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Kent State School of Theatre and Dance Announces World Premiere of "Cohen"

Kent State University's School of Theatre and Dance announces the world premiere of the ballet "Cohen" as part of Dance '19: Dynamic Fusion, running Nov. 22-24, 2019. 

Directed by associate professor Jeffrey Marc Rockland, "Cohen" is a ballet tribute to the late Leonard Cohen featuring Canadian folk singer Batsheva in an arrangement by legendary musician John Capek. The piece also features Hugh A. Glauser School of Music faculty Aaron Shay, Amitai Vardi, Erin Vaughn, and Jay Dorfman and the choreography is a collaboration between Rockland and flamenco artist Alice Blumenfeld and hip-hop artist Samuel McIntosh.

A work of music, theatre, and dance, "Cohen" honors iconic artist Leonard Cohen's internationally renown work which embodies a spiritual, sensual and, at times, political exploration of the human experience.  

Batsheva received official authorization for the Yiddish translation of “Dance Me to the End of Love” from Cohen’s publisher, SONY/ATV.  Mr. Cohen was a fan of the song. Mr. Cohen was personally consulted for authorization for Batsheva’s Hebrew translation of “Hallelujah”. Batsheva’s songs are the only two authorized versions of the Cohen songs in Hebrew and Yiddish.

The second movement of the work, set to "Hallelujah," is dedicated to the victims of the May 4, 1970 tragedy at Kent State where three of the four students killed were Jewish.

"'Cohen' is being produced at a time when America is divided and hateful acts of violence are common," says choreographer Jeffrey Marc Rockland. "With themes of love, desire, isolation, worship, and loss, 'Cohen' is a ballet that celebrates the poetic genius of Leonard Cohen and it is my hope that this work will serve as an artistic prayer for peace and understanding across cultural, religious, racial and sexual differences."

"Cohen" will be performed as part of the School of Theatre and Dance's Dance '19: Dynamic Fusion concert, running Nov. 22-24, 2019 in E. Turner Stump, located in the Center for the Performing Arts, 1325 Theatre Drive, Kent, OH 44242. The concert is artistic directed by Jeffrey Marc Rockland and features choreography by Kent State faculty Jennifer Black, Kimberly Karpanty, and Catherine Meredith, and students from Thailand's Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University, under the direction of Dr. Sun Tawalwongsri.  

For tickets call 330-672-ARTS (2787), purchase online at or in person at the Performing Arts Box Office located in the Roe Green Center lobby of the Center for the Performing Arts at 1325 Theatre Drive. The box office is open Mon. – Fri., Noon to 5 pm. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for Kent State University alumni, $14 for faculty and staff, $14 for seniors (60+) and non-Kent State students age 18 and under are $10. Tickets for full-time, Kent campus undergraduates are free of charge. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets for $12 per person.  Flex pass subscriptions are also available. The box office accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover, checks, and cash.

"Cohen" is sponsored by Kent State University's School of Theatre and Dance, the Jewish Community Board of Akron, the Jewish Federation’s Cleveland Israel Arts Connection, the National Endowment for the Arts Midwest Artists Touring Fund, and Kent State’s office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Kent State's University Research Council, and the East Meets West Student Organization.

About the Artists:


BATSHEVA is a solo, award-winning songwriter and concert artist who tours extensively throughout the United States and Canada. She recently returned from sold-out concerts in London and Tel Aviv. A Jewish folksinger, she sings in Yiddish, Ladino (Judeo-Espagnol), and Hebrew, and also writes comedy. Batsheva tours under the auspices of the Institute of Southern Jewish Life in the US. Previously, she was signed to The Golden Land Theatrical Agency in New York, and, the Canadian Jewish Congress. She holds the only authorized translations of Leonard Cohen songs in Yiddish and in Hebrew. Her “ Song of Remembrance” won the National Competition for Holocaust Literature sponsored by the Canadian Jewish Congress.  The song was placed in the official archives of “Yad Va- Shem” - the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. Her CD, “I, Batsheva, Singer” has received critical acclaim around the world.

The editor of Canadian Billboard Magazine wrote: 

“Wow.  Not only am I putting this into my Ipod, but I’m taking the CD for the car. What a beautiful record.  Made for all the right reasons, with heart and soul. But more importantly, you, the center and your emotive voice.”

Batsheva holds a degree in theatre from York University, and studied piano and cello at the Royal Conservatory of Music.

John Capek

John Capek is a real Bohemian.

Born in the city of Prague in the Czech province of Bohemia John’s musical trajectory has sent him around the world and back. There is some evidence that the first archeological find of bagpipes was in Bohemia which might explain the Celtic influences in John’s songs but the Blues and gospel parts remain unexplained. A solo album “Indaba” recorded in Africa is John’s effort to connect the dots. Rod Stewart’s “Rhythm of my Heart” became an anthem that was more recently performed at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth games to a TV audience of more than 1.5 billion people around the world.

