2020-2021 Season TBD

Theatre and Dance Students at Wayne State University to Perform Social Justice Play at 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The Freedom Players
The Freedom Players – Wayne State University students participating in social justice project performance in Scotland

Wayne State University theatre and dance students are heading to Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe — the world’s largest international performing arts festival — to perform “I Am,” a devised theatre performance which illuminates and engages audiences in current socio-political challenges.

Led by faculty members Billicia Charnelle Hines, Dr. RAS Mikey Courtney and Karen Prall, and created with student members of the Freedom Players, the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance’s Black Theatre and Dance touring ensemble, “I Am” explores identity and the path toward liberation in our society. Participating in this unique opportunity are Wayne State University theatre and dance students Cameron Blackwell, Micah Bolden, Dewight Braxton, Jane Clinton, Alexandra Failoc, Morgan Listenbee, Brooklyn Parks, Yakeem Tatum and Nigel Tutt.

“I Am” is an inspiring play that states that even through oppressive forces holding us down, through our own liberation we can break the shackles that binds us. It is about the continual challenge of seeking liberation. As a group of young Detroiters meet and interact, challenges arise as they realize their birth was political. The show is vibrant and eclectically diverse. It addresses universal themes of the human experience and each person’s independent journey of the liberation of self. This play offers a creative opportunity to initiate conversations about race, gender, sexuality, masculinity and privilege. Because of this creative process and performance, the performers have been able to increase their confidence in telling stories about their experiences. The show has been a way of healing, empowerment and discovery, for all of us.

The company will perform “I Am” at the Greenside at Royal Terrace in Edinburgh, Scotland from August 3 to August 9, 2019.

Luckily, Detroit audiences have a chance to experience “I Am” before the company embarks for their international tour. The 75-minute “pay what you can” performance takes place in the Hilberry Theatre on Thursday, July 25, 2019 at 11:30 a.m. and includes a twenty-minute post-show discussion with the cast and creative team. Tickets for this exclusive performance are sold at the door as a donation to support the company’s international expenses.

Additional information about the Freedom Players is available online at http://theatreanddance.wayne.edu/about/freedomplayers.php.

Students Share Expectations for Upcoming 2019-2020 Season

As our current season comes to a close, we can’t help but get excited about our next season! Check out our 2019-2020 season at here.

It is guaranteed to be a year full of laughs and learning, which is making a lot of our students thrilled for it all. We wanted to hear just exactly what some of our students are excited about!

Chantel Randle, MFA Lighting Design

“Wayne State has impressed me with the atmosphere in the theatre program, the commitment to aesthetics and the beautiful and strong choices made with the productions that are chosen. I believe that the upcoming season is going to continue the conversations we are all facing each day and delve into so many important topics and truly get to the essence of theatre. People together feeling something as a unit. We are storytellers and our job is so intricate in many ways. That being said we sure know how to warm hearts, make you laugh, smile, sing and dance along. This year will be a fantastic series of moments with all those who come to share those moments with us.”

Alex Morrison, BFA Acting

“This season to me just reads as powerful. Every show is so heavily concentrated on intricate relationships and explosive storytelling. I can’t wait for audiences to see the talent that our department has to offer these shows and their characters. From Sarah Ruhl to Shakespeare, our base is set, I can’t wait for everyone to see how high we can set the bar.”

Quint Mediate, MFA Acting

“I am super excited to work on Sweat next season. Playwright Lynn Nottage was announced as one of Time’s 100 most influential people of 2019. It’s going to be a really important play next season.”

Sarah Summerwell, MFA Acting

“As a member of the Hilberry Acting MFA Class of 2020, I am especially excited to tackle two plays by contemporary female playwrights in our final year! I’ve been astounded by Lynn Nottage’s work since I saw her first Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined in NYC, and can’t wait to work on Sweat (her newest Pulitzer Prize-Winning play!) Sweat explores the struggles and relationships between unionized factory workers in a Rust Belt town, and I firmly believe that our audiences will appreciate the prescient honesty and humor that Nottage captured in her script. Stage Kiss will be a completely different opportunity to discover the style and comedy of another award-winning American dramatist. Sarah Ruhl has also written some of my favorite new plays, and I look forward to closing the season with a play about love and life in the theatre.”

