Visual and Performing Arts Faculty

Visual Arts Faculty

Knic Umstead - Visual Art Program Coordinator


 I am an art professor at Virginia Tech and Radford University, where I have taught drawing, painting, book arts and foundational courses for the last six years.  I received my Bachelors and Masters in Fine Arts (concentration in oil painting) also from Radford University.  A picture truly speaks a thousand words; and I teach that art is a visual language that supersedes spoken language or a specific tongue.  I teach my students to analyze, translate and communicate using this language.  I am a collagist, illustrator, muralist and painter, who typically works in a serial format. I have been working in the arts constantly, since I was very young, as a matter of fact, over twenty years ago, I attended Governor's School for the Visual Arts myself, which I absolutely enjoyed. I have painted large scale murals, staged guerrilla art shows, designed/ painted scenery for stage shows, created installations and worked with groups of artists on large projects. My latest show ‘Art Decade’, is a ten year retrospective with pieces from eight different series (The Shallow Stage, Series Transparent, The Lost City of R’lyeh, Developments, Selections of the Blumenati, Colors, Traces of the Blumenati, and Sharquarium).  When I am not teaching I enjoy working on my own art, playing music, gaming and watching movies with my wife and friends.”



Sidra Kaluszka - watercolors & ceramics


Sidra Kaluszka is a multifaceted nationally award winning artist in ceramics, watercolor, & photography.  She is heavily influenced by her appreciation for nature & natural light.  Kaluszka graduated a double concentration MFA from Radford University in watercolor & ceramics, where she was mentored by internationally renowned watercolorist Z.L. Feng, & earned the 2010-2011 Best Creative Thesis Award.  She received her BFA from Virginia Tech, where she studied with nationally known ceramicist David Crane.  Kaluszka was published in International Artist Magazine as a Master Painter in April of 2021.  She was chosen by Watercolor Artist magazine for their ‘Don’t miss the 10 Best Watercolor Paintings of 2017’ as well as their 2016 list of 'Ones to Watch.'  She has received Signature Membership in the Virginia Watercolor Society, Alaska Watercolor Society, & Pennsylvania Watercolor Society.  Her work has been exhibited in Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Rhode Island, Alaska, & throughout Virginia, as well as in Japan.  Kaluszka won Best in Show for the West Virginia Watercolor Society’s ‘Aqueous 2017’ as well as the Southern Colorado Watercolor Society’s Aquarius National 2016, & First Place in 2D Art at Blacksburg's Art at the Market event in 2013, 2014, & 2015.  She was published in "500 Vases- Contemporary Expression of a Timeless Form," in 2010 & “500 Teapots vol. 2” in 2013.

Kaitlynn Slaughter - photography


Kaitlynn Slaughter’s draw towards photography began in high school where she took digital and darkroom courses. She went on to earn a BFA in fine arts with a photo concentration from Longwood University and an MFA in studio arts from Radford University. She has worked as a freelance photographer and adjunct professor in digital and darkroom photo, art appreciation, and art history. She has also worked with several university-based arts magazines. Kaitlynn currently serves as an adjunct assistant professor at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke, VA.    


Shaun Whiteside - painting & drawing


Shaun C. Whiteside works with acrylic paint in a style most influenced by Abstract Expressionism, with an emphasis on the metaphysical and emotional realm, rather than on optical reality. Using several layers of thin glazes, partially washed away, he creates oppressively dense atmospheric environments, with biomorphic, liquid shapes within them. Whiteside graduated with a BA from CNU's art department in 2007, and received an MFA from Radford University in 2011, where he studied under Doctor Halide Salam.  He is currently an adjunct instructor at Radford University.  Whiteside's work has been awarded First Place/Best in Show at the Bower Center for the Arts' “2016 Annual National Juried Exhibition,” the Lynchburg Art Club's 2015 “Water Ways” exhibition, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art's "New Waves 2013" exhibition, the Jacksonville Center for the Arts' “2013 Juried Show,” and at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center's "2010 Biennial Exhibition."  Whiteside has had work published in several periodicals, including twice in the International Painting Annual (INPA), published by the Manifest creative research gallery and drawing center in Cincinnati, OH.  He was also a recipient of a 2011-2012 VMFA Fellowship grant.  Whiteside has exhibited from California to New York, as well as in Japan, and his works are in public and private collections from Arizona to New Jersey.


