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We Are Music, Theatre, and Dance Professionals in the Academy

About Our Organization

Our Vision: Transforming academic environments through holistic integration, reimagining the practice of teaching and scholarship as it relates to the arts.

Our Responsibility: As artists of the Global Majority in lineage and heritage is to transform vision into vibrant outcomes. This think tank influences each other and revolutionizes how one teaches in order to train tomorrow's artists to transform the artistic field.

Our Goal: Decolonizing curriculum and unwinding white supremacist teaching practices in order to expand the minds and hearts of artists. Unleashing the power of our histories, legacies, and their full contributions to the arts.

Who Tells Your Story


Taylor Stilson



Vocal Pedagogue, Master Lecturer, Biomechanics Expert, Scholar, and Researcher

Founder, The Stilson Institute

Adjunct Professor, Harvard University and Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Mr. Stilson has crafted a unique career as a voice instructor and is trailblazing a new paradigm of mind-body voice pedagogy. Taylor Stilson is the founder of The Stilson Institute, The Stilson Method™, and holds adjunct faculty of voice positions at Harvard University and Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Mr. Stilson was previously seen as assistant professor of musical theater voice at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and an eight-year adjunct position of Applied Music in Voice at Brown University. He currently teaches undergraduate and graduate students in musical theater, opera, and vocal pedagogy.


Mr. Stilson holds certifications in massage therapy (LMT-MA), personal training (CPT-NASM), craniosacral therapy (CE), KORU Mindfulness, National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork Approved Provider (NCBTMB-AP), myofascial release for throat, neck, and swallowing disorders, Ericksonian hypnosis, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) life coaching. As vocal pedagogue, Taylor has presented lectures and workshops on vocal anatomy, physiology, myofascial release, and specialized voice topics throughout the Western hemisphere. His recent essay “Hypnosis as a Supplemental Treatment for and Prevention of Muscle Tension Dysphonia” can be found in the 2021 publication of VASTA (Voice and Speech Training Association), an affiliate of Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group. 


He maintains very active private voice studios in Boston, Orlando, FL, and online.

Chari Arespacochaga



Assistant Professor, Florida State University

Chari is a director for theatre, film, multi-media, special events and concerts. She is also a Professor at the School of Theatre of Florida State University where she teaches performance and directing.
Chari’s North American theatrical direction credits include Marisol (FSU), the world premiere translations by Ayako Kano of Fumiko Enchi’s, Restless Night in Late Spring and A Hell of Her Own (HedgePig Theatre Ensemble and May-Yi Theatre), Coin Toss by Alexis Sims (Abingdon Theatre Company), Long Distance Affair (PopUP Theatrics NY, Juggerknot Theatre Company), The Motherf**ker With The Hat (Short North Stage), In The Heights (FSU), Birthmark (World Premiere, UCR), Love’s Labour’s Lost the Musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (University of California), Little Shop of Horrors (Post Playhouse), Amadeus and Stupid Kids (Phoenix Theatre, Victoria), 9 Minutes (for PopUP Theatrics NYC). She has also worked with Susan Stroman in the Vineyard Theatre’s production of Dot, and with Jeff Whiting in NYMF’s Single Wide through the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation. Chari is deeply committed to the creation of new theatre. She continues to work on the development of new theatre as the Director of Creative Development for several projects. She is committed to diversity and inclusion not just in in both the stories we bring to the stage, but also in methods of creation and assembly of creative companies.

Rufus Bonds Jr.


Assistant Professor, Syracuse University

In London he performed the title role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theater. Carnegie Hall welcomed him as the baritone soloist for Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music. His Broadway credits include Rent, Once on This Island, and Parade, for which he won the Drama Desk Nomination Best Supporting Actor. National tours include The Color Purple as Mister, Lion King as Mufasa, and Miss Saigon as John.  Directing projects include Lysistrata, Mamma Mia, Children of Eden, Tarzan, The Wiz, Into the Woods, The Wizard of Oz, and Shakespeare R&J.

Bonds is a Eugene O’Neill semifinalist for his play The Sisters of Rosewall High.

