Faculty and Staff

Ruth BarnesRuth Barnes

Faculty - Dance

Ruth Barnes is Professor and Coordinator of the Dance program at Missouri State University. Her focus is modern/contemporary dance, and she is active in the United States and abroad. In 2013, Barnes conceived, produced and performed "Here, There and Everywhere," a 50-minute solo for Barnes made in collaboration with five choreographers living in Scotland; the work includes music by three composers also living in the United Kingdom. With Telory D. Arendell, Barnes co-edited "Dance’s Duet With the Camera: Motion Pictures," a forthcoming anthology that looks at the interplay between live dance and the moving image. Awards include several Missouri Arts Council grants; two Missouri State University Summer Faculty Fellowships; two Missouri State University Summer Research Grants; and choreographic research residencies at Dance Base (Edinburgh), The Shed (Evanton, Ross-Shire), and The Dragon’s Egg (Stonington, CT). Barnes’s current research uses memory—cognitive, cultural and corporeal—as a beginning for new choreographic work.

Robert BattleRobert Battle

Faculty - Vocal Instrumental

Originally from St. Louis, Robert Battle is the Artistic Director of the Columbia Public Schools 5th Grade Honors Choir and member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education, and the Barbershop Harmony Society, and teaches middle school choir full-time. He is also a certified to teach in New York State and is a fitness trainer for Les Mills BodyJam dance classes. Battle is an active voice teacher and advocate for equal arts opportunities in urban areas. He volunteers with the Center for Urban Agriculture and can be found teaching about food justice. Battle spends most of his off-time dancing, gardening, running, sewing, knitting, cooking, or catching up on short stories mostly written by David Sedaris. Battle holds a bachelor's degree in music education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a master's degree in public affairs from University of Missouri-Columbia. He lives in Columbia with his partner and mini-schnauzer, Oscar.

Judge BockmanJudge Bockman

Faculty - Visual Arts

Judge Bockman graduated with his bachelors in design from Missouri State University and is a current graduate student, teaching courses in new media. His works have been selected and shown in the Society of Illustrators, 3 x 3, and other publications. Bockman's work is primarily illustrative but also incorporates animation, film, sculpture and new media.

Darci BurchDarci Burch

Faculty - Theatre

Darci Burch graduated from Missouri State University with her BFA in Acting. She became interested in experimental and improvisation based devised work on the stage while living and acting in Portland, Oregon. Eventually her interests turned toward the creative arts therapies, and she pursued her Master’s in Drama Therapy from New York University. Burch is a Registered Drama Therapist and Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (P) and is the current Manager of Communications and Training and past Programs Supervisor for ENACT, Inc., a nonprofit drama therapy organization in New York City. While at ENACT she has traveled around the five boroughs of NYC working with put-at-risk youth in regular and suspension schools, doing large group, small group, and individual therapy. She is highly interested in arts-based research, healing through performance, and ethnodrama theatre. Burch is very excited to be joining MFAA this year and can't wait to get in the room and play!

Erin CameronErin Cameron

Resident Assistant

Erin Cameron is a clarinetist, composer, and proud alumna of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy (2009). She has been heard in performances across the country, including appearances on Toledo’s WGTE radio station and with Ohio’s Noise-to-Signal Ensemble, of which she is a founding member. Cameron is an active educator and has worked with young students at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in addition to serving as the Graduate Teaching Assistant at Bowling Green State University. In addition, she has played with several symphonies, including the Toledo Symphony and Adrian (MI) Symphony and is Composer-in-Residence with the Zafa Collective in Chicago. In her free time, Cameron enjoys nature walks and vegetarian cooking. She holds degrees from Bowling Green State University (M.M.) and Northwestern University (B.M.).

Batsheba Castro MartinezBatsheba Castro Martinez

Resident Assistant

Batsheba Castro Martinez is delighted to be joining the MFAA staff for the first time this summer! A Los Angeles native, Castro Martinez moved to the Midwest early in her youth. Born to immigrant parents, her Mexican heritage is a very influential factor in her life. So much so, that she decided to live in Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico, upon graduating high school. There, she took classes on drawing and painting at the Taller de Artes Plásticas Rufino Tamayo. During this time, she connected to her culture in a way she had never been able to before. She is a current student of Missouri State University's BFA Graphic Design & Illustration program. Though focused on her field, she explores mediums such as drawing, painting, photography, and writing. As an artist, she seeks to use certain mediums for self-expression and others to promote visibility of people of color and the LGBTQIA community. In regards to graphic design, illustration, and photography, she hopes to work with those mediums to promote understanding between cultures and promote empathy in an age where the world seems so divided. In her minimal free time, she enjoys learning about cultures and languages, hanging out with cats and pups, and discussing the current state of the world.

