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Dance Faculty & Staff

Marita Cardinal, Professor

Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner, Instructor

Sandra Hedgepeth, Associate Professor

Deborah Jones, Professor

Carl Massey, Instructor

Amy McDowell, Instructor

Sharon Oberst, Professor

Darryl Thomas, Professor & Department Head

Marita Cardinal

Marita Cardinal


(503) 838-8023


Office: NPE 218 



Marita Cardinal is currently a Professor in the Division of Health and Physical Education at Western Oregon University, where she also teaches courses for the Department of Theatre and Dance. For the Physical Education Program, she currently teaches Physical Education in the Elementary School, Teaching Methods in Physical Education I, Teaching Movement Education, Teaching Dance in Physical Education, Teaching Aerobic Fitness, Social Dance, and Pilates.  For the Dance Program, she teaches Wellness for Dancers, Kinesiology for Dancers, and Conditioning for Dancers. Dr. Cardinal grew up studying ballet and as a young adult expanded her repertoire to include a variety of dance genres. In the 1980s, she performed in a variety of dance and musical theatre venues, including a Department of Defense Southeast Asia tour of the production, “Godspell” and a dance company in the Baltimore, MD area. She received her bachelors and masters degrees from Eastern Washington University and her doctoral degree from Temple University and previously served as a faculty member at EWU, Gonzaga, Temple, Wayne State University, and Oregon State University. Her research has been focused on curricular models for dance science and wellness education, conditioning programs for dancers, creative dance/movement integration in elementary school curricula, and strategies for health and physical activity behavior change. Her 68 publications can be found in professional journals such as, Journal of Dance Medicine and Science; Medical Problems of Performing Artists; IMPULSE: the International Journal of Dance Science, Medicine, and Education; Kinesiology and Medicine for Dance; Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport; Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise; the Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, among others. Additionally, she has given 77 presentations at the national and international levels, including several invited lectures in dance wellness and dance education in South Korea in 1995 and 2007 and Hong Kong in 2009. She has served on the National Dance Association (NDA) Board as Publications Director, on the Research Consortium Board as NDA Representative, as Research Chairperson for the NDA, and currently serves as NDA Representative on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. She also served on the National Dance Education Organization’s Editorial Board for the Journal of Dance Education and is currently on the Leadership Team for the Oregon Partnership for Arts Learning Standards. Recently, she has been awarded the 2008 Mario & Alma Pastega Award for Excellence in Scholarship at Western Oregon University, the 2009 NDA Scholar/Artist Award, the 2010 EWU Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2010 Outstanding Faculty Advising Certificate of Merit from the National Academic Advising Association, and 2011 Fellow of the North American Society of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport, and Dance Professionals.

Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner


(503) 838-9513


Office: OPE 210 

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Sandra Hedgepeth

Associate Professor

(503) 838-8739


Office: RA 107



Costume Designer: Sandy received her MFA in Costume Design from Florida State University. She has worked as a professional costume designer all over the United States and at several theatres in Portland, including: Tygres Hart Theatre, Northwest Children’s Theatre, Portland Opera, the Utah Shakespearean Festival, and the Barter Theatre. She has also worked extensively with Michael Curry Design Studios.

Deborah Jones

Marita Cardinal


(503) 838-8263


Office: OPE 208 

Deborah is a dancer, choreographer and teacher holds an M.F.A. degree in Dance from Mills College and a B.A. degree from U.C. Berkeley in Dramatic Art-Dance.  She has performed and choreographed for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area with such companies as The Assortment, The Dance Exchange and Six Thumbs Dance Theatre and with the Oregon based contemporary music ensemble SoundMoves, as well as for other independently commissioned projects.  A tenured Full Professor at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Ms. Jones has taught for the Theatre/Dance Department since 1991.  Ms. Jones has been a guest artist at various colleges and universities including University of California at Davis and San Francisco City College.  Other faculty positions include San Jose City College, CA and Linfield College, OR.

For the past several years, Ms. Jones’ area of research has been within the field of creativity.  One outcome of her continuing studies led to Ms. Jones creating an academic course, “Creativity”, dealing with both the nature and development of personal creativity and the understanding of the creative process.  Her innovative curriculum assists students in understanding this process and developing their own creativity.  The course has been widely praised for the contribution it has made to the Western Oregon University Liberal Arts experience.  The success of this course resulted in Ms. Jones being invited to teach “Creativity” for the Honors Program.   Her work in the area of creativity has attracted the attention of health and counseling professionals, resulting in referrals for her private classes as well as invitations to teach at places such as the Hawaii Wellness Institute on Oahu.  Requests for her work have also included upper management training for local corporations to develop the creative potential of the individuals and the business. Deborah continues to offer ongoing workshops in the Salem area.

