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FCDD Alumni News 2018 - 2019

Lisa Biggs (AC ’93) joined the faculty at Brown University as an assistant professor in the Department of Africana Studies / Rites and Reason Theatre, where she offers courses in devising new work and African American theater and performance studies. 

Lauren Erin Brown (SC ’98) was promoted to associate professor of History at Marymount Manhattan College. Her recent article, “‘As Long as They Have Talent’: Organizational Barriers to Black Ballet,” published in Dance Chronicle in 2018, documents the demand for ballet in the black community of the mid-20th century and the role organizations such as the Ford Foundation, New York City Ballet, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem played in both aiding and slowing the field’s integration.

Kiera Cecchini (UM ’17) works as a substitute teacher and freelance videographer and dance instructor. In fall 2018, Kiera cofounded a local dance/artist collective, Visions, in Manchester, Connecticut. In August 2019, the Visions team debuted an evening-length event featuring dance, music and film, as well as the work of other Manchester-based artists of all creative media. In addition, Kiera starts her next big adventure in fall 2019: the Film and Television Production MFA program at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Charnice Charmant (SC ’16) cofounded Afrobeats Dance Boston, a dance company and community organization. As its artistic director, she produces performances and teaches a free Afrobeats community class for children and adults. Moreover, as clinical research coordinator of the Joslin Diabetes Center, she works on studies that investigate the role of epigenetics and metabolic health on reproductive health and common diabetes complications.

Emily Clark (MHC ’18) spent the summer after graduation working as an RA for the Milwaukee Ballet Summer Intensive with Jenny Spicola (MHC ’15). It was an excellent opportunity to stay in class, experience a new city and work with young dancers. Then, after a road trip back to the East Coast, she moved to NYC to live with Kimberly Neil (MHC ’17) and Helena Valvur (MHC ’18). Emily keeps busy in NYC with work/study for Mark Morris Dance Center and Peridance Capezio Dance Center — often with Maggie Golder (MHC ’18) and Lilly Katz (MHC ’15). She also works as a physical therapy aide and as a nanny for a Smith alum, and is grateful to live in NYC and be surrounded by so many MHC and Five College alums.

Lauren Curry (MHC ’06) is the community engagement director at Indianapolis Movement Arts Collective, where she heads up a new summer program with a neighborhood partner, the MLK Center, in which the youth participants learn the production elements of making a music video from a group of teaching artists.  

Julianne DeRouin (UM ’18) traveled to Israel to train with Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and spent four weeks learning company repertoire and studying ballet, contemporary, improvisation and modern dance. Upon returning to the United States, Julianne worked and performed with organizations throughout Boston and New Hampshire, such as Tony Williams’ Urban Nutcracker, Orcha Dance Theater, and Saving Grace Dance Ensemble. In June 2019, Julianne returned to the stage at the Huntington Avenue Theatre for Odyssey Opera’s production of La belle Hélène

Donatella Galella (AC ’09) wrote a book, America in the Round: Capital, Race, and Nation at Washington DC’s Arena Stage (University of Iowa Press, 2019). She was also honored as a 2019 Woman of Distinction by Assemblymember Jose Medina for California’s 61st State Assembly district.

Lauren Horn (AC ’17) danced in Bite for Dante Brown Warehouse Dance at Triskelion Arts and 92Y in NYC, and in Liturgy|Order|Bridge for Deborah Goffe’s Scapegoat Garden in the Five College Dance Concert at Hampshire College, the School for Contemporary Dance and Thought (SCDT) and the Northampton Center for the Arts (NCFA). She created and performed her original work Techn0Whore at SCDT and NCFA. She was an artist in residence at SCDT, where she created and performed an original work called RitualUnion. She toured Text Messages from her senior thesis, The Invisibility of Identity, to Bellevue, Washington, where she showcased the work in the Chop Shop Bodies of Work Dance Festival. While there, she also led a dance lec/dem about the piece. Lauren performed in and choreographed a solo for Universal Womb, a theater and text-based show in Hartford, Connecticut. She traveled to California to perform in Rebecca Pappas’ the dancer of the future. She also created a new work titled femmefractional.mp4, which she performed at the We Create! festival in Boston. 