Andy CorbettAndy Corbett

Faculty - Visual Arts

Andy Corbett is an artist exploring visual perceptions of reality primarily through painting. He graduated from Missouri State University in 2015, receiving a Bachelors Degree of Fine Arts in Painting and a Bachelors Degree of Science in Art Education. His interest in how people relate to one another and the world around themselves, along with how they develop their understanding of their surroundings, has influenced his artistic and teaching practices. Corbett plans to pursue these topics further by obtaining a Master’s in Fine Arts.

David CurtmanDavid Curtman

Faculty - Instrumental Music

David Curtman teaches orchestra at Springfield Public Schools and is a graduate of Missouri State University with a Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting. Predominantly a double bassist, Curtman performs with various local ensembles ranging from classical to folk. He also enjoys playing many other instruments in different genres of musical performance. Some of Curtman’s other hobbies include gardening, woodworking, and restoring vintage vehicles.

Darby Dachroeden Darby Dachroeden

Resident Assistant

Darby Dachroeden is currently a graduate student at Truman State University pursuing an MAE in music education. He has participated in music ensembles for over 15 years, ranging from the All-Collegiate Orchestra to dueling piano bars and community bands. Throughout his musical training, he has learned to play many different instruments and has publicly performed on the violin, string bass, piano, saxophone, piccolo, guitar, mountain dulcimer, and several others. He is also an avid composer and songwriter, creating works across several different genres of music. In his spare time, he loves to write short stories and poetry, learn new instruments, and pretend he is good at video games. Dachroeden is an alumnus of the 2012 Missouri Fine Arts Academy, and he is incredibly excited to return and share what he has learned throughout his musical studies.

Hannah FingerHannah Finger

Resident Assistant

Hannah Finger grew up in the Waynesville Fort Leonard Wood area and enjoys time spent with family and friends, especially if it's on her farm. As a graduating senior from the BFA acting program at Missouri State, Finger plans to move to California on July 1 of this year. She will miss her Missouri tribe, but is stoked for the adventures waiting in her new home. In her spare time, she likes to create her own performance work, read, get lost outside, and dance. She is looking forward to spending her final month before moving with the talented individuals at this year's Missouri Fine Arts Academy.

Megan FrauenhofferMegan Frauenhoffer

Coordinator, Faculty - Visual Arts

Megan Frauenhoffer is a printmaking artist originating from St. Louis. Her formal art training began at Missouri State University, where in May 2007 she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio art with an emphasis in printmaking. In May 2010, she completed a master's in visual studies, focusing on both drawing and printmaking at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Her drawings, prints, and collages explore the ideas of perfection/imperfection, subconscious fears, identity, and trans-formative narratives. As an artist, Frauenhoffer's artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her artwork has been featured in "Beautiful/Decay Magazine," "Minneapolis City Pages 100 Creatives," "Paper Darts Press Get In If You Want To Live," and "Miami Art Basel." As a teacher, she has trained students of all ages at Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis's Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Saint Louis ARTworks Summer Program and Missouri State University.

Burcu GulecBurcu Gulec

Faculty - Vocal Music

Burcu Gulec was born in Ankara, Turkey. She has performed internationally, including several appearances under Turkish National Radio Television (TRT), broadcasting to Europe and the United States. After graduating from Berklee College of Music, where she focused on music therapy, education and performance, Gulec continued her education at the New England Conservatory where she received her master’s degree in Contemporary Improvisation. While there, she expanded on her performance career and experimental voice works as well as worked on performance art. During her studies, Gulec has been taking part in a number of live concerts in various cities across the United States, has performed with renowned musicians and recorded albums internationally in several genres, ranging from jazz to world music.

Kurt Gerard HeinleinKurt Gerard Heinlein

Faculty - Stage Combat

Kurt Heinlein is currently the Coordinator of Acting at Missouri State University. He is working member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA. He is National Vice-President of ATME (Association of Theatre Movement Educators) and an active member of ATME, SAFD, and Fight Directors Canada (FDC). Heinlein has worked extensively since completing his MFA in Acting from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) with union performance credits that include New York/Broadway, national tours, regional theatre, daytime drama, film, commercial print, and over 25 national television spots. His movement, stunt, and combat work/coordination have been seen in feature films, daytime drama, national commercials, and in the professional and educational theatre circuits throughout the nation. A lifelong environmental activist, he has earned several grants and awards for his work in Green Theatre. He published Green Theatre: Promoting Ecological Preservation and Advancing the Sustainability of Humanity and Nature, and maintains a consistent dedication to environmental education. Heinlein recently earned a Governors Service Award for work related to the development of his play Evangeline Drowning, an investigation of wetlands disintegration in Southern Louisiana and the corresponding socio-emotional impact upon teenagers in the region. He is currently developing a stage adaptation of the award-winning Glen Pitre film, Belizaire the Cajun.

