Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College


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Stephens awards full scholarship on ‘Today’ show

More than 2.5 million of America’s children will be homeless this Christmas – a number equivalent to the population of Chicago.

Given the health, safety, security and emotional challenges they face every day, few of those children will finish high school, much less go on to earn a college degree.
But Dominique – a 14-year-old eighth-grader living with her mother in a New York City homeless shelter – is determined to beat those odds. 
And she won’t have to do it alone.
Thanks to the “Today” show’sWillie Geist and the generosity of Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., Dominique is going to receive the opportunity, support and financial aid she needs to become a college grad.
Geist met the eighth-grader during a “Today” show segment on homelessness, during which she spoke eloquently about her aspirations to attend college. He reached out to a New York marketing firm to see if employees there could help identify corporate and educational sponsors to support the shelter; one staff member, Paula Goldenberg, is a 2014 graduate of Stephens, and she decided that her alma mater was the ideal environment for a student of Dominique’s background, academic strengths and life challenges.
Stephens President Dianne Lynch agreed. 
“For 180 years, it’s been Stephens’ mission to provide the kinds of opportunities to women that truly transform their lives,” she said. “As a women’s college, we offer our students a unique level of attention and support; we know them, we understand their particular needs and challenges, and we are here to assist them every step of the way.”
Dr. Leslie Willey, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Stephens, was present Thursday morning when the “Today” show revealed improvements to the shelter and a variety of other surprises for the children who live there. Stephens’ offer of a scholarship for Dominique was among those surprises.
“We know you have hopes and dreams, and we want to help you with that,” Willey said on the show. “We know you’re going to be a great Stephens Woman.”
Like every student, Dominique will need to meet the college’s admission standards, a goal she is determined to achieve. Once she has been accepted, Stephens will provide her a full four-year scholarship, including room and board. But because the college understands that Dominique may not have the resources she needs to make the transition to college, Stephens also has committed to providing support for her travel from New York to Columbia for summer and holiday breaks; the amenities – from a computer and a television, to a mini-fridge and cozy bedding  – that are standard equipment in the college’s dormitories; and the academic and social support to ensure her success.
“The White House just held a summit for higher education leaders to talk about how to improve college success among minority and first-generation students,” Lynch said. “We believe you do that by sticking your institutional neck out and saying yes whenever and however an opportunity to help presents itself – and that’s what we’re doing here.”
It’s a partnership and an investment, not a gift, Lynch said. “We provide the opportunity, and the students provide the commitment, resiliency, ambition and intellect. Together, we transform their lives.”
That transformation will begin this summer, when Stephens invites Dominique to campus to participate in one of its many summer enrichment programs – from the sciences, to film, to fashion design, to equestrian studies, to musical theatre. Each summer until she graduates from high school, Stephens will offer Dominique the opportunity to spend time on campus – ensuring that the college truly begins to feel like a home.
And while she’s in Missouri, she may have an opportunity to meet another group of middle school students from New York City: Since 2011, Stephens College each summer has hosted a group of students from the Girls Prep Lower East Side Middle School, a charter school in New York City, in a week-long Leadership Academy. The students learn leadership skills, ride horses, visit local attractions, live in a dormitory, and imagine themselves as college students. In 2013, Stephens announced a Public Prep full scholarship that will be provided to a Public Prep graduate every year beginning in 2017, when the school’s first graduating class will be entering college.
“This is what providing real opportunity is all about,” Lynch says. “You can’t do it half-way. These kids need somebody to give them what they need to succeed. And that’s not just tuition. It’s a community that pays attention, and that cares enough to help them find their way.”


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Campus is transformational for foster pets, too

For young women, Stephens College is a transformational place they call home for three to four years. For some cats and dogs, the campus is also a temporary home — but one that’s just as“I am in the pre-vet biology program and have always loved animals — so it was just something I needed to do,” said Sandra Wicklund, a Stephens College freshman.Dozens of students fostered pets this semester as part of the two-year-old partnership Stephens has with Second Chance, a no-kill shelter in Columbia. There are 20 scholarships offered to first-year students in exchange for fostering, but many students say they simply want to make a difference in an animal’s parents agree that preparing dogs and cats for “forever homes” is the most rewarding part of participating in the program. That involves getting the animal used to being around new people and learning to trust them, senior Cheyenne Smith said.Students benefit, too. Tiawna Johnson, a junior, said she knew she’d be lonely coming to college without her dog. After fostering a cat, she fell in love with felines. Johnson said she likes coming home to a pet after a long undergraduate students foster animals inspired Alexis Guth, a graduate assistant, to participate. “I was inspired by the students who were giving back to their community,” she said. “After I began fostering, Second Chance encouraged me to assist with the program. I now manage foster cats on campus and help students who foster with any needs they may have.”cat-photo-4

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Speakers tout Ten Ideals at Commencement ceremony

Stephens College Trustee Sara Herrnstadt Crosby ’76 challenged graduates to dig deep within themselves and explore how the College’s Ten Ideals might become actions throughout their lives.

“As you leave Stephens and venture out, I challenge you to find your Courage, the Second Ideal, and incorporate into your lives courage to change, to grow and the persistence to practice it every day,” she said during the December Commencement ceremony on Friday.

Crosby shared her own story of coming to Stephens with a dream of acting and pursuing that dream before transitioning into a career in social work. Throughout her keynote address, she shared how the College’s Ten Ideals—Intelligence, Responsibility, Courage, Independence, Creativity, Leadership, Respect, Sensitivity, Belief and Support—have come into play in her life.
The Ideals were also the theme of the undergraduate speech. Madeline Carl and Meredith Jacob, who both earned a B.F.A. in Digital Filmmaking, praised their Stephens education for fostering in them a sense of independence, responsibility, respect and leadership.
“Our time at Stephens has taught us to truly embrace all of these Ideals and we are so grateful that we have had this experience,” Carl said.

