Potash Hill

Alumni News

Taking Center Stage

When Shura Baryshnikov ’03 was pursuing a Plan in American studies at Marlboro she did as much theater and dance as her schedule allowed, but it was all extracurricular. Now, the daughter of a legendary dancer father and an Oscar-winning mother is a star performer in her own right, finding the common ground between art forms.

Photo by Serge Gubelman Shura Baryshnikov has always found a common thread between dance and theater. A movement instructor in the Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA program for five years and co-founder of Doppelganger Dance Collective, Shura’s recent performances are starting to shift more toward theater. She starred in a production of Oscar Wilde’s Salome at Boston’s Bridge Repertory Theater last year and performed in her first musical this summer, Oklahoma at Providence’s Trinity Rep—two performances that required very different skills.

“In my experience, however, being alive in material on stage feels the same in my body,” says Shura. “It is all about intention and investment and somatic awareness. Also, since my first forays into theater were in movement-based work, I never felt a clear division between the two disciplines. I am certainly interested in challenging the binary between the forms.”

The daughter of ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov and Oscar-winning actress Jessica Lange, Shura grew up around performing arts but resisted her own muse for many years. At Marlboro she was a member of the Five-O’Clock Bells, a popular women’s a capella group, and performed in a number of theater and dance productions. But all her performing arts credits were audited, reflecting her desire not to identify as a performing arts student.

“In dance and theater, I was mostly a willing volunteer,” says Shura, who sometimes found it difficult to be a performer in the shadow of her famous parents. “I put an incredible amount of pressure on myself, and was defeated before I began. I thought that if I wasn’t going to be as ‘good’ as they are at their crafts, then I might as well not try.”

Shura rehearses with Danielle Davidson, co-founder of Doppelganger Dance Collective. Photo by Mark Pilaro ‘04After college Shura took some time away from performance, focusing on teaching dance and starting a family, until she delved into improvisational performance. “I finally felt myself grow within a form that felt like my own. It was incredibly important to my development as an artist.” Responding to the need to create opportunities to dance in material that would push her technically and expressively, she founded Doppelganger Dance Collective, a performance project for two, with fellow dancer Danielle Davidson.

“It is a make-your-own-magic model, and turns the dance company model inside out: the dancers hire the choreographers,” says Shura. “The project has certainly done what I hoped—provided a substantial performance challenge—as well as challenging my capacity as an administrator, director, and collaborator.” She credits Marlboro with teaching her to work independently and to write, to feel comfortable representing herself and her work.

Shura is looking forward to a year of touring with Doppelganger Dance Collective, as well as two university residencies and new commissions. She is also in the process of developing two new theater projects, one with artists based in Boston and one with artists based in New York.

“Both projects call on the interdisciplinary nature of my approach, and I sense that this is what my life and work will look like going forward,” says Shura. “When I am faced with these amazing projects with such extraordinary collaborators, I say yes, and I move between them. Even though it feels too pressured or busy at times, I believe that there is a cycle of renewal in the process of working on so many projects.”

Learn more at shurabaryshnikov.com and doppelgangerdancecollective.com.

Class Notes

Class notes are listed by year and include both graduates and nongraduates; the latter are listed under the class with which they are associated.

“Whatever zip code I lived in, I was very clear where my home was and I was clear I would be coming back,” says JACK RUSSELL in a recent post on “Acadia on My Mind,” part of the BDN Maine Network. After many years working in government and nonprofits in Michigan, Jack returned 10 years ago to the home where he was raised on Mount Desert Island, Maine. Now he is co-chair of the Acadia Centennial Task Force, which is organizing the celebration of Acadia National Park’s 100th anniversary this year. “The park is central in our lives and in our community,” says Jack. Learn more.

“About to start writing a new book,” says ARTHUR MAGIDA. “Details to follow.”

