Faculty: Second Session

2018 Faculty coming soon!



Jason Davis

Jason Davis, Ballet

Jason Davis joined the San Francisco Ballet School in 1992 and the company one year later. For eleven seasons, Jason danced with the San Francisco Ballet, where he performed classic ballets and originated choreography by Mark Morris, Stanton Welch, Yuri Possokov, James Kudelka, William Forsythe, and Helgi Tomasson, among others. Jason has been teaching ballet for over 15 years and is a licensed teacher by the state of Oregon. Currently, he teaches at Arts and Communication Magnet Academy in Beaverton and is the Ballet Master for Dance West, ACMA’s pre-professional youth company. He also serves on the faculty for the Northwest Dance Project and is the principal at The Portland Ballet. In the summers, Jason directs the dance program at YMA and teaches on faculties throughout the western US. Choreographing for Vancouver Dance Theatre, Jason has directed full length productions of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake Act 3, and Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra. He has also re-staged and choreographed numerous pieces for The Portland Ballet and Dance West. He and his wife, Michelle, have three young children.

Karida Griffith, performance dance

Karida Griffith is from Portland, Oregon! Her stage credits include: Radio City Rockettes, Cirque du Soleil’s Banana Shpeel, the European tour of Black and Blue, New York City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival, Sinatra, Spoleto Festival USA, CTFD Gala, CREATIONS, the New York City Tap Festival, and many performances at Jacob’s Pillow. On television, Karida danced on multiple episodes of HBO’s hit series Boardwalk Empire, the Tony Awards with Hugh Jackman, and The Today Show.

Karida is currently a member of Dorrance Dance, the critically acclaimed tap dance company that is currently touring North America. She has also been a member of the Cotton Club Sophisticated Ladies, Barbara Duffy & Co, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Children’s Theatre Company. Reviews have characterized Karida as “a radiant soloist”, “enchanting”, “a stand-out”, “whose generous performance was utterly entertaining”.

Karida loves teaching students of all ages! She has been on the Tap Faculty at Broadway Dance Center in New York City, a faculty member of the New York and DC Tap Dance Festivals, and a professor in the BFA Commercial Dance program at Pace University. And most importantly, Karida was a YMA camper, CIT and Counselor!

Damon Kupper

Sekou Soumah (Derrell walker), african dance

Derrell Sekou Soumah Walker is a talented dancer and drummer from Portland, Oregon. Sekou made his professional dance debut in 1998, when he began performing and touring with the acclaimed Northwest Afrikan American Ballet. The NWAAB was a very important stepping stone in his early dance career, taking him to venues as far away as Edinburgh, Scotland, where the ballet headlined for the Fringe Festival in 1999. He worked as a dancer for the company from 1998 until the dissolving of the company in 2001.

In the year 2000, Sekou began apprenticing with several of Guinea’s best drummers and dancers: Alseny Soumah, Mouminatou Camara, Youssouf Koumbassa, Mamady Keita and Moustapha Bangoura, dancers of Les Ballets Africans, Guinea’s premier ballet ensemble. Studying under these master artists, Sekou developed both skill and a deep respect for the music and culture of Guinea West Africa. In the same year, he was made an honorary member of the Soumah family and given the name Sekou by his elders in a naming ceremony in Oakland, CA.  In 2005, Sekou joined a small group of elite percussionists by becoming an accredited professor for the Tam Tam Mandingue School of Djembe Percussion, founded by Mamady Keita. In 2008 he earned his TTM diploma which is the highest level one can obtain in the organization. Since 2000, Sekou has continued to study and tour with these master teachers and many others, in the United States, Belgium, France and Africa. Sekou has performed with some of the greatest artists to ever come out of Guinea, the internationally acclaimed Les Merveilles D’Afrique, Balandougou Kan, and Les Ballets Africans. Sekou has also performed with FaraFina Kan (the Sound of Africa), the acclaimed percussion troupe, based out of Washington DC, and has taught several dance workshops throughout the United States. In Sekou’s hometown of Portland, OR, he has continued to teach drum and dance classes to the community, after school programs, and art camps for organizations such as: Portland Parks & Recreation, Sun Schools, Ethos Music Corp, Caldera and YMA. Sekou also serves as choreographer and lead percussionist for the Kukatonon Dance Troupe and his performance troupe Sébé Kan.


