Photograph of Beyoncé

Join the Newsletter

Sign Up for Updates!

In the News General News

Alumni + Students Make Their Mark

It’s always fun to hear from our alumni and to celebrate the accomplishments of our students. Read on for news about the work our amazing artists are doing across all the disciplines.

Third Year in a Row for “The Fred!”

The Fred Lazarus IV Artscape Prize (“The Fred”) is a competitive program that recognizes and encourages artistic talent in Baltimore City by awarding a Baltimore City school student artist. Rising BSA senior Hannah Smoot has received the 2016 prize. She is the third BSA student to win in the three years “The Fred” has been awarded. Smoot’s work will be on display at MICA in the Decker and Meyerhoff galleries July 15-July 31, 2016. Graduating senior Chloe Bates won the prize in 2015 and Malcolm Colvin won it in 2014. “Being recognized in this way, three years in a row, is a testament to the important work we are doing in the Visual Arts Department at BSA and the high level of work our students achieve under the tutelage and mentorship of our superb staff of art professionals,” said Stephen Kent, head of the Visual Arts Department.

Connections to Beyoncé and Lemonade

Maybe you’ve heard of Beyoncé and her recent projects Formation and Lemonade, but what you might not know about it is that four BSA grads were involved in various parts of the icon’s recent work. Stage Design grad Nathan Bailey art-directed “Hold Up” (and created the look of that Hot Sauce bat); Musician Dontae Winslow plays the trumpet in the piece; Christian Siriano designed one of the featured dresses; and Stage Design grad Anna Bakker is home after a month on the Beyoncé tour as a 3D animation producer. The Sun caught wind of the news.

These four talented artists have an array of other projects underway as well. Nathan Bailey is an assistant art director in the Art Directors Guild as well as assistant art director on the 6th season of American Horror Story. Dontae has a thriving career in music working with headliners including Justin Timberlake and Dr. Dre. Christian Siriano’s projects are almost too numerous to name but most recently he’s released a bridal collection and Scarlett Johansson wears one of his dresses on the cover of April’s Cosmo! Anna’s main focus has been an on-going collaboration with the London-based interactive production company Marshmallow Laser Feast and their virtual reality film In the Eyes of the Animal.

Stage & Screen: Hamilton, The Good Wife, and Zootopia

Of the five roles alumna Kamille Upshaw has learned for Hamilton the Musical, her favorite is performing as the bullet that propels toward Hamilton in slow motion, killing the founding father. Learn more about Kamille’s role in the award-winning musical in this interview with The Baltimore Sun. Alum Darius Barnes also recently posted from Hamilton Boot Camp — Stay tuned! Alum Samantha Pollino will join the Hamilton company for the Chicago production.

At the Gallatin Arts Festival Rachel Hilson explored in an Original One Woman Show, Hypochondria the “condition of being black” in conjunction with the “condition of being human.” She also recently attended a red carpet gala for The Good Wife where she had a recurring role.

Disney’s Zootopia includes one of our graduates, Fuschia Walker, in her first voice cameo. What fun to play a polar bear!

A Wide Angle: Film and Photography

BSA stage production student Jeffrey Obike was part of a project with Wide Angle Youth Media to help tell a positive story about Baltimore’s young people. The work culminated in a new book called This is Baltimore, a collection of images, portraits, and quotes from Baltimore youth as they see themselves.

French director Francescu Artily spent a few days with photographer Léa Eouzan and muralists in Baltimore including BSA alum Ernest Shaw. Artily’s documentary Sandtown Project was premiered at the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center and will be screened at the Embassy of France.

Visual Arts grad Cucillo Consad‘s most recent endeavor, “Notown”, is a documentary film that examines the city of Detroit’s latest gentrification through the city’s emerging water crisis.

Ailey, Ailey II, and Black Iris

Alumna Jacqueline Green has performed on four continents with the prestigious Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater but dancing in her hometown is always special! She was featured in a 15-minute solo Cry when the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater hit The Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric.

