Welcome to the new academic year!
Find out what TDPS alumni have been up to over the past few months.
Friday, September 8, 2017
Dear Alumni of the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies,

As we begin a new academic year, I want to share with you how important the School’s continued relationship with you is to our faculty, staff, and current students. As the national and international world staggers forward with all the looming questions and fears, it is amazing how the learning and research in which the School engages continues to soothe the soul; how critical thought and collaborative relationships further our conversations, our respect for each other, and our curiosity about the human condition. 

Last year we continued bringing alumni (many of whom are now Board members of the School) and experts in to meet the students, offer master classes, and prepare them for the marketplace they will enter – whether it is dance, choreography, becoming an actor, director, playwright, artistic leader, teacher, doctor or lawyer. As an academic community, we continue to address unconscious bias through town halls, student engagement in art throughout campus, and workshops to address the current climate created by the nation’s divisions. 

We will engage in a number of alumni events this year. On December 8 th, directly before the opening night of the Faculty Dance Concert, we will have an alumni cocktail party. You are invited, so save the date! After the Faculty Dance Concert, we will have a huge celebration of Alvin Mayes’ 40 years of Dance leadership at UMD. Please come and party with us!

On January 8 th, we will hold an alumni networking event in Los Angeles with a panel of enormously successful alumni leading discussions on entrepreneurship. This will be a joyful celebration of our ground-breakers on the West Coast with strategic thinking about the future. Mark your calendars!

Finally, in the spring of 2018, we will hold a networking event in New York City that will focus on an alumni dance concert or theatre performance. The date and more details will be announced later this semester.

While the GPA of incoming students continues to rise, their souls and creative hearts remain deep, insightful, intuitive and kind. We are proud to be on the front lines of conversations that matter, and to be the leading producer of the tri-state talent. You are a large part of that pride. 

And finally, please stay in touch, reach out to us with how you can become more involved, and come and see our current students perform!

You are valued!
Leigh Wilson Smiley, Director
University of Maryland School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
In this newsletter:
  • Giving to TDPS
  • Main Season - Fall 2017
  • Alumni spotlights
  • Alumni production notes
  • Alumni placements, publications, and awards

Stay in touch by emailing your news to  tdpsmarketing@umd.edu,  and share with us on social media!
Giving to TDPS
John Ford '64 and Sandra Poster '64 Give to TDPS
to Support Performing Arts Education
University of Maryland (UMD) alumni John Ford ‘64 and Sandra Poster ‘64 met during their undergraduate years in the UMD Theatre program, then known as Speech & Dramatic Arts. They went on to build careers in speech and communications, and they are longtime patrons of the arts. This past year, they decided to make a gift to the University of Maryland’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) to support the future of performing arts education.
 
Ford says,

“My wife Sandy and I were so fortunate to have met as undergraduates in the Theatre program and worked side by side on many a production and to have grown our love of the performing arts (and each other) through those wonderful times. We then pursued parallel and related careers over the ensuing years. Fifty seven years later, we still love the performing arts (and each other) and are immensely grateful to UMD for the inspiration and the career training. It is our joy to say thanks and to give back.”
 
The gift will create an operating endowment to support the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies’ mission and excellence of education. Income from the fund would support an array of important areas, including but limited to scholarships, graduate assistantships, faculty research, instructional technology, and more.
John C. Ford, Chair of the TDPS Board of Visitors, with his wife, Sandra Poster.
Both received their BA in Speech & Dramatic Arts (later known as Theatre) in 1964.
John Ford has had a long career in New York City on Wall Street and in broadcasting, and has more recently shifted to consulting in organizational development and communications for financial, entertainment, and high tech firms. He is the Chair of the Board of Visitors for TDPS and he sits on numerous other committees in academe, the arts and community affairs.
 
Sandra (Sollod) Poster has just retired after fifty years as a full professor of Speech, Communication and Theater Arts at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY). There she developed communication skills training programs, and she has also written and produced numerous promotional and instructional videos, live events, and fundraising activities. She won a prestigious scriptwriting Emmy Award for the “We Are New York” series in 2009.
 
Ford and Poster worked side by side on many theatre productions during their time at UMD in the 1960s, as well as on a radio show at the university’s WMUC station (for those who know, Poster was the ubiquitous “Miss Midnight”). They both mark their 75th birthdays this year and are still avid patrons of theatre and dance.
 
Ford says, “We are so grateful to Maryland, most of all for introducing us to one another in 1960 and then imparting a lifelong love of the arts.”

