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Artists & Performers

3rd Annual Summer Festival of the Arts

Synergy Dance Collective NY is a project-based contemporary dance/arts collective created as a platform to foster collaborative multidisciplinary works for the concert stage, site-specific locations, outdoor festivals and film. SDC’s core members began creating together in 2016 led by Artistic Director Nancy Brier and have since collaborated on projects with choreographers, composers, cinematographers, filmmakers, designers, sculptors, musicians, writers and other dance artists on works that have been presented in New York City, Long Island and internationally. Upcoming SDC performance: Sunday, June 30 4pm at the DUMBO DANCE Festival. Tickets and info:



Dr. Carl Safina (Event Host/Special Guest Artist/Drums) has played with Paul Winter and various others, including his own band Moment’s Notice. He is mainly known as a nature loving ecologist, author and MacArthur, Pew, Guggenheim and National Science Foundation Fellow writing about the human relationship with the living world. Carl’s work fuses scientific understanding, emotional connection and a moral call to action. He holds the Endowed Chair for Nature and Humanity at Stony Brook University and is founder of the not-for-profit Safina Center.


Two of his books have been named New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Carl’s 2023 book, Alfie and Me: What Owls Know, What Humans Believe, about rewilding a rescued owl, is also a new exploration of the ancient cultural roots of our current relationship with the natural world.  His other books include Song for the Blue Ocean, The View From Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World, A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout, Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel and others. He hosted the 10-part PBS television series Saving the Ocean and he contributes frequently to, National Geographic, The New York Times, Audubon (who named him among its “100 Notable Conservationists of the 20th Century”), The Huffington Post and others. Carl has been profiled in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and on Nightline, and has been featured on National Public Radio, Bill Moyers’ special Earth on Edge and on TV shows ranging from The Martha Stewart Show to The Colbert Report. His most recent TED Talk received a million views in its first month.


More at, and on the usual social platforms.


Tecumseh Ceaser (Special Guest Artist) is an Indigenous artist, Cultural Consultant and Wampum carver. He is of Matinecock Turkey clan, Montaukett and Unkechaug decent. Born and raised in Queens, NY, the homeland of the Matinecock, he works in the traditional medium and practice of Wampum (quahog shell) carving. He frequently collaborates with organizations to bring cultural programming to local tribes and their communities. He currently serves as an advisor for the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus at the United Nations, where he advocates for Indigenous Americans’ rights to member states, NGOs, and other indigenous nations. A big part of his current community work has been working on cultural revitalization, preservation and Long Island Natives' traditional knowledge empowerment. He pulls from both traditional knowledge from Native elders as well as his experience doing advocacy work. He is currently in residence at Flushing Town Hall and the Queens Museum of Art. Tecumseh is based in New York City. To learn more about Tecumseh, visit his website


Nancy Brier (Event Co-Director/Choreographer) is an Arizona born, NY based choreographer, dance educator, filmmaker, Certified Movement Analyst and founder/artistic director of Synergy Dance Collective NY. Her concert and site-specific works have been performed in NYC (Duke on 42nd, Dixon Place, St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, Performance Space NY, Queens Theater and more), France, Czech Republic, Italy, on MetroArts Thirteen and MetroStories TV networks and in showcases and outdoor dance festivals throughout the NYC metro area. Her dance films have been Official Selections and screened in Amsterdam, Berlin, L.A., London, NYC, Paris and Vienna festivals.


Formerly, Nancy danced in the NYC based modern, contemporary modern and dance-theatre companies of Frank Ashley (Graham/Eleo Pomare), Lenore Latimer (Limón) and Barbara Jo Fleming’s Commotion Dance Collaborative among others. She received her BFA in Dance from Arizona State University, MA from New York University and CMA (Certified Movement Analyst) from Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies, NYC. In the midst of 18 teaching/choreographing tours of France, the French Ministry of Culture and La Federation Française de Danse awarded her an honorary terminal degree for teachers, Professeur Agrégé, recognizing her as one of the notable dance educators responsible for bringing contemporary American dance to France.


Recent NYSCA grants awarded: 2022 NYS Choreographers’ Initiative Grant; 2022 Individual Artist Restart NY Regrant; 2024 Statewide Community Regrant. Nancy is currently a Senior Adjunct Professor of Dance at LIU Post and Nassau Community College and has taught on the faculties of Adelphi University, SUNY-Old Westbury, C.R.E.P.S. (Montpellier, France), Long Island High School for the Arts, on the assistant faculty of Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies (NYC) and toured France 18 times conducting contemporary modern and jazz residencies, intensives and master classes.  @nancybrierdance


Steven Finkelstein (Event Co-Director/Speaker/Percussion) has served as Synergy Dance Collective NY’s Musical Director since 2021, when he composed and recorded music for Nancy Brier’s dance film Mother Earth Sings. In 2023, he received a NYSCA Statewide Community Regrant to produce and co-direct the 2nd Annual Summer Celebration of the Arts at Cedarmere Estate.  


