LIVE ART Faculty and Staff
Project Leadership | Teaching Artists | Special Education Teachers | DHH/ASL Team | Assessment | Concert Artistic Team

Project Creator/Director
Erin Thomas-Foley
Director of Education, SPARC
With 16 years' experience at SPARC, and as the current Director of Education for the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC), Erin has been a key faculty in the CORE program for years, manages tuition-based classes and summer camps and has been the major force behind SPARC's STAGES program, taking arts training to the Richmond regions schools and youth centers. She has greatly expanded the diversity of program offerings for SPARC, and her energy and enthusiasm for the performing arts and children has inspired many. She currently serves as an instructor for University of Richmond's Joan Oats Institute for Higher Education.

Erin's most recent achievement includes the creation and direction of LIVE ART, a new, cutting-edge, inclusive arts education program that culminates in a cross-pollinated arts concert featuring nationally recognized musicians and students from several arts organizations and schools in the Richmond Community.

Erin is recognized by Belle Magazine as one of Richmond's top six Women in the Arts for 2012, the YWCA Outstanding Woman Award recipient in the Arts for 2013, and one of the 2013 Virginia Lawyers Media's Influential Women of the Year for the State of Virginia. Most importantly, she is the proud mother of Sophia (5) and Daniel (3).

Erin is among Richmond's leading acting talents and has performed numerous roles at Barksdale Theatre, Theatre IV, Firehouse Theatre, Virginia Repertory Theatre as well as internationally. Film credits include: Iron Jawed Angels (HBO), How the Civil War Began (Richmond's Civil War Museum), No Retreat From Destiny and Where the River Ends. Erin produced "Full Plate Collection", a world premiere play, in concert with the 2010 Minds Wide Open Statewide Celebration of Women in the Arts.

Project Co-Chairs (Volunteers)
Jerry Samford
Board of Directors, SPARC
W. Jerrold (Jerry) Samford is a past President of the Board of SPARC and serves as Co-chairman of the Live Art Steering Committee. Jerry spends his days as the Environmental Compliance Specialist at Troutman Sanders, LLP and is a Professional Geologist. He has served on the Board of Directors of SPARC for over 10 years. Jerry received a Bachelor's degree in Geology from the College of William and Mary (theatre minor) and a Master's Degree in Geology from Virginia Tech.

Fred Orelove
Board of Directors, SPARC
Fred Orelove is a past president of SPARC's Board of Directors and serves as co-chair of the Live Art Steering Committee. Fred retired from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011, where he worked to prepare teachers of learners with severe disabilities. He also served as executive director of the Partnership for People with Disabilities, a statewide interdisciplinary organization supporting individuals with disabilities and families. Fred currently volunteers with the Circle Preschool in Richmond.

Project Manager
Courtney Edwards
Adjunct Faculty, SPARC
A native of Smithfield, Virginia, Courtney is a graduate of Longwood University with a B.A. in Theatre. Courtney has performed in many productions, including Beauty and the Beast as Belle at Smithfield Little Theatre, Crimes of the Heart, Grapes of Wrath, Little Shop of Horrors and Eurydice at Longwood University. A talented model, actress, and singer, she can also be found on the cover of three books, Rebecca's Promise, Rebecca's Return and Rebecca's Choice. She has worked as a teacher in SPARC's summer camps, STAGES program and tuition classes for the past three years and is excited to be a part of the Live Art project in any and all capacities!

Concert Music Director
Daniel Clarke
Touring Musician, k.d.lang
A native of Richmond, Daniel began performing professionally when he was 15 years old. Studying with the likes of Bob Hallahan, Doug Richards and John Winn, he received his B.M. in Jazz Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2001. While at VCU he began playing with different bands including Modern Groove Syndicate, Devil's Workshop Big Band, The Brian Jones Wurlitzer Trio and Neighborliness. In 2004 Neighborliness embarked on an international tour sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the United States Department of State. Currently Daniel is touring and writing music with k.d. lang as a member of her band, the Siss Boom Bang. Since performing with k.d., their music has been heard everywhere from the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics to the White House for the President and Mrs. Obama in 2011. He has performed/recorded with Mandy Moore, The Courtyard Hounds, The Dixie Chicks, Jason Mraz, Ryan Adams, Rachael Yamagata, and Rene Marie.