Thank you, John and Sandy!

Read this story on our website here .
Main Season - Fall 2017
Check out our Main Season productions this fall!
By Sophocles
Translated by Brendan Kennelly
Directed by Lisa Nathans
October 6 - 13, 2017

Antigone, a young woman, speaks truth to power, firmly convinced that she is right in following her moral imperative. Her King, Creon, is firmly convinced of the opposite – his law should be obeyed. This elemental ancient play about primordial human themes – honor, loyalty, love, betrayal and conviction – resonates as sharply and as damningly today as it did when it was written 2,500 years ago. This production will focus on the paradox of who is right versus who is wrong... Antigone or Creon? With the help of a modern Greek chorus, audiences will come to their own conclusions.

PLEASE NOTE: Tickets to the evening performance on Saturday, October 7 include admission to a  pre-show lecture by James Hollis, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Jung Society of Washington . His lecture is entitled, "Antigone's Dilemma: An Introduction to the Universality of Choice and Consequence." We are excited to connect and co-create with the Jung Society and take advantage of this partnering opportunity here in the Washington, D.C. area.

Shook by LaTefia Bradley
ambiguous gaps by Jen Graham
October 13 - 15, 2017

Shook by LaTefia Bradley
Momentous or miniscule, indisputable or understated – there are some experiences that shake us, altering the course of our lives, and the fabric of who we are, in incalculable ways. This modern dance piece asks us to reflect on how we become who we are. Inspiration for the piece draws from the choreographer’s interviews with UMD community members, featuring an installation showcasing this footage.

ambiguous gaps by Jen Graham
Drawing from elements based in American jazz, this piece explores the relationships between construct and reality, experience and observation, the undefined and the finite, and the resonance between inner experience and outer connection. Employing a communal, inclusive space that leaves room for spontaneity and improvisation, this soulful, bluesy experience invites audiences to connect – both with each other and with their authentic selves.

By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Jennifer L. Nelson
November 10 - 18, 2017

Someone can’t get a signal. Friends debate the existence of God. A man has a secret. A scientist dissects a brain. A person is in love and that love can’t be reciprocated. Experiencing this kaleidoscope of vignettes is like watching a stranger’s Snapchats – the characters may be unfamiliar and unrelated to each other, but the emotions are instantly recognizable. In this relentlessly paced serio-comedy, celebrated British playwright Caryl Churchill ask show our infinite access to inspiring, mundane, crucial, insignificant information affects how we connect to each other – and ourselves.

Directed by Paul Jackson
May 5-7, 2017

The Faculty Dance Concert brings together the eloquent and provocative work of Dance faculty members Adriane Fang, Maura Keefe, and Alvin Mayes, with artist-in-residence Carlos Funn and guest choreographer Liz Shea. Through gesture and verse, meaning through motion, this collection of dances will captivate and inspire!

Alumni Spotlights
Paige Hernandez '02
Alumna Paige Hernandez (BA Theatre '02) has received a number of honors, opportunities, and press attention recently. She was honored as one of Washingtonian magazine's 40 Under 40 and featured as an artist to watch in American Theatre magazine. She was also recently featured in Broadway World for her work as director for Queens Girl in Africa for Mosaic Theater Company and other recent projects. The University of Maryland's Terp magazine also highlighted Paige's work as a member of the first class of Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellows. Paige is devising Clove with our TDPS students ahead of its premiere at The Clarice this spring--we're looking forward to having her here!
Caroline Clay '13 
Caroline Clay (MFA Performance ‘13) was recently part the cast of The Little Foxes by Lillan Hellman on Broadway (Manhattan Theatre Club) with Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon (directed by Daniel Sullivan; opened April 19 2017). Her work in the show was covered by the University of Maryland's Terp magazine , the New York Times, and the Washington Post . This month, Caroline stars in Skeleton Crew at Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C.
Adam Shapiro '02
The LA-based theatre company IAMA THEATRE of Adam Shapiro (BA Theatre ‘02, Chairman of the Founder's Board for IAMA THEATRE) and his wife Katie Lowes (Co-Artistic Director of IAMA THEATRE; also known for her role in the television show Scandal ) is partnering with Shonda Rhimes as she crosses over into theatre . IAMA THEATRE produces vibrant, voyeuristic theater that stimulates honest dialogue and sustains the future value of theatre within the diverse Los Angeles community. The partnership with Rhimes will contribute to new future works with a focus on cultural inclusion and underrepresented voices.
Meghan Abadoo '16
This fall, Meghan Abadoo (MFA Dance '16) will help lead the new Racial Equity, Arts and Culture Transdisciplinary Core at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of the Arts. The initiative will foster critical dialogue about, and develop mechanisms for, advancing the fair treatment of people of all races in and through arts and culture.

