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Conference presenters

If you want to learn more about the latest trends in the performing arts, or if you’re looking for ways to update your own performances and make them more contemporary, then IUGTE Conference “Performing Arts Between Tradition and Contemporaneity” is definitely worth checking out.

Sergei Ostrenko

“Movement for Actors / Acting For Dancers” 

(Practical Workshop)

Sergei Ostrenko “Movement for Actors / Acting For Dancers”  (Practical Workshop)

Sergei Ostrenko has over 40 years of professional experience as a Director, Choreographer and Performance Teacher. Sergei has directed dozens theatre productions and produced international projects for both the professional stage and for education in numerous countries, including Austria, Belarus, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. Ostrenko has directed himself over 50 theatre productions, has been an artistic director in international joint art projects, has been a jury member at dance competitions for around 10 years, has been teaching at universities, has held hundreds of international educational workshops focusing on performance making, physical theatre, choreography, acting and directing. His approach in the international scene is known as the effective method of growing cohesion and the creation of live performances within limited rehearsal time. Students of Ostrenko, theatre workers from Ukraine, Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia, have been using his creative method in their own performance and teaching practice.

Stephanie "Tippi" Hart

"PUSH/PULL/FLY: Exploring text through weight-sharing, counterbalances, and lifts"
(Practical Workshop)

Stephanie "Tippi" Hart "PUSH/PULL/FLY: Exploring text through weight-sharing, counterbalances, and lifts"

Push/Pull/Fly is a workshop that has been developed over the last five years by Stephanie “Tippi” Hart. It was first explored in the classrooms at Arizona State University where she was an Adjunct Instructor in Introduction to Movement for Actors. Her experience as a dancer and assistant artistic director with the professional dance company CaZo Dance Theatre which was strongly based in partner work and contact improvisation made its way into her classroom work and began to merge with text exploration. She continues to develop it as an instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University. This work is intended to be used with established text, it is not a devising exercise. The preference is to use contemporary text (written after the 1950s) but that is optional. How does a line of dialogue change if you deliver it in “mid-flight” as opposed to delivering it as you fall back against your partner? This workshop utilizes concepts of physical theatre and dance by exploring ways in which partner work can enhance story, character, and text through body, shape, and kinesthetic energy. After a brief warm-up there will be a partner work lesson where in we will explore weight sharing, counterbalances, and simple lifts. Once you have established a vocabulary of movements that you feel comfortable with you can use a script that you have brought with you or one that will be provided to find ways to heighten the text.

Monica Newsam

"Aerial Dance for Dancers"
(Lecture and Performance)

Monica Newsam "Aerial Dance for Dancers"

At the age of five, she discovered her passion for dance and movement, which marked the beginning of a lifelong journey to define her unique artistic vision. She is now the President and Co-founder of NEWSAM AERIAL DANCE. Monica’s internationally acclaimed body of work in dance and choreography stretches four continents – from North America and South America to Europe and Asia. Currently, Monica teaches aerial dance at Webster University and choreographs for its dance ensembles. She received her BFA at the National School of Dance and Folklore in Havana. Monica continued her exploration of international movement styles in India. She received a Post-Graduate Diploma in Indian Classical Dance at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Center of Kerala. With her 2003 Master’s in Education from Lindenwood University, Monica began exploring aerial circus techniques, lending new perspectives to her artistic work. Since 2017, Monica and Graciela have been releasing books in the pioneering curriculum Aerial Dance for Dancers, which they use while teaching workshops and master classes. Throughout her extensive creative output, Monica seeks to expand global awareness of aerial dance as an exciting, expressive movement discipline. ________ About the presentation: Our presentation will showcase aerial dance and how we combined traditional dance forms to create a new discipline called Aerial Dance. We will discuss the development of our curriculum to support versatile dancers, providing them with the strength to climb and explore movement in aerial apparatuses, and the transition from developing techniques to the creative aspects of choreography and artistic expression. During our presentation, students will learn about the style and vocabulary that we have created. We will also illustrate how our curriculums support a seamless transition into aerial dance choreography.