  • M.F.A., California State University at Fullerton

  • B.S., University of Cincinnati


Tomé Cousin


Broadway Actor, Director, Choreographer, Writer, Scholar

Professor, Carnegie Mellon University


An “interdisciplinary artist”, heavily influenced by his eclectic range of creative mentors: Susan Stroman, Martha Clarke, George C. Wolfe, Ruth Maleczeh, Wendell Harrington, Luigi, Fred Rogers, John Weidman, Bertrum Ross, Miquel Goudreau, Hector Mercado, Judith Leifer, Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane, Hope Clarke, Pina Bausch, Theo Bleckmann, Blondell Cummings and Meredith Monk, Tomé Cousin views the divisions of the performing arts to be artificial.

As a result he has molded an award winning international career that includes collaborations in dance, theater, music, film, photography, television and literature. BA: Dance History, and Choreography, Point Park University and MFA in New Media Art and Performance from Long Island University. Mr. Cousin has composed over 70 original theater, dance, musical, new opera, film, and installation works for performance.

Cousin is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab.


Rick Edinger


Associate Professor of Music Theater

Area Chair, Acting/Music Theater

Rick Edinger is an accomplished music director, vocal coach, pianist, and actor. Currently, he serves as Associate Professor of Musical Theater/Vocal Coach/ Music Director at Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama. Edinger also proudly co-chairs the CMU School of Drama’s Diversity & Inclusion committee with colleague, Tomé Cousin, and recently implemented an Anti-Racist Action Plan which developed a new (and required) Anti-Racist Theatre course in collaboration with Nicole Brewer. Rick serves on the Board of Directors for The National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT). For NAMT’s annual Festival of New Musicals, Edinger has served on the Selection Committee for three years and consulted on The River Is Me by Troy Anthony and Sukari Jones, Interstate by Melissa Li and Kit Yan, and Hart Island by Daniel Larsen and Michelle Elliott. Locally, Edinger has also served on the New Hazlett Theater’s Community Supported Arts (CSA) Performance Project Selection Committee for the 2020-2021 season. Edinger began his career as an actor, appearing in the 2004 Tony nominated Broadway revival of Pacific Overtures and the Broadway benefit concert production of Children and Art: A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim on the Eve of his 75th Birthday. He has served as music director, vocal coach, faculty, consultant, and/or accompanist for numerous projects at institutions across the US and Europe.

Ramón Flowers


Actor & Principal Ballet Dancer

Assistant Professor of Dance, Butler University

Ramón Flowers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dance in the Jordan College of the Arts, at Butler University. He began his formal dance training on scholarship at the School for the Pennsylvania Ballet, and later attended the School of American Ballet. Four years after joining the Pennsylvania Ballet Company, as the first male African-American dancer, he moved to Europe as a principal ballet dancer for 12 Years. He spent seven years with the legendary, internationally renowned Maurice Béjart, performing in major cities in over 60 countries on every continent. He later moved to Germany to dance with William Forsythe, director of the Frankfurt Ballet, and then to Madrid to work with choreographer Nacho Duato and the Compañía Nacional de Danza de España. He has been offered company contracts with New York City Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Basil Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, and Peter Schaufuss Ballet.

He returned to North America to dance with Montreal`s Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, where repertoire encompassed pieces by all the choreographers for whom he’d danced in Europe, as well as the works of George Balanchine, which were very familiar to him because of his first training as a teenage student. He then left Canada to return to his first love for dance, musical theatre and was featured in several Broadway shows, including Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Cats, The Lion King, The Green Bird, The Boy From Oz, and Hot Feet, as well as Broadway National Tours with Chita Rivera in The Dancer’s Life, and A Chorus Line, in the role of Richie. While living in NYC he was featured in commercials, film, and Television. Ramon teaches ballet at the American Dance Festival Summer Intensive at Duke University, Alvin Ailey II, has choreographed on the Indianapolis Ballet Company, as well as workshops on the William Forsythe style of movement in NYC during his time away from Butler University. He received his BA in French from The City College of New York, CUNY, and his MFA in Dance from The University of Iowa.

Dr. Julius John


Associate Professor/Director of Theatre, Bethune-Cookman University

Dr. Julius John is an actor, educator, director, and producer who currently serves as an Associate Professor and Director of Theatre at Bethune Cookman University.  He has obtained credentials in London, as well as at the Drew Summer Shakespeare Institute at Rollins College and Elon College in North Carolina, where his (B.S.) degree encompassed the complementary fields of English and Music. He obtained his Masters of Fine Arts degree in Acting from Western Illinois University and the Doctor of Educational Leadership from Gwynedd Mercy University.

