Category Archives: Theatre & Dance

Romeo & Juliet Opens October 30th

romeo and juliet

The University of Michigan-Flint Department of Theatre and Dance presents

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Oct 30-Nov 8 • Directed by Janet Haley


Romeo and Juliet risk their lives to preserve the beauty of hope they have found with each other…while their families’ ancient grudge rages on with volatile actions of destructive violence in old Verona.

UM-Flint’s Theatre will be transformed in an explosive new way to showcase the passionate action, poetic language, bawdy humor, and electric swordplay of this production’s “violent delights” and “violent ends” for our audiences.

We recommend this production for audiences age 16+ as it contains mature content/language and stage violence.


Running time: Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes.


The University Theatre is located at the corner of Wallenburg and Kearsley Streets in downtown Flint: 303 E Kearsley Street, Flint, MI 48502.

Free parking in the Harrison Street ramp beside the Theatre.


Friday, Oct 30: 7:30

Saturday, Oct 31, 2:00* only – no evening performance

Sunday, Nov 1, 2:00*

Friday, Nov 6, 7:30

Saturday, Nov 7, 2:00* and 7:30

Sunday, Nov 8, 2:00*

*Post-show conversations with director and company follow each matinee


Due to popular demand, and restrictions on seating because of the unique scenic design, we strongly encourage our patrons to purchase tickets in advance.

Box Office: (810) 237-6520 or (810) 237-6522

Box Office is open M-F, 10a-5p + one hour before performance times for ticket purchases.


The acting company features Kyle Clark of Flint as Romeo, and Michaela Nogaj of Flint as Juliet.  Also Marie Blacknall (Flint), Taylor Boes (Metamora), Joshua Cornea (Ortonville), Shelby Coleman (Flint), Andy Eisengruber (Sebewaing), Madaline Harkema (Owosso), Seth Hart (Flint), Chazz Irwin (Flint), Connor Klee (Flint), Jordan Kinney (Montrose), Nick LaRosa (Fenton), George Marzonie (Flint), Lucas Moquin (Flint), Britton Paige (Flint), Stefani Stanley (Clio), Farrell Tatum (Fenton), Mark Vukelich (Burton), Gage Webster (Grand Blanc), Jordan Wetherell (Swartz Creek).

Shelby Newport Announced as Director of the International & Global Studies Program

U-M flint faculty staff portrait on Sept. 9, 2013. Shelby Newport

Shelby Newport: Assoc. Professor of Theatre & Dance and newly announced Director of the International and Global Studies (IGS) Program

On Thursday, September 10th, Vahid Lofti, Senior Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Programs, announced that Shelby Newport had been appointed the new Director of the International and Global Studies Program. Following is his announcement to campus:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Shelby Newport as the Director of the International and Global Studies (IGS) Program, effective September 1, 2015.  Shelby has been serving as the Interim IGS Director since March 2015.

Shelby is associate professor of Theatre and Dance. She has been actively involved in international education, including serving on the IGS faculty since 2012.  Shelby has led two IGS endorsed study abroad courses to England that focus in her content area of British Performance and Design. She also serves as the resident costume designer for the Department of Theatre and Dance and has designed costumes in England. Shelby has an interest and passion for global education and is looking forward to working with the departments that contribute to the International and Global Studies minor.

In the relatively short period of time that she has served as the Interim Director, Shelby has already made a number of procedural improvements to the program. She has worked closely with the Office of Education Abroad over the summer and assisted course leaders for the 2015 Spring & Summer IGS endorsed study abroad programs.

Shelby’s appointment was based upon unanimous recommendation of the interview panel and in consultation with Provost Knerr.  I would like to thank and acknowledge the members of the interview panel for their excellent work: Professor Derwin Munroe, Mr. Daniel Adams, and Ms. Asinda Gadzama.

I believe IGS will continue to achieve even greater accomplishments with Shelby at its helm and look forward to working with her.  Please join me in welcoming Shelby to this important position.

For more information on the IGS program, visit


CAS Faculty Welcomed and Honored at 2015 Convocation

On Monday, August 31, both new and seasoned faculty gathered together for two events: the Academic Affairs Convocation that welcomes new faculty and celebrates our award-winning, promoted, and long-serving faculty members, and the Thompson Center for Learning & Teaching‘s pre-convocation workshop titled “The Actual and the Possible: Cultivating Learning at UM-Flint.”

