pieces for Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre, Big Range Austin Dance Festival, Forklift Danceworks, Ballet East, Hot September Flurries, Tapestry Dance Company, and many others. Her production, The Materiality of Impermanence, based on her experience with breast cancer, was honored with awards for Best Dance Concert and Best Dancer. In addition to her artistic endeavors, Sharon is a dual language elementary school teacher, and the proud mother and stepmother of two teenage sons.

Sharon Marroquin

headshot 1-_edited.jpg

Zell Miller III is an interdisciplinary theater artist based out Austin, Tx.He is the Artistic Director of ZM3 Productions. Zell is an award winning, playwright/director/actor and Producer. Over a 15 year span, Zell has created work speaks to the condition of black american’s holds a mirror up to the American experience and hopes to destroy negative stereotypes of black americans. He has over 9 full length plays produced, he has traveled as a touring artist with Tapestry Dance, and he has opened for legendary artist like Nikki Giovanni, Laurie Carlos, and The Last Poets. He has been a member of two national slam tours and is a published author. He is most proud of his amazing relationship with his partner over 9 years Ashley Miller, and his two greatest creations Zell Miller, IV and Blaise Marley Miller.

Zell Miller III




Nagavalli grew up in Mumbai, India bringing the rich, soulful music of her home to Austin, Texas where Valli has brought in a variety of artists representing genres such as Latin, American rock and jazz to East-Indian and Middle-Eastern classical and folk into the studio to refine her eclectic sound. 2012 marked Valli’s debut album titled “Eastern Soul” with a release at the historic Cactus Cafe in Austin, Texas. “Eastern Soul” featured the talents of Austin music greats such as Pat Mastelotto, Mitch Watkins, AJ and Omar Vallejo, Roberto Riggio, Richard Bowden and others. That same year, Nagavalli composed the music for a Bollywood-rendition of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” performed by the Austin Shakespeare Company. Nagavalli continued her journey with the release of several singles including “Reach Out,” “How I Love You” and the Joni cover, “That Song About the Midway” with co-producer AJ Vallejo. She also worked with California-based award-winning producer, Ben Leinbach to release two spiritual music (kirtan) singles “Om Shiva” and “Madana Mohana Murari” in 2018. Named one of the Top 10 Female Vocalists and World Music artists at the 2015-2016 Austin Music Awards, Nagavalli has become a staple in Austin music circles, recording and performing with such artists and bands as Oliver Rajamani, Atash, Govinda and Ginger Leigh. She has also performed at some of the most renowned Austin venues such as the Cactus Cafe and One World Theatre and, recently opened for Eliza Gilkyson at Stateside at the Paramount in Austin, also joining Eliza on a song at her CD Release show. Valli is a featured vocalist with the Austin-based jazz/world music band ‘A Is Red’ and has even lended her voice to guided-visualization CDs by hypnotherapist Anita Jung. To round out her Austin collaborations, Valli has also worked with hall-of-fame Indian classical dancer, Anuradha Naimpally. In 2015, Nagavalli toured with Gypsy Sound Revolution (Gypsy Kings alumni) and was a featured artist at Austin’s premium world-music festival, WOBEONFEST. Nagavalli embarks on her next musical journey with her forthcoming album “Immersion”, released in January 2019 with a concert at the One World Theatre in Austin. The album is a back-to-roots journey that was composed as one continuous piece of music. As the title suggests, the album is an immersive, meditative musical experience. While “Immersion” still has Nagavalli’s signature blend of eastern and western instruments, the vocal melodies are East Indian and the lyrics from ancient Sanskrit chants and the writings of such ancient saints as Sant Kabir and Meera Bai. Along with performing concerts with her Eastern Soul band, Nagavalli also tours performing traditional Bhakti and Kirtan music sets including at Prasada Festival (CA) and Beloved Festival (OR) in 2019.