Theatre & Musical Theatre

Nicole Accuardi, Instructor

Nicole Accuardi is an actor and theatre educator in Portland, Oregon. Locally, she has performed with various companies including Theatre Vertigo, The Miracle Theatre, Shaking the Tree, Clackamas Rep, and Lakewood Theatre. Internationally, she has performed and taught improvisational theatre at Impro Amsterdam and Cambridge University, and she is currently working as a founder to open an improv and devised theatre company called Deep End Theater in Portland. She graduated from the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts before finishing her BFA in acting at Point Park University. She then went on to get her MAT from Concordia University, and is currently the full time drama teacher at da Vinci Arts Middle School. Most importantly, she was a CIT and camp counselor at YMA for seven glorious summers. She is thrilled to return to one of her favorite places on earth!

stephen alexander, Musical theatre program co-director

Stephen Alexander joined the YMA family in 2011 in Musical Theatre. He has made a 20+ year career as a Director, Music Director, Composer, and lots of other things. The former Artistic Director of Grandstreet Theatre in Helena, MT, Steve's awards include 4 Drammy Awards (Directing, Music Directing & Conducting), a PAMTA (“Best Original Song”), Lakewood’s OTAS award (Music Directing), and the Leslie O. Fulton Fellowship in Composition. In addition to professional theatre, Stephen spends much of his time working with educational theatre – public and private schools – throughout the Portland area.


LORRAINE BAHR, instructor

Lorraine Bahr began teaching in Theatre and Film in 2000, specializing in Acting. She has previously served as Associate Artistic Director of the Sowelu Theater, and was a member of its resident acting company, and she has performed locally at Artists Repertory, Theatre Vertigo, and Stark Raving Theatre in numerous productions including The Treatment, The Swan, The Adding Machine, Lion in the Streets, and The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Her playwriting credits include A Life Alone (a Drammy Award nominee), Bottomless, Count Time Count Time, and This Train. Bahr was awarded the Kernodle Playwriting Award for The Great Escape of Charlie Stone. Her directing credits include Fen, The Choice, Rumi and Malaria for various Portland theaters. In addition to performing, writing, and directing, Bahr has taught Playwriting Residencies for Literary Arts, Inc., Writers in Schools, and in two Oregon State Prisons through Sowelu's Inmate Outreach Program, which she created and administered. Her performance work has earned her two Drammy Awards. She holds an MFA in Acting from U. of Wisconsin, Madison.

steve boss, instructor

Steve has been faculty for the Shakespeare component at YMA since 2009.  In association with the San Francisco Maritime National Park, Steve is a senior staff educator for The Age of Sail.  He is an award winning actor, a director, and a musician.  In his time, Steve has played many parts including productions with We Players, Campo Santo, Shakespeare & Company, Shakespeare by the Sea, Portland Playhouse, Oregon Children’s Theater, Stark Raving Theater, CoHo Productions, Sowelu Theater, and Defunkt Theater. He was part of Kristy Edmunds’ performance/installation “Over There” and has done crisis training role-playing for The Department of Corrections at the Oregon State Penitentiary. Steve has worked with The Well Arts Institute Elder Writing Program as a scribe and actor, and with The Haven Project putting artists one-on-one with kids as a mentor, actor, composer, musician, director and stage manager.  He was a founding member of the Resident Acting Company for Stark Raving Theatre, anddeveloped his love for Shakespeare as an actor, the Actor Training Programs Manager and an Education Artist for Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA.

Alyssa gibson, Musical theatre program co-director

A Portland native, Alyssa recently moved back to Portland after pursuing a musical theater career in New York City where she had been lucky enough to enjoy performing opera, musical theater and dance. She is incredibly excited to be back teaching and performing in her native state!

She currently teaches piano and voice both in her own private studio and with Hoffman Academy of Music in Portland.  She has been honored to have been able to music direct and choreograph a variety of local performance, including, Sweeney Todd (Gallery Players Theater, McMinnville) and Singing in the Rain (Mask and Mirror, Tigard).