Dr. John has taught and directed theatrical productions at the collegiate level for close to twenty years. His second passion, fashion; has allowed him to serve as Vice President for Fashion News Live and attend Mercedes Benz Fashion Week all over the world where he has produced shows in New York, Miami, and LA for RLG, Productions. 

Carlos R. Jones


Carlos Jones has a body of work that extends from the concert stage to theater to television and film. His eclectic background has brought him recognition as an international artist. Concert appearances include work with such companies as: Loretta Livingston, Bethune Theatredance, Dance Kansas City Modern/Jazz CO., and his own Carlos Jones & Company. Among his theatrical credits are Some Like it Hot, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Man of La Mancha, It's a Pretty Good Life, and Sesame Street Live.
As a director/choreographer Jones is prolific and his concert works have been presented with San Jose Dance Company, Dance Spectrum Alaska, Adage Repertory Company, Bethune Theater/Dance, and Link Dane Theatre to name a few.

Kikora Franklin, Leadership 2.jpg

Kikora Franklin


Aquila Kikora Franklin is a Professor of Theatre/Dance and the Associate Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the Penn State School of Theatre where she teaches courses including Intro to West African Dance, Hip Hop Theatre, jazz, and Mojah dance. Franklin has performed, choreographed and taught in cities across the globe including Linz, Austria, Grahamstown, South Africa, Dakar, Senegal, Minas Gerais, Brazil, throughout China, Europe, and the United States. In addition, she has choreographed and performed for the Atlanta Hawks Dance Team, Grammy Award Winning group Arrested Development, and renowned poet, Sonia Sanchez. Franklin was also a collaborator and choreographer for Dominique Morisseau’s Blood at the Root. Franklin’s creative work focuses on developing the Mojah dance technique, an original style that fuses elements of modern, jazz, West African, and Hip Hop movement into one form. As a community artist, Franklin engages with students of all ages using dance as a means of human development. She is the co-founder and director of Roots of Life Performing Arts Ensemble, a State College, PA Area School District arts education program comprised of 4th-12th grade students who perform throughout State College, Pennsylvania. Franklin received a JD/MPA from Georgia State School of Law and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies in Atlanta, GA.

MaryAnn Hu


Faculty, USC School of Dramatic Arts

MaryAnn's Broadway credits include Queen Iduna in Disney’s Frozen, The Queen of Transylvania in My Fair Lady, Sunday In The Park With George (starring Jake Gyllenhaal), Lincoln Center’s The King and I (Lady Thiang u/s), South Pacific (Bloody Mary u/s) and Miss Saigon. Off-Broadway, she has appeared in The Audience (Transport Group), Falsettoland (NAATCO), at the Signature and the Vineyard. Regional credits include Allegiance (The Old Globe), La Jolla Playhouse’s comedy Tiger Style! (also at O’Neill Theater Conference) and numerous shows at East West Players.

Film credits include Elanore in the indy film Wilde Wedding (2017), DeLoba, Falling for Grace. TV credits include the HBO Max mini series The Flight Attendant (recurring), Elementary, Madam Secretary, Nurse Jackie, Law & Order and also recurred on the NBC sitcom WHOOPI as SooLin.


Cameron Knight


Associate Professor of Acting Head of Acting, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ). He also serves as the director of the Rutgers Acting Company at Shakespeare’s Globe, (London,UK)


Previously, Cameron was an associate professor of Acting and Directing at the

University of North Carolina School of the Arts (Winston-Salem, NC), an assistant professor of acting and head of undergraduate acting for the Theatre School at DePaul University (Chicago, IL) and an assistant professor in the school Drama at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA), he also lectured on African American Theatre.


Areas of research include: Equity Diversity and Inclusion, Curriculum Development, Shakespeare’s impact and relevance for the 21st Century artist and audience.


Professional directing credits include: The Tempest,  Skeleton Crew, Richard III, Shakespeare in Love, Fences, Othello, Twelfth Night, Pericles, and Underneath the Lintel.