Godka Cirka—A Hole in the Sky, a short film about the struggles of shepherdesses in Somaliland, is just one of several international short films brought to campus in March by Michael Harrington ’03 as part of his Wandering Reel Traveling Film Festival.“Still in my house in New Orleans, retired from the restaurant business,” says MARGARET MARX. “Recently visited with or by RICK NICKERSON, GILBERT PALLEY, FREDDY BARRETT, JEFFREY TURNER, PARNEE HALL, and LYNN MANDEL. The unusual thing is that we all seem to still like one another.”

FREDERICK GRAY says, “Had two wonderful visits in January and October of 2015 with Tom Tucker and his fabulous wife, Laura Frizzell, and their extended family in Portland, Oregon. My granddaughter Tallulah is raising and showing goats in the Oakland, California, Hills.

“I live in a Victorian-style duplex in Oakland with a view of San Francisco from my kitchen table,” says WANDA RAVERNELL. “I spend most of my time with activities around the nonprofit I started, called Omnira Institute. Its mission is to revive and reinvigorate African and African American cultural practices that can contribute to the mental and spiritual health of people of African descent. Our work involves presentations by Awon Ohun Omnira (Voices of Freedom), a small chorus that includes three Bata drummers and four or five vocalists, including me, of all people. We sing praise songs for the ancestors in old Yoruba and attempt to represent the Ring Shout, a tradition developed by the Africans enslaved in the southeastern U.S. We put on several events a year, including the Black-Eyed Pea Festival in September.”

After being complimented on her warm and warbling voice many times over the years, former receptionist SUNNY TAPPAN decided to do something about it and become trained as a voice actor. “To make a long story short, I went for the intro session thinking it would be a cheap evening’s entertainment and then became so intrigued with what I learned that I signed up for the training, starting with a speech pathology session in the studio to see if I was capable of voice acting. I have now completed my training plus a short demo, which is my voice-acting resume. You can listen to it at SunnyTappan.icanvoice.com. My next challenge is to market myself for things like books on tape, audio guides, answering messages for business phone systems, public service announcements, radio ads, or anything else that my voice might be suitable for."

I’m retiring from Daito Bunka University, Tokyo, Japan, after 45 years’ teaching,” says TSUTOMU TANAKA. “Best wishes to my Marlboro friends.”

“It’s a small Marlboro world,” writes LINDA KAUFMAN. “PAMELA CONTAKOS ’98 (nee Clarke) and I are both librarians at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, in North Adams.”

Second assistant Melinda Tenenzapf ’13 (left) and locations manager Jacob Morely ’15 (right) join fellow crew members Lauren Carole Ritter and Michael Toscano in a production meeting for Wetware, the latest production of the Movies from Marlboro semester intensive (see page 25). Other alumni involved included Brad Heck ’04, director of photography; Patrick Kennedy ’09, assistant camera; Willow O’Feral ’07, second unit director and cinematography; Evan Schwenterly ’06, editor and digital imaging technician; Ariel Zevon ’97, caterer and actor; Jenny Smyth ’16, costumes; Amanda Wilder ’07, documentary film mentor; and Mike Harrington ’03, visiting curator.JOANNE AYOUB says, “This year, I will celebrate 30 years at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. How is this possible? I still see myself sitting on Marlboro’s hill, looking out to the colors of fall. My work in health care has taken me to some far away places, throughout Turkey and the Mideast, for the past 15 years. And wherever I go, there’s a Marlboro connection to be found. Hello to my dear Marlboro friends. Hey, Toleno :).”

“Still a media critic,” says STEVEN SMITH. “Still living in Wilmington, Delaware, but moving soon to a farmhouse in Pennsylvania. I program and host dozens of conferences and retreats in the U.S. and Europe for media and marketing executives on the future of both in the digital age. Currently revisiting much of the RLP seminar syllabus and mountain of novels I read for Audrey, Geri, and Dick—now that I may be old enough to appreciate them.”