Melissa HerrMelissa Herr

Director

Melissa Herr has been involved with arts education since 1997. Her work has included dramaturgy at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, five years of teaching secondary education English and Theatre, and per course instruction in playwriting at Missouri State University. Herr holds a BA in Theatre from Butler University, an MLS from Indiana University and an MA in Theatre from Bowling Green State University. When she is not working on the Missouri Fine Arts Academy, she enjoys reading, writing, hiking and spending time with her family. Her children's poetry and short stories have appeared in Jack and Jill magazine, and she recently started a blog about raising a daughter with autism.

Jacob HiserJacob Hiser

Faculty - Instrumental Music

Jacob Hiser has been involved with MFAA since 2010. He is a versatile pianist and violinist who studies and performs a variety of musical traditions. Originally from Missouri, where he graduated from Missouri State University with a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies, he now lives and works in Boston, having recently completed a master’s degree program in Contemporary Improvisation at New England Conservatory. Hiser is currently adjunct piano faculty at University of Massachusetts Lowell, an accompanist for Boston Children's Chorus and New England Conservatory Preparatory School choirs, and a freelance musician around the Boston area. He also teaches at NextGeneration, a week-long piano/strings summer program in Joplin, Mo., for middle and high school students.

Melanie HumphreyMelanie Humphrey

Resident Assistant

Melanie Humphrey is a 2010 MFAA alumni and this is her fourth year as a resident assistant. Humphrey graduated May of 2015 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting at Missouri State University. During her time in school she had the opportunity to study Shakespeare, La Coq mask work, and Classic Theatre literature with the Theatre Academy of London for a semester. Since graduation she has relocated to the Chicago area where she has assistant directed "Jensen and Wit," written and directed by MFAA alum Fee Basanavicius and performed in the Chicago storefront scene. Humphrey's interests include writing solo narratives and viewpoints. When she is not acting, she is reading, writing, and planning her next adventure!

Jill KamlerJill Kamler

Lead Resident Assistant

Jill Kamler grew up in Joplin, Mo., and attended Missouri Fine Arts Academy in 2010, where they studied theatre performance. Kamler is a recent graduate of the Acting program at Missouri State University, where they earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Kamler also studied with Florida State University’s Theatre Academy London, where they spent a semester abroad studying theatre and traveling within Europe. This will be Kamler's fourth year as a resident assistant. Currently located in Los Angeles, Calif., Kamler is enjoying life as a working actor and soaking up those SoCal vibes. Kamler is most interested in using performance as a vehicle of change, specifically in relation to social issues involving gender diversity and visibility. In addition to theatre and film performance, Kamler enjoys exploring self-scripted narrative performance, dabbling in ukulele strumming and songwriting, hosting a podcast, and sharing those adorable cat videos that plague the internet. Kamler looks at MFAA as a jumping off point for artistic pursuits, where participants gain the confidence and guidance to follow their passions. Kamler can't wait to meet the next class of MFAA students!

Bethany KellyBethany Kelly

Faculty - Visual Arts

Bethany Kelly graduated from Missouri State University with a degree in Art Education. Her passion for art and teaching has led her on an interesting journey through the arts. She started as an aerial performer in the circus before planting both feet firmly on the ground as a visual artist. Her love of art and learning led her to the field of education. Currently, Kelly resides in Springfield, Mo., teaching visual arts to high school students. She is excited about starting MFAA and working with the brilliant minds of Missouri's dedicated students in June!

Kevin LaniganKevin Lanigan

Resident Assistant

Kevin Lanigan is a comedian, writer, and actor from St. Louis, now living in New York City. He's been doing improv comedy for almost a decade. He recently wrote and starred in a web series called "Doomed To You" and is one of the main performers on the comedy show "The Puffin Publishing Podcast." Lanigan is thrilled to be returning to MFAA for the third time. This is his second time as an RA. He makes a small portion of his living playing Jane Austen.

Shannon MettsShannon Metts

Resident Assistant

Shannon Metts is so excited to be returning to MFAA for her second summer as an RA! Metts is a graduate of Missouri State's BFA Acting program and currently resides in Chicago where she is building a career as an actor and director. When she takes a break from being an artist, she enjoys travelling, visiting her family and friends, drinking good coffee, and spoiling her kittens.

Chris MostynChris Mostyn

Faculty - Visual Arts

Chris Mostyn is a full-time art teacher and an illustrator, cartoonist, and character designer for the award-winning app "Plug and the Paddywacks" on the iOS platform. He has recently rediscovered the joy of making comics and is currently working on several storytelling projects, including his first graphic novel.

