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Phil Vollmer, who has led SPARC’s in-school STAGES program since early 2016, has just been named the new theatre teacher at Binford Middle School in Richmond. While we’re sorry to see Phil leave SPARC’s administrative staff, we are thrilled for this incredibly talented and energetic member of the SPARC family to receive such a transformative career opportunity. (Don’t worry, Mr. Phil Fan Club: he promises to still be involved in teaching/directing with SPARC as time allows!)

We are excited to announce that Danaë Carter will be the new STAGES Program Manager for SPARC. Danaë has taught for SPARC for almost seven years, with significant teaching and leadership roles in many of SPARC’s programs. A former company member with Richmond Ballet, Danaë is an experienced performer and teacher of dance and theater, and a full bio can be found below. Danaë brings a wealth of expertise to her role, including the experience and passion to work with underserved youth.

About Danaë Carter

Danaё Carter has been a member of the professional dance community in Richmond for over 20 years. She moved here from San Francisco after graduating with top honors from the San Francisco Ballet School to join the Richmond Ballet as a member of the professional company. During this time she performed extensively in all disciplines, including classical, contemporary, jazz and modern. She performed many great roles with the Ballet such as Emily in Agnes de Mille’s “A Rose for Miss Emily,” both female leads in John Butler’s “Carmina Burana,” and Caroline in Antony Tudor’s “The Lilac Garden.” She helped to create and then performed the role of Puck in William Soleau’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which blended both acting and dancing to high esteem. Danaё also spent two years back in California dancing with the Oakland Ballet as well as the Moving Arts Dance Collective.

Since moving back to Richmond and retiring from the ballet, Danaё has been teaching for SPARC, is a member of the faculty in the VCU Department of Dance and Choreography, and is one of the founding developers/teachers/choreographers in SPARC’s LIVE ART program. She has taught in the STAGES program throughout her years wth SPARC, as well as a variety of classes for SPARC that include children of all ages and abilities. She has choreographed for SPARC’s summer camps, as well as participating in Richmond Performing Arts Alliance’s SPEAK program. She also works with Cadence Theater’s Stage Write program, which focuses on inner city high schools, combining workforce readiness skills with acting and writing to culminate in a share where the students present their own work in front of an audience.

Danaё has a true passion for teaching, and particularly for outreach. Being able to share her love of theater, combined with education, has been a lifelong goal.

About SPARC’s STAGES Program

Created in 2007, SPARC’s STAGES program serves over 400 students in 2nd and 3rd grades, in five public schools in Richmond City and Henrico County free of charge to the students and their schools. The program is not an elective, but rather works with all the students in the chosen grade in the school, providing universal access to a vital discipline they may not otherwise have the opportunity to explore.

In the 2016-2017 academic year, SPARC aligned the innovative LIVE ART curriculum with the STAGES curriculum in all five STAGES locations. Using best practices from both programs, the aligned curriculum allows SPARC to continue to measure student improvement on the Oral Language Standards of Learning and also use live music and improvised movement to focus the students on acceptance, compassion and empathy with one another. The 21-week STAGES program teaches students not only about performing on stage but how they can become better students, confident speakers, team players, problem solvers, active community members, and future leaders. Student assessment data demonstrates an average 42% increase in student performance on Oral Language Standards after just one year.

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