The First-Year Arts Program (FAP) is overseen by the Freshman Dean's Office and the FAP director, Julia Smeliansky, in close collaboration with the Office for the Arts. In addition, there are 8 Resident Artists, 20 Guest Artists, and 16 Student Proctors. The Resident Artists are all top artists in their fields, and each teach a full workshop, a smaller master class, and advise on development of content for the FAP Pageant for each of their threads. Guest Artists are all working professionals that each teach individual Master Classes in their respective areas of expertise. The FAP Proctors are all prolific arts leaders here on campus who help to run all of the programs, advise on Pageant content, and can offer great first hand insight into the social, academic, cultural and artistic fabric that is Harvard.
Director and Resident Artist Bios
Julia Smeliansky, Director
I’m thrilled to be returning as Director of the First-Year Arts Program. I come from a theater background; I was literally raised backstage as a kid. I have studied Art History and Theater Management, and have worked and toured with may theater, ballet and modern dance companies. I have worked for Harvard for nineteen years as the Administrative Director of the American Repertory Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training. Prior to coming to Harvard, I was an Associate Producer on Broadway. In my spare time, I translate plays, paint, and sing. Looking forward to an incredible experience this summer with our FAP team. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.
Jim Augustine '01, Drama
Jim Augustine is COO of Zuckerberg Media. He is a media entrepreneur whose career has spanned theater, film, publishing, technology and business consulting. A summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard College and graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Jim began his career on the 6-time TONY-winning original Broadway production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Additional theater credits include the Roundabout’s Broadway production of Nicky Silver’s The Boys from Syracuse; the American Repertory Theater’s Lysistrata starring Cherry Jones; and the Off-Broadway hit Gone Missing. Film credits include The Audition, winner of Best Picture at the Iris International Film Festival; and Angel acquired by KQED TV. At Zuckerberg Media, Jim has built lasting partnerships in publishing, television, theater, film and emerging media. Jim is Co-Founder of Sue’s Tech Kitchen and the Zuckerberg Institute, as well as Co-Founder and Managing Director of Broadway Beta Ventures. Jim has lectured at colleges across the country, and has served for more than a decade as Resident Artist in Drama at Harvard’s annual First-year Arts Program
Kadahj Bennett, Creative Writing
Kadahj is performer/writer/musician/spoken word artist. Recent credits include Tyler from THE HALLS (web series, Beyond Measure Productions), and Hank from HOW WE GOT ON (Company One). Kadahj is a Posse Scholar, graduate of Hamilton College and Boston Arts Academy alum. Currently a teaching artist in the Boston area, Kadahj moonlights as a lyricist/vocalist for two bands, Danceluja (Boston) & the Downbeat Keys (Brooklyn).
Glenn Kiser '91, Film
After acting in some 20 productions (including the Hasty Pudding) and making short films through the VES department, Glenn clutched his Harvard Psych degree and moved to Los Angeles to make it in the movies. He started off working in editing on low budget independent films like BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and THE GAME. Then he moved to San Francisco where he ran George Lucas' company Skywalker Sound, where he oversaw sound work on massive projects such as the HARRY POTTER series, the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN films, the IRON MANs, TRON: LEGACY and AVATAR. Glenn currently consults for Dolby Labs and is touring the world film festival circuit with a short film he co-wrote and directed, "Sabbatical."
Ed Burch, Dance
Hey FAP! I am a lifelong dancer, gymnast, actor, singer and artist. Born and raised in Auburn, MA. I studied at Jo Ann Warren Studio based out of Worcester, MA; where I teach and choreograph to this day. I have had the honor of studying under the likes of Henry LeTang, Gregory Hines, Debbie Dee, Paula Abdul, and Gary Coburn, to name a few. I am currently the director for a dance company based out of Worcester, Stylized Movement, and also the owner and director of Ed Burch Dance; offering dance to people of all ages. Styles including Jazz, Lyrical, Tap, Hip Hop, Ballet, Contemporary and all styles of Ballroom; I also work as a choreographer/coach/advisor for the Clark University dance team, as well as choreographer and director for a number of New England based productions. I am also a national dance adjudicator, and have judged and work shopped nationwide.
