James Atkinson, Assistant Professor of Dance/Physical Therapy Coordinator


James Atkinson Profile Shot

James R. Atkinson, Jr., a native of Connecticut, is presently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Alabama State University. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the Tisch School of Arts at New York University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Purchase College State University of New York (SUNY) within the School of Arts’ Conservatory of Dance.

Mr. Atkinson began his training at New England Ballet School, Education Center for the Arts and was awarded a full scholarship to pursue his dance training at the Dance Theatre of Harlem for three years. To further enhance his training, he studied ballet with Madame Darvash at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Atkinson was awarded summer scholarships to Hartford Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Milwaukee Ballet. Additionally, he had the privilege to train with Kenneth Hopkins, Susan Mathekee, Willie Feuer, Joyce DiLauro, Victor Trevino, Joanne Whitehill, Karen Goodman, Arthur Mitchell, Alvetina Lisina, Jenny Chiang, Robert Garland, Tyrone Brooks, Laveen Naidu, Ronald Perry, Rachel Sekyi, and Valerie Taylor.

While at Purchase College, he trained with Bettijane Sills of the New York City Ballet; the late Richard Cook, the former Director of the renowned Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB); Ted Kivett and Rosanna Seravalli of the American Ballet Theatre; Larry Clark; Kevin Wynn; Pascal Rioult; Joyce Herring; Stephanie Tooman; Kazuko Hirabayashi; Michael Blake; and Jill Ecko.

As a performing artist, he began working with New England Ballet and Sonya Plum Dance Company in Connecticut. He debuted with the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble as a junior in college; during his senior year, he was selected to perform with Ballet Preljocaj during their American tour at Purchase College. He was subsequently a company member of Gleich Dances Contemporary Ballet, Compania de Danza Contemporanea de Burgos, Sacramento Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, Oakland Ballet, Capacitor, and Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre as well as a soloist with Columbia City Ballet.

Mr. Atkinson had the privilege of performing choreography by George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Arthur Mitchell, Louis Johnson, John Taras, Michael Smuin, Ron Cunningham, Val Caniparoli , John Alleyne, William Starrett, Jose Mateo, Brett Raphael, Ronn Guidi, and Angelin Preljocaj in addition to several other notable choreographers. He was featured in “Off The Wall on to the Stage” and recognized for his outstanding artistry in June/July (2005) issue of Pointe Magazine and described as a “powerful presence”. Furthermore, he appeared on the cover of the New York Times Arts Section in February 9, 2005.

Mr. Atkinson created the Classical Contemporary Ballet Theatre in 2005 in Columbia, South Carolina. This non-profit organization is currently located in New York City and Connecticut.  Moreover, he worked as the resident choreographer for the Burklyn Ballet Theatre Summer Program, Rehearsal Director for Oakland Ballet Nutcracker Children, Artistic Director of Ballet Savannah, Oakland Dance Studios and co-director of Alabama State University, Eclectic Dance Company during the 2014/2015 season and the Artistic Director of the University Dance Company 2015/2016 Season.

As a director and choreographer, Mr. Atkinson is a three-time resident choreographer for the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation ChoreoQuest Project in Brooklyn, New York; two-time recipient of the Connecticut Department of Art Culture and Tourism City of New Haven Mayor’s Community Grants; Connecticut Office of the Arts & Department of Economic and Community Development; and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

Mr. Atkinson’s expertise in creating art through dance has been recorded and performed at numerous institutions, partly including Alabama State University, Sacramento Ballet, Compania de Danza Contemporanea de Burgos, Sacramento State University, Carolina Ballet, New England Ballet, Starship Dance Theater, Ballet Savannah, Classical Contemporary Ballet Theatre, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Youth Arts Academy, New Dance Group, and New Jersey Youth Ballet.

Mr. Atkinson’s company was selected to perform at the following New York City events/venues: Juilliard School, Brooklyn Museum, Apollo Theater, The Thong Dao Contemporary Dance Festival, Downtown Dance Festival, White Wave Dumbo Dance Festival, Green Space Fertile Ground Performance Series, Dixon Place-Under Exposed, Battery Dance Festival, Fourth Arts Block Festival (FAB), Man Dance, New York University’s Black History Celebration, Boogie Down Dance Festival at the Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance (BAAD), Steps on Broadway Performance Lab, and City Parks Foundation SummerStage (Brooklyn).

In Connecticut, Mr. Atkinson’s company was selected to perform at the International Festival of Art and Ideas, Namaskaar Foundation World On Stage Spring Dance Festival, Arts Council of Greater New Haven, City of New Haven 375-Year Celebration, and Education Center for the Arts Summer Dance Concert.

Outside of the tri-state area, his work has been presented at the Alabama Dance Festival in Birmingham, Loft Session in Boston, Massachusetts; Highlands Playhouse in North Carolina; Sumter Opera House; Columbia Music Festival Association in South Carolina; Douglas Theater in Macon, Georgia; The Chi Movement Arts Center in Philadelphia; Dance Canvas in Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte Dance Festival in North Carolina; and American College Dance Festival in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Mr. Atkinson has instructed classes and held workshops for the Montgomery Ballet, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Youth Arts Academy, P.S. 21 Crispus Attucks School, Alabama State University, Birmingham Dance Festival, American College Dance Festival, Classical Contemporary Ballet Theatre, Whitney Center, Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School- Co-op & Yale University After School Program, Booker T. Washington Magnet High School Dance Program, Carver Elementary School Dance Program, Baldwin Academics Magnet Dance Department, Boys and Girls Club of Greater New Haven, Sarah Kennedy's Ballet for Young, Starship Dance Theater, EASTCONN’s Arts Magnet High School Capitol Theater Dance Department, Destiny Arts, Charlotte Dance Festival, New England Ballet, Columbia Music Association, Caroline Mack Center for The Arts, Miss Libby’s School of Dance, Northeast Academy of Dance, and New Dance Group.

Mr. Atkinson is currently a friend of Royal Academy of Dance and serves on the Montgomery Ballet, and Booker T. Washington Magnet High School.


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