The Belonging Resident Company


The Belonging Resident Company (BRC) is an exciting new dance/theater troupe hosted by the Othering and Belonging Institute, whose purpose is to amplify and celebrate the Institute's frameworks through movement, poetry, spoken word, and playback theater. Directed by Sarah Crowell with Sangita Kumar and Julia McKeown, this year’s inaugural group is a colorful garden of folks ages 19 - 60. They are UC Berkeley students, dancers, folks who thought they were retired dancers, filmmakers, theater directors, professors, nonprofit leaders, writers, somatic healers, therapists, authors, musicians, and poets. They are youth development workers, diversity, equity and inclusion trainers, dreamers and weavers of belonging in all aspects of their lives. This group of passionate storytellers and changemakers is honored to be making their debut at the Othering and Belonging conference 2024.

Company Leaders

  • Sarah Crowell (she/her) is an unapologetically Black, biracial, lesbian/queer dancer/choreographer and artistic collaborator. Her work in the world is to bring mindfulness and movement into movements for social justice and racial healing. Sarah was a leader at Oakland’s Destiny Arts Center for 30 years and now does consulting work with the Othering and Belonging Institute, Dance Mission Theater, the Embodiment Project, and other organizations dedicated to healing, justice and joy. She appreciates working with the Belonging Resident Company because she can feel each member's commitment to co-creating a community that centers belonging without othering through movement, theater, collaboration, experimentation and play.
  • Sangita Kumar (she/her) is a result based organizational development consultant and somatic coach. She is the founder of Be The Change Consulting, A human centered, consulting firm, supporting organizations, and movements to bring liberatory practices into their work. She is the mama of an incredible 13-year-old and four chickens.
  • Julia McKeown (they/them) is the Othering and Belonging Institute's Campus Bridging Project Specialist. They graduated from UC Berkeley’s Folklore Program with a Masters degree in May 2022 and are excited to have the opportunity to deepen their work with OBI by supporting other student bridging initiatives on UC Berkeley’s campus and beyond. Julia has experience with story collecting, telling, and facilitating through their academic background, peace corps experience, and life as a poet. They believe that one of the best ways to communicate across differences is through metaphor and most enjoy these communications when they are spoken around a table or across a warm cup of tea. Being a part of and in community with the wonderfully vibrant community of artists that makes up the Belonging Residence Company has been such a joy and allowed them to get weird and creative in ways they never imagined.

