2022 - 2023 Season

By Clare Barron

Directed by Jessica Natalie Smith

October 13th-17th, 2022


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.



Tickets on sale now! Doors open 30 minutes before showtime. 

Thursday, October 13, 7:30 p.m. 

Friday, October 14, 7:30 p.m. 

Saturday, October 15, 7:30 p.m. 

Sunday, October 16, 2 p.m. 

Sunday, October 16, 7:30 p.m. 

Monday, October 17, 5:30 p.m. 







Jessica Natalie Smith (she/her) is an actor, director, choreographer, and recent graduate of the Brown University MFA program in Acting and Directing. Jessica is a member of the Drama League's inaugural Stage Directing Assistantship cohort, the inaugural Choreography Fellow at The Hangar Theatre, the 2022 Lillian Chason Directing Fellow at UNC Chapel Hill, a 2020-2021 Teaching Apprentice at Brown University, and a 24 Hour Plays alum. Her directing work includes soft (asst. dir. Whitney White, MCC), The Murmurations (Atlantic Theatre), The Bridge Workshop (Dramatic Question Theatre), seven methods of killing kylie jenner (Leeds Theatre). Film: To Infinity and Beyonce, Aftermath (self-produced). Choreography: Elephant and Piggie (Hangar Theatre), The Tempest (dir. Aileen McGroddy). Acting: Behold A Negress (Tatyana-Marie Carlo, Everyman Theatre), Alien/Nation (Forest of Arden, Williamstown Theatre Festival), and we will eat your grief (RDA Producing), Hamlet (Gallery Players), Housework (Hangar Theatre).

Dance Teacher Pat: Nijal Morgan (he/him)

This is Nijal’s third KTC show he’s been apart of. He is a senior philosophy major and he loves to act. Enjoy the show!

Amina: Erica Bass (she/her)

Erica is a junior studying Dramatic Art, Political Science, and the Classical Humanities. She’s so excited to be working on her second show with KTC, and you can also find her working on the executive boards of LAB! Theatre and Company Carolina. You will NOT find her studying ballet in Russia, but maybe in another life…

Zuzu: Talyah Rawls (she/her)

Talyah is a junior at Chapel Hill double majoring in Dramatic Arts and Communications. She is SO. SIKED. to be in her 2nd KTC show. Talyah’s eternally grateful to the character Zuzu for allowing her to relive her days in the dance studio as well as to her friends, family, and homeboy Jesus for always supporting her acting endeavors.

Connie: Kira Cornell (she/they)

Kira is a current sophomore, and this is her first KTC production! She is avidly interested in stage combat, and might be starting a fight club soon… stay tuned but also don’t talk about it. She’s really excited for all of you to see the show!

Luke: Ryan Dugan (he/him)

Ryan is a sophomore drama major with minors in music and English. This is the first Kenan Theatre Company show that he auditioned for and is extremely privileged and grateful to have gotten to be a part of this special production. He has acted, danced, and sung since he was young and is excited to continue his theatrical training at UNC and hopefully work with KTC again in the future.

Maeve: Hannah Richman (she/her)

Hannah is ecstatic to be participating in Kenan’s production of Dance Nation! She is a freshman and just graduated from UNCSA High School. Hannah cannot wait to pursue and explore theater at UNC.

Sofia: Tsering Lama (she/her)

Tsering. Sophomore. Forgot to ask for instructions on how to write a bio but hopes you enjoy the show nonetheless.

Ashlee: Elikya Mwanda (she/her)

This is Elikya’s first production with KTC and at UNC. Elikya is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts High School Drama Program. All love to the friends, family, mentors, and teachers that have gotten Elikya here.

Vanessa: Alyssa Knott (she/her)

Alyssa is a sophomore and is currently deciding between a math major and a biology major. This is her first KTC play and hopefully not her last!

The Moms: Grace Wissink (she/her)

She’s so excited to be a part of her first KTC show! As an avid Dance Moms fan, she feels like she’s been preparing for this role for as long as she has had access to cable TV. Shoutout to her mom and sisters who would watch it with her every week “for the dancing.”

Director: Jessica Natalie Smith

Assistant Director: Chelsea James (she/her)

Chelsea is a theatre artist from Chapel Hill, NC, where she currently serves as Producing Associate for PlayMakers Repertory Company. Previously, she has worked with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Orlando Repertory Theatre, and Orlando Ballet, among others. Chelsea received her Master’s degree in Theatre Arts at the University of Northern Colorado and her BA in Dramatic Arts and English from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

Producer: Tiffany Melenzio (they/she)

Tiffany Melenzio is a senior at UNC studying Psychology and Dramatic Art. They are so honored and thrilled to produce Dance Nation as the Lillian Chason scholar. This is one of their last shows with KTC before they have to be on their own in the big world (and not cry to their mama, thank you Paramore <3). They would like to thank the Chason family, the cast, crew, and their siblings.