Clay Hopper

"The Intersection Ancient Storytelling Techniques and Emerging Technology: Towards a Theatre of the Future"

(Lecture & presentation)

 Clay Hopper The Intersection Ancient Storytelling Techniques and Emerging Technology: Towards a Theatre of the Future

Clay Hopper– Currently Senior Lecturer in Directing at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, formerly the Associate Artistic Director of Olney Theatre Center and Director of both the National Players and the Summer Shakespeare Festival at OTC. Other credits include running the Classic Repertory Company, the flagship education of New Rep Theatre from 2012 – 2016, bringing classic plays and adaptations of 20th-century novels to audiences throughout New England. At BU, Clay has been engaged in research involving emerging technologies in a narrative context and has been developing a novel software application for the design of generative, interactive projections in the theatre. This new technology was deployed for the first time in a world premiere production of A Random Act by Neal Bell in spring 2022. Other credits include On the Verge or The Geography of Yearning at Contemporary America Theatre Festival Actor’s Lab. In 2002, Hopper founded and produced a new play series called New Works/After Hours at Lincoln Center Institute’s Clarke Studio Theatre. Off-off-Broadway: A Home Without by Robert Westfield, Different Zen by Clay Hopper with Third Eye Rep, Earthworms by Albert Innaurato with The Working Group, Triage by Chris Shiea with Miranda Theatre, and The Interrogation by Murphy Guyer with The Miranda Theatre. Hopper has worked as AD at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Theatre Company, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Woolly Mammoth Theater Company. _______ About the presentation: "I will be sharing our journey through the time-tested, ancient principles of narrative construction and storytelling, as it intersects with emerging technology in our quest to create a new theatrical language of psychologized space. I will also provide a demonstration of the technology, as well as my findings of general principles and best practices when engaging with generative design inside a narrative context."

 Rosa Galantino

"S Acting Symbols. A path to awareness"
(Lecture and demonstration)


After gaining extensive experience as a theatrical performer and training in creative languages applied to live arts since 2013, Rosa Lina Galantino has redirected her focus towards communication, particularly in producing documentaries for television and in the field of visual arts. She now handles Public Relations for the artist-poet Tomaso Binga, the stage name of Bianca Pucciarelli Menna. Additionally, Rosa Lina Galantino has created the F.A.M. project format - Facilitator of Arts and Means. ______ About the presentation: Rosa Lina Galantino's presentation delves into the profound role of archetypes as dynamic tools that reveal much about our internal moods and responses to life's subtle cues, challenges, and the evolutionary journey of our human experience. Her research draws on her extensive background as an actress and her deep study of symbols, primarily through Tarots and Astrology. These elements have inspired her proposed path, which aims to guide participants in engaging with their inner 'characters' to gain awareness and harness their potential to craft a clearer and more fulfilling vision of 'how we work'. By connecting symbols to the body—that is, bridging the physical plane with the etheric and symbolic realms—participants can more readily identify the root causes of their difficulties, disharmony, and ultimately, illness. This presentation is an invitation to actively participate in and author one’s own life script through a playful exploration of self.

Beverly Redman

“Expressive voice/expressive body: aligning these essential parts of the instrument” 

(Practical Workshop)

Bev Redman 603_edited.jpg

Redman has been administering and teaching in theatre higher and secondary education for over 35 years. Prior to chairing for Purdue University, she chaired and taught Voice and Speech for the Theatre and Dance program at Ursinus College in the Philadelphia region, was Director of Graduate Studies and professor of Voice and Speech at the University of Texas, El Paso, and a lecturer in Acting and Directing at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. She's directed professionally for various companies in the United States over multiple decades, and she is passionate about international artistic collaborations, as well as leftist peoples' theatre. ______ About the presentation: Redman's voice workshop will aim to open up the expressiveness of the voice, by drawing on a combination of Fitzmaurice Voicework (C), Knight-Thompson Speech-work and practices typical of classical singing training. Expect to move a lot in the space as we play together and explore the full range and qualities of each participant's voice.

Jonathan H. Pattiwael

“Participatory Action through [Spi]rituals: Choreographing Traditional Indonesian Dance with Hip-Hop” 

(Lecture Demonstration)


Jonathan "JayWAN" Pattiwael is an Indonesian American dancer, teacher, performer and choreographer from the Hip-Hop global civilization who makes performances that remix their artistic practices in breaking, hip-hop, house, Indonesian, and contemporary dance to embody an authentic identity in our world. ______ About the presentation: This session will center the human body and corporeal movement as a mode of storytelling through traditional Sundanese dance (from West Java) remixed with Hip-Hop culture. We are interested in stories of immigration, how people come to meet, intersecting aspects of identity and deeply rooted traditions that live within our bodies, lived experiences and ancestral lineage. From a director/choreographer’s perspective, how do we transform an ordinary space into a place of cultural and empathic exchange through participatory action and various forms of ritual practice such as upacara (Javanese traditional ceremony) and Cyphers (Hip-Hop ritual group action).