This summer, Meghan's work as an artist-activist was also featured in The Washington Post. Her work, "Octavia's Brood: Riding the Ox Home," which developed out of her MFA thesis at UMD TDPS and premiered at Dance Place in June, is inspired by Harriet Tubman and a 2015 science fiction story collection on social justice movements, a tribute to writer Octavia Butler.

Meghan has just returned from her Fulbright to Ghana, where she researched Ghanaian contemporary dance at the Academy of Music, Dance and Drama at the Noyam African Dance Institute (Noyam) in Dodowa, Ghana. 
Alex Miletich '13

Alex Miletich (BA Theatre '13) is in his second season as an Associate Artist with InterAct Story Theatre, performing in a TYA touring show each school year.

He is also the Company Manager of Convergence Theatre, who were recently selected to be artists-in-residence for the 2017-2018 season at the Anacostia Arts Center.






Ashley David '14

Ashley David (BA Dance '14) recently relocated to Auckland, New Zealand after working at the Kennedy Center, dancing for Capitol Movement and teaching at local studios. Ashley has started a new position in Auckland with The New Zealand Dance Company as their Marketing and Development Co-ordinator.

Additionally, she continues to teach dance through an organization called Shut Up & Dance. 
Abigail Hawk '04

Abigail Gustafson Hawk (BA Theatre '04) is about to begin her 8th season on CBS' Blue Bloods as Detective Baker, assistant to the NYPD Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck). Her film Almost Paris, which had its world premiere at the 2016 TriBeCa Film Festival in NYC, earned the audience choice award at the Beaufort International Film Festival, a Best Director award for director Domenica Cameron-Scorsese at the Big River Film Festival, and a Best Actress award for Abigail at the Hillcountry Film Festival. 
Erica Philpot '13

Erica Philpot's (BA Theatre '13) first production following graduation was To The Rising Sun in New York, with Tony nominee Tsidii Le Loka. The piece performed the words of Nelson Mandela and the songs of Miriam Makeba. 

Her second production was a new musical called Something Like A Fairytale in the 2016 NYC Thespis Theater Festival. The production won 6 awards (including Best Singer for Erica's performance as "Princess Alyse"). The production was selected to be a main stage production at the National Black Theatre Festival in North Carolina. 
Stephanie Thibeault '02

Stephanie Thibeault (MFA Dance '02) has been an Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) since 2008, where she launched the BFA in Dance program in the fall of 2009. She has been ULAR Faculty Representative to ACDA since 2008.

She serves of the Board of Directors for the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) and as the Board President for Arkansas Dance Network.
Lisa Dalton '75

Alumna Lisa Dalton (BA Theatre '75) and her new book Falling for the Stars: A Stunt Gal’s Tattle Tales  was recently featured in Terp magazine. Falling for the Stars is a memoir on Lisa's storied career as a stuntwoman in Hollywood.






Gabriella Meiterman-Rodriguez '13

Alumna Gabriella Meiterman-Rodriguez (BA Dance '13) is developing a dance education program at P.S.343, The Peck Slip school, in Downtown Manhattan. She aligns her elementary dance curriculum (PK-5) to the general education classroom content such as science, math, language arts and more through kinesthetic learning.

Additionally, she teaches vinyasa yoga, chair yoga, yoga for kids and paddle board yoga. She strives to offer movement accessibility to all bodies.




Farah Harris '08

Farah Harris (BA Theatre '08) was recently named the Artistic Director of Young Playwright's Theatre (YPT) and received a 2017 Arts and Humanities Fellowship Program grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. The grant allowed her to develop new short plays for FRESHH Inc Theatre Company, Theatre Alliance, Convergence Theatre, and Act Out.




Kwame Opare '13

This spring, Kwame Opare (MFA Dance '13) presented his Chuck Davis Emerging Choreographer Fellowship project at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Click here to see his video work from his recent trip to Ghana, new choreography, and a question & answer session on his work.






Dior Ashley Brown '06

Dior Ashley Brown (BA Theatre '06) has been performing as a solo musician and with her band dAb throughout the Washington, DC area.