The workshop featured sixteen faculty presentations, with representatives from each school or college at UM-Flint, focused on innovative and effective teaching methods used in (or out of) classrooms.

The College of Arts & Science was well represented with six faculty speaking on topics ranging from technology to storytelling.


Brian DiBlassio discusses teaching musical elements online.

Brian DiBlassio, Associate Professor and Chair of Music and recipient of the Provost Teaching Innovation Prize, was the first CAS faculty member to present. He discussed the ways in which he brings music alive for online students–where formerly they had only static words on a screen to inform their lessons. By incorporating video, moving graphics, sound, voiceover, and popular media, DiBlassio is able to answer the “challenge of teaching arts purely through text.”

Nicholas Kingsley, Assistant Professor from the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and recipient of the Lois Matz Rosen Junior Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, spoke to his peers about technology that works for both his teaching style and his students’ needs. From interactive digital presentations to a pen that allows recording and playback of his method for working through complex problems, Kingsley demonstrated how his technology choices serve students in the classroom and create resources for future use.


Pat Emenyonu from the departments of English and Africana Studies listens to a presentation at the TCLT pre-convocation workshop.

Jill Slater, Lecturer of Biology, presented on this past spring’s Cell-ebration: a science symposium she created to inform and inspire students from all of her classes. Slater combined more seasoned students’ experiences and newer students’ questions to present cellular research being done across her courses. Her event engaged students in new ways and allowed there to be a focus on what happens after they learn research methodologies in lower level courses. All students came away with skills they can use later in their academic studies and in their professional and research careers.

Thomas Henthorn, Assistant Professor of History, spoke on an oral history project from his class Gods in the City. Henthorn uses the lesson to emphasize listening and communication skills while students explore new topics and religion through their interviews with community members. He spoke about the value of an assignment that can’t be simply gathered from online sources. Said Henthorn, “as wonderful as technology is . . . most of the world’s important business happens face to face.”


Erica Britt talks about Vehicle City Voices and the stories of Flint residents.

Erica Britt, Assistant Professor of Linguistics in the English Department, continued with the storytelling theme by talking about her Vehicle City Voices project. Britt has utilized both graduate and undergraduate students in her collection, coding, and presentation of stories from residents around the city of Flint. In addition to being a documentation of memories, her project is a study in the vocal patterns of speakers in Flint. Students created transcripts and developed word-level, phrase-level, and sentence-level analysis on their collected stories.

Margaret Ware, Lecturer in Biology, was the final CAS speaker of the day. In her discussion she showed how combining factual health histories with fictional characters allowed her students to have a more involved and engaged experience when completing a case study project. Students worked individually to create a story from lab data and then as a small group selected their favorite story or combined elements to create a new one. Ware noted the students were able to utilize a wide variety of skills, including the unusual combination of creative writing and scientific data collection.


UM-Flint faculty, staff, and administrators listen to presentations at the TCLT’s 2015 pre-convocation workshop.

After all the presentations were made, participants had small table discussions to talk about their favorite methods from the day and also to share their own unique methods of teaching. The event was closed by TCLT’s Tracy Wacker who spoke to the joy of teaching and learning as she wished all a successful Fall 2015 semester.

The focus on UM-Flint’s teaching excellence continued later that afternoon at the Academic Affairs Convocation in the UM-Flint Theatre.


Provost Doug Knerr welcomed faculty back to another year of excellent teaching.

The event began with an introduction by Chancellor Susan E. Borrego and a warm welcome from Provost Doug Knerr.

Faculty Awards were announced, with CAS faculty claiming eight of the nine honors:

Lois Alexander, Professor of Music: Teaching Excellence Award

Lixing Han, Professor of Mathematics: Scholarly or Creative Achievement Award

Kathy Schellenberg, Associate Professor of Sociology: Distinguished Service Award

Ernest Emenyonu, Professor of Africana Studies: Alvin D. Loving Senior Faculty Initiative Award

Karen Salvador, Assistant Professor of Music: Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Junior Women Faculty Award

Peggy Kahn, David M. French Professor and Professor of Political Science: Dorthea E. Wyatt Award

Nicholas Kingsley, Assistant Professor of Chemistry: Dr. Lois Matz Rosen Junior Excellence in Teaching Award

Traci Currie, Lecturer of Communication and Visual Arts: Collegiate Lecturer Award

Ricardo Alfaro, David M. French Professor and Professor of Mathematics, was also honored as the UM-Flint nominee for the Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year Award.


