Artistic Director of Blue13 Dance Company, Achinta S. McDaniel is a pioneer of contemporary Indian dance in the United States. A prolific choreographer, performer, and instructor, McDaniel’s powerful and fresh style draws from diverse techniques including ballet, jazz, tap, modern, hip hop, Bhangra, Kathak, and Bollywood, to create spectacular and theatrical dance. She is known for her experimentation with international styles and for inventive staging of her signature contemporary Indian forms. Her choreography is highly dramatic and a real reflection of her upbringing: Eastern and Western, exotic, mysterious, wild, rebellious and unconventional. McDaniel’s work is fearless and inventive, ever-exploring the boundaries of contemporary dance as a first-generation Indian woman.
McDaniel was born in Queens and grew up studying dance in Cleveland, Ohio, where she got her start as a choreographer at Hathaway Brown School at the age of 14. Throughout high school, she danced in ensembles at Cleveland State and Case Western Reserve, thereafter graduating from New York University with a degree in Choreography, Dance, and Theatre. She later studied classical Indian Kathak in Bangalore, India with guru Maya Rao. Returning to New York in 1999, McDaniel founded Blue13 Dance Company, performing and teaching across the Tri-State area until 2001, when she relocated to Los Angeles. Achinta has expanded Blue13 for over a fifteen years, creating one of the country’s first professional contemporary Indian dance theatre ensembles and touring on stages around the world. McDaniel also lectures and teaches contemporary Indian, Bollywood, and Bhangra styles internationally, and works as a choreographer in the film and television industry when not touring with Blue13.
JON PAULAssistant Choreographer/Rehearsal Director
Jon Paul serves as Choreography Assistant for Blue13, and has been a principal dancer with the ensemble since 2010. Jon Paul began dancing professionally in the Midwest, where he co-founded and choreographed for 625 Beat Street Dance Company. He has worked with artists such as Marques Houston, Lance Bass, Radio Disney’s Justin Stein, and Olympic Medalist Ashley Wagner. Jon Paul has danced commercially for Oscar Meyer, E3 Gaming Convention, and MTV Spring Break. His choreography has been featured in productions such as The Wiz and Godspell!, as well as for Honda and BCBGMAXAZRIA. Jon Paul also teaches classes throughout Los Angeles, as well as workshops and masterclasses around the country.
Rieka Toya is from Nagano, Japan. She has been dancing since she was four years old, with ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap, and salsa styles her specialty. She received her BA in Dance Performance through the Burchman Award Scholarship at Southern Utah University. Rieka taught children’s ballet classes professionally in Japan for a number of years prior to joining Blue13 in 2009 to begin her United States dance career.
Shoshana grew up training at ballet schools in San Diego, attended summer programs at Long Beach Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Joffrey Ballet School, and The Next Stage Project NYC, and then studied the art as a dance major at UC Santa Barbara. Her professional experience commenced with Blue13 Dance Company in the 2013 world premiere of “Fire & Powder.” She has since been a member of companies including California Contemporary Ballet, Get Down/Pick Up, IsadoraNOW, and City Ballet of Los Angeles. Shoshana cannot imagine her life without dance and is beyond excited to be working with Blue13 once again.
After falling into dance in his teens, Kirby Harrell enrolled at LA Valley College, training in Ballet, Jazz, Modern Dance, and Dance for Film and Stage. From there, he was accepted into the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, where he studied Flamenco, Dunham, Horton, Graham, African and Hip Hop. Harrell has performed with the Academy in three Concerts, one Gala, three music videos, and the classic BET televised production, The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker with Raven Symone, and Ms. Debbie Allen herself. Crowned Mr. Hollywood Burlesque 2015, Harrell has also performed nationally with professional Modern, Samba, Flamenco, Burlesque and Bollywood Dance companies such as, Blue13 Dance Company, Daurden Contemporary Dance Theatre, Samba Samba, and Louise Reichlin and Dancers. He has danced for music artists Elvis Crespo, Pattie Brooks, and Ricky Rebel. Harrell’s choreography has been featured in film, (CockTales), TV (TengoTalento, Mucho Talento) and live in many shows and revues in Los Angeles.