New theatre and dance department chair finds ‘home’ at App

The+Appalachian+Online

The Appalachian Online

Kelsey Hamm

Marianne Adams served as the chair for the theatre and dance department at Appalachian for nine years.

Now the department welcomes a new chair, associate professor Kevin S. Warner.

Previously, Warner worked as the chair for the Interdisciplinary Arts for Children Program at the State University of New York College at Brockport and supported himself professionally with performance.

The town of Boone is a welcome change in atmosphere, he said.

“There is definitely an individual culture in Boone,” Warner said. “I’ve been here since July 1 and I already can tell it will feel like home.”

Warner appreciates the university’s clear mission to educate undergraduate students, and the interdisciplinary nature of the department, he said.

“I like that this department has a liberal arts focus, in terms of how many of our students are double majors, or are pairing their study in theater with an interest in sociology or communication or dance,” he said. “I love that because I was an interdisciplinary student, I had lots of interests when I was an undergraduate and I didn’t discover dance until I was 19.”

Warner’s theater background includes working for regional companies and starring in shows like “Crazy for you,” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” he said. Although he currently holds an MFA in dance and did not study theater academically, Warner is enthusiastic to teach and work in a combined department where there is an opportunity to reach non-majors.

“I’m a big enough dance advocate that I want to be teaching general education,” Warner said, “because I love the idea of trying to turn people on to the art of dance. Often in [general education courses] I know some students are taking a fine arts credit to fulfill a requirement, but I love the challenge of trying to engage them with my teaching.”

Currently, there is not an audition component required to enter the department as a theatre major, a component Warner appreciates. For students who wish to specialize more specifically in performance or another concentration, there is a jury process, he said.

Warner is also hoping to facilitate a new exchange partnership with the Institute of Art in Havana, Cuba, he said.

“I am going to Cuba for a week with the dean of music and the chair of the art department,” he said, “and we are going to investigate a possible collaboration… I am anticipating that and see who might be interested in doing a faculty exchange.”

It’s important for a chair to relate to the students, sophomore theatre major Noel Harrold said.

“All of the professors in our department are really great and relatable,” Harrold said. “I’m glad our new chair fits the theater ‘family.’”

Warner discovered his love for teaching in graduate school, he said.

“I remember I was digging in my couch for change in order to get on the train to go to class,” he said, “I had to find a job, and one afternoon there was an ad for a teacher to work with those who had mental and physical handicaps. They hired me and sent me to all this training, and I discovered a real love for teaching children.”

Story by: Kelsey Hamm, A&E Editor