• Abstracted narrative structures
• Queer performance

Suzanne Abbey
Head of School
Beacon Day School
sabbey@beaconday.org


PROFESSIONAL PROFILE

• An innovative dance theatre artist with teaching experience at the primary, secondary, and higher education levels, with an array of administrative experience. Theatrical expertise in acting, playwriting, directing, and improvisation, with adeptness in Modern, Jazz, Ballet dance along with developed grounding in choreographic construction.

• Seasoned problem solver, confronting various challenges such as lack of funds and resources, rigid institutional structures, and potentially difficult subject matter by developing curriculum and programs that provide constructive solutions and safe/stable entry points where new materials and reserves are easily created, boundaries are expanded, and where hard lessons are approached with respect and diligent support.    


• Active and receptive communicator with superb organization and negotiation skills in addition to the ability to facilitate, find consensus, develop plans of action, and achieve desired outcomes.


TEACHING PHILOSOPHY


As a dance and theatre teaching artist, I have various goals and methods I employ in my teaching practice. My main goals from my work in dance and theatre practicum to theory based courses to my more community-focused classes often centers around developing and supporting the student’s artistic voice and abilities. This is true for my students as young as seven years old to those who have matured to adulthood. I ask myself to examine where a student is at: what is their past training: what they want to express. It is then my job to expand upon this with new tools, techniques, ideas that will best support them and the institutional standards they are being held to. To me students are not empty vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge, but highly adaptable beings capable of dynamic transformation.

My most effective methods in facilitating these goals to fruition are ones based in constructivism, safety, and accessibility. The learning process is often combative by nature as it constantly challenges a student’s past knowledge and understanding. Because of this students can engage more effectively with the learning process when they feel safe: with good boundaries, norms, and other tools, classroom disagreements and difficult subject matter are seen as issues which can be easily faced as a willing and ready group, imbuing every student with renewed agency. Likewise, students will participate more when material is presented in an accessible and relevant way: this does not mean that content should be “dumbed-down” or that the subjects need to be presented in a “cool” or “hip” manner. Instead it is the educator’s job to acknowledge multiple entry points to a lesson and to find the most suitable pathway from which to navigate. Whether this means using movement modifications with injured dancers during technique practicum or planning my introductory theatre theory course to include playwrights with intersectional (diverse race, class, orientation, etc.) backgrounds, accessibility takes various forms. At the same time, constructivist principles such as creating/gathering knowledge through group settings (dialogues and other activities) allows for better critical thinking whilst not permitting information to become some static unchanging entity, but a more fluid one. I have seen time and again that these methods empower students to participate more fully, take responsibility for and find commitment to their education, and to grow as individuals.


DANCE-THEATER ARTIST

MILLS REPERTORY
DANCE COMPANY:
Company member &
Ensemble performer for
Sheldon Smith, Sonya
Delwaide-Nichols,
and Kara Davis.
2014-2015

SHOUTING THROUGH A WINDOW BETWEEN WORLDS: Wax Poet(s)
Performance Collective.
--I premiered my dance
theatre work “Emerge”
Spring 2016

• Trauma-conscious dance education
• Accessibility in arts education

EDUCATION

• M.F.A., Choreography and Performance, Mills College, Oakland CA, 2016

• B.A., Theatre Arts, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz CA, 2011

ACADEMIC HONORS AND AWARDS

• Recipient, E. L. Wiegand Foundation Dance Department Innovator Award, Mills College, 2016

• Graduated Cum Laude, University California Santa Cruz, 2011

TEACHING / ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE
 
• Instructor of the Queer Performance Lab, a semester long introductory course for undergrad/grad students incorporating interdisciplinary arts with queer and gender studies, at Mills College, in Oakland CA, Spring 2016.  

• Graduate Assistant working as Department Photographer, Social Media Manager, Lead Receptions Coordinator, and Modern Dance Teaching Aide (Wanjiru Kamuyu) for Mills College Dance Department, in Oakland CA, Fall 2014-Spring 2016.

• Lead Dance Teacher grades 1st-5th instructing in Jazz, Ballet, Modern, and compositional based curriculum at Beacon Day School, in Oakland CA, Summer 2015. 

• Teaching Assistant (Creative Dance grade 1) and PM Front Office Manager For Bentley Lower and Middle School, in Oakland CA, Summer 2013-Summer 2014. 

• Acting instructor and director of numerous productions at UCSC’s Barnstorm Theatre Company 2010-2011.    

REFERENCES

Sheldon Smith
Chair of Dance & Theatre Studies 
Mills College
shsmith@mills.edu
 


RECENT PERFORMANCE HIGHLIGHTS


BREAK POINT:
2016 Mills Dance MFA
Thesis Concert.
--I premiered my dance theatre
works, “Still Here” (ensemble)
& “Lie to Me” (solo)
Spring 2016

RESEARCH AND ACADEMIC INTEREST


• Gender and performance
• Semiotics and symbols   

 PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

• Greater Board Member and Director of E-Communications, California Dance Education Association, 2015-present.

• National Dance Education Organization Member 2014-present.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Conferences

• “I am California Dance’” State Conference, California Dance Education Association, Berkeley CA, 2016

• CDEA Day Conference 2014, California Dance Education Association, El Cerrito CA, 2014

Workshops

• Developing & Implementing Dance Curricula-B, Luna Dance Institute, Berkeley CA, 2015

• Developing & Implementing Dance Curricula-A, Luna Dance Institute at Mills College, Oakland CA, 2014

• Summer Training Congress, American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco CA, 2008

• Penn Summer Theatre Workshop, Penn University, Philadelphia PA, 2006

• Summer Intensive, Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, Berkeley CA, 2004

COMMUNITY SERVICE

• Lead Facilitator and Organizer, queer male-identified peer-activity and support group, The Pacific Center for Human Growth, Berkeley CA, 2012-2014

 • Show and Piece Director, Queer Fashion Show, (philanthropic variety show) Porter College, Santa Cruz CA, 2009-2011

• Volunteer and Guest Speaker, Ally Action, Concord CA, 2006

• ALT Team Member, G.L.S.E.N. San Francisco East Bay, Concord CA 2004-2005 

Kristin Kusanovich
Senior Lecturer / Co-President
Santa Clara University/ CDEA
kkusanovich@gmail.com 

SIGNAL FLOW:
Ensemble improv.
performer for
gabby fluke-mogul’s
music/movement score,
“into day light”
 Spring 2016