Fellow dance alumna Courtney Celeste Spears is “a natural” at Ailey II, dancing with “speed, clarity and elegance of spirit” according to The New York Times dance critic Gia Kourlas.

“The work that we present needs to be very reflective of our current society,” says Jeremy McQueen about The Black Iris Project, the ballet collective that will foster new works about black lives and history. BSA alumna and Washington Ballet dancer Nardia Boodoo starred in McQueen’s original ballet of the same name and will continue to work with the choreographer.

Stellar Music

A Grammy Award nomination was just a warm up for BSA alum Anthony J. Brown and Group Therapy. They swept the Stellar Gospel Music Awards with Worth receiving awards including Artist, Song, CD, Producer, Contemporary Group of the Year, and others!

Trumpeter Kenny Bean has won a grant from the Sphinx Org. to go to a conducting competition in Greece.

Nadia Sirota‘s Meet the Composer podcast won a 2016 Peabody Award. The award celebrates media arts of the highest ambitions and standards. Nadia is also playing with Brooklyn sextet yMusic and Ben Folds at the Sydney Opera House this August.

Violinist Anna Elashvili‘s nonprofit organization Decoda took music created by inmates at one of South Carolina’s most dangerous prisons to the White House. Members of the group performed “Welcome to my World” for an audience including U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Former New York City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan explored musical theatre at the Kennedy Center alongside BSA theatre alum Jesse Carrey-Beaver in To Dance The Musical. Jesse currently stars in the national tour of Dirty Dancing.

Cellist Kevin McFarland and the Jack Quartet performed the New York premieres of works by Marc Sabat and Cenk Ergün, and the world premiere of a work by Derek Bermel, at the 2016 NY Phil Biennial in May. It’s available on demand here.

And congrats to our current music students for these recent accomplishments:

•Senior vocalists Joseph Parrish and Lauren Redditt placed 1st and 2nd place respectively in the Central Maryland Choral Vocal Competition for High School Seniors.

Ryan Bair won 3rd place in the high school division of the Appalachian State University guitar festival’s competition.

Seth Schultheis recently soloed at a concert with the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra in Annapolis.

•Junior Cierra Hall, a member of the 2016 Maryland All-State Band, was a featured flute soloist at the Maryland Music Educators Association Conference.

Local Politics

BSA alum Ryan Dorsey won in Baltimore’s 3rd District’s primary election for City Council!

Earlier This Year:

BSA alum Chris Featherstone got a nod at this year’s Grammys through his work as a producer on Kehlani’s “You Should Be Here.” The song is the lead single of the album nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album.

In January, current BSA senior Jaylyn Simmons traveled to Miami as a finalist in Classical Voice in the prestigious YoungArts competition where she worked and performed with hundreds of the nation’s most talented young artists. See Jaylyn’s performance hereBrandon Woody received a merit award in jazz, and Joseph Parrish, honorable mention in the competition.

They’re not the only alumni and students to be recognized for prestigious awards. Other recent accolades include: BSA alumnus Eric Barryman won a 2016 Princess Grace Foundation Award. BSA alumnae Courtney Spears and Jacqueline Green won this presitigious award in 2015 and 2014, respectively. Alexandra Albrecht was nominated for a BESSIE in 2015. Shalita Grant was nominated for a Tony in 2013. Lance Coadie Williams received an Obie in 2014. Kyle Tata ’08 was a recent finalist for Baltimore’s Sondheim Artscape Prize.

And a few more BSA alumni appearances on stage and in the news:

  • Actor Jonathan Burke made his Broadway debut in a new production of Tuck Everlasting.
  • Grad Anthony Leonard applies his artistic skills to cooking with great success. His Southern Blues was named the #2 Best Black-Owned restaurant in Baltimore by the Black Business Directory.
  • Darius Barnes, Bahiyah Hibah, and Rebecca Hargrove were part of the ensemble in a revival of Cabin in the Sky at City Center in February.
  • BSA grad Sara VanDerBeek was one of 10 artists featured in Photo-Poetics at the Guggenheim, an exhibit that examines the concerns of a younger generation of artists and contextualizes their work within the history of art and visual culture.
  • Jeweler Shana Kroiz is interviewed with fellow makers at the new Baltimore Jewelry Center in a Baltimore Magazine feature.
  • In addition to her role on NCIS: New Orleans, Shalita Grant appeared as Aurelia Johnson on the new PBS series Mercy Street.
  • Grad Olivia Ercolano recently worked with mentors Donald Hicken and Tony Tsendeas in Three Sisters at Annapolis Shakespeare Company.
  • The Sun recently featured a gallery of BSA alumni — To see it, click here.

