Meet the Dance Faculty

ASU conducted an extensive nation wide search and successfully secured a dynamic team of three student-centered professional teaching artists with advance degrees, and teaching and choreographic skills that range from ballet to modern, and from African to Hip Hop to guide the BFA/Dance Program’s mission: to cultivate student’s creative, performance, and scholarly aptitude through exposure to diverse practical and philosophical approaches to dance studies, while developing and nurturing their technical proficiency in various dance forms.

Get to know the dynamic faculty in ASU's BFA/Dance Program:

 

JAMES R. ATKINSON JR.

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR ~ PROGRAM DIRECTOR

James Atkinson

James R. Atkinson, Jr. is a native of New Haven, Connecticut,  Associate Professor of Dance, BFA Dance Program Director at Alabama State University, and a founding faculty member of the BFA Program.  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. 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 the 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 on February 9, 2005.

​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 Choreo Quest 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. He is also a recipient of  Alabama State Council on the Arts Fellowship award and several project grants over the past six years. Mr. Atkinson is currently a friend of the Royal Academy of Dance and serves as the Vice President of the Alabama Dance Council, The American College Dance Association Board and ASU Faculty Senate. He previously served on the Montgomery Ballet board for four years and the Booker T. Washington Magnet High School F.A.M.E  board for five years.  Mr. Atkinson has contributed to the state of Alabama by founding the Ballet Boot Camp,  Alabama Festival of Ballet  and the Minority Choreographer Festival   

Jamesatkinson.weebly.com

LINDSAY RENEA BENTON

                                      ASSISTANT PROFESSOR                                    ARTISTIC DIRECTOR ~ RECRUITMENT COORDINATOR

 

Lindsay Renea Benton

Lindsay Renea is a performer, choreographer and educator with a background in concert dance, musical theatre, and dance on film. An Ohio native, she has always had a strong affinity for movement and music. She earned a BFA in dance and minor in piano from Howard University in Washington D.C. During her senior year, she joined Garth Fagan Dance Company in Rochester, New York. As a senior principal dancer, some of her most memorable moments include performing with the Wynton Marsalis Septet, Jessye Norman, the Ying Quartet, and William Chapman Nyaho. Throughout her career she has had the pleasure of performing works by many incredible choreographers including Christopher Huggins, Ronald K. Brown, Chuck Davis, Ayodele Casel, Dianne Harvey and ss’Sherrill Berryman-Johnson. Lindsay has also had the honor of performing before dignitaries such as Zindzi Mandela, Dorothy Height, Laura Bush, Caroline Kennedy, and Reverend Mpho Tutu. 

Her choreography has appeared on national and international stages including Muda Africa Dance Company in Tanzania, The Whispers "I Sing This Song" music video, The Debórah Show (TV Special) and Sean Penn's Haiti relief organization JP/HRO. Her work in theatre includes choreography for Nina Simone: Four Women (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), Romeo & Juliet (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), and Crowns (Cultural Fusions Theater). Much of her Choreography lives and is shared on the concert stage through companies and festivals including Shona Shareef African Dance Company(PA), Lindsay Renea Dance Theatre(OH), Time 2 Dance Festival(Tanzania), Collegium of African Diaspora Dance(NC), La Femme Dance Festival(Illinois), ModArts Collective Thread(NY), and Alabama Minority Choreographer Festival. 

When she is not choreographing and performing, Lindsay creates opportunities for her students to learn the art of dance by teaching Modern, Tap, West African, Jazz, Afro-Caribbean, Contemporary, Composition, Dance Production and Dance History. Her desire to inspire younger generations of dancers pushed her to earn her Master of Fine Arts degree in choreography at Jacksonville University, Jacksonville Fla. She has served as an adjunct faculty member in the dance major program at Youngstown State University. It is with great pride that she founded The Lindsay Renea Foundation to bring the art of dance, creative wellness and cultural diversity to her hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. She uses her experience in many capacities to inform her work as Rehearsal Director for Komanse Dance Company in Atlanta, Ga. She is currently an Alabama Council of the Arts Fellow in Dance and Choreography and serves as the first female assistant professor of dance and artistic director of the BFA Dance Program at Alabama State University.

