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We Will Rise Conversation Series with Ellice Patterson


Ellice Patterson is the Founder & Executive and Artistic Director of Abilities Dance, a Boston-based dance company that welcomes artists with and without disabilities. She is also the Executive Director of BalletRox, a Boston-based dance education program to provide access to high quality dance education to youth within Boston Public Schools and in our after-school program in Jamaica Plain. 

Outside of self-produced Abilities Dance's shows, her choreography has appeared in the MFA, Links Hall in Chicago, Gibney Dance in NYC, The Series: Vol IV at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre in NYC, and more. She has given lectures and workshops at schools, universities, and organizations across the country, including Harvard Graduate School of Education, Fidelity Investments, Boston University, and more. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences from Wellesley College and her Masters of Science in Management Studies from Boston University Questrom School of Business.     

Marianne is an instructor of African dance and assistant professor of dance at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Shas been performing and teaching dance for more than 35 years. She danced with the Art of Black Dance & Music, Ballet Theatre of Boston (Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre), Danny Sloan Dance Company, Boston Dance Collective, Brasileiro, Inc., Grupo Bandança Afro-Brazilian Dancers & Drummers, Under the Sun Dance & Drum, the Spirit of Africa, and Impulse Dance Company, among others. During this time, Harkless toured the United States, France, Switzerland, and Jamaica, performing and guest teaching at schools, theaters, and festivals. 

Marianne has taught dance at Radcliffe College, Boston University, amongst many other public and private schools in Cambridge and dance studios in Greater Boston. She is a former member of the board of trustees for the Boston Dance Alliance. She received the Dance Belt Award (city of Cambridge, 1996) and an award from the Art of Black Dance and Music (2013). She trained primarily in Boston at the Boston Ballet, Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre, and the Institute for Contemporary Dance, and in New York at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and the International Afrikan American Ballet.

Marianne currently resides in Cambridge. She and her husband, Sory Diabate, codirect Benkadi Drum & Dance, a Cambridge-based African dance company that has been in existence since 2008.


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If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." -Toni Morrison

Join Founder and Executive/Artistic Director of Abilities Dance Boston, Ellice Patterson, in discussion with Boston Conservatory at Berklee's Assistant Professor of Dance, Marianne Harkless Diabate, for an engaging conversation about empowerment and healing through dance. Learn about Ellice's journey in writing a book that had yet to be written using the modality of dance, and the intersectional nature of Ellice's work to break barriers and reframe conceptualizations of race, gender, and disability.