BRKFST Dance Company, founded in 2014, is a collaborative ensemble of breaking choreographers based in Saint Paul, MN. BRKFST incorporates abstract, narrative, and pedestrian driven movement into their impressive and physically rigorous work by combining breaking with contemporary dance vernacular.
BRKFST’s egalitarian, virtuosic choreographic collaboration is deeply rooted in the Hip Hop adage, "Each One Teach One": regardless of class, race, experience, age or gender, everyone remains both teacher and student. BRKFST's lineage stems from breaking and hip hop culture: earning respect from battles, receiving real world critique and embodying inclusivity by passing down their knowledge to the new generation. The lived experiences of this collective who identify as working class, queer, femme and BIPOC, inform their compositions.
BRKFST performs regionally, premiering work at the Walker Arts Center, Southern Theater, The Cowles Center and Orchestra Hall with The Minnesota Orchestra, nationally in Belding Theater at The Bushnell with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and internationally to Dublin, Ireland in connection with Dance2Connect Hip Hop Festival. Their film “Dreamers” (2019) was deemed an official selection in 11 international film festivals receiving “Grand Jury Award'' (In/Motion Festival 2021) and “Best Experimental Film” (Tirana International Film Festival 2020). BRKFST has set repertoire and original work on dancers at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities 2021, Carleton College 2022, Dance2Connect Hip Hop Festival 2022, and Bates Dance Festival 2022.
BRKFST Dance Company awards include: 2022 New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) National Dance Project (NDP) Production Grant, 2022 & 2021 Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB) Creative Support Grant, 2021 NEFA NDP Finalist, 2021 Mid Atlantic Arts USArtists International Grant, 2019 Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) Arts Activities Grant.
Lisa 'MonaLisa' Berman
LISA “MONALISA” BERMAN is the founder and Co-Artistic Director of BRKFST Dance Company. She is the recipient of the 2019 Artist Initiative Grant to produce “Dreamers,” a short experimental dance film deemed official selection in 11 international film festivals receiving multiple accolades for Best Experimental Film and Grand Jury Award, 2016 McKnight Dancer Fellowship, and 2008 Jerome Travel and Study Grant. Berman has choreographed works for the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in collaboration with both Joseph Tran and BRKFST Dance Company, Carleton College and Hamline University. She has performed in Minnesota, Florida, Washington DC, New York, the Netherlands, and Ireland. MonaLisa is currently working as a Breaking instructor for Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists and resident Teaching Artist for The Cowles Center.
Joseph 'MN Joe' Tran
JOSEPH “MN JOE” TRAN is a founding member and Co-Artistic Director of BRKFST Dance Company. He has been a professional breaker since 2007 and is also a member of the world-renowned breaking crew Knuckleheads Cali, known for their uniquely intricate and non-traditional methods of movement. Tran is the recipient of the 2019 McKnight Dancer Fellowship and is known for his signature moves which have earned him multiple first-place victories in breaking competitions across the US, Europe, and South America. Tran has choreographed multiple original works, set repertoire with BRKFST at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Carleton College, and from 2007-2019 he was a dancer and choreographer for the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves “First Avenue Breakers.” Tran currently works as a breaking instructor for Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, Concordia University, and Young Dance.
RENÉE COPELAND is a founding member, movement collaborator and sound composer for BRKFST Dance Company, co-founder of the dance/performance art duo, Hiponymous and member of Ananya Dance Theatre from 2010-2020. Copeland is the recipient of the 2020 Artist Initiative Grant for Music, 2018 McKnight fellowship for Dance and 2021 American Composer’s Forum Create awardee.
Travis 'Seqal' Johnson
TRAVIS “SEQAL” JOHNSON began breaking in 2000 and has performed at main stage venues in the Twin Cities including the Walker Art Center, The Southern Theater, Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the The Cowles Center. As a member of BRKFST, he is honored to have been an artist in residence at The University of Minnesota under the UDT program and Dance Ireland in association with Dance 2 Connect Festival. From 2010-2019, Johnson was a dancer and choreographer for the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves "First Avenue Breakers.” As a 2nd degree black belt with National Karate Schools, Johnson combines his early training as a martial artist to enrich his breaking aesthetic, which is exemplified in his unique style.
AZARIA EVANS–PARHAM, Minneapolis native, began her breaking career in 2014. She is the recipient of Cypher Queen Award from Battle of the New Year in Madison, WI and has been invited to compete in battles around the globe including Columbia, Puerto Rico and upcoming Red Bull BC One Bgirl Cypher 2022 in Seattle, WA. She has performed locally at The Ordway, Hopkins Center for the Arts, Fine Line, and The Cowles Center. Evans-Parham currently works as a breaking instructor with the YMCA Beacons afterschool program.
MARIE THAYER has been dancing, performing, and creating since 2008. Thayer began her training at Dance Excel and DDS Dance Studio where she developed a strong foundation in contemporary and ballet. She later began training in Horton and modern based vernaculars at TU Dance and further diversified her multi-disciplinary dance technique as a graduate of the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. Thayer has performed at several theaters throughout the Twin Cities: including The Ordway, O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, The Southern Theater, and The Barbara Barker Center for Dance. She is currently investigating the authenticity and presence of dance at a particular time and place through improvisation.
Micah 'Spadez' Spader
MICAH “SPADEZ” SPADER is a movement professional who has a background in breaking, capoeria, taekwondo, tricking, and contemporary arts. He is known for his dynamic movements, and energy that he brings to both the stage and the battle circle. He has had the great opportunity to be mentored by Raphael Xavier, Jefferey “Machine” Mccan, and Fabiano “Neguin” Lopes. Micah believes in always being a student and continues striving to push his creativity and passion for dance. He is a 2016 Dance Worlds bronze medalist, and continues to battle and perform across the country.