Stephens President Dianne Lynch conferred roughly 50 bachelor's and master's degrees during the ceremony, held in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall.
Sandra Silva, who earned a Master in Strategic Leadership, represented the graduate class during her remarks. She shared her own story of trying to pursue a graduate degree while balancing other work and life obligations. To everyone graduating, she encouraged the class to “go out and share your journey with others. You will add more rich experiences to their life story and to your own. You will change their world and, believe me, you will change yours.”
Watch the Commencement ceremony video here.

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Lee, SCCS enjoy Christmas party at President's Home

Children from Lee Elementary and the Stephens College Children’s School had a chance to tell Santa their Christmas wishes during the annual Christmas Party at the President’s Home on Friday.

The event also gave Lee children a chance to perform Christmas carols for Stephens President Dianne Lynch—which has become a popular part of the annual celebration.

Stephens is a Partner in Education with Lee Elementary, located next to the President’s Home. This is the third year Lynch has hosted the holiday event in the historic President’s Home, which reopened in December 2011.

Children from both schools heard a story from Mrs. Claus, enjoyed sweet treats and colored winter-themed pictures during the party. They also had a chance to see the decorations they made in school on display in the public areas of the home.

See photos from the event here

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Juniors prepare for CFDA competitions

A Stephens alumna and faculty member critiqued student designs last week as junior fashion majors prepare for this spring’s round of Council of Fashion Designers of America competitions.

Morgan Powers, a designer and product developer, and instructor Amy Parris helped students select the best of their designs and suggested improvements to the pieces.

The student works will be considered for the CFDA competitions, which challenge students to mimic the works of designers such as Liz Claiborne and Geoffrey Beene.

They will also be among the garments judged at the annual Jury of Selection, which allows industry professionals to select which designs will be showcased at the annual student designer fashion show in April.
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President of military academy visits Stephens Children's School

Long before his successful career in the corporate world and current position as president of the Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, Tony McGeorge was a Stephens student.

Well, sort of. McGeorge and his twin sister, Nancy, attended a nursery school on the Stephens campus in the early 1950s. He doesn’t remember much about it—he was 3—but he does remember his mother talking about the wonderful foundational education the school provided before the family relocated to the East Coast.

“My mother used to talk about Stephens and how wonderful it was,” he said. “She loved the fact that it was a women’s college and she loved the people—the students and teachers.”

So when McGeorge returned to Missouri in 2012, he wanted a chance to revisit where it all began. 

On Wednesday, he and a small delegation from the military academy had the opportunity to tour the current Stephens College Children’s School facilities before McGeorge read a book to preschoolers.

Prior to coming back to Missouri, McGeorge enjoyed a successful career at Johnson & Johnson, where he was a national spokesperson during the Tylenol poisoning crisis that became a Harvard Business School case study. Tylenol famously pulled all of its products during that period despite financial risks. The company—and McGeorge—were adamant about doing the right thing for customers. Those are values learned at an early age, he stressed.

“It all starts at this level,” McGeorge said at the preschool. “This is where the seeds are planted.”

The preschoolers at Wednesday’s reading weren’t necessarily interested in McGeorge’s roots—they were more interested in letting him know how Santa gets into their chimney-less houses. But he definitely made an impact, reading from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in his distinguishable East Coast dialect.

“Let’s see how this thing plays out,” he said at one point in the story, quieting the kiddos who wanted to chime in.

A grandfather of four, McGeorge easily won over his crowd. Several children rushed to give him hugs before he left.

“The most special part was the kids’ reactions,” he said afterwards. “I’m a grandfather, and I tell you, that just melted my heart.”
This isn’t the first time the Missouri Military Academy, under McGeorge’s leadership, has partnered with Stephens. The all-women’s campus last year hosted the all-male academy and its guest, Shabana Basij-Rasikh, as part of a special program. McGeorge said he hopes to find more ways to connect in the future.
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Commencement is Friday; Crosby to deliver keynote

Sara_Crosby_HeadshotAward-winning actor, therapist and children’s theatre facilitator Sara Herrnstadt Crosby ’76 will deliver the keynote address at Stephens’ December 2014 commencement ceremony.
The event is 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 12, in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall. Roughly 50 students will participate.
Crosby received her B.F.A. in Theatre from Stephens and enjoyed a varied acting career based out of New York City. Her roles brought her to Off-Broadway, television and film as well as regional theaters. Most notably, she starred in Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” opposite Kevin Spacey for the Barter Theatre at George Mason University and Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre as Wilhelmina in “The Passion of Dracula.” On television, she appeared on “All My Children.”
In 1984, Crosby left N.Y.C. for Chicago where she began the Graduate Social Work program at Loyola University of Chicago. Since graduating in 1986, Crosby has worked as a psychotherapist with individuals, couples and groups in the Chicago area and Madison, Wisc. She has given many workshops on several issues, including women’s issues, prejudice and discrimination, and suicide prevention, to name a few.
In 2001, Crosby co-founded the award-winning Dakota Academy of Performing Arts (DAPA). She is the lead facilitator and a director for DAPA at the Pavilion Plays for Living Theatre Company. 
Crosby also sits on the board of directors for the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, and works as a consultant in the field of social justice and as a consultant for Plays for Living National in N.Y.C. 
She is the 2013 Champion for Children award winner for South Dakota Voices for Children. Crosby is a licensed clinical social worker and lives in Sioux Falls, S.D., with her husband, Daniel, where they raised their three children.

Meredith Jacob and Madeline Carl, both earning B.F.A.s in film, will deliver remarks on behalf of the undergraduate class and Sandra Silva, who is earning a Master in Strategic Leadership, will represent the graduate class.

