JUDGES

DEWITT COOPER III

DeWitt Cooper III earned his MFA from Case Western Reserve University as the first African American male to earn this degree in the school’s history. He also spent extensive time at Florida State University where he was the first African American male to be admitted to the program. During his time at Case Western Reserve University, he was nominated for the Wittke Undergraduate Teaching Award. In 2006, he was awarded the Okie Award by the La Villa School of the Arts for most inspiring Choreography. In 2007, his choreography was recognized at the Nuvo Dance Competition and in 2008 his choreography was awarded Platinum Awards at the Applause Talent Competition.

Mr. Cooper set choreography for the production of Julius X for playwright, Al Letson at Players by the Sea. He set choreography for Dreamgirls and the FAMU Connection Tour at the Essential Theatre. DeWitt Cooper has also worked with Garth Fagan at the Summer Movement Institute where he trained intensively as a teacher and student under Garth Fagan and Natalie Cropper and set choreography for the Garth Fagan Summer Movement Institute final showcase. His professional dance experience includes Phlava Dance Company, Great Lakes Festival Ballet, and Verlezza Dance.

Mr. Cooper continues his professional career in musical theatre. He has played the role of “Simon” in the Alhambra’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Numerous professional credits include: West Side Story, Anything Goes, She Loves Me, Ain’t Mis’ Behavin’, Once on this Island, and Black Nativity. He has sung for the late Ann Reinking Doctoral Ceremony. His choreography continues to be recognized around the country.

Mr. Cooper is currently a faculty member at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, where he is choreographer and musical theatre styles instructor. He was a former faculty member at The Bolles School and at La Villa. Mr. Cooper was a full-time employee for the Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom where he was a cast member of Finding Nemo the Musical. He enjoys teaching and choreographing at the Jacksonville Centre of the Arts, where he serves as Artistic Director. Mr. Cooper won the coveted Pelican Award for best choreography at Players by the Sea. Currently, he is Co-Director of the hit Broadway musical Sponge Bob the Musical at Players by the Sea. He produced an updated version of his summer dance Intensive after a two-year hiatus, called Exclusive, by CooperMorgan Dance Theatre.  Mr. Cooper is working on his first book, a one man show entitled 15 Pages, and a new musical entitled Black Metropolis. He is Co-Director of this season’s opener for Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Significant Other.   

Mr. Cooper is extremely excited to be back to help with this important cause.

 

DONNA DEEGAN

 

Former television news anchor Donna Deegan is founder of The Donna Foundation and the 26.2 with Donna The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer.

The Jacksonville native graduated from Bishop Kenny High School and received a communications degree from Florida State University. Her first job was at a Tallahassee TV station in 1984. She worked in Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach stations until 1988, when she returned to Jacksonville to anchor WTLV-TV12′s weekend broadcasts and then co-anchor the 5:30 and 11 p.m.weekday broadcasts in 1992. She left the station in 2012 to focus full time on the foundation and its events.

Deegan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, 2002 and 2007. After speaking with many women who couldn’t make ends meet while undergoing treatment, she created the foundation in 2003 and the marathon in 2008. The annual event attracts thousands of runners and supporters from all 50 states and more than 20 countries. The foundation and the race are dedicated to providing financial assistance and support to families living with breast cancer and funding breast cancer research. 

The avid marathoner won the Jacksonville Business Journal Women of Influence Award in 2004, the Enterprising Women’s Leadership Award in 2005, the Florence Davis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 and the Times-Union’s 2008 EVE Award for volunteer service.

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”   MLK Jr.

 

NORIANNE WRIGHT

Norianne grew up in Jacksonville and began dancing at age ten. 

Her training began at Mark Spivak’s Dance Institute where she studied ballet, jazz, modern, and character and performed with the school’s dance troupe the Character Dance Ensemble. 

While attending Vanderbilt University, she joined the Nashville based modern dance company, Nashville Dance Project, and performed with the Vanderbilt Dance Group. 

Although she loved Nashville, she missed her friends and family in Florida.  Upon her return home in 2000, she developed a love for ballroom and latin and began teaching, performing, and competing. 

Returning to the studio where her love of dance began, Mark Spivak’s Dance Institute, she currently teaches all styles to all ages and choreographs award winning routines in both dance and fitness.

She is thrilled to be judging the First Coast Dancing with the Stars event and to be able to support Beaches Fine Arts Series.

