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2007-2008 Alumni Hall of Fame Recipients

Michele Snyder, M.A. Arts Management, '98

Growing up in the small town of Greenville, Pa., Michele Snyder didn’t have Hall of Fame aspirations; she simply wanted to follow her passions for writing and art.

After studying English literature and studio art at local Thiel College, Snyder began exploring ways her love for the arts could be shaped into a career.

“I was shopping around for a graduate program,” she said. “There are a lot of opportunities in the arts in Washington, both large and small, and I was really attracted to AU.”

Snyder earned a degree from AU’s arts management program in 1998 and has gone on to a career in development and public relations in the art world. An avid supporter of the arts who has lobbied Congress to increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and other arts organizations, Snyder has been named the 2007 inductee to AU’s Department of Performing Arts (DPA) Hall of Fame.

“She’s made enormous contributions to the arts, and she’s an exemplary role model,” DPA chair Gail Humphries Mardirosian said of Snyder. “She is an extraordinary woman and a true leader.”

As a Hall of Fame inductee, Snyder’s name will be engraved in a plaque hanging in the Greenberg Theatre lobby, and she will deliver a lecture on campus in the spring. She also was awarded a $250 honorarium, which she donated to the DPA.

“I was really honored when I heard,” Snyder said of the honor. “I got a great foundation at AU. I really got an understanding of what a nonprofit is and how it works in every aspect from public relations to fund raising.”

Snyder wrote her thesis on Primary Movers, a small Washington-based dance company she discovered when its director spoke to her class. After graduating, she landed the prestigious Edward John
Noble Foundation Fellowship at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. There she worked in the development office writing grants and tending to corporate sponsorships.

Now director of development for the New York-based College Arts Association, an international nonprofit that offers a plethora of services to its member artists, Snyder still keeps a studio in Long Island City. She’s also working on a screenplay.

“It’s great to be honored by a school that really helped me get to where I am today,” she said.

One of those places now is the Hall of Fame.

2006-2007 Alumni Hall of Fame Recipients

Kyra D. Gaunt , B.A. Music, '84

Associate Professor of Music at NYU
D.M.A. 1997, University of Michigan
M.M. 1988, SUNY Binghamton
B.A. 1984, American University
Research interests: African American vernacular and popular music, social constructions of identity, popular music ideology, African American girls' musical games, gender/race/

Kyra D. Gaunt a.k.a. "Professor G"; is associate professor of ethnomusicology at New York University who lectures nationally and internationally on African American music and issues of race, gender and the musical body. Her 2006 book The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-hop creates a new way of thinking about how black musical style and taste is learned and developed through interactions between the sexes and between genres.

Performing R&B and jazz in NYC, Kyra is also a passionate vocalist, songwriter and recording artist. Her new CD Be the True Revolution! (2006), named after a Nikki Giovanni poem featuring songs co-written with guitarist Tom_s Doncker, is now available. Download the pdf file with the lyrics and sample her soulful music at

One her songs, "Black Can Be Me," was inspired from remarkably meeting her birth father just a few years ago. Recently, a former colleague was so moved when he heard this song that he developed a relationship with his 47-year old daughter whom he had denied since she was born. That's the true revolution!
Kyra-o-City is her brand name. "Kyra of the City" arousing intimate interest in others through music, play and extraordinary conversation such that no separation remains between men and women, fathers and daughters, young and old, and more. Transformation through song, scholarship and business creating a new brand of public intellectual as performer, scholar, and entrepreneur.

As an authority on gender and hip-hop music culture, Kyra chairs the sub-committee for Legacy and Empowerment for the August 2007 World Culture Open Africa Program in Kigali, Rwanda. WCO, an international arts organization, is co-sponsoring FESPAD in Kigali. She also consults for a UN-sponsored international treaty organization called the Spirulina Program, who, in collaboration with Russell Simmons' Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council and its Executive Director, Charles Fisher, are out to end both severe malnutrition in developing nations and obesity in developed nations like the U.S.

2005-2006 Alumni Hall of Fame Recipients

Joy Zinoman, MA Theatre, '75

Joy Zinoman, right, founding artistic director of the Studio Theatre, Washington’s premiere stage for contemporary works, is the latest inductee into the Department of Performing Arts (DPA) Alumni Hall of Fame. Zinoman ’75 was honored during a ceremony before Friday’s performance of Into the Woods at the Greenberg Theatre.