Company members

  • Adisa Stewart (he/him), hailing from Trinidad & Tobago, is a performing artist, trauma-informed Somatic Coach, and Community Mental Health practitioner committed to fostering embodied transformation and belonging. With a background in Body-Oriented Counseling Psychology and Community Organizing, his work intersects healing justice, personal and social change, and performance arts. As a proud member of the Belonging Resident Company, he finds joy in collaborating with fellow creatives and crafting immersive experiences of belonging to nurture the development of embodied leadership.
  • Ali Montgomery (she/they) is a half Texan and half Panamanian artist, creatrix, facilitator, Witch and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her work is rooted in somatic movement, artistic expression, spirituality and Soul Liberation. Ali is a contract facilitator working with individuals and organizations addressing the impact of Othering within dominant culture to create Belonging and systemic change. She loves working with the Belonging Resident Company because of the belonging and liberation generated together and within each of our bodies and hearing how we are able to ripple our own transformation out into the world body and soul. 
  • Ava Tung (they/them) is an expansively queer multimedia artist and undergraduate student nestled within Chinese and German lineages of love and survival. Practicing home on xučyun (Huichin) Ohlone land and learning from communities within and outside the institution of U.C. Berkeley, Ava seeks to understand the woven relations between their positionality and the collective creation of liberatory futures through spiritually-embodied healing arts. They’re touched by the chance within the oceanic container called Belonging Resident Company to share in the experiencing of depthful story-telling and creative community-building!
  • Chelsea Gregory (mama, auntie, daughter, granddaughter) is a dance theater artist, cultural organizer, educator, and healing justice practitioner. For over two decades now she has worked at the intersections of arts and social change, supporting cultural shift and movement building through embodied practices like somatics, applied theater, restorative process, popular education, performance, and choreography. She teaches in the department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley, weaving the Othering & Belonging Institute’s frameworks into her courses as well as into her consulting work across sectors. She is deeply honored to be working with the Belonging Resident Company, creating alongside some of the most brilliant and inspiring humans she has ever met.
  • Cheryl Yang (she/her) is an international, Chinese dance artist, CogSci ‘scientist’ and a first generation college student at UCB. Through her interdisciplinary study in dance, cognitive science, and technology, she seeks to foster understanding between different cultures and promote inclusion. As a member of the Belonging Resident Company, Cheryl finds joy in collaborating with like-minded individuals who are committed to cultivating a space where all people feel empowered to belong. When she's not in the studio or library, Cheryl enjoys meditating (art therapy!), hiking in nature, and learning about other people's life experiences. She is grateful for the opportunity to combine her passions for the arts, sciences, and social justice through her involvement with the Belonging Resident Company and the Othering and Belonging Institute.
  • Eden Mussie (she/her) is a lover of all things the body and movement. A third culture kid from the Midwest rooted by Eritrea now calling Oakland home. She is lit up by her work in the world of witnessing humans in transformation. She enjoys working with Belonging Resident Company because it’s a space for her to just be, play, and connect with truly welcoming humans. 
  • Florence Yuen (she/her). As someone who works in the mental health field, Florence wishes for health and well-being for those in our communities. She loves movement/somatic practices such as dance and yoga, as tools that help us process emotions and make sense of our human experiences. I appreciate that at OBI’s Belonging Resident Company, we hold space for each other, to connect and exchange wisdom through dance/theater. Together we imagine and shape a more peaceful, harmonious world. 
  • Jessa Brie Moreno (she/her) is the author of Do Your Lessons Love Your Students? Creative Education for Social Change (Routledge 2024) and as Co-Founder of Studio Pathways wrote Targeted Universalism curriculum for the Othering and Belonging Institute. She is a third generation activist, fourth generation artist and as a sixth generation settler colonist to California is committed to rematriation, reconciliation and repair. Jessa is a grateful performer and ensemble member, theater director, educational leader, cultural strategist and mama to two daughters.  
  • Jessie Austin (she/her) is a multidisciplinary queer performing artist and mother.  She performs across the Bay Area as a dancer and singer.  She also runs an art based afterschool program for girls in San Francisco.  She believes that a strong sense of belonging is the root of happiness, and is thrilled to fuse her passion for the performing arts with community belonging.
  • Kels Suedmeyer (they/she) is a dancer, artist, and coach who is of Philippine heritage and grew up in the Bay Area. Passionate about healing and personal growth, Kels' work in the world involves supporting people in coming home to themselves. Spiritual and self-reflection practices include dreamwork, tarot, astrology, plant wisdom, somatic inquiry, and creating art! Kels is a stand for decolonization, anti-racism, inclusivity, creativity, liberation--which is why participating in community with Belonging Resident Company has been such a blessing.
  • kiara brown megia (they/them) is a queer multimodal creative healing artist with black, filipino and european ancestry. their work is a practice of weaving, dancing and feeling at the intersections of ecology, embodiment, ritual and learning the art of composting what gets in the way of our getting free. pollinator of possibilities, casting seeds of imagination, storytelling, and play. they are a bodyworker, student, and movement artist with OBI. they appreciate co-creating spaces to move and feel our way through belonging together with the Belonging Resident Company community. 
  • Lorenzo Jones (he/him), who when he saw the posting to audition for the Belonging Resident Company,  manifesting  an opportunity to bring all of passions together under one umbrella was a dream come true. His work in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging for an organization that builds, manages and owns affordable housing is in alignment with the mission of the Othering and Belonging Institute. As a passionate lover of music, theater, dance and spoken word, sharing this experience with other beautiful beings, feeds his soul!
  • Margot Biehle (she/her) is a mother, an advocate for people and planet, a public servant and an apprentice to reinvention. She is invested in animating life’s complexities through music, performance, and activism. Margot loves collaborating and learning with the Belonging Resident Company as we intentionally and playfully embody healing, belonging and wild joy.
  • Melissa Hudson Bell (she/her) is a dance nerd - she likes to create, and watch, and teach, and learn, and talk, and read, and dream about dance. She has an MFA in Experimental Choreography and a PhD in Critical Dance Studies, and has written about dance for numerous publications. When not engaged in dance things, she runs an Oakland-based media production company with her husband, and channels all her creative and logistic might into mothering her three vibrant, amazing kids. When she needs restoration, she heads to the ocean.
  • Natalie Sumitra (she/her) is a curious soul who advocates for the connections made possible through the arts. She is creative and expressive in her independent work as a musician and an artist. She seeks spaces that value the connection of our universal feelings and humanness; Especially seeking the work of the Belonging Resident Company, as it unites her love for art and love for humanity into a project for social change. She is a Thai American born far from her roots, and hopes to bridge the relationships of her identities while continuing intentional work in her communities along the way as an Visual Ethnographic Anthropologist, after she is to graduate in year 2025 form UC Berkeley.
  • Ruchita Verma (she/her) is an emerging artist from California’s Bay Area region and is a freshman at UC Berkeley majoring in psychology, legal studies, and minoring in dance. She started dancing when she was 5 years old and has trained in ballet, modern, jazz, contemporary, and hip-hop. She is an alumni of Ali Koinoglou’s Koin & Co training program based in NYC, is a part of Cat Cogliandro’s CATASTROPHE! Dance Company, and serves as the Youth Director of The Dance Safe, an organization cultivating safety, education, and inclusivity in dance spaces. She's passionate about mental health advocacy, social justice, and hopes to help people know their worth through artistry. Through training under various professional artists across the globe, Ruchita aspires to use dance as a medium for connection, healing, and change. She loves building community with Belonging Resident Company and is excited to share the love on stage! 
  • Susie Lundy (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist using dance, digital collage, and artistic curation to navigate through all of life's ebbs and flows. She holds a doctorate in Culture and Performance from the World Arts and Cultures Department at UCLA and is the founder of Tiratana Consulting, working with organizations to support them to align their practices with the needs of their communities. Being part of Belonging Resident Company supports her desire to nurture connection and belonging in community. 
  • Tiago Bernardo (he/him) is a Portuguese queer curator who loves everything to do with art and history. Having lived in 8 different countries, he has deeply engaged with and immersed himself in different artistic communities around the world, each time finding and shaping what belonging means to him. Currently based in Oakland (and loving it!),Tiago is exploring new creative interests, such as ceramics, while returning to his long standing passion for physical theater at the Belonging Resident Company.
  • Yvette/Evee Flores (she/they) is a latinx dancer/mover/instructor who has been living in the Bay for 2.5 years. Evee teaches/instructs social dance, dance fitness, strength, cardio and pilates throughout the East Bay. They are currently in practice of exploring the spectrum from joy - grief in their ‘artivist’ lens and within their life. Evee is overjoyed to have found the Belonging Resident Company at a time in her life where she deeply desired to be with others exploring the theories of belonging without othering through movement/dance and creative processes. 
  • Zoë Barley (she/her) is a mover of all kinds - she loves spending time outside, reading, running, and (obviously) dancing! She works at The Crucible, a non-profit industrial arts facility in West Oakland and as a nanny for two delightful kiddos in San Francisco. She hopes to one day become a somatic therapist working with queer youth to help facilitate positive body mind relationships. Belonging Resident Company has provided Zoë with a delightful community of movers and shakers to share her time with, she continually finds herself in awe of the vulnerability, wisdom and wonder this group of dancers carries with them always. 

