Photo Credit: Shaun Tubbs
Photo Credit: Shaun Tubbs
Founding Artistic Director
Leah Tubbs was reared by Craig & Harriette Smiley in Birmingham, AL, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement. Being the child of two educators, her parents exposed her to museums, theatre, and live music. She saw the Alabama Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker as a three year old and began dancing after seeing the only African American female dancer in the company that had almond hued skin and black natural hair just like her. Her technical and artistic foundation was honed as a Dance major at Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) and the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. She transitioned from a student into a professional artist working with Dayton Contemporary Dance Second Company (DCdC2), Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre (CCDT), Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Project 21 Dance, Louise Reichlin & Dancers, Donna Sternberg and Dancers, Jazz Ain’t Dead, and The Zifadanz Group.
As Leah worked as a dance artist, she was inspired to share her love for dance with others as a teaching artist and arts educator. She has exposed people of all ages and levels to the admiration of dance at private and public schools, dance schools, non-profit dance organizations, and summer dance intensives such as Jeraldyn’s School of the Dance (the official school of DCDC and DCdC2), Young Audiences of Greater Cleveland, Lula Washington Dance School, Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA), Tapestry Dance Company and Academy, and Joffrey Ballet School. She currently edifies budding movers as a teaching artist at Pentacle and Cultured Movement, Inc. As an arts educator, she finds joy in creating dance curriculum for educational institutions such as Texas Empowerment Academy, Mt. Pleasant Christian Academy International, & Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy, Inc.
Leah has had the great opportunity to combine her love for teaching and instilling the cultural and historical aspects of dance as an artist-in-residence at University of Alabama at Birmingham’s ArtPlay, Ramsey High School-Birmingham, AL, Contemporary South Dance Company’s Summer Dance Intensive-Jasper, AL, and Birmingham Sister Cities- Accra, Ghana.
Leah was presented with the chance to build a predominantly black dance company during her time in Austin, TX and Ballet Afrique was established with founding director China Smith. Leah began to sculpt her artistic voice through choreography, create new work for various dance companies, and present her work at numerous dance festivals and showcases. During her tenure as artistic director, Leah realized that she wanted to be of service to artists of color especially women of color by providing vehicles for them to be seen and heard as her legacy. MODArts Dance Collective (MADC) was born on July 23, 2011 by Leah & Shaun Tubbs to hold space for people of color (POC) through its choreographic work, two festivals, solo concert, and free residency & workshop. MADC provides safe, therapeutic spaces for POCs to heal, commune, and be their unapologetic selves as people and artists while making dance accessible for communities of color to celebrate and honor their beautiful histories & cultures.
Leah is a daughter, wife, sister friend, grant recipient, award nominee and recipient. She is a proud Harlem resident with Shaun, her husband of fourteen years. When she’s not in the dance studio, Leah is a group fitness instructor & personal trainer coaching people to be their best selves from the inside out. Leah loves writing, reading, yoga, and meditation.
Photo Credit: Mike Quain
Shaun Tubbs, an Ohio native, holds both a Bachelors (Wright State University) and a Masters of Fine Arts (The University of Texas at Austin) in Acting. He has an extensive background working for arts and academic organizations. As well as a great deal of experience in several administrative and programming roles. Shaun has worked with such programs and organizations as the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s (DCDC) Jeraldyne School of Dance, serving as the lead administrator of the school and Residential Coordinator of the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Texas location summer intensive, just to name a few. Some of the work Shaun has done as an actor and director include: REGIONAL THEATRE: The Book of Grace (Zach Scott Theatre), The Tempest, An Ideal Husband, Macbeth (Austin Shakespeare Theatre), A Brief Narrative of an Extraordinary Birth of Rabbits (Salvage Vanguard Theatre), Crossing America (Kirk Douglas Theatre), Lobby Hero (Ensemble Theatre of Santa Barbara), Boys Next Door (Whitmore Lindley Theatre), Jitney (Human Race Theatre Company). OTHER THEATRE: The Red Box, Pride and Prejudice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bad Penny, The Shadow Box, Elephants Graveyard, and Don Juan In Hell (The University of Texas at Austin); The Laramie Project and Our Country’s Good (Wright State University). Shaun is extremely proud to be a part of the growth and vision of MODArts Dance Collective, which strives to create a rich performative dialogue though the power and multifaceted art form of dance.
Board of Directors
Shaun Tubbs, President
Harriette P. Smiley, Secretary
Harriette P. Smiley received her B.S. in Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and M.S. in Early Childhood Education at Alabama State University. She touched the lives of preschool and kindergarten students for twenty-two years in the Birmingham Public School System. As a retired teacher, she volunteers at various day care centers and schools. Ms. Smiley is the head of Education at St. Mark C.M.E. Church and the board treasurer of Cultivating Partnerships in Ghana, Inc.
Leah Tubbs, Treasurer
Brittany Wilson, Board Chair
Brittany Wilson is a Queens native who began her training at the Edge School of the Arts. She later pursued a double major in Dance and Exercise Science at Lehman College in the Bronx. Her director, choreographer, producer credits include acting Artistic Director of Herbert H Dance Company from 2014-2018.
Her journey as an arts administrator began in 2016 when she applied for Pentacle's "Cultivating Leadership in Dance" internship. The experience led to opportunities such as interning with Dance Films Association, Abraham.In.Motion and securing an Administrative Coordinator position at Bridging Education & Art Together (BEAT). In 2019 she was promoted to Program Director at BEAT, in order to create opportunities and advocate for NYC based Teaching Artists. Her passion for the arts exceeded the stage when she discovered there were more ways to contribute. This understanding led her to launch her fiscally sponsored organization, B. Wilson Producing Scholars, that benefits emerging dance producers/choreographers.
In addition, Brittany teaches dance to children ages 5-12. She previously served as a member of the DanceNYC Junior Committee, a 2019 Queens Council on the Arts, Art Producer and as the Company Manager of MODArts Dance Collective. All of these opportunities and then some continue to inspire Brittany to support the dance community through artistic and administrative mentorship, advocacy for working artists and financially supporting aspiring dance producers.
Adriana J. Ray, Member
Adriana J. Ray is a passionate arts administrator, fundraiser, and tap dancer and tap dance advocate. She currently serves as Development Director for The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), where she plays an integral role in designing and implementing the organization’s fundraising strategy. Adriana takes great pride in amplifying the rich artistry present throughout dance of the African Diaspora to IABD’s funders and stakeholders, and works diligently to secure institutional and government funding, corporate support, and individual giving from values-aligned partners across the country. Prior to joining the IABD team, she served as Programs and Development Manager at Dance/USA and Dance Liaison for the Boston College Arts Council.
Adriana holds an M.S. in Arts Administration from Boston University, a B.A. in African and African Diaspora Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and is an alumna of the Tap Program at the School at Jacob’s Pillow. She is a member of Women of Color in Philanthropy and Fundraising, Women of Color in the Arts, and the Texas Association Teachers of Dancing.
Malaika Holder, Member
Malaika Holder is a recent M.A. Arts Administration graduate of Baruch College. As a BIPOC artist and administrator, Malaika has developed a keen interest in the ecology and equitability of art organizations in NYC. During her time at Baruch, she focused her studies on cultivating sustainability in organizations through fundraising and collaborations to fully support the communities’ of NYC. Malaika is excited to sit on the MODArts board and assist them in their future endeavors.