When not teaching or performing, Alyssa likes to spend her time with her two beautiful children, Elena & Jackson, and her husband, Cameron.


damon kupper, theatre program director

Damon is a proud to be a part of the dynamic YMA family. He is also a Third Rail Repertory company member and has appeared in many of their productions over the years. Locally, Damon has also acted with Artist Repertory Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Corrib Theatre, Profile Theatre and the Well Arts Institute. Beyond Portland, his credits include shows the Texas Shakespeare Festival, the Buffalo Shakespeare Festival and the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts. Damon has a MFA from UC Irvine and a BA from SUNY Bufallo. As well as Young Musicians & Artists, Damon has also worked as an instructor for various educational theatre programs both domestically and abroad, through: Oregon Children’s Theatre, Stop-Gap (drama therapy) Theatre, Vietnam American Theatre Exchange and many others.


Technical Theatre


TED GOLD, Technical theatre director

Bio coming soon!


Visual Arts


Rachel Lee-Carman, VISUAL ARTS Director

Pens, brushes, a bucket of wheat paste, lace, twine, and a typewriter, typically find their way into my creating space. I like combining the messy with the precise and mingle mediums to give my ideas in greater dimension. In my art, I focus on an idea, and allow it to take form in whatever medium it feels. With a background in self-publishing, illustration, comics, and writing my ideas often form into limited-circulation books called “zines.” In learning spaces, I offer students the tools they need to tell their own stories. It's a priority to establish an inspired, considerate, and comfortable environment. My curriculum is tailored around student interest. I act as a guide as we dive into a variety of concepts and skills while honoring the creative process. I have been a teaching artist for six-years through The Nature of Words, Caldera, Young Musicians and Artists, Young Audiences, as well as pop-up workshops.


Digital Photography


mark Fitzgerald, digital photography program director

Mark Fitzgerald is an award-winning photographer, teacher, and author based in Portland, Oregon. Mark specializes in helping photographers - from seasoned professionals to beginners – understand their creative processes and how to use modern tools to get the most from their photos.

Mark teaches at Newspace Center for Photography and has taught at Mt. Hood Community College and Art Institute of Portland. Mark also teaches workshops throughout the Northwest and provides private training for a wide range of photographers both in-person and online.

Mark is a Master Craftsman Photographer, certified by the Professional Photographers of America. He is also Past President of Portland Metropolitan Photographers Association and the Oregon Professional Photographers Association.

Mark’s photography has won numerous awards and has been featured in publications and gallery shows. Mark has written six books for Wiley Publishing, including his latest, Zen of Postproduction. You can learn more about Mark at www.ddroom.com.




Creative Writing

Joanna rose, creative writing program director

Joanna Rose is the author of the award-winning novel Little Miss Strange (Algonquin Books). Her essay Paisley Afternoon is in the anthology Citadel of the Spirit (Nestucca Spit Press), a celebration of Oregon’s statehood edited by Lincoln City teacher Matt Love. Other work has appeared in ZYZZYVA, Story Magazine, Artisan Journal, Northern Lights, Oregon Humanities, and the anthology The Night and The Rain and The River (Forest Avenue press). Her poetry has appeared in Windfall,  Bellingham Review, Cloudbank, Clackamas Literary Review, and the on-line journals 2Grlz Review, Marco Polo Arts, and  Four and Twenty.

She is known to readers of the Oregonian as a regular reviewer on the books page and contributor to Poet’s Corner. She and her teaching partner Stevan Allred host the regular Pinewood Table prose critique group, and she has taught adults and youth in the Portland area for many years in such venues as Portland State University’s Haystack Program in Cannon Beach, Lewis & Clark’s summer writing program Writer to Writer, Literary Arts’ Writers in the Schools, and Community of Writers/Wordstock.




dana libonati, songwriting program director

Bio coming soon!




ralph huntley, accompanist

Ralph Huntley (pianist, accordionist, and composer) is a 25+ year veteran of the music and theater scene in Portland, OR. He is a founding member and music director of the nationally syndicated, locally produced public radio show Live Wire. He has performed and/or recorded with Bill Frisell, Alejandro Escovedo, Peter Buck, Scott McCoughey, Willy Vlautin,  Richmond Fontaine, Fernando Viciconte, and award-winning animator Chel White. He has composed music for and performed with NPR’s Marketplace, DoJump Theater (with whom he recently performed in New York on Broadway and in Washington D.C. at the  Kennedy Center with his Klezmer-fusion band Klezmocracy), Powell’s Books, the Oregon Lottery, and Artist Repertory Theater. He has accompanied dance at Lewis & Clark College, Oregon Ballet Theater, and DaVinci Arts Middle School.  He also teaches piano lessons. He has been with YMA for 11 years.