Teaching Artists

Abernathy Bland
Artist
Abernathy Bland is a Richmond artist who loves amazing ideas. like Live Art. She is the Art Designer for Old Kent Road Theater in New York with credits such as All the Indifferent Children of the Earth, Emancipatory Politics, and I Stand for Nothing. She presented work in Puppet Block at Dixon Place with OKRT's Make it Work! Keep Going. And, designed work for Piper McKenzie's Bethlehem or Bust. See more from her creature studio at web.me.com/abernathybland. And, follow her Riding Bareback Beside a Train at abernathyart.blogspot.com. She loves to draw. Loves it.

Ben Miller
Adjunct Faculty, SPARC
Ben Miller is a bass-baritone and pianist from Newport News, VA. Ben has performed with numerous ensembles, including the Virginia and Knoxville symphonies, and his theatre credits include Peter in Jesus Christ Superstar, George in She Loves Me, along with pit band experience for productions of The Secret Garden and Beauty and the Beast. Ben directs music at New Covenant Presbyterian Church, and enjoys performing at other local churches.

Billy Dye
Conductor
Billy Dye earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Shenandoah Conservatory of Music and an MM from Virginia Commonwealth University. He served as Vocal Supervisor at Williamsburg VA's Busch Gardens for numerous years. While there he coached, wrote and directed a variety of shows and vocal styles. Billy continues to exhibit his talents as music director as well as vocal director for many theatrical productions throughout the state. Billy was the music coordinator for the 1999 National Red Cross Convention, which included conducting a 1,000-voice chorus and orchestra, the music advisor for Governor Gilmore's Inaugural Prayer Breakfast and the guest conductor for the Richmond City All-Elementary School Choir. Not limited to Virginia, Billy's artistic influence can be heard as far as Branson, Missouri. Billy's varied background and experiences in the arts are said to make an unquestionable contribution to the growth and development of young, well-rounded performers and musicians. As a result of this contribution, The Richmond Boys Choir was a recipient of the Theresa Pollak Award for Excellence in the Arts and a "Coming Up Taller" award granted by the National Endowment for the Arts to the choir as a noteworthy youth focused after-school program. Under Billy's direction the ensemble proudly performed at the White House award ceremony.

Brendan Kennedy
Adjunct Faculty, SPARC
Brendan Kennedy recently returned to his hometown of Richmond, VA, after spending the past seven years working in theater in New York City. He could not be happier to be joining the SPARC community and building lasting relationships that he hopes will make him a familiar face around the organization. Big thanks to Erin Thomas-Foley for inviting me into the SPARC family!

Danae Carter
Adjunct Faculty, SPARC
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Danae worked with the Richmond Ballet and Oakland ballet until her retirement in 2009. Highlights of her career include 'Puck' in Bill Soleau's A Midsummer Night's Dream, both female leads in John Butler's Carmina Burana, and the title role in Agnes DeMille's A Rose for Miss Emily. Also a full time student at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and a teacher at the Latin Ballet and Richmond Ballet, Danae enjoys every minute of teaching for SPARC and relishes the opportunity to explore the different mediums through which we all express ourselves.

Heather Graham
Adjunct Faculty, SPARC
Heather Graham is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in Art Education. A public educator for nine years, the classroom and studio are two of her favorite places in the world. She believes art enables us to learn more about ourselves and how we connect to the world around us. She has instructed for Caroline County Public Schools, San Lorenzo Unified (CA), The Children's Museum of Richmond, Bead Inspirations, Patch Barracks Arts and Craft Center (Stuttgart, Germany). In her off time, she can be found making jewelry and beautiful messes in her garage.