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Reale represents on Daktronics-NAIA list

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The postseason awards continue to roll in as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced its 2014 Daktronics-NAIA Volleyball Scholar-Athletes on Friday. Rightside hitter Madison Reale represents Stephens College on the list of 455 volleyball student-athletes.
In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved junior academic status to qualify for the honor.
Reale, a strategic communications major from Manchester, Mo., has maintained a 3.59 GPA in three years at Stephens. The junior captain is a two-time AMC Academic All-Conference honoree and has been a three-year starter for head coach Rose Obunaga. As a rightside hitter, Reale is closing in on career marks of 500 kills, 500 digs and 100 blocks.

To learn more about the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete award, click here.
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Students gather to show solidarity, support

Nearly 100 Stephens students, faculty, staff and administrators gathered in the Student Union today to show solidarity and pay their respects for the African Americans who have died in recent months and for their respective communities.
Students made and carried signs, added their handprints to a banner and listened to fellow students share poetry. Student Government Association President Brianna Jackson then encouraged students to be part of improving social conditions.
“Take time to acknowledge what’s going on and try to understand someone else’s reality and what they’re going through,” Jackson said.

She thanked students for taking time to be part of the event, but encouraged them to continue to have discussions.
“Today it’s a black issue, but tomorrow it could be an LGBT issue or an Asian issue—but it will continue to be an issue if we do nothing.”

Following her remarks, students broke off into groups. Some held a “die-in,” in which they outlined their bodies in chalk to represent those slain. Others joined President Dianne Lynch in her office for a “sit-in,” where they shared ideas and observations.
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Basketball team defeats Benedictine University-Springfield

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director
SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  – Despite a slow start on the road, the Stephens College basketball team (1-6, 1-2 AMC) found life offensively and claimed its first win of the season by defeating conference opponent Benedictine University-Springfield, 67-50. Thursday’s victory marks the first of the Ray Fron era and also helped the Stars snap a 38-game losing streak, which dates back to Feb. 14, 2013.
The Stars shot a season-best 48 percent from the field and had four players score in double figures. Defensively, Stephens limited Benedictine to 29 percent shooting and held the Bulldogs without a 3-point field goal (0-for-12).
Neither team started off on the right foot as the two teams combined for just six points in the first five minutes of play. BENU (0-4, 0-3 AMC) knocked down a free throw to get on the board first, but forward Makayla Butler answered back with a 3-pointer in the corner to give the Stars their first lead of the game.
The offense began to emerge and the momentum was on display when Butler walked right down the lane on a beautiful backdoor play from Dana Heggemann. Heaton, the Stars’ leading 3-point shooter, knocked down a couple of 3s and helped SC to a 10-point lead and pushed it to 12 with a perfectly-executed inbounds play to Kaitlee Hess underneath the basket.
After Stephens extended its lead to 20, the Bulldogs showed a glimpse of life and went on a 6-0 run in large part due to three consecutive SC turnovers. The Stars responded before the halftime with a clutch three by Bridget Teixeira. With two seconds left, Teixeira swished one through to give Stephens a 37-18 advantage heading into the break.
It was by far one of the best halves offensively for SC as the Stars shot 57.1 percent from the field and were 5-for-12 (.417) from 3-point range.
The freshman quartet of Hess, Butler, Heaton and Carlson combined for 28 first-half points and were 70.5 percent from the floor. Carlson led all scorers at half with nine points.
Benedictine scored the first six points of the half to cut the margin to 37-24, but the Stars once again found an answer and led by as many as 20. The Bulldogs gave it one last run inside the 10-minute mark and narrowed the lead to 12, but were unable to get within single digits.
Leading the way for Stephens were Carlson and Heaton, who came off the bench to score 15 and 14, respectively. Finishing 6-of-10 from the field, Carlson surpassed her career-high by four points and was also active defensively with five steals. Joining the two freshmen in double figures were Heggemann (12 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) and Butler (12 points) with a team-high eight rebounds. Other notable performers included Hess with seven points and Teixeira with five.

The Stars are on the road again Saturday for a conference matchup with Harris-Stowe State (1-3, 1-1 AMC) at 2 p.m. 
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Schools collect, donate nearly 5,000 pounds of food

Stephens College students collected and donated nearly 5,000 pounds of food this holiday season to The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri as part of a first-ever contest among each of the College’s five schools.
The School of Organizational Leadership and Strategic Communication won the competition, collecting a total of 113 points, with each “point” representing a food item or dollar.

“I’m so proud of everyone,” Pam Shackelford, interim dean of the school, said during a campus-wide assembly. “Thank you for doing an amazing job for an amazing cause.”

Susies Organized for Service, or SOS, spearheaded the initiative with help from the Student Government Association and other campus organizations. SOS President Kristen McCurdy and other student leaders agreed that while the competition was fun, the food drive was about Stephens helping others.

“Doing and giving back to others is so important—it stands for something,” said Brianna Jackson, president of SGA. “Giving back is a vital and important part of who we are.”

During the ceremony, President Dianne Lynch praised students for coming together for a cause. “You stopped and thought about others and how you could make a difference,” she said.

Lynch also announced that the food drive competition would become an annual event. 
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Four become soccer program’s first NAIA Scholar-Athletes

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced this past week that four Stephens College soccer players—Jazmin Gac, Anna Martin, Briannica Ponder and Dani Wilson—have been named 2014 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes. They are among a total of 578 women’s soccer student-athletes to make the list.
It marks the first year that Stephens has placed students on the Daktronics-NAIA Women’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete list. In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved junior academic status to qualify for the honor.
In early November, the quartet of Gac, Martin, Ponder and Wilson also received recognition for their academic achievements with a spot on the AMC Academic All-Conference team.
Senior defender Jazmin Gac, a fashion marketing and management major from Louisiana, Mo., has carried a 3.79 GPA, while playing three seasons for the soccer Stars. During her career, Gac played in 37 matches and made 23 starts.
Junior defender Anna Martin, a strategic communications major from Florissant, Mo., has maintained a 3.66 GPA and played the past two seasons for the Stars. She has been a mainstay on the backline for Stephens, starting in 28 matches.
Junior goalkeeper Briannica Ponder, a theatre major from St. Louis, has maintained a 3.58 GPA. A three-year letterwinner, Ponder had a record-setting season in 2013 as she set an NAIA single-game record for most saves in a match with 36 stops against Lyon College. In addition, the goalkeeper finished the season ranked first in the NAIA in saves per game (14.20) and total saves (255). She logged two career wins in goal and started in 17 contests.
Junior midfielder Dani Wilson, a fashion design and product development major from St. Louis, carries a 3.67 GPA and has been a member of the team since its resurrection in 2012. The two-time captain has made 34 career starts and notched a pair of goals during the 2013 season.
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Stephens establishes Academy of Health Sciences

