Dance Nation by Clare Barron Directed by Daniel Ponickly at the UAF Salisbury Theatre November 10-19, 2023. The show poster features three women in a triangle hands pulling towards the center.

Dance Nation

Dance Nation – Fall 2023 – University of Alaska Fairbanks

Play Announcement/ PRESS RELEASE: Theatre UAF

The UAF Department of Theatre & Film presents the Pulitzer Prize Nominated play, Dance Nation, written by Clare Barron and directed by Daniel Ponickly, in the Lee H. Salisbury Lab Theatre from November 10-19, 2023

Dance Nation by Clare Barron

Theatre UAF, directed by Daniel Ponickly

Lee H. Salisbury Lab Theatre, UAF Fine Arts Complex

Friday, November 10 @ 7:30pm
Saturday, November 11 @ 7:30pm

Sunday November 12 @ 2pm
Friday, November 17 @ 7:30pm
Saturday, November 18 @ 7:30pm
Sunday, November 19 @ 2:00p

$10 students
$20 seniors/ military/ UAF
$25 adults

Rated R 

  • Content Warnings: frequent strong language, adolescent characters in sexual situations and discussion, depictions of self harm, gore/ blood special effects

Running Time: 110 minutes

No intermission

The Cast:
Dance Teacher Pat: Bryan Kramer

Amina: Kalesha Pearson

Zuzu: Daisy Carter

Connie: Sumana Sahoo

Luke: Steven Anderson

Maeve: Diane “Bunny” Fleeks

Sofia: Bethany Cohen

Ashlee: Hannah Greene

Crumpled Sailor AKA Vanessa/ The Moms: Jerryn Gray

Understudies: Dey Van Acker & Isabelle Nygren

Production Team:
Director – Daniel Ponickly
Set Designer – Alex Gagne-Hawes

Lighting Designer – Seamus Knight
Costume Designer – Stefanie Kramer
Sound Designer – Flyn Ludington
Props Designers – Riley Von Borstel & Trysh Womack

Technical Director & Scene Shop Manager – Alex Gagne-Hawes

Costume Shop Manager – Stephanie Rivet

Stage Manager – Kjrsten Schindler

Assistant Stage Manager Team – Jazzanne Gordon, Taylor Kamrath, Connor Bierer
Co-Producer & Marketing – Maya Salganek
Co-Producer & Casting Director – Carrie Baker
Box Office Manager & Marketing – By Valentine

The Story: 

“Somewhere in America, an army of pre-teen competitive dancers plots to take over the world. And if their new routine is good enough, they’ll claw their way to the top at Nationals in Tampa Bay. A play about ambition, growing up, and how to find our souls in the heat of it all.”

-Concord Theatricals

What the Critics Say:

“I have seen the future, and it is Dance Nation.”                                                           

  – The Washington Post

“A blazingly original play… marvel at how close what you see cuts to the bone.”    

The New York Times

“If you were ever a 13-year-old girl, Clare Barron’s daring, raw Dance Nation will probably hit you hard […] It’s a brave, visceral, excitingly off-kilter barbaric yawp of a play. And it gets at something excruciatingly tender: the burden of modesty on young American women.”                                                                                                       

New York Magazine

The Director
Guest Director Daniel Ponickly was born and raised in New York City, graduated from New York University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government, then moved to Los Angeles in 2006 to create several arts-in-education organizations. Through his Dance Education Project, Daniel brought dance to hundreds of schools and dozens-of-thousands of students across the US, while also serving as a Dance and Performing Arts Specialist with the Los Angeles County Office of Education. As a performer, Daniel has appeared on stages across the country, from MidSummer Night’s Swing at Lincoln Center to the Kodak Theater’s 80th Annual Academy Awards in LA. Film and Television work include: Mona Lisa Smile (2003) and the award-winning documentary Mad Hot Ballroom (2006), as well as having produced, written, and starred in the feature films Raw Cut (2012), and Mining for Ruby (2013), in partnership with UAF. Daniel also serves as the Executive Director of the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra. 

