REACH BC Dance Company strives to communicate about the human experience, using the language of movement as the vehicle for expression. While living and breathing in the today, REACH resides in the humanistic tradition, with an aim to create dance that can be understood, felt and experienced by everyone. Collaborating artists Raphaël Boumaïla and Heather Cooper bring together the strength of classical American modern dance with the vibrancy of a contemporary aesthetic and point of view.
Heather Cooper is a 2011 Isadora Duncan Award nominee for Outstanding Performance, for her work in Mark Foehringer’s Another Time. Ms. Cooper is a founding member of sjDANCEco, the San Jose contemporary dance company directed by Gary Masters and Maria Basile. With the company she has performed the works of José Limón, including The Waldstein Sonata, The Winged, There is a Time, Missa Brevis, and The Moor’s Pavane performing the role of Desdamona. In addition to these masterpieces, Ms. Cooper has performed original works and has contributed annual choreography since 2003. Her most recent works include Beneath the Visiting Moon, fall 2012, and Echo of My Fall, fall 2013, in collaboration with Raphael Boumaïla. SjDANCEco is committed to performing with live music, and for the last several years, Ms. Cooper has had the honor of collaborating with Barbara Day Turner and The San Jose Chamber Orchestra at the California Theater, San Jose. Ms. Cooper is currently working with Mark Foehringer Dance Project/ San Francisco and has performed in various venues in San Francisco, New York City, the Djerassi residency, and Lima Peru, October 2012. She has also worked with Kara Davis and with Holly Johnston’s Ledges and Bones, including participating in a residency with MANCEE, Tallahassee, Florida in July 2012. Heather Cooper is a full-time professor in the Dance Program at San Jose State University. Since 2003, Ms. Cooper has taught all levels of contemporary technique. She choreographs for the University Dance Theater annually. In March 2014, her work Penguin March, was performed at the American College Dance Association conference, and was selected by the adjudicators to be performed in the Gala Concert. In addition to teaching technique, performing administrative leadership duties and choreographing for the student company, Ms. Cooper directs student concerts and mentors the graduating seniors for their final portfolio composition projects. Ms. Cooper is also on faculty with the Conservatory for Contemporary Dance Arts, directed by Mark Foehringer. The conservatory is San Jose ’s contemporary dance training program for goal oriented young dancers ages fourteen to eighteen years old. Launched in 2013 this program focuses on getting dancers ready for college opportunities and professional dance careers. Ms. Cooper teaches contemporary technique and choreographs for all major concerts.
Other work includes choreography for the Lines Summer Program, Western Ballet, TDC of the Bay Area, West Valley College, Modesto Junior College, assistant in the restaging of The Winged, Les Etes de la danse Paris France, various master classes and intensives throughout California, Utah and Arizona.
Ms. Cooper holds a BA in Dance from The University of California at Santa Barbara and a MA in Dance from Cal State Long Beach.
Raphaël first entered the dance world at age eight at The Académie de Danse of Nicole Amber. From 1991-94 he attended the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Lyon, France. Before graduating from the conservatory, he performed in Paris and throughout the country with the Red Note/Andy Degroat Company. Mr. Boumaïla’s twenty-year role in the José Limón Dance Company began in August 1994 when he was invited to join the Limón West Dance Project of San Jose, CA. In April 1998 he joined The Limón Company in New York, where he is now a principal dancer. He has performed the works of José Limón, Jiri Kylian, Doug Varone, Lar Lubovitch, Anna Sokolow, Daniel Nagrin, Donald McKayle among many others. He is currently touring around the globe performing in more than sixteen countries with the Limón Dance Company. Throughout the years, Mr. Boumaïla has been hailed in the press as “…smoldering…”, “…witty and agile…” and “…regal and expressive…”. He has also danced duet concerts with Nina Watt throughout the US and abroad. In 2011 and 2012, Mr. Boumaïla was guest artist with sjDANCEco. In addition to his solo and ensemble performance, he was co-choreographer and collaborator of Keyed and Beneath the Visiting Moon, two new works for the company. Alongside Gary Masters, he is a 2011-12 Isadora Duncan Award nominee for his work in restaging Missa Brevis, a 2012-13 nominee for choreographing Keyed with Hsiang-Hsiu Lin and 2012-13 winner for restaging the master piece The Moors Pavane with Gary Masters. Mr. Boumaïla's choreography has been performed in New York City as part of Limón Choreographers. He has created and performed solo works, presented by The Limón Company and has choreographed for the students of the Limón Summer Workshops. He has choreographed for the group Vinculación in Mexico City. Mr. Boumaïla has reconstructed Limón’s masterpieces in universities around the US and for professional companies in the US, Holland and Argentina. At The Limón School in New York, Mr. Boumaïla teaches Humphrey/Limón technique and has been one of the principal teachers at the Limón Summer Workshops since 1998. He has taught and represented Limón technique in master classes and workshops in Europe, USA and South America. Raphaël Boumaïla is now creating REACH BC Dance Company in San Francisco in collaboration with Heather Cooper.
He is also a Dharma Yoga certified teacher.