“I love working with my hands, and I really love animals,” says MEGAN LITTLEHALES in a recent article in The Commons featuring her new practice, offering therapeutic massage and Reiki to dogs. Under the name Lady Moon Healing Hands, Megan has performed Reiki on horses, sheep, chickens, a mountain lion in a wildlife rescue preserve, and a ball python with an upper respiratory infection. Learn more.

MONIKA MACLEAN says, “Back in school at UConn graduate school of nursing, in the adult gerontology nurse practitioner primary care program. This will be degree #4. Volunteering at the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective, and hoping to be going into LGBT-friendly primary care when I graduate.”

SANDRA RUDD says, “For the past seven years I have been, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be, the pastor of Sitka Lutheran Church. Any alumni coming through Southeast Alaska on your travels, please stop by.” Reminiscing on her Marlboro experience, Sandra asks: “When will the Rice (library) and Brown (science) buildings be connected to become the Brown-Rice Complex? :-)”

PETER COLTON MADDEN writes, “After working for Plum Creek Timber Company for 23 years, I decided to go help one of their largest customers—Drax Biomass—and reduce Europe’s coal dependence.”

In February, VAUNE TRACHTMAN had an exhibit of her recent work at the Southern Vermont Arts Center, in Manchester, Vermont, titled “Out of Range: Cellphone Photography by Vaune Trachtman.” “The photographs are evocative, much in the way the first consciously photographic artists, the Pictorialists, used soft focus to leave space for the viewer to look for associations,” said the Valley News.

Stamping Out Pain: Ithiel Fuller ’95
When alumnus Norman Paradis ’79 visited Marlboro in the 1990s to give a talk on his research in emergency medicine, Ithiel Fuller was considering medicine as one of many career choices. But he was not sure how to proceed until Norm took him under his wing.

“Norm was a very entertaining speaker,” says Ithiel, now a partner at Anesthesia Physicians of Brattleboro. “While a discussion of medical research methods might seem to be a rather dry topic, his talk was full of juicy descriptions of things such as using small balloons inside the body to enhance CPR.”

Biology professor Bob Engel gave Ithiel a personal introduction to Norm, specifically to encourage the young student to visit Norm’s medical research laboratory at Columbia University. But the visit turned into a job interview, which turned into a position as a research technician.

“I enjoyed the work immensely, and continued working in research labs for six years until I remembered that I still wanted to go to medical school. By that time I had co-authored multiple publications, which lent great strength to my application.” Ithiel graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in 2005, and started working in Brattleboro four years later.

“Every day I get to directly help other human beings, which is very gratifying,” says Ithiel, who returned to Marlboro himself last April to give a talk on pursuing medical professions. “I stamp out pain wherever I find it, but the art of my specialty lies in preventing pain from ever happening in the first place.”

“I love the artists we work with, and I am so proud when they send their projects out to the community,” says Vermont Performance Lab founder SARA COFFEY. In June she hosted Jane Chu, National Endowment for the Arts chairman, who was touring arts facilities in southern Vermont. Learn more.

In March, AMELIA DARROW joined the law firm of Corum, Mabie, Cook, Prodan, Angell, and Secrest of Brattleboro as an associate attorney. According to an article in The Commons, Amelia works with individuals and businesses practicing corporate law, employment law, business and estate planning, and family law. She received her Juris Doctor from Vermont Law School, cum laude, in 2015.

In May, PETER BLANCHETTE debuted a new CD with the Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra at a concert in Northampton. Titled Unknown Album, the CD features recent repertoire ranging from Beethoven Symphony No. 7’s iconic Allegretto movement to popular Midwest rockers Wilco, minimalist composer Philip Glass, and South American composer Gustavo Santaolalla. “I named it Unknown Album because this is music that’s never been heard before,” says Peter. “Beethoven’s 7th certainly wasn’t conceived for electric guitars, 16th-century French dances didn’t have backbeats, and Wilco’s One Wing wasn’t originally arranged with as much counterpoint as a Beethoven symphony. HVGO’s process—where I arrange music for all these guitars, and the musicians lend their particular guitar sound to the piece—is always an exploration of great music.”

