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Department of Theatre & Dance

From directing, choreographing, acting and dancing to designing and technical work to arts management - theatre and dance are highly collaborative art forms at SUNY Potsdam.

Students and professionals engage in creative problem solving requiring the setting and meeting of long-term goals and the analysis and understanding of movement, dramatic literature, and arts administration skills.

Faculty and students work closely in support of our active programs which includes productions and events that are directed, choreographed, and managed by students, faculty members, and guest artists. These include ten-minute play festivals, faculty dance concerts, full-length plays, student choreographers' concerts and TEDx SUNY Potsdam.

After transferring to SUNY Potsdam, the Department of Theatre and Dance has felt like home for Stacia Goldsmith '22. Supportive professors like Cynthia DuFault and Robin Collen have created a safe environment for her to harness her dance skills, and collaborate with other dance students, as they rehearse and perform for live audiences within the Performing Arts Center.

Dance Association Conference

During spring break, eight students attended the American College Dance Association's regional conference in Erie, Penn., with faculty members Kerri Canedy and Robin Collen! Students attended master classes and workshops, performed choreographed dance pieces, and taught their own classes.

MacKenzie Moonie '23 and Camryn Douglas '23, both seniors double-majoring in Dance and Arts Management, took on leadership roles at the conference by presenting their work. MacKenzie taught a class based on her research of dancer, Anna Halprin, and Camryn presented her choreographed work "Serenity," which featured five SUNY Potsdam dance students. Camryn's piece was selected by a panel of choreographers/adjudicators to be performed in the gala concert at the conclusion of the conference after they acknowledged the beautiful artistry of the piece.

Arts Management Award & Design, Technology Recognition

During the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, students were recently awarded the Region I Arts Administration and Management Award for Distinction in Festival Support, and recognition for Theatre Design, Technology, & Stage Management.

From Tuesday, Jan. 31 to Saturday, Feb. 4, four SUNY Potsdam students traveled with assistant professor Joshua Vink and associate professor Todd Canedy to Cape Cod for the festival, where they provided administrative support throughout the week—everything from being ushers at the performances to checking in the 700 participants to the arts festival!

From left, assistant professor Joshua Vink, Sophie Leuzzi '24, Carter Shults '24, Phil Valluzzi III '23, Lex Jerome '24 and associate professor Todd Canedy pose for a portrait outside SUNY Potsdam Performing Arts Center after returning from the trip.

Photo by Ayisha Khalid '24 

Choreography in Motion

The Fall 2022 Student Choreographers’ Concert, which was just staged at the Performing Arts Center Dance Theater from Dec. 1 to 4,  showcased SUNY Potsdam creativity with five individual choreographic works that included an aerial performance for the first time in the history of the Department of Theatre and Dance. Titled “Frames in Motion,” students had been rehearsing their pieces since early in the fall semester in preparation for the live performance.

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Crafting a Horror Show

Perfectly in sync with the Halloween season, the Department of Theatre and Dance just completed five performances of “Night of the Living Dead.” Leading up to the show, students and faculty were busy working behind-the-scenes as they designed the set, and learned the nuances of applying stage makeup, before taking the stage in the Black Box Theater.

Launch Gallery

Creative Arts Camp Leader

Aaliyah Cabellero-Cortez '23, a senior majoring in theatre at SUNY Potsdam, discusses her leadership role at the Creative Arts Camp, as she works with drama students to create and memorize scripts, before performing for a live audience in the Black Box Theater.

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Small Steps

Taylor Post ’22 has been dancing her entire life. Guided by her grandmother’s passion for dance, she continued to refine her dance and choreographic techniques as a student at SUNY Potsdam, while working closely with supportive faculty in the Department of Theatre & Dance. After receiving her degree in May, she returned to her hometown of Hopewell, N.Y., where she is helping to run the family business,  a dance studio her grandmother opened more than half a century ago.

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Healing Through Dance

Intertwining her academic interests in dance and psychology, Maribel Flores ’20 graduated from SUNY Potsdam with a singular vision for her future—to help people dealing with trauma through dance movement therapy. She’s now pursuing a master’s degree in dance movement therapy at the Pratt Institute in New York City, and gaining valuable real-world experience working with dementia patients.

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Arts Management in the Real World

Business savvy students pursuing a degree in arts management are gaining valuable hands-on experience this semester at organizations around the North Country—impactful capstone internships that allow them to take what they’ve learned in the classroom out into the real world. Led by Arts Management Coordinator Joshua Vink, students are completing the internships at organizations like the St. Lawrence Arts Council, Brick & Mortar Music and the Community Performance Box Office.

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Rising on the Wings of Dance

Zoe Walders '16 has refused to let a pandemic quash her creative spark. Dedicated to the art of dance, she brings her talents full circle in a new filmed dance-theatre production presented by her alma mater.

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From a Tiny Studio

Stretching skyward from the tiny studio at the back of her Potsdam home, Rivka Rocchio, an assistant professor of theatre, uses her phone to record yoga techniques for her students. Her routine—like with every other professor and student at SUNY Potsdam—has shifted inward in the wake of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and the social distancing that followed. Rocchio has responded—using technology to bridge the physical chasm between her and her students.

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Brianna Polite ’21

Now a junior at SUNY Potsdam, Brianna Polite ’21 has continued to develop confidence and leadership skills as a dancer and choreographer in the Department of Theatre and Dance. Once introverted, she’s now taking the lead as the co-captain of Team Envy (the hip-hop club on campus), and as a choreographer for her own dance composition, “Progression,” which was recently staged during the Student Choreographers’ Concert.

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Passionate Faculty

Cynthia DuFault’s true love is dance. She has taught dance all over the country and in Mexico and has been trained in everything from modern dance to ballet, building her life around the pedagogy of dance and bringing extensive knowledge to her students since joining the College two years ago.

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James W. Dornemann ’99

James W. Dornemann ’99 thinks of himself as a problem solver at heart. As a light board operator for film and television, he is constantly tinkering and must keep up with the latest in technology to make sure that directors can get the shot they are looking for.

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