School of Dance Says Goodbye to Some, and Welcomes New Faculty and Staff

28 April 2017 Published in News and Announcements

The University of Utah School of Dance would like to welcome our new faculty members, Pablo Piantino, Kate Mattingly, Christine McMillan, and Molly Heller !

Kate Mattmattingly headshotingly

Kate Mattingly has taught and written about dance for two decades. Her writing about dance has been published in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Dance Research Journal, Dance magazine, Pointe Magazine, and many other journals and publications. She has served on nominating committees such as the New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards and was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington DC to serve on the Dance Panel determining funding for U.S. companies, choreographers, and schools. She received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University and her Master’s of Fine Arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In May of 2017 she will receive her doctoral degree in Performance Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

“I am very much looking forward to joining the School of Dance: when I visited the campus in February I was impressed by the caliber of the faculty, their investment in teaching, and the spirit of community and curiosity that is encouraged. As a dance scholar and historian, I have studied the important role that the University of Utah has played in creating an academic environment that honors the distinct aspects of ballet and modern dance. I am particularly looking forward to the development of a MFA degree for ballet dancers since this perfectly illustrates the ways that the School of Dance continues to be at the forefront of preparing students for enriching careers. “


Pablo PhotoPablo Piantino

Pablo Piantino is originally from Mendoza, Argentina, where he began dancing at the age of 14. His training includes private seminars with Héctor Zaraspe and studies at both the Colón Theatre Ballet School and The Juilliard School where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts. After dancing with both the Colón Theatre Ballet Company and the Juilliard Dance Ensemble, Pablo joined the San Francisco Ballet in 1999 where he danced a broad span of classical and neo-classical repertory. In 2005, he joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and had the pleasure of working with choreographers such as Nacho Duato, Mats Ek, William Forsythe, Jirí Kylián, Ohad Naharin, and Twyla Tharp, among many others. Pablo received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance Education from the University of Washington in June 2015, where he was also a member of Chamber Dance Company. During the past years, he has taught at the University of Washington, George Mason University, West Virginia University, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and The Joffrey Ballet Trainee Program among several other institutions. Pablo has remounted works by Hubbard Street’s Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo at Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Ballet Arizona, George Mason University, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Tulsa Ballet. He has also restaged, with his wife Penny Saunders, Jardí Tancat by choreographer Nacho Duato, both at the University of Washington and at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Pablo is very excited to be joining the faculty of the School of Dance at the University of Utah as an Assistant Professor in the Fall of 2017.

“Before I decided to apply for the position, I was already aware of the caliber of the School, and the challenge it would be to join such an accomplished institution. During the interview process at the University of Utah, I was touched by the faculty's generosity and kindness. It will be a great honor to collaborate with such a distinguished group of individuals in the guidance and inspiration of talented young artists. “


Christine McMillan

Christine McMillan began her 27 year career as a professional dancer in 1990 at Richmond
Ballet where she originated roles in several contemporary ballets and principle roles included
The Moor’s Pavane, Rodeo, Carmina Burana, and Nutcracker. In 1996 she moved to New York
to pursue a wider range of dance experiences. There she performed with Ben Munisteri Dance
Projects, Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance, Trebien Pollard, Poppo & the GoGo Boys, and 19 years
with The Metropolitan Opera. Performing in over 45 productions at the Met, Christine has
worked with renowned choreographers and directors including Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher
Wheeldon, Mark Morris, Benjamin Millipied, Doug Varone, Graciella Daniele, Mark Dendy, and
Julie Taymor. With the Met Christine has appeared on PBS and in live international HD
broadcasts. Recognized for her versatility in both ballet and modern dance, Christine was
awarded a Bessie (New York Dance and Performance Award) in 2004. Her choreography has
been presented at the Center for Performance Research in Brooklyn, Dancemakers, American
College Dance Association, and the International Conference on Teaching Somatics-Based
Dance. Christine received her B.S. in Ballet & Psychology from Indiana University, an MFA in
Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. and is also a certified yoga teacher. Recent
teaching includes New York University, Illinois Wesleyan University, and The Joffrey Ballet

“I have been aware of the University of Utah’s vibrant dance program for many years and
consider it an honor to be joining the faculty in the School of Dance. I look forward to working
with such esteemed colleagues and to sharing the full and rich experience of dance with such
multitalented students.”