Guest Choreagrapher

  • Samara Atkins is an Oakland native and has been dancing, performing, and teaching hip-hop since 1999. Her mission is to utilize dance as a somatic tool for celebrating, addressing, coping, connecting, and healing within our lived experiences. She's been technically trained in hip-hop, ballet, and jazz, while her focus over the last decade has predominantly been urban street styles and social dancing. Samara has been director, choreographer, and dancer of Howard University's Vizion Performance Team while attending, Mix'd Ingrdnts, and dancer within the New Style Motherlode family and Carla Service's Dance-A-Vision. She's also back-up danced for Nile Rodgers & Chic at the Fold Festival in New York.

Special Guest Performers

  • Xinmei Lundy (she/her) Xinmei is a Taurus with a Scorpio moon and Virgo rising. She is a kid, a dancer, an artist, a helper, a musician, a gymnast, a writer, a lover, and a dreamer. She is kind and loved by a big family. Ximmei loves being a guest artist in the Belonging Resident Company because it’s fun to dance with everyone and do lifts.
  • Amikaeyla Gaston, proclaimed as one of the “purest contemporary voices...” by National Public Radio, powerhouse Amikaeyla Proudfoot Gaston embraces the best of many types of music. Her sultry sound, as described by MTV, is “like listening to a velvet waterfall”, and her soulful, roots jazz flavor captures the listener with dynamic passion & enchanting sincerity. She began her training at 4yrs of age, studying classical piano and quickly added to her repertoire training on the viola, western & Indian flute, dulcimer, harp, and later, on a multitude of percussion instruments from around the world such as djembe, bata, conga, tabla, taiko, & timbale.
Belonging Dance Company