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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Theatre & Dance

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The Department of Theatre & Dance, through the generosity of David and Lowell Andreas in honor of their wife and mother, hosted the following Artists in Residence from 2007-2011. Most included a public master class or public performance at Minnesota State Mankato.



Zorongo Flemenco Dance Theater


Susana di Palma founded Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre in 1982. One of the few American Spanish dance companies that present both traditional flamenco programs as well as original theater flamenco works, Zorongo works with international artists, dancers and musicians — renowned for bringing the power, passion and virtuosity of the art of flamenco to American audiences. Zorongo Flemenco Dance Theater performed January 27, 2012, in the Ostrander Auditorium of the Centennial Student Union.





Flying Foot Forum


The Flying Foot Forum was founded in 1991 by Joe Chvala. Over the years, the Forum has created numerous original percussive works that have toured both nationally and internationally from New York City to Paris and from the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival to Russia. The exciting mission of the Flying Foot Forum is to re-imagine the potential of all forms of percussive dance and percussion and to explore their full range of dramatic and musical possibilities. The Flying Foot Forum performed Feb. 29, 2012, in the Ted Paul Theatre.

Master Class Presentation: Clogging, hambone and some jazz roots.




The Stuart Pimsler Dance Company



Stuart Pimsler Dance Company (SPDC) was originally established in New York City at the Parkfast Dance Stadium, SoHo, and since 2000 has been based in the Twin Cities. Their work has been honored with a 2002 Choreographer’s Fellowship from The McKnight Foundation, a Two-Year Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Major Fellowship and nine Individual Fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council. They have been guest artists at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and have been on the faculty of the American Dance Festival, the Harvard Summer Dance Institute, and the Lin-Ya School for the Performing Arts, Taiwan. Currently, they are both  affiliate faculty of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University  of Minnesota. Most recently, Mr. Pimsler was named “Artist of the Year” (2004)  by CityPages and founded the SAGE Awards for Dance.

Master Class Presentation: Open to the public





Tri Sutrisno (Indonesian/Javanese)


Tri Sutrisno has danced and taught in Indonesia, New Zealand and Minnesota. Born in Surakarta, Java, she began learning dance at the age of seven. A specialist in the dances of Indonesia, she has led classes, school residencies and workshops for adults and children. Currently, Tri served as the Dance Director for Indonesian Performing Arts Association of Minnesota. She has developed a strong foundation of dance performance that is based on the aesthetic and philosophical ideas of classical and traditional dance.

Master Class Presentation: World dance class, January 2010




Alan Sener


Alan Sener has worked in the motion picture, commercial television and music video industries. He has performed in theaters throughout the world as part of the New York-based Louis Falco Dance Company. He conducts master classes internationally and teaches annually in New York City for The Joffrey Ballet School Summer Programs. He is active as a freelance choreographer and performer.

Upon request, Sener also restages the Louis Falco Repertory, a dance legacy with which he was entrusted as artistic director.




Mary Davies Stark

Mary has worked as a professional choreographer since 1999. She is a versatile dancer with extensive training in ballet, jazz, tap and modern. She has performed with various modern dance companies and is a freelance dance instructor, performer and choreographer. At Mankato, she choreographed two jazz pieces for the students - Groove Thing and Les Very Stylish Filles. Mary has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance from the University of Iowa and a BA in Dance and Political Science from St. Olaf College. 

Video: "Les Very Stylish Filles" choreographed by Ms. Stark for
Spring 2011 Dance Concert.



Marciano Silva dos Santos

Marciano Silva dos Santos is a native of Brazil. His work with the traditional Afro-Brazilian dance company, NegraO, and contemporary dance company, Cia dos Homens, earned him international acclaim. In 2006 he was recognized by the American Folkloric Society as a Brazilian folk artist of unique and exceptional ability, and since that time he has been sharing his expertise with the Minnesota dance community. He has danced for TU Dance, Penumbra Theatre, and Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater. Marciano has quickly gained recognition for the high quality of his professional work.

Master Class Presentation: Brazilian dance artist



Gretchen Larson


Personal Quote: "I study the art of teaching both in a larger theoretical sense and the daily practice of planning and executing class. I have defined two areas of personal growth to focus on (humility and fostering independent peers) and a multitude of new ideas to work with in my quest for a “better way” to teach tango. I am seeking out collaborative experiences with fellow dancers from other fields and developing relationships with professionals that have a lifetime of experience to share. I’m excited to see what comes next! "

Master Class Presentation: Tango dance artist
Website: Gretchen Larson Tango





blieseTom Bliese From 1977-2007, Tom Bliese a professor and primary scene designer at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Currently, he is a freelance independent contractor and regular performer at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

While at Mankato, he designed more than 150 productions, including: Musicals:  Man of La Mancha, Urinetown, The Wizard of Oz and He Lived the Good Life [original]; contemporaryMetamorphoses, Galileo, Arsenic and Old Lace and Steel Magnolias; classicalMedea and Hamlet.