Traci Currie receives a congratulatory hug from Chancellor Susan E. Borrego


Professor Ricardo Alfaro receives his Presidents Council Sponsored Faculty Award from Provost Doug Knerr


Assoc. Professor Kathryn Schellenberg receives her Distinguished Service Award from Provost Knerr as Chancellor Susan E. Borrego looks on

Services awards were given to those who have been at the university for 10, 20, or 40 plus years:

Ten years or more: 
Jacob Blumner, English; Traci Currie, Communication & Visual Arts; Michael Farmer, CSEP; Janet Haley, Theatre & Dance; Terrence Horgan, Psychology; Jason Kosnoski, Political Science; Maria Pons-Hervas, Foreign Languages & Literatures; Jie Song, Chemistry & Biochemistry; and Jeannette Stein, Psychology

Twenty years or more:
Jamile Lawand, Foreign Languages & Literatures; Paula Nas, Economics; Stevens Wandmacher, Philosophy


Assoc. Professor Jason Kosnoski receives his Faculty Service Award for 10 years or more of service


Interim Dean Susan Gano-Phillips announced new and promoted faculty of CAS.

Promoted faculty were celebrated (click here for a full story), with those moving from assistant to associate or associate to full professor being named by Interim Dean Susan Gano-Phillips.

From associate professor with tenure to professor with tenure:
Lois Alexander, Music; Jami Anderson, Philosophy; Roy Barnes, Sociology; John Stephen Ellis, History; Michael Farmer, Computer Science and Information Systems.

From assistant professor to associate professor with tenure:
Dauda Abubakar, Africana Studies and Political Science; Julie Broadbent, Psychology; Daniel Coffield, Jr., Mathematics; Rajib Ganguly, Physics; Christopher Heidenreich, Music; Daniel Lair, Communication; Vickie Jeanne Larsen, English; Shelby Newport, Theatre and Dance; Greg Rybarczyk, Earth & Resource Science.

In addition to honoring our more seasoned faculty, the convocation also serves as a welcome to new faculty. The College of Arts & Science welcomed ten new faculty members:

Karen Bedell, Lecturer of Psychology; Halil Bisgin, Assistant Professor of Computer Science; David Duriancik, Assistant Professor of Biology; Jason Jarvis, Lecturer of Psychology; Jacob Lederman, Instructor cum Assistant Professor of Urban Sociology; Jeffrey Livermore, Lecturer of Computer Science; Brian Schrader, Lecturer of Communication; Amanda Kahl Smith, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice; Matthew Spradling, Assistant Professor of Computer Science; and Amanda Taylor, Lecturer of Psychology.

Each of the new faculty will be more thoroughly introduced to the campus and community through CAS Faculty Spotlights, located on the CAS website, throughout the Fall 2015 semester.

The College of Arts & Sciences would like to offer sincere congratulations to all of our faculty on their awards, recognition, promotion, or introduction to the University of Michigan-Flint. We are looking forward to a wonderful academic year of service and teaching.

UM-Flint Helps Support Performing Arts Workshop for Area Youth

TOMORROWs ANSWERThe Shop Floor Theatre Company (SFTC) takes up a small space on the Northbank Center’s second floor, yet it is making a huge impact on the lives of youth in Genesee and surrounding counties. The non-profit organization, affiliated with UM-Flint and led by Theatre faculty member Kendrick Jones, has a mission of “using the arts to engage community” and has been doing so since 2012.

This summer’s project is a seven week cross-cultural, youth driven, performing arts workshop called Tomorrow’s Answer. The workshop is open to students in Genesee and Shiawassee counties at no cost, thanks to scholarships provided by area sponsors. Executive Director Jones says this is to ensure accessibility to all students who want to participate. Transportation for students via bus to workshop sites and performance venues will also be provided at no charge. The workshop will culminate in two free public performances, one in each county.

Tomorrow’s Answer aims to allow youth from urban and rural environments to come together, discuss and express the issues they face in daily life, and learn about the similarities and differences created by their everyday surroundings.

