Photo:  JazzyPhoto

Photo: JazzyPhoto

Richard Jessup

FOUNDing Producer | producing president

Richard H Jessup was the originator of Against the Grain/Men In Dance, conceptualizing the festival, and writing & receiving the first grant money for the project in 1995. Richard has been dancing, acting, singing and chrographing since 1977. In addition, he has been directing musical theatre since 1994, and continues to travel throughout the West coast to do so. Richard was the Co-Director and Jessup/Jenkins Dance Studios in Seattle, and served as Artistic Director of Dance Center/Seattle when Nancy Cranbourne left the studio. Richard also spent 10 years as Artistic Director of Rogue Music Theatre in Grants Pass, OR. He has directed and/or choreographed nearly 70 productions.

Richard is now also busy as a bodyworker, doing water therapy work called Watsu, combining it with Shiatsu Massage. He is a teacher of Lyrical Jazz and Musical Theatre Dance, teaching both in Seattle and Southern California, where he now makes his home.

Raymond Houle

Producer | vice president

Born in Vermont, Ray moved to San Fransisco to study theater. His voice voice coach told him to loosen up and take a dance class which immediately drew him in with excitement of movement and live drumming. Though Ray continued to do straight theater, he joined an avant-garde theater group putting together original shows where he not only performed, but also began choreographing. Eventually, the dancers formed a collective company called Boulevard Dance Theater. Three years later, Ray joined the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

While in Ashland, he met Richard Jessup and throughout the years they have collaborated on a variety of projects, one of them being Men In Dance. From Ashland, Ray moved to Seattle, where he taught dance and theater, as well as performed in and choreographed musicals and special events throughout the area.

As one of the original-producing members of MID and heading up the organization for the first 16 years, Ray was happy to hand the role of lead back to Richard to take a sabbatical.

During Ray’s break of MID, he completed studies and is now a Spiritual Counselor. He works and is now a Spiritual Counselor. He worlds part time as a research assistant for the UW for people living with Parkinson’s. Ray also teaches Pilates at Pilates International and the UW’s IMA.

Coming back from his sabbatical, Ray is looking forward to another successful Festival that will general the excitement he had when he first saw dance and heard the drums.

Gary Reed

Producer | secretary

Gary Reed began his dance career in musical theater with Guys and Dolls in 1973. He has been involved with dance, movement education, and the theater ever since. He received his BFA in modern dance from the University of Utah and danced with Co-Motion Dance in Seattle through the 80’s and 90’s. He has been a WSAC rostered Artist In Residence for over 25 years. He has also performed with many local theaters including the 5ht Avenue Theater.

Gary continues to work as a movement and creative dance specialist. He teaches at Bainbridge Dance Center, The Bertschi School, choreographs for Lakeside High School, and mentors classroom teachers in integrating dance into their curriculum with Arts Impact.

Gary is proud to have been involved with Men In Dance/Against the Grain since its inception. He began as a performer and choreographer with the festival, and has been with the producing team since 2002.

Gérard Théorêt


Gérard Théorêt is a founding member of MID. He is a former soloist with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet and has worked with such dance and theater luminaries as Agnes DeMille, Gillian Lynne, Hal Prince, and Anne Reinking. Trained in Britain as an actor, he has performed roles from Shakespeare to Lloyd Webber and from the Stratford Festival to Stage West dinner theatre (Canada).

From 1991-1997 he toured internationally as Associate Director with Phantom of the Opera. He was a professor of Drama at the University of Alberta and Full Professor in Dance at Cornish College of the Arts. From 2007 to 2010 he was Artistic Director for Cirque du Soleil’s production of Corteo. Since joining Saltimbanco in December of 2010, (Cirque’s original Big Top show, now touring in arenas) he has played the role of The Baron in over 30 countries. He works internationally as a master teacher, choreographer, and director.

Deborah Wolf

Producer | Artistic director

Deborah Wolf was Artistic Director, Resident  Choreographer and dancer for Concert Dance Company of Boston, New England’s premiere modern repertory company performing in works by over 50 choreographers including Merce Cunningham, Laura Dean, Bebe Miller, Mark Dendy, and Mark Morris.

A recipient of an MA Artist Foundation Fellowship and seven finalist awards in choreography, Deborah has also received grants from the NEA, Boston Arts Councils, as well as Seattle’s Artist’s Trust and 4culture. She’s created work for Boston Ballet, Boston Symphony, and numerous other companies. She’s been produced by Boston Dance Umbrella, Jacob’s Pillow, Rockhopper Dance, Velocity’s Under Construction, and Strictly Seattle, Composer/Choreographer, Lehua Dance Theater, Bellingham Repertory Dance Company, Evoke Productions, and On The Board’s 12 Minutes Max MainStage and Northwest Newworks and The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2009 at On the Boards, produced by The Joyce Theater Foundation and has been choreographing for the Men In Dance festival since 1998. Deborah is currently a Professor of Dance at Cornish College of the Arts.

Jennifer Haywood

Producer | Tresurer

Jennifer Haywood received her BA in dance from Western Washington University and promptly moved back east. She spent a decade in the Boston area performing with Benita Bike Dance Art Company, Pooh Kaye at Jacob’s Pillow and others as well as Choreographing world for independently produced shows. She received her MA in Counseling Psychology from Lesly College. Jennifer explored contact improvisation, authentic movement, facilitating women’s groups, and leading workshops “Exploring your shadow side” “Moving with your inner critic”, and other workshops cleaning movement and self awareness. She has been teaching creative dance, modern, contemporary dance, jazz and ballet to students from ages 2-17 for 15 years. She is a practitioner of Kripalu Yoga and teaches yoga to adults and children. Jennifer and Dena Lee co-directed eNergi!, a youth performance group in 2010 and their latest collaboration of Loss in Found in 2015 at Velocity Dance Center. Jennifer keeps her performing chops tp to speed with MoDanCo, a choreographic collective. She was a presenter at Dance Educators Association of WA in 2009 and 2013. Jennifer is excited to be part of Men In Dance and looks forward to the festival!

Amy J Lambert

PRODUCER | Production assistant

Amy J Lambert is a dancer, performer, and choreographer. She directs and choreographs for her own company, AJnC Dance-Theater, and was a collaborator of the multi-disciplinary collective The Eternal Glow Project with Time Smith-Stewart. Learn more about her work at


Kince de Vera, Judi Fisher, Joanna Lau, Don McCormick, and Susan Picatti.