LAURA FRANK received a Live Design award in June, in recognition of her technical excellence in media technology for television, special events, theater, concerts, film, and corporate. “Laura has technical qualifications, to be sure,” said Soren West, CEO of Atomic Design. “By combining her extraordinary intellect and curiosity with chutzpah, she has positioned herself on the cutting edge of our industry.” Learn more.

“One of the things that Randy took away from his time baking at Marlboro College was his passion for naturally leavened breads,” says a cover article about RANDY GEORGE in the publication of the Brattleboro Food Co-op, Food for Thought. Randy’s Red Hen Bakery (Potash Hill, Fall 2015) was “producer of the month” for April at the co-op, where the daily arrival of his breads are eagerly anticipated.

“One of the most compelling things to hear on the radio is two people interacting,” says SEAN COLE, producer at National Public Radio’s This American Life. “We forget we [the interviewers] are people too.” In an interview about interviewing, on CBC Radio, Sean explains how to “make good tape,” develop a split brain, and adjust to reality. Read more and see Sean in action.

In March, Elizabeth Hallett ’05 led a special hip-hop dance workshop as part of the Dance in World Cultures class.“We’ve got a sort of perfect storm here: high unemployment, high drug use, a lot of poverty. So, we wind up with kids who are an inadvertent result of that,” says PIPPA AREND in an article in Portland Monthly. Titled “Why Oregon Women Need Radical Reform at Home and On the Job,” the article is a conversation between Pippa, co-founder of a mentoring organization for homeless youth called p:ear, and Andrea Paluso of Family Forward Oregon. Together they discuss self-sacrifice, the value of caregiving, and the decision to have children (or not). Learn more.

In March, MARK LAMOUREUX gave a talk on women poets who also run small publishing presses, part of the Women of Wisdom faculty lecture series at Housatonic Community College, where he is a lecturer in English.

“Hello beautiful people. I am still in Los Angeles, working on the TNT show The Last Ship as assistant editor,” says ERIN PETERS. “I see LAURA DERBY ’98 often, and she is great, working for Tree People, a nonprofit environmental organization. Thinking of maple syrup and fall on Hogback Mountain as I lounge on the beach in January. ;-P ”

WENDY LEVY reports, “I recently learned I won the ‘Rookie-of-the-Year’ Award from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. On February 19, at the yearly convention, I’ll have to go onstage to receive my plaque. I’m excited, but very nervous. The last time I had to go on stage to receive anything was in 1997, when I graduated from Marlboro. Also, my story on the recent changes in the FDA’s raw-milk cheese standards got ‘tweeted’ by Representative Peter Welch (VT-AL). He characterized it as a ‘good read.’” Read it online.

“I began to understand that we have at least four overlapping criminal archetypes, and that they combine to create a cultural narrative in which white criminals are offered a path to redemption, and criminals of color are dehumanized,” says DENI BÉCHARD. Drawing from his personal experiences, observations, and national statistics, Deni gave a talk titled “Race and the Myth of the American Outlaw” as part of a TEDxNapaValley event in April. Learn more.

RACHEL JENSEN was one of three emerging artists awarded an Astoria Visual Arts residency, which provided her with a rent-free studio in Astoria, Oregon, from April through June. Born and raised in Astoria, Rachel’s recent paintings explore color and texture through the building-up of layers that are later removed to expose what is underneath. Learn more.

“I moved to Brooklyn in late September,” says HEATHER BRYCE LABOR. “Since my move I’ve held auditions for Bryce Dance Company and now have a professional company of nine dancers. We have performances booked through the end of the year and more to follow. Check out the website for more information at brycedancecompany.com—we’re currently celebrating our 10th anniversary. I’ve also started working for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in two roles: AileyCamp alumni coordinator and as a teaching artist. I currently have four residencies in Queens and Manhattan. Life is good.”