Furthering a long-standing tradition of excellence in preparing women for current market demands, Stephens College is establishing an Academy of Health Sciences to promote interest in the sciences and connect students of all ages to promising futures in the healthcare industry.

The academy will provide learning opportunities using strong academic and experiential curricula on the Stephens campus in Columbia. Programming will be available to K-12 through undergraduate students.

“We want to inspire a new generation of healthcare professionals interested in making the world a better place,” Stephens President Dianne Lynch said. “The healthcare profession is a growing field, and we want to challenge students to explore these careers.”

While programming will be co-ed, a strong emphasis will be placed on giving girls and young women a safe, supportive and nurturing environment where they will feel free to ask questions, share ideas and take on leadership roles.

“As the second-oldest women’s college in the country, we understand the importance of introducing girls to the world of science in an environment in which they will thrive,” Lynch said.

Stephens has a long history of high-quality science education and recently expanded programming. In addition to a biology degree, students can also earn a Bachelor of Health Science. The Equestrian Studies program offers unique opportunities for those interested in preparing for veterinary school. The College was the first in the country to offer a distance learning Health Information Administration degree and remains a leader in HIA education. And this year, Stephens announced the creation of a new Master of Physician Assistant program, scheduled to begin in 2016.

Debbie Brunner, who recently served as interim director of career services and previously worked as the education coordinator for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, will serve as executive director, working with an advisory board of professionals and faculty who will develop and enhance programming.

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Stephens fashion students win FGI scholarships

Two Stephens students earned $1,000 scholarships through Fashion Group International of St. Louis, Inc.’s annual Scholarship Program.
Senior Audrah Davidson won first in the fashion design category, and junior Sarah Vitel won first in the fashion marketing division. There were a total of three scholarships awarded.
For the design competition, Davidson submitted a black and white wool tailored coat, as well as a body of illustration work, sketches and a customer board outlining traits of her ideal client.
“I felt pretty confident in my work,” she said. “And I collaborated with” Assistant Professor Irina Tevzadze “to make sure everything was pristine and that the packaging told a story when you opened it.”
Vitel’s submission included a Roxy-inspired mini-mag that showcased the sports and beachwear the company is known for. She recruited sophomores Taylor Barber and Jenna Westra to model the fashions in downtown Columbia. Vitel is confident that the mini-mag, which she styled and edited, earned her the prize.
Vitel was coming back from Phoenix with her parents over the Thanksgiving break when she got the call that she’d won the scholarship.
“I was so excited,” she said, adding that putting together the submission and meeting all of the contest guidelines proved to be a lot of hard work. “I got off the phone and just started crying.”
She and Davidson are now headed to FGI’s Spring 2015 Trend Report & Scholarship Presentation at Washington University in St. Louis today. After a reception, they will present information about their respective projects.
Davidson plans to use the money to bolster her senior collection, which she’s currently working on for the spring fashion show. The collection is based on modern art and architecture.
“This scholarship will help push the collection to the next level,” she said.
That desire to always push oneself is a cornerstone of the fashion program, Davidson said.
“Faculty really do push us to do better, and you learn so much from that,” she said. “They challenge us to be more creative in our designs and to really design what we want and what we’re passionate about. And they’re always willing to help.”
Vitel, a Chicago native who also plays soccer and is involved in Kappa Delta and the modeling group, agreed.
“Everyone here is so passionate about what they do,” she said. “And it’s a supportive community. Everyone is everyone’s cheerleader. I know I am always going to have someone who will support me. And there are a lot of opportunities—I’m grateful for that.”
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'Anne of Green Gables' begins this weekend

The Playhouse Theatre Company at Stephens College is producing the classic story, “Anne of Green Gables,” this week.

The play begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, and again at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, and Thursday, Dec. 11. Ticket information

The play, by R. N. Sandberg, is adapted from the original L.M. Montgomery novel and stays true to the story of an orphanage mix-up and a young girl who captures the hardest of hearts. And Assistant Professor Carol Estey, who is directing the show, expects audiences to be just as taken by Anne as her reluctant guardians.

“It is a really sweet story focused on a young girl with an irrepressible spirit who struggles to overcome prejudice and a fair amount of bad luck,” Estey said. “She is a bright and willful girl who has to learn how to function in the society she enters. She has never known love, and the family that adopts her has had an uncluttered life and has never known parenthood. What develops between them is a rich discovery and a richer life. … Even though they almost all want to resist her, they can’t help but be affected by her.”

First-year student Clara Bentz is taking on the title role of Anne Shirley. For the role, Bentz has watched videos of the TV adaptation and the PBS animated series and is reading the book. She’s also discussed the character at length with Estey and Professor Rob Doyen, concluding that the chatty 13-year-old orphan needs to talk in order to feel safe.

“There’s a back story you have to understand,” Bentz said. “She’d been shuffled from family to family. Talking is a way to escape.”

In addition to a heartwarming story, audiences can expect an innovative set and period costumes designed by students.

“This is an opportunity to see our Stephens students being the best they can be in a really lovely play,” Estey said.

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Stephens senior named to Daktronics-NAIA scholar-athlete list

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – One member of the Stephens College cross country team was recognized by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete.  