“Bringing Genesee and Shiawassee youth together to explore, create and perform in an artistic manner is a great way to expose these young ones to the different cultural aspects of these communities and learn about one another in an uplifting and positive way. After all, many of these young ones will eventually meet on college campuses in our area. We hope this seven-week cross-cultural program will help to bring about understanding and build lasting relationships for all involved,” says Jones.

During the process, students and community members will learn techniques for encouraging dialogue on divisive issues and explore credible approaches and doable methods to produce positive social impacts.

In addition, students are able to learn transferable skill sets as they work on the production, including: conducting interviews, facilitating and participating in community dialogue sessions, creating scripts, writing lyrics, producing story boards, cinematography, building sets and props, and creating visual art and theatre and dance pieces for the project.

When asked why the Flint area is ideal for such a project, Jones says, “With the renewed commitment and the rebirth of the City of Flint, it is vital that we, as civic leaders, educators, parents, students, and community members, begin to think creatively about how we interact with one another, in an effort to create a culture of positive sustainable working relationships for the betterment of all.”

By allowing the students to drive the dialogue that will become the performances, Jones hopes to ensure that the topics are relevant and honest. He believes in the power the youth will find in having a voice on stage. He also discusses the need for positive stories to come out about Flint and surrounding areas. He says, “If we don’t tell our story, someone else will.”

Jones himself is a part of the Flint story. As the Executive Director of SFTC, he has a chance to give back to the community that he still calls home. Says Jones, “It’s my time to give back; it’s my turn.”

Tomorrow’s Answer is generously funded by the Cook Family Foundation and supported by the Ruth Mott Foundation. A total of 30 full scholarships will be given to Genesee and Shiawassee County teens, ages 15-18. The program will run July 6th-August 22nd. Downloadable applications are available at – click Tomorrow’s Answer. Completed applications can be scanned and e-mailed to For inquiries contact Shop Floor Theatre Company at 810.429.2252.

The Genesee County performance will be held on August 21st at 1:30pm at Randall Coates Auditorium: 1020 W. Coldwater Road, Flint, MI 48505.

The Shiawassee County performance will be held on August 22nd at 7pm at Owosso Community Players: 114 E Main St, Owosso, MI 48867.

Visit the Shop Floor Theatre Company website for more information and to learn about other programs.


Summer 2015 Theatre & Dance Positions

TheatreDancelogoEach year as the winter semester draws to a close, the halls of UM-Flint get quiet. The majority of our students are off campus–some spending a summer at home, others are working, some are doing internships or spending time abroad for study.

The students and faculty of the Theatre and Dance Department are hard at work honing skills, gaining real-world experience, and letting their talents shine as they join companies and productions across the country. When they return in the fall, they will have a season’s worth of insight they can apply to their courses and 2015-2016 productions. Some of our alums are also active in the industry, putting their degrees and experiences to work in their professional lives.

Congratulations to the following Theatre and Dance members on their summer positions:

Lydia Parker – Stitcher at Great River Shakespeare Festival, Winona, MN

Paul Docter – Carpenter at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Center Valley, PA

Lucas Moquin – Performer/Carpenter (George in Drowsy Chaperone) at Thunder Bay Theatre, Alpena, MI

Maria Oakley – Asst. Costume Designer at Flint Youth Theatre, Flint, MI

Kelsey Knag – Asst. Costume Designer at Flint Youth Theatre, Flint, MI

Corey Boughton – Sound Designer at The Barn Theatre, Augusta, MI

Chazz Irwin Performer at Flint Youth Theatre, Flint, MI

Dominque Hinde Assistant Stage Manager at Flint Youth Theatre, Flint, MI

Madaline Harkema – Assistant Stage Manager at Flint Youth Theatre, Flint, MI

Alex Ghattas (BFA 11) – Performer at The Barn Theatre, Augusta, MI

Allison Kimber (BFA 14) – Performer at The Barn Theatre, Augusta, MI

Bridgid Kelly Burge (BS 14) – Assistant Props Master at Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Bloomington, IL

Jessica Wilkowski (BS 15) – Scenic Artist at Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Bloomington, IL

Kaitlyn Pitcher (BS 15) – First Hand/Jr. Draper at Great River Shakespeare Festival, Winona, MN

