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Three UNCSA Faculty To Be Recognized as Outstanding Teachers

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (August 6, 2013) - The Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts and the Office of Academic Affairs at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) will recognize three UNCSA faculty members in the fall as outstanding teachers who employ best practices in arts education.

James Allbritten, artist-faculty of the School of Music, was selected for Inspiring Excellence. Brenda Daniels, Associate Dean of the School of Dance, was selected for Enhancing Imagination. And Joe Lopina, artist-faculty of the School of Filmmaking, was selected for Creating Curiosity. 

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to highlight some of the excellent faculty at UNCSA through this special project with the Kenan Institute for the Arts," said UNCSA Provost David Nelson. “These outstanding faculty members, nominated by students, staff and faculty at UNCSA, are exemplary in their teaching methods and interaction with students.

“We look forward to sharing their stories in print and honoring them publicly later this year," Nelson added.

In the spring of 2013, the UNCSA community was invited to nominate teachers for this special honor.  The project involves creation of faculty profiles that are designed to foster dialogue about teaching practices that contribute to the development of the community of learners at UNCSA and beyond. The three winners will be featured in print pieces and online and will be honored at a reception on campus in the fall.

More about the three winners:

James Allbritten, originally from Louisville, Ky., began his operatic career with Kentucky Opera. While a student in Louisville, he was invited to participate as one of the youngest artists in the San Antonio Arts Festival, where he was apprenticed to Boris Goldovsky. His conducting studies began at Indiana University under Jan Harrington, Robert Porco, and Thomas Dunn.

Allbritten came to North Carolina in 1993 to join the faculty of the North Carolina School of the Arts, where his duties now include Artistic Director of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute. There he has conducted many performances including Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Donizetti’s Belisario.  As the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for Piedmont Opera, Allbritten has led Verdi’s Aida and Un ballo in maschera, as well as Rossini’s La Cenerentola.

Brenda Daniels holds the Betsy Friday Distinguished Professorship in Contemporary Dance at UNCSA. She joined the faculty at UNCSA in 1995, became the Assistant Dean for Contemporary Dance in 2004, Interim Dean in 2011, and Associate Dean in 2012. She received the UNCSA Teaching Excellence Award in 1999 and again in 2008. Daniels is also on the summer faculty of the American Dance Festival. She was artistic director of her own company, Brenda Daniels Dance Company, from 1985-1995.

Daniels is a recipient of choreographic fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Lincoln Center, The Joyce Theater, St. Mark’s Church, and theatres throughout Germany and the Netherlands have commissioned her choreography.  She earned a B.F.A. in Dance from Purchase College and an M.F.A. in Dance from Hollins University.

Joe Lopina is Assistant Dean in the School of Filmmaking with a specific focus in animation.  He holds an A.A.S. in Electronic Engineering Technology and a B.F.A. in Film from Syracuse University.  He also holds a M.A. in Educational Media from Appalachian State University and has taught film and animation courses at UNCSA since 1999. Lopina is also an associate of the CDI (Center for Design Innovation), a member of the International Association of Animators (ASIFA), Puppeteers of America, and the Puppetry Guild of the Carolinas.

The Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts ( is a privately funded program of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts that incubates projects that sustain artists at every point in their creative development through strategic partnerships that capitalize on visionary thinking in the arts.

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

James Allbritten

Brenda Daniels

Joe Lopina