Shelley Cooper 

“Pirate Jenny: The stories of Lotte Lenya and the music of Kurt Weill” 

(Performance and discussion)


Shelley Cooper is an Off-Broadway Award Winning Solo Actor/Playwright, Associate Member of the Stage Director’s and Choreographers Society, and Associate Professor of Musical Theatre at Augustana College. Her one woman show, La Divina: The Last Interview of Maria Callas was featured in Solofest, Hollywood Fringe (Pick of the Fringe), Orlando Fringe (Best Individual Performance in a Drama) and Off-Broadway at United Solofest on Theatre Row. (Best One Woman Show). Her newest work Jenny Lind Presents P.T. Barnum has been an official selection for Solofest, LA Women’s Theatre Festival Award, Binge Fringe, Fort Worth Fringe, Orlando Fringe FestN4, and made it’s European debut in Austria. Shelley is a very active musical theatre/opera performer. Most noted performances are “Dolly” in Hello, Dolly, "Johanna" in Sweeney Todd starring Tony-Award-winning actress Faith Prince; "Nellie" in South Pacific, and upcoming “Musetta” in La Boheme. For more information visit ______ About the presentation: This presentation is a messy first draft of a new solo show based on the life of Viennese actress Lotte Lenya, German composer’s Kurt Weill’s muse. One of my favorite directing experiences was directing The Threepenny Opera in May 2022. While this production took me out of my comfort zone in terms of style, the challenge was exhilarating. Since Threepenny, I have had the idea of writing a solo show on Austrian/German singer and Broadway performer, Lotte Lenya, but could never figure out; Lenya’s story requires a lot grit, vulnerability, and discussing topics that make me uncomfortable. Lenya’s story is from literal rags to riches. She went from being a physically abused victim by her father in Austrian poverty to the muse of Theatre Greats, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. She was a child prostitute turned Tony award winning Broadway star. Lenya was hugely successful in developing musical theatre as an art form that makes bold statements on society and politics. This presentation will include songs of Kurt Weill, glimpses of Lenya’s life, and will conclude with a Q&A.

Tiza Garland 

Physicalizing Power: Using Chekhov & Laban to Physicalize Power Dynamics in Performance"

(Workshop and presentation)


Dr. Garland is a CMA in Laban Movement Analysis. She is a Certified Teacher with the Michael Chekhov Association, Society of American Fight Directors, the British Academy of Stage and Screen Combat, and Senior Teacher with Dueling Arts International. She is also a performer and theatrical intimacy director. ______ About the presentation: LMA and Chekhov for Calls to Action: A blend of LMA and Chekhov tools redefines character work, addressing equity and inclusion. "Positionality, Intersectionality, and Privilege: A New Character Analysis" examines social identity and power dynamics in character creation, promoting inclusive rehearsal spaces and social justice considerations. It shifts focus from emoting to contextual interactions, analyzing social identities' impact on power within the script. Actors map social identities, identify privileged groups, and physically embody power dynamics using Chekhov tools. This approach enhances character development and fosters nuanced performances aligned with current practices of interrogating power and power structures.

Emily Skelton

“The Reality of Make-Believe” 

(Lecture and discussion)


Emily Skelton grew up in a small town in Kansas, but had big dreams of working in Hollywood. No one knows where the idea came from, and everyone told her it was impossible, but they were wrong. For 30 years she has been employed in the film and television industry mainly as a driver, becoming a 399 Teamster in 2015. During the pandemic she returned to school to finish her writing degree, where she attended school with California State University's International Program, spending a semester in Paris. Since returning to her home in Los Angeles she has experienced a year of unemployment due to the Writer and Actors Strike, where she remembered she was strong, resilient and capable of anything. Today she is back to work, writing a book on Film Production, titled "The Reality of Make Believe, A "Practical" Guide to Film Production." ______ About the presentation: Production is a rewarding job, but oftentimes a stressful one depending on how you approach it. A film or television set can be a daunting place to work if you’re uncertain of your duties. Oftentimes, the first day we land at work on a real production we are not prepared for it, even if we just finished film school. This talk speaks to “The Reality of Make Believe” and how best to navigate through working in entertainment. Though my experience is primarily in film and television, the main points translate to theater, music venues, or traveling trade shows. Anywhere production is happening there are certain tips that can help you survive the run of show looking like a professional, even if it’s your first day at work.