Instrumental Music Faculty

Dr. Wayne Gallops - conductor & improvisation


Conductor, Educator, Composer-Arranger and Recording Artist Dr. R. Wayne Gallops has served as Director of Bands and Instrumental Music Education at Radford University (Virginia) since 2004. Dr. Gallops is also Director of the Virginia Governor's School for Visual & Performing Arts and Humanities held at Radford University each summer. His responsibilities at RU include conducting the University Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Wind Symphony, Chamber Winds, conducting and instrumental music education undergraduate and graduate courses. Prior to his appointment at Radford University, Dr. Gallops served on the faculties of The University of Tampa, The University of South Florida, Hillsborough Community College and the Hillsborough County Public Schools (Tampa, FL) where his high school Orchestras, Concert, Marching, and Jazz bands presented superior performances at Florida Bandmasters Association district and state festivals, the Bands of America National Concert Band Festival, toured Japan, and received national and international acclaim. Wayne is active as a conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and performer on clarinet, piano, and organ. As a conductor and keyboard artist, he has conducted, performed, and recorded  worldwide for numerous classical, jazz, commercial ensembles / artists, orchestras, theater, opera, and ballet companies including; The Florida Lyric Opera, The Florida Orchestra, The Florida Gulf Coast Orchestra, The Tallahassee Symphony, The Roanoke Symphony, Disney Studios, Busch Gardens, The Vosbien-Magee Big Band, The Jazz Cellar Orchestra, Southwest Virginia Ballet and Radford University Ballet Theater productions of The Nutcracker, and other professional, collegiate, community, and high school honor bands and orchestras in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, New Jersey, Quebec Canada, The Royal Irish Academy of Music, and Honshu-Wakayama Japan. Some artists Wayne has performed and recording with include jazz and pop greats Chick Corea, Jennifer Holiday, Ronan Tyner and the Irish Tenors, Julie Andrews, Frank Wildhorn, Barry Manilow, Englebert Humperdink, Frankie Valli, The Funk Brothers of Motown, The Association, The Four Seasons, Eddie Arnold, Dianne Carroll, Eric Darius, The Bill Norman Group, Jeff Rupert, Tito Puente, Pete Fountain, Nat Adderly,  Al Hurt, and The Vosbien-Magee Big Band.  Wayne’s 2008 solo CD release ‘Jazzicale’ received international critical acclaim and his classical pipe organ recordings have been featured on NPR syndicated programs “Pipe Dreams” and “With Good Reason.” His writings are published in numerous peer review publications and he has presented clinics, lectures, and performances at many regional, national and international music conferences. Dr. Gallops has served on the Virginia Music Educators Association Executive Board, the United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro Grant Review Panel, and is honored through membership in Kappa Delta Pi, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Who’s Who Among American Teachers, Outstanding Young Men of America, and Citations of Excellence from the National Band Association for outstanding contribution to bands, wind music, and instrumental music education. Dr. Gallops holds music degrees from The University of Tampa (B.A.), Florida State University (M.A.), and The University of South Florida (Ph.D.).


Robert Trent - guitar


Dr. Robert Trent Director of Guitar Studies, at Radford University, has performed on the continents of North and South America and in Europe on modern guitar, Renaissance lute, and historic instruments of the nineteenth-century, and in particular the 10-string Scherzer and authentic 19thc. guitars. A first prize winner in numerous National and International competitions including; the Webb National Guitar Competition, the Mastenvorks Young Artist Competition (for all instruments) and the chamber music prize at the International Competition "Arturo Toscanini" in Italy in Period Instrumental performance. A recording artist for Dorian Records© (with Duo Firenze) in "Italian Nocturnes: Music for Fortepiano and Early 19thc. Guitar" he is also featured on the new CD "Traveler's Tales" TownHall Records (CPS-8776) in works by American Composer Byron Petty and on third CD with flutist Leslie Marrs on the Oasis label, entitled, "Robert Fruehwald: Flute and Guitar Music". Reviewers have said: “His interpretations are dignified, formal, and carefully thought out, with a sense of structural integrity that informs every passing tone.” NEW YORK TIMES; “A SEASONED ARTIST STRUMS THE DEPTHS (headline) “.... he seemed most intent on using his sweet, crystalline sound to plumb the emotional depths of each work.” -PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER   

Robert Schoos - horn & chamber coaching & conducting


Rob Schoos – French Horn - is a graduate of the Howard W. Blake School of the Arts and alumnus of the Florida State University School of Music, with degrees in Music and Brass Performance/Pedagogy. In 2004 Rob began his educational career with the Hillsborough County Schools (Tampa, FL) as Director of Bands and Orchestra at the Sam Rampello K-8 School and then Director of Bands at H.B. Plant High School. Under his direction all ensembles consistently earned “Straight Superior" ratings at District and State level assessments alongside Top 5 music caption placements in the State Indoor (FFCC) and Marching Band (FMBC) Championships. As a freelance music consultant, Mr. Schoos now has the opportunity to offer his services as a performer, applied horn/brass teacher, adjudicator, guest clinician and consultant. Rob enjoys performing professionally with the Southwest Florida Symphony (Ft Myers/Naples, FL) and many regional orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the Southeastern US. Rob resides in Redington Shores, Fl with his wife, Erin & daughter Nola and enjoys a full coastal beach lifestyle.


Jeffrey L. Kresge - trumpet & chamber brass


Jeffrey L. Kresge received his Master of Music in trumpet performance from Boston Conservatory and Bachelor's degree in music education from SUNY at Fredonia. He is a co-founder and principal trumpet of the Roanoke Chamber Brass Quintet. He is currently a member of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, principal trumpet of the Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra and has performed with the Lynchburg and Charleston (WV) orchestras as well as Opera Roanoke. He was an educator with the Roanoke City School system for ten years, having taught band and orchestra programs for grades 4-12. Jeff currently serves as adjunct professor of trumpet at both Radford and Hollins universities and also enjoys freelance work throughout southwestern Virginia.

Dr. Sheldon Johnson - saxophone & chamber coaching


Sheldon Johnson is the saxophone instructor at Radford University. As a chamber musician Mr. Johnson has performed as part of the St. Olavfestdagene in Trondheim, Norway, the United States Navy Band’s International Saxophone Symposium, the Treetops Chamber Music Society’s subscription concert series, and the University of South Carolina’s Southern Exposure concert series. As winner of the 2011 concerto competition, Mr. Johnson performed Lars Erik Larsson’s Konzert for alto saxophone and string orchestra with the Bowling Green State University’s Philharmonia. Additionally, Sheldon has appeared in concert with the Spartanburg Philharmonic, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra Augusta, and the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra.  Before joining the faculty at Radford University, Mr. Johnson was previously the saxophone instructor at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina and the Toledo School for the Arts in Toledo, Ohio. He holds a bachelor of music performance degree from Northwestern University, a master of music performance degree from Bowling Green State University, and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of South Carolina. His saxophone teachers include David Jacobsen, Frederick L. Hemke, John Sampen, Bryson Borgstedt, and Clifford Leaman.