I have been blessed with the ability to teach an art form that I love to some of the most wonderful people I have ever had the privilege to meet. I had the honor of being a guest artist for the 2013 Freshman Arts Program and am so happy to have joined the Resident Artist team in 2014.
Sam Wilmott, Music
Sam Willmott is a New York City-based musical theater composer, lyricist and bookwriter whose projects include Standardized Testing - The Musical!!!!; Yo, Vikings! (with lyricist Marcus Stevens); the upcoming bhangra dance musical Bhangin' It (with playwrights Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew and choreographer Rujuta Vaidya); the mini-musical Scarlet Takes a Tumble; additional lyrics for the stage adaptation of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol; and something entirely new and mysterious with Shanghai/NYC-based animation company, Pearl Studio. Sam's work has been performed in concert at Feinstein's / 54 Below, Paris' Comédie Nation with Broadway au Carré, Adelphi University's Performing Arts Center, and The Duplex. Sam is an avid educator, and has spearheaded workshops, master classes and courses at such storied programs and institutions as Pace University's Musical Theater BFA program (Adjunct Professor of Music Theory), The Broadway Teachers Workshop, Interlochen Arts Camp, Emerson College and Harlem School of the Arts. He is an alumnus of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, New York University and the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, and a member of the Dramatists Guild.
Julia Rooney '11, Studio Art
Julia Rooney is a visual artist. She grew up in New York City’s Greenwich Village, where she studied ceramics (hand-building and wheel) at Greenwich House Pottery, and oil painting at Parsons The New School for Design. From 2003-2007, she attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts as a studio art major.
In 2011, she graduated from Harvard College with a degree in Visual & Environmental Studies and a secondary in Italian. From 2008-2010, she traveled extensively in Italy as a researcher-writer for “Let’s Go”, and worked as a studio assistant at the Studio Art Centers International in Florence. This travel informed most of her undergraduate work, both in technique (experiments with fresco and oil paint), and subject matter (post-modern Italian architecture). Paintings and installations from this series were exhibited at the Center for Government and International Studies (in “Invisible Cities” and “Atlas: Map and Myth”), The Office for the Arts, Massachusetts Hall, and the Carpenter Center (“Oh Pioneers”). She was the recipient of the Council Prize in Visual Art (2011), the David McCord Prize (2011), a David Rockefeller International Experience Grant (2009), and an Artist Development Fellowship (2009).
Upon graduating, she returned to New York and began work in the Islamic department of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and as an artist assistant for two NY-based painters. In 2012, she returned part-time to Harvard as a VES Teaching Assistant in Silkscreen, and co-curator of the Sandra Naddaff Leigh Hafrey Three Columns Gallery in Mather House. Her professional work has drawn her most recently to the study of Islamic art and the Turkish language. The merging of text and image in the Islamic tradition has parallels to recent collaborations with her sister, Anne Marie Rooney, who is a poet and teaching artist in New Orleans.
Yana Birÿkova, Theater Design
Yana is a multimedia artist and designer. Theatrical designs include Grounded (Westport Country Playhouse); Spring Awakening (Connecticut College); Peer Gynt (Amherst College); Promise Land (Yale University); Imogen Says Nothing (Yale Repertory Theatre); Big Love (Amherst College); Collisions (Yale Cabaret); Scenes from Court Life (Yale Repertory Theatre); Square Root of Three Sisters (Dmitry Krymov Lab); Don Quixotte (Yale Opera); Mad Forest (UNC Wilmington); Women Beware Women (Yale School of Drama); The Secretaries; We Are All Here (Yale Cabaret); Don Juan (Yale School of Drama); 1/13/14 (Studio Tisch); Transport (Irish Repertory Theatre). Her assistant credits include Candide (Carnegie Hall); Harry Potter and The Cursed Child (Broadway); Crowns (McCarter Theatre Center); Elevada (Yale Repertory Theatre); The Master and Margarita (Yale School of Drama); Deepest Man (3LD Art&Technology Center). In addition to theatre design Yana has worked on art installations and performances featured at the Yale Art Gallery, Danspace Project, Harvestworks. Originally from Moscow, Russia, Yana holds an MFA in Theatre Design from Yale School of Drama.