Alice Duffy, BFA Acting

A Winters Tale is such a wonderful, fantastical show. If you liked our production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you’re sure to love this! Reckless brings a hilarious twist to the holiday season and is sure to be loved by anyone. And Tobacco Road is as real as a show gets, the importance of family and the truth of hardships we experience shine through this beautiful play.”

Jayme Beerling, MFA Stage Management

“Personally, I’m very excited to work on Mary Poppins! It’s such a joyous musical and the storyline is touching. I’m very excited to see how we portray the famous storyline.”

Faith Berry, BA Theatre

“Next season is filled with so many comedies, and I’m most excited for Stage Kiss and Blithe Spirit. These are the two that I know the least, but they have a really unique and hysterical plot lines, so I’m ready to see them on the stage!”

As you can tell, from our graduate program to our undergrad, we are all thrilled to bring a phenomenal 2019-2020 season to the stage.

Purchase your 2019-2020 season tickets today by choosing any six or more shows for your subscription. Learn more here.

Josue David Camarena

Student Spotlight: Josue David Camarena

Interview by Rachel Kret

As we prepare for another graduation, we asked a few graduating students to share their experience before they leave our hallowed halls to begin their professional careers.

What are your plans for after graduation?

If only I knew! There are so many possibilities and many paths to take and I’m still not sure which to take. After doing the acting showcase in New York and Chicago I feel like I can go to any city and start my career anywhere. But first, I believe I must give myself the time to think and reflect on what I want my “career” to be. What and who do I want to represent? What do I want to portray through my art? What is my art? I think my plans for after graduation is to find out for myself what it means to be an artist and develop my craft even further through different experiences that come my way.

How do you define success?

I believe there’s no one definition for success. Every single person is on their own path with there own goals and dreams. Success for me is being happy, comfortable, and proud of whatever I’m doing at that time. It might be as simple as finally getting my pet rabbit a toy or making it to the latest opening to another Marvel film. Anything that brings joy to one’s life.

What is your favorite thing about the theatre and dance department at Wayne?

My favorite thing would have to be being able to have close relationships with professors and classmates. There’s a strong community that develops throughout the years.

Why did you choose to study theatre?

I knew that I’d pursue the arts in one way or another. I didn’t think it would’ve been acting but it’s what spoke to me and grabbed my attention. I saw myself thriving in this department and fortunately, I feel like I did. Also, if I had the money I definitely would be getting three other majors.

What was the biggest lesson you learned from the program? And who taught you that lesson?

The biggest lesson I learned is to take each day at a time, to live in the moment, and to not take life too seriously. I learned this from myself with the help of a therapist and from past school teachers. Also, as John Wolf said at the beginning of this year, “We don’t have to do theatre, we get to do theatre.” Or something along those lines. HAHA! This saying can be applied to everything and anything.

Who was one of the most influential people to your journey?

The most influential person in my life has been Marybeth Kinnell, my high school drama teacher who sadly passed away this last October after fighting ovarian cancer for about four years. She was a ray of sunshine that believed in my talent and potential full heartedly. She was the one who taught me to not take everything so seriously and that anything is possible. One of her favorite songs was “Dancing Queen” by ABBA so I think it was fitting to end my Wayne State career with Mamma Mia. I swear to you that during one of the performances I saw her sitting in the audience. I will forever remember that moment. 

What class was the most challenging for you?

The most challenging class for me was my Shakespeare acting class with Lavinia. I had no interest in taking the course, but as soon as it clicked in my mind I fell in love with the course. I also now have a love for commedia dell’arte.

What show did you have the most fun doing?

