The Department of Dance acknowledges the wonderful and exciting achievements of our alumni since they have embarked upon their professional careers.

Graduate Students:

Carisa Armstrong, MFA 2002, is Director of the Academy for Visual and Performing Arts at Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas where she is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology.

Jane Baas, MFA 1978, is an Associate Dean in the Honors College at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Karina Browne, MFA 2014, is Director of Dance at Notre Dame College in Cleveland, OH and is also the co-director at All That Jazz Dance Academy in Castalia, Ohio.

Christopher A. Bell, MFA 2012, is working in New York with renowned choreographer Mark Dendy in his Mark Dendy Projects.  Recent projects include performing in Dendy’s NEWYORKNEWYORK@AstorPlace in May 2015.

Carissa Bellando, MFA 2013, following her time working on the AIDA Cruise Line,  Ms. Bellando now teaches at Wagner College in Staten Island, NY.

Jenn Birou Lakamp, MFA 2010,  owns a dance studio Dance Haven in Youngsville, LA, where she offers a wide range of dance studies to over 60 students.

Michelle Blanton Strong, MFA 2011, is as an Instructional Assistant Professor at Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas.

Karlie Budge, BA 2016, was offered an apprenticeship with the internationally renowned Mark Morris Dance Group, September 2018.

Victoria Chu, Minor 2011, is a company member at Columbus Modern Dance Company (CoMo) in Columbus, OH

Amanda Clark Tanruther,
MFA 2015, was appointed as full time Dance faculty and Co-director of Dance Performance at the noted Cleveland School of the Arts in September, 2018.

Kristy Clement, MFA 2013, is currently performing with the Detroit Dance Collective.

DeWitt Cooper III, MFA 2007, teaches modern dance at the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida where he is also Artist in Residence at La Villa School of the Arts creating a new work to music by Carl Jenkins titled “STILLL SURVIVING”. Since 2012, he has been the Artistic Director of the Jacksonville Center for the Arts, one of Florida’s finest dance institutions, and he continues as the founding Artistic Director of CooperMorgan Dance having recently celebrated ten years of performances. In 2020, he received the ‘Adjunct Teacher of the Year’ award from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville,  Florida.

Lauren Fekete,
BA 2012, is a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at NHS in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Scotland.

Patricia Gay,
BA 2009, is an Associate Archivist at the renowned Jacob’s Pillow.   Patsy was a double major in Dance and Art History and was a summer intern at the Pillow as an undergraduate.  Following graduation from CWRU, she earned her MA degree in Dance History at Florida State University.

Gina Gibney
, MFA ’82, is founder of Gibney Dance in New York where she has expanded her Gibney studios to include the newly renovated Performing Arts Center at 280 Broadway.  She also founded the Dance in Process program which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Emily Johnson Boyd, MFA 2002, is currently Associate Professor of Dance at Tarrant College in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  In recent years she performed with long-time colleague and fellow CWRU alumna Carisa Armstrong, at the Dallas Dance Festival following a collaborative project in New York with Mosaic Dance.

Sherry Harper, MFA ’11, is currently an Instructor of Dance in the Health and Human Performance Department at Prairie View A & M University in Prairie View, Texas where she both teaches dance and serves as the Artistic and Executive Director of the Classic Dance Ensemble.  She is also Adjunct Professor at Lone Star College in Cypress, Texas and the Vice President of Black College Dance Exchange.

Mark Katz, MA 1976, Bea and I will be performing in a very fun and interesting version of the Nutcracker ballet! Below is a link that gives you all the information.  Bea and I are among the invited guests.  We will do a dance together that was choreographed for us.  There are actual real dancers in the production who are really quite talented.  Hope to see you there.

Lin Kahn, MA 2003, was named a 2014 Jewish Chicagoan of the Year and one of 100 Women of Inspiration by Today’s Chicago Woman magazine for her work in dance education and performance. She is entering her 7th year at DePaul University in Chicago as an adjunct professor where she has been recognized with the DePaul Excellent in Teaching Award.

Evangel King, MA, 1975 will participate in the annual Art in Nature Festival on Sunday, September 20, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Redwood Park.  The performance will take place from 11-11:30 am at “Old Church (upper trail/left side)” a 15-20 minute walk up the Stream Trail at Redwood Regional Park (maps available at the event).  Evangel will collaborate with performing artists, Nan Busse, Diana Marto and Alan Phillips; visual artist Gillian Garro and a host of musicians to create a new Ancestors Speak Ceremony. Look for the Knotted Red Cord and Spirit Boat!

Evangel King, MA, 1975 continues to collaborate with Bob Marsh, among other pursuits, on a project that explores the variety of meanings, literal and metaphorical, of windows, doors and rivers. They present their often site-specific work throughout northern California.  Recently, Evangel performed a newly adapted excerpt of FIRE Now, choreographed by Deborah Hay, at Dance-A-Rama in Berkeley, CA on Sunday, May 3, 2015.  Dance-A-Rama is a yearly event held in several of the dance studios in the Sawtooth Building, which is an artist’s center in West Berkeley.

Jamie Knurek Smith, MFA 2009, having recently completed the DPT in Physical Therapy at Cleveland State University is now employed at the Sports Rehabilitation Consultants in North Royalton, Ohio.  She continues to work with the Dancer Wellness Team in the Department of Dance at CWRU.