With over 30 album credits and over three decades of performances, Steve has played percussion for Mariah Carey, Ray Charles, Dave Valentine, Mary Wilson, Donna Summer, Selena, Carter Burwell, Celine Dion, Mary Wilson, Randy Brecker, Jonathan Butler, Joyce Simms, Felicia Collins and others. He is a founding member of Funk Filharmonik and Transmorpheous. Currently Steve gigs with Circus Mind and plays the tri-state area with The Joni Project at venues including The Iridium, City Winery, The Town Crier, Cohoes Music Hall, Daryl’s House, The Patchogue Theater and The Great South Bay Music Festival, and has played in other NYC venues such as The Blue Note, Lincoln Center Outdoors and The Bitter End, as well as Blues Alley in D.C., Club Paradiso in Amsterdam and The Hammersmith Odeon in London. 


Steve studied drumming at Legon University in Ghana, and in Senegal, west Africa. In 1999 he was voted Best Percussionist on Long Island by the Long Island Voice. He has a B.S. in Forest Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse and a M.S. in Environmental Education and Interpretation from George Williams College. He volunteers for The Coltrane Home and serves on the Advisory Board of The Friends of Hempstead Plains Preserve. With decades of experience as a high school and college environmental science teacher, National Park Ranger, resident naturalist, environmental Arts-in-Education consultant and lead teacher at Usdan Camp for the Arts, Steve especially enjoys combining the arts and science through nature study and sharing that passion with people of all ages and backgrounds.


Douglas Baldwin (Event Musical Director/Guitar) is a lifelong professional guitarist, arranger and instructor. He has worked with countless legendary R’n’B artists including the Coasters, the Drifters, the Crystals, and the Flamingos. Advanced studies include Robert Fripp’s Guitar Craft seminars and private study with John Scofield. He founded Coyote Music, a thriving private instruction studio in Setauket NY, in 1993, and has published numerous books on guitar, most notably Comprehensive Chord Theory for Guitar (Hal Leonard, 2013). Other passions include fractal art, AI technology and nature.



John Cino (Sculptural Set) is an artist, art educator, curator of LI Museum of Contemporary Art and co-founder of the Patchogue Arts Council. He has had multiple residencies, received grants for site specific works/interdisciplinary projects and exhibited his works in numerous galleries and sculpture parks.


Marvin Floyd (Teen Music Composition Outreach) began playing organ at the age of 6, played in a band by age 12 and was writing and composing music not long thereafter. After working for I.M.G. Records, he founded Nivram Productions, an entertainment production and recording studio in Glen Cove. Producing at his own studio allowed Marvin to further develop his musical skills along with performing with musical legends like the O’Jays, Lou Rawls, Freddie Scott and Aretha Franklin. In 2003, he won the CD 101.9 New Artist Showcase.


Marvin performed with hip-hop princess Ashanti for many years as her Musical Director and was recently presented the Millennium Tour 2021 Award of Excellence as her Musical Director touring 32 cities which featured her and dozens of today’s hottest artists. In 2022, he received recognition for his work on the album DaBaby featuring The Baby, Megan Thee Stallion and Ashanti. That same year he opened the new Nivram Production Studio in downtown Glen Cove and started an Earth, Wind & Fire tribute band called Devotion.


Keeping the company of legends like his uncle/world famous trumpeter Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau and Michael Jackson has profoundly influenced Marvin’s style of playing. More than anything, he has always welcomed the opportunity to perform locally and share his gift of loving music with his hometown of Glen Cove.


Brooke Gardner (Guest Artist) is a NY based actor who studied Acting for Film, TV, Voiceovers and Commercials at Pace University. Some of her most notable credits include Ohio State Murders (Broadway), Soul Santa (BET +) and Sour Honey (Short Film, Post-Prod).


Phoenix Gould (Dance Artist) is enthralled to be making their NY dance debut with Synergy Dance Collective NY! They are currently enrolled in the BFA Musical Theatre program at LIU Post and are making their off-Broadway debut this spring in the original musical, My True Love: A Perfect Musical Fairytale! @phoenix.gould.r


Brandon Guzman (Dance Artist) was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri and received his BFA in Musical Theatre from The Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance. He attended Ballet Hispánico’s Pa’lante Scholars Professional Training Program, danced with NYC’s Ballet Hispánico Dos and is now thrilled to be performing with Synergy Dance Collective NY! @justbrandonguzman


Lauren Hiraldo (Dance Artist) is a dancer/choreographer who trained under and performed in works by Michael Leon Thomas, Soraya Lundy, Joshua Kholberg and danced in Martha Graham’s "Panorama" staged by Susan Kikuchi. Lauren received the Dolores Maickel Bardolf Award for Excellence in Choreography and her BFA in Dance from LIU Post in 2019. Since then, Lauren has performed with Nancy Brier in dance films, on the concert stage and in outdoor festivals. @lauren.hiraldo


Arta Jēkabsone (Composer/Voice/Violin) is a NYC-based Latvian vocalist, composer and arranger. Arta has won the prestigious Montreux Shure Jazz Voice Competition and has finished in the top three in multiple internationally renowned competitions, including the Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Voice Competition 2021. Infused with the folk melodies of Latvia, her compositions brim with intimacy and warmth. Recently, she received the highest form of state recognition in the field of the Latvian Music Award “New Artist of the Year 2022”. ASCAP Foundation recently recognized her with an honorable mention in the 2024 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards.