David Perry - clarinet & chamber coaching


Clarinetist David Perry has consistently shown himself as one with great creativity, pragmatism, and a tireless devotion to his art form and all that it has to offer to people.  David has an exceptionally strong passion for the connective power of music, for its potential to bring people together in community in a time when our attention is often divided between an ever-increasing number of purposes. With this strong commitment to the role of the artist as a source of community engagement and service, David has made his mark on students as young aged 5 to 85 years old.  His path as an educator began in earnest in 2011 while serving as a teaching artist with Yale University’s Music in Schools Initiative, and with Bravo Waterbury shortly thereafter.  Both of the above being inspired by the world renowned El Sistema program, David’s work brough musical opportunities to young children with an eye toward impacting their future through the skills of teamwork and creativity necessary to every musical achievement.  In 2014, he founded The Second Movement, a chamber music organization that celebrates the evolving role of classical music by fully embracing the practices of performance, education, and arts advocacy. Currently, David serves as the Executive Director of The Oratorio Society of Virginia, which post he has held since 2019, and as a clarinet instructor on the faculties of Radford, Washington & Lee, and Eastern Mennonite Universities.  Prior to these appointments, he served as Principal Clarinet of the Charlottesville Symphony, and taught at the University of Virginia and Mt. Holyoke College.  He is also an avid landscape and portrait photographer, and is based in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Dr. Dayl Burnett - Instrumental Program Coordinator - conductor & low brass


Dr. W. Dayl Burnett  is a native of Falls Church Virginia, and holds a BA and MA in Music from Virginia Tech, and a DMA from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, and has served on the music faculty at Radford University since 2012. At Radford University he is the conductor of the Jazz Ensemble, the RU "RedAlert" pep band, and low brass studies.  He studied trombone with David Maser, James Sochinski, Tim Conner, and Bernie Schnieder and has studied Jazz with Buddy Baker and Dante Luciani. He was a member of the U.S. Air Force Academy band and director of the “Shades of Blue” jazz ensemble at the Military Airlift Command Band, Scott Air Force Base Illinois. Dayl has also been a featured soloist with the Virginia Symphony and Roanoke Symphony Orchestras. For nearly twenty years he was principal trombonist of Opera Roanoke and the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. Recently, Dayl performed with the Atlantic Coast Orchestra, the Florida Grand Opera and the Palm Beach Pops. As an educator, Dayl served on the faculties of Arkansas Tech, Virginia Tech, Roanoke College, Christopher Newport University, Ferrum College, and the College of William and Mary.


Peter Shanahan - flute & chamber coaching


Peter Shanahan serves as the instructor of flute at Radford University.  He is the piccoloist with the Western Piedmont Symphony and performs with the Charleston, Winston-Salem, Salisbury, Greensboro, Carolina Chamber and Southwest Florida Symphonies as well as the Piedmont Opera and Long Leaf Opera companies. In addition serving on the music faculty at Radford University, Mr. Shanahan is the instructor of flute at Guilford College, Piedmont International University, and the Music Academy of North Carolina. He has presented recitals and masterclasses at the Long Island Conservatory, Davidson College, High Point University and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. As a member of the Open Dream Ensemble, Mr. Shanahan  performed and served as a teaching artist in three U.S. tours culminating in collaborative performances with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Mr. Shanahan is a graduate of Indiana University and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.   His teachers include Thomas Robertello, Tadeu Coelho, Philip Dunigan, Ervin Monroe, and Beth Larsen.


Justin Johnson - percussion


Justin Johnson is a performer and composer within the areas of percussion and keyboard. Upon graduating from Bassett High School (Bassett, VA), Justin has participated in multiple ensembles there which performed within the Bands of America (BOA) and Winter Guard International (WGI) circuits. He has also performed in outside ensembles such as the Virginia Helmsmen Independent Open Percussion Ensemble, the Standing Room Only Jazz Orchestra, Urban Essence/Bernard Hairston Group, and Atlanta CV Drum & Bugle Corps. He is also a member of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) and serves as the Intern Vice President of the North Carolina Chapter. He was previous percussion instructor and arranger for Western Alamance High School (Elon, NC), Rockingham County High School (Reidsville, NC), Rhapsody Independent A Percussion Ensemble (High Point, NC), George Washington High School (Danville, VA), Magna Vista High School (Ridgeway, VA), and Pulaski County High School (Pulaski, VA).
Justin received a Master's degree in Percussion Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and has a Bachelors of Science in Music, with an emphasis in Music Education & Performance from Radford University. During his undergraduate studies Justin participated in the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble/Combos, Percussion Ensemble, and Pep Band. During his graduate studies he participated in the Symphonic Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, and recorded with the Wind Ensemble on several released albums. During his career, Justin has had the privilege of studying under Scott Allred, Daniel Boothe, Tim Bray, Michael Burritt, Todd Hammes, Teddy Holcomb, Allen Joanis, Kristopher Keeton, Fillippo Lattanzi, Jerry Noble, Chris Romanowski, Robert Sandrel, Thomas Taylor, Paula Williams, Al Wojtera, and Nebojsa Zivkovic. Justin serves as the Director of Percussion and Co-Director of Bands at Jamestown Middle and Ragsdale High School, as well as the Director and Founder of Gate City Percussion. He also serves as the Music Director for The P.L.A.C.E. Ministries. 
Currently, Justin resides in Greensboro, NC with his wife Tierra Johnson and their daughter Zoe Johnson. 

Rebecca Meisel - bassoon & double reeds



Rebecca Meisel joined the Music Department bassoon faculty at Radford University in 2015. In addition to teaching, Rebecca serves as a bassoonist with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra, and other groups in the region including the Celtic band “Second Wynde”. Her Blue Mountain Music Studio offers private instruction in piano, flute and bassoon in Roanoke, Virginia. Rebecca studied bassoon with Anthony DeAngelis of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and renowned Eastman professors K. David Van Hoesen, and John Hunt. She earned her degree in bassoon performance from the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, NY..