Peter Miller '84, Theater Design
When he isn’t teaching at FAP, Peter paints other people’s scenery. For several seasons he was the Resident Scenic Artist of The Juilliard School at Lincoln Center and the Wolftrap Opera Company of Vienna, Virginia. Since joining Local 829 of United Scenic Artists he has worked on the paint crew of numerous Broadway Shows, Films, and TV Programs. Broadway highlights include Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Ragtime, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Crucible, Saint Joan, and Tom Stoppard’s Epic trilogy, The Coast of Utopia. Recent work includes revivals of West Side Story, Exit the King, and Waiting For Godot. Films include the current romantic comedies; When In Rome and It’s Complicated, Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, Revolutionary Road, Doubt, August Rush, The Interpreter, War of the Worlds, The Stepford Wives and Unfaithful. Films coming soon to a theater near you include: Wall Street II - Money Never Sleeps, A Couple of Cops, and Julie Taymor’s adaptation of The Tempest. Peter graduated from Harvard in ‘84 - he concentrated in VES and lived in Adams House. He is proud to work in an industry that allows him to put The World Wrestling Federation’s Grand Slam Highway to Hell and The Victoria’s Secret Holiday Fashion Show on the same resume. After more than twenty-five years in show business he can honestly say that he has hardly ever been bored, and that he has almost always been amused!
Eli Russell '20, Team Production
What's good, FAP!? My name is Eli and I’m a rising senior (ew) in Cabot! I’m concentrating in History with a secondary in Theatre, Dance & Media! When I’m not googling “fun ways to convey basic information about yourself,” I do tech/lyrics/stuff for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals and perform in Three Letter Acronym Improv, a long-form improv comedy group. I also work as a tour guide and as a Student Administrative Assistant at the Office for the Arts in order to finance my El Jefe’s addiction (you’ll know what that is soon enough). I came to Harvard knowing basically no one and FAP was a great way to enter the Harvard community and immerse myself in art. I still don’t have any friends, so I’m really excited to get to know you all! Slide into my DMs at email@example.com with any questions, complaints, or goss, and I’ll do my best to answer, clap back, or spill a commensurate amount of tea. Make art!!
Scott Kall '20, Team Production
AAYYEE WHAT UP FELLOW FAPPERS?!?! My name is Scott (Scotty) Kall. I'm a rising junior in Kirkland concentrating in Sociology with a secondary in Theater, Dance, and Media. Activities on campus include acting in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals show, Harvard-Radcliffe Modern Dance Company...can you tell I like art?? I also do some stuff at the IOP - I teach CIVICS once a week to 5th graders in Boston and I was a liaison for one of the IOP Fellows. OH also I'm from Hudson, Massachusetts, so I didn't move very far for college, and no, I am still not used to these horrid New England winters. Nevertheless, it doesn't stop me from getting Venti Iced Coffees from Starbucks when it's below freezing. If you ever want to talk about any of the above, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. SO EXCITED TO MEET ALL OF YOU. It's gonna be amazing <3
Joy Nesbitt '21, Team Drama
FAP! It’s me! Joy Nesbitt! I am a rising Junior in Leverett House pursuing a joint concentration in Social Anthropology and Music and I am originally from Dallas, Texas (y’all)! On campus, I am a Diversity Peer Educator, a Sexual Health Awareness and Relationship Communication Educator, and Inclusivity Chair of Black Students Association (my term ends Spring 2019). In the arts, I am a member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones as well as Harvard KeyChange, I music directed A Very Potter Musical during my sophomore fall, and I have taken participated in two BlackCast shows (For Colored Girls and /underground). During my freshman pre-fall, I was a lucky FAPper and I met some of my closest friends during the process. I am super excited to be one of the Drama proctors, and I can’t wait to help the incoming freshman to find their place within the Harvard arts community! Email me at email@example.com with any questions or Netflix suggestions! ;)