Tom was the scene designer for The Odyssey.



Mike Croswell

croswellMike Croswell earns most of his income composing original sound and music for theatrical productions. Over the last 20 years he has collaborated with professional theatre companies, universities, colleges, community groups and high schools. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Music Management from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and has returned twice to compose music for Theatre & Dance productions: Metamorphoses in 2004 and Angels in America: Millennium Approaches in 2007.

Past achievements include: a 1994 Jerome Composer Commissioning Grant, in 2003 a McKnight Composer Fellowship, another Jerome Composer Commissioning Grant in 2005 and a 2006 Subito grant from the American Composers Forum. He has been a composer of electronic music since the early 1980s and during the past decade has explored instrument making and created a number of percussion and wind instruments out of PVC. Mike was composer/performer for The Odyssey performaned in November 2010.



Lisa Long

lisalongLisa O'Bleness Long earned her BFA in Ballet and BA in English/Drama from Friends University, Wichita, KS in 1995. As a member of the Friends University/Wichita Ballet Theatre company, some of Lisa's roles included: dance hall girl in Billy the Kid, snowflake and Waltz in The Nutcracker, cat in Peter and the Wolf, and princess in The Firebird. While on staff at the Creative Child Center Preschool at Wichita Center for the Arts, Lisa was an Arts in Early Education grant recipient from the Kansas State Legislature. Lisa taught at the Kansas Dance Academy for 12 years before moving to Minnesota. Although ballet is her strength, she has also taught jazz and tap. Lisa began as the ballet specialist at Minnesota State University, Mankato in fall 2009. Throughout the semester, Lisa worked with Dance students as they prepared for the Fall 2010 Concert, in the Ted Paul Theatre.





Beth Corning


Corning has created and produced over 60 works, including 16 full evening productions. Her work has been commissioned by national and international companies such as Utah Repertory Dance Theater, Pennsylvania Dance Theater, Eugene Ballet Company, Groundwork’s Dancetheater, and Nye Carte Blanche in Norway, among others. In 1994 she returned to Sweden to choreograph the feature-length film production of Stravinsky’s “The Rake’s Progress.” Directed by the award-winning director Inger Åby, conducted by Esa Pekka Salonen, it won the Prix d’Italia in 1995 and aired stateside on PBS in 1996.  In 2000, she created THE GLUE FACTORY PROJECT — an annual full evening production created on internationally and nationally renowned performers over the age of 40. 
Website: Corning Works




Sue Gunness

gunnessSue Gunness has been the Ballet Specialist at MSU Mankato for the past 12 years, and she continues to hold the same position at Gustavus Adolphus College where she has taught for hte past 10 years. Both colleges have dance major programs. Ms. Gunness recieved most of her childhood training in the Twin Cities as a scholarship student at the St. Paul City Ballet (Jo Savino Ballet National) Sue adopted most of her teaching philosophy from a special woman at the Royal Winnepeg Ballet Pro-Division. Elaine Werner Hutchinson, thanks a million! Ms. Gunness has been on faculty at the Salt Creek Ballet of Chicago, as well as being the Ballet Mistress for the Continental Ballet of Bloomington, MN. She was also fortunate to teach Advanced/Professional Ballet for the Minnesota Dance Theater while Loyce Houton was still director. She loves baking bread, knitting and exotic birds.

Personal Quote: "I think competitive dance schools leave out the importance of artistic expression and put too much emphasis on tricks.  We teach students more than just a dance - we teach them to dance." 


Praeludium & Allegro —Choreographed by Sue Gunness


andrewsLinda Z. Andrews
Founding Artistic Director Zenon Dance

Since starting Zenon in 1983, Linda has earned accolades for developing the company’s unique modern and jazz aesthetic by commissioning repertory works from such choreographers as Bebe Miller, Dwight Rhoden, Bill T. Jones, Bill Young, Llory Wilson, Joe Goode, Stephanie Skura, David Dorfman, Doug Varone, Danny Buraczeski, Daniel Rousseve, Cathy Young, Keely Garfield, Johannes Wieland, Seán Curran, Colleen Thomas and Andrea Miller. She studied at the Martha Graham School, Alvin Ailey Dance Center, the Juilliard School, and with Alvin Nikolais, Lynn Simonson and Merce Cunningham. She holds a degree in dance and drama from Hollins College in Virginia. Linda has taught dance and creative movement since 1972, and has developed Zenon Dance School into a recognized training center for vocational and professional dancers. She is the mother of two amazing daughters, Laura and Lily, and lives in St. Louis Park with her two cats, Ollie and Jack.




