Kathryn Mihelick

Founder and Artistic Director of Leaven Dance Company

Ms. Mihelick is a former Assistant Professor and Dance Division Coordinator at Kent State University. She has noteworthy experience in professional performance, choreography and dance education. Her interest in sacred and liturgical dance has led to international involvement and she has become recognized as a leader in the field. While earning a B.A. degree in journalism at Ohio University, she studied dance with Mary Joyce. Additional training was most influenced by study with Sarah Stackhouse of the Jose Limon Company and Bella Lewitzky. She founded and directed the Mihelick School of Dance before entering Kent State University for graduate study, where she received an M.A. in Theatre with an emphasis in Dance. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member at John Carroll University.

As a performer, she appeared with Orchesis, Heidt Touring company, and as soloist with the Indianapolis Starlight Musicals. She has been resident choreographer for summer seasons of the Blossom Festival School of Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio. Choreography credits include the dance sections presented with composer Alexander Peloquin's Lyric Liturgy with 80-voice choir and orchestra for the anniversary celebration of Walsh University.

As a scholar of sacred and liturgical dance, Ms. Mihelick has been a lecturer, workshop leader, panelist and performer nationally and internationally including Australia, Europe, and Hong Kong. In 1991 at the International Dance Research Conference in Hong Kong, she was one of five dancers chosen to introduce sacred dance. She served as Resource Director for the International Sacred Dance Guild, receiving the Guild's 1999 Honor Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Sacred Dance. In 2008 the Guild named her a "Living Legacy." She has been a curriculum writing panelist for the Ohio Department of Education, and was a Board member of OhioDance, which awarded her the Outstanding Contributor to the Advancement of the Dance Artform in 2002. In 2005 the Akron Area Arts Alliance named her Outstanding Artist in Dance.

A recipient of grants from the Asian Arts Council, the Ohio Arts Council and the Akron GAR Foundation, Ms. Mihelick has been featured on the Cleveland diocesan television program "Real-To-Reel" and developed a video series on "Sacred and Ritual Dance History" for the Seminary of the Air program sponsored by the Akron Area Association of Churches. Her latest article "Moving On ...Going Where?" appeared in the spring issue of Glory magazine.

Andrea Shearer

Associate Director of Leaven Dance Company

Andrea Shearer is a former Associate Professor of Dance and Dance Division Director in the School of Theatre and Dance at Kent State University. She received her B.F.A. degree in dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and M.A. from the University of Michigan. She studied in New York at the American Ballet Center School of the Joffrey Ballet, Cunningham School, Martha Graham School and with the José Limon Company. She taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and also performed professionally with DanceCircus, Milwaukee's modern dance repertory company. In Ohio she served as Ballet Mistress of the Canton Civic Ballet before joining the faculty at Kent State University.

With over 50 original works of choreography and 175 performances to date, she has taught, choreographed, and performed ballet, modern, sacred, swing and contra dance across the U.S., including at the American College Dance Festivals, OhioDance Festivals, National Sacred Dance Guild Festivals, National Dance Association Conferences and at the Religious Education Congress.

Her academic scholarship has been shared internationally in lecture presentations in Taipei, Taiwan and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and at Multiple Intelligences Workshops presented at Kent State University.

Twice nominated and once a finalist for KSU's Distinguished Teaching Award, Shearer was also selected as the first recipient of Kent State's "Outstanding Advisor" Award for her role with the Kent Dance Association. In 2013 The Akron Area Arts Alliance bestowed on her their Outstanding Arts Educator of the Year Award. She has served on the boards of the Sacred Dance Guild and the OhioDance organizations and was an evaluator for the National Association of Schools of Dance. Additional service includes membership on the Board of Directors of Falcon Academy of Creative Arts; the Ohio Board of Regents' Transfer Assurance Guide Dance Evaluation Panel; Assessor for the Portage County Visual and Performing Arts Assessment for Gifted Education; and Adjudicator for the Cleveland Municipal School District Dance/Drama Festival.

About the Dancers

John Crawford is a Professor and Dean of the College of the Arts at Kent State University. He served as musical director in the Dance Department at James Madison University in Virginia and as adjunct faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he was also on the faculty for Freedorn Theatre. John holds dance degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and James Madison University, and received his Doctorate in Dance from Temple University specializing in Limon modern dance technique and composition. Dr. Crawford has danced professionally with the Richmond Ballet, the VCU dance Company, Kings Productions, Busch Entertainment Corporation, and AnnVachon/Dance Conduit, a Philadelphia-based professional modern dance company. He is a published author and national presenter of historical dance research. He asserts that his work with the Leaven Dance Company is "very gratifying and affirming of my spiritual values."

Judith Richner is an instructor in dance at the University of Akron, Cuyahoga Community College, and Kent State University. She is a Kent State University dance graduate, performed with the Kent Dance Theatre and received an M.A. in dance from The Ohio State University. She has performed professionally with Footpath Dance Company, based in Cleveland, and has choreographed for Tri-C performances. She choreographed "We Three" in honor of the Leaven Company at the Dance 09 Festival at Kent State University. She was assistant to Alice Rubenstein in her commission to set an original work on the Canton Civic Ballet. Judy is actively involved in several capacities at the First Congregational Church in Twinsburg.

Kari Boyer is a graduate of Kent State University's Dance Major Program where she performed with Kent Dance Ensemble. She has been a dancer and choreographer with the Ten Star Community Theatre in Massilon, Ohio; was a member of the Tom Evert Dance Company in Cleveland, and performed professionally in Las Vegas. Kari currently teaches and performs at the Amanda Center.

Danielle Stevens holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance performance and Master of Arts in Teaching with a licensure in Dance Education, both from Kent State University. In 2011 she began teaching in Kent State's Dance Division. Previously she has served as the full-time dance director for the Richland Academy of the Arts, and as Adjunct Professor for the Ohio State University-Mansfield Campus, where she also choreographed many musicals, including "Guys and Dolls" and "Little Shop of Horrors". In 2008 Miss Stevens was selected to be on the curriculum committee of a new performing arts high school initiative and served as the main dance director for three years. As a member of Kent's faculty she has organized many events that help raise monetary support for KSU's Student Dance Education Organization and for community and national organizations. Her teaching repertory includes many dance styles including hip hop, tap, jazz, modern, ballet, yoga, ballroom and musical theatre. She has performed with the Hijinks and Danse Libre Dance Companies, and is a teaching artist in the VSA and ASA northeast Ohio region, bringing dance to those in inclusive classrooms.

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