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2008 Dance Faculty

Nancy Ammerman
Dance Division Chair

Biography to be posted.

Ivan Pulinkala

Ivan PulinkalaIvan currently serves as an Assistant Professor and the Director of Dance at Kennesaw State University. Originally from New Delhi, India, he received his Bachelor of Commerce degree from Hindu College, Delhi University, and his M.F.A. in Dance from Mills College, Oakland, CA. Ivan currently serves on the national board of the American College Dance Festival. He has received a number of grants both in Indian and the U.S., including a recent grant from Kennesaw State University for a project with the Atlanta Ballet. Ivan received the Board of Regents award for teaching excellence from Murray State University for 2005. He travels nationally and internationally, choreographing for professional dance companies and university programs. Most recently, choreographing a commercial film in India with former Miss Universe. Ivan will start working on his doctorate this fall at the University of Alabama.

Laurie Thompson-Merriman

Laurie Merriman, Professor of Dance and Head of the Dance Area at Illinois State University, earned her B.F.A. (double major) in Ballet & Modern Dance from Texas Christian University and her M.F.A. in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She began her professional training at The National Academy of Dance in Champaign as a young ballet dancer and eventually became a scholarship student with the Joffery Ballet School and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Laurie's dual respect and love for both ballet and contemporary dance has afforded her the opportunity to perform and learn the works of many great artists in the field such as Martha Graham, Paul Taylor, Bebe Miller, Dwight Rhoden, Stephen Koester, Jose Limon, Doris Humphrey, Vaslav Nijinsky, Michel Fokine, Marius Petipa, Robert North, and Frederick Ashton (among many others). Laurie has been the recipient of various grants and fellowships for her work in choreography, teaching, and research. Her choreographic work has been performed by the Columbus Dance Theatre, Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Shelter Repertory Dance Theatre, the University of Minnesota at Duluth, and presented at the Southwest Regional Ballet Festival, the Harold Washington Library Theatre in Chicago, Illinois State University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Winona State University, the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse, Eureka College, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts, several American College Dance Festivals, and beyond. Since 1988, Laurie's teaching focus at Illinois State University has been in the areas of ballet and modern dance technique, Improvisation, dance composition, and dance pedagogy. Laurie also serves as Assistant Dean to the College of Fine Arts, Artistic Director for Illinois State Dance Theatre and teaches at the high school level for University High School. She has served on the National Board of the American College Dance Festival, Illinois State Board of Education Dance Content Advisory Committee, adjudicator for the Springfield Area Arts Council, panelist for a variety of learning symposiums in the arts and in general education, Artistic Director of Illinois State Dance Theatre, ballet mistress for Twin Cities Ballet, Executive Director of Illinois Summer School for the Arts, Chair of the Illinois Dance Association, adjudicator for Beloit College, panelist for the Illinois Arts Council Artist-In-Residency program, member of the ISBOE Learning Standards Initiative in the Fine Arts, external evaluator for dance faculty at the Conservatory of Music, Dance Division, University of Cincinnati and Case Western Reserve University, and most recently as Dance Division Chair for the Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts.

Ruben Graciani - Modern Technique

Rubén Graciani began his artistic career as a merit scholarship student at the North Carolina School of the Arts where he majored in Modern Dance. After receiving his high school degree, Mr. Graciani was awarded a scholarship to attend the Juilliard School in New York City. In addition to studying under the tutelage of the many choreographers and masters who participated in the Juilliard program, Mr. Graciani studied on scholarship with several major New York dance companies including, the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Mr. Graciani completed his studies at the State University of New York - Purchase College, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. While attending Purchase, Mr. Graciani was invited to perform in three International Festivals of Dance staged in Taiwan and China. Further, Mr. Graciani performed soloist and leading roles in works by José Limon, Charles Weidman, Paul Taylor, Kevin Wynn, and Mark Morris among others. In addition, Mr. Graciani was invited to join the Kevin Wynn Collection; a New York based Modern Dance Company. Mr. Graciani also premiered several personal works at the Purchase Theater Lab including, "Letters from Home"; - 1992, "Manifesto"; - 1993, and "I'm not in any physical pain…The Brush Dance"; - 1994.

After graduation, Rubén was invited to join the Mark Morris Dance Group as an understudy. Mr. Graciani's five-year affiliation with the company resulted in national and international tours performing with one of the world's preeminent modern dance companies. Mr. Graciani's tours with Mark Morris included performances with the Royal Opera Company, Covent Garden, seasons at the State Theater, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center Opera House. In addition, Mr. Graciani has been a member of bopi's black sheep / dances by Kraig Patterson since its inception.

In the fall of 2000, Mr. Graciani produced The Next Step - An Evening of Dance at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. The event included the premiere of two new works by Mr. Graciani, If Not…Then and Run.On, as well as works by two other visiting artists. In 2001, Mr. Graciani premiered a new work, Red Rover, with the Salisbury University Dance Company.