Since its inception in 1978, Zinoman has led the Studio Theatre through 141 productions, garnering nearly 200 Helen Hayes Award nominations for artistic excellence. Earlier this month, she directed her 59th production, the family drama A Number, at the Logan Circle space. Zinoman is also a master teacher and directs the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory.

The Alumni Hall of Fame was begun in 2003, with the opening of the Greenberg Theatre. Each year, DPA faculty members select an outstanding alumnus, whose name is engraved on a plaque in the Greenberg lobby.

“We hope to become a major leader and visionary force in the arts,” said Gail Humphries Mardirosian, left, department chair and theatre professor. “It is because of fine alumni, like [Zinoman] that we are positioned so wonderfully at this time.”

2004-2005 Alumni Hall of Fame Recipients

Amina J. Dickerson, MA in Arts Management, '88

Amina J. Dickerson, MA in arts management '88, director of corporate contributions for Kraft Foods, brings more than twenty years of experience with museums, arts and education, theater, non-profit institutional development, and community-based arts collaborations. She is now responsible for Kraft's national philanthropic programs in hunger, domestic violence, arts education and cultural programs. Previously, she served as a consultant to Kraft, coordinating their groundbreaking new arts in education initiative, Arts Discovery. Dickerson worked as both Education Director and Vice president with the Chicago Historical Society (1989-1996), as President of the DuSable Museum of African American History (1985-1989), Assistant Executive Director of Philadelphia's Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum, and Program Director for Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art. In 1996, Dickerson was named a Distinguished Visitor with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She was also appointed a Class XVI Kellogg Fellow, and was a Newberry Library fellow (1996-1997).


Rima Faber, MA in Dance, '94

Rima Faber, PhD (American University, 1997), MA (American University, 1994), and BA (Bennington College, 1965) returned to academia after a full career as performer, choreographer, and director of several performing companies, and founder and director of the Primary Movers Dance School and Company (1979-2000). As a performer in the Washington, D.C., area she danced with Liz Lerman (1978-1980) and as a soloist for Pola Nirenska (1980-1992). Rima has taught in the D.C. Public Schools since 1980 with a prime focus on cognitive development and kinesthetic learning. She taught academic curricula through dance as well as dance as an art form. In the mid- and late 1990s, Rima worked with the National Assessment of Educational Progress on developing, facilitating, and implementing the national assessments in arts education. Rima is the founding president and executive director of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), where she currently serves as program director. At NDEO she chaired task forces to develop standards for dance in early childhood and new standards for dance education in the arts. She serves as research director in NDEO's research initiative Research in Dance Education and as co-editor for Priorities for Research in Dance Education: A Report to the Nation.


Rob Fisher, MA in Music, '86

For the past twenty years, Rob Fisher has enjoyed a dual career as concert pianist and musical director in the theater. Fisher has been music director for Encores!, since its inception and conducted seven recordings. At Carnegie Hall, Fisher was artistic advisor of the two-year Gershwin Centenary Celebration. He performed in the White House and was musical director for a PBS Great Performances documentary and for the New York premiere of Sondheim's Saturday Night at Second Stage. Currently the musical director of American Radio Company, Fisher has conducted numerous shows on Broadway and on tour. He appeared with the Virginia Symphony most recently last year.


Javier Rivera, BA in Theatre

Born and raised in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Rivera received his BA in theatre and education from American University and his MFA in theatre from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He has appeared in numerous productions across the United States. As a resident of New York City, Rivera performed with TheatreworksUSA, La MaMa E.T.C., Pulse Ensemble, and Intar. Before then, Rivera lived in Washington, D.C., where he performed at The Kennedy Center, GALA Hispanic Theatre, Olney Theatre, and The Source Theatre Company under the co-direction of Arthur Miller. Rivera was also a member of the oldest touring classical theatre company in the United States, The National Players. Some of Rivera's favorite roles include Norberto in La Malqerida, Michael Evans in Dancing at Lughnasa, Dr. Caius in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and the Wild Boy in the world premiere of Wild Boy-The Musical. Rivera is a member of Actors' Equity and received the 2003 Princess Grace Award for excellence in theatre.