Emma Jaster (AC ’07) is a movement director working in NYC and Washington, D.C. During spring 2019, she worked on a production of the opera La Susanna (or the Baroque #metoo). The piece was performed at the Kennedy Center in April and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in May.

Jasia Kaulbach (AC ’14) still works in NYC as a film director for documentaries, advertisements and music videos. Her music video for Madison McFerrin’s song Insane was featured in the New York Times, Paper, and Pitchfork.

Eliza Larson (SC MFA ’13) performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in March 2019 with the Mountain Empire Performance Collective. She’s still living and dancing in Portland, Oregon, and started teaching a baby-wearing ballet class with her baby daughter at a new movement space in town.

Karene (Mody) Lawyer (MHC ’07) has been living in Mumbai, India since graduation. In 2008 she started Dance Essentials, one of the first dancewear stores in India. Dance Essentials now provides dance attire to the majority of dance schools and companies across the country. In 2017 she cofounded the first Ballet Festival of India at which distinguished faculty members conducted daily classes in ballet, variations and Feldenkrais; offered seminars covering topics from ballet history to pedagogy and music; as well as a panel discussion and dance performance on the closing night. Karene now hopes to start a year-round intensive ballet training program for talented students in Mumbai who don’t otherwise have the opportunity to pursue ballet at a serious level. 

Jemma Levy (AC ’95) still happily teaches at Washington and Lee during the school year and directs professionally during the summer. In summer 2019, she directed Tartuffe for Prague Shakespeare Company in the Czech Republic. She then returned to the States to direct Miss Holmes for Cincinnati Shakespeare Company before returning to her students in the fall to work on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

After graduation, Janis Luke (SC ’18) worked as an organizer for one of the top U.S. Senate campaigns in the country. During that time, she had the opportunity to speak before upwards of 2,500 people at a rally where President Obama was featured. Janis is currently working for Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin (SC ’84) and hopes to transition into the State Department in the future.

Kellie Ann Lynch (SC MFA ’07) continues to build community through dance with Elm City Dance Collective (ECDC) in New Haven, Connecticut, a company she founded in 2008 and now serves as artistic director. ECDC is a platform for service, activism, experiential choreography and collaboration. She tours nationally and internationally with David Dorfman Dance and dances with Adele Myers and Dancers, a company she’s been part of for more than 10 years. She teaches movement privately, as well as in colleges and universities, and is in her second year of Feldenkrais training. She lives in Hamden, Connecticut with her family. 

Meredith Lyons (SC MFA ’08) is the dance program coordinator and assistant professor of Dance at Colorado Mesa University. Her dance studies research in somatics and dance pedagogy was most recently presented at the Dance Studies Conference at the University of Malta, and the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science conference in Helsinki, Finland. Current performance collaborations include the national American/Woman Project with Betsy Miller Dance, and improvisational work Foreword/Afterword with Rachel Boggia and Annie Kloppenberg. 

Michelle Marroquin (HC ’94, SC MFA ’10) continues to make work as an independent dancer and choreographer based in the Pioneer Valley. In the last two years she has performed mostly solo works and in January 2019 gave herself a dream vacation / artist retreat in Seville, Spain, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of flamenco and, as a Mexican-American artist, delved into her own complicated cultural connection to this country. While she continues this research in preparation for a new evening-length work, she is directing and performing in Art_Words_Movement, a series of improvisational structures that weave together visual art, poetry and kinesthesia. Her day job is in rehab as a physical therapist assistant, and as a Gyrotonic/Gyrokinesis trainer at Lani Nahele’s Studio rEvolution in Florence, Massachusetts.