Producer: Carissa Wadsack-Stewart (she/her)

Carissa Wadsack-Stewart is a junior double majoring in dramatic art and psychology. She is so excited to produce her first play with KTC. She loves this show and is overjoyed to be a part of it.

Stage Manager: Kathryn Robinson (she/her)

Kathryn is a second year Communication and Dramatic Arts student. This is her third show with Kenan Theatre Company and she has loved working with this entire cast and crew. She is excited for everyone to enjoy the show!

Assistant Stage Manager: Laura Westray (she/her)

Laura Westray is a first-year student from Louisville, Kentucky and has been loving her time here at UNC-Chapel Hill. As Laura usually acts or directs, she has thoroughly enjoyed taking on the new role of Assistant Stage Manager! She is so thankful to the entire cast, crew, and production team for such an amazing experience.

Assistant Stage Manager: Christine Johnson (she/her)

This is her first time participating in a production at UNC and definitely not the last 🙂 She hopes you enjoy/ed Dance Nation!

Master Electrician: Bronwyn White (she/her)

Bronwyn White is a junior from Asheville, NC who has been involved in shows with Kenan Theatre Company and LAB! Theatre on UNC’s campus. She would like to shout out to Quinn Vanischak and Elizabeth Redding for making the lighting design possible as well as her family, friends and Joseph. She is grateful to have been able to work on a play as powerful, bizarre and apologetically femme as Dance Nation with a wonderful group of people.

Lighting Assistant: Quinn Vanischak (she/her)

Quinn is a sophomore Media Production major. This is her first show with KTC. She is thankful to be involved and work with the cast and crew.

Sound Designer: Amisha Wadhwa (she/they)

Amisha is a freshman at UNC this year. They absolutely loved working with everybody on this project!

Sound Operator: Margot Burke (they/them)

Dance Nation is Margot’s first production with KTC and they are so excited to join the tech theater community! Their hobbies include reading (particularly sci-fi), origami, and playing ukulele.

Costume Designer: Biz Hillenbrand (she/her)

Biz is a senior Dramatic Arts student at UNC and this is her 8th show with KTC, where she has been an actor, costume designer, producer, and sound designer since her freshman year. As a former middle school ballerina, she was excited to jump back into the world of leotards and insecurity as the costume designer for Dance Nation.

Assistant Costume Designer: Alyssa Hancock (she/her)

She is a first year undergraduate student from Fayetteville, North Carolina. She is majoring in dramatic arts and pursuing a career as a theatre teacher.

Set Designer: Jordan Clodfelter (she/her)

Jordan Clodfelter graduated from Meredith College with her BA in Theatre in 2020. Her past Technical Director credits with KTC include Urinetown, kemps and Anna K. She would love to give a shout out to her friends, family and Austin for all of their love and support, and all of the students for all of their hard work on this production.

Props Supervisor: Mckenzie Miller (she/her)

Mckenzie is a first year student at UNC. She enjoys playing volleyball and watching TV shows in her free time. Mckenzie also works for Carolina Performing Arts as an usher.

Props Supervisor: Emma Jaffe (she/hers)

She is a first year undergraduate student, originally from Wilmington, NC. Since starting Carolina, she has been exploring the Dramatic Arts, and all it has to offer!!

Stagehand: Loxley Wayland (she/they)

Loxley Wayland is a first-year undergraduate dramatic art major with an immense passion for the world of theatre. Her past theatre experience includes mostly acting, but she has a love for all aspects of production and is happy to be a part of a show.

Stagehand: Madison Bender (she/her)

Dance Nation is Madison’s first show with KTC and also her first show behind the scenes rather than on the stage. She is very grateful for this opportunity, and looks forward to learning and growing in the theater during her time at UNC Chapel Hill. To the cast and crew “Break a leg!” and to the audience, “Welcome, and enjoy the show!”

Crew: Maddie Cashen (she/her)

Maddie is a freshman DA major, and she is so excited to be working on her first KTC production! You may have recently caught her in Cabaret with Company Carolina. Enjoy the show!

Costume/Make-up: Hayley Minter (she/her)

Hayley is a second-year dramatic arts and Communications double major. She has special effects/costume experience from working at the Haunted Forest at Panic Point for four years.