Utility Matters: Aaron Kisicki ’02
“The transition from Marlboro to law school was a little bumpy,” says attorney Aaron Kisicki. “It was like I was back in high school: a professor at the front of the room highlighting the salient points of the reading. It wasn’t engaging. I would want to discuss an issue further, but the professor would simply say that there was nothing more to discuss and move on.”

Aaron reflects differently on his time at Marlboro, where he worked with Meg Mott and John Sheehy to develop a Plan of Concentration focused on constitutional law and the then-newly-passed U.S.A. Patriot Act. Now an attorney with the Vermont Department of Public Service representing the public interest in state utility proceedings, Aaron still looks back on his Marlboro years as crucial to developing his skills as a lawyer.

“The internet was in its infancy when I was at Marlboro,” says Aaron. “Now students have the ability to quickly access online information at will. The old model of a professor standing at the head of a room and acting as a fountain of knowledge doesn’t work well today. Developing skill sets that allow one to understand, synthesize, and articulate information is now more important than ever. Marlboro has always focused on building those skills, and it does so in a way that no other school can.”

NICK LEGOWSKI is living in Brooklyn, working as the self-advocacy advisor for AHRC New York City and working on a master’s degree in urban planning at Hunter College.

SARI BROWN received a Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta in 2014. “During my seminary studies, I worked with a Latino/a congregation in the greater Atlanta area, as well as doing a semester abroad at the Universidade Metodista in São Paulo, Brazil, and a summer internship with a Methodist congregation in Medellín, Colombia. I also spent a Christmas season in La Paz, Bolivia, where I had carried out ethnographic research for my Plan in 2010, to finally bring back a Spanish version of my Plan work to share with the people of the Bolivian Methodist Church, who were so key in helping me elaborate it. Along the way I met Ricardo Angarita, a Colombian Methodist pastor, social worker, community organizer, and insatiable enjoyer of life who is now my husband. Our marriage has also brought three wonderful stepchildren into my life: Mayerly (24), Lesly (20), and Richard (10). In March of 2016, I was approved to be commissioned as a provisional elder (i.e., pastor) in the United Methodist Church, and in July I began my first appointment as associate pastor of Grosse Pointe United Methodist Church in the Detroit, Michigan, area. I am still waiting for Ricardo, Lesly, and Richard to join me here in Michigan—the visa process is a beast. In the meantime, when I got back to the States I took a wonderful trip out east to visit friends and family, including my Marlboro family. I greatly enjoyed catching up with my professors and dear friends Amer Latif, Carol Hendrickson, and William Edelglass and their respective spouses, as well as getting to meet their children—both human and, in Carol’s case, canine. I also enjoyed meeting anthropology professor Nelly Sargsyan and her family, and sitting at Sunny’s desk to chat with her like old times. In Northampton I caught up with TOBEY LAROCHE ’10, and in NYC I saw MICHAEL MIRER as well as AMBER SCHAEFER ’10, which was a complete surprise since I had no idea she was dating my cousin. I continue to carry my experience at Marlboro in my mind and heart, and feel deeply grateful for how it has shaped me. I burst into tears of gratitude and nostalgia when I went to the library and found my Plan on the shelf.”

In June, Richard Scruggs ’11 married his middle school sweetheart, Daniella Nahmias, in an intimate ceremony in the Rice-Aron Library reading room.In Fall 2014, MERCEDES LAKE started Northwestern University’s MFA program in writing for the screen and stage. Her plays have been performed at the Chicago Dramatists, MasterClash, and as part of Scrap Mettle Art’s Emerging Playwrights Program. Mercedes has also worked for the site-specific theater company Living Room Playmakers. At Northwestern, Mercedes was a finalist for the Northwestern University Sitcom Grant, through which she was flown to LA to meet Julia Louis Dreyfus. Mercedes is pleased to announce that her original play Taught will be premiering in New York City this October in partnership with the Araca Foundation. She currently lives in Chicago with her boyfriend and cat, Fluffy Muffin.