Zach Kentala (BS 15) – Assistant Preparator at Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Michelle Hathaway (BS 15) – Wardrobe Supervisor at Lake Dillon Theatre Company, Dillon, CO

Cat Boss (BS 12) – Costume Coordinator at Flint Youth Theater, Flint, MI

Natalie Sevick (BFA 11) – Performer (Sally Bowles in Cabaret) at Riverbank/Snug Theatre, Marine City, MI

Matt Coggins (BA 15) – Performer/Sound Designer at Flint Youth Theatre, Flint, MI

Kenn Hopkins (BFA 13) – Performer (Prince of Morocco in The Merchant of Venice) at Houston Shakespeare Festival, Houston, TX

Special congratulations to UM-Flint Theatre & Dance alumna Erin Darke (BFA Theatre Performance, 2005) on her successful Off-Broadway opening in the new play, The Spoils, starring alongside Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network) and Kunal Nayyar (Big Bang Theory). When hapless Ben (Jesse Eisenberg) learns that his grad school crush, Sarah (Erin), is marrying a straight-laced banker, he sets out to destroy their relationship and win her back. The Spoils is playing at the Pershing Square Signature Center/Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre in NYC until June 28th. You can also see Erin in the Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) biopic, Love & Mercy, opening nation wide June 5th. Erin was last seen in the Oscar winning film, Still Alice, starring Julianne Moore. Congratulations to Erin on all of her success! Watch the UM-Flint News for more information on Ms. Darke.

For more information on the Theatre & Dance Department and the ways our students are prepared for careers on and off the stage, visit


UM Regents Announce New Appointments for Promotion and Tenure

On Thursday, May 21st, the Regents of the University of Michigan approved recommendations for new appointments and promotions for regular associate and full professor ranks, with tenure and/or promotion of faculty on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses. The CAS promotions are presented below in alphabetical order.

Dauda Abubakar Africana Studies Assistant Professor

Associate Professor Dauda Abubakar

Dauda Abubakar, associate professor of Africana studies, with tenure, Department of Africana Studies, and associate professor of political science, with tenure, Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences, UM-Flint.


Professor Lois Alexander

Lois L. Alexander, professor of music, with tenure, Department of Music, College of Arts and Sciences.


Professor Jami Anderson

Jami L. Anderson, professor of philosophy, with tenure, Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences.

Roy Barnes

Professor Roy Barnes

Roy C. Barnes, professor of sociology, with tenure, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, College of Arts and Sciences.

Julie Broadbent, associate professor of psychology, with tenure, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences.

Daniel Coffield Mathematics

Associate Professor Daniel Coffield

Daniel J. Coffield, Jr., associate professor of mathematics, with tenure, Department of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences.


Professor John Ellis

John Stephen Ellis, professor of history, with tenure, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences.


Professor Michael Farmer

Michael E. Farmer, professor of computer science, with tenure, Department of Computer Science, Engineering and Physics, College of Arts and Sciences.

Associate Professor Rajib Ganguly

Rajib Ganguly, associate professor of physics, with tenure, Department of Computer Science, Engineering and Physics, College of Arts and Sciences.


Associate Professor Christopher Heidenreich

Christopher Heidenreich, associate professor of music, with tenure, Department of Music, College of Arts and Sciences.

Dan Lair

Associate Professor Daniel Lair

Daniel Lair, associate professor of communication, with tenure, Department of Communication and Visual Arts, College of Arts and Sciences.

Vickie Larsen

Associate Professor Vickie Jeanne Larsen

Vickie Jeanne Larsen, associate professor of English, with tenure, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences.

Shelby Newport

Associate Professor Shelby Newport

Shelby Newport, associate professor of theatre, with tenure, Department of Theatre and Dance, College of Arts and Sciences.


Associate Professor Greg Rybarczyk

Greg Rybarczyk, associate professor of earth and resource science, with tenure, Department of Earth and Resource Science, College of Arts and Sciences.

Congratulations to our new associate and full professors on their hard work and dedication to teaching and research. Your talents help create a quality experience for our College of Arts & Sciences students!



Congratulations CAS Staff Award Winners!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015, the UM-Flint Staff Council held their annual Staff Assembly Spring Meeting and Staff Recognition Awards Program. The College of Arts & Sciences was well represented!