Laura Murphy (MHC ’17) recently celebrated her first anniversary with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Robinson Lab, where she serves as codirector of the Summer Academic Research Experience Program (SARE) alongside Dr. Douglas Robinson and coordinates the Johns Hopkins Initiative for Careers in Science and Medicine. Outside of Hopkins, Laura is a member of Kinetics Professional Dance Company, as well as a faculty member at Kinetics Dance Theatre and Stars Studio, where she teaches all levels of dancers in a variety of disciplines.

Ellen Oliver (HC ’16) is a dancer in Fusionworks Dance Company and Lorraine Chapman, The Company, and has recently performed for Ali Kenner Brodsky & Co. Ellen, along with a colleague, recently received a 2018 New England Dance Fund Grant from New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) for the ProviDance Project.   

Jiehae Park (AC ’02) recently acted in Celine Song’s Endlings at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her own play, Peerless, will be at Primary Stages in New York next season (May 2020). She also workshopped a play of hers at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater in May 2019 as part of its New Strands Festival. 

In 2018, Stephen Petronio (HC ’78) revived Merce Cunningham’s Tread (1970) as part of the Stephen Petronio Dance Company’s Bloodlines, a project established to revive works of American postmodern dance. Also in 2018, Stephen’s reconstruction of Steve Paxton’s choreography from the years 1964–92 was presented in a 45-minute program for the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done.

Caroline Prugh (AC ’96) wrote the book for a new musical, ’Til Death Do Us Part (music and lyrics by Bobby Cronin), which was chosen from more than 120 new scripts and scores for the San Diego State University New Musical Initiative. This innovative two-year development program helps musical theater writers develop a new work through a process that includes a reading (fall 2018), a workshop (spring 2019) and a full production (spring 2020). 

Rebecca Steinberg (UM ’13) finished up her fourth season with New Dialect, under the direction of Banning Bouldin. In February 2019, the company premiered Bouldin’s new work, The Triangle, alongside the U.S. premiere of Roy Assaf’s GIRLS. As a choreographer, Rebecca has most recently been commissioned by Nashville Ballet, Middle Tennessee State University and New Dialect.

Mariana Valencia (HC ’06) received a 2018 Bessie Award for Outstanding “Breakout” Choreographer (formerly called the Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award). Her citation read: “For seamlessly blending ethnography, memoir, and observation of cross-cultural identities in choreography that engages from start to finish. For a unique vision that uses humor and sadness, reality and imagination to push dance and performance into new territory.”

Helena Valvur (MHC ’18) moved home to the San Francisco Bay Area after graduation, where she continued to take class and worked as a teaching artist in a community arts program. In April 2019, she moved to NYC to broaden her horizons and build new experiences in a new city.

Erica Weiss (UM ’18) pursued her dance administration interests in NYC after graduation, working as an office manager for a ballet studio and as an administrative intern for the Mark Morris Dance Center. She is currently located in the Chicagoland area, where she is an instructor at the Arthur Murray of Oakbrook Terrace. In this role, she is able to share her love of dance with students of all ages and abilities, as well as perform on a regular basis in the ballroom vernacular. 

Debbie Williams (SC ’99) completed her PhD in dance at the University of Roehampton London in 2018. In September 2018, she relocated to the Mediterranean, where she took up a post as a lecturer in the Dance Department at the University of Malta. Her current research focuses on experiences related to nonprofessional dance and dancers.

Whitney Wilson (SC MFA ’17) is dancer in residence with the Arts in Medicine Program at University of Florida Health in Gainesville, Florida, where she teaches dance classes that promote health and well-being. In collaboration with the Neurology Department, Whitney is designing a dance protocol for people with MS, which will undergo an official study next fall. She has also started a small dance community — Forum Dance Collective — which will debut its work this summer for the Global Water Dances. She directed a video on the Parkinson’s Crane Dance Project, which was shown during summer 2019 at the World Parkinson Congress Art Walk.