My favorite production that I worked on during the school year was Xtigone by Nambi E. Kelley. There was so much to learn from the story that the playwright brought to life and the process was just as fun to create. The show became a conglomeration of ideas of everyone from the cast and crew. Another production that I am proud of doing was during the Underground student-led summer season in the Studio Theatre. The show was Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker and I was assistant directing alongside Stephanie Stoiko who had graduated the semester before. We explored the viewpoints techniques and it led to a beautiful piece of work.

How did going to Wayne State help you accomplish your goals?

It gave me a heads up on my career and gave me a better understanding of what it means to be an actor. It opened up my eyes to the world and gave me ideas on how to impact it in my own way.

What were the benefits of going to school for theatre in Detroit?

It allowed me to be closer to my family and to explore the city I’ve been living in even further. It’s a city that seems to be rising and has much potential.

What will you miss most after graduation?

I will miss performing with the people who have become incredibly close friends with me and seeing them on a daily basis. I hope that they all thrive in their lives and become the person they want to be.

How were you able to balance performing and school?

I had to throw away a lot of plans with friends and family. This was one of the hardest things sometimes because I’d be doing 7 am to 11 pm shifts every single weekday when rehearsing for a show. I’d make sure I had plenty of snacks, water, and naps.

What advice do you have for future students?

This is the time to make errors and try for new things. Don’t be afraid to take risks.

Is there anything you’re working on right now?

I am currently working on a piece with fellow colleagues I’ll be graduating with. We will be performing Bunny Bunny by Alan Zweibel at Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit. It’s “a sort of romantic comedy” of the retelling of Alan Zweibel and Gilda Radner’s relationship within their career working on SNL. So far this project has been tons of fun and I can’t wait to perform it.

Favorite quote:

“If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” -RuPaul

Coming up This Weekend – March 22-24, 2019

We have a packed schedule of exciting events for you to attend and participate in this weekend.


Opening Friday night at the Studio Theatre at the Hilberry, Suzan-Lori Park’s Obie Award-winning play, Venus, explores the turbulent and tragic life of Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman, who became an unfortunate star on the 19th Century London freak show circuit. Venus gives vibrant life to the story of a young black woman’s journey to London, her rise to fame, and her eventual relationship with a French scientist. Inspired by the true story of Baartman, Venus is a tragic-carnival, an intense and devastating journey honoring the life of Baartman and examining the way we live and love today.

Venus runs March 22 through April 13 at the Studio Theatre. This intimate venue, beneath the Hilberry Theatre, has limited seating and several performances are filling quickly. Buy your tickets today!

Venus is a formidable experience: a gnarly but brilliant meditation on the ambiguity of race, history, the colonized imagination, sexuality, and theatrical storytelling itself.” — The New Yorker

2019-2020 Season Preview Party

Join us on Sunday, March 24 at 2 p.m. for our 2019-2020 Season Preview Party at the Hilberry Theatre.

Learn more about these exciting shows, enjoy a preview from Mary Poppins, experience the of our dance company, get a backstage tour of the Hilberry Theatre, play games for prizes, participate in a silent auction for our international projects, and more. Light refreshments will be provided.

Buying six or more shows in your season ticket package gets you 20% off the regular price, and you’ll enjoy special benefits like free exchanges, priority seating, discounts on extra tickets for friends and family, and more!

Our 2019-2020 Season includes:

  • Blithe Spirit by Sir Noel Coward
  • Sweat by Lynn Nottage (2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner)
  • Reckless by Craig Lucas
  • A Christmas Carol based on the Charles Dickens story and adapted by John Wolf and Tom Aulino
  • December Dance Concert
  • The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
  • 91st Annual Spring Dance Concert
  • Tobacco Road by Jack Kirkland. Based on the novel by Erskine Caldwell
  • Disney + Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins
  • Stage Kiss by Sarah Ruhl
  • Plus one mystery show we can’t wait to reveal! 

Show titles and dates are subject to change.

Bring your friends along! The more, the merrier. We love to introduce new people to the remarkable work created by our students and faculty.

 Tickets to the party are FREE but seating is limited. Let us know if you can come by clicking below!