Katie Kennedy (Dance Artist) was raised on Long Island and received her BFA in Dance Studies from LIU Post. In September, she moved to Boston to join Boston Dance Theater’s Trainee program, where she has had the honor to learn works by Yue Yin, Levi Marsman and Rena Butler. Katie is so excited to be dancing with Nancy Brier and Synergy Dance Collective NY at Cedarmere again this year!


Noriko Mendez (Keyboards) is a Japanese born, NY based keyboardist, composer and arranger currently playing with various jazz, Latin, Big Band groups and collaborations on dance projects. Recordings include JaiNori, Jason Abraham, Las Oceanas (Japan) and others. @sweetfishmusic


Edgar “Bass Monk” Paterson Mills (Composer/Bass/Solar Powered Sound System)

played piano, trumpet and bari-sax before being smitten with the electric bass. He has been involved in the NYC band and studio scene for decades, initially as a Linn Drum programmer, then as an upright and electric bass player. He composed/produced/performed his New Age album, Buddha on Mars, and his latest work, Dream Yoga, premiered this year. Edgar’s platinum CD credits include Marcy Playground. He has also worked with the John and Alice Coltrane Home in Dix Hills and hosts the YouTube channel Bass Monk. This project marks his 6th creative collaboration with Nancy Brier. Edgar practices Tibetan Buddhism and lives a richly creative life as a mixer engineer, producer, photographer, composer and cinematographer.


Melissa Norman (Dance Artist) received her BFA in Dance from LIU Post, where she trained extensively in Modern, Ballet and Jazz and danced in works by Martha Graham, Michael Leon Thomas and others at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. She has performed in NYC theaters including Dixon Place, Triskelion and Symphony Space. Melissa has danced with Nancy Brier since 2016 and hopes to share her passion for dance with audiences internationally.


Alan Semerdjian (Teen Poetry/Spoken Word Outreach) is an Armenian-American writer, musician and educator. Recent recognitions include two Pushcart Prize nominations, a Frontier New Poets Award, poems in Poetry International, The Brooklyn Rail, Fence, Hanging Loose and Mizna (forthcoming) and a tweet from Kim Kardashian that made his 2020 spoken word album The Serpent and The Crane (with guitarist/composer Aram Bajakian) viral for a day. Alan has been teaching English in public schools for over 25 years, winning awards for his commitment to education while recording, releasing and touring in support of several critically-acclaimed collections of music across a range of genres. He is on the advisory board for the International Armenian Literary Alliance, through which he founded and directs the Young Armenian Poets Awards.


Premik Russell Tubbs (Woodwinds) is a composer, arranger, producer and accomplished multi-instrumentalist who has worked with Ravi Shankar, Carlos Santana, Whitney Houston, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, Narada Michael Walden, James Taylor, Sting, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, Regina Belle, Lonnie Liston-Smith, Jermaine Stewart and many others. Premik has played on major tours of India, Bangladesh and throughout Continental Europe.


Summer Warwick (Dance Artist/Rehearsal Assistant Director/Costume Designer) is a multi-talented artist from the Bronx who has performed dance works throughout NYC and the east coast. As "Summer Reign" in the NYC nightlife/burlesque scene, she dances in venues like The Slipper Room, House of Yes, The Red Pavilion, etc. Summer has worked with Nancy Brier—now  Synergy Dance Collective NY—on the concert stage, in site-specific performances, outdoor festivals and dance films since 2016. She extends her gratitude beyond SDC to her beautiful community of artists including, but not limited to, Subtle Asian Polers and the new House of KQ.


Tracy Arnold Warzer (Senior Citizen Spoken Word/Poetry Advisor), LCAT, is a NYS Licensed Art Therapist and Director of Community Programs at The Harborside, a Senior Life Plan community in Port Washington where she has developed creative aging programs. Recently appointed as Senior Citizens Program Development Specialist by the Village of Sea Cliff, she works to help seniors utilize resources that enhance their quality of life and deepen their connections to community engagement. She is a mixed media artist who combines printing, drawing and painting techniques with found objects, and is an adjunct faculty member in the graduate Clinical Art Therapy & Counseling program at Long Island University Post.

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