Bill Parrish & Mark Biggam - oboe & double reeds

William Parrish lives in Lynchburg, VA and is currently principal oboist with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Opera Roanoke, and Opera on the James, as well as a member of the Wintergreen Summer Festival Orchestra. He is a music faculty member at Radford University (since 2012) and Washington & Lee University. For ten years, Bill served as the Associate of Pre-College at the Julliard School and performed with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, San Francisco Symphony and Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Parrish received his BFA in oboe from Carnegie-Mellon University, his M.M. from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and an Artists Diploma in oboe from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He was a prize winner in the 1988 Lucarelli Oboe International Solo competition in Carnegie Hall (NYC)). Bill’s principal oboe teachers include Robert Bloom, Harry Sargous, John Ferrillo, and Elaine Douvas. Mr. Parrish maintains a vibrant and successful private studio and is c0-facilitator and guest teaching artist at the Charleston Oboe Camp (Charleston, SC.).

Mark Biggam wears a variety of musical hats as a performer, composer and teacher. In his earlier years, he studied oboe in high school at the North Carolina School of the Arts with Joseph Robinson and continued his training in Ohio, ultimately earning a doctorate in 2001 at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In Cincinnati, he has appeared as soloist with the Orchestra of the 18th Century and also gave several solo recitals. Presently, he is a freelance musician in North Carolina, performing with the Winston-Salem and Roanoke Symphony Orchestras and other local  orchestras and chamber groups. In 2015-16, Biggam was invited to perform as recitalist in San Jose, Costa Rica and also performed with the Orchesta Nacionale de Costa Rica. Presently, Dr. Biggam performs with the Piedmont Wind Symphony.



Vladimir Kromin - conducting & string studies


Vladimir Kromin was born and raised in the Ukraine, where he received his training as a violinist and pedagogue. He received his Master of Music degree from Odessa State Conservatory in 1993. His special background as a musician includes training as a violin performer and teacher, as well as a solid background in piano studies, chamber music, and theory. Before moving to Israel in 1995, Vladimir received numerous prizes in Russia, including several invitations for performance on radio and television. He is an experienced teacher for more than 24 years, and studied the Suzuki method of teaching in Israel as well as in the United States. Vladimir joined the Renaissance Music Academy in February 1999 where he teaches violin, viola, chamber music, and suzuki violin group classes. Vladimir Kromin is currently an adjunct faculty member at Radford University and String faculty for the Virginia Residential Governor’s School for the Visual & Performing Arts, and he performs regularly with Roanoke Symphony and Roanoke Opera.


Benjamin Wyatt - cello


Cellist Benjamin Wyatt enjoys an active career as a performer and teacher.  He is currently the cellist of the Avanti Ensemble, and teaches in Blacksburg, VA as a faculty member at the Renaissance Music Academy and Virginia Tech’s Fine Arts Initiative. He has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, and is a regular guest with various ensembles. His performances have been broadcast live throughout the country. Mr. Wyatt has collaborated with numerous leading artists in recent years, including members of the Guarneri, Vermeer, Vanbrugh, Brentano, Ridge, Meliora, Mendelssohn, Amernet, Chicago and Dover String Quartets, as well as the Eroica and Manhattan Piano Trios, and pianists Elizabeth Jeanne Schumann, Sivan Silver, Gil Garburg, Peter Laul and Milana Strezeva. He completed his doctoral studies at the University of Southern California where he was honored as the Outstanding Doctoral Graduate. His undergraduate studies were at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and he studied Suzuki pedagogy in New York at the School for Strings. In addition to modern cello, Mr. Wyatt performs as a specialist of early music on Baroque cello.


Piano Faculty and Accompanists

Dr. Matthew Cataldi - piano & ear training & chamber coaching


Dr. Matthew Cataldi started playing the piano before he could walk, and has pursued his studies in music across the country ever since.  He holds a BM in Piano Performance from Florida State University as well as MM and DM degrees in Piano Performance and Literature from Indiana University, where he studied with Brazilian pianist Arnaldo Cohen. Matt has enjoyed an exciting career as a performer, from his orchestral debut as a teenager playing Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, to appearing as soloist and collaborative artist at Lincoln Center and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as recording a documentary CD of Spanish and Latin American piano music accompanied by an international concert and lecture tour.  In addition, he regularly programs lesser known works as well as popular and jazz-influenced pieces, offering a distinctive concert experience that accommodates his unique interests and background.  Matt has spent the last several years working in New York City as a conductor, musical director, vocal coach, arranger, and collaborative pianist. He has conducted multiple world premiere stagings of new works, played in concerts, recording sessions, and rehearsals with Tony Award winning artists, and has collaborated in educational and professional settings with leading Broadway directors, casting directors, and choreographers. Dr. Cataldi will be joining the faculty at Radford University in the fall as Assistant Professor of Piano.  He has previously held positions at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and Steinhardt Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, and has served as Assistant Program Coordinator and Associate Instructor for the Secondary Piano Program at Indiana University.