Ten Minute Play & Dance Festival

On Sunday, March 24 at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance First Year Learning Community presents the 2019 Ten Minute Play & Dance Festival. Enjoy thrilling short works from this talented community of students.
Admission: FREE

Mamma Mia! Singalong at Detroit Shipping Company

Detroit Shipping Company, 474 Peterboro St, Detroit, MI 48201
Admission: FREE

In anticipation of our upcoming production of Mamma Mia!, we’re hosting a singalong at Detroit Shipping Company beginning at 7 p.m. Come be part of the fun. RSVP not required.

And if you haven’t already purchased your tickets for Mamma Mia!buy them today as performances are selling quickly.

Memories from 90 Years of Dance

We asked our alumni to send in their memories to share with you. Enjoy this look back at our dance program through the eyes of our alumni.

Don’t forget to buy your tickets to our 90th Annual Spring Dance Concert and Alumni Dance Concert, March 1 through 3. See below for details.

Sharla Peterson Desentz  – Class of 1997

As a student who found the WSU dance program and company, I was thankful for that and all that it exposed me to, the ability to continue to perform, opening myself up to Modern Dance (which was unknown to me as an incoming student there) but allowed me to learn that my mind, body and soul was craving it!  I was able to experience a semester abroad at the Laban Centre for Movement & Dance my senior year, auditioning for – and getting selected to perform with – the Leni Williams Dance Company that was in residence was a major confidence booster for me and something that meant so much and still resonates with me!   I am still teaching dance, but also, thankful that I am still able to perform as a modern dancer with the established DDCdances modern dance company.  

Ashlee Merritt

Graduating from the dance program at WSU with my BFA gave me the platform and confidence that I needed to take a leap after graduation across the country and dance professionally in both L.A. Contemporary Dance Company (under direction of Genevieve Carson/Kate Hutter) and Clairobscur Dance Company (under direction of Laurie Sefton).

The experiences and tools that I accumulated from WSU provided me with a jumpstart on my professional career that I continue to invest in each and every day. I will forever cherish the three years I spent there, some of my most treasured and breakthrough moments were within those walls of Old Main! 

Paula Kramer  – Class of 1978

Well certainly my experiences at WSU have resonated continually throughout my personal life in Detroit and in St. Petersburg Florida. and in my professional career.  I could not have had better mentors than Ann Zirulnik and Ruth Murray and Georgia Reid and you!  And, oh my, the iconic teachers that came to WSU left me with emotional, intellectual and physical knowledge that continues to inform the choreographic and theatrical work that I am doing today.  I still have and refer to the lesson plans that AZ had us create so that for our exposure to students of all ages would be rich with multi arts experiences.

Of great importance is the fact that Detroit Dance Collective (now DDC Dances), a professional modern dance company, was formed in 1980 with WSU dance colleagues Barbara Selinger, Sue Darr, Anita Surma and myself. Just a bit later, Kay Davis Rediers and other Wayne dancers enriched DDC’s roster. The company reaches toward its 40th Anniversary still giving great service to the art form and to many arts communities.

I am grateful for the awards I received from the Dance Alumni Association, the Dance Department , the Department of Education and of course, the Arts Achievement Award from the university. My wish is that the present and future students reach for excellence in the art form and realize that they are now a part of a rich dance history that they must contribute to in a significant way.

Minou Carey Jones

My best memories with the WSU Dance Company are when we performed at the State Theatre and late night rehearsals to prepare for childrens’ concert and Spring concert.

My experience with the dance department provided me with life-long lessons that helped prepare me for my career as a Community Organizer.  I currently serve as the Executive Director for the Black Caucus Foundation of Michigan and I still dance. I have been a member of the Detroit Ballroom Dance Explosion Team for 10 years.

Denise M. Allen – Class of 1996

Most Memorable Memory at WSU: My most memorable memory at WSU is when Georgia Reid told me “To always be ETHICAL in your approach as a dance educator. This is the only thing that will matter in the end:”. To this day, I stand on that advice from a very dear DANCE EDUCATOR/ADVISOR from the Wayne State University Dance Department.  