Molly WEB

 Molly Heller

Molly is a Salt Lake City dance artist and Assistant Professor within the School of Dance at the University of Utah. Her research investigates performance as a healing practice and the relationship between physical expression and emotion. Molly has also been on faculty at Westminster College (SLC), SUNY New Paltz (NY), and Dance New Amsterdam (NYC) and has taught for: Utah Valley University, Middlebury College, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Creighton University (Omaha, NE), Salt Dance Fest (University of Utah), Utah Ballet Summer Intensive (University of Utah), Ririe-Woodbury’s Professional Intensive (SLC), Boise State University, and Balance Dance Company (Boise, ID). She specializes in contemporary technique (including her own form – Tennis Shoe Technique), improvisation, creative process, entrepreneurship, teaching methods, and wellness practices. Molly is also Co-Director of Salt Dance Fest, a professional intensive focused on the creative process, as well as the Freshman and Scholarship Advisor within the Modern Program.

Molly’s choreographic work is an extension of her interest in health and wellbeing, as well as an interweaving of theater practices and dance. Her work has been presented in venues such as: Eccles Regent Street Blackbox Theater (SLC), Kingsbury Hall for TEDx SaltLakeCity, Gowanus Art + Production (NYC), Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church (NYC), Movement Research at the Judson Church (NYC), Green Space (NYC), DUMBO Dance Festival (Brooklyn, NY), The Mahaney Center for the Arts (Middlebury, VT), Balance Dance Company (Boise, ID), Boise State University, Westminster College (SLC), Sugar Space Studio for the Arts (SLC), and the Ladies’ Literary Club (SLC).

Molly holds an M.F.A. from the University of Utah where she received the Thomas G. Stockham Medal for Conspicuously Effective Teaching, the L. Scott Marsh Mentorship Award, and a University Teaching Assistantship (UTA). Molly also holds certifications in Pilates and Reiki and is co-owner of SLC’s loose-leaf teahouse, the Tea Grotto.

"I am thrilled to accept this new, exciting position within the School of Dance. I have valued my last two years of teaching, research, and service as a Visiting Assistant Professor within the School, working alongside brilliant colleagues and inspiring students. I look forward to growing this hybrid position as I contribute to interdisciplinary research across campus and within the field. My research investigates the partnership between dance and health science (more specifically, the power of dance to address emotional/psychological trauma). I am excited to evolve this research as I further collaborations with the Huntsman Cancer Institute, contribute more fully to building/sustaining a culture of wellness within our curriculum, and interweave principles of health and wellbeing within my dance making and pedagogy."

StephJonesStephanie B. Jones

Stephanie B. Jones is excited to join the University of Utah Dance Department as the new Resident Designer/Costume Shop Manager. Originally from Utah she is very excited to come back home. She has a degree in Costume Design and Youth Theatre from University of Hawaii at Manoa. While traveling around the world with her husband she was the Artistic Director for Pacific Okinawa Players, a military community theatre for service members who are stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Resident Costume Designer and Wardrobe Manager, Ballet Yuma. Resident Costume Designer and wardrobe Manager for Clytie Adams Ballet.
Costume Design Regional Finalist, Ruined, KCACTF Region 8, February 2015.Tamara Montgomery Award for Excellence in Theatre for Young Audiences,University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Spring 2015. Joel Trapido Award for Excellence in Design or Technical Theatre,University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Spring 2015. Stephanie received Po’okela Hawaii Theatre Arts award in costume design for The Butterfly, September 2015. Stephanie’s favorite design is the next one.

"I am very excited to be back in the world of dance. I love to help choreographers tell their story through dance. Dance is a universal language, the audience is the interpreter. I am thrilled to be a part of process in the world of dance."

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Sara Pickett 

Sara Pickett is a passionate teacher who believes in the pure joy of moving by connecting to groove and kinesthetic exploration. Mrs. Pickett’s teaching history covers a wide range of subjects including all levels of modern, contemporary, jazz and hip hop techniques, dance history, choreography, improvisation, teaching methods, history of hip hop, and dance appreciation.