GALA DANCE JUDGES

DEWITT COOPER III

DeWitt Cooper III earned his MFA from Case Western Reserve University as the first African American male to earn this degree in the school’s history. He also spent extensive time at Florida State University where he was the first African American male to be admitted to the program. During his time at Case Western Reserve University, he was nominated for the Wittke Undergraduate Teaching Award. In 2006, he was awarded the Okie Award by the La Villa School of the Arts for most inspiring Choreography. In 2007, his choreography was recognized at the Nuvo Dance Competition and in 2008 his choreography was awarded Platinum Awards at the Applause Talent Competition.

Mr. Cooper set choreography for the production of Julius X for playwright, Al Letson at Players by the Sea. He set choreography for Dreamgirls and the FAMU Connection Tour at the Essential Theatre. DeWitt Cooper has also worked with Garth Fagan at the Summer Movement Institute where he trained intensively as a teacher and student under Garth Fagan and Natalie Cropper and set choreography for the Garth Fagan Summer Movement Institute final showcase. His professional dance experience includes Phlava Dance Company, Great Lakes Festival Ballet, and Verlezza Dance.

Mr. Cooper continues his professional career in musical theatre. He has played the role of “Simon” in the Alhambra’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Numerous professional credits include: West Side Story, Anything Goes, She Loves Me, Ain’t Mis’ Behavin’, Once on this Island, and Black Nativity. He has sung for the late Ann Reinking Doctoral Ceremony. His choreography continues to be recognized around the country.

Mr. Cooper is currently a faculty member at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, where he is choreographer and musical theatre styles instructor. He was a former faculty member at The Bolles School and at La Villa. Mr. Cooper was a full-time employee for the Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom where he was a cast member of Finding Nemo the Musical. He enjoys teaching and choreographing at the Jacksonville Centre of the Arts, where he serves as Artistic Director. Mr. Cooper won the coveted Pelican Award for best choreography at Players by the Sea. Currently, he is Co-Director of the hit Broadway musical Sponge Bob the Musical at Players by the Sea. He produced an updated version of his summer dance Intensive after a two-year hiatus, called Exclusive, by CooperMorgan Dance Theatre.  Mr. Cooper is working on his first book, a one man show entitled 15 Pages, and a new musical entitled Black Metropolis. He is Co-Director of this season’s opener for Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Significant Other.   

Mr. Cooper is extremely excited to be back to help with this important cause.

DONNA DEEGAN

 

Former television news anchor Donna Deegan is founder of The Donna Foundation and the 26.2 with Donna The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer.

The Jacksonville native graduated from Bishop Kenny High School and received a communications degree from Florida State University. Her first job was at a Tallahassee TV station in 1984. She worked in Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach stations until 1988, when she returned to Jacksonville to anchor WTLV-TV12′s weekend broadcasts and then co-anchor the 5:30 and 11 p.m.weekday broadcasts in 1992. She left the station in 2012 to focus full time on the foundation and its events.

Deegan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, 2002 and 2007. After speaking with many women who couldn’t make ends meet while undergoing treatment, she created the foundation in 2003 and the marathon in 2008. The annual event attracts thousands of runners and supporters from all 50 states and more than 20 countries. The foundation and the race are dedicated to providing financial assistance and support to families living with breast cancer and funding breast cancer research. 

The avid marathoner won the Jacksonville Business Journal Women of Influence Award in 2004, the Enterprising Women’s Leadership Award in 2005, the Florence Davis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 and the Times-Union’s 2008 EVE Award for volunteer service.

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”   MLK Jr.

NORIANNE WRIGHT

Norianne grew up in Jacksonville and began dancing at age ten. 

Her training began at Mark Spivak’s Dance Institute where she studied ballet, jazz, modern, and character and performed with the school’s dance troupe the Character Dance Ensemble. 

While attending Vanderbilt University, she joined the Nashville based modern dance company, Nashville Dance Project, and performed with the Vanderbilt Dance Group. 

Although she loved Nashville, she missed her friends and family in Florida.  Upon her return home in 2000, she developed a love for ballroom and latin and began teaching, performing, and competing. 

Returning to the studio where her love of dance began, Mark Spivak’s Dance Institute, she currently teaches all styles to all ages and choreographs award winning routines in both dance and fitness.

She is thrilled to be judging the First Coast Dancing with the Stars event and to be able to support Beaches Fine Arts Series.