Acting roles include: Benedick, Othello, Mercutio and Oberon

Film: Widows, Sister Carrie, The World Without You

Television: The Orville, Chicago Med, Intrusion


Marty Austin Lamar


Singer, Musician, Songwriter

Associate Professor, California State University/Fullerton

Marty Austin Lamar’s life has been filled with music since he was a child. Classically trained on piano, Marty was reared in the church and spent his formative years accompanying, leading, and participating in choirs led by his parents and a host of amazing family members, teachers, coaches and mentors. 

Marty graduated from the Florida A&M University’s School of Business and Industry and furthered his education at the University of Florida where he received his Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA) in acting with an emphasis in Musical Theatre performance and technique.  

An accomplished singer, musician and songwriter, Marty’s resume is vast including several regional and New York theatre credits and building elementary, secondary and post-secondary performing arts programs.

Marty is the founder and CEO of Kinship Entertainment Group, LLC.

Krisha Marcano


Performer, Choreographer, Entrepreneur

Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Entrepreneurship, School of Drama, University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Born in New York City and raised in Trinidad, W.I., Krisha Marcano received a BFA in Dance at SUNY Purchase, spent the first eight years of her career in dance companies like The Michael Mao Dance Co., The Martha Graham Dance Company & The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, giving her the opportunity to perform on the world's most beautiful stages. Krisha then transitioned to Broadway for the
next seventeen years where she was blessed to do a number of great Broadway hits like Fosse, Disney's Aida, Sweet Charity, originating the role of Squeak in Oprah's 2005 production of The Color Purple, and
Motown the Musical. In 2008, Krisha received a Commendation from the City of New York for her lasting contributions to both the Caribbean American community and New York City. 

Volunteering at Career Transition for Dancers as the co-chair of the Business Group for seven years, then getting her MBA in Entrepreneurship, Krisha created The Artistry Center Network LLC, to continue to be of service to her community by teaching entrepreneurial and artistic wellness. The Artistry Center Network is a global community for performing artists to network more efficiently, connect with vital resources, and broaden their knowledge on being effective CEOs of creative businesses, especially the business of self.


Michael McElroy


Chair and Arthur E. and Martha S. Hearron Endowed Professor of Musical Theatre

Broadway:  Sunday in the Park with George (2017 revival), Disaster! (vocal arranger) Next To Normal, Rent, The Wild Party, Big River (Tony Nom), The Who's Tommy, Street Corner Symphony (vocal arranger), Miss Saigon, Patti LuPone on Broadway, and High Roller Social Pleasure Club.  National Tour:  Next to Normal, Rent, Big River Sarafina.  Off-Broadway:  Some Men (Second Stage Theater), Blue (Roundabout), Violet (Original Cast, Playwrights Horizons, Drama Desk Nomination), Thunder Knocking on the Door (Minetta Lane), Richard III(NYSF).  


Founder/Artistic Director of  Broadway Inspirational Voices(BIV)  In 2019 Michael accepted the Tony Award Honor for Excellence in the Theater on behalf of BIV from the American Theater Wing.  Michael was nominated for a Grammy in 2005 for “Joy to the World” arrangement of BIV’s first holiday CD “Great Joy: A Gospel Christmas”. 

Michael is an Artist In Residence for the inaugural year of Little Island (www.little a founding member of Black Theatre United (, Michael is on the board of National Youngarts Foundation and served as a panelist and chair of the theater panel for seven years. 



Associate Professor, Donald G. Robertson

Director of Music Theatre

K O (they/them) is a multi-hyphenate previously living/working on the unceeded ancestral lands of the Ho-Chunk Nation in Madison, WI. They are most widely known for their acting work that spans the last 25 years on Broadway and TV. In the Spring of 2020, KO transitioned into teaching to refocus their energy on the future of the art form.

KO works at the collegiate level facilitating workshops on interpersonal communication, classroom culture, critical analysis of the Musical Theater canon, and education ethos retooling while mentoring artists privately. They co-created the Mosaic Training, a bi-annual 8 week workshop for young artists from underrepresented identities to build community and engage in training free of charge in partnership with Project Broadway and Broadway workshops.

KO supports grassroots organizations like NY-CLU, Pay Equity Standards, Collaboration, The Industry Standard Group, PAAL, Broadway for Racial Justice, and Groundwater Arts.

