Dr. Victoria Watts Named Chair of Dance

SEATTLE, WA – Cornish College of the Arts Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Moira Scott Payne announced today the appointment of Dr.Victoria Watts as Chair of Dance.  She will replace Chair of Dance Kathryn “Kitty” Daniels, who is retiring in May after 29 years of leading the Cornish dance department.

“We’re all sad to see Kitty leave,” said Scott Payne. “Her impact on the Dance Department, and so many professional dancers working in Seattle and around the world, is immeasurable. It took an international search to find an appropriate replacement. During her visit to Cornish earlier this spring, everyone was excited to hear about Vicki’s many research projects and her ideas for building on Cornish’s rich tradition of dance education in the 21st century.”

Currently lecturing at University of South Australia, Watts holds a PhD in Cultural Studies from George Mason University, an MFA in Dance (with a concentration in multimedia technology) from The Ohio State University, and a BA (Hons) Dance in Society from the University of Surrey. Her current research includes collaborative work with roboticists at Technologische Universiteit Delft exploring non-verbal communication between humans and machines; an enquiry into the effect of body-based methods and practices of teaching on students’ dispositions towards math; and ongoing exploration of professional learning models for teachers in relation to dance practice with older adults.

“This will be an amazing opportunity to work with a highly talented team of faculty,” said Watts.  “I hope to maintain and strengthen the spirit of artistic collaboration, innovation, and interdisciplinary practice that were the hallmarks of Nellie Cornish’s founding vision for the school.”

Due to previous commitments, Watts assumes her post in December 2015. During summer and fall 2015, the position of interim chair of dance will be held by faculty member Mary Sheldon Scott. Known as Molly among her peers, Sheldon has been researching movement, exploring visual media, and creating innovative performance works for over 40 years. In 1993 Scott began working in a dedicated collaboration with nationally renowned composer Jarrad Powell, and in 1994 they formed Scott/Powell Performance to explore their interest in the intersection of movement, sound, and visual territories.

Dance, for both college (BFA in Dance) and under-18 students (Cornish Preparatory Dance Program and Summer at Cornish), has been taught at Cornish almost from the very beginning. The school has a rich tradition of producing collaborative artists in the field. The Dance Department was established in 1916, making it one of the oldest in North America. Early graduates include Louise Soelberg, who worked with Rudolf Laban to develop his notation system of movement as well as serving as a model for painter Mark Tobey; African-American Syvilla Fort, who performed at Cornish with Merce Cunningham and went on to teach Alvin Ailey; Merce Cunningham, who began his partnership with John Cage while at Cornish; and many more. Today, Cornish dance graduates routinely appear in “25 To Watch” lists and are featured in dance publications around the world. Recent performances locally by alumni include Kate Wallich at On the Boards this month, Amy O’Neal at the Bellevue Arts Museum in March, and Corrie Befort with Salt Horse at Henry Art Gallery in March, among others.

More About Dr. Victoria Watts

Dr. Victoria Watts is a dance educator, notator, scholar and activist whose professional engagements have spanned Europe, North America, and Australia. Along with her degrees, she also is certified to Advanced level in Labanotation and Benesh Movement Notation. Her doctoral thesis combined her interests in visual culture and theories of embodiment with a comparative analysis of four scores of Balanchine’s Serenade in an investigation of the ways movement notation systems encode changes in embodied subjectivity. She has held teaching appointments at George Mason University, The Ohio State University, Roehampton University, and the University of South Australia. As part of the Faculty of Education senior management team at the Royal Academy of Dance in London, she served as program leader for the Master of Teaching (Dance), a distance-learning program with an emphasis on practice-based research. Having had the great fortune to receive funding from the US-UK Fulbright Commission to support her graduate studies, Watts has remained an active advocate for Fulbright serving as Chair of the alumni association in the UK between 2011 and 2013 and as Secretary for the South Australian chapter of the alumni association in Australia from 2014 to the present day.

About Cornish College of the Arts

Founded in 1914, Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA, offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Art, Dance, Design, Performance Production and Theater, a Bachelor of Music degree and an Artist Diploma in Early Music. Since its beginning, the College’s founder Nellie Cornish, and the many teaching artists who followed her, believed in education through exposure to all the arts. This approach continues to inform the College’s curriculum and community involvement today. The College is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.