Javier Rivera, BA in Theatre

Born and raised in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Rivera received his BA in theatre and education from American University and his MFA in theatre from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He has appeared in numerous productions across the United States. As a resident of New York City, Rivera performed with TheatreworksUSA, La MaMa E.T.C., Pulse Ensemble, and Intar. Before then, Rivera lived in Washington, D.C., where he performed at The Kennedy Center, GALA Hispanic Theatre, Olney Theatre, and The Source Theatre Company under the co-direction of Arthur Miller. Rivera was also a member of the oldest touring classical theatre company in the United States, The National Players. Some of Rivera's favorite roles include Norberto in La Malqerida, Michael Evans in Dancing at Lughnasa, Dr. Caius in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and the Wild Boy in the world premiere of Wild Boy-The Musical. Rivera is a member of Actors' Equity and received the 2003 Princess Grace Award for excellence in theatre.


Ernest Thompson, BA in Speech Arts, '71

As a writer, director, and actor, Ernest Thompson has experienced a varied career. Thompson, who was born in Vermont, received his BA in speech arts in 1971 from American University. He started out as a playwright, stage actor, and theatrical director. He wrote On Golden Pond, which won the Broadway Drama Guild award for Best Play in 1979. In 1981, he had another Broadway hit with The West Side Waltz, starring Katharine Hepburn. On Golden Pond was adapted for the screen by Mr. Thompson. The family drama, starring Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, was a huge hit in 1981, winning Thompson Best Screenplay honors (Academy award, Golden Globes, and Writers Guild of America). Later in the '80s, he wrote the drama Sweet Hearts Dance, directed by Robert Greenwald and starring Susan Sarandon and Jeff Daniels. He made his directorial debut in 1989 with 1969, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder. In 2001, he directed a TV version of On Golden Pond, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. His other playwriting credits include A Sense of Humor, which starred Jack Lemon, and the book for Another Summer-the musical adaptation of On Golden Pond-among others as well as numerous television and film credits.

2003-2004 Alumni Hall of Fame Recipients

Tom West, Arts Management Alumnus

Tom West is the director of designated campaigns at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In this role, West is responsible for managing and soliciting more than $30 million annually in support of the Kennedy Center's education, outreach, and performance programming, in addition to annual operating support. He currently is responsible for all corporate and foundation fund raising on behalf of the institution, as well as supervising the cumulative fund-raising operations for the National Symphony Orchestra. West holds a BFA in theatre performance from the University of Florida and an MA in arts management from American University.


Vladimir Angelov, Dance Alumnus

Vladimir Angelov was first trained at the National Ballet School in Sofia, Bulgaria. While earning his graduate degree in dance at American University, he studied and was influenced by such choreographers as Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp, and Bill T. Jones, as well as Doug Varone and Butoh artist Kazuo Ohno. His choreographic works were first presented in such diverse venues as the Vail International Dance Festival, "New Choreographers on Pointe," All Latin American Ballet Festival, Paris International Dance Festival, Vienna TanzFest, Kyoto Fall Dance Festival, Stuttgarter Evenings of Dance, and "Le Gala des Etoiles" in Athens. Most recently he has created new works for the Washington CityDance Ensemble, Richmond Ballet, Indianapolis Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Alberta Ballet in Canada, and the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia. Angelov was awarded the Special Choreography Award at the Varna International Ballet Competition in 1996, and the 2000 Choreography Fellowship Award presented jointly by the Washington Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Virginia Marks, Music Alumna

Virginia Marks, distinguished teaching professor and chair of music performance studies at Bowling Green State University, made her concert debut at age 10 as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra. She holds degrees from Temple University and American University and has studied with Eleanor Sokoloff, Maryan Filar, Evelyn Swarthout Hayes, and Leon Fleisher. Marks is an internationally acclaimed recitalist, orchestral soloist, and chamber artist. Among her many awards are first prizes in the Mu Phi Epsilon International Competition and the Concert Artist Guild Competition, and a grant from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund. In the last year, she has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the BGSU Alumni Association. In addition, she received the California-based International Institute for Young Musicians Working Partnership Award for outstanding performance as a teacher, mentor, and role model. She was named the Ohio Certified Teacher of the Year for 2002.


Gaines Bruce Hall, Theater/Music Theater Alumnus

Gaines Bruce Hall is an actor, singer, and dancer living in the German city of Weisbaden. He graduated from American University with a degree in theatre. While at AU he performed the roles of the M.C. in Cabaret and Mike in A Chorus Line. After he graduated, he went on national tours for Gypsy, My One and Only, and Meet Me in St. Louis. He performed in a vast number of regional productions, including leading roles in Damn Yankees and Singing in the Rain. He then went on to perform in Europe with leading roles in Sunset Boulevard, The Life, My Fair Lady, La Cage aux Folles, and Hello Dolly.