Recent Awards

  • Tony Award and nomination (2009 & 2020)

  • Drama Desk Award and nomination (2008 & 2009)

  • Astaire Award and nomination (2008 & 2009)

  • Outer Critic Award nomination (2009 & 2020)

  • Audience Award and Broadway World Theater fans Award (2009)

Patricia Phillips


Lecturer, Musical Theatre Voice, Penn State

Patricia Phillips has altered the history of American Broadway theatre, twice. Patricia is the first woman of color to portray the Tony Award-winning role of Carlotta in the longest-running show in Broadway history, The Phantom of the Opera. She is also the only woman of color to appear in Kinky Boots on Broadway. Trained at Carnegie Mellon University, Patricia’s other NY credits include the Emmy Award-winning Live at Lincoln Center production of Sweeney Todd, Jerry Springer the Opera (U.S. Premier), Baz Luhrmann’s La Bohème (OBC), The Secret Garden (OBC), and The Sound of Music (OBC Revival). She can be heard on three original cast recordings on DreamWorks, Columbia, and RCA.

Patricia’s television credits include Billy on the Street, Shades of Blue, and The Tony Awards. Her film credits include Everybody’s Fine with Robert De Niro. Patricia has soloed with The Pittsburgh Symphony, The Baltimore Symphony, The Minnesota Orchestra, The Indianapolis Symphony, and many others.

Alvon Reed


Assistant Professor, University of Alabama

Alvon Reed is a Cedar Rapids based dancer, teacher and choreographer. Alvon currently serves as the Dance Artist-in-Residence at Cornell College where he directed and choreographed the first dance concert in more than thirty years titled TRIGGERED. Alvon was a fellowship student at The Ailey School and the Milwaukee Ballet School. Alvon’s performance credits include, Nike, PUMA, Levi’s Jeans, Microsoft, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Inland Pacific Ballet, Nevada Ballet Theatre, Opus Dance Theatre, and Jennifer Muller/The Works.

Alvon also performed in Arena Stages first multi-ethnic production of Oklahoma under the direction of Molly Smith. He has worked with renowned post-modern choreographer, Bill T. Jones on the Broadway workshop entitled Superfly! The Musical. He has also performed at the world renowned Apollo Theatre with tap dancing legend, Maurice Hines. His choreographic credits include, Shrek The Musical, The Little Mermaid, Sister Act The Musical, Peter Pan at Theatre Cedar Rapids.

Keshia Wall


Assistant Professor, Elon University

Nekeshia Wall of Greensboro, NC earned an undergraduate degree from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Dance and African American Studies and completed the Master of Fine Arts in Dance degree program at Hollins University in collaboration with Kunstlerhavs Mousontvrm and The Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts; with support from The Dresden Frankfort Dance Company. She is also the founder of Matriarch Dance Co. LLC, which exists to empower women of all ages to discover their strength and purpose through dance training, performance, and positive mentorship.

Wall has six years of teaching experience. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Elon University as well as an Adjunct Professor in the dance departments at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and North Carolina Central University, where she teaches Traditional West African Dance and Movement Training for Actors.

Wall specializes in Traditional West African Dance based in Guinea, Senegal, and Mali and Contemporary Dance. Her current research focus seeks to explore how binary dancing forms such as West African Dance, can be engaged as valued and valid epistemological and ontological domains in scholarship. Further, she is interested in how the binary practice is or is not translatable when taught in a world that is not binary. She is also exploring how this further coincides with the black dancing body as a means of culture.

Dale RIcardo Shields


Dale Ricardo Shields is a 2017 winner of The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award®, 2017 and 2015 Tony® award nominee for the Excellence in Theatre Education Award, the 2017 AUDELCO/"VIV" Special Achievement Award, the 2020 and 2021 ENCORE AWARD / The Actors Fund and the winner of the 2022 LEGEND Award (Ohio University).

His extensive professional credits as a Director, Stage manager, and Actor (Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, and Regional) As an actor he has appeared on Saturday Night Live, Another World, Guiding Light, The Cosby Show, and the ITV television series "Special Needs" and commercials and film.

Professor Shields is a member of the Actors Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the American Guild of Musical Artists performance unions and an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.

He holds B.F.A and M.F.A degrees from Ohio University.

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