The School of Dance welcomes new faculty, fall 2021

04 August 2021 Published in News and Announcements

The University of Utah School of Dance would like to welcome our new faculty members, Alexandra Barbier, Joselli Deans, Cherylyn Lavagnino, and Monica Stephenson

headshots 04Alexandra Barbier, Morales Fellow

“The School of Dance is actively evaluating and shifting its policies and curriculum to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. I'm honored and excited to be a Morales Fellow during this time of reflection and growth.”

Alexandra Barbier is a dance artist, educator, and performance maker who holds a BA in French and Women’s + Gender Studies and an MFA in Modern Dance. Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah in 2017. Since then, she has received funding and project support from the B.W. Bastian Foundation and the Salt Lake City Arts Council, has presented her work through various local platforms (including 12 Minutes Max, the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival, and the Salt Lake Performance Art Festival), and choreographed/directed Deseret Experimental Opera’s 2021 operetta Hundred Years Hence. She is a co-organizer of Queer Spectra Arts Festival (for whom she gave the keynote speech in 2019) and was invited to contribute to an audio tour for the Utah Museum of Fine Arts’ exhibit Black Refractions: Highlights from the Studio Museum of Harlem. She has recently served as the Dance History instructor for the Joffrey Ballet and Jazz + Contemporary trainee programs and is excited to spend the next two years as the Raymond C. Morales Fellow in the University of Utah's School of Dance.

headshots 03Joselli Deans, Visiting Associate Professor.

“I am honored and excited to join the faculty as a Visiting Professor of University of Utah’s School of Dance. I am looking forward to facilitating the students as we investigate the history, the theory, and the artistry of dance to participate in the ongoing growth of the field that is truly excellent, relevant and inclusive.”

Joselli Audain Deans, originally from Brooklyn, NY, joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem after receiving most of her training at the company’s school. During her career with DTH she danced numerous roles, including “the accused as a child” in Agnes de Mille’s Fall River Legend. A scholar and an artist, she holds a Doctorate in Dance Education from Temple University. Her dissertation entitled "Black Ballerinas Dancing on the Edge” documents the lives of Delores Browne and Raven Wilkinson and analyses how biased ideas and practices impact African American ballet dancers, then and now. She has taught dance technique at Philadanco and several academic institutions including Bryn Mawr College and Temple University; presented her work at scholarly conferences, including at Corps de Ballet International, ASALH, and CADD; and her research is published on Arthur Mitchell’s archival collection on Columbia University’s library website curated by Lynn Garafola and in (Re:) Claiming Ballet edited by Adesola Akinleye. She has served as a consultant for several institutions and projects including for DTH, ABT, NYCB,  SAB, San Francisco Ballet, the Dance Oral History Project for NYPL, the documentary Black Ballerina, and was a design and facilitation team member for the Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in ballet.  Currently, She is on advisory for  ABT's RISE initiative and she is completing a chapter on ballerina Delores Browne for The Oxford Handbook of Black Dance Studies edited by Thomas F. DeFrantz, published by Oxford University Press.

headshots 01Cherylyn Lavagnino, Visiting Professor

“It is such a pleasure to accept this invitation as visiting professor to the University of Utah’s renowned Ballet Program for the coming year. I am very much looking forward to teaching ballet and exploring pointe work both through pedagogy and through the creation of a new work for the department’s talented student body. I am excited to meet and work in-concert with the department's distinguished faculty. An added bonus to this new endeavor is being in the beauty of Utah's dramatic and expansive landscape, which is in sharp contrast to my hometown of New York City.” 

Cherylyn Lavagnino has a BA in Philosophy (USC), and an MFA in Dance (Tisch, NYU) where she served as Chair 2006-2014. Lavagnino toured nationally as soloist with the Pennsylvania Ballet.  She has performed a range of classical repertoire and contemporary work by choreographers including Balanchine, John Butler, Hans Van Manen, and Tere O’Connor, and the diversity of these experiences has informed the dialogue between classical and contemporary in her work with Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance (CLD).  Ms. Lavagnino has created over forty works since 2000 when the platform for her choreography became CLD. Many of those works were created collaboratively with composer Scott Killian and more recently Martin Bresnick. Lavagnino’s choreography has been presented in New York City and beyond: by The New Festival in Beijing, Bryant Park, Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, Dance Theater Workshop, Symphony Space, Jacob’s Pillow, The Yard, Kaatsban International Dance Center, Indianapolis City Ballet’s Evening with the Stars, Intermezzo Dance, and The Joyce Theatre’s “Evening Stars” series. Ms. Lavagnino is an Alpert Award nominee for choreography and recipient of a space grant residency from the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Her choreography has been supported by the O’Donnell-Green Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Harkness Foundation for Dance, American Music Center, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

headshots 02Monica Stephenson, Adjunct Assistant Professor

“I am honored and excited to join the University of Utah School of Dance as Adjunct Assistant Professor for Ballet Pedagogy. I am a passionate ballet teacher and seek to bring both enthusiasm and expertise to inspire future ballet teachers from the School of Dance. I look forward to synthesizing and passing on all of the information I have learned in studying Dance Education at the graduate level at New York University, doctoral level at Texas Woman’s University, and through instructing and leading a team of faculty as Head of School of The Washington School of Ballet SE Campus in Washington, DC.”

Monica Stephenson is originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the Professional Training Program at the Houston Ballet Academy. In 2002, she received her first professional contract with The Washington Ballet. She went on to perform with the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble from 2003-2005. During this time, Monica also performed in The Nutcracker with Pennsylvania Ballet and Ballet New York and as a guest artist with Ballet Black in London, England. In 2006, Monica joined the Los Angeles Ballet as an inaugural season company member. She performed with the LA Ballet through 2010 and enjoyed the opportunity to dance in classical and contemporary repertory and in many of Balanchine’s ballets. She additionally taught on the faculties of the Los Angeles Ballet School and the Los Angeles Summer Ballet Intensive. After returning to New York City, Monica performed in professional musical theatre as a cast member in Ragtime at the Westchester Broadway Theatre and Footloose at the Fireside Theatre. She has completed her Master of Arts in Dance Education from New York University with a concentration in American Ballet Theatre Ballet Pedagogy and is certified in all levels of the ABT curriculum. Monica was previously a member of the Education Staff at American Ballet Theatre as both a Teaching Artist and the Project Coordinator for Project Plié, an initiative to increase diversity in classical ballet.

Monica joined The Washington School of Ballet SE Campus as Full-time Faculty in the Fall of 2016 as well as Adjunct Faculty for the George Mason University School of Dance in the Fall of 2017. For the 2018-2019 school year, Monica assumed the role of Associate Head of School SE Campus and is currently the Head of School SE Campus. Additionally, she is a PhD student at Texas Woman’s University with a research interest in the intersectionality between ballet pedagogy and race.

The School of dance is also pleased to announce that Rick McCullough will be returning spring semester as a Visiting Professor and one of our season choreographers.