Nia Silao 

Entering Wayne State University as a freshman, I was signed up as pre-med. Living in the dorms, I met a myriad of people and participated in many social events, but something was still missing. I missed dancing. Luckily, I was already at a university with a stellar dance program. Deciding to audition was scary. I was changing the trajectory of my life forever. And it was exactly what I was looking for. 

After training in a local dance studio studying ballet, tap, and jazz, being exposed to modern dance and improvisation felt uncomfortable to most, but fulfilling for me. I remember learning how to contract sitting on the floor like Martha Graham with Leslie Williams, executing mind boggling tendu combinations based on Cunningham technique with Jeff Rebudal, realizing there was another Ballet technique called Cecchetti and memorizing the positions of the body with Stephen Stone, running stairs and doing handstands with Ray Robinson, exploring the possibilities of time, space, and energy with Eva Powers, and becoming obsessed with Kinesiology (remember, I was signed up as pre-med!). 

I remember becoming infatuated with the connections between music and dance and learning how to edit my own music with Jon Anderson, and revelling over the fact that dance can be an intellectual field.

I remember meeting Meg Paul for the first time at Music Hall, participating in residencies and master classes with ballet, tap, and modern masters from all over the world.

I remember being encouraged to go to auditions all over the country and making it past most cuts and owing it all to my training. 

Yet, I also remember not wanting to move away. I began to see how graduates were making a splash in the Michigan dance scene. We were the big fish in a small pond. We danced in already existing companies, started our own, created dance festivals, provided quality education in schools and studios around the area. And I’m seeing what a difference this can make in a community, city, and state; and what a difference it made in my life. 

Seeing how this department has grown over the years makes me proud to be an alumni. It started as a section of the physical education department. Then it became its own. Now it is combined with Theatre and offering masters programs! The efforts and investments being made to recruit talent from all over the country, and to turn around and send out educated, open minded dancers back into the world is the most rewarding element of still being involved. Here’s to another 90 YEARS OF WSU DANCE!

Karen Leighton Amick

Dance Education offers a path towards innovative thinking with limitless possibilities.  Too often, there is an assumption that the creative path will serve only in the artistic environment without crossover to one’s overall career choice or daily life.  When one learns the process of creativity, one learns how make something from nothing.  The understanding of this process and learning to trust such a process is what allowed me to build the company I have today.  I have a saying mounted in my office, “a mountain is built one stone at a time.”  Dance education taught me which stones, how many and in what order to lay the foundation.  There is really not a day that my education in dance has not touched my life.   I am the Chief Executive Officer of the first and largest mental health case management company in Michigan.  Upon Quality Care Consulting’s inception, no one was using social workers or psychologists for case management of those who sustained a brain injury.  It was with a confidence and competence to apply innovation that I entered the field.  I already knew how to create and make something from nothing, and so there my task began.  I “choreographed” policies and developed systems within my company that are now a standard within my industry.  Mental health case managers are now used throughout Michigan for the care and recovery of brain injury.  Throughout Quality Care Consulting’s history, we have preserved social justice for the disabled.  QCC has navigated thousands of patients through the rehabilitation process and has given them access to their healthcare benefits and restoration of their personhood.  There is no question that the work done has saved lives.  It also preserves the quality of ones life and the lives of those who surround the injured.  I credit the education I received at Wayne State University for my ability to create.   I celebrate the ripple effect it has had within my life and the lives I have been privileged to touch.   As for my daily life, nothing gives me more joy then design.  I built and customized my home from an empty lot before I moved to the home where I now reside:  a historical horse and carriage barn.  I love and support the arts.  I support education that fosters the right brain child as I believe it will be the innovators of tomorrow that will be the key to our future.  