Lynn Barbee, Administrative Assistant in the Department of Mathematics and the Staff Council Recognition Coordinator, presented the 2015 Staff Recognition Award Recipients: Suzanne Shivnen, Administrative Assistant of the Department of Economics and Political Science, and Monique Wilhelm, the Laboratory and Classroom Services Supervisor for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Per Staff Council, “The Staff Council Staff Recognition Award was established in 1995 as a way to recognize those members of the Staff Assembly who consistently serve the campus and university in an exemplary manner. The award criteria includes: providing leadership on a consistent basis; nurturing a spirt of team effort and cooperation; performing assigned duties with enthusiasm, competence, and cordiality; and dedication to the university’s goals and mission.”


Suzanne Shivnen receives the Margaret Rogers Award for Excellence from CAS Associate Dean Roy Barnes.

Suzanne was nominated by Peggy Kahn, Professor Political Science, and by Chris Douglas, Associate Professor and Chair of Economics. Peggy presented the award, noting Suzanne’s value for her skills in both the personal and professional spheres. She spoke of Suzanne’s willingness and ability to help both faculty and students, and her compassion and high ethics. Earlier this month, Suzanne was also the winner of the College of Arts & Science’s Margaret Rogers Award for Excellence. She is also a recipient of a Sterling Staff Award.


Chancellor Susan E. Borrego, Staff Recognition Award Winner Monique Wilhelm, and Chemistry & Biochemistry Dept. Chair Jessica Tischler

Monique was nominated by Jessica Tischler, Associate Professor and Chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. She talked of Monique’s extensive list of responsibilities and proficiencies within the lab setting–both in their department and others. She also discussed Monique’s dedication to both UM-Flint students and community youth as exemplified through her work with the award-winning Chem Club, the demos that are brought to area schools, campus events like Super Science Friday, and her work with the Curiosity Academy – a STEM-focused community club for girls interested in science. Monique was also honored for being a part of the Excel Professional Development Program.


Karri Spoelstra of the Department of Music, Staff Recognition Award Nominee and winner of the 2015 Dr. Mary Jo Sekelsky Staff Appreciation Award

Another award winner recognized during the Assembly was Kari Spoelstra, Administrative Assistant of the Department of Music. She was a nominee for the Staff Recognition Award and the winner of this year’s Dr. Mary Jo Sekelsky Staff Appreciation Award from the Department of Student Involvement and Leadership. As her department page says, “Congratulations to Karri, everyone’s first contact in the Department of Music, by phone or in person. And a great supporter of students!”

Laura Bender, Secretary Senior for the Earth & Resource Science Department and Carol Chaney, Media Consultant for the Department of Music, were also nominees for the Staff Recognition Award.

Sterling Staff Awards were also earned by Linda Blakey of Public Administration, Lesa Callcut of Psychology, Samantha Grathoff of Chemistry & Biochemistry, and Linda Letts of the Department of Theatre & Dance. The Sterling Staff Award  is designed to acknowledge staff members for their contributions to the campus. Staff members are nominated by others who want it to be known that they are making a difference, that what they do is valued, and to recognize them for going the extra distance in their work. All staff members who are nominated receive a certificate via campus mail, and their supervisor is notified.

Many CAS staff members were also recognized for being a part of the UM-Flint Engaged Staff Program which was “designed to help emphasize the ways in which UM-Flint staff contribute to the overall vibrancy of the institution and support the work of faculty, staff and students.”

Jennifer Vincke of the Biology Department was recognized as a December 2014 graduate.

Congratulations to all of our staff members who received awards and were recognized at the Spring Staff Assembly!

For more information on Staff Council, visit their website:

For a list of those recognized at the 2015 Staff Recognition Dinner, visit

“We Are” A Dance Inspired by the Poetry of Youth in Detention

UM-Flint’s Department of Theatre and Dance will be presenting a newly choreographed work by Dance Lecturer Emma Davis during the Spring Dance Concert, The Written Word, April 17, 18, 19, in the UM-Flint Theatre. The dance, entitled We Are, is based on poetry written by young women at Genesee County’s youth detention center as part of the Buckham/GVRC Share Art Project.