Carl Massey


(503) 838-9513


Office: OPE 210 

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Amy McDowell


(503) 838-8827


Office: OPE 207

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Sharon Oberst

Marita Cardinal


(503) 838-8243


Office: OPE 211



Sharon Oberst (Head of Theatre and Dance Department) Professor Oberst has been teaching, choreographing, and directing musicals at Western Oregon University since 1987. She teaches ballet, pedagogy, dance history, dance production and dance in musical theatre courses. Sharon earned her bachelor’s degree in Dance and Theatre with a Secondary Education Teaching Certification from Lamar University (Texas) and master’s degree in Dance from the University of Oregon. She attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston and studied at the Houston Ballet Academy with James Clouser, Nick and Ann Polajenko, Ben Stevenson, and Fred Strobel. Sharon has performed with the Houston Ballet, Houston Allegro Ballet, Eugene Ballet, Beaumont Ballet Theatre and Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars. She has performed leading roles in such ballets as Swan Lake, Alice in Wonderland, Tarantella,and Cinderella. In addition to choreographing for the annual Spring Dance Concerts, Sharon has choreographed many WOU Theatre productions including No, No Nanette, 42nd Street, and Grease, and has directed and choreographed Winnie-The-Pooh, The Sound of Music, Something’s Afoot, Kiss Me, Kate, Victor/Victoria, West Side Story and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Professor Oberst is a member of CORPS de Ballet International (an organization of university ballet teachers) and has served on the board of directors, as treasurer, and is the current secretary. She was honored with the organization’s Award for Outstanding Service in 2007. Ms. Oberst is the 2006 recipient of the Mario and Alma Pastega Excellence in Teaching Award.

Darryl Thomas

Marita Cardinal


(503) 838-8375


Office: Maple Hall

Darryl Thomas toured throughout the world as dancer and artistic collaborator in the world-renowned Pilobolus Dance Theatre, receiving an Emmy for his 1996KennedyCenter performance of the Pilobolus work “Untitled”, starring annually in the Company’s sold-outNew York performances, and performing in the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics inAtlanta,Georgia.In addition, Thomas has collaborated with Pilobolus on commercial television projects such as the 2006 award-winning Hyundai television commercial which featured dancers in silhouette creating a series of images including a Hyundai car.Demonstrations from the commercial were featured television on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Conan O’Brien Show, and the 2007 Academy Awards (Oscars).Previous to his work with Pilobolus, Thomas danced in Washington, D. C. with Assane Kante’s Kankouran West African Dance Company. Thomas is also Artistic Director for Rainbow Dance Theatre. He received his Master of Fine Arts in performance and choreography from theUniversityofHawaiiat Manoa.He has received grants and awards for choreography from the Hawaii State Dance Council, Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Oregon Commission for the Arts, Persis Foundation, and MJI Broadcasting.Thomas has collaborated on programs in dance for at-risk youth inFlorida,Ohio,ConnecticutandOregonin conjunction with local police departments, school districts, churches and high schools for the performing arts.One such program, “Youth At Risk Dancing” (YARD) based in Cleveland, Ohio was awarded the 1999 United States President’s “Coming up Taller” Award given by Hillary Rodman Clinton. In 2001, Mr. Thomas represented Rainbow Dance Theatre at the National Ballet of Senegal inDakarwhere he researched indigenous dances and collaborated with National Ballet Costume Designer Djibril Sane on costumes for Act Three of RDT’sCamouflage Trilogy. His choreography has been featured in the repertory of dance companies spanning the globe, includingSingapore, Mexico City, D.F.,Pusan,South Korea,Honolulu,Hawaii, and many regional companies in the United States.Mr. Thomas has taught as a visiting professor at theUniversityofFloridaof Gainesville,Florida, the Centro Nacional De Las Artes of Mexico City, D.F., Studio Dance Tanz of Osaka, Japan and Pusan National University of Pusan, South Korea. Currently Mr. Thomas is Professor of Dance atWesternOregonUniversitywhere he teaches composition, partnering, Hip Hop, Hawaiian, Salsa, West African and Modern Dance.


Department of Theatre and Dance 503 838-8461 | or e-mail: eliassl@wou.edu

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