Mrs. Pickett danced professionally with Rick Robinson’s Total Control, and was a core member of Millennium, a theatrical hip hop company in Denver, Co. with Kenny Jimenez. She recently co-produced and presented work in BRINE in Salt Lake City. Her choreography has been performed at the University of Utah, Weber State University, Utah Valley University, Brigham Young University, Sugarspace, and the American College Dance Association, among others.

Sara received her MFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah as a recipient of a University Teaching Award, and her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Weber State University where she was the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships including the Lindquist Creative Arts Fellowship. Mrs. Pickett also worked as Public Relations Associate for the College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah from 2007-2013. Sara serves on the boards of the National Water Dance and Utah Dance Educators Organization.

"I am elated and honored to be full-time faculty with the School of Dance. This position is at once a homecoming and a new chapter in my many years with the College of Fine Arts. It is an exciting time for dance at the University of Utah, and I look graciously forward to working with such talented, dedicated faculty in honoring our rich traditions while forging ahead as leaders in dance education, artistry, and innovation."

The School will also be saying goodbye to some beloved faculty members: Michael Bearden, Sharee Lane, Steve Rasmussen, Katie Scherman and Jennifer Weber

Michael ArtisticDirectorsmallMichael Bearden

Michael Bearden received his early training at the Academy of Ballet Arkansas and then became a student in the University of Utah Ballet Department. From there, he was hired by Ballet West where he had a distinguished fourteen year career. Michael Joined Ballet West in 1999, was promoted to Soloist in 2004, and to Principal in 2008.  While dancing for Ballet West, Michael taught as an adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University and was a guest teacher at Ballet Arkansas. In 2011 he became Artistic Advisor for Ballet Arkansas and in 2013 was appointed Artistic Director for Ballet Arkansas. Michael is an active choreographer. Most recently, he created and expanded a new work for Ballet West Artists, the Company’s 2010 and 2012 “Innovations” program — Descent, set to the music of Dmitri Shostakovich.  Micheal has a strong interest in project management. In 2005, Michael led a team of Ballet West dancers in organizing a special performance to benefit Utah Cancer Foundation. The event, “A Dance for Life,” raised more than $20,000. In 2007, he was the project manager for Ballet West’s 2007 calendar, which highlighted the Artists of Ballet West in some of Utah’s most memorable settings

“When I walked through the doors of the Marriott Center for Dance in August of 1998 as a freshman, I didn't know what to expect. I had never been to Utah and did not know one person here. I was excited for a new adventure and scared about the unknown with no smart phone to google myself to comfort. The support I have received in this building both as a student and now as a member of the faculty have helped to shape me into the person I am. I have learned so much about the art form of Dance from the students, staff and faculty but more importantly, I have learned about the unity that dance has the power to bring through those people who are passionate about it. Ultimately, I have been inspired to learn more about dance itself and I will always treasure that gift that I received here at the U. I am very sad to leave this School of Dance and Salt Lake City, but will take everything I have learned with me on my new journey at the University of Oklahoma. The words "thank you" are not enough to express how I feel towards everyone in the school of Dance here at the U!"

077ab55046ce80eaf9a3ddea999597ca MSharee Lane

Sharee Lane was a soloist dancer and staff member with Ballet West, and the School Director of the Ballet West Conservatory. Currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Modern Dance at the University of Utah, she teaches ballet technique, advanced principles of teaching, and co-directs, as well as choreographs for the Department’s Performing Dance Company. Her choreographies have been performed for the Berlin State Ballet School in Berlin, Germany, with her latest choreography Affinity, being restaged for the University of Cincinnati’s Conservatory of Music in fall 2012. Professor Lane has been a recipient of three Thomas D. Dee Grants, and in 2006, received the prestigious Philip and Miriam Perlman Award for Excellence in Student Counseling and Advising. Nominated for he College of Fine Arts Scholars Program, Professor Lane has presented her research “Through the Looking Glass: Examining the Impact of Mirrors in Technical and Artistic Development in Female College Ballet Dancers” for the Corps de Ballet International Conference at Western Michigan University and the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities. Professor Lane, and colleague Professor Olaf Hoefer, has successfully initiated a cultural exchange program between the University’s Department of Modern Dance, the Berlin State Ballet School and Ballet West, for students, teachers, and musicians. As well as being a frequent guest teacher for the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and Ballet West, Professor Lane continues to be an adjudicator for the Montana Dance Arts Association and for Music-Fest in Spokane, Washington. As of May 3rd, 2017, Lane has been awarded Professor Emeritus Status.

