Raynor van der Merwe is the Founder and Artistic Director of Encore Performer and Encore Theatrical Arts Project. Ms van der Merwe has twenty-five years experience as a professional performer, director and choreographer. She has two teaching diplomas in Jazz and Tap from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance (London, U.K.). Born in South Africa, she has appeared in professional shows, television specials, commercials, movies, and industrials. Her credits include Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Brigadoon, Anything Goes, and Me & My Girl.
Her success as a performer led to an opportunity for Ms van der Merwe to develop a one-hour show called Fast Forward that traveled to Namibia as well as Johannesburg, South Africa. This launched the second phase of her performing arts career as a director and choreographer, nurturing her command of all of the elements of live performance. The hallmark of her productions is her unwavering attention to every detail from lighting to sound design, costumes to sets and make up. In addition to teaching and managing the studio, and directing ETAP’s two annual productions, Ms van der Merwe has been guest choreographer for the Reston Community Players and the American Music Stage. In 2003, she received the WATCH (Washington Area Theatre Community Honors) Outstanding Choreography Award for her contribution to the American Music Stage production Crazy for You. In the spring of 2007, Ms van der Merwe was chosen to receive the distinguished CAM Women in the Arts Award. The Celebrating African Motherhood (CAM) organization honors outstanding women of African descent who have impacted the community artistically, socially, and politically.