Ursula Payne, is currently serving as the Interim Associate Provost for Academic Finance, Planning and Strategic Initiatives at Slippery Rock University. Prior to this role, Payne was a Professor of Dance for 27 years, served as the chairperson for nine years, and director of the Frederick Douglass Institute for five years. In 2021, Payne was appointed to serve as the SRU Diversity Liaison Officer to the State System of Higher Education. To enhance her academic leadership skills, Payne completed the management development program for mid-level administrators in higher education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Payne’s research interests include higher educational leadership, dance studies, Black social and vernacular performance practices, Laban Movement Analysis and Motif Notation, Womanist and Black Feminist theory, wellness and stress management, pedagogy, and curriculum development. Payne received her M.F.A. degree in Direction from Labanotation Score and Performance from The Ohio State University in 1995 and advanced training and certification from the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in New York City 1997. Payne's MFA thesis project included staging Donald McKayle's seminal work Rainbow Round My Shoulder on Ohio State University's University Dance Company. In 1995, Payne formed Mills and Payne Dance Company with Tiffany Mills and performed in various dance festivals and notable professional venues in New York City, Toronto, Washington, D.C., Memphis, Dallas and Eugene, OR. In addition to her work with Mills and Payne Dance (1995-2000), Payne performed as a dance extra in the film The Beloved choreographed by Diane McIntyre, and as a featured dancer in McIntyre's evening length work Love Poems to God which premiered at the Brooklyn Academic of Music Opera House as part of the acclaimed 651 Arts and Next Wave production of Dance and Spiritual Life featuring Bebe Miller Company, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar/Urban Bush Women and Diane Mcintyre's collaboration with composer and poet Hannibal Lokumbe. Also, Payne performed as a soloist in Eva Gholson's Two for the Love of One, presented in the production Dance Fusion featuring Eva Gholson, Ron Brown/Evidence, Philadanco and Ursula Payne in Philadelphia, PA. Ursula Payne's own solo choreography has been presented globally in Mexico, Taiwan, Monaco, Uganda, Belize, Scotland and throughout the United States.
Payne’s most recent creative commissions include choreography and movement direction for the 2021 film Obi Mbu (The Primordial House) directed by acclaimed photographer Mikael Owunna and traditional African cosmologist and multimedia artist Marques Redd. The 30-minute experimental film was screened in New York, Los Angeles, Big Sur/CA, Pittsburgh, Chautauqua/NY, Martha's Vineyard/MA, and Raleigh/NC. Professor Payne participated in the Archiving Black Performance: Memory, Embodiment, and Stages of Being project at the Ohio State University where she staged Dr. Pearl Primus’s Bushasche Etude with permission from Dancing Legacy. Professor Payne was a featured guest on three podcast episodes based in Canada, Atlanta, GA and Youngstown, OH from 2020-2021. Payne has presented her research on soul line dancing at the Colloquium for African Diasporic Dance at Duke University in February 2022 and at the Calabasa Calabasa African Diasporic Dance Intensive in Durham, NC. During the 2000's Payne taught contemporary dance, repertory, and motif notation at the American Dance Festival's six weeks and Young Dancers School. During that time, she staged Robert Battle's Primate as a special repertory assignment in 2012. Associate Provost Payne has performed, taught, researched, or presented academic papers in national and international venues and conferences since 2000. Payne has traveled to over 30 international countries such as Brazil, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda, China, Taiwan, Norway, Germany, Monaco, Mexico, Scotland, England, France, Canada, Trinidad, Barbados, Belize, and Cuba for dance research, performance and guest teaching opportunities. Payne was inducted into the Lawrence County Hall of Fame in 2010 for her numerous athletic achievements in Basketball and Track and Field through the 1980's.
Professor Ursula Payne
233 Stoner West