Mr. Graciani received his M.F.A. from the University of Maryland - College Park in May of 2005. While there he premiered nine works of choreography for the Maryland Dance Ensemble, and performed in, Mythic Montana, with the Joe Goode Performance Group at the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts. In the spring of 2004 Rubén presented an evening of choreography in Washington DC with University of Maryland alumni Connie L. Fink and Jennifer Dorsey at the Jack Guidone Theater. His MFA Thesis Concert, Search for My Familiar, was presented in November of 2004 at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center to critical acclaim.

In September of 2005 Mr. Graciani joined the faculty at Ohio University as an Assistant Professor (tenure-track). At OU his teaching responsibilities include: Modern (all levels majors and minors), Ballet (all levels majors and minors), Dance History for Non-Majors, Choreography/Composition I, II, & III, and Modern Partnering. His service responsibilities include being a member of Audition Committee, Visiting Artist Committee, Co-chair of Enrollment Management/Recruitment and Retention Committee, and Chair of the Scholarship Committee, and he was Co-coordinator OU's Hosting of ACDF in 2006. Since joining the faculty at OU, he has premiered three works, I, of the Storm, Allow for Mystery, and Office Space.

Nathan Lassell - Accompanist

Nathan Lassell is a graduate of Rice University's Shepherd School of Music and George Mason University. A native of Arlington, VA, he has performed and recorded with some of the area's premier ensembles including the Cathedral Choral Society, Washington Men's Camerata, and the Children's Chorus of Washington. Mr. Lassell has performed with the New World, Knoxville, San Antonio, and Richmond (VA) Symphonies, and with the Washington Ballet. Nathan has twice been a member of the National Orchestral Institute, was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, and has appeard on television as the timpanist with the National Cathedral Choir. His teachers include Richard Brown, Ken Harbison, John Kasica, and Steve Fidyk.

Lindsay McNeal Ison, MS, PT - 3 Summer Workshops

Lindsay earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Kentucky in 1998 and her Master of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 2000. She has post-graduate training in dance medicine, as well as pelvic floor dysfunction and women's health issues. She became interested in the rehabilitation of dance injuries after sustaining several of her own. Lindsay began her ballet studies at the age of five, and progressed to tap and jazz. She participated in numerous musical theater and opera productions while a student at the University of Kentucky. She currently sings with the Nashville Symphony Chorus along with her husband, Mark.

Gregory Merriman - Ballet Technique

Mr. Merriman is a graduate of Texas Christian University with a B.F.A. in Classical Ballet. He studied with the Houston Ballet Academy and was a company member of Joffrey II, Houston Ballet, Fort Worth Ballet & Fort Worth Opera Ballet. He has just completed his 13th season as resident choreographer of "The Nutcracker"; for the Barrington Youth Ballet in the Chicago area. Greg currently teaches dance at both Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University.

Kim Nofsinger - Modern Technique

Kim Neal Nofsinger is the Artistic Director of Shelter Repertory Dance Theatre, which he founded in 2001. His choreography has been produced throughout the United States and abroad in Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, and Austria. In 2003, his evening's length work, "A Pure White Room," was selected as the Critics' Choice for Best Dance Production from a field of over 120 works at the Minnesota Fringe Festival and in 1999, his duet "Permission" was selected by the American Dance Guild as one of the outstanding works produced in the United States that year. Kiim Neal Nofsinger is beginning his second year as Director of Dance at Middle Tennessee State University. Prior teaching appointments include Ohio University, University of Minnesota-Duluth, State University of New York-Geneseo, Illinois State University, Winona State University, and Connecticut College. Nofsinger is the artistic director of the MTSU Dance Theatre. He is also a dance instructor at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Camp at Interlochen Center for the Arts, MI. Nofsinger has an MFA in Performance and Choreography from Arizona State University where he holds the distinction of being the first graduate student to receive a grant from the Institute for Arts and Technology.

Thomas Shoemaker - Ballet Technique

Thomas Shoemaker was a principal dancer with companies including the Atlanta Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Augusta Ballet, and Charleston Ballet Theatre in a professional career that spanned 25 years. As a guest artist and choreographer, he has worked with numerous dance and theatre companies throughout the U.S. and abroad. Mr. Shoemaker also served as ballet master for the Augusta ballet from 2001-2004. As a teacher, Thomas has worked with students in high schools, performing arts schools, colleges and at numerous summer programs and festivals. He received his training, starting at the age of 10, from Tommy Armour, Robert Pike and Judith Newman, in his home town of Miami, Florida. Mr Shoemaker now resides in Nashville, where he is currently teaching and choreographing for the Vanderbilt University Dance Program and co-directs the Ensworth School of Dance.