For the second year in a row, runner Emily Mendoza-Fellers (a senior from Iowa City, Iowa) made the list. The announcement was made by the NAIA National Office on Monday following this weekend’s Cross Country National Championships.
Overall, 340 women’s cross country student-athletes were named 2014 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athletes. Indiana Wesleyan University led all programs with 10 individuals on the list.

Mendoza-Fellers carries an impressive 3.98 cumulative GPA as a double major in business and psychology. The Iowa City, Iowa, native is a three-time AMC Academic All-Conference honoree and has been a mainstay on the dean’s list with high honors. 

Outside of cross country, Mendoza-Fellers has competed on the Stephens College tennis team and has been involved with several groups on campus, including Alpha Lambda Delta, Stephens CRU and Kappa Delta. She has also served as a Financial Aid peer counselor, student ambassador and tour guide.

Earlier in November, Mendoza-Fellers capped off her four-year cross country career with a 62nd-place finish at the AMC Cross Country Championships, finishing with a 5K time of 25:45.20.

In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved junior academic status to qualify for the honor.
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Experienced higher ed leader named Vice President for Academic Affairs

Stephens College has named Dr. Suzan Harkness—an experienced higher education leader with an extensive and diverse background in academic leadership, most recently serving as Special Assistant to the President, University of the District of Columbia—to the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Harkness offers a wealth of expertise in areas, including academic programming, strategic planning, advancement efforts, strategic enrollment, accreditation, instructional delivery and technology, government relations and strategic management of international partnerships. She has been involved in Board/President relations, fiscal management, athletics and institutional leadership; recently served as a liaison to the President on Title III, IV and Title IX compliance review and engagement; and championed online education initiatives.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Harkness to Stephens College,” Stephens President Dianne Lynch said. “As an experienced higher education leader and innovator, she has consistently demonstrated her commitment to the success of students, institutions and outcomes. Her proven ability to collaboratively implement change will help propel Stephens forward as a institution committed to the creative arts and sciences; to educating successive generations of women; and to building on Stephens’ national reputation.”

About her appointment to Stephens College, Harkness said, “I am drawn to Stephens College because of its rich history, its innovative spirit and its experiential pedagogical approach. Visiting campus, I was struck by the dedicated faculty and staff, the amazing students, notable rankings, and visionary leadership of President Lynch. The institution has produced powerful alumnae and does so through its creativity and passionate ambition. It is literally bursting with big ideas, and I wanted to hitch my wagon and join hands in lifting Stephens College to its next paradigm.”

“I am committed to building upon existing strengths, supporting innovation and creativity, and leading the academic area with passion,” Harkness added. “As a team, we will explore new high-demand programs, new collaborations and flexible instructional modalities. I am dedicated to helping students live the dream.”

Dr. Harkness’ background includes several key positions at the University of the District of Columbia, including Assistant Dean, Learning Resources Division Founding Director, Center for Academic Technology; and as an ACE Fellow (Mount St. Mary’s University).

She served as Managing Director, Academic Affairs for the Washington Center for Internships & Academic Seminars, and as the legislative assistant to Congresswoman Diane E. Watson with oversight on health, gender, and educational issues.

She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Public Policy from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii. She also earned an M.A. in International Relations-Intercultural Studies from United States International University (Alliant International); and a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

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Performer encourages first-year students at annual breakfast

A writer, performer and equal rights activist encouraged Stephens freshmen to be resilient in the face of adversity.
Diane Flacks—sister of Assistant Professor Laura Flacks-Narrol—was the guest speaker at the annual First-Year Experience Networking Breakfast this morning. Using comedy, Flacks told students how to benefit from the “black ice of life” that might sometimes cause them to slip.
“As an artist, you want and need to fail,” she said. “And that’s good because that will become your story. … Some of the most accomplished people fail big.”
Flacks shared stories of tragedies-turned-triumphs from women all over the world, encouraging students to keep going even if times get difficult.
The annual networking breakfast is a culmination of the First-Year Experience, a program that uses classes and labs to help first-time students adjust to college life.

In addition to the keynote speaker, the breakfast gives students a chance to network with women working in business, science, journalism and other industries in the mid-Missouri area. 
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Kircher, Phegley highlight All-Conference honors

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director

ST. LOUIS – Two members of the Stephens College volleyball team earned 2014 All-American Midwest Conference honors, the league announced Saturday following the championship match between top-seeded Park and Missouri Baptist. Middle hitter Kerri Kircher and setter Samantha Phegley both earned honorable mention, marking the first time in program history that more than one Star has received All-AMC accolades.
Following a productive freshman campaign in 2013, Kerri Kircher stepped up in a big way this year for the Stars. The sophomore sensation recorded double-digit kills in 11 matches this year, including five that came in conference play. She was the Stars’ top offensive weapon this season averaging 2.45 kills preset for 252 total kills. On top of being the strongest hitter, Kircher also led the team by a large margin in blocks. The Richmond, Ind., native was credited with the second-most solo blocks (42) in the AMC, while also contributing 54 block assists.
Samantha Phegley, the only senior on the Stars’ 2014 squad proved to be one of the most versatile players. In addition to her leadership skills, Phegley led Stephens in assists as the team’s primary setter and finished the year second in digs (222) and kills (179) and third in blocks (44). The West Plains, Mo., product transferred into Stephens last year and made an immediate impact for head coach Rose Obunaga. In two years with the Stars, she totaled more than 1200 assists, 450 digs and 250 kills.
Prior to the 2014 AMC Volleyball Tournament Quarterfinal matchup, Kircher and Phegley were also honored for their work in the classroom with AMC Academic All-Conference honors. Joining the All-Conference honorees were Taylor Edwards, Madison Reale, Yonne Nasimiyu and Emily Manczuk. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be in his/her second term of attendance at the institution and have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) as defined by the nominating institution.