Melita Lomadze

“Presentation on Georgia and Georgian Dance" 

(Georgian Dance Masterclass)


Melita Lomadze is a Georgian dance choreographer who danced in the Georgian National Ensemble Sukhishvili and now teaches there. She opened her own studio, Melita Dance Studio, 20 years ago. The studio offers Georgian dance lessons for both professionals and amateurs, including specialized sessions for tourists and corporate events. Melita conducts Georgian dance workshops both in Georgia and internationally. During the pandemic, she created online classes that are now in high demand in many countries. In 2021, she founded a Georgian dance ensemble, MELITASSY, which performs many concerts both in Georgia and abroad. Melita has 20 years of experience in teaching dance. ______ About the presentation: Georgian dance is a celebration of life and a reflection of Georgia’s rich and diverse culture. Each dance portrays the characteristics of the region from which it originated. The mountain dances differ from those of the valleys or lowlands. The costumes for each dance are unique and mirror the historical attire of various Georgian regions. Georgian dance owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Iliko Sukhishvili and his wife Nino Ramishvili, founders of the Georgian National Ballet. Thanks to their efforts, Georgian national dance and music have become known in many parts of the world.

Gennadiy Ostrenko
"Theatre Biomechanics (Vs. Mejerhold)

(Practical Workshop)

Gennadiy Ostrenko "Theatre Biomechanics (Vs. Mejerhold)"  (Practical Workshop)

Gennadiy Ostrenko is a professional expert in theatre biomechanics technique, movement directing, and stage combat. ​ Despite having a Fine Arts Academy education, he is professionally involved in theatre work for the most part of life. His stagecraft skills have enabled Gennadiy to diversify his artistic activities and he now devotes himself a lot to physical theatre and movement expressiveness. and frequently collaborates with his brother, Sergei, as a Movement Director in performance productions.

Abdul Walid Bin

"Performing Melanau Tradition and Contemporaneity"
(Lecture Demo)

Abdul Walid Bin "Performing Melanau Tradition and Contemporaneity"

Walid Ali is a contemporary performance deviser, performer, and designer. He is a creative director in Luar Kotak Production, a contemporary theatre group in Malaysia. He has worked with many renowned artistes since 2008 (Matthew Cohen, Mazlan Tahir, Aminah Rhapor, Zubin Mohd, Syahrul Fithri Musa, Nadia Khan, Hamzah Tahir, Jo Kukathas, Ridhwan Saidi, Karen Christopher, Mirror Huang, Despoina Stournara). He has performed live art at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Handa Noh Theatre (UK) and Chapters Arts Centre (Cardiff). Besides working as a performing arts practitioner, he is also an author for Selut Press and Peanutzin. Heavily influenced by Peter Brook and Forced Entertainment, his works are mainly related to everyday life but presented in different approaches. His artworks: Uncharted Territory - an Immersive Experience (2020), Lari (2012), How to Read My Map (2016-today), The Kitchen Story (2016), M. Nasir Simbah Cat (2016), Keluarga Borjuis (2016), Ajak Crush Awak (2018), Teater Modular (2016-2018), Kedai DVD Paralel (2015). Besides making Projek Spektrum performances, he is a theatre lecturer at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM). He recently busy with his research on Melanau performing arts; focusing on the ethnic rituals, beliefs and practices in the modern day. ____ About the presentation: The lecture demonstration focuses on presentations and elements of Melanau masks in performance. The Serahang Parade performance for interpreting the spirit contains stagecraft, spoken words and performance arts of the Melanau people of Sarawak. Performed on a river using wooden boats, two performers use individually crafted masks representing their interpretations of spirits. The mask performers use different costumes to indicate to people that they are not similar to other performers on the boat, which use a traditional Melanau black costume. The non-mask performers bring a Serahang, a seven-foot circular decorated object made of dried leaves, which is a gift for the Ipok. The mask for the performance is one of the essential elements. Melanau's visualisations of their spirits are motifs and crafting from sago wood. Crafting does not project emotions onto the masks. Crafting only focuses on Melanau’s visualisation of the otherworldly. The research is a continuous research done since 2017. I will introduce the Melanau mystical world and I am looking for similarities with other cultures around the world with open discussion after the demo.