The dance choreography follows the themes presented by five poems, which are projected onto the stage during the performance. Four different sections of the piece explore the girls’ journeys as “statistics,” their time in detention, and their hopes, dreams, and futures beyond incarceration. In developing the piece, Davis worked with university students to explore movements that spoke to each poem’s narrative. The process was a delicate balance between finding the right moves that highlight and embody each girl’s voice without taking away from their message. The piece also utilizes movements that Davis, who also teaches dance at GVRC as part of the Share Art Project, taught directly to the young women in detention.

The choreographic process started with a class discussion about the poetry pieces. Since university students hadn’t worked directly with youth at GVRC, Davis felt it was imperative for them to understand the girls’ characteristics and behaviors to better help share their stories. From reading the poetry, students were able to understand the difficult situations the young women experienced. At the same time, more positive poems about self-identify and personal beauty demonstrated the empowerment the girls at GVRC found through the arts, poetry, and a supportive group of females.

While the dance does not intend to speak for the young women, Davis hopes to propel their words while inspiring positivity. This portion of the production also involved work by several of the Women’s & Gender Studies Program, including Shelley Spivack, Director of the Share Art Project, Traci Currie as the leader of Spoken Word, and Shelby Newport who directed costuming.

Davis recently received a New Leaders Grant from the MCACA which will allow her to continue this dance project with the GVRC in the upcoming year.

For more information contact:
Shelley Spivack
Director, Buckham/GVRC Share Art Project

Meet Emma Davis: Dancer, Choreographer, Educator

Emma Davis is a Dance Instructor at UM-Flint and one of the choreographers whose work will be presented at the upcoming Spring Dance Concert inspired by “The Written Word.” One piece, “We Are,” is inspired by poetry written by detained youth in Genesee County. Another, which includes both ballet and hip hop elements, is inspired by the short story “The Lottery.” Performances will be held at the UM-Flint Theatre on April 17, 18, and 19. Visit the Department of Theatre & Dance website for tickets and more information. 

davis_MITimes copy

Name: Emma Davis
Title: Lecturer I and Dance Instructor
Department: Theatre and Dance

Classes I teach:
DAN 100 Intro to Dance
DAN 101 Performance Studies
DAN 101 Hip Hop I & II
DAN 120/121 Modern I & II
DAN 130/131 Jazz I & II
DAN 140/141 Tap I & II           

Emma Davis 1

Photo Credit: White Butterfly Studios

Professional Interests, Activities, Performances of Note, Publications:
– Faculty Advisor for Student Dance Organization since 2013
– Choreographer for Department of Theatre and Dance Spring Dance Concert 2013, 2014, 2015
– Faculty Representative American College Dance Association 2013, 2014, 2015
– Back up dancer for Flint pop signer Tunde Olaniran
– Program Facilitator with Shop Floor Theatre Company, Flint, MI
– Presented research, “Intersection of Dance and Poetry in Post-Industrial Michigan,” at the Society of Dance History Scholar’s conference 2014 and “Meet the Flintstones: A New Generation of Community Dance Artists Renews a City Given Up For Loss” in 2012

– Share Art Flint Award 2014, made possible by Greater Flint Arts Council and Ruth Mott Foundation, for the Riverbank Park Community Dance Workshops (Read the M-Times article.)

Research or Specific Areas of Interest:
Community Dance, Site-Specific Dance

University of Michigan-Flint, 2011
BA Journalism
BA English with a specialization
MA Liberal Studies, Theatre Culture – in progress

Buckham Gallery
Society of Dance History Scholars

Emma Davis 3How I fell in love with my field:
I have been dancing since I was young, eventually including techniques in ballet, modern, tap, jazz, and hip hop. It wasn’t until my undergraduate experience that really confirmed: “this is what I am supposed to be doing.” I was always planning rehearsals, performing, taking class, connecting others to dance. I’m not sure if there is a specific moment where I fell in love with dance – the love was always there. This was just the time I made the decision to professionally pursue a career in dance.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint:
I hope to guide and work with our community’s upcoming dance professionals to support and strengthen UM-Flint’s program and the Flint and Michigan dance community as a whole.

What I hope for students in my field:
To find their pathway in this challenging, yet greatly rewarding field.

Three things you should know about me:
I love popcorn, I ride a motorcycle, I don’t have a favorite dance style – I love them all!


