Nora Ambrosio taught at SRU from 1988-2023. She taught dance composition, dance history, creative dance for children, teaching of dance, senior capstone, and university seminar. She has written Learning about Dance, 8th edition (Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, IA, 2018), which is used in over 150 dance departments throughout the country and Canada and has sold over 400,000 copies. A new on-line version has also been published. Kendall/Hunt Publishers also published The Excellent Instructor and the Teaching of Dance Technique (3rd edition, 2018). Nora was a seven-year member of the Commission on Accreditation for the National Association of Schools of Dance and served a three-year term as Chairperson of the Commission. She is currently a member of the NASD Board of Directors, and a presidential appointee to the Commission on Accreditation. She also serves as an accreditation site visitor for college and university dance programs across the country. She is on the Nominating Committee of the National Dance Museum’s C.V. Whitney Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, NY, and has completed nine years as a Board member of the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland, PA., where she spent three years and Vice President and her final year as President of the Board. She is also on the Editorial Board for the national journal, Dance Education in Practice, and serves as a Writing Mentor for journal submissions. She served as the artistic director of SRU Dance Theatre for nine years and again in 2010-2011, and as the director of the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival in 2008-2009. Nora was the chairperson of the Department of Dance from 1998-2011, successfully achieving national accreditation for the department in 2000, and reaccreditation in 2006 and 2011. She is a prolific grant writer and has secured over forty grants for the Department of Dance, the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival, and her own artistic endeavors. Nora worked diligently toward the downtown revitalization of the Village at Slippery Rock and was instrumental in bringing the arts to the downtown area and securing grant and private funding for commissioned public art pieces. Nora choreographs for both student and professional venues, and for many years created dance/theatre work with her husband, David Skeele, as part of Ambrosio/Skeele Dance/Theatre.
Thom Cobb (1951-2016)
Thom Cobb served as an Associate Professor in the SRU Department of Dance from 1978 to 2014. He and his colleagues were instrumental in developing the dance major and minor at Slippery Rock University in the late 1980’s. His experience and expertise in the field of dance led to numerous residencies and presentations at colleges and universities, public schools, private studios and conferences/conventions during his 40 year career in dance. Thom focused his work in the area of dance education and served as the President of National Dance Education Organization from 2013 to 2016 and the President of Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in 1991. He taught a variety of dance coursework including, but not limited to, traditional forms and character dance, Creative Dance, Society and Social Dance, as well as Jazz and Modern dance technique. He was honored to have taught at the annual Dance Teacher Magazine Summit conference in New York City for 14 years. He served as an American College Dance Association adjudicator for two years and spoke at SRU’s graduation ceremony in 2013 due to being awarded that years’ “Slippery Rock University President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.” Thom garnered other professional awards in his career including the 2007 “College/University Dance Educator of the Year Award” from the National Dance Association of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Association and the 2008 “Dance Educator Award for Post -Secondary Education” from the National Dance Education Organization. More than anything Thom loved his students and teaching was a gift he shared with others hoping to inspire and educate them regarding the art of dance and maybe, most importantly, the art of living!
Nola Nolen, SRU Dance Professor Emerita, retired at the end of the fall 2017 semester. She holds two degrees from the University of Oklahoma, a BFA in ballet pedagogy and a MFA in dance. After a professional dance career with Tsa-La-Gi (Cherokee National Historical Society) and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Nolen created, directed, and taught in an after-school dance program at the Bidwell Education Center in Pittsburgh’s Manchester neighborhood. The Bidwell dance program development led to her being invited to teach at the Pittsburgh High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) where she was instrumental in the dance program’s participation in the first National High School Dance Conference. With a mini-grant from the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, she also created and led a community outreach dance program for CAPA students. Senior dance students had first-time teaching experiences with a community of senior residents at the Lemington Home in Pittsburgh’s Homewood-Brushton neighborhood. She also worked to bring Chuck Davis and his African-American Dance Ensemble to CAPA for a Pittsburgh Public Schools system-wide residency. Concurrently, Nolen also taught ballet classes at the Melodia Performing Arts Center in Pittsburgh, the Underwood Dance Studio (Presto, PA), the Somerset Arts Council (Somerset County, PA), the Sue Richards Studio (Upper St. Clair, PA) and the Thomas Dance Studio in Pittsburgh’s South Hills.