Graciela Newsam

"Aerial Dance for Dancers"
(Lecture and Performance)

Graciela Newsam "Aerial Dance for Dancers"

Co-founder of NEWSAM AERIAL DANCE and the Director of Arts de l’Air, Graciela was born in Panama and started dancing at an early age. While studying journalism at the University of Panama, Graciela began teaching dance under the guidance of renowned instructors Ginela Vasquez, Leslie Reyes, and Barbara Berger. She performed in different venues throughout Panama City, such as the Pacific Theater Center and the Panama Canal Zone. She also co-founded the first Panamanian contemporary dance company “Creadanza” with her sister and life-long collaborator Monica Newsam. Graciela’s enthusiasm for dance has inspired her to study different movement styles such as classical ballet, contemporary dance, gymnastics, Indian classical dance, yoga, and aerial circus. While studying in India, Graciela received a Post Graduate Diploma in Indian Classical Dance at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Center of Kerala. She also taught ballet and contemporary dance at the American Embassy School and the Lycée Français de Delhi. Successful performances in New Delhi generated invitations for Graciela to perform in both France and Italy. Her interest in dance analysis brought her to Paris to study Benesh Movement Notation at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Musique et Danse de Paris, where she received her bachelor’s degree in 1997. As a professor of dance at the University of Panama, Graciela developed an interest in the native dances of her country. Her 1998 article “La Danza en Ngobe,” based on her research into the authentic dance culture of the Ngobe-Buglé people, appeared in the book Pueblos Indígenas de Panamá, published by UNESCO. In 1999, inspired by their desire to take dance into the local community, Graciela and Monica co-founded Gramo Danse Company, the first aerial dance company in Panama. Graciela also began exploring aerial circus techniques to add another dimension to her work. Through her continuing association with Gramo Danse as a teacher, performer, and choreographer, Graciela is fulfilling her dream of introducing children to the power of dance. Graciela seeks to expand global awareness of aerial dance as an exciting, expressive movement discipline in all the facets of her artistic output. The most recent co-production between Gramo Danse and NEWSAM AERIAL DANCE was the world premiere in August 2016 of Mar de Zvr – Mito y Realidad. This aerial and contemporary dance production tells the fantastic story of Vasco Nunez de Balboa’s memorable journey across the Isthmus of Panama, culminating with the sighting of the Pacific Ocean. Graciela and Monica are committed to expanding global awareness of their uniquely innovative and expressive movement style. Through their continuing work as teachers, performers, and choreographers, and, most notably, in their pioneering aerial dance curriculum developed in conjunction with performing arts students at Webster University, the sisters are fulfilling their dream of introducing performers of all ages to the excitement of aerial dance. Currently, Graciela Newsam is the Artistic Director of the Ecole de Cirque Arts de L'Air based in France where she teaches, choreographs, and performs aerial dance internationally. ______ About the presentation: Our presentation will showcase aerial dance and how we combined traditional dance forms to create a new discipline called Aerial Dance. We will discuss the development of our curriculum to support versatile dancers, providing them with the strength to climb and explore movement in aerial apparatuses, and the transition from developing techniques to the creative aspects of choreography and artistic expression. During our presentation, students will learn about the style and vocabulary that we have created. We will also illustrate how our curriculums support a seamless transition into aerial dance choreography.

Giada Matteini

"Somatic approach to Ballet Technique/Challenging harmful constructs and carving belonging"
(Video presentation/written materials and some practical exercises)

 Giada Matteini Somatic approach to Ballet Technique/Challenging harmful constructs and carving belonging

Giada Matteini (she/her) is an Italian performer, educator, choreographer, and cultural producer based in New York City. She is the Founder and Director of WADE (Wandering Avian Dance Experience), a women-led multifaceted performing arts organization working at the intersection with social justice. Giada holds a full time position as Assistant Arts Professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, she is part of their leadership team and directs both their summer program and their musicians for dance. ______ About the presentation: The presentation will cover Giada’s 30-year process and research as a ballet educator that is anchored in debunking the idea of ballet as an elitist art form, nurturing the appreciation of the many shapes and sizes of the moving body in the ballet vocabulary, and of gender fluidity in the ballet studio. Somatic work, which takes inspiration from many healing and conditioning modalities such as Bartenieff, Yoga, Pilates, Reiki, embodied physiology and anatomy, imagery, Butoh, meditation and mindful practices invites the participants to discover the complexities, mysteries, and intelligence of their own body as a point of entry into the ballet vocabulary. By unpacking ballet's cultural construction, the radical call of action of this work is to be fully present, trusting and joyous of one’s capability and fullness allowing for unhindered collaborations with other creatives and art forms.