Cara Ellen Modisett - accompanist & creative writing


Cara Ellen Modisett, a Shenandoah Valley native is staff collaborative pianist at Radford University. Music director of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Roanoke, she has performed in venues including the Manhattan School of Music, the U.S. Army Band’s Brucker Hall, the University of Memphis, the University of Richmond and Hollins University. She has performed in ensembles including the Washington & Lee Symphony Orchestra and pit orchestras for Mill Mountain Theater and W&L, and has music directed productions for Roanoke Children’s Theater. In addition to a B.M. in piano performance from the James Madison University School of Music, Cara holds a B.A. in English from JMU and an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction from Goucher College. For more than a decade, she was by turns a reporter/producer, classical announcer and concert organizer for WVTF public radio. She has taught English at Ferrum College and Community High School of Arts and Academics. In May she was named director of communication at St. John’s Episcopal in Roanoke, a position she held for two years at Church of the Holy Communion in Memphis, Tennessee.  Former editor of Blue Ridge Country magazine, Cara has published essays and journalism in Still: The Journal, Braided Brook, Flycatcher, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Memphis magazine, The Roanoker magazine, Virginia Living, Artemis and Pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture. She has interviewed, among others, musicians Joan Baez and Sam Bush, composer Gunther Schuller, journalists Ted Koppel and Terry Gross, poets Charles Wright and Nikki Giovanni and theologian Walter Brueggemann.


Mollye Otis - Accompanist & Vocal Coaching


Mollye Otis recently located to Roanoke VA, retiring from East Carolina University in 2017, where she served as the voice teacher for the BFA Musical Theatre Program.  Mollye spent many years in New York and Florida music directing, playing in pit orchestras, coaching, and playing rehearsals, auditions and classes.  She has played for the Broadway shows Chicago and Victor Victoria and national tours of Spamalot, My Fair Lady, Forbidden Broadway, and Drowsy Chaperone.  She has served as a musical director, voice teacher, pianist and performance skills trainer on faculty at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, The Pennsylvania State University, University of Central Florida, New World School for the Arts and Burt Reynolds Institute for Theatre Training.   Mollye worked for several years with the National Young Arts Foundation as pianist for Theatre finalists. She has played masterclasses for Ben Vereen, Natalie Weiss, Dave Clemmons, Debbie Shapiro-Gravitte, Chet Walker, Malcolm Gets, Jason Daniely and Marin Mazzie, Michelle Pawk, Marvin Hamlisch and Victoria Clark. As a clinician, Ms. Otis presented musical theatre masterclasses for Chapel Hill Musical Arts Center, Durham Music Teachers Association, and NATS Western Central Region.  She created and performed revues about Lerner and Loewe (“The Night They Invented Champagne”) and Jerome Kern (“The Way You Look Tonight”) and collaborated on revues of Hoagy Carmichael and Rodgers and Hammerstein, for Craven County Arts Council in New Bern, and the Music House in Greenville, NC. Ms. Otis holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Kentucky, Commercial Music training from Belmont University, and a Vocology Certificate from the University of Iowa.  Specializing in CCM Pedagogy, she holds Certificates in LoVetri Somatic Voice, Lisa Popeil Voiceworks, The Voice-Body Connection from Elissa Weinzimmer and Estill Voice International, Levels I and II.  Her students are working on Broadway, in Chicago, Los Angeles and regional theatres across the country, on national and international tours, in the cruise industry, outdoor theatres and theme parks.


John Preston Smith, IV - bassist


John Preston Smith, IV enjoys a diverse career at the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. John has been associated with the orchestra since 1987 as a bass player. In 2000 he was appointed to Assistant Bass and three years later to Associate Bass where he maintains that post today. In 2007 he joined the full time RSO administrative staff as the orchestra's Principal Librarian. John is one of the founding musicians of RSO's newly developed Wellness Arts program serving many of the valley's Memory Care units with a weekly musical program that provides enjoyment to the residents. This is John’s third summer teaching at the Governor’s School at Radford University and is thrilled to be back this year as bass instructor! Mr. Smith's education includes: B.M. from George Mason University in 1984 and Artist Diploma studies at The Boston Conservatory of Music 1980.


Vocal Music Faculty

Dr. Meredith Bowen - Vocal Program Coordinator - conductor & vocal coaching


Conductor, teacher, and singer, Dr. Meredith Y. Bowen is the Director of Choral Activities at Radford University where she conducts three choral ensembles and teaches courses in conducting, vocal pedagogy, and choral methods. Bowen was recently selected as one of three conducting fellows from a national competition by Chorus America and was a finalist for the 2014 choral conducting award from The American Prize. Her doctoral research focused on restoring music of seventeenth-century Italian nuns for contemporary women’s choruses. Six restored editions are currently under review for publication. Previous to her appointment at Radford, Bowen taught K-12 general music, choir, and band in Lansing, MI, and was the Artistic Director of multiple ensembles in Michigan including: Sistrum - Lansing Women’s Chorus, Holland Chorale, Battle Creek Girls Chorus, and Battle Creek Community Chorus. Bowen holds a B.S. in Music Education from West Chester University, an M.M. and a D.M.A. in Choral Conducting from Michigan State University.


Dr. Pam McDermott - conducting - vocal coaching


Pamela McDermott is the Director of Choral Activities at Longwood University, where she conducts Camerata Singers, University Men’s Choir, and University Women’s Choir and teaches Aural Skills, Beginning Conducting, Choral Methods, and Advanced Choral Conducting. She also serves as choir director at Farmville United Methodist Church and Assistant Conductor with the Commonwealth Chorale. Dr. McDermott has worked with classical organizations such as the Bel Canto Company and the Virginia Symphony Chorus, with opera at UNC-G and the Farmville Summer Garden Opera, and in jazz and popular venues, such as the Sawyer Sisters and the Mount Washington Hotel. She has been hired as a singer, conductor, vocal coach, choreographer, arranger, accompanist, teacher, and adjudicator. Her experiences range from coaching her peers to teaching children; from working with beginners to collaborating with professionals. Her DMA in Choral Conducting was completed in 2010 at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, where she studied with Drs. Welborn Young, Carole Ott, and Kevin Geraldi. She earned her MM in Theory/Composition at James Madison University, studying conducting with David Watkins and voice with Dr. Sandra Cryder. Her BM in Education was completed at East Carolina University, where she studied conducting with Dr. Rhonda Fleming and piano with Dr. HenryDoskey.Dr. McDermott is a member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO), the College Music Society (CMS), the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), and Pi Kappa Lambda.

