April 29, 2013/For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu



Joe Isenberg choreographed fight scenes

(Winston-Salem) For the third year in a row, an alumnus of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) has received a Helen Hayes Award for artistic achievement on Washington, D.C.’s stages. Joe Isenberg, who received a college arts diploma in 2006 from the School of Drama, won for outstanding choreography.

Isenberg choreographed fight scenes for The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity for Washington’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. It is believed to be the first time the prestigious award has gone to a fight choreographer.

Last year, Design and Production alumnus Chris Blaine received a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Sound Design, Resident Production, for his sound design of A Bright New Boise at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. In  2011, No Rules Theatre Company, created by alumni from the School of Drama and the School of Design and Production, won the Helen Hayes John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company.

Isenberg credited the School of Drama with giving him the tools to succeed.  “The process of creating art, pushing myself, and never looking for an end point is a direct lesson I learned from (U)NCSA,” he said. “The art is never done, the project just changes.”

Drama Dean Carl Forsman said Isenberg is a credit to the varied training that UNCSA students receive. “We are so proud about Joe’s achievement, which is a strong testament to the training he got with us under Dale Girard's expert guidance,” Forsman said. “Our students are so fortunate to learn from this master of his craft.”


Girard, himself an award-winning fight choreographer, said Isenberg has both the creative talent and the work ethic to succeed. “Working in theatre requires passion and discipline. Joe has both, as well as enormous talent,” Girard said.


Actor training requires a multitude of skills and a strong work ethic,” Forsman said. “Joe’s achievement indicates that we are hitting our mark.”

One of the country’s most prestigious cultural honors, The Helen Hayes Awards recognize and celebrate excellence in professional theatre throughout the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. They also provide a vibrant living legacy to the First Lady of the American Theatre, Helen Hayes MacArthur. 

The Helen Hayes Awards were presented April 8.


As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.