Tom PolettTom Polett

Faculty - Instrumental Music

Dr. Thomas C. Polett is currently a Professor of Music at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., where he is the Director of Low Brass/Jazz Studies. He has held similar positions at Georgia College, Limestone College (S.C.), and North Greenville College (S.C.).
    
Polett earned a bachelor's degree in music education from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree in music performance from Arizona State University, and a doctorate in musical arts in trombone performance from The University of Georgia. He has studied trombone with Philip Jameson, Gail Wilson, Stephen McEuen, Scott Hartman, and Joeseph Alessi.
    
Polett has performed with numerous professional and regional symphony orchestras, including the Charleston (S.C.) Symphony, Greenville (S.C.) Symphony, Asheville (N.C.) Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, and the Arizona Ballet Orchestra. He is a former member of the South Carolina based Aurora Brass Quintet, which toured Italy twice, was the 1995 American representative to the Verona (Italy) International Brass Festival, and served as the Resident Brass Quintet for the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C. Polett has made solo appearances at the Eastern Trombone Workshop, College Music Society, and Missouri Music Educator's Association Conference. Polett was a member of the Cramer Trombone Choir at the 1999 International Trombone Festival in Potsdam, N.Y., and performed for the 2000 New York Brass Conference as a member of the Missouri Brass Consortium.  

Polett cannot wait to begin yet another MFAA journey – the most rewarding and challenging time of his artistic and academic year.

Whitney Russell-IceWhitney Russell-Ice

Faculty - Theatre

Whitney Rusell-Ice is a graduate of Missouri State University with a BSE in speech/theatre education and MA in theatre. When she is not teaching English at Springfield’s Central High School, she teaches English composition at Ozarks Technical Community College and theatre at Missouri State University. She has acted in Tent Theatre and in numerous Springfield Contemporary Theatre productions. An avid reader, Ice is always interested in the intersection of literature and performance. Ice spends most of her spare-time running, reading, and creating as much art as possible, including unique jewelry pieces made with polished and raw gem stones. She lives in Springfield with her wife and (world debut in September) new baby.

Jason SchaeferJason Schaefer

Faculty - Creative Writing

Jason Brandt Schaefer began his art life studying jazz at the University of North Texas, but decided he would rather write. Since then, he has found success as a print journalist, a band-leader, a copywriter, and an educator, and he draws from these diverse experiences to create eclectic experimental fiction and visual art. Inspired by the sensation of wonder, he works to test the borders between genres of writing and modes of expression, blending fiction, memoir, poetry and visual art. His upbringing in a rural neo-pagan military family is the subject of his novel-in-progress. Schaefer holds a BA in creative writing with a dual concentration in poetry and fiction and a minor in music, an MA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University, and an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts. His fiction was nominated to the 2017 Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Intro Journals Contest, and his visual art has appeared at the BLUEorange Contemporary Art Gallery in Houston, Texas. A recent Missouri transplant, he is excited about teaching for the first time at MFAA.

Adrienne ThompsonAdrienne Thompson

Resident Assistant

Adrienne Thompson is from St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently a Junior at Rockford University in Rockford, Illinois, pursing two degrees in Business Managment and Musical Theatre. She got her start in theatre at McCluer Senior High School. Go Comets! There she got the chance to attend MFAA in 2012; Thompson's experience at MFAA confirmed the career path that she wanted to take. She hopes to later open her own performing arts school for teenagers who don't have a lot of money. She will one day give back to her community and hopes to inspire the MFAA students this summer the way she was inspired.

Sarah WigginSarah Wiggin

Faculty - Acting

Sarah Wiggin is a professor of Acting at the Missouri State University Department of Theatre and Dance. She is currently the Interim Artistic Director of Tent Theatre and has acted or directed in five recent Tent seasons. Wiggin’s professional credits include work at the Shakespeare Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Ford’s Theatre, Everyman Theatre, Washington Shakespeare Company and The Folger Theatre in the Washington, DC area, as well as numerous other theatres nationally and regionally. Wiggin recently traveled to Seoul, South Korea, to perform the new work "Mama at the Gate" with Agnes Table. Locally, Wiggin has produced/performed in "Rabbit Hole" and "God of Carnage" and produced/directed "Painting Churches" for Resident Artist Ensemble, of which she is a founding member. Wiggin is currently working toward her professional certification in the Alexander Technique at the Urbana Center for the Alexander Technique. She is a member of the Actor’s Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA, ATME and is a Certified Actor/ Combatant with SAFD and FDC. She is thrilled to share her love of Shakespeare with Missouri’s young actors at this summer’s Academy.