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Summer Dance Guest Faculty

Tamara Begley, MFA, BFA, is an active modern dance teacher, dancer and choreographer in Louisville, Kentucky. Tamara earned an MFA in Dance from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, holds a BFA in Choreography and Performance from the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and she also earned K-12 teaching certificate in dance from the University of Kentucky. Tamara is the full time dance instructor at Western Middle School for the Arts in Louisville, Kentucky, where she teaches a multitude of styles of dance and explores dance integration with her colleagues and students. Tamara is also is on the faculty of the Louisville Ballet School where she teaches modern dance technique, improvisation and composition.

She has presented at the National Dance Education Organization’s National Conference in 2011, 2015 and 2017. Her choreography has been featured in performances by Moving Collective, The University of Kentucky Dance Ensemble and the Louisville Ballet Youth Ensemble. Tamara is a former co-producer of Moving Collective, an organization designed to keep modern dance alive in Louisville and the surrounding area, and her performance experience includes John Gamble Dance Theater in North Carolina, Amir Kolben and Jessica Marchant in Washington, D.C., and Louisville’s jan street dance theatre, Art! Art! Barking Dog Dance Company, Beth Rodriguez Dance Projects, Moving Collective and the Vandivier Ford Dance Company.

Lawrence Jackson, is a multifaceted scholar, artist, and educator whose work transcends academic boundaries, creating a lasting impact on the fields of Dance and Black Studies. Holding a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance from The University of Southern Mississippi and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance from Florida State University, Lawrence currently serves as Associate Professor of Dance at The George Mason University School of Dance. His extensive career in academia includes leadership roles such as Associate Chair of Dance, Associate Professor of Dance, and Director of Graduate Studies in Dance at The University of Alabama. During his tenure at UA, he also assumed artistic directorship roles for The Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre, Dance Alabama, The MFA Dance Concert, and Dance Collection within the UA Department of Theatre and Dance.

Professionally, Lawrence performed many years with the renowned modern dance company, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, where he performed the works of Donald Mckayle, Katherine Dunham, Alvin Ailey, Darrell Moultire, Rosangela Sylvestre, and Milton Myers, among others. Lawrence has also performed as a guest artist at various national and international venues. A prolific choreographer with over 95 original works to his credit, Lawrence's off-Broadway production, "Separate and Equal," earned him a nomination for an AUDELCO Award for Best Choreography.

Lawrence's influence extends globally through his contributions as a guest artist, choreographer, and master teacher at esteemed institutions and dance organizations. His impact spans engagements with The International Ballet Competition, American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive, International Association of Blacks in Dance, Alabama Dance Festival, Dancer’s Workshop, Rhode Island College, University of Michigan, California State University Northridge, University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of Florida, University of Northern Colorado, West Virginia University, amongst many others.

In the realm of scholarship, Lawrence co-edited and published a groundbreaking special edition on Black Dance in the Journal of Pan African Studies. His dedication to advancing scholarly discourse in dance was recognized with The University of Alabama’s President’s Faculty Research Award for a Mid-Career Scholar. Currently serving on the editorial board of “Siyabonana: The Journal of Africana Studies,” Lawrence continues to contribute significantly to the academic landscape.

Rita Addico Cohen, born in Accra, Ghana, immigrated to Norfolk, VA as a child. She attended the University of VA on a full academic scholarship as an Achievement and Echols Scholar. Dancing AND singing for as long as she can remember, she graduated with a BA in Classical Music and received her Master of Music in Classical Voice Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. After singing professionally from NY through Texas, she paused her vocal career to focus on her two children.

She has fused her performing abilities, fluency in many languages, and innate fitness to become an international Zumba® and African Dance instructor, teaching thousands of kids and adults in her local Hampton Roads area and beyond. She is a multiple Presenter of the international Zumba Instructors Convention, where she was awarded Humanitarian of the Year in 2022.

Rita has created several highly acclaimed avenues through which she shares her African culture with adults and children alike, using the arts, history, and language. She has created a 3-tier educational program that has placed her and the nonprofit she founded, Tidewater African Cultural Alliance (TACA), on the Teaching Roster of the Virginia Commission for the Arts. She also dances with the TACA Diaspora Dance Ensemble; is in demand as a Teaching Artist with Young Audiences Virginia/Arts 4 Learning; and is a highly sought after (African) Dance Instructor/Choreographer and Speaker.

Rita spent part of the 2023 summer immersed in the cultural arts of her native Ghana. It is her goal to travel to at least one African country per year and share its cultural arts with her community, as well as the students of the Governor’s School of the Arts, where she currently teaches West African Dance.