Jenny Hundley
Drama Teacher, Collegiate School
Jenny Hundley received her BFA and MFA from Theatre VCU and has been performing, directing and teaching for over 25 years. Her recent acting credits include Jack in Theatre IV's Jack and the Beanstalk, and Lisa Kron in Well at the Barksdale Theatre at Willow Lawn. Jenny began teaching drama at Collegiate School in 1991 and is a recipient of the Craigie Educational Excellence Endowment Award. Jenny directed SPARC's production of Bugsy Malone, Jr. this past summer.

Joan Lipstock
Founder, Dreamers Theater
As a parent of an adult son with Asperger`s Syndrome, Joan has developed programs to help fill the gaps in the Richmond community that prevented those with a disability to live a complete life. In 2001 she was the founding president of Richmond House, a residential learning facility for adults with medium to high level developmental disabilities. Joan developed the Dreamers, a theater troupe with various disabilities that includes those without disabilities. The Dreamers have performed at a community center and around the region for the past 7 years. In 2008 she co-wrote the play, Assuming Assumptions, which later became the focus of the PBS documentary, Dreamers Theater, which she created, co-wrote and co-directed. The documentary looks at the Dreamers and the obstacles they have to overcome; it emphasizes the positive influence the arts has had on them. It is currently running on 134 PBS stations across the country, and it won an award at the New York Independent Film Festival in 2010. She has also created and run an annual weekend summer retreat camp for those with developmental differences. In 2009 she organized Richmond`s first disability film festival. In 2012 Joan is being honored by the YWCA of Richmond with the Outstanding Woman Award in the Arts.

Josh Small
Touring Musician
Josh Small is a slide guitarist, banjo player and singer/songwriter. A Virginia native, he found his musical compass, as a young boy, in the bombast of his father's guitar and banjo picking and the sweet soul of his mother's mountain alto. He grew up singing in church and playing backyard gigs with family and friends but did not perform his own music until he began attending Virginia Commonwealth University and made Richmond his home. After earning a degree in philosophy and an laudatory departmental award, Josh eschewed the logical life and embarked on a musical career. He has since spent the better part of the last decade crisscrossing the United States and Europe, as an accompanist for folk singer Tim Barry, a guitar player in post hardcore outfit Brainworms and as a solo artist, releasing two albums on Suburban Home records and another on Richmond's Pop Faction. His solo music is a strain of familiar pop traditions, filtered through the creaky and tinny timbres of resophonic bodies. His songs sound often personal and obscure, but are projected clearly through a plaintive and powerful voice and tempered by melody and reason.

Marc Langelier
Composer
Multi-instrumentalist/Composer/Sound Designer Marc S. Langelier has been an accompanist for Dance Improv and Modern Dance Technique classes, as well as a composer for modern dance for over 20 years. He has composed for many Choreographers including: Robert Battle (VCU/University of Richmond), Willie Hinton (Richmond Ballet/UofR/VSU/Pine Camp), Starr Foster (Starr Foster Dance Project/ VCU/University of Richmond), Scott Putman (Amaranth/VCU/Richmond Ballet), Myra Daleng (University of Richmond), Judith Steel (VCU), Chris Burnside (Chris Burnside and Dancers/VCU), James Frazier (VCU), Kaye WeinsteinGary (VCU/Richmond Ballet) and, Adrienne Clancy (Clancyworks). Marc has performed with the VCU Dancers, the Starr Foster Dance Project, Clancyworks, the University of Richmond Dancers, and the Latin Ballet of VA. Marc has accompanied technique and improv classes for the VCU Dance Dept., The Richmond Ballet, The University of Richmond, and Pine Camp, Henrico High School, Thomas Dale High School, St. Christopher's School, and St. Catherine's School. Marc studied music composition, recorders/early music, bass guitar, and synthesis at Virginia Commonwealth Unversity.