Dior also performed for the second year in It's What We Do at the DC Capital Fringe Festival, which received the Audience Award for Best Drama.
Natasha Pcholkina '11

Natasha Pcholkina (BA Dance '11) is currently teaching at Ovations dance studio in Bethesda. Since graduating, she has been traveling and working in Ukraine and teaching seminars and workshops in Europe, Russia, and India. In 2014, she won the silver medal at a World Championship in Modern Dance and ten of the twelve dances she choreographed won gold, silver, and bronze medals.

Natasha has also worked with students to help them channel emotions connected to the war in Ukraine, after many lost their homes and their dance studio was destroyed in a bombing. She is proud to say that she has helped raise world champion dancers in a war zone for the past three years
Ruben Graciani '05

Ruben Graciani (MFA Dance '05) was recently appointed as Director of the School of Theatre and Dance at James Madison University. His appointment is at the rank of Professor with tenure. Ruben was previously Chair of Dance and Associate Artistic Director at the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University.

Ruben continues to create dance pieces, including his most recent works FIVE and Tethers, Capsules, and Collisions.





Diana Bost '16

Diana Bost (BA Theatre '16) booked a commercial for video game "Life is Strange: Before the Storm." Check out the video by clicking the image! →





Want to put your story in the spotlight? Please email  tdpsmarketing@umd.edu
Alumni Production Notes
EJ Zimmerman (BA Theatre '05) to perform at The Cultural Center at The Opera House.
  • EJ Zimmerman (BA Theatre '05), a regular Broadway performer, will make her solo concert debut in “What I Am,” an evening of Broadway and pop favorites, as well as stories of her life as an Asian-American in entertainment.


  • TDPS alumni company Pointless Theatre produced d0t: A Rotoplastic Ballet - an original musical - this spring at the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint.

  • Aurelia Michael (BA Dance '08) will appear in the Fingerlakes Production of Ghost: The Musical.

  • Tina Marie Casamento Libby (BA Theatre '88) and her company Chasing Rainbows Productions LLC are developing Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz, a new musical detailing the early career of Judy Garland. This summer they held three private industry lab performances in New York City. 

  • Devron T. Young (BA Theatre '97) will direct Ain't Misbehavin' at The Arena Playhouse next summer. The Arena Players is the oldest continually performing and historically African-American community theatre in Baltimore, Maryland.

  • Christian Miller (BA Theatre '86) is playing the title role in Julius Caesar with the Curtain Call theater of Stamford, CT.

  • Moriamo Akibu (BA Theatre '15) performed with the Young Playwright's Theatre and the Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival in April. In July, Moriamo appeared in Barrabas Theatre Company's Exit, Pursued by a Bear at the Capital Fringe Festival.

  • Nathan Claridad (BA Theatre '04) helped produce Diano Oh's {my lingerie play}: Installation 5/10: MAKETY OUTY. Watch video of the performance here, also featuring current TDPS students Radcliffe Adler and Claire Wink.

  • Tendo Nsubuga (BA Theatre '15) played Sylvester in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at 1st Stage in June.

  • Sherri Eden Barber (BA IVSP: Women, Performance, Art, and Activism '03) is the Associate Director of Sweat on Broadway.
Do you want us to share your recent and upcoming work?
Please email  tdpsmarketing@umd.edu
Alumni Placements, Publications, and Awards
Scott Davis '08
Scott Davis (BA Theatre '08) was recently nominated for the Lucille Lortel Award in Scenic Design for Ride the Cyclone.
Dee Dee Ling '17
Dee Dee Ling (BA Dance '17) is teaching middle school dance at Success Academy charter school in New York City.
Rob Jansen '13
Rob Jansen (MFA Performance '13) co-authored an article with Asif Majid Encountering Generation (Wh)Y: Building Bridges through Student-driven, Immersive, Interactive, and Technology-based Devising,” published in the July 2017 issue of in Theatre Topics.
David Phelps '12
David Phelps (BA Theatre '12) will be starting the Master of Fine Arts in Technical Design and Production at the Yale School of Drama this fall. He expects to receive his degree in May 2020.
Jennifer Rimmer '04
Jennifer Rimmer (BA Theatre '04) has accepted a position as Production Manager for the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas. The Shepherd School will be breaking ground on a new Opera Theatre building in September.
  Have you recently received a new position, published a book or article,
or received an exciting award?
Please email  tdpsmarketing@umd.edu
 Do you have news to share with the TDPS community?
Email tdpsmarketing@umd.edu and share with us on social media!

The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
advances and transforms the research and practice of the performing arts
through a commitment to excellence and innovative education.

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Kate Spanos, Coordinator of Marketing & Communications
Jonelle Walker, Graduate Assistant