In the twenty-eight and one-half years of her tenure at SRU, Nolen was the Department of Dance ballet specialist and taught ballet and dance-related courses. Her choreographic research resulted in locally- and nationally-recognized student- and professionally-performed dance works. She developed recruitment and retention programs for the Department of Dance as well as contributing to the dance student admission jury process and the annual student dance works adjudication process. Nolen also published a music textbook for dance students, Music Fundamentals for Dancers, and served as a working member of the faculty union as well as state-wide arts advocacy groups. In the last ten years of her SRU career, Nolen served as treasurer then president-elect, president, and past-president of CORPS de Ballet International, a professional organization for ballet teachers in higher education. As a past-president, she continues as a member of the CORPS de Ballet Strategic Planning and Development Committee.
Upon completing her fall 2017 teaching assignments and after teaching at SRU for fifty-seven semesters, Nolen retired. Throughout her academic career, the focus of her research was contemporary choreography for and with SRU dance students as well as ongoing research that investigates the relationship between dance and music. Her choreographic research led to recognition by the American College Dance Association, the Pittsburgh Dance Council, and CORPS de Ballet International.
In January 2013, Human Kinetics published Nolen’s textbook and e-textbook. The textbook has an accompanying web-based ancillary that includes audio samples. She is working on a two-volume reference work that explores choreographer and composer collaborations from the renaissance through the twentieth century, with a working title of A History of Dance and Music.
Also in 2013 Nolen received a second SRU President’s International Professional Development Grant, which she applied to the development and production of the 2013 CORPS de Ballet International Conference in Paris, France. The conference marked the first time U. S., Canadian, Australian, U. K., and European ballet faculty members met under the auspices of CORPS de Ballet International.
In June 2014, Nolen developed an international guest artist residency at SRU with French choreographer Alexandre Munz and with dance artists from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Munz created a duet for SRU students, which was performed at the June 2014 CORPS de Ballet International conference at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and on the October 2014 Department of Dance Faculty and Guest Artists Concert.
On campus, Nolen served as a member of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty Executive Council. For many terms, she was also a SRU faculty-elected delegate to the state-wide APSCUF Legislative Assembly. Additionally for twenty-five years, Nolen served as the Department of Dance APSCUF representative to campus-wide meetings.
Nolen developed four spring break seminars for SRU dance majors in Paris (2011 and 2015) with former PBT artistic director, Patrick Frantz, and two in Rome (2012 and 2016). In Paris and Rome, students visited historic sites, famous dance sites, and participated in master classes with internationally renowned dance artists.
Collaborating with dance faculty member Jaya Mani, Nolen co-developed the SRU Dance in India Initiative. Between 2004 and 2018, twenty SRU dance majors traveled to southern India to study classical Indian dance during summer semesters and in the following fall semester documented their research and proficiency in a Dance in India campus lecture-demonstration.
With dance department colleague Thom Cobb, Nolen co-directed the dance portion of Slippery Rock Middle School’s annual Civil War Day. Eighth grade students learned and performed authentic nineteenth century dances.
Biannually between 2010 and 2017, Nolen also adjudicated Youngstown State University dance program students’ works. In 2010, 2015 and 2019, Nolen co-chaired the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater Dancer Reunions and served on the anniversary committees organizing celebrations of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 40th, 45th, and 50th anniversaries. In March 2017 Nolen adjudicated the National Society of Arts and Letters Classical Ballet Competition, also held at the PBT Byham Studios.
Nolen retired officially from SRU in January 2018 and has continued to teach occasionally at SRU. She enjoys many pursuits in retirement including traveling. In 2024 she will visit Alaska, Hawaii, and Croatia.
Lucy Isacco Sack grew up in the area and attended Slippery Rock High School. After graduating from Slippery Rock State College in 1967 with a degree in Health & Physical Education, Sack returned to complete her master’s degree in 1970. She was then hired in the Physical Education Department, retiring in 1999. Among other accomplishments, Sack was instrumental in starting Slippery Rock University’s Dance Department. The Lucy Isacco Sack Dance Scholarship is named in her honor.