John would explain his songwriting process as the intentional creation of anthemic themes that transcend genre and time. That likely explains why many of popular music’s most iconic artists have recorded John’s songs.

As a producer, the Billboard and international charted hits remain as muli-platinum awards that grace the walls of his studio along with Grammy nominations. The walls also display an associate degree in Chemical Engineering from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

With his songwriting, session work arranging and producing background, John is also on a mission to mine the possibilities of the positive social influence of anthemic songs.

With projects around the world including Australia, Canada, Germany, Jamaica, South Africa, Czech Republic, Japan, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, France and more, John continues to speak the language of song.

More info at

Jeffrey Marc Rockland

Jeffrey Marc Rockland enjoys helping students expand, discover and excel. Rockland had the great fortune to train with master teachers such as: Laura Alonso, Robert Barnett, William Griffith, Constance Hardinge, Benjamin Harkarvy, David Howard, Robert Joffrey, Donald Mackayle, and Lupe Serano. As Soloist with Atlanta Ballet, Universal Ballet and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Rockland danced established repertoire of Balanchine, Bournonville, Feld, Fokine, Najinska, Petipa and Tuder and had new works choreographed for him by choreographers including: Anastos, Bahr, Barnett, Kudelka, McFall, Munroe, Pazik and Taylor Corbitt among others.  As Ballet Master for Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, Rockland was asked to give master classes in cities all over the world. This led to his establishing connections in Asia that many years later have helped build Kent's East Meets West Program. Today, in addition to enjoying his teaching at Kent State, Rockland is a guest teacher for several professional schools including Joffrey Ballet's New York Intensive.  This year he returns from recruitment, teaching and choreography engagements with, Regional Dance America, Forest Dance and Highlands Ballet.

Previously, Rockland was Associate Professor and Director of UNC Dance Theatre within in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Northern Colorado.  While in Colorado, Rockland directed the University‘s ballet program and was Founding Executive Artistic Director of Colorado Dance Theatre and The Greeley Conservatory of Dance.  Working with business partners, Rockland renovated a 10,000 square foot building (now The Conservatory Building) as a center for the arts in Greeley’s historic downtown.

Rockland holds a Bachelor of Arts and Teacher’s Certification in Ballet from Virginia Intermont College, a Master of Arts in Arts Management from Concordia University, a Master of Fine Arts in dance from the University of California Irvine where Rockland was Chancellor's Fellow and Graduate Teaching Assistant. Rockland completed a Secondary Teacher’s Certification in Dance from Pima Community College and holds national certification as a personal trainer from the American College of Sports Medicine.

In addition to his career as an educator, Rockland has enjoyed a long performance career starting at the age of 4 playing Sasha in the MGM classic, Dr. Zhivago. In his late teens, Rockland began a dance performance career which included working with Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens, the Atlanta Ballet Company, the Universal Ballet (Seoul, South Korea), the Scottish-American Ballet and the Bristol Ballet Company. For more than 25 years, he has choreographed, directed and produced dance at the professional, collegiate and high school levels.

Alice Blumenfeld

Alice Blumenfeld fell in love with flamenco at age 12, and since then it has been the driving force in her life. She is the founder and Artistic Director of ABREPASO Flamenco and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance at Oberlin College. Blumenfeld holds an MFA in dance from Hollins University and a BA in Comparative Literature from New York University, where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. In 2012, she received a Fulbright Grant for flamenco choreographic studies in Spain. As a freelance dancer, she has worked with many of the preeminent flamenco companies in the U.S. including Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, Nélida Tirado, Forever Flamenco, EntreFlamenco, and the American Bolero Dance Co. among others and her choreography has been commissioned by many renowned institutions, such as the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the National YoungArts Foundation, and several universities. Blumenfeld has presented academic papers at international conferences and is a regular contributor to Dance Magazine. When not in the studio, she can often be found taking walks in the woods of Ohio or mountains of New Mexico, baking bread, or immersed in a good book.

Jay Dorfman

Jay Dorfman is Associate Professor and Coordinator of Music Education at Kent State University. His research interests include the uses of technology in music teaching and learning, instrumental music, popular music, and music teacher education. Dr. Dorfman is the author of Theory and Practice of Technology-Based Music Instruction (Oxford University Press, 2013) and the co-editor of Pluralism in American Music Education Research: A Collection of Essays and Narratives (Springer, 2018) and has published research in several scholarly journals. He holds BM and MM degrees from the University of Miami (Florida) where he studied classical guitar with Juan Mercadal. He earned the PhD in music education from Northwestern University.

