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Creative Staff


Kristen Brooks Sandler

she / her

Founder & Artistic Director

Purple haired & proudly queer, Kristen is a choreographer committed to physical storytelling, believing in movement as the universal language that bridges the gap between audience and artistry. Her work has been seen on the stage and screen globally.  By employing narrative with an avant-garde aesthetic, these stories can be refocused and re-centered for our communities, artists and audiences alike. 


Select Credits: Shimmer & Shine (Nickelodeon), Your Alice (BAM), Sunny Day (Nick Jr.), Sweatsgiving (International Film Channel), Lysistrata Jones (NYITA Nomination), Unravell’d (Prospect Theater), Oklahoma (LTOTS), Gilded (Capital Fringe - Best Dance), Joseph...Dreamcoat (Scranton Shakespeare), Legally Blonde (MMT). Associate: Hunchback of Notre Dame (Gothenburg Opera, Sweden), Jesus Christ Superstar (Signature Theater, Helen Hayes Nomination).  IG: @kristenbrooks19 / @thistle_dance /


Erin Kei

she / her

Associate Artistic Director


Erin (She/Her/Hers) is a professional actor, creator, and teaching artist based in NYC. Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, she attended Syracuse University’s Musical Theater program. Erin has been incredibly fortunate to perform in New York at BAM, MMAC, and in the New York Musical Theater Festival. Some of her favorite regional theater credits include: Asolo Rep, Syracuse Stage, Dallas Theater Center, Phoenix Theatre and Casa Mañana. Film/TV/Commercial credits include: The Path (Hulu), Olay Whips (Commercial), and the new short film SC7NARIO (available on BroadwayHD). Working both onstage as well as on creative teams, Erin is also an associate choreographer to Broadway veteran Enrique Brown (Little Mermaid, Fiddler on the Roof, Music Man, Oklahoma!), as well as Hamilton's supervising choreographer, Jennifer Jancuska. She currently serves as the Associate Artistic Director of Thistle Dance under the direction of Kristen Brooks Sandler. Erin enjoys bringing all aspects of a project together from inception to performance. She is a passionate storyteller who believes art has the power to invite new perspectives.

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Kaitlyn Schirard

she / her

Director of Development

Kaitlyn Schirard is a New York based artist. The daughter of a farmer and a teacher, she hails from Florida and is dedicated to sharing her passion for storytelling in all its forms. For Thistle, Kaitlyn works as a wordsmith, grant writer, and creative collaborator, often from a dramaturgical capacity. 
When on stage, if she's not performing Shakespeare, she's part of developing new works and "next classics". Her work is passionate and playful with a penchant for language. Since then, she has worked as an actor in New York (BAM, Sheen Center, OTG), regionally (Shakespeare Theater of NJ, Riverside Theater, SSF, OTGWest), and internationally (Edinburgh Fringe, Arcola Theatre).
When not onstage, Kaitlyn works as a creative consultant and grant writer. She's had the pleasure of working and crafting text with such companies as Pinkhouse Productions and Scranton Shakespeare Festival as well as with individual artists.

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Em King

they / them

Em King is a New York based artist. Originally from South Bend, IN, they graduated from Hope College with a BA in Dance Performance and Choreography. They have done company work through college and in the city as both a dancer and collaborator. Having worked for several years as a studio dance teacher, as well as having experience as an Associate Choreographer, Em loves to make a connection with their students and teach them to use movement as a form of storytelling.


Becca Craig

she / her

Becca Craig is an NYC based dancer and creative. Appalachian born and bred, she graduated magna cum laude from Marymount Manhattan College in 2021 with a dual degree in Dance and Politics & Human Rights. During her time at MMC, Becca performed works by Elisabeth Motley, Kim Elliot, and Douglas Burkhardt among others. Becca also launched a capstone research project that looked at racial inequities within the New York State Exclesior Scholarship Progam which received honors from the school and was president of Students for Reproductive Justice at MMC. During summers away from college, Becca performed with Burklyn Ballet Theatre as a work/study dance artist and counselor and performed works by Robert Royce, Dylan Crossman, and Maria Konrad. In the fall of 2020, Becca taught ballet and repertory in the prestigious High School Early Dismissal Day Program at her hometown dance studio of Huntington Dance Theatre. In addition to being a dancer, Becca is also a 200 hr. RYT yoga instructor.


Select Collaborators

Click their picture to learn more about each of our collaborators


Lawryn LaCroix



Will Vicari

Hair & Make Up Designer,

The Wig Associates

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Matthew Carlsen

Costume Designer

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Alex Tremblay


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David Spadora

Director of Photography


Courtney Liu

Artist In Residence 2021

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Krystal Balleza

Hair & Make Up Designer,

The Wig Associates


Megan Quarles

Costume Designer

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Alex Pepper

Director of Photography


Shelby Loera

Lighting & Scenic 

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Adam Honoré

Lighting & Scenic 


Anessa Marie



Vincent Kempski


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Sean Dolan

Director of Photography



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