Screen Shot 2020-08-07 at 6.34.19 AM.png

Anu Naimpally


Dancer/Choreographer/Educator/Collaborator. Being raised by art-loving Indian parents in Canada, Anuradha has had the best of many worlds. Her western upbringing along with her traditional training in India and deep-rooted spirituality, make her a unique teacher and performer of Bharata Natyam dance who connects with people from across the globe. She is founder and Artistic Director of Austin Dance India, her organization of nearly 30 years through which she teaches regular classes and presents her work. She has trained numerous dancers from beginner to professional level and continues to mentor students and young artists. She is a 2018 inductee into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame for her significant body of work and a juried artist on the touring roster of the Texas Commission on the Arts. The Austin Area Critics’ Circle has nominated and awarded her Best Dancer and Production numerous times. She has received several awards in India including Sringara Mani and Mayura Natya Tarakai. She is a recipient of the 2020 and 2017 Artistic Innovations Grant from the Mid-America Arts Alliance. The Austin Chronicle included her in their list of Movers and Shakers for her valuable contributions in the dance community. She tours regularly as a soloist or as a collaborator with local and international artists of different genres. Anuradha is passionate about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and is a member of the Global Artists 2030 Network. Her social practice projects include work with refugee teens, South Asian seniors, and social justice, and climate change. Her work with girls’ empowerment through dance was featured in the PBS series, Arts in Context. Anuradha can be seen at various schools, libraries, and museums across the state presenting performances on Indian dance and culture. She is deeply dedicated to arts in education and making art available to all children. Interested in creating and performing works that not only historically preserve artistic traditions, she engages in art as social practice to build community and bring awareness to global issues.


Jun Shen


Jun "Sunny" Shen began his formal dance training during high school, where he learned ballet, Chinese classical opera, and Chinese folk dance. He earned his bachelor's degree in dance at Beijing Capital Normal University in 2001 and worked with Beijing Dance LDTX as a full-time dancer and choreographer from 2005 to 2009. In the past several years, he has performed and choreographed many works at various worldwide dance festivals such as Beijing Dance Festival, Grand Performances (LA), Dance Salad Festival (Houston), Busan International Dance Festival (South Korea), Culture Scapes (Switzerland), Braunschweig Dance Festival (Germany), and many more. He has also collaborated with many artists and dance companies such as Willy Tsao, Janis Claxton, Charles O. Anderson, Hugo Dalton, Yago de Quay, Wang Jianwei, Sally Jacques, as well as Ziru Production, Alonzo-King Lines Ballet Training Program, Ellen Bartel Dance Collection, Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company, and Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre. In addition, Shen has rich teaching experiences both nationally and internationally. In 2013, Shen joined the graduate dance program at The University of Texas at Austin, and earned his MFA in 2016. After his graduation, he formed Shen Jun Movement Effect and started teaching dance at Austin Community College as an assistant professor. In June of 2017, Shen formally joined Blue Lapis Light as a principal dancer and choreographer, and in 2018 was awarded Best Dancer by the Austin Critics Table for his performance in Belonging, Part One. In 2019, Shen’s work Centrifugation was selected to perform at the gala concert of American College Dance Association South Central Regional conference.

china head shoot 2 (1)_edited.jpg

China Smith


China Smith performer, director, teacher, producer, and now, Founding Director of Ballet Afrique and East Austin Performing Raised in East Austin herself, as well as teaching dance for over eight years in East Austin schools and performing arts programs, China found limited opportunities for exposure to African American art, which she felt was crucial to the self-empowerment of her young predominantly African American students. With strong roots in the community, China served as the Director of Performing Arts at Texas Empowerment Academy from 2004 -2011 where she developed curriculum for the performing arts program, advises on hiring, teaches dance for grades 5-9, and has established a youth performing company. Since 2004, she fully produces the dance productions at TEA, serving as director, choreographer, theatre set/tech designer, costume designer, accountant, and advertising/promoter. These productions include Blackout (annually 2005-2008), Out the Box (2011), Message In the Music (201, Where We Come From (2008), Moving in the Blue (2006), Connected (2005), East Austin Revival (2004). Drawn to the stage at an early age, nine-year-old China debuted as a dancer/actor in Porgy and Bess at the Bass Concert Hall. Since then, China has danced in countless productions and events in Austin, including Tapestry Dance Company’s Esprit, Austin Salsa Music Festival, Discover by Roy Lozano’s Ballet Folklorico de Texas, Huston-Tillotson’s Hispanic Heritage Festival, DANCEfest, African American Festival of Dance, and Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance Company’s Celebrando. China danced at the 2008 Black Arts Movement festival in the debut performance of Ballet Afrique to name a few. China’s “street dance” style was developed through her extensive travels throughout the Caribbean studying traditional African derived folk dance. From 1998 – 2005, however, China chooses to focus her studies on traditional dance from Puerto Rico training directly under Bomba and Plena dance Master Modesto Cepeda. China began studying choreography with Kathy Dunn Hamrick in 2001 and has actively been creating dance works ever since. In 2008 with the creation of Ballet Afrique, China made a priority of getting the training that was not accessible to her as a young street dancer. Now training in classical ballet, modern dance, including Horton and Graham Technique, and African dance, China has had the rare opportunity to train with Master dancers/choreographers such as Dudley Williams, Mel Tomlinson, Bruce Wood, Milton Myers and Chuck Davis.