2002-2003 Alumni Lecture Series Participants

Larry Redmond, Theater/Music Theater Alumnus
Presented Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Alumnus gives tips on surviving as an actor

Actor Larry Redmond got his MA in theatre at AU in 1981. He has since done productions from South Pacific to Anna Karenina and won two Helen Hayes awards. Redmond returned to campus in November 2002 to talk to students about the ups and downs of professional theatre life in a talk titled "How to Stay in the Second Stage of an Actor's Career," or the time when young actors break into the business. He warned students to prepare now for stage four of their careers, which he says, is the "get me a young-your name here-type. "Be open to change," he said, "Be willing to reinvent yourself." Redmond also talked up the close community of actors in the Washington area and performed a three-minute piece from "I Hate Hamlet," by Paul Rudnick, in which he seamlessly morphed from himself, to a nervous young actor, to the prince of Denmark, and back again.


Linda Dusman, Music/Composition Alumna
Presented Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Linda Dusman presented and discussed three engaging sound and music compositions before students and faculty. Dusman, a composer and sound artist whose material has been performed around the world, fondly recalled her time at AU as "truly inspiring." Recounting such trials as composing a three-voiced fugue for Haig Mardirosian, she confessed that AU "played a pivotal role in [her] coming to understand who [she was] as an artist." Having had such an influential experience earning her MA from AU in 1981, it's no surprise that Dusman has since developed into an artist who consistently engages the world around her with works that hold both personal and political meaning. Rather than viewing music as an escape, Dusman explained, she sees it as a reflection of life. "I compose to experience fully the present moment," she told students and faculty. "I cannot simply escape. My work must be impacted by what happens in the world." Accordingly, each of the three pieces Dusman presented had a distinct connection to the circumstances under which they were composed. Constant in all of the selections was a quality Dusman described as "rough hewn." In life and in art, she explained, "we often find our way only in those rough moments when things don't quite make sense." Dusman used these "rough moments" to prompt what she termed a "creative response" from her audience.- article by Matt Getty, American Weekly


Vladimir Angelov, Dance Alumnus
Presented Wednesday, February 12, 2003

When Vladimir Angelov finished his MA in dance and left American University, he thought a career as a choreographer would be lucrative. He thought he would reach millions with his work. Now, though he is clearly inspired by his chosen field, he realizes he was wrong. Angelov admitted that sometimes, no one understands what the choreographer is doing. The work trickles in, the money’s not great, and dance, especially choreography, is an art that must be supported by enduring patience and energy. But he is inspired to continue, because the effort can lead to choreography’s greatest reward—elevating a human spirit. Angelov came to AU after professional ballet training and a performing career in his native Bulgaria. When he left AU, Angelov worked for Loudoun County Ballet in Northern Virginia, then the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington. Since 1999 he has been independent, creating works for such companies as Washington’s City Dance Ensemble, and the San Francisco, Alberta, Richmond, and Indianapolis Ballets. One of his most exciting commissions was the dance he choreographed for the Kirov in St. Petersburg, Russia. His style is contemporary ballet, rather than traditional—and he has created modern dances as well. “I have a split choreographic personality,” he says. He presented a video of mixed works, full of flung limbs and weaving bodies and waves of movement across various numbers of people on stage.During a question and answer period, Angelov animatedly explained that choreography, even in less than ideal conditions, compels him. “I would choreograph the chairs,” he laughed, moving a nearby piece of furniture. Although he prefers to work with well-trained dancers, he has created pieces for all kinds of situations, including competitions for dancers as young as 11. He told the audience that the revered George Balanchine, when he first came to America, choreographed for a circus, directing elephants on and off stools. In choreography, “The process itself is interesting,” says Angelov.Over the 10 years he has choreographed professionally, Angelov says he has learned not to rely on talent alone. “Art is more about endurance than talent,” he says. “We all run that marathon and talented people are falling on the floor and cannot continue. You have to have not only the talent, but also the endurance; not only endurance, but street smarts. You have to have intelligence . . . and flexibility.” - article by Virginia Myers Kelly, American Weekly


Marte de la Torre, Arts Management Alumna
Presented Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Marte de la Torre was born in Havana, Cuba, where she spent her first fourteen years before moving with her family to the United States. Art was an early passion of de la Torre's, and she has enjoyed a successful career in the field. In 1981 she became the first director of special projects of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in Paris. There she worked on a number of projects, including the renovation of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the creation of the Nubia Museum in Aswan. She later joined the Getty Conservation Institute to become the first director of its training program.