The Company

Artistic Director Andrea Taylor-Blenis began her dancing career with her family. Her parents, Marianne and Conny Taylor, taught International Folk Dance and Marianne taught Modern Dance with Margie Link and Ruth Wheeler in Lexington. This was Andy’s first exposure to modern and improv. Scottish Country dance was the closest she got to ballet until UMass/Amherst, where she received her BFA in Dance focusing on Jazz and Modern. She began dancing professionally in Cambridge/Boston in 1983 with and for locals such as Peggy Brightman, Danny Sloane, Beth Hirschhaut, Micki Taylor-Pinney (her sister), Dance Collective and not so local, Miguel Lopez and Milton Myers. She performed and toured with Concert Dance Company and Prometheus Dance Company. She taught at Harvard, Boston Conservatory, Emerson, Jeannette Neil’s, the former Joy of Movement and Green Street Studios,  and currently teaches at Dance Complex, Wheaton College and Dancing Arts Center. Andy also teaches International Folk Dance in schools through residencies with Young Audiences, Mass Movement and the Folk Arts Center. Dancing with Back Pocket fills a deep love she has for community and dancing with and for all ages.

Jacob Bloom has been teaching participatory dancing for 40 years.  He has performed English Morris Dance, New England Country Dance, and Colonial Dance with the Black Jokers Morris Men, the Green Mountain Volunteers, and the New England Chestnuts, has taught the Banbury Cross Children's Morris Team, and currently leads the Wayside Inn Steppers colonial dance group.  Dancing with the Back Pocket Dancers is his first venture into modern dance.

Eleanor Duckworth studied ballet until she was 15, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with Irene Apinee. After a 43-year hiatus, she started studying modern dance in Cambridge, in a class for people over 55, taught by Joan Green. She was a member of Cambridge’s intergenerational Back Porch Dancers for its last six years. She has also performed with Prometheus Elders, Round the Corner Movers, Danny McCusker, Brian Crabtree, Peter DiMuro, Kathy Hassinger, Kelley Donovan, Audra Cabaretta, Prometheus Dance, Bill Evans, Ann Carlson and Margie Gillis. A Professor Emerita of Education at Harvard University, she serves on the boards of Critical Explorers and Citizens for Public Schools, and is a coordinator of Cambridge United for Justice with Peace.

Tara Fleming-Caruso brings her love of movement to BPD.  She found modern dance in college where she had the privilege of studying with James Reedy, principal dancer with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company.  She moved to Boston after college and studied Dance Movement Therapy at Lesley University.  She has continued to study modern technique, taking classes with Ruth Birnberg, Deborah Abel and most recently Lynn Modell.  Tara is an LMHC and works in the field of caring for older adults- through Hebrew SeniorLife as well as in private practice.

Rozann Kraus, founder of the Dance Complex, has been Resident Choreographer at the Central Square Theater, served on the faculties of the Yale School of Drama, New England Conservatory of Music and Boston University.  Winner of an Artists Foundation Choreography Fellowship (MA), a Choreography Fellowship from the State of Ohio, the Paul Robeson Award, an award from WILPF and Arts Lottery Grants from five cities, her work has been commissioned by a wide range of sponsors, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, The Yale Art Gallery, Composers in Red Sneakers and Boston's First Night. Touring throughout the country as teacher, choreographer and performer, Ms. Kraus has been a guest choreographer at several schools and universities. A community activist, she is also a published author and poet, and currently teaches a class named Easy Modern in Somerville, MA.

Nancy Murphy began dancing at the age of 3. Her early dance experience was in ballet, tap & jazz. In her youth she performed with the Maine State Ballet and the Connecticut Ballet. Later, she also performed with the Mandala Folk Dance Ensemble. She began teaching partnered dance in 1989. She currently teaches at Rugcutters’ Dance Studio, Marblehead School of Ballet, Dance Technics, Brookline Adult & Community Education and Wilmington Dance Academy. Her main focus is partnered dances, such as Swing, Argentine Tango, Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Rumba, Salsa and many others. The dance floor, be it a social dance or a modern dance class, is her favorite place to be.