The Cast
The cast is a talented mix of Fairbanks community actors and Film & Performing Arts majors in UAF’s Department of Theatre & Film. FLPA major Hannah Greene (Ashlee), FLPA major Daisy Carter (Zuzu), and Fairbanks actor Kalesha Pearson (Amina) lead the cast as the star dancers of the play’s teenage dance troupe. FLPA majors Steven Anderson (Luke), Bethany Cohen (Sofia), and Jerryn Gray (The Moms) make their Theatre UAF debut, alongside Fairbanks community actors Bunny Fleeks (Maeve), Bryan Kramer (Dance Teacher Pat), and Sumana Sahoo (Connie), who is also a UAF PhD student in Natural Resource Management and Sustainability!

The Design Team
Leading our production team are Set Designer Alex Gagne-Hawes and Costume Designer Stefanie Kramer. Seamus Knight (Lighting Designer), Flyn Ludington (Sound Designer), Riley Von Borstel (Props Co-Designer) and Trysh Womack (Props Co-Designer) are all Film & Performing Arts majors in UAF’s Department of Theatre & Film who are working on this production towards their degree completion.

Department Spotlights:

Daisy Carter (Zuzu)

Daisy Carter is a second year Film and Performing Arts major with a minor in Journalism at UAF. She grew up all over south central Alaska, but she has a lot of family in southern California where she would spend most summers growing up. She began her studies at UAA as a Journalism and Public Communications major with a minor in Creative Writing in the Fall of 2019. She switched majors and moved up to Fairbanks in Fall of 2022, and has been loving it ever since. She has been an Assistant Director in the film Tumyaraq-qaa, and has made a great group of friends who support her through everything.

Seamus Knight (Lighting Designer)

Seamus Knight is an aspiring composer and performance artist from central Massachusetts. He moved to Alaska in 2019 to study at UAA, and is now pursuing the lifelong dream of learning music and film at UAF. He aspires to write, stage, and perform an original multimedia opera, and feels there’s nowhere else with the same knowledge and close knit arts culture than this wonderful place.

Hannah Greene (Actor: Ashlee)

Hannah Greene is a born and raised Alaskan from the big city of Anchorage! Currently a junior, she is pursuing a major in Film and Performing Arts with a minor in Creative Writing. She played Jenny in Theatre UAF’s The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute, directed by Rachel Blackwell last spring semester. She has performed with Ground Squirrel Improv in all of their shows including Springin’ Back into Improv, The Sprite Show, and Cup’O Improv. Hannah is grateful for the amazing cast and crew, and the ongoing support of her friends and family!

The Playwright
Playwright Clare Barron is a playwright and performer from Wenatchee, Washington. Her play Dance Nation recently received its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in May 2018 and subsequently its UK premiere at the Almeida Theatre in London. It was a 2019 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and is the recipient of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and The Relentless Award established in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Other plays include: You Got Older (Page 73; Steppenwolf) which received two Obie Awards for Playwriting and Performance, a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Play, and was a Susan Smith Blackburn finalist and the #1 most-recommended play on the Kilroys’ List; I’ll Never Love Again (The Bushwick Starr); and Baby Screams Miracle (Clubbed Thumb; Woolly Mammoth). She is the recipient of a Whiting Award for Drama, the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award at The Vineyard, and the Page 73 Fellowship; and is a member of New Dramatists.”

 – Concord Theatricals

By Valentine, Department of Theatre and Film

907-474-6590 or

Director – Daniel Ponickly,

Producer – Carrie Baker,

Publicity photos available by November 6, 2023 at:

The Department of Theatre and Film is part of the UAF College of Liberal Arts. The college, the largest of UAF’s academic units, comprises the arts, humanities, social sciences and language disciplines across 20 departments.