Phil Vollmer
Actor and Graduate Student
Phil Vollmer is currently achieving his masters degree in theatre pedagogy at VCU with an undergraduate degree from VCU in theatre performance. He is a local actor and was last featured in Sycamore Rouge's production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile as Schmendiman. He was also in Henley Street's productions of The Merchant of Venice and The Winters Tale. He has proudly directed over half a dozen shows and shorts during his time at Theatre VCU. Some of those credits include full productions of Sam Shepard's Buried Child, Tony Kushner's Angel's in America: Millennium Approaches and his most cherished work, Samuel Beckett's Endgame performed in VCU's Richard Newdick Theatre. He is very excited and proud to be a part of the SPARC family.

Willie Hinton
Choreographer
Willie Hinton, a native of New York, began dancing at the age of 16 at Enloe Gifted & Talented High School in Raleigh, NC, and was a scholarship student at The American Dance Festival, ADF (Durham, NC). After graduating, Willie attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where he received his BFA in dance. Willie has toured both nationally and internationally. In addition to his performance career Hinton was also an instructor at Philadelphia's Freedom Theatre, where he taught modern/jazz and choreographed and performed in many productions. Hinton is also trained in the National Dance Institute (NDI) method of teaching children founded by world famous dancer Jacques d' Amboise, who believed that the arts has a unique ability to motivate, and inspire children to discover excellence within themselves. He was on staff at The Estudio de Capezio in Bolivia, South America; the University of Bolivia; and the American High School in Bolivia. Willie won the "Artsy" award from the Richmond Theatre Critic's Choice for his choreography for the African American Repertory's Theatre's "Black Nativity." Hinton was also a recipient of a citation from the governor's school at Christopher Newport University for his work as an outstanding educator. Currently Willie is on staff at the School of the Richmond Ballet, The Richmond Ballet's outreach program "Minds in Motion," and Pine Camp Cultural Arts Center.

Special Education Teachers

Amanda Garner
ABA Program Supervisor, The Faison School for Autism
Amanda Garner was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and graduated from Texas A&M University in 2004. She has been a Special Educator for 5 years and has worked at The Faison School for 3 years. In May 2011, she graduated from VCU with a Master's Degree in Special Education and is currently working toward becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Jamie Blackburn
Special Education Teacher, The Faison School for Autism
Jamie Blackburn received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007 and began working at The Faison School for Autism in April of 2008. Currently, Jamie is an ABA classroom teacher in the Life Skills and Employment Center, working with students aged 17-21 with a focus on self-care, community, vocational and daily living skills. She is finishing up coursework towards her Master's degree in Special Education with a focus on Severe Disabiltities at VCU. Jamie has a strong passion towards community inclusion for people with disabiltities, especially in recreational activities. In her free time, Jamie enjoys spending time outdoors with her friends and her dog, Abbey.

Martin Garner
Special Education Teacher, The Faison School for Autism; Adjunct Faculty, SPARC
Martin Garner After receiving a Degree from DePaul University. Martin began his career in Chicago appearing in productions with Baby Wants Candy, The Cupid Players, The Merle Ruskin Theater, The Alley Theater, Improv Olympic, and culminating in his dream spot with a Second City ensemble. During his time in Chicago he began teaching improv and volunteering in urban renewal projects. He came to Richmond for his Masters in Education. He currently works at the Faison School for Autism, teaches Improv at SPARC, and is thrilled to be one of the wonderful people bringing Live Art to the stage.