"My 28 years at the University of Utah, the Departments of Ballet and Modern Dance from 1989-2016, and now the newly formed School of Dance, again with both the Modern Dance and Ballet Programs from 2016-2017, has been both an honor and a privilege. It will be difficult to leave the “good” in my life, particularly students and colleagues that I have worked with who have continually inspired and influenced my ideas in regards to teaching dance in academia. From the first day of class to the last, it is the student artist that has empowered my toolbox for thinking, seeing, and living as an artist educator---I will never forget your lessons."

71f67488b0857639cee631943a3fc6fa MSteven Rasmussen

Steven Rasmussen has over twenty years of experience as a professional textile designer, writer, actor, artist, and interior designer. As the supervisor of the Marriott Center for Dance’s costume facility, Professor Rasmussen designed, built and supervised the construction of costumes for both modern dance and ballet productions and taught costuming for modern dance majors.

"I have really been inspired by the faculty and guest choreographers. I have had ideas for costumes based on the marvels sprung from the brains of great choreographic artists. I have really enjoyed many of the students in my classes over the years, as well as those students in both departments who I have gotten to know when they’ve come in for costume measurements, fittings, and looking for items to work with their own choreography. I’ve wanted to keep my retirement process as low key as possible, but I want every one to know that I will think about you all often and there’s a lot of history and fond memories I’ll take with me."

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Katie Scherman

Katie Scherman, originally from California, has performed with Houston Ballet, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, Washington Ballet, Hubbard Street 2, Zhukov Dance Theatre, Terpsicorps Dance Theatre, Bodyvox, and in numerous festivals and galas around the world. In 2009, she was honored with a Princess Grace Award in Dance. Scherman holds a BFA in Dance from LINES Ballet/Dominican University and an MFA in Dance from the University of Oregon. She is the 2015 recipient of the UO Graduate Student Emerging Artist Award, and was awarded a 2016 Alembic Guest Artist Residency at PWNW. Her choreography and teaching have been presented throughout the US. Scherman has held guest residencies at Pacific University, University of Utah, LINES Ballet/Dominican University BFA program, and the Bodyvox Junior Artist Generator program.

"What a wonderful semester it has been. I wanted to express my gratitude and deep appreciation. You have made me feel at home. Thank you for your inspiration, encouragement, and beauty. I have so enjoyed working with you, learning from you, and sharing experiences throughout the past five months. I've been raving about the School of Dance, the students, and the work that I have has been an absolute pleasure teaching in both programs. The students are remarkable. I look forward to keeping this relationship in the future. Not a goodbye at all!"

Jennifer WeberJennifer Weber

Jennifer Weber is an active performer, choreographer, teacher and dance educator. With over 20 years of work in the dance field, Jennifer believes in educating communities about dance, as well educating dancers about the unique qualities of their art form. She is continually seeking new ways to communicate through dance.

“This upcoming transition is bittersweet for me. My time at Utah has been fruitful and life changing. Amidst the magnificent mountains and quirky ballerinas, I have conquered summits I did not think I could and I have witnessed students reach beyond what they thought possible. I created my greatest masterpiece here in Utah, my son. I have strengthened my love for my art form and I have been challenged to see beyond my perspective. My heart aches to know my time here has come to an end. I am excited for my upcoming opportunities and will watch from afar to see what amazing things Utah does. I will be joining an amazing group of artists at SUNY Brockport, where I will be an Assistant Professor of Dance in the Department of Dance. I am excited to see what new adventures the future holds."