Christie Koppe

“Cutting edge technologies and their implementation in rehearsal and performance” 
(Lecture & Conversation)

Christie Koppe_edited.jpg

Christie was Director & Dramaturg for the new play Borderless, which received the "highest recommendation" accolade from the New York Theater Buying Guide and placed as Semi-Finalist in the Script and Storyboard Showcase, Los Angeles, was shortlisted for the Rodney Seaborn Playwright Award, Sydney, and won the official selection for Best Script Award, London. Christie was Director/Choreographer and Co-Producer for the critically acclaimed new Australian work The City which premiered at Sydney Opera House and was the recipient of the Create NSW Play the City grant. She was Assistant Director for Into The Woods: In Concert, New York City Town Hall, which featured an all Broadway-star cast as well as for the new Australian musical, The Red Tree, which opened Sydney Opera House, then continuing to Arts Centre Melbourne. She studied A Practical Approach to Directing at Yale University. Under direction of 3-time Tony® Award-winner Jack O’Brien, Christie was Directorial Intern on the Australian tour of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. For further credits and images: ______ About the presentation: The speaker has carefully curated an engaging selection of technologies for the upcoming presentation, ensuring a cohesive and impactful experience for the audience. To provide firsthand insights and real-world applications, the speaker plans to conduct interviews with colleagues worldwide who have interacted with cutting-edge stage technology. One illustrative example the speaker intends to explore involves Video and Projection Mapping technologies, referred to as 'Technology 1 and 2.' The speaker will offer concise explanations of these technologies and illustrate their practical usage through captivating videos. For instance, a snippet from the first 30 seconds of the musical theatre showreel, showcasing the integration of video and puppetry in "The Red Tree: Showreels" (available at, and a video highlighting the use of projection mapping on a traveling car (accessible at, will be presented to exemplify the application of these technologies.

Dr. Alison Trainer

“Inclusivity on the Opera Stage in 2024” 

(Lecture & presentation)


Coloratura soprano Alison Trainer is a gifted singing actress who has earned international acclaim for her performances in the United States and Europe. Alison was a young artist at Glimmerglass Opera and San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, as well as SFO’s Western Opera Theater tour. She was a Vocal Fellow at Tanglewood Music Festival and Aspen Music Festival. Her early career was based in the USA, where she performed with opera companies such as New York City Opera, New Jersey Opera, and Cleveland Opera. She has performed as a soloist in concert at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, and the Philadelphia Academy of Music. In 2009, she received critical acclaim for her European debut as Fiakermili in Arabella at Theatre St. Gallen. After Arabella, Alison joined the ensemble at Theatre St. Gallen as a “fest” soloist, and went on to debut many of her dream roles, such as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Gilda in Rigoletto, Adele in Die Fledermaus, and Rosina in Il barbieri di Siviglia. She is an internationally sought-after concert and recital artist, voice teacher, career coach, and masterclass clinician. Dr. Trainer is currently an Assistant Professor of Voice at Boston University. She is also on the summer faculty of Opera Seme in Arezzo, Italy, and Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan ______ About the presentation: What does it mean to be truly inclusive on stage in the 21st Century? How do we take a genre like opera, an artform particularly steeped in tradition, and bring it into 2024? Operas often mirror the cultural landscape of the era in which they were composed. A solution is to prioritize what makes an opera timeless; to capitalize on the qualities and human themes that transcend the era in which the opera was written. Opera has changed along with its audience. If we are going to continue staging the “warhorses” of operatic tradition, we have an obligation to honor the work as much as the audience that the work addresses. We can show our respect for our operatic roots by allowing the genre to continue to evolve. Operas we adore, such as Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, deal with class conflict and gender issues—themes as relevant today as they were groundbreaking in Mozart’s time. We are still delighted, in 2024, to see the ways in which the female characters embolden themselves, and the lower class stands its ground against the unfair rule of the privileged class. This is one of the reasons why Le nozze di Figaro has stood the test of time. Inclusivity on stage today must address issues of gender, race, class, and ability, often challenging the cultural and casting stereotypes in opera. “Pants” roles and the singing of castrati, countertenors, and male sopranos are examples of how opera has always taken a lighthearted and flexible approach to gender. What about non-binary or transgender characters, and what about their stories? Only recently have we begun to remedy the woeful lack of racial diversity on the opera stage. Opera professionals have taken a step in the right direction by casting more BIPOC artists, but more significant progress is made when operas are produced that include all voices, stories, and perspectives. Inclusivity goes hand-in-hand with diversity in this respect, allowing opera to evolve beyond its nascent bias. The vocal type, or “fach” of a character, is frequently limited to the stereotypes of Hollywood’s “Golden Age.” Hollywood has moved forward, for example, by casting middle aged women in powerful and/or romantic roles. It’s time for opera to catch up. New thinking regarding inclusive and diverse casting opens our imaginations of what a “leading” character can look and sound like. After all, it’s not only thin, stereotypically beautiful, Caucasian people in their 20’s who fall in love. Yet this is still primarily what we see on the opera stage. Fortunately, we are living in a prolific time for new opera. There are many brave composers, librettists, stage directors, and production teams tackling modern issues. There is an emerging interest in having the characters and situations on stage reflect the diversity of a modern audience. I can’t wait to share examples of modern productions that include operas by BIPOC authors, concerning BIPOC characters and their stories. Operas written about women, by women. Operas created and produced by LGBTQ+ artists, about LGBTQ+ lives. We will look at The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, an opera by Robert Chumbley, adapted from the Carson McCullers novel, exceptional in its portrayal of disability, racial, and class issues. We will look at Melissa Dunphy’s opera Alice Tierney, a story created and composed about a woman, by a woman. Her opera addresses race, class, gender, and sexuality. We will look at Fire Shut up in my Bones, the powerful opera by African American journalist Charles M. Blow, by Terence Blanchard and librettist Kash Lemmons. This opera was premiered in 2019 and is still running at the Metropolitan Opera. Opera will always be spectacle--the ultimate Gesamptkunstwerk. Opera iscapable of igniting social change and cultural shifts. It is up to us to keep this powerful platform flexible, adaptable, resonant, relevant, and inclusive. As we continue to believe in the value of live performance, we can work together to keep opera adaptable, flexible, and inclusive, so when audience members look on stage, they see people who look, feel, and think similarly to the way they do. This approach is the best hope we have for keeping opera alive in the ever-changing landscape of the 21st Century.

