University of South Florida

School of Theatre & Dance

College of the Arts

Points of Pride

Our students and alumni at work:

  • USF Theatre alumnus Matthew Lopez wrote The Inheritance, which made its Broadway debut at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in the fall of 2019. In April 2019, the play took home four prestigious Olivier Awards (best new play, best director, best actor, and best lighting) after its debut with the Young Vic Theatre in London. The Inheritance also won Best New Play at the 2018 Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards. The play had an acclaimed, sold-out run at London’s Young Vic Theatre before transferring to the West End. Lopez’s other works include The Whipping Man, Somewhere, Reverberation, and The Legend of Georgia McBride.
  • USF Dance alumnus Dazaun Soleyn (BFA in Modern Dance, ’14) was highlighted by ArtsBoston in their article “10 Contemporary Black Choreographers You Should Know.” He is the artistic director of At USF, he was recognized as an Outstanding Graduate and was awarded Mr. USF in 2010.
  • USF Theatre alumnus Quentin Earl Darrington starred in Once On This Island, which won the 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Darrington’s other Broadway credits include revivals of Ragtime and Cats.
  • USF Theatre alumna Grace Byers, star of the musical drama television series Empire, presented the keynote speech at the 2017 USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon.
  • USF Dance alumna Nicole Vaughan-Diaz (BFA in Dance, ’13) is a dancer with the Kate Weare Company.
  • USF Theatre alumnus Michael Innocenti received the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical Award for his performance in Parade at the 34th Annual Helen Hayes Awards. Innocenti is also the production manager of the Keegan Theatre in Washington DC.
  • USF Dance alumna Sharon McCaman founded the annual Dance Shorts: Colege Film Festival while she was pursuing her BFA in Dance at USF. The festival focuses on dance for camera, called screendance. Dancers submit their dance short films, which can be categorized as narrative, experimental, or abstract, and they are adjudicated anonymously by an online panel of judges. If selected, their compositions will be shared at the festival gala.

Read more Student and Alumni Success Stories.


Research opportunities:

  • The School of Theatre & Dance collaborated with Art2Action Inc., a community-based performing organization, to present the program THIS Bridge: Arab, Middle Eastern & Muslim Artists. From the spring of 2014 through 2016, the program introduced students and the community to the great diversity of Muslim and Arab identities, cultures and aesthetics. Guest artists taught public workshops, created public performances, and developed special courses in dance and theater.
  • In partnership with Arts4All Florida (formerly VSA Florida), the school presents A New Definition of Dance: An International Mixed Ability Showcase and Educational Initiative. The annual event began in 2015 and was first conceived by Merry Lynn Morris, the assistant director and faculty member of USF Dance. Professional dancers with disabilities come to USF and the surrounding community to perform, teach workshops, and engage in discussion about integrated/inclusive dance practices.
  • Working with the USF College of Pharmacology, the school is starting a joint research project to develop a movement-based protocol to help diminish dependency on medications.


Awards and recognition:

  • USF Theatre and Dance students have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships, and their choreographic works and original plays have been selected for performance at many festivals, including the American College Dance Association Southeast Regional Festival and the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF). In the latter, students were selected for both the Southeast Regional Festival and the national KCACTF.
  • USF Dance selected as a Top 10 Dance University by College Magazine in 2019, and ranked as one of the Top 25 dance programs in the country by Onstage Blog.
  • USF Theatre faculty Douglas Hall directed Daddy Long Legs at freeFall Theatre, which was named Outstanding Musical at the 2018 Tampa Bay Theatre Awards. TheatreUSF student Kidany R. Camillo was awarded the Emerging Artist Dream Grant.
  • USF Dance faculty Merry Lynn Morris has received national recognition for her research on the intersections among dance, disability and assistive technology design. She earned a feature at the Smithsonian Institute’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation for her work as inventor of the Rolling Dance Chair. The chair is a smartphone-controlled, omnidirectional wheelchair that gives dancers with disabilities greater fluidity in their motion. It promotes freedom and encourages artistic expression in their dance. The chair has received media coverage from NPR’s Science Friday, the Katie Couric show, MSNBC, PBS, CNN, Reader’s Digest, Dance Teacher Magazine, and the Dancing Times (UK).
  • USF Dance professor Jeanne Travers was awarded a 2017 USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Research Award. She received a grant from the USF Foundation support fund to create a new choreographic project focusing on social issues that affect women, titled Breaking the Wall of Silence: Voices of Resilience.
  • USF Theatre professor and Tampa Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director C. David Frankel received a “Best of the Bay 2017” award from Creative Loafing for Critics’ Choice Best Director.


Our faculty’s continuing contributions to their fields:

  • USF Theatre faculty Patrick Finelli co-curated an exhibit of the work of Broadway set designer Oliver Smith. The exhibit premiered at USF in 2018 and has traveled to the Cayman Islands.
  • USF Dance faculty Andrew Carroll received the Stanley J. Wertheimer Fellowship to establish a Dance for PD program in Tampa Bay. Dance for PD provides dance training to people with Parkinson’s disease and offers training and resources to dance educators. Professor Carroll’s research using dance as a communication tool to address medical and social issues and subsequent video work has been featured on the ABC, CBS, FOX and Bay News 9 television news networks.
  • USF Dance professor Andee Scott curated a three-event series that brought dance to new spaces. Titled Our Trail: Performances on the Pinellas Trail, the pop-up performances used non-traditional venues and incorporated audience participation. The project featured her choreography along with that of two other dancers. Professor Scott was awarded a Creative Pinellas Stretch Grant to help the project.


Academic value:

  • The production of plays and dance concerts is the primary laboratory experience for students to apply what they have learned to new problems. Depending on the students’ roles, the significance of the project, and the degree to which the work requires new skill development to achieve, the process holds varying levels of research, creative activity, critical thinking and intellectual inquiry. The dance and theatre departments take great care in selecting interesting and challenging projects to give students a diverse range of educational experiences and skills. Every season USF Theatre presents plays that are uniquely different in style, and USF Dance incorporates contemporary and classical ballet and multiple styles of modern dance in concerts. 
  • The USF Dance in Paris Program is the first semester-long study abroad program hosted and administered by USF. The program also distinguishes USF as the only university in the United States to offer a fully accredited study abroad program of its kind, specifically geared toward university-age dancers where students earn academic credits in technique, theory and practice.