Stephens ended the 2014 season with a 13-17 overall record and 5-7 in the American Midwest Conference. The five wins in league play is a new program best, while the 13 wins is the most in a single season since 2010 when the team went 16-20.
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Students place at NATS auditions

Six Stephens students took honors this past weekend at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Musical Theatre auditions held at Webster University in St. Louis.

Emy Blake took first place in the Advanced Women’s Division, and Mycah Westhoff took first in the Upper College Women’s Division. 
In the Lower College Women’s Division, Lauren Hardcastle took first; Chelcie Abercrombie placed second and Meaghan Parker took Honorable Mention.

Talia McCall took first in the Upper High School Division.

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Bernstein earns championship win at American Royal

Senior Taylor Bernstein and Stephens-owned Peanut won the Missouri Kansas Park Championship this weekend at the UPHA American Royal National Horse Show at Kemper Arena in Kansas City.

The show attracted some 800 horses and participants competing from all over the country.

“Taylor was against some of the top professionals and World Champions,” Sara Linde, equestrian instructor said, adding appreciation for Bernstein’s coach, Assistant Professor Kelly Hulse.

Hulse took several Stephens students to the competition. Here are the results:

Berstein and Undulata’s Health Nut (Peanut) – 1st and 4th place in Missouri Kansas Park Championship

Senior Cara Wolf and A Silver Charm – 2nd place in Missouri Kansas Amateur/Jr. Exhibitor Three-Gaited; 2nd place in Missouri Kansas Amateur/Jr. Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship

Junior Delynn Uttecht and Arrowhead’s Dreamcatcher – 2nd place in Missouri Kansas Amateur Five-Gaited and 2nd place in Missouri Kansas Amateur Five-Gaited Championship

Sophomore Erin Cummings and Cool Down Papa – 2nd place in Missouri/Kansas Five-Gaited Show Pleasure

Sophomore Juliana Himmel and Just Special – 2nd place in Missouri Kansas Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Adult and 4th in Missouri Kansas Show Pleasure Adult Championship

Freshman Rachel Cummings and Sir Steve – 8th place in Missouri Kansas Five-Gaited Show Pleasure

Freshman Gabrielle Zimmermann and Uptown New Yorker – 4th place in Missouri/Kansas Amateur/Jr. Exhibitor Three-Gaited
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Stephens choreographers, Mizzou composers join to create original works

Stephens College choreographers are once again teaming up with composers from the University of Missouri to create original works at the Senior Dance Concert this month.

This year, the concert will feature three original compositions. Erin Hoerchler, a sophomore pursuing his Bachelor of Music, is composing pieces for seniors Kyla Ranney and Jessie Burgess; and MU graduate student Kaylene Cypret is composing music for senior Alexis Collins’ piece.

This is the second year Stephens has worked with the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, part of the Mizzou New Music Initiative funded by Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

The New Music Ensemble, under the direction of faculty composer Stefan Freund, works with some of the world’s leading composers and interpreters of new music.

Having the opportunity to create original dance pieces to original, high-quality compositions is rare, even in the professional arena, said Carol Estey, director of the dance program at Stephens.

“Not only do choreographers rarely have the chance to choreograph to new music, they rarely get a chance to perform to live music,” she said. “So this is really an awesome opportunity for our dancers and choreographers.”

MU composers are also happy to have the real-world experience, said William Lackey, assistant teaching professor in the MU School of Music.

“The composers and performers of the Mizzou New Music Initiative are truly grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Stephens' choreographers and dancers,” he said. “As a teacher, I always want to provide young composers opportunities that will push them artistically.”

Lackey and Estey began talking about collaborations in the summer of 2013. They arranged for students to meet during what turned out to be a sort of “speed date” paring event, allowing composers and choreographers to determine if they could work together.

"While some seniors have their heart set on choreographing to music they're familiar with, the option of working on an entirely original piece is something that is really going to set Stephens apart," Estey said.

The Senior Dance Concert is 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14-15 with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee on Nov. 16.  

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Stephens launches two new B.F.A. programs

Stephens College is launching two new B.F.A. programs that will allow performing arts students to get more intensive training in vocal arts and musical theatre.

Both the B.F.A. in Musical Theatre and the B.F.A. in Vocal Arts will build on successful Performing Arts programs at Stephens with the addition of exciting new courses and faculty. 

Stephens already enjoys success in musical theatre and vocal arts with a theatre program ranked 12th in the country by The Princeton Review and a music program that has produced award-winning singers for many years. Giving students the option to pursue a musical theatre or vocal arts degree will allow the program to recruit performers who want to pursue intense training in the given disciplines. 

“The two new degrees are wonderful additions to the B.F.A. degrees currently offered in the School of Performing Arts,” Dean Gail Humphries Mardirosian said. “The B.F.A. in vocal arts is unique in the tripartite focus of vocal training—classical, jazz and musical theatre—and will surely attract many new students. The musical theatre degree is designed in such a way with the acting focus as the foundation and then either a dance or vocal focus, ensuring students intense training for the field. We look forward to building upon the fine legacy of Stephens and the School of Performing Arts as we expand our degree offerings.”

Like existing performing arts programs, the new B.F.A. degrees will give students intensive, three-year, two-summer experiences that combine a liberal arts education with performance opportunities. 

Musical Theatre students will participate in either Summer Theatre Institute or Stephens Summer Dance, depending on their emphasis, and will spend their second summer at Okoboji Summer Theatre, the College’s stock theatre company in Spirit Lake, Iowa.

Students in the B.F.A. in Vocal Arts study in a newly designed Summer Music Institute with workshops and lessons and will complete an internship requirement the second summer.