Danielle Russo 

“On the Practice and Pedagogy for Choreography in Site-specific to Immersive Dance Theater” 

(Lecture & Practical Workshop)

Danielle Russo

Danielle Russo is an Assistant Professor of the Practice (Dance & Critical Dance Studies) at Cornell University. Her creative and scholarly research concentrates on dance/performance and interactive technologies for unconventional ‘stages’ and environments, frequently in the public realm and through socially engaged praxes. As a choreographer, she has been presented nationally at the American Dance Festival, Detroit Institute of Arts, Jacob’s Pillow, Lincoln Center for Performing Arts at Damrosch Park, The Oculus at the World Trade Center, and The Yard; and internationally in Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Mexico, Panama, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and Trinidad and Tobago. Residency and fellowship awards have included C.N.N. - Ballet de Lorraine (FR), Danscentrum Jette (BE), Nadine Laboratory for the Contemporary Arts (BE), Independent Artists Initiative WUK (AT), Jonah Bokaer Arts Foundation (US), LEIMAY (US), Mana Contemporary (US), Performing Arts Forum (FR), and Springboard Danse Montréal (CA), among others. She is a multi-year grant recipient of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Carnegie, Dance/NYC, Harkness Foundation for Dance, One Brooklyn Fund, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Additional highlights include Armory Arts Week, Julian Schnabel’s Casa del Popolo, Governors Island, HERE Arts Center, The High Line Nine, La MaMA (fabNYC), Moynihan Station, National Academy for Performing Arts (POS), Place des Arts, and Solange Knowles’s Saint Heron, to name a few. Outside of her own devising, Russo danced with The Metropolitan Opera for several seasons. ______ About the presentation: This presentation discusses the revival and growth of unique forms of performance art, including site-specific, immersive, and participatory performances. These forms challenge traditional methods of creating, presenting, and training in dance and theater, expanding the possibilities of storytelling, world-building, and audience engagement through the integration of technology and innovative formats. The presenter explores the historical development and future potential of choreography in non-traditional environments, questioning how choreography's meaning evolves with these changes, the preparation required for performers, and how these practices can promote inclusivity and accessibility in artistic engagement. Danielle Russo, a professional choreographer and artist-researcher, shares their work and experiences in creating performances that interact with audiences in unconventional settings, often in public spaces, emphasizing social engagement. They describe their creative process as rigorous, environmentally conscious, and aimed at exploring social atmospheres and places, believing in the transformative power of collective movement. The presentation will include screenings of the choreographer's projects, discussions on applying these methods in teaching, and practical exercises demonstrating these concepts. The overarching goal is to illustrate the role of choreography in fostering new perspectives and community interactions, underlining the significance of accessible and experiential design in the performing arts.