I have many beautiful memories at Wayne with a few standouts:  when I received the Copperfoot Award for choreography.  It was one of the proudest moments I can remember and was so life affirming.  Also, dancing at the top of Old Main.  The creaky floors, the sound of wind through the windows and the feeling of being one with the sky.  I remember Eva Powers inviting me to audition for a dance scholarship and telling me I have nice feet (pointed banana feet).  I remember receiving the scholarship and feeling validated in my passion of dance.  A very special thank you to all my beloved teachers at Wayne who helped me and fostered me to who I am today.  Congratulations Wayne and well done!

Marina Cantarella Russo

What I remember are all the hours of practice, my love of choreography, the performances and the all night parties!! And from all of this, I am the luckiest person because I have obtained and retained sister friendships that have lasted over forty years – THE DIVAS: Kay, Mary, Sandy, Portia, Linda, Gwen, Shelia, Susanne, Sue Ellen and me. These ladies are the greatest gift of all and I love them all!!

Martha Dobbs

In 2008, Dance Workshop had the pleasure of choreographer Jan Van Dyke setting her piece SPIKE on the company during a guest residency. After seeing the piece on film I knew I wanted to perform the title character role but thought it would be a long shot because of the immense talent in the company. So I was equally shocked and ecstatic to discover I had been cast in the piece and as the principal! I worked hard during rehearsals and continued that work after the residency had ended to connect with my character on such a deep level. SPIKE took Dance Workshop to Hunter College in NYC for the Sharing the Legacy Conference and my relationship with Jan provided the opportunity for me to learn one of her solo works, Luna, in conjunction with an undergraduate research project. 

Get tickets to our 90th Annual Spring Dance Concert

Celebrate our 90th Anniversary of Dance at Wayne with this thrilling weekend at the Bonstelle Theatre. Join us as we highlight national and international works from top-performing artists.

With only two regular performances plus one Alumni Dance Concert, you don’t want to miss the artistry and athleticism of our dance discipline.

Performance Schedule

  • Friday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Alumni Dance Concert — Sunday, March 3 at 5:30 p.m.

Nineteen Years of Creating Young Playwrights

Photo Credit: Ethan Williams

This year marks the 19th annual Louise Heck-Rabi Playwriting Festival, a staple of the Studio Theatre. Each year, six or seven semi-finalists are chosen out of numerous play submissions. The plays are given a table-read to an open audience, workshopped and critiqued, and three are chosen to be fully produced in the Studio Theatre! Each play is written, directed, performed, and designed by student artists, and each playwright is awarded the Louise Heck-Rabi Endowed Scholarship in Dramatic Writing from the Wayne State English Department.

But how did this all get started?

Back in 1976, Louise Heck-Rabi graduated from Wayne State with a PhD in English. Louise was an active member of the Poetry Society of Michigan, and the founder of Downriver Poets and Playwrights. An accomplished playwright herself, her works include Women Filmmakers: A Critical Reception and Rock the World, a one-act comedy which was performed Off-Off-Broadway in 1973. Louise stayed close to Wayne, however, and began working on-campus as a librarian and assistant professor.  In 2000, the turn of the century, Louise created this playwriting scholarship and festival in hopes that young Detroit playwrights would carry on her passion for original productions.

Photo Credit: Ethan Williams

This year’s selected plays all follow the theme of crossroads, and significant moments of choice and decisions. Woodhull by Sarah Summerwell, MFA in Acting, is a dark comedy set in Brooklyn, in which two siblings struggle with consequences stemming from mental illness and addiction. An unexpected visit from a mutual friend brings news that forces the family to question their faith in an individual’s ability to change. Unethical, by Joe Gaskill, BA in Theatre, is a thought-provoking drama inspired by real events. The play takes a spotlight to one man’s experiments and fascination with disgust in others. Ethical duties to others, sociopathic tendencies and confrontations between test subject and experimenter are explored throughout. Pettycoats, by Matthew Smith, MFA in Acting, is a lighter affair, a comedy loosly based on a 1792 newspaper article titled “The Petticoat Duelists”. The (likely fabricated) article tells the story of two women becoming involved in a swordfight with one another. Inspired by this and lamenting the incredible rarity of sword-fighting women in plays, Smith wrote this quippy, snappy, and delightfully posh play.