UM-Flint Dance Students Attend 2015 ACDA Regional Festival

ACDA photo 4_small

Nataniel Morales, Brooke Olney, Emma Davis, Ashlynn Feige, Ashinique Soney-Wesaw pose outside Ohio University’s Dance Department, 2015 host school for the ACDA East-Central Region.

Members of the UM-Flint Dance Program recently attended the American College Dance Association (ACDA) East-Central Regional Conference at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. The regional conferences and national festival presented by the ACDA provide a “venue for students and faculty to engage in three days of performances, workshops, panels, and master classes taught by instructors from around the region and country. The conferences also provide the unique opportunity for students and faculty to have their dance works adjudicated by a panel of nationally recognized dance professionals in an open and constructive forum.”

Faculty member and Dance Instructor Emma Davis brought with her Ashlynn Feige, Dance major; Brooke Olney, Molecular Biology major and Dance minor; Nataniel Morales, Dance major; and Ashinique Soney-Wesaw, Fine Arts major (concentrations in Drawing and Painting) and Dance minor.

When asked about her experience at the conference, Wesaw-Soney said, “This trip [ACDA] was absolutely amazing and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be able to go and represent UM-Flint! Having the chance to take so many different classes that I would have never dreamed of taking in my life (Dance Fusion Martial Arts, Kontemp Ballet, etc.) with other students from schools across the region that came to this conference made this trip so exciting and memorable.”

At the conference, all four UM-Flint students danced a performance of “The Lottery” as choreographed by Davis. Morales and Feige also performed an original work titled “Non-Existent Limits.”


UM-Flint Dance students, wearing costumes designed by Shelby Newport, performed “The Lottery,” choreographed by UM-Flint faculty Emma Davis, in the ACDA Adjudicated Concert #3.

UM-Flint’s version of “The Lottery” is a contemporary interpretation of the 1948 short story by Shirley Jackson. In the original story, a yearly lottery is held among the residents of a small village. The chosen “winner” faces stoning by the rest of the townspeople. In Davis’ version, which uses both ballet and hip-hop elements, she explores the role of gender in traditional dance, the value of styles, and the ideas of conformity versus individualism. The ballet choreography was original to Davis; she worked with Morales and provided guidance as he developed freestyle hip-hop moves for his portion of the performance.

“The Lottery” was presented to a panel of three adjudicators on the main stage of the conference. Feedback on all main stage presentations was given at a session later in the day, with the adjudicators commenting on the dance performances and the choreographic choices as well as the costumes, lighting, and other elements. The adjudicators were unaware of whether students or faculty members were responsible for each portion of the dance performance. Davis said their feedback this year was positive, with some expressing surprise at her choice of an ending and variations on the traditional ballet. Although “The Lottery” was not one of ten performances selected for the conference’s closing gala concert, Davis expressed great pride in her students and thought they did very well for it only being UM-Flint’s fourth visit to the event.

“Non-Existent Limits, ” choreographed by Nataniel Morales and performed with his fellow-student Ashlynn Feige, was presented in an informal concert at the conference.  The informal concerts are conducted on a smaller scale and without the panel of adjudicators.

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Nataniel Morales and Ashlynn Feige practice for the ACDA informal concert #1, where they performed “Non-Existent Limits,” choreographed by Morales.

The trip to the ACDA conference is just one example of the ways in which UM-Flint Dance students take what they’ve learned outside of the studio. Members of the Dance Program will be dancing at schools and adult care facilities at the end of March and in early April to promote their upcoming Spring Dance Concert. When asked about studying Dance at UM-Flint, Ashlynn Feige said, “Studying dance at UM-Flint is a great experience because the instructors challenge you to be the best dancer you can be.  Not only that, but we form strong friendships and connections with the other students.  Dance has a way of bringing people together, and we all support each other which is very important.  It’s a positive environment where anyone can feel comfortable.”

Students, staff, faculty, and all members of the community are invited to see “The Lottery” as it will be performed at the upcoming Spring Dance Concert, April 17th-19th, at the UM-Flint Theatre. For this year’s concert “varying literary works inspire the dances. From the poetry for Rumi and Kalil Gibran to the local authors of Flint, the dances explore the written word.” Tickets are available through the UM-Flint Box Office or via the Theatre & Dance Department website.


Photos provided by the UM-Flint Theatre & Dance Department and Emma Davis.