Recent Student Headliners:

  • Theatre student Laura Seaberg earned perfect SATs — She was interviewed on FOX News about her incredible accomplishment.
  • Current theatre tech students Jeffrey Obike and Ben Loviglio-Wolf, working for Wide Angle Youth Media, helped to produce several videos that were aired on Maryland Public Television in October as part of American Graduate Day. Check out the project here.
  • Current dance student Aeron Buchanan was featured in DC’s Ngoma Reader. There’s also a wonderful piece about Baltimore’s dance community in the issue.
  • Blake Hopkins, current music student, appeared in a national holiday ad for Amtrak. Find it here! Blake also performed with the NeWorks Inspirational Voice Choir at a concert this December with Andrea Bocelli.
  • Musicians Grace Carney, Luka Stefanovic, and Seth Schultheis were named Reinecke Youth Chamber Music Fellows. Grace Carney, along with Matthew Olmstead and Brandon Woody, were BSA Concerto Competition winners. Hear them play this spring!
  • Isa Guitian earned rave reviews as the teen protagonist, Maxine Hunter, in Rep Stage’s production of Jami Brandli’s Technicolor Life this fall.

The School in the National and Local Spotlight

Last spring the venerated PBS NewsHour took an in-depth look at our school, speaking with students, faculty and visiting artists. Join them for a tour of the school and learn how “grace and grit” help to propel our young artists to success. Click here to watch.

BSA’s spring production of Imagined Worlds received a 2015 Best of Baltimore designation in Baltimore Magazine‘s annual celebratory August issue. Chosen as Best Innovation in the Arts Category, the production was described as “edgy,” “inventive,” with “mind-bending characters and music.” The article continued to say, “In regular BSA fashion, the students performed with true artistry. It’s incredible that they are still teenagers, and their futures are obviously bright.” For a little IW sizzle reel to refresh your memory, click here. To see the article, click here.

In April, The Baltimore Suns Tim Smith called the collaboration “a brave new swirl of dance, music and visuals.” He was “quite taken with everything I saw and heard in this multimedia venture” and concluded, “If more high schools enjoyed even a fraction of the imagination and commitment the BSA demonstrated with “The Codex Project,” we wouldn’t have to worry so much about the state of education in this country.” To read Tim Smith’s review and see his video, click here. 

Broadening Access to Dance Careers

BSA was described as a “comfortable melting pot” in an article by Mary McCauley “On unequal footing” in The Sun (April 2015). Jacqueline Green (Alvin Ailey) and Keenan English (Dance Theatre of Harlem), profiled in the piece, are just two of many BSA grads with dance careers. The school was recognized as playing a role in helping to launch African American dancers.

BSA Dance grad Angela Harris, a fellow at School of American Ballet, was quoted in a recent New York Times article about diversity in dance. Two former BSA dancers, one from TWIGS (Kennard Henson pictured in the article) and another from the high school, are current students at S.A.B.

Baltimore’s Leaders Recognize School

In a June 2015 piece in The Baltimore Sun, Dr. Lillian Lowery, former Maryland Schools Superintendent, cited BSA as one of her favorite places in Baltimore, “Every time I step through the doors of the Baltimore School for the Arts, I get the feeling that I may be about to witness the next big star. Perhaps it’ll be a singer, dancer, or maybe an actor. Maybe a trumpet player or painter. The BSA is a very special place, drawing creative students from Baltimore and beyond. The school offers performances and exhibits galore for all to experience.” Click here for the story.

In November 2014 in