Rachel Kahn '20, Team Drama
Hey FAP!! My name is Rachel Kahn, I’m a junior (rising senior?? terrifying) in Leverett studying Hist and Lit with a secondary in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I’m from Lexington, MA, which is only about 25 minutes away from Harvard, so if you ever need somebody to store something for you over the summer I’m your gal! When I’m not bouncing between bagel places, I’m singing with my acapella group the Opportunes, acting in a variety of Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Company productions, or writing for Harvard’s satire publication Satire V (hint: read it backwards). Non art-related activities include Response Peer Counseling and helping organize the Women’s Leadership Conference, though this past year I’ve mostly been busy music directing the Opps so haven’t had much of a life outside of that. I’m so so hyped to make art with all of y’all-- his is my first (and only lol) year as a proctor so I’m ready to make it count!! Hmu (firstname.lastname@example.org) for lukewarm takes on Harvard’s burrito scene, mental health resources, where to find the best on-campus rabbits, music I have recently discovered that most people already know, or literally anything else! See you soooon
Cahleb Derry '20, Team Creative Writing
HEY FAP! I'm Cahleb (pronounced Cahh-Leeb) and I'm a rising senior from (the suburbs of) New York City living in Winthrop House and studying History & Literature with a focus in Ethnic Studies. I'm also on the CREATIVE WRITING TEAM YAS! Besides being a FAP proc on campus, I sing a cappella w/ the Harvard LowKeys, serve as an intern at the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, am in a student-run band that doesn't have a name yet, and really enjoy ginger ale. You can talk to me about anything, but I especially love ekphrastic poetry, queer and race theory, ranting about The Voice and other singing competition shows, and ginger ale. Dang I love ginger ale. Fun fact: I once cracked my iPhone screen with my own tooth, and I also have two small earlobes on my right ear instead of one. I also have really large feet and long limbs but a really skinny body. Harvard is a vast and daunting yet beautiful place, and I can’t wait to share it with you — FAP is an amazing place to start :) Hit me up at email@example.com if you have anything to say — I’ll be waiting! More importantly, follow me on the gram! @cmulaaaa #follow4follow
Paolo Pasco '22, Team Creative Writing
What’s up, FAP! My name’s Paolo, I’m a rising sophomore from San Diego studying computer science, and I’m excited to be your new creative writing proctor! On campus, I’m a member of Three Letter Acronym Improv (shoutout to Eli), and I’m part of the tech crew for the Hasty Pudding. I’ve also written as a guest for Satire V, and I do standup at whatever open mics I can. Outside of the ~arts~, I love indie bookstores, surreal YouTube videos, “Juice” by Lizzo, karaoke (ideally to “Juice” by Lizzo), reading essays on Catapult, crossword puzzles, getting really into the Oscars every year (I smell a surprise nomination for “Juice” by Lizzo), and this one purple hoodie—you’ll know it when you see it. I’m always down to answer any questions you have about art/comedy/life at Harvard, but feel free to send me literally anything at firstname.lastname@example.org or @paolo.pasco on insta! Take “send me literally anything” as a challenge; I will read (and respond to!) any content you send me. Anyway, can’t wait to see you all! FAP is a beautiful, chaotic, immensely satisfying experience and I promise you’re gonna love it.