Samuel McIntosh

Samuel McIntosh is a dancer, choreographer, and Hip Hop ambassador specializing in the genres of Popping, Animation, and Boogaloo. Popping is one of the many dance styles under umbrella of Hip-Hop. He has been dancing for 10 years; training with and learning from some of the most influential dancers such as the Electric Boogaloo’s, Slick Dogg of G-Style, Brian “Footwork” Green, Elite Force Crew. He was also trained by Valley Style Locking legend, Richard Lechner, and mentored by fellow Cleveland native, Anthony “Tony Fresh” Velez.

Samuel competes locally and across the country in events like Step Ya Game Up in New York City, and Slick City in Chicago. He participated in and won renowned international competitions such as International Funk Styles Battle, and Freestyle Session in Los Angeles as well being a top 4 finalist at Under Pressure: International Street Dance and Graffiti Convention in Montreal, Quebec and a quarter finalist at Future Funk in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Samuel is also an administrative professional with a degree in arts administration from Baldwin Wallace University. In 2016, he received the Arts Administration Fellowship from the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also a recipient of the 2019 Cleveland Arts Prize Verge Fellowship! These experiences would widen his view of Arts and Culture nonprofits and show him how to integrate his artistry in various sectors through programming and business.

Aaron Shay

Aaron is a guitarist, electric guitar maker, recording engineer, and adjunct professor at Kent State Stark and Stark State College. Aaron believes that music, as a cultural universal, holds at least a small place in everyone’s life. He has performed locally and as a touring musician in a variety of rock, jazz and classical settings. Aaron was Kent State Stark’s Award of Distinction winner for the 2016 academic year. He holds music degrees from the University of Akron and Kent State University. Aaron also has a keen interest in world music and cultures, gypsy jazz, and history.

Amitai Vardi

Clarinetist Amitai Vardi, an avid soloist, orchestral, and chamber musician, serves as Assistant Professor of Clarinet at Kent State University. Vardi made his solo debut at the age of sixteen with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. He has since won several concerto competitions and was a featured soloist with the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, the Round Top Symphony Orchestra, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, the Blue Water Chamber Orchestra, the Erie Philharmonic, the Lake Placid Sinfonietta, and with members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

As an orchestral player, Vardi served as principal clarinetist of Red {an orchestra}, Opera Cleveland and Lyric Opera Cleveland. He currently holds the position of principal clarinet with the Blue Water Chamber Orchestra, the Erie Philharmonic, and the Lake Placid Sinfonietta. Vardi has performed with many orchestras, including the American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and The Cleveland Orchestra, with which he performed well over 150 concerts including many tours. During the 2014-2015 season, Vardi substituted with TCO on bass clarinet for most of the season.

His enthusiasm for chamber music has led to performances across the United States, South America, Israel and Europe. He is featured in several chamber music CDs, and recently released a recording with his father, cellist Uri Vardi on the Delos Label.

Vardi received his Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University, where he studied with Eli Eban and his Master of Music degree at The Cleveland Institute of Music, as a student of Franklin Cohen. Mr. Vardi pursued his post-graduate studies with Yehuda Gilad in Los Angeles.

Erin Vaughn

Erin Vaughn is a musician and educator, born, raised, and residing in Northeast Ohio. He is a graduate of The University of Akron (B.A. in Jazz Studies) and Kent State University (M.A. in Music Theory).

Erin is the guitarist for The Oblivion Project, an ensemble committed to the music of Argentine Nuevo Tango composer Astor Piazzolla. The Oblivion Project has performed at Kerrytown Concert House (Ann Arbor, MI), Detroit Institute of Art (Detroit, MI), Kent State University at Stark (N. Canton, OH), The Bop Stop (Cleveland, OH), Nighttown (Cleveland Heights, OH), Cleveland State University, BLU Jazz (Akron, OH), and has been featured with the Binghamton Philharmonic (Binghamton, NY).

Theater credits include Playhouse Square (Grease), Carousel Dinner Theater (Cats, Always… Patsy Cline, SWING!, Beehive, All Shook Up), Porthouse Theater (Footloose, 9 to 5), Kent State University at Stark (The Secret Garden, Little Shop of Horrors, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evil Dead), The Canton Player’s Guild (Les Miserables, Chicago, Rock of Ages, Sister Act and many more).

Vaughn is an in-demand sideman working in a variety of styles throughout Northeast Ohio.

As a full-time faculty member at Kent State University at Stark, he is an instructor of numerous course and coordinates the university’s guitar department and small group studio ensembles.


Media Contact:

Joni Koneval, 330-672-0116,

POSTED: Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - 11:52am UPDATED: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 3:39pm


School of Theatre and Dance College of the Arts

Street Address

B141 Center for the Performing Arts, Kent, Ohio 44242

Mailing Address

PO Box 5190 Kent, OH 44242-0001

Contact Us

330-672-2082 📷 © 2019 Kent State University All rights reserved.

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