Theatre Faculty

Glenna Grant - Theater Program Coordinator


Glenna Grant is an actor, singer, and teacher currently based in her hometown of Asheville, NC. In over a decade as an NYC based actor, she has performed with such companies as The Public, LAByrinth Theatre, The Riot Group, and as a member of "The Bats" at the Flea Theater. Offstage, Glenna has been seen on Fox's The Following, and Identification Discovery's Swamp Murders, among others. Her voice work can be heard in GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay TonyGTA IV: The Lost and the Damned, Lucky 420, and Red Dead Redemption.  As a playwright and teaching artist, Glenna traveled to Ecuador & Tanzania with Dramatic Adventure Theatre Co. A lifelong lover of Shakespeare, she maintains a focus on work that bridges the classical and the modern. Through her work with NC Stage Company's Community Tour, Glenna has taught Shakespeare workshops in schools and communities across Western North Carolina- first as a cast member in 2018, and then as Education Co-Ordinator in 2019. She holds a B.F.A in Acting from Purchase College.   


Nicole Dietze


Nicole Dietze (Suzuki) is an actor, mover, writer and teaching artist whose work has been seen in Los Angeles, CA, Chicago, IL, Columbia, SC, and northeastern Pennsylvania. Nicole specializes in movement training for the actor and in the creation of new works. Currently, Nicole is a Post-MFA Teaching Fellow at Virginia Tech. At Tech, Nicole co-created a new theatre course introducing applied collaborative techniques to non-artist students. In 2016, Nicole completed Cornerstone Theater Company's Institute Summer Residency, serving as Movement Associate for and performing in the original play Ghost Town in Venice, CA. A graduate of the MFA acting program at USC, Nicole is trained in P3/East's Physical Approaches to Performance, the Suzuki method of actor training, and Viewpoints Composition with SITI Company in New York.


Eddie Prunoske

eddie prunoske

Eddie Prunoske (devised theater) is a theater director interested in new plays, old plays, and site specific events.  From 2009-15 he served as the founding Artistic Director of Glass Bandits (a theater company interested in intimate, accessible, unmannered work) where he directed the world premiere of Paul Cameron Hardy's feeling (The New Ohio), as well as the company devised pieces In Memoriam (House of Yes), The Booygman Thumbs A-1-A (Fringe), and a site specific Three Sisters set amidst a Brooklyn loft party.  Other credits include Salty Brine's Dean. Maybe Frank. Maybe Sammy. (Time Out NY Critic's Pick), the New York premiere of Henry Murray's Treefall, Claire Kiechel's Passenger (Crashbox Theater Company) and Dollymops (NYU Tisch/Atlantic), Blake DeLong's The Hottest Blood (in a gutted Manhattan commercial building), John MacDonald's Rough Approximations (Incubator Arts Project) and God on the Roof (Carnegie Mellon University), Lucile Baker Scott & Julia Weldon's Wet Glitter (IRT) Diana Stahl's Meditating with my Parents (Dixon Place), Caroline V. McGraw’s I Get Restless (workshops with The Lark & Big Sky Theater Workshop) and a site-specific staging of August Strindberg's Playing with Fire (in an outdoor Brooklyn garden). Eddie has developed new work with Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Flea, The Lark, HOWL! Arts, and Magic Time at Judson Church.  He was a resident artist at House of Yes, a finalist for the Thayer Fellowship in the Arts/Patricia Kerr Ross Award, and has been a guest lecturer at The New School.  B.F.A. SUNY Purchase.  


Taylor Wood


Taylor Wood is a performer, director and writer currently working as an instructor of acting and collaboration at Virginia Tech. She specializes in ensemble creativity and holistic actor training. Taylor most recently co-directed The Race 2020 at Virginia Tech under a major ICAT grant as part of Sojourn Theatre’s Race Festival 2020. Several of Taylor’s new theatre pieces premiered around the Athens, GA area at the Cellar Theatre, Moonlight Theater Company, and the Atlanta Fringe Festival. Taylor performed and devised new work across the Memphis, TN area with ShoWagon, and wrote an original show for the touring season. Taylor taught acting and devised theatre on faculty at the University of Georgia, during which she travelled to Cortona, Italy to lead workshops on physical theatre and commedia dell’arte. Taylor serves as a performance coach for the annual Ole Miss Speaker’s Edge Competition for graduate students in business, accounting and law. She received a BFA in Acting from the University of Mississippi, an MFA in Acting from the University of Georgia, and specialized training in the methods of Jerzy Grotowski. Taylor believes in the power of live theatre to connect us, move us, and enable us to feel more deeply. Portfolio:



Daniel Bird Tobin (Movement Theatre) is a director, performer, and theatre archaeologist. He has performed his solo shows An IliadConqueror of the Western Marches, and others across the United States and in England. He has assisted the amazing directors Emily Mann, John Doyle, and Sam Buntrock as well as worked with Liz Lerman, Danai Gurira, Nilo Cruz, and Paula Vogel. A graduate of the MFA in Performance program at Arizona State University, he has trained and worked with Dance Exchange, the SITI Company, Tectonic Theatre Project, and the Globe Theatre in London. 


