Barbara Allegra Verlezza is the Associate Director of the School of Theatre and Dance and Dance Division Coordinator at Kent State University. From the University of Michigan she holds a Bachelor of Science in Dance Education and an M.F.A. in Dance. She danced professionally in New York City as a soloist with the May O'Donnell Dance Company from 1979 until O'Donnell's retirement in 1988. During her nearly 15 years in NYC, Ms. Verlezza also danced with the Joyce Trisler Danscompany, Sophie Maslow, Norman Walker and Verlezza Dance (the company established with her husband Sabatino Verlezza). From 1981-1994, Professor Verlezza taught in the Adelphi University Dance Department under Norman Walker and as guest artist in numerous universities and private schools nationally and internationally.
In 1994, Ms. Verlezza relocated to Cleveland to work with (Cleveland Ballet) Dancing Wheels, a professional company of dancers with and without disabilities. She served in the capacity of Associate Artistic Director, Education Director, principal dancer, choreographer, faculty member and as Administrative Director.
Since 2003, as Associate Artistic Director of Verlezza Dance, Barbara and Artistic Director Sabatino have taught community classes and summer intensive workshops in their own studio in Shaker Heights and with the Steffi Nossen School/Foundation, NY. Community programs include young-senior adults with developmental, physical and sensory disabilities through the HELP Foundation and since 2000, through the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities where they were honored with the 2008 Inclusion Award. Other awards include the 2003 Northern Ohio Live Achievement Award in Dance, the 2005 Dance Teacher Magazine Outstanding Teacher in Higher Education, and the 2013 KSU Mothers, Mentors & Muses. In 2013 while on Faculty Professional Improvement Leave in NYC, she co-reconstructed O’Donnell’s Powers of Ten at Montclair State University, was guest instructor at Marymount Manhattan College, NYC, and began setting O’Donnell’s signature work Suspension on RIOULT Dance NY for performances at the 92nd Street Y and the Joyce Theater, NYC. Barbara, Sabatino and Nancy Lushington co-developed the May O’Donnell Technique Certification, launching the first certification workshop and legacy retreat at the Ailey Studios, NYC.
Selected Credits and Projects
- Certifier of the May O’Donnell Technique through the O’Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation, Inc., NYC
- Reconstructer/restager of May O’Donnell’s repertory with permission of the O’Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation, Inc., NYC
- Director/Instructor: Moving Wheels & Heels Summer Intensives, White Plains, NY; since 2004, annual workshops for adults and youth with disabilities; with Sabatino Verlezza and Nancy Lushington
- Co-choreographer with Sabatino Verlezza of Celestial Celebration, chosen for the Gala concert at the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) East-Central Conference; performed by Dance majors/minors, representing Kent State University’s School of Theatre and Dance. March 2014.