Larry Yazzie (Native American)


Born on the Meskwaki Indian Settlement in central Iowa, Larry Yazzie began dancing at age 7. He was taught the traditions of the Meskwaki people, including the flamboyant and energetic fancy dance and the Northern Plains style of singing. A renowned fancy dancer who consistently takes top honors at American Indian powwows through the U.S. and Canada, he won the World Championship for the Northern Style Fancy Dance in 1995 and 2007. He also served as an Arena Director, Singing Judge and Head Man Dancer.

Master Class Presentation: World dance class, February 2010




Richard Raether


Richard Raether is one of only 10 Fight Masters certified by the Society of American Fight Directors, and has taught and choreographed stage combat professionally for the past 20 years, staging fights for ABC, CBS and numerous theatres across the U.S. These theatres include the Guthrie Theater, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Chicago Shakespeare, American Players Theatre, the Roundabout Theatre and the Ensemble Studio Theatre.

Master Class Presentation: Fight director for Hamlet, in residence February. 2010.





Aparna and Ranee Ramaswamy (East Indian)

Ranee has been teaching and performing Bharatanatyam in the Twin Cities since 1978. She has had the good fortune to train under Alarmel Valli, a leading exponent of the Pandanallur style of Bharatanatyam, which requires grace and subtlety of expression. Ranee has received many grants and fellowships in recognition of her choreography, performance and tireless work with Bharatanatyam in the Minnesota area, including numerous McKnight Artist Fellowships and a Bush Fellowship for Choreography.

Master Class Presentation: World Dance class February 2010


Aparna spacerRanee


Francis Kofi (West African/Ghanaian)

kofiRenowned drummer and dancer Francis Kofi descended from a long line of West African drum and dance heritage. He has performed and taught in North America, Europe, Asia and throughout Africa. Initially trained by his grandfather, master drummer and composer of Gbenordu Habrbor Troupe, Francis began his career as a performer at the age of six. He has been touring professionally since age fifteen as a master drummer, dancer and choreographer.
Kofi is an Ewe, of the Wotsi ("Waachi") sub-division in Togo. He has studied and performed extensively in various parts in Ghana, as well as in Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. He is accomplished in a vast repertoire of traditional drumming pieces and accompanying dances. Kofi has taught in the United States at several universities and in 1996-97 was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship/Artist-In-Residence at the State University of New York College at Fredonia.

Master Class Presentation: World Dance class March 2010




Karla Nweje (United States/Gullah)


Karla Nweje began studying dance because of her experiences as a young child on the streets of New York City, where she says African American culture, dance and music were integral parts of her life. She has learned and worked with innovative modern dance choreographers and African griots, including Doris Chaverra, Ladji Camara, Ronald K. Brown, Djoniba Mouflet, Jean-Leon Destine, Daniel Maloney and Wavery Lucas. She writes: "Dance has always been a major form of communication, and exploring the historical and cultural significance of dance forms gives us treasured insight into the many facets of the human experience."

Master Class Presentation: World Dance class April 2010





René D. Thompson (Cuban)


René D. Thompson has been a professional Latin dancer for 27 years, 20 of those years as an instructor and choreographer.  Born and raised in Cuba, René brings a wealth of knowledge of music and dance, as well as their cultural context to his audience.  He teaches the uniquely Cuban steps of Salsa, Chachacha, Rumba and Mambo and other traditional Cuban rhythms.  He always includes the "heart" of the Cuban style, which has its foundation in Africa and Spain, as well as his homeland of Cuba.

Master Class Presentation: World Dance class April 2010, influences were visible in the Spring Collection concert.





Fiona Hui

uiFiona Hui has continually found great successes with classical concerts, opera and musical theater, as well as professional Christian recordings with the company Music 2000.
Her major theater credits include: Miss Saigon as “Kim,” “Mimi” (The Richard Perry Theater, NYC, Foothills Theater, MA), South Pacificas “Liat,” Snow White (Wohlfahrt Hau Theater, VA), Hair (Provincetown Playhouse, NYC), World Premiere God Lives in Glass as “Feature” (Provincetown Playhouse, Manhattan Theater Club, NYC), Hansel and Gretel (Fredrick Lowe Theater, NYC), Magic Flute as “Third Spirit” (Samuel J Ethel and Lefrak Hall, NYC), The Finishing School as “Ottilie” (Black Box Theater, NYC), Golden Mickeys as “Bebe” (Storybook Theater, Disney HK) and Concert of Excellence (Jazz in Lincoln Center, NYC)

Fiona is a member of Actor Equity Association in the United States and was here from New York as an Andreas Guest Artist.