Dance Faculty

Rachel Rugh - Dance Program Coordinator


Rachel Rugh (Program Director, Modern Technique, Improvisation, Composition): Rachel is a dancer, teacher, mover and shaker currently living in Blacksburg, VA.  As a performer, she has collaborated with the DC-based Dance Exchange, as well as Seattle choreographers Pat Graney, Amy O’Neil, and Jurg Koch.  Her choreographic work has been featured at the Seattle International Dance Festival, Movement Research (NYC), and the Washington, D.C. Capital Fringe Festival.  A joyful and enthusiastic dance educator, she has trained extensively in Ann Green Gilbert’s Brain Dance curriculum, and has been an instructor at Virginia Tech, the Virginia Governor’s School, Trillium Performing Arts Collective, and the American College Dance Association 2016 conference.  She is the recipient of the 2017/2018 Dr. Robert L.A. Keeley Healing Arts Residency at the Carilion NRV Hospital. Rachel holds a BA in dance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Keep in touch:

Lee Ann Elder


LeeAnn Elder (Ballet):  LeeAnn Elder, originally from Yorktown Virginia, began her training at the Academy of Dance with Patricia Sorrell. She continued her training at Ballet Virginia International under Janina Bove and Suzanne Lownsbury, where she is now a resident guest artist. Mrs. Elder spent several summers training with the Allegheny Ballet Company, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, the Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. With Ballet Virginia International her repertoire includes The Nutcracker, Serenade, Firebird, Coppelia, Ginger Thatcher’s world premiere of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Pas de Quatre, Swan Lake, Il Distratto, Petrouchka, Fractured Fairy Tales, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and La Sylphide.Mrs. Elder graduated from Radford University in May 2014 with a B.F.A. in Dance and a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics. Her work with the Radford University Dance Department includes Don Quixote, Raymonda, Esmeralda, Frescoes, The Nutcracker, Mikhail Ronnikov’s Heads or Tails, Christopher K. Morgan’s Encountering the Shadow, Wesley William’s Face to Face, and Deborah McLaughlin’s Sounds of Stories Dancing and The Shadow Waltz. She is now dancing her third season as a principal artist with Roanoke Ballet Theatre where she has performed in principal roles in Dracula, Magic Toy Shop, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote alongside Rolando Sarabia, Le Corsaire Pas de Deux, Reveltango, Pas de Quatre, Paquita, and a number of contemporary works.


Guest Dance Faculty


Megan Omohundro (Hip Hop & Capoeira):

Ramya Joshi (Classical Indian Dance)

Eric Mullis (Philosophy of the Body, Joy Davis Accompaniment)

Abigail Anderson (Rehearsal Assistant): Abigail is currently a dance major at Radford University


Joy Davis


Joy Davis (Countertechnique): Joy Davis is a dance artist and educator steeped in Countertechnique®, improvisation, and performance. joyproject is a framework for the creation and production of collaborative performance currently based in Charlotte, NC. Together with collaborator Alexander Davis, The Davis Sisters received a Bessie Schonberg (Boston) Choreographic Residency for August 2018 at The Yard on Martha’s Vineyard and have since created seven evening-length performance experiences together with support from Boston Center for the Arts, The Dance Complex, Bates Dance Festival, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Goodyear Arts Charlotte, and Dance|Now NYC. Joy completed an MFA in Choreography and Performance from Smith College in 2015, and was certified to teach Countertechnique® in 2012. Her teaching and performance endeavors include Gibney Dance NYC, Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation, Lion’s Jaw Festival, Arizona State University, American Dance Festival, and One Body One Career @ Springboard Danse Montréal. She has taught as Visiting Faculty at Smith College, Wesleyan University, and Harvard University. Joy is Associate Professor at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.


Nekeshia Wall


Nekeshia Wall (West African Dance): Nekeshia Wall, of Greensboro, NC, graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and African American Studies. Wall recently completed her Masters of Fine Arts in Choreography at Hollins University in collaboration with Kunstlerhavs Mousontvrm and The Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts, with support from The Dresden Frankfort Dance Company. She recently joined the UNC Greensboro dance department as an adjunct teaching traditional West African dance.

James Robey


James W. Robey is author of Beginning Jazz Dance and Robey Jazz Dance Technique and Curriculum™, and Associate Professor of Dance and Chair of the Department of Dance at Radford University. He is the former Chair of the Department of Dance at Webster University in St. Louis where he received the 2015 Wilma and Roswell Messing Jr. Faculty Award and is a 2017 graduate of the Global Leadership Academy. James received a BFA in Dance (Magna cum laude) from the University of Akron and an MFA in Dance (Phi Kappa Phi) from the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. James is a former professional dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company, Connecticut Ballet, GroundWorks Dance Theater, New York Dance Theater, Off Center Dance Theater, Ohio Dance Theater, Covenant Ballet Theater of Brooklyn, Cleveland Opera, Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Busch Gardens. As a choreographer, James was Founding Artistic Director for the Bare Bones Dance Project in New York City and James Robey Dance in Connecticut and has created works for Connecticut Ballet, Missouri Ballet Theatre, CelloPointe, Full Force Dance Theatre, Ohio Dance Theatre, MADCO, Consuming Kinetics Dance Company, Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra's productions of Histoire du Soldatand Dances from Gloriana,SKIP Entertainment Company in Guam, numerous festivals throughout the United States and Italy, and for several universities. As an educator, he was a faculty member at Webster University in St. Louis, Thailand, and Switzerland, The Hartt School/University of Hartford, University of Akron, Long Island High School for Performing Arts, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Manhattan Motion Dance Studios, Broadway Dance Center, The Dance Institute, Western Reserve Academy, and Ohio Dance Theatre. He presented guest artist workshops, master classes, or residencies at Yale University, Wellesley College, Purdue University, Mahidol University in Thailand, Patravadi School in Thailand, Centre Stage School of the Arts in Singapore, Artists in Motion Network in Canada, American College Dance Association regional conferences, Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts, Houston High School for the Visual and Performing Arts, Interlochen Center for the Arts, National High School Dance Festivals, The Big Muddy Dance Company, MADCO, Synthesis Dance Project in NYC, and COCA in St. Louis. James is a member of the National Dance Education Organization; a member of National Association of Schools of Dance; and on the Board of Directors for the Webster Center for Creativity and Innovation in Geneva, Switzerland. James also served on the national board of directors for the American College Dance Association; as Director of the Modern and Jazz programs at Eastern Connecticut Ballet; Director of the dance program at Western Reserve Academy; Director of Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance for over 10 years; and as a member of the Board of Directors and the Advisory Committee of the Connecticut Dance Alliance; Connecticut Ballet's Danbury Dance Initiative Task Force; the creative team behind the Young Choreographer's Festival in Stamford, CT; and the Advisory Board for Ridgefield Music & Arts Center. He has presented papers and workshops at Creativity Week in Geneva, Switzerland, Henley Business School at Reading University, Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival, multiple National Dance Education Organization National Conferences, Hawaii University International Conferences on Art and Humanities, Advancing Creative Thinking: Imagination to Innovation, American College Dance Association conferences, California Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, Fontbonne University, and for Transmodern: Integrating the Art and Science of Movement at the University of Milwaukee, WI. James current research interest involves exploring Integral Movement Theory as a synthesis of contemplative and somatic theories, Integral Theory, and the theatrical, western dance tradition. Research activities include applying and synthesizing Integral Theory to dance education (technique & pedagogy), dance making, and dance philosophy. 


