Michael Manswell – Artistic Director
Michael Manswell is an award-winning Dancer, Singer, Choreographer, and Teaching Artist. Michael began his creative journey as a storyteller at arts festivals and later studied music with Lindy-Anne Bodden-Ritch and at Brooklyn College with Tom Cultice. As a singer he has toured Europe, the UK, and the Caribbean and has performed as a soloist in productions of opera and oratorio including Dido & Aeneas, Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Fledermaus, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Messiah, Missa Criolla, and Missa Luba. He studied dance at the Trinidad Dance Theater (TDT) with Eugene Joseph training in Modern, Ballet, Jazz, Ballroom, and Folkloric styles. Michael worked with Geoffrey Holder on “Dougla II” and “La Valse des Bakas” for TDT and toured with the company in North America and the Caribbean. A prolific choreographer, he has created numerous works currently in the repertoire of Something Positive as well as “Once Upon This Island” (Packer Collegiate Institute), and “Belle” (Brooklyn College). An orisha devotee in the Yoruba religion (Trinidad and Tobago) Michael presents lectures in dance, music, and the traditional religious practice and has worked closely with the Interfaith Center and the Caribbean Cultural Center in their programs. He currently teaches for Something Positive Inc., the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL), the Brooklyn Arts Council, the Caribbean Cultural Center and is on faculty at Lehman College (the City University of New York).
Shaun Rasmussen – Deputy Director
Shaun Rasmussen joined Something Positive in 1997 and has since served as a principal dancer, Associate Director and most recently, Deputy Director. In his role, Shaun has performed both Nationally and Internationally with the company, and spearheaded fundraising efforts, performance programming, and curated Something Positive’s acclaimed traveling exhibition The Iconography Series: Celebrating the Female Spirit – Cheryl Byron which showed at venues including the Brooklyn Public Library and Medgar Evers College.
In addition to his experience with Something Positive, Shaun has held a variety of positions focused on the arts, education, and employment opportunities for young adults in New York City, and serves as a board member for Project Safety Net, an organization that promotes health safety for stigmatized groups. Shaun holds a BA in International Criminal Justice and MS in Organizational Leadership.
Cynthia Salandy – Deputy Director
Dancer, Designer, Visual Teaching Artist, Cynthia “Cinti” Salandy began her artistic life as a dancer in Trinidad & Tobago. Trained in Modern, Ballet, Jazz and Folkloric styles, Cinti was and still is the consummate performer. Featured in many productions including Miss World Trinidad and Tobago, Carnival presentations, television, and theatrical performances, she brings to the design world a clear understanding of the needs of the performer. As a visual artist and designer, exceptional technical training and expertise have equipped her with the ability to both create and produce. Thirty years of professional experience with theatrical and carnival productions have imbued her with a plethora of creative energy and ideas. Cinti has created costumes that have won pageants and received special commendations from judges for their “exceptional design and expert craftsmanship.” She also has a history of public and community service.
For nearly 30 years, Cinti has served as Costume Designer, Teaching Artist, Performer and presently Deputy Director of Something Positive She also continues her commitment to service with the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), a not-for-profit organization which focuses on servicing population who suffered through the Mortgage crisis and counseling them through homeownership. She has traveled across North America, changing lives and revitalizing neighborhoods through this organization. In addition to her work with NACA and Something Positive, Cinti is also working toward a degree in Recreation Education.
Cheryl Byron was born in Trinidad and Tobago where from early in her life, she was an active social and cultural advocate for her community. This exceptionally gifted storyteller, dancer, choreographer, writer, director, poet, singer, composer and actor positively touched the hearts and minds of many.
After working for several years as an artist in Trinidad and Tobago, her work took her to New York where she earned her B.A and M.A in English from City College and an ABD PhD in Performance /Museum Studies at New York University. Cheryl studied dance with Dr. Pearl Primus and was a member of the Primus-Borde Earth Theater. She also trained with Lavinia Williams, Pearl Reynolds and Jesse Oliver.
The first to perform her own original brand of poetry in a calypso tent in Trinidad and Tobago, Cheryl was a pioneer of the performing genres Rapso and Dub Poetry. She took her original blend of poetry, storytelling, music, theater and dance to Nigeria, Kenya, Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, and throughout the United States. Her television credits include “Homecoming.” She was a contributing editor to the anthology “Womanrise” and can be heard on the albums “Womantalk” and “Freedom Soon Come.”
Cheryl was a professor at Medgar Evers College, the College of New Rochelle, New York City Technical College and Long Island University.
An ordained reverend mother in the Spiritual Baptist Faith, Cheryl would end her performances by giving thanks and praises always to God, and honoring the Ancestors, Orisha, Deities, Angels and Saints that protect and uphold us.
Cheryl Byron departed this earthly life on June 17, 2003.