David Grant '21, Team Film
Ramona Park '22, Team Film
~hEy fAp~ My name's Ramona and I'm a rising sophomore who's incredibly excited to be your new film proctor! I'm hoping to concentrate in VES (in particular film or animation) with a secondary in computer science. Back in my FAP days, I was a part of the dance thread and on campus, and now, I'm a dedicated degenerate member of Harvard Breakers, Expressions Dance Company, and the Asian American Dance Troupe. Fun fact, there tends to be a lot of overlap in the arts community and the FAP community, so a large majority of my close friends and fellow club members are FAPpers! It's always nice to tell people that we FAPped together. Hard. If you don't see me coming, you'll definitely be able to hear me because I'm louder than the OG dad sneeze, but don't let my volume scare you away! If you ever need anything—a 1-800-existential-crisis hotline, someone to talk you out of getting bangs, or late-night ramen—please reach out (email@example.com). Keep in mind that I too was just a fetus and went through it all—dying my hair red at 2 AM, getting locked out of my dorm at 4 AM, and spending a month agonizing over what to pack for this art-intensive week, so don't hesitate to reach out. Please don't ask me for directions, though. I still don't know how to navigate through the yard.
Angel Hoyang '22, Team Dance
Helloooo FAP!! I'm Angel (or demon, whatever seems right at the moment), and I'm a rising sophomore who's about to boogie to the moon with excitement to join Maggie as your new dance proctor! I'm from Los Angeles, California, and fittingly am super interested in all things arts, entertainment, and In-N-Out. Here at Harvard, you may see me singing with the Veritones (follow us on Instagram and Spotify!!), helping teach kids dance with CityStep, waxing poetic about Constance Wu to my fellow Asian artists in ASAP, popping on and off stage with HRDC, and of course, dancing and choreographing (contemporary/modern, ballet, and maybe hip hop if I really try) all around campus and with the beautiful Harvard Ballet Company! I also dabble in film editing and improv comedy, and from time to time, mayhaps even in acting like a well-rested and mature human being. If any of the above strikes your interest, or if you just want to say hi, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be all ears to literally anything you want to talk about, be it questions, concerns, memes, etc! Bonus points for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, RuPaul's Drag Race, Harry Potter, and anything Tina Fey/Amy Poehler-related. CAN'T WAIT TO MEET YOU ALL!!!
Margaret Canady '20, Team Dance
HEY FAP! My name is Margaret (or Maggie/Mags) Canady (not Candy/Canaday/Kennedy, let's just clear that up now), and I am so so SO excited to be one half of the dance proctor team!! I'm a rising senior (o no) in Leverett House concentrating in Psychology with a secondary in Theater, Dance and Media. I really like wiggling my body around in space, and you can catch me groovin with the Harvard Ballet Company, Modern Dance Company, Expressions, Eleganza, and CityStep! Besides that, I'm probably procrastinating, sleeping, drinking coffee, or some weird mixture of the three. Please reach out about anything at all! I really love a nice juicy conversation (partly because I love you, partly because of the procrastination thing), and I'm always happy to talk about everything/anything under the moon– your art, how to make perfectly curated spotify playlists, harvard worries/fears/hopes/dreams, Texas (yeehaw), my excessive use of (parentheses)/slashes, d r a m a.... hit me up at email@example.com :) <3
Hannah Lemmons '20, Team Music
Hi FAP! My name is Hannah, and I'm a rising senior in Kirkland House studying History & Literature. I'm originally from Denver, Colorado, though you can rarely find me there--I love to travel and visit new places! I will be returning as one of the Music proctors for this year's FAP, and I am so excited to get to know n collaborate with you all. I've played the violin for 15 years, but at Harvard I am mostly involved with the vocal music/theater scene. If I'm not singing with the Harvard LowKeys (along with Cahleb), I'm usually drinking tea in my room and writing music/watching YouTube videos/napping. Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about transitioning to life at Harvard, art&activism, plant-based protein or absolutely anything else at all!
