Age: 43

Company: Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater

Other job: None

A California native, Wallace-Patterson attended the University of California, Berkeley, for philosophy, but developed a passion for dance and found her way to the Twin Cities, where she got involved with various dancemakers.

She eventually went to New York City in 1999 for an audition with the Brooklyn-based troupe Urban Bush Women. She got the job and moved to New York in 1999, lucking into a sublet and a part-time teacher's assistant position with a nearby school.

"The New York story never works like that," she said.

But the Minneapolis dance scene drew her back. She has been dancing with Stuart Pimsler Dance and Theater for nine years.

"There are a lot of ways that you can be an emerging dancer here and get your voice out," she said. "There's these strong established companies that perform here and tour, along with this young new energy."


Age: 33

Company: TU Dance

Other job: Affiliated instructor for the University of Minnesota's dance program

Having arrived from his native Brazil five years ago, Marciano Silva Dos Santos is a relatively fresh face in town. He wasted little time making his mark.

City Pages named the TU Dance member "Best Dancer of 2008." Since his arrival, on an artist visa, he has been splitting his time between TU Dance and his teaching job with the University of Minnesota's dance program.

"I talk to [my students at the U] about how lucky they are to be in Minnesota because of the variety of teachers and of styles of dance," he said.

Santos, who lives in St. Paul with his wife, largely draws from his Afro-Brazilian tradition. Which doesn't hinder him in the least from being a booster for the local scene.

"We need dancers not to go out of Minnesota, but to stay in Minnesota," he said.


Age: 36

Company: Founder of Voice of Culture Drum and Dance

Other job: Affiliated instructor for the University of Minnesota's dance program

Cottman, born and raised in Minneapolis, has been dancing since she was 5. As a middle-schooler, she studied with Patrick Scully, founder of Patrick's Cabaret.

Cottman's choreography has been performed by Zenon Dance and others. She also runs Minneapolis' Voice of Culture Drum and Dance, a collective dedicated to West African dance.

"It's really cultural," she said. "It brings in social studies, it brings in other areas, so it helps justify the art.

"I get a lot of work that I wouldn't get if I wasn't a black artist doing black art," Cottman said, "because there is definitely a desire for that, especially among the schools."

"People don't know what [West African dance] is, and they don't respect it in the same ways that they respect other forms, like ballet," she said. It's a status she is working to change.