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.
After nearly a decade performing for and choreographing for Blue13, Jon Paul became the Associate Artistic Director of the ensemble in 2019. 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.
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.