Kathleen Kohatsu, MFA 2003, is the owner/director of the Creative Edge Dance Studio located in Bethlehem, NH.  The studio is partnered with The White Mountain School, a small private boarding and day school for students 9th – PG where Kathleen is also on the faculty.  In the spring of 2014, Kathleen’s dance, Water Wheel, was reconstructed and performed on the celebratory 30th Anniversary of MaDaCol concert series.

Holly Labbe, MFA ’99, is teaching a ‘Movement for Theatre’ class at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA as well as costuming their production of ‘Twelfth Night.’   She is also working on Bridgewater College’s production of ‘Agamemnon’ — movement/choreography and costume design.

Sharon Manuel, MFA 2004, completed the Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Cleveland State University in December of 2014.

Janet Meskin, MFA 1983, recently retired from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) where she was a Traveling Elementary Dance Teacher and taught Creative Movement for Children since the Visual and Performing Arts Program began with LAUSD in 1999.  She is traveling to Spain this summer, 2015 and will walk the 500 mile trek on Camino Frances to Santiago Compostella, walking 4 – 8 miles a day.

Kelli Sanford, MFA 2007, recently toured to the San Diego Fringe Festival with fellow CWRU alumna Shannon Sterne and the Cleveland Dance Exchange. Ms. Sanford is the Artistic/Executive Director and founder of RED Company in Akron, Ohio, now in its fourth season. On June 10 – 13, 2015, Ms. Sanford held an Open House to announce the grand opening of the RED Dance Center & RED School of Modern Dance. The RED School of Modern Dance offers modern dance technique and other genres such as ballet, modern-ballet fusion, creative movement, and jazz for all ages and levels of experience, as well as upcoming summer intensives for the community. Classes begin June 15, 2015.

Kaysie Seitz Brown, MFA 2001, is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre & Dance at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX where last fall, she received a highly competitive internal grant from the Research Enhancement Program, to implement a tuition-free after-school program at Crockett Elementary in San Marcos, TX – “Enhancing the Learning of Science through the Creation of Dance”.  In August 2016, she performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotlant and is the Artistic Director of the ensemble CIM TEYA, Creation in Motion Touring Ensemble for Young Audiences.

LeAnne Smith Stedman, MFA 1983 is the Director of Dance at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas and is undertaking a collaborative project with long-time colleague and fellow CWRU alumnus, Louis Kavouras, to set up an Erick Hawkins archive.

Shannon Sterne, MA 2004, recently toured with the Cleveland Dance Exchange, a collective she founded, to the San Diego Fringe Festival where she both presented her own choreography and performed in works by colleagues and members of the exchange.

Rachel Stoneking, MFA 2012, is Assistant Professor of Dance at Anderson University in Indiana.

Chun-Jou Tsai
, MFA 2013, produced an evening length work, The Dream Project, sponsored by Boston’s Penumbra:Exchange and performed at the Green Street Studios.  In addition to choreographying in the Boston area, Ms. Tsai also performs with Urbanity Dance and teaches for the Chinese Folk Art Dance Workshop, Bright Pearl Dance Academy, Jia Yun Dance Company, and Winchester Wen Chen Dance Group.  She is one of very few professional dance artists in Boston currently merging Asian traditional dance with Western contemporary forms.

Susan Vencl, MFA ’90, is presenting her evening length work About Long Before Afterward in New York City at the Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, February 19 – 21.  The work for five dancers was created to music composed by Arlene  Sierra.

Ying Xu
, MFA 2012, is an Adjunct at Coker University  and also has her own dance studio, Living Stream Enrichment Center, where she teaches and choreographs.  She is also coordinating an International Dance Teacher’s workshop between China and UW Madison.


Undergraduate Students:

Majors: BA in Dance

Eve Lanyi, BA, 2014 currently resides in St. Francis, South Dakota where she teaches fourth grade English Language Arts at Saint Francis Indian School.  She plans to share her passion for dance with her students and community through the school’s drama program.

Majors: BA in Theater Arts

Claire Cobb, BA, 2011, completed her DPT in Physical Therapy from Northwestern University and is currently practicing at the Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.

Lauren Fekete, BA 2012, completed the MSc in Dance Science & Education from the University of Edinburgh in 2013 and will be returning to Scotland in 2015 to pursue an MSc in Physiotherapy.

Patsy Gay, BA, 2009, was a double major in Dance and Art History at CWRU and was a summer intern at the Pillow as an undergraduate.  Following graduation from CWRU, she earned her MA in American Dance Studies from The Florida State University (FSU).  Currently Ms. Gay is an Adjunct Instructor for FSU’s New York City program run by Dr. Sally Sommer. She is also the Archivist and personal assistant for Eiko, of Eiko & Koma.  In 2017, Patsy was appointed as the Associate Archivist at the renowned Jacob’s Pillow.

Keely Saslow, BA 2013, is living in New York City where she continues her studies in dance at the Limon Institute and pursuing performance opportunities.

Dance Minors:

Sarah Robinson, Dance Minor, 2010, has founded her own company based in Cleveland, Fire and Light Performing Arts LLC