Both programs are accepting students for the fall of 2015.
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Fashion Communication students present concepts

Fashion Communication students Monday morning had a chance to present ideas to guest experts in a pitch-style event that doubled as senior capstone projects.
Guest critics were Lindsey Naumann, a graphic designer and owner of LMN Workshop; Keith Politte, principal at Essential Spots; and Jay DeLong, vice president of New Ventures & Capital Formation for the St. Louis Regional Chamber. Each stopped by every student’s presentation to hear ideas and ask questions. The guest critiques gave students a chance to flesh out their ideas and get professional feedback.
Samantha Geary pitched her idea for a stylebook that helps women who aren’t into fashion determine what styles work best for their body types. The book would also include basics, such as how to tie a necktie. It’s an idea she’s been working on for four years and one she hopes to someday make reality.
Angie Westcott presented her idea for an interactive art experience she called Unsung Graphic Designs. She envisions publishing a book with photographs and drawings as well as an accompanying website where images can come to life. Her presentation included a portrait of a woman holding a flower, several drawings of the portrait that incorporated graphic elements and a computerized version of the image showing the woman blinking.
“It’s about making artwork more than just a picture,” she said. “It’s incorporating a bunch of different skills and bringing visual elements together.”
Haley Johnson’s concept for a magazine, “Manimalistic,” would give men a new type of publication sans fitness tips and scantly dressed women. The magazine would provide features on film, art and music.
“It’s for the man who’s more interested in fine arts than a fine sports car,” she said.

Although she would need to find revenue sources, Johnson said she is interested in making the magazine a reality.
Students were critiqued on their ability to communicate their goals, how realistic their ideas were and their ability to engage the critics.

Liz Detzel explains to Jay DeLong her magazine, which would bring West Coast grunge style to the Midwest.
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Stephens recognizes two outstanding student-athletes

In conjunction with volleyball’s 3-1 win over Freed-Hardeman University Friday night, the Stephens College Athletics Department also had the opportunity to recognize standout student-athletes Jessica McConnell and Dana Heggemann for awards they received during the past year.
The Department honored Jessica McConnell ’13 B.S., ’14 M.B.A., who capped off her softball career with one of the most coveted honors at the collegiate level—McConnell became the first Academic All-American in any sport at Stephens and is easily one of the most decorated athletes in Stars history. During the spring, she was named first-team AMC All-Conference, another first for the Stephens softball program. She is a five-time Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete and an eight-time AMC Academic All-Conference honoree in volleyball, basketball and softball.
Also setting the bar high for current and future student-athletes is junior Dana Heggemann. In June, Heggemann was nominated for the Emil S. Liston Scholarship Award, which recognizes basketball student-athletes based on scholarship, character and playing ability. She was a unanimous choice to represent the American Midwest Conference and from there was chosen as the national recipient on the NAIA’s National Awards Day in September.
Heggemann is a two-time AMC Academic All-Conference honoree, serves as the president of the Tri Beta biological honor society and is a resident director following a year as resident assistant for Honors House Plan students.
Between the second and third sets of Friday’s volleyball match, McConnell and Heggemann were joined at center court by Stephens President Dianne Lynch and Athletics Director Deb Duren. The two student-athletes were each presented with a special plaque, flowers and banners that are now hung on the west wall of Silverthorne Arena.

“These two particular Stephens Women epitomize the term student-athlete,” Sports Information Director Adam Samson said. “If you take a look at the Stephens mission statement, we as an institution are committed to preparing students to become leaders, innovators and lifelong learners. Both Jessica and Dana have taken the mission statement to heart and have modeled how Stephens Stars should carry themselves in the classroom and on the field of play.”
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'House of Cards' casting director hosts workshop

It takes confidence, persistence and a lot of headshots to get cast in films and television shows, a longtime casting director told Stephens theatre students this weekend.

Kimberly Skyrme should know. Her portfolio includes work on Unsolved Mysteries, The Pelican Brief, Hearts in Atlantis and most recently, the Netflix original series House of Cards.

Skyrme conducted a casting workshop with students on Sunday, part of the new INTERSECTIONS initiative in the School of Performing Arts. Dean Gail Humphries Mardirosian created the initiative as a way to intersect the arts and bring new perspectives to campus.

Mardirosian brought Skyme to campus as part of the Citizen Jane Film Festival. The two met when Skyme was a student at American University, where Mardirosian was on faculty.

The workshop allowed future actors to get inside tips on how best to audition for roles. Skyme—who owns Kimberly Skyrme Casting—said confidence is key.

“Leave your nerves at the door and just showcase your talent,” she said.

She also stressed the importance of headshots. She suggested having one’s photo on everything—on the back of a resume, on business cards and in emails—to make sure casting directors remember you.

The most important tip, she said, should have been familiar to Stephens’ students—it’s one faculty members stress, as well. Always be nice to assistants, Skyrme said, noting that they’re often the people who will decide whether you get your foot in the door.

The hour-long workshop was held in a format similar to “Inside the Actors Studio” with senior Elyse Bertani moderating. Students also had a chance to ask questions at the end.

In addition to her casting company, Skyrme is involved in a number of professional organizations. She is currently chair of the board for Women in Film and Television International, a member of Women in Film and Video and is a founding member of Television, Internet and Video Association and the Peer Awards.

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Athletics department earns Five-Star Award

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For the fifth consecutive year, Stephens College has been certified by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as a Champions of Character Five-Star Institution.
This year, the NAIA implemented a new tiered system to honor its five-star institutions. Based off a school’s point total on the Champions of Character scorecard, the institution can earn gold (90+), silver (75-90) or bronze (60-74) status. On the scorecard, institutions are awarded points in character training, conduct in competition, academic focus, character recognition and character promotion.
The Stars accrued 72 of a possible 100 points on the scorecard, just three points shy of reaching the silver level. Stephens, along with Williams Baptist College, tied for most points among American Midwest Conference (AMC) institutions. In all, nine AMC schools received bronze distinction.
Throughout the 2013-14 school year, the Stars were involved in several different outreach experiences in which they volunteered or presented the Champions of Character message to youth, parents and coaches around the community. Some of the events included the volleyball team holding a youth camp at Lange Middle School, the tennis team volunteering at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, soccer reading character-driven books to students at Midway Heights Elementary School and softball beginning its Spring Break by painting and cleaning up campus.