Kate Wells


Katie Wells (Improvisation, Composition, Conditioning, Yoga): Katie earned her M.F.A. in Dance and Interdisciplinary Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder and her B.A. in Dance from Columbia College Chicago. Katie is a solo improvisation artist and the creator of Interweave Conscious Dance. To learn more about Katie, visit

Jennifer Snyder

Jennifer Sydor (Ballet and Modern Technique, Pointe, Pilates): Described as "dazzling" by The Boston Globe and "remarkable for her intense focus and vivid dramatic skill" by The New York Times, Sydor began her dance training at The Dayton Ballet School. She holds an MFA from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a BFA from Butler University.  In NYC, she has worked with choreographers such as John Carrafa, John Heginbotham, Jill Sigman, Stefanie Nelson, Nia Love, Janice Lancaster, Sharon Moore, Ben Asriel, Janessa Clark, to name a few.  She has toured internationally as a dancer with the avant-garde performance troupe and electro pop band Fischerspooner, in collaboration with The Wooster Group.  She has performed in Doug Elkins' Bessie Award winning Fraulein Maria, as well as a featured performer in David Parker and The Bang Group's Nut/Cracked, for five seasons.  Jennifer is in her eleventh season as a dancer with The Metropolitan Opera where she has worked with Tony Award winning directors such as Mary Zimmerman, Michael Grandage and Bartlett Sher.  She has appeared in The Met Opera's Live in HD broadcasts worldwide, and on PBS's Great Performances in the operas Manon, Don Giovanni, Armida, Turandot and La Sonnambula.   She currently works with Laura Peterson Choreography, Vanessa Walter's dance theater and film project, Ripening and Third Rail Projects immersive dance theater show, Then She Fell.


Arianne Thompson


Originally from Bristol, Virginia, Ms. Arianne Thompson began dancing at Watts Dance Studio and Xtreme Dance Company under the instruction of Carolee Watts Hacker and Kimberly Ann Fore. She has since received a BFA in dance from Radford University where she trained under Danah Bella, Bob Boross, Amy Vankirk, Ji-Eun Lee, and Inessa Plekhanova of The State Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg. She has had the opportunity to perform as an apprentice company member with d a n a h b e l l a DanceWorks from 2014-2016, at the Capezio Peridance Center in NYC for the Jazz Choreography Enterprise Showcase, as well as the American College Dance Association. Her most recent performance includes performing at the Kennedy Centre for the American College Dance Associations National Gala. In addition to her performance background Ms. Thompson has been the Ballet and Modern Director for Xtreme Dance Company for 6 years, the Acrobatics and Competition educator for Pulaski Dance Productions for 4 years, and an instructor for the Radford University Ballet Youth instructional program. She was an adjudicator for the Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s School for the Visual and Performing Arts in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Most recently she was able to present her creative work while teaching during the Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s School for the Visual and Performing Arts 2016 and 2017. Arianne is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology at Radford University.

Tacie Jones


Tacie Jones (Dance Film) is an artist exploring facets of trauma and memory in a postdigital world. Her current research focuses around the juxtaposition of impermanence and materiality in relation to the conditions of gender trauma. Her combined background in studio art, new media and social practice centers creativity and interconnection as catalysts for understanding the individual’s part in community resilience. Tacie holds a B.F.A. in Studio Art from George Mason University, an M.Res (Master of Research) in Creative Practices from the Glasgow School of Art, and an M.F.A. in Creative Technologies from Virginia Tech. She is currently working toward a practice-based interdisciplinary Ph.D. at Virginia Tech. 


Amy VanKirk


Amy VanKirk received her MFA in Dance with a dual emphasis in choreography and performance from the University of Arizona. While in Arizona she enjoyed performing, choreographing, and directing and was able to train with James Clouser, Douglas Nielsen, Michael Williams, and Sam Watson. Amy also had the opportunity to serve as the rehearsal assistant for Ann Reinking and Gary Chryst, and as the assistant to the director for the Arizona Jazz Dance Showcase. Before pursuing a graduate degree Amy worked for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as a dancer, dance captain, and rehearsal director. During her tenure with Royal Caribbean she performed in numerous shows and traveled to Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand. Amy received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from the University at Buffalo and was a member of the celebrated Zodiaque Dance Company. Amy has been a dance educator for over fifteen years, and her multifaceted teaching credentials include jazz, modern, tap, theatre dance, ballet, and ballroom. She is also a certified Ultra Barre℠ Instructor. Amy continues to work as a freelance performer and choreographer throughout the United States.