Fred Shahadi, Wayne State Alumni and 2001 winner of Heck-Rabi Playwriting Festival

This incredible opportunity for students has been a successful event for almost 20 years now. It’s a fulfilling experience not only for students to showcase their work, but also for fellow performers and faculty members to witness the talent and hard work that beams from these individuals. The festival encourages students to dream big. One of the festival’s very first winners back in 2001, Fred Shahadi, is now an award-winning playwright and television writer living in Los Angeles. He’s best known for his position as head writer for Recipe Rehab on CBS. This experience has that ability to guide students down that pathway, by teaching them how to conduct their own work, and ultimately making it come to life.

Buy tickets here!

Director’s Notes – Avenue Q

As I sat down to write my thoughts for Avenue Q, it was easy to think, “Why should I write notes for this show?  It’s absolute entertainment.”  Then, I realized that it was important to help people recognize that there is much more to this show than meets the eye.  As easy as it is to simply think of the show as “Sesame Street for adults,” there is much more to it.

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Twyla Tharp and Benjamin G. Bowman

Wayne State University Brings Twyla Tharp’s Ground-Breaking Work, “The One Hundreds,” as the Fall 2018 Allesee Guest Artist in Residence in Dance

Twyla Tharp and Benjamin G. Bowman
Twyla Tharp and Benjamin G. Bowman
Ms. Tharp’s photograph may not be reproduced without written permission of Richard Avedon. Copyright © 2003 Richard Avedon.

Detroit, Michigan: The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, part of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University, announces the licensing and staging of world-renowned choreographer, Twyla Tharp’s ground-breaking work, “The One Hundreds,” staged by former Tharp company member, Benjamin G. Bowman as the Fall 2018 Allesee Guest Artist in Residence in Dance.

Twyla Tharp’s “The One Hundreds” will also serve as a community engagement event where 100 people from WSU’s theatre and dance department, college, university, and alumni along with the Metro Detroit dance community will join our dance majors onstage at the Music Hall for the December Dance Concert to perform one of The One Hundred phrases simultaneously. 

Two public performances of the December Dance Concert will take place on Friday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets for the December Dance Concert are on sale now, starting at $15, and may be purchased online at www.theatreanddanceatwayne.com or by phone at 313-577-2972. For purchases made online, additional ticket and order fees may apply. Ticket prices are subject to change.

“’The One Hundreds’ is a hundred eleven-second segments that are performed by two dancers in unison separated by four seconds between each segment…Five people each do twenty different segments simultaneously so that the one hundred are represented one-fifth of the time and then one hundred each do one in eleven seconds, right? You follow me? Let’s go through it again. Five people do twenty representing all the phrases in one fifth of the time. And then one hundred people each do one simultaneously. In eleven seconds.” — Tharp, as quoted in “Ballet Review,” Vol. 4:1 in September 1971. 

Since graduating from Barnard College in 1963, Ms. Tharp has choreographed more than one hundred sixty works: one hundred twenty-nine dances, twelve television specials, six Hollywood movies, four full-length ballets, four Broadway shows and two figure skating routines. She received one Tony Award, two Emmy Awards, nineteen honorary doctorates, the Vietnam Veterans of America President’s Award, the 2004 National Medal of the Arts, the 2008 Jerome Robbins Prize, and a 2008 Kennedy Center Honor. Her many grants include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In 1965, Ms. Tharp founded her dance company, Twyla Tharp Dance. Her dances are known for creativity, wit and technical precision coupled with a streetwise nonchalance. By combining different forms of movement – such as jazz, ballet, boxing and inventions of her own making – Ms. Tharp’s work expands the boundaries of ballet and modern dance. 

In addition to choreographing for her own company, she has created dances for The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Paris Opera Ballet, The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, The Boston Ballet, The Australian Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Martha Graham Dance Company, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Today, ballet and dance companies around the world continue to perform Ms. Tharp’s works.