JEROME STIGLER

 ASSISTANT PROFESSOR ~ SCHOLARSHIP COORDINATOR

Jerome Stigler

Jerome L. Stigler, a native of St. Louis, Mo. He began his training at the Katherine Dunham Children’s Workshop and the Center of Contemporary Arts. He has a BFA in Dance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and an MFA in Dance from the University of Iowa. Mr. Stigler has received scholarships to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Milwaukee Ballet, and American Dance Festival. He has taught and choreographed for numerous schools throughout the United States. Stigler has performed with the dance companies of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC), Albany Berkshire Ballet, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Columbia City Ballet, Florida Dance Theatre, Dallas-Fort Worth Ballet, St. Louis Ballet, Charlotte Adams & Dancers, Walt Disney World, Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Douglas Dunn & Dancers, Jeanne Ruddy Dance Company, Viewsic Expressions, VQ Productions, Mountjoy Productions, Balance Dance Theater, and Jennifer Muller/The Works. Stigler has taught throughout NYC and danced with 360°Full Circle Dance Company and the Von Howard Project. 

JOAN HAMBY BURROUGHS, PH.D.

 ADJUNCT PROFESSOR

Joan Burroughs

Joan Hamby Burroughs holds degrees from New York University (Ph.D.), Indiana University (M.S.), and Tuskegee Institute, (B.S.).  Dr. Burroughs is an anthropologist of dance and human movement, educator and choreographer.  Her movement foundation is grounded in the dance technique of Katherine Dunham and other modern dance forms as well as in the dance of Cuba, Haiti and Brazil. She has both participated in and organized conferences and seminars on Afro-Caribbean and African Diaspora dance, religion and culture. Championing the efficacy and significance of the arts, she is an advocate for arts education, arts in education, pre-professional arts preparation and community arts initiatives. That sentiment, supported by proficiency in dance/human movement performance and studies, powered her career as an educator that spans high school through university levels. She directed the dance program at Florida A&M University from 2000-04, was an adjunct assistant professor (dance/anthropology of dance) at New York University from 1993-2000 and served in guest professor and adjunct positions at Smith and Hunter Colleges, respectively. Dr. Burroughs creates, implements, coordinates and administers arts, cultural, education programs and events that are largely inspired by the inherent genius, creativity and timelessness that underlie African diaspora arts and culture.

   

LENARD J. FOUST

 ASSISTANT PROFESSOR

Leonard Foust

LENARD J FOUST is a new Assistant Professor of Dance at Alabama State University, where he teach jazz, hip hop, and modern dance courses. He started his dancing career with the Albano Ballet Dance Company in Hartford, CT, then went on to tour nationally and internationally as a dancer with the Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience, a commercial dance production.  He was also a performer for Norwegian Cruise Line. He earned his Master of Fine Arts in Dance and a graduate certificate in World Performance Studies from the University of Michigan. As a graduate student instructor, he taught various genres of dance to performance and non-performance majors and led master classes at  American College Dance Association regional festivals. He holds a B.S. in Dance Education from Central Connecticut State University. 

Foust has been committed to working in diverse communities and to diversifying the dance curricula in higher education. As an undergraduate, he developed the first CCSU Summer Dance Intensive Program, recruiting diverse middle and high school students from across the state to the campus. This program has continued to flourish. He subsequently developed the Elmwood Community Center dance program in West Hartford, CT, designed for all ages and abilities. He has taught in private studios, community centers, and public schools throughout Connecticut and the Midwest.

In 2019, he was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in China, where he investigated the history and globalization of street/hip hop/pop culture, comparing studies nationally and internationally to discover how this research can apply to teacher training and be implemented in higher education curricula. Foust was an instructor of hip hop dance at several local studios and schools in Shanghai and Beijing and presented his research in a lecture series at the United States Embassy in Beijing. 

Foust continues to conduct research and performance training to solidify his artistry and growth as an educator, scholar, and performer. He is pursuing the Leadership and Policy Specialization as a doctoral student at Teachers College.