J. Ariadne Calvano

Assistant Professor of Acting and Movement


Dr. Calvano explores movement-based performance in the classroom, as a Director and Intimacy Choreographer at UofL, and in their professional artistic practice. Their classroom approach facilitates an active physical exploration of identity, expression, and vulnerability. This is achieved through a variety of movement lenses, including a foundation built from Grotowski-based, Laban, and Bartenieff approaches.  They actively seek to challenge colonialism and their white gaze, especially within a period movement context.   

Recently Dr. Calvano directed and coached intimacy with Actors Theatre Louisville (2019), collaborated as a voice director with the Louisville Ballet (2020), and directed Woman Laughing Alone with Salad with Theatre [502] (2018).  They are currently developing a devised piece based on the Greek stories of Phaedra that explores gender and sexual identity, based on research supported by an NEH grant to attend a translation studies institute at Kent State University (2017). They were honored by being chosen as a member of the Hadley Creatives 2020 Generation with the Louisville Community Foundation and Creative Capital (NYC).  

On campus, they collaborate with students and colleagues to create performance that sparks joy and challenges assumptions through embodied action. Their UofL intimacy work includes productions of A Raisin in the Sun, Six Degrees of Separation, and Split Second.  Dr. Calvano directed several works onstage with UofL including a version of The Taming of the Shrew set at a political rally and a version of Anna Cora Mowatt’s Fashion entitled [re]Fashionaimed at disrupting the status quo and acknowledging the play’s relationship to racism - both co-adapted with Dr. Janna Segal. They additionally directed a production Fires in the Mirror at UofL (2019) which was chosen to be featured at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region IV Festival in Spartanburg, SC (2020).  

Areas of performance and research that most interest them include centering female-identifying and gender-queer voices and perspectives, intimacy in performance, approaches to artist-centered wellness, and decolonizing period movement. Their scholarly work has been featured in such journals as The Journal of Dance Education and the Theatre, Dance & Performance Training Journal.  Additionally, their pedagogical research and development was featured in the anthology How to Teach a Play (Bloomsbury, 2020). 

Before coming to UofL, Ari taught dance in Misawa Japan, devised and adapted performance with Obscene/Courageous Theatre (Boulder/Denver, CO), and designed sound for the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and Curious Theatre (Denver, CO). They earned their PhD and MA in Theatre, with a dissertation focused on movement pedagogy, from the University of Colorado Boulder; and additionally, hold a BA in Fine & Performing Arts from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and a BA in History from the University of Maryland. They are also a registered yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance are currently training for intimacy direction certification with Intimacy Directors and Choreographers (IDC).