In 1992, Ms. Tharp published her autobiography “Push Comes to Shove.” She went on to write “The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life,” followed by “The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together.”

Today, Ms. Tharp continues to create.

Benjamin G. Bowman was introduced to dance through an outreach program instituted by the North Carolina School of the Arts’ (UNCSA) Ballet department, studying under Sonja Tyven and, later, with Duncan Noble, Melissa Hayden, Gina Vidal, Frank Smith and Gyula Pandi. He attended multiple summer sessions at both the San Francisco Ballet School and the School of American Ballet (SAB), while continuing training with the staff of the Kansas City Ballet. Mr. Bowman was accepted to SAB as a full-time student, following his sophomore year at UNCSA and joined the Kansas City Ballet in 1986. He

then joined the Fort Worth Ballet in 1988, where he became a Principal Dancer in 1990. He joined the New York City Ballet in 1993, performing with the corps de ballet and in many soloist and principal roles,

until leaving the company in the spring of 2000. After NYCB, Mr. Bowman was invited to join a select group of dancers that Twyla put together to create two new works for the American Dance Festival. The group continued to tour and create work for the next two years, while generating the material that formed the basis of “Movin’ Out”, Twyla’s hit Broadway show set to the music of Billy Joel, in which Mr. Bowman originated the role of “James”. Post- “Movin’ Out”, Mr. Bowman worked freelance for a number of choreographers, and wrapped a long career working with Martha Clarke on the revival of her Obie award-winning show, “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. Mr. Bowman lives in New York City and freelances as a teacher, choreographer, and both acts and is represented by Access Talent as a voice-over artist. He has been setting work for the Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation since 2010.

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://research.wayne.edu/



Headshots for Mr. Bowman and Ms. Tharp are included for media use.

Benjamin Bowman Headshot
Twyla Tharp Headshot

Ms. Tharp’s headshot must include the following credit: This photograph may not be reproduced without written permission of Richard Avedon. Copyright © 2003 Richard Avedon.

Goneril and Regan’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents

As parents age they look forward to their care-free days of retirement and being taken care of by those who they helped raise. Here is our alternative take on that tradition.

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  1. Lie to them and shower them with praise. This will only be temporary, the praise, not the lying. Once you have won the favor of your parent(s) by showering them with false acknologements and praise, they will leave you their wealth and property and you will able to do with it as you see fit. Make sure to really lay on the admiration thick, because the more siblings you have, the harder it will be to win a larger piece of that pie.

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  1. Send them off on their own. Once you’ve secured their fotune, it’s time to let those frail old birds leave your nest, which you barely allowed them to move into in the first place. This is where having extra siblings DOES help, and you can pass the burden over to the rest of them.

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  1. Turn their other children against them. There is power in numbers, and depending on how powerful your parents are will determin how many sibings you need on your side. Don’t worry, it won’t take all of you, just a few. If you get lucky and have a sister who tries to be sincere about her feelings and ends up looking ungrateful, congratulations! They’ll never fight with you again because they know they have no place else to go!

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  1. Weaken them, physically and emotionally. This is the most fun part! Taking away the things that they have worked hard for to enjoy yourself is a sure sign that you are only out for Number Uno. Have they got friends trying to turn you against them? Blind them! Too many people around to protect them? Have guards fired.

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  1. Make them watch their kids die. As a bout of phychological warfare, lock them up with a long lost relative who they regrettable disowned and make them watch as that person dies. Is it a son or daughter of theirs? Even better. Only someone who has completely lacks human empathy or a shred of compassion will be able to commit to this final step, so good luck staying strong!


While we might think that all the above steps are great when it comes to dealing with aging parents, but we want to share a slight warning.

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If you are a terrible person and do terrible things, history has taught us that we all have a way of getting whats coming to us. Just remember that money can’t buy you happiness. So after you finish destroying your parent and stealing all their wealth, don’t expect to get too much joy out of it. Most likely you’ll go mad before long and meet your own untimely demise. Perhaps even by the hand of one of your co-conspirators. (Insert surprise face here)