Megan Remaley
Special Education Teacher, The Faison School for Autism
With a love of children and the arts, Megan is thrilled to be a part of LIVE ART! Megan moved to Richmond from central Pennsylvania in 2010 and now works as a teaching assistant at the Faison School for Autism. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Millersville University of Pennsylvania and is currently working towards a Master of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University. With precious memories of dance and theater throughout her childhood, she is grateful to be a part of such a special experience and is excited to bring the same opportunities to children in the Richmond area.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing/American Sign Language Team

Catherine Dudley
Director of American Sign Language/Lead Interpreter
American Sign Language Interpreter
Catherine Dudley is an American Sign Language interpreter by both vocation and passion. She interprets now in an educational setting, however, this is her second career path. Her first love was musical theatre. Before she discovered ASL, she was an actress for many years in regional theatres and traveled with a children's theatre company. Since becoming a professional interpreter, she has been blessed to be able to interpret many plays and productions, as well as music, merging the two things that she loves. She has a heart for children and takes every opportunity to enrich her life by simply being around them. Her playful personality finds joy and a kindred spirit in every child she spends time with. Additionally, Catherine loves to sing, has a flare for graphic arts and a love of photography, all of which indicate a strong right-brained personality and a stereotypical "artist!" She is thrilled to be involved in Live Art and looks forward to every day spent on the project, seeing every little hand reflecting signs taught, and every moment spent with the children.

Liz Leitch
American Sign Language Interpreter
A graduate of Bloomsburg University, Elizabeth (Liz) Leitch has been an interpreter for more than 20 years and loves her job. Working as a performing arts interpreter is a great joy for Liz. In 2000 she had the opportunity to attend a training program for interpreters in the theater through Julliard and has been involved with many productions and live events ever since. She is a partner in First Chair Interpreted Productions, LLC, which provides performing arts interpreters to venues in the Washington DC area. Liz is a native of Pennsylvania but has called Virginia home since 1990.

Melody Nikol Winters
American Sign Language Interpreter
Melody Nikol Winters proudly holds a BA in Theatre Performance from Western Michigan University, and is a Nationally Certified Interpreter who has worked as a semi-professional actress out of Chicago and New York. After getting involved with theatre for the Deaf, and working with Lexington and Mill Neck schools for the Deaf in New York, she relocated to Richmond and began working full time as an educational interpreter. She continues to act on the side. Fifteen years into her professional career, Melody is elated to be involved with Live Art, which synthesizes three of her four great loves in life: theatre, sign language, and education. (Unfortunately, William, her fourth and greatest love, could not be interjected into the program.) She would like to thank everyone at SPARC for this awesome collaborative opportunity, and for the chance to work with Willie whose charisma and fervor for dance is contagious!

Mia Hanczaryk
American Sign Language Interpreter
Mia Hanczaryk is a graduate of James Madison University. She is a native of Norfolk, Virginia, and has lived in the Richmond area since 1999. Mia is a nationally certified interpreter with Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf who has worked primarily in the educational setting for the past 22 years. She has worked with a variety of students ranging in age from preschool to post-secondary. Mia has a genuine love for all genres of music. She is enthusiastic about being involved with Live Art and looks forward to the adventures of this project. Mia feels very fortunate to have this opportunity to work on this project with the kids.

Assessment

Amy Corning, Ph.D.
Research Investigator, University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research
Amy Corning is a Research Investigator at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. She has been involved in sociological research for several years through National Science Foundation-funded projects, with an emphasis on understanding public beliefs, attitudes, and collective memories. Her expertise lies in survey research methods and the analysis of survey and qualitative data. She has participated in evaluation and assessment projects at the World Bank, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and locally at a Richmond independent school, Sabot at Stony Point. Amy earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan, and holds undergraduate and master's degrees from Harvard University.

Concert Artistic Team

Erin Thomas-Foley, Director
Daniel Clarke, Concert Musical Director
Tim Timberlake, Concert Advisor
Jason Mraz, Music Advisor
Ginnie Willard, Production Manager/Stage Manager
Debra Clinton, Production Advisor
Mike Boyd, Music Education Advisor
Billy Dye, Choral Musical Director
Samson Trinh, Music Arrangement
Danae Carter, Director of Dance
Abernathy Bland, Art Director
Catherine Dudley, Director of American Sign Language/Lead Interpreter
Alan Williamson, Technical Director, Set Design, and Technology
Joe Doran, Lighting Design