Michael John LaChiusa



Michael John LaChiusa is not your typical musical theatre composer. He chooses difficult themes, explores psychologically complex characters and creates music that challenges the best of virtuoso singers. It is my personal truth that he is heralding us into the future of American musical theatre. By creating shows like See What I Wanna See, he is insuring that theatre artists and theatergoers never grow complacent with this art, nor do they ever stop considering the big universal truths that make us beautifully human. (Taken from the Director's Notes by student director Nikki Swoboda.)




Morgan Thorson


Morgan Thorson conceives and creates dances and movement-based projects with dancers, theater artists and designers as core collaborators. Dodging a trademark style, her ensemble and solo works address: the state of being in general and within the context of the theater or performance site; her own personal relationship to dance; and the perception and representation of the body. Theatrical timing—the visual and rhythmic dynamics in choreography and performance—are portals for entry into the work, as is embracing and breaking with “subjective” narrative. Each project—whether evening-length or a shorter piece—is developed and edited through its own physical process and formula. Detail, humor, critique and formal concerns emerge, allowing the work to broadcast a social commentary beyond the work itself.
Based in Minneapolis, Thorson’s work has been presented by venues worldwide, including Jacob’s Pillow; the Walker Art Center and Southern Theater in Minneapolis; Links Hall in Chicago; PS 122 and The Kitchen in New York City; Performing Arts Group in Seoul, South Korea; LIP in London; and Link/Vostok in Yarislovl, Russia.




Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner


Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner began her modern dance experience at Arizona State University in her hometown of Tempe, AZ. In 1995, she transferred to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and discovered her interest in choreograohy from an outstanding faculty including Erin Thompson, Dan Shapiro, Joanie Smith, Zoe Sealy and Danny Buraczeski. In addition to this splendid faculty, she had the good fortune to be influenced by some of the great dance makers of today, including Doug Varone, Ralph Lemon, Bebe Miller, Scott Rink, Ronald K. Brown and Deborah Jowitt, through the Sage Cowles Guest Artist program. Her choreography, which researches both contemporary modern and traditional American jazz, is highly musical and borrows from all aspects of art and life to create a unique dance experience enjoyed by dancers and non-dancers alike. Her work has been produced at numerous theaters in Minneapolis, MN (including the Southern Theater, the Fitzgerald theater, the Walker Art Center, the Illusion Theater, the O'Shaugnessey Theater and the Pantages Theater), several Arizona venues (including the Herberger Theater, the Orpheum Theater and the Scottsdale center for the Arts) and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
From 1998- 2001, she served as the Choreographer in Residence for the Minnesota Dance Theater under the direction of Lise Houlton. Original works by Gutierrez-Garner have been commissioned by Macalaster College, Glendale Community College, Scottsdale Community College, Arizona State University, Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota State University, the St. Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts and the University if Minnesota, Twin Cities. She has taught for the faculties of the Arizona State University, Glendale Community College and Scottsdale Community College. She currently teaches techniques of both modern and jazz dance at Gustavus Adolphus College and the University of Minnesota dance program.




Gabe Masson


Gabriel (Gabe) Masson’s career as a choreographer, performer and teacher spans 25 years. He has toured the world in the companies of Hannah Kahn, Rosalind Newman, Lucinda Childs and Doug Varone, as well as dancing in specific projects with various choreographers including Peter Pucci, Mark Morris and Michele Pogliani (Italy).
In 1997 in NYC, he formed Gabriel Masson Dance (GMD) as a vehicle for his creative output. Since then, the company has garnered rave reviews for their powerfully physical, deeply human dancing and Masson’s work has been lauded as “breathtaking” (NYTimes) possessing a “choreographic voice rich in emotional range.” (SDUnion Tribune). GMD is now based in San Diego, CA, where it had a critically acclaimed West coast premiere in October 2006.
Masson was in residency at Minnesota State Mankato Feb. 15-21, 2009. While here, dancers performed an informal presentation of the piece they had worked with him on.



Carla Bode

CBodeSummer Intensive Modern, Jazz and Tap
Carla carries with her an extensive background in dance and dance education. Previously she has served as dance adjunct faculty for Minnesota State University-Mankato and was the dance specialist for the Buffalo Arts Magnet High School. She has her degrees in Dance Education (K-12) from Minnesota State University-Mankato and Communication Arts and Literature Education from Winona State University. Ms. Bode is the co-founder of Rural Route Dance Company and also teaches fro the Waconia Performing Arts Center.