“Lots of exciting things happening on my end,” says EVAN LORENZEN. “This last May, one of my miniature books was selected to be part of an exhibition at the Central Cultural Bank of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. Currently, I have two shows up in Denver: one consists of tiny art and altarpieces based off of the zodiac calendar, while the other (opening in February) is composed of florally inspired watercolors and ceramics. Besides that, just continuing to consistently work on miniature art and collaborations. If you happen to be in Denver, feel free to come visit me at Indyink where I work as a graphic designer.”

After graduating with an MBA from Clarkson University, AMELIA BROWN says she wants to “work in communications, marketing, or strategy of international NGOs working towards global change, preferably with a focus on the Middle East. I’m interviewing with a couple of places, but my current plan is moving to NYC next month and networking with organizations and Marlboro and Clarkson alums.”

ERIKA KLEMPERER worked with the Brattleboro School of Dance as a guest choreographer, co-choreographing a piece with Jamie Gehring for the spring dance concert in May titled “For You…With Love.”

Graduate and Professional Studies


JOHN TEDESCO MBA (see Potash Hill, Spring 2015) was one of six Marlboro alumni taking part in a panel discussion and workshop on Local + Social Enterprise in February, co-sponsored by Marlboro College and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. Also included were STACY METZGER MBA ’15, ALEX FISCHER MBA ’14, NOAH FISHMAN MBA ’15, KEVIN LEHMAN MBA ‘11, and ELIZABETH GLENSHAW ’81. The workshop examined businesses that place a social mission ahead of or on par with their financial mission, and explored the role of business in making social change and achieving sustainability.

“Being a part of the Women’s Leadership Circle via my Capstone, as a consultant, and most recently as a participant, has been incredibly empowering,” says JANE NESBITT MSM. “I am thrilled and honored to contribute to its future.”

Building on her graduate work, SOPHIE ABRAMS MBA was hired to lead a yearlong study on the management of commercial food waste on Martha’s Vineyard, in preparation for a state ban on food waste. Sophie conducted a feasibility study for Island Grown Initiative while at Marlboro College, and this more comprehensive study is designed to bring an island-wide approach to food waste within reach. For an island community, Sophie said, “being as self-sufficient as we can in the future is really important. I think food is a small part of that.” Learn more at goo.gl/BL4ecY.


“After my studies at Marlboro I was granted a Rowland sabbatical that let me travel the world looking at innovation in education,” says ADAM PROVOST MAT, president of VITA-Learn. “I was then offered a hybrid position at Burlington School District as a technology integration specialist, which included a role as an innovator with their Nellie Mae Partnership for Change grant. I’m now working in the job I wanted, with a great team. The new knowledge and colleagues that became part of my life while at Marlboro are a valuable part of my renewed career today. Innovating again . . . and loving it.”

Former Faculty and Staff 
“I recently spent a month with the Heath Quartet at Middlebury College,” says retired sociology professor JERRY LEVY. “Am embarking on a West Coast tour of my play, The Third Coming: Marx Returns.”

In his latest book, Fluke: The Math and Myth of Coincidence (Basic Books 2016, ISBN #9780465060955), retired math professor JOSEPH MAZUR offers us proof of the inevitability of the sublime and the unexpected. Joe’s book succinctly tackles the math behind phenomena of chance and happenstance, from dreams that come true to the risk in financial markets. The Wall Street Journal says, “Always entertaining and frequently insightful, Fluke is never less than thought-provoking.” Learn more about it in a VPR interview from April.

In February, retired biology professor BOB ENGEL gave an illustrated lecture titled “The Birds in Your Woods: How You Can Help Them,” at the Vermont Learning Collaborative in Dummerston, Vermont. Sponsored by the Windham Regional Woodlands Association and the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society, the presentation centered on the welfare of ground-nesting and other forest-dependent birds. Bob discussed the important role that woodland birds play in the ecosystem, and management approaches to help restore and maintain local woodlands for these birds.