London Lowmanstone '21, Team Music
Hey FAP! I'm London, a rising junior from Minnesota studying computer science and philosophy. I love writing music in any genre for pretty much any instrument, so I'm on... you guessed it - Team Music! I consider myself to be pretty silly (pretty punny, if you will) and love the energy and fun of FAP. If you catch me in my spare time, you'll probably see me on a piano writing a song, programming on my computer, or contemplating answers to some interesting question I've come across. At Harvard, I play in the Harvard Marching Band, collab with other artists, and also helped start the Harvard Juggling Club. Feel free to email me at email@example.com if you want to discuss the meaning of existence or anything else. I can’t wait to meet you all!
Quinn Lewis '22, Team Studio Art
Hey FAP!!! My name is Quinn and I’m Team Studio Art (it’s not a competition… but if it was our team would win). I am a rising sophomore and still don’t know what concentration I want to do. I’m from Berkeley, CA, also known as the Bay Area or the birthplace of the hippie movement/NorCal hip hop (RIP Mac Dre). I took a gap year and went to art school and then dropped out to teach middle school and surfing in South Africa. Now that I’m a sEriOuS cOLlege StUdeNt, I spend most of my time painting, going down the rabbit hole of Spotify’s “related artists” tab, playing with glitter, making lists about hop eating anything with guacamole, and working at the Harvard radio station (WHRB Cambridge). I love things that are sparkly, Ms. Lauryn Hill, dancing, museums, drag queens, Amy Winehouse, and pasta. If you also love these things, have questions, concerns, comments on how to make this bio more interesting, or really anything hit me up firstname.lastname@example.org or @quinntallulah on the gram or Quinn Lewis on facebook!!!!!! I am SO EXCITED for FAP and to meet all of you! Bring your dancing shoes, leave the ego-- it’s gonna be WILD.
Finn Bamber '22, Team Studio Art
FAP! Hello!! My name is Finn, I'm a rising sophomore in Eliot House studying something (????) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I've lived in Utah, Massachusetts, Ohio, and China before, and have picked up figures of speech from all of them. I'll be your Studio Art proctor along with Quinn–Fun Fact: Ramona, Quinn, and I were all FAP roommates! On campus, you can usually find me doing lighting design for various shows, so I'm more than happy to chat about all forms of art, as well as what theatre/theatre tech looks like in the context of the Harvard campus. When not doing that, I try to spend my time working on self care (emphasis on "try") and drink an awful lot of tea. If you want to chat about art, theatre, lights (love lights), tea, kickboxing, not being fond of winter, or just being an all-around mess, drop me a line at email@example.com (please write I need friends). So excited to hang with y'all!!! xo -Finnegan :D
Julius Wade '20, Team Theater Design
Howdy, FAP! I'm Julius and I'm so excited to DESIGN (you're welcome) a great time for you as your Theater Design Proctor! I'm a rising senior in Pforzheimer House (Pfoho pfor short) and I'm from Miami, FL! In class, I joint concentrate in Theater, Dance, & Media and History & Literature - super interested in 20th-century American visual culture! Around campus, I act and direct with the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club (HRDC), make funny videos with On Harvard Time (OHT), make other funny things with On Thin Ice (OTI) improv and the Harvard College Stand-up Society (HCSUCS)...so lots and lots of acting, comedy, and acronyms. The act of theater design is the act of creating worlds and telling stories and I cannot wait to share all I know about the process and to teach you a few acronyms along the way! Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org! TTYL, which for the kids is "Talk To You Later".
Sunny Levine '20, Team Theater Design
Howdy FAP! I’m Sunny, a rising senior in Lowell House and half of Team TDT!! I study History and Science with a focus on FOOD and I’m originally from Medina, Ohio. Besides being a professional balloon artist, I love getting creative by acting in, light/set designing for, and producing HRDC shows. When not doing “art stuff,” you can probably find me busy with projects for the Harvard Undergraduate BGLTQ+ Business Society or Harvard Philippine Forum, or working as a tour guide. In my (nonexistent) free time, I love cooking, travel, and petting dogs :) Call me beep me if ya wanna reach me (well, email me I guess) at email@example.com and we can talk about The Great British Bake Off, balloons/more unconventional art media, Harvard, tech, or life!