Donna Newman-Bluestein  is a dancer, dance/movement therapist, Certified Movement Analyst,  and educator. She studied creative dance with Barbara Mettler, and many additional forms of dance from teachers at what was once the Joy of Movement Center in Cambridge, MA.  Her creative dance studies were enhanced by classes with Julie Ince Thompson, Margie Gillis, LBMS teachers Karen Bradley and Jill Mackavey, and Joan Green, with whom she's studied for the past 12 years. In the 1970’s, she performed with the Art of Black Dance and Music with DeAma Battle. She has been a member of Back Pocket Dancers since 2009. An international trainer, speaker, and presenter, her current focus is on transforming the culture of care for people with dementia through dance and embodied caregiving. She currently serves on the Arts Task Force of Dementia Action Alliance. To motivate people with advanced dementia to engage with others through movement, Donna invented the Octaband®.

Linda Spencer returned to dance after a 30-year hiatus. Previously she studied modern jazz for many years, primarily with Adrienne Hawkins. During her break from dance, she immersed herself in the yoga world. Linda still practices yoga regularly and loves the mind, body and spiritual connection to dance. She returned to dance during the fall of 2021, and is thrilled to be back in the dance studio. Currently she takes modern classes with Andy Taylor and Ellen Pigott. Recently she had the honor to perform with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company as a Community Participant in his production of “What Problem?”

Gary Whited fell in love with ballet and modern dance in his late twenties. In the 1970’s he studied and performed with Elenita Brown in Missoula, Montana, then in Fort Worth, Texas with Fernando and Nancy Schaffenborg, Jerry Bywaters-Cochran and Margo Dean. While in Fort Worth, he was a member of the Fort Worth Ballet and The Ballet Concerto. After taking some time away from dance classes, he resumed studying modern dance in the late 1990’s at the Dance Complex in Cambridge with Joan Green, Andy Taylor, Mahala Beams and Ellen Pigott. He is delighted to have recently joined the Back Pocket Dancers. Gary is also a poet, philosopher and psychotherapist. He has published two books of poetry, Having Listened, and Being, There. For him poetry dances with words, and dance makes poetry with the body.

Norah Wilson fell in love with dance as a toddler and began studying at a pre-professional ballet studio at the age of six. When she was 12 she switched her focus to contemporary dance. She is currently a student at Urbanity Dance and has spent time as a member of Senior Youth Co. Urbanity’s teen contemporary performing group. 

When she’s not dancing, you can find Norah doing anything and everything relating to spoken word poetry.

Rachel Zimmerman began dancing and choreographing in high school, and continued through college, at Sarah Lawrence, performing around New York City and beyond. For the past 10 years, she's been the resident choreographer for the North Cambridge Family Opera, dancing and singing with her two daughters. A longtime journalist, Rachel's writing and essays have been published in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Vogue, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Atlantic and The Huffington Post, among other publications. She's the author of Us, After: A Memoir of Love and Suicide, coming out in June 2024. Find out more at:

The following members are on hiatus from Back Pocket Dancers.

Jim Banta (on leave) has been dancing locally for several years with such groups as Cambridge Chamber Ballet, Boston Liturgical Dance Ensemble, Foremost Dance Troupe, Angel Dance, and Chu Ling Dancers. He has also performed as a guest artist in small roles with visiting Companies like Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, Meredith Monk, and most recently, as Drosselmayer in Jose Mateo’s ‘Nutcracker’.

We Remember:

Company member emeritus, the late Dorothy Elizabeth Tucker. Dorothy Elizabeth passed away in January of 2018. Until just weeks before her passing, she danced with us as well as with two other companies: Prometheus Elders Ensemble and Round the Corner Movers. Dorothy Elizabeth performed for many years with Back Porch Dance Company. In her later years, Dorothy Elizab`eth happily focused on community building. She has been involved in, and liked to work on, projects that document the rich heritage of her West Medford neighborhood. She served on the Board of Mystic Valley Elder Services and was a proud member of the Reading Club of West Medford, the first co-ed book club, in existence since 1878. She was also a member of Zonta Club of Medford and past Governor District 1 of Zonta International. In 2013, Dorothy Elizabeth was honored with an award as a Massachusetts Unsung Heroine of 2013.