The Champions of Character program continues to ensure that the NAIA is at the forefront of character promotion in the collegiate athletic setting. Each year, the program provides resources to member institutions to enhance administrators, staff and student-athletes in the areas of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.
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Filmmakers share ideas at Citizen Jane Summit


Emily Best is co-founder of Seed & Spark.

When it comes to movies and movie-making, it’s no secret women get the shaft. They often can’t get funding, and it’s much more difficult to break into the Hollywood “boy’s club.”
The stats are dire—just 9 percent of the 250 highest-grossing films in 2012 were directed by women—and organizers of the Citizen Jane Film Festival are out to change that. The festival, in its seventh year, is a festival that showcases the work of female filmmakers. 
Last year, organizers hosted the first ever Citizen Jane Film Festival Summit, a workshop bringing together industry experts to shine a light on the problems. This year’s summit, however, was about solutions.
“Mark my words, this isn’t just a festival; it’s a movement” Director Paula Elias said. “We’re in this to change the world.”
There is some good news for female filmmakers, speakers at the Summit told audience members at Historic Senior Hall.
Technology has made not only filmmaking more accessible to the masses, it’s also providing an outlet for new funding sources. Emily Best co-founded Seed & Spark, an online platform that allows filmmakers to campaign for audience members and funding. 
“To be a filmmaker is to always be a crowd funder,” she said. “The crowd has to come first.”

Filmmaker Leah Meyerhoff also had some encouraging ideas. She started Film Fatales, a grassroots community of female filmmakers. It started as a networking event at her home and today has more than 100 chapters across the country.
“It’s a girl’s club in response to the boy’s club,” she said.
Meyerhoff encouraged Missouri to start a Film Fatales chapter, to which Kerri Yost, festival organizer, agreed, challenging audience members to form one by the end of the festival.
The movement to end the trend of gross underrepresentation in Hollywood isn’t just a female battle. Imran Siddiquee, a founding staff member of The Representation Project—which released Miss Representation in 2011—said the current trends hurt everyone.
Some say Hollywood simply reflects society—but Siddiquee challenged that. Women might be underrepresented in other industries, but they are not underrepresented in daily life.
He argued that cinema is an experience in empathy—and for years, movie-goers have been conditioned to not feel empathy for certain groups of people. It's up to future filmmakers to change that.
“Cinema is the greatest tool for building empathy,” he said.
The CJFF Summit kicked off the four-day film festival that continues through Sunday. Filmmakers will host forums and workshops on campus today, and Kat Candler’s “Hellion” will be screened at 7:30 p.m. at the Missouri Theatre as part of opening night. A complete schedule can be found at
Read Stephens sophomore Shelly Romero’s interview with filmmaker and Columbia native Katie Mustard here.

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Stephens students snag top spots in NATS competition

Two first-year performing arts students snagged the top two spots in their division at a National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition recently held at Truman State University in Kirksville.

Abilene Olson placed first in the NATS College Women Musical Theatre Division, and Sydney Benton placed second.

The contest was held at the same time the Macklanburg Playhouse Company was performing the musical “The Light in the Piazza,” so several of Stephens’ talented musical theatre students could not compete, Assistant Professor Pam Ellsworth-Smith said.

For her first-place win, Olson had the opportunity to perform at a public performance at Truman. Winners were also recognized with certificates and cash awards.

Students will now participate in the NATS St. Louis Chapter auditions next weekend. Eleven students will participate at the event, which will be held at Webster University. Stephens founded the St. Louis Chapter Musical Theatre NATS auditions on campus nine years ago.

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Cechova, Snider mesmerize crowd during demonstration

International performer Mirenka Cechova and cellist Nancy Jo Snider mesmerized audience members at Stephens yesterday, performing snippets from “The Voice of Anne Frank,” an innovative piece that combines physical theatre with drama and music.

The lecture/demonstration was performed in Firestone Baars Chapel, a smaller venue than the full performance requires—but the performers transformed the space with light, shadows and video projection.

“I just love site specific work,” Cechova said afterwards. “It allows you to transform a performance.”

Roughly 100 people attended the demonstration, the first of what will become a new series Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Performing Arts, has created. “Intersections” will bring additional innovative performances and events to campus.

Cechova and Snider received a standing ovation for their hour-long demonstration. In between scaled-down scenes, the performers explained the scenario and symbolism of the minimal sets.

Cechova created the work because she wanted to present Anne Frank’s story in a way that would speak deeply to people through movement. In her native Czech Republic, people can be ironic when it comes to tragedy, she said, so she wanted to present the story in a new way.

“It’s a voice so the oppressed will not be forgotten,” she said after the event. “It’s important to hear the voice of those forced to be silent.”

Through dance and dialogue, Cechova portrays the characters in "The Diary of Anne Frank" through the 13-year-old girl’s lens. Much of the choreography mimics that of a songbird with broken wings, she said.

Audiences get a sense of the angst, anxiety and restlessness of Anne through spoken words, and are also introduced to her parents, sister and others hiding alongside them. Snider’s cello plays the role of “Kitty,” Anne’s imaginary friend, a companion and spiritual element. The cello breaks into other characters, as well, throughout the performance. Both Cechova and Snider also add improvisational aspects to every performance to make each truly one-of-a-kind.

Cechova originally set the dance to recorded music. Mardirosiansaw the performance when she was a Fulbright Scholar in Prague. Her home institution at the time was American University, where Snider is music director. Mardirosian introduced the two, and the piece came together as it’s presented today. Later this month, the duo will perform "The Voice of Anne Frank" at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Terrace Theatre.

Cechova spent Sunday on campus, as well, working with performing arts students.

“She’s a challenging teacher,” Snider said. “It was a beautiful way to expose students to something new, or at least hearing something in a new way.”


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