Dancer choreographs the right steps to a promotion

Bethany Early

John Crawford grew up dancing in his parents’ basement in rural Virginia. The former director of the School of Theatre and Dance had no formal dance training until he was 18.

Today, Crawford, who was recently promoted to interim associate dean of the College of the Arts, has 20 years of performing under his belt, as well as his Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater and his master’s and doctoral degrees in dance. He has danced and choreographed professionally with companies such as the Richmond Ballet, VCU Dance Company, the Leaven Dance Company, the Northeast Ohio Dance Ensemble, and a performing company he co-directed. He has also served as the producing director at Porthouse Theatre since 1996.

One of Crawford’s greatest challenges was deciding what type of art form to focus on because he enjoyed all types so much.

“When I found dance, dance brought it all together,” he said. “Theater and dance is a good combination of everything.”

Right now, Crawford said he finds great satisfaction in working behind-the-scenes.

“To me, placing people in the different roles is like choreography,” he said.

Crawford was approached by Tim Chandler, dean of the College of the Arts, about the possibility of the interim associate dean position last year. The position required the commitment of one year. Beyond that, “we’ll see what happens,” Crawford said.

As the former director of the School of Theatre and Dance, Crawford was responsible for overseeing activities specifically for that school. His new duties include working with the schools of art, music and fashion, and the University Museum, as well as the School of Theatre and Dance.

“The people involved are my favorite part of work,” he said. “They’re artistic, creative, interesting people. They don’t go into it for the money, but for the passion, because they can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Crawford said he is looking forward to the 2007 groundbreaking of the addition and renovations to the School of Theatre and Dance at the Music and Speech Building. The construction, which will provide approximately an additional 35,000 square feet to the building, will allow the theater and dance programs to work under the same roof for the first time since they merged to form one school.

Contact Blossom and Porthouse reporter Bethany Early at [email protected]