Ross Osmun 

“Pirate Jenny: The stories of Lotte Lenya and the music of Kurt Weill” 

(Performance and discussion)


Originally from Windsor Ontario, Canada, Ross Osmun holds degrees from the University of Windsor, Royal Conservatory of Music and the prestigious Eastman School of Music. His principle teachers were Dr. E. G. Butler (Windsor) and Professor Barry Snyder. (Eastman) He has performed nationally as recitalist, accompanist and chamber musician with important debuts in Calgary, Banff, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Quebec City, Montreal, Halifax and Charlottetown. International engagements include those in the United States (Detroit, Ann Arbor, Washington D.C., Eugene Oregon and New York City) as well as those in France, Spain, Serbia, Germany, Austria and Russia. He is currently a Professor of Piano and Theory at Bishop's University teaching piano as well as a wide range of courses including Piano Literature, Russian Music, Music Theory and Film Music. In 2008, he received the Humanities Teaching Award in recognition of his effective teaching and dedication to the student body. He has also guest lectured across Canada and internationally in Spain, Austria and Serbia and has been featured in recital on CBC Radio-Canada with Winnipeg-born soprano Melinda Enns. Before arriving at Bishop's, Dr. Osmun held teaching positions at the Eastman School of Music and the University of Prince Edward Island. ______ About the presentation: This presentation is a messy first draft of a new solo show based on the life of Viennese actress Lotte Lenya, German composer’s Kurt Weill’s muse. One of my favorite directing experiences was directing The Threepenny Opera in May 2022. While this production took me out of my comfort zone in terms of style, the challenge was exhilarating. Since Threepenny, I have had the idea of writing a solo show on Austrian/German singer and Broadway performer, Lotte Lenya, but could never figure out; Lenya’s story requires a lot grit, vulnerability, and discussing topics that make me uncomfortable. Lenya’s story is from literal rags to riches. She went from being a physically abused victim by her father in Austrian poverty to the muse of Theatre Greats, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. She was a child prostitute turned Tony award winning Broadway star. Lenya was hugely successful in developing musical theatre as an art form that makes bold statements on society and politics. This presentation will include songs of Kurt Weill, glimpses of Lenya’s life, and will conclude with a Q&A.

 Reiko Huffman

“Reconstruction of Collaboration through the Intersection of Theatre and Identity” 

(Lecture and discussion)

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Reiko Huffman is a freelance Scenic Designer seeking to change and impact the field with emotionally propelled design. Reiko's designs break tradition by bringing in new and wider perspectives into the design process. She incorporates critical awareness into her design process in order to authentically interweave the emotions that motivate her design choices. She embraces unconventional design methods, pursues daring designs, and takes on challenging narratives in order to truly grasp what genuine visual storytelling means. She believes that when we're brave enough to try what may ultimately fail we discover more about who we are as artists and what makes us unique. In addition to her design work, Reiko researches and actively practices critical and emotional awareness in her design process, teaching, and any artistic collaboration. By educating emerging artists on using their emotions and personal stories as tools to make them better designers, she believes we can begin to rewrite the traditional scenic design process and become more inclusive as a field. She actively hosts free design workshops, using what she learns from those moments and applying them back into her own process. Reiko Huffman has a deep belief in collaboration and at times that involves wrestling with hard conversations. However, it's only when we begin that journey and embrace the mistakes that we can truly begin honest growth. ______ About the presentation: This presentation delves into the nuanced reconstruction of collaboration through the lens of identity intersections. It emphasizes the crucial role of emotion and intuition in the collaborative process, particularly in the realms of design and technology within the theatre industry. The presenter aims to demonstrate how integrating emotional depth can enhance the connection between visual storytelling and both the creative team and the communities represented in the narratives. This approach is argued to be vital for the sustainability of theatre in the United States, enabling the art form to stay relevant and evolve by authentically representing and uplifting stories from diverse communities and identities.

Chihoco Yanagi

“Tradition and Innovation: Exploring the Evolution of Japanese Dance” 

(Presentation and demonstration)


Chihoco Yanagi has been working as a freelance dancer in Berlin since 2016. With 14 years of experience in Shin-buyō, a modern style of Nihon-Buyō training in Japan, she creates performances that convey unique messages and stories. Her work often explores the intersection of traditional Japanese dance forms and contemporary artistic expressions, making her a distinguished figure in the dance community in Berlin. ______ About the presentation: In her presentation, Chihoco Yanagi will delve into her journey as a Japanese dance practitioner navigating the realms of tradition and contemporary expression. With 14 years of training in Shin-buyō and extensive experience promoting Japanese culture abroad, she explores the dynamic interplay between Nihon-buyō and Shin-buyō, elucidating the evolution of her personal dance style. Yanagi will candidly address the internal conflicts she has encountered, grappling with perceptions of authenticity and innovation within the traditional dance community. Despite these challenges, she is driven by a deep-seated passion to showcase the allure and timelessness of Japanese dance. Through live demonstrations, Yanagi aims to convey the beauty of Japanese dance, transcending the categories of classical and modern, and highlighting its timeless allure.

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