School of Dance and Theatre kudos 2015


Faculty, students and alumni at USITT (left to right): David Wheeler, Monica Weinzapfel, T.J. Spensieri ’09, Andrew O’Neal ’11, Carl Lefko, Addie Pawlick, Chris Rybitski ’12, Morgan Hardy, Ritza Pacheco, Kyle Gillikin, Molly Roan, Matt Shields, Cathleen Connor ’11, Raphael Regan ’14, Daniel Whitlow ’06, Andrew Kiechlin, Kelsey Nielsen. Photo coutesy of Monica Weinzapfel.


Wesley Young in "Our American Cousin." Photo courtesy of Richmond Shakespeare/Henley Street Theatre.

The winter and spring brought great opportunities for the School of Dance and Theatre faculty, students and alumni. The following are news items previously unreported.


danah bella, interim chair and professor of dance, and Amy VanKirk, assistant professor of dance, disseminated original faculty-student collaborative research for adjudication during the 2015 American College Dance Association Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference at Towson University in Towson, Maryland.

bella also served as a guest artist in residence at Santa Barbara City College in Santa Barbara, California and James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. At both residencies she taught master classes in Modern Dance and conducted faculty student collaborative research that resulted in two original dance works.

Deborah McLaughlin, associate professor of dance, served as an adjudicator for the 2015 National High School Dance Festival in Norfolk, Virginia.

Inessa Plekhanova, associate professor of dance, served as a guest artist in residence to two academies of dance in Japan where she taught numerous master classes in the Vaganova technique. She was also an adjudicator for two international ballet competitions in Japan, including the Hearts And Minds Ballet Competition in Maihama.

Wesley Young, associate professor of theatre, in December 2015 was selected to serve as a reader/adjudicator for the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for Comic Playwriting.

Young also participated in a staged reading of “Our American Cousin,” the play Lincoln was watching the night of his assassination. Alumna Melissa Rayford ‘11 directed this reading. Henley Street Theatre/Richmond Shakespeare produced the event as part of their Historical Play Reading Series. An excerpt was performed at the Virginia State Capitol in conjunction with events April 4 marking Lincoln’s visit after the fall of Richmond. The full reading took place at Richmond CenterStage’s Gottwald Playhouse April 14 in observance of the sesquicentennial of Lincoln’s assassination. The reading was followed by a panel discussion featuring Lincoln historians, a theatre historian and the cast.


Shannon Comerford, a senior dance major, presented original faculty-student collaborative research at the 2015 American College Dance Association Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference in at Towson University in Towson, Maryland.

Six RU Theatre performance majors attended Ohio Theatre Alliance Auditions held January 17 and 18 at Muskingum College. The students were James Bristow, Lauren Faulkner, Paul Krs, Landon Kime, Brandon Leatherland and Ricky Parks. One received an offer of employment while three of the others were called back to interview and further audition for future consideration.

Technical and design theatre faculty accompanied eight students to the March 18-21 annual conference of United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT), held this year in Cincinnati, Ohio. USITT is the nation’s leading professional association of technicians, managers and designers in the entertainment industry. Radford University students and faculty attend regularly to engage in workshops, product demonstrations, portfolio review and to make professional contacts.

Guest artist

The Department of Dance brought in guest artist Jenai Cutcher West, a tap dancer who has worked with tap legends such as Savion Glover, for a four-day residency. She taught master classes in tap dance and worked closely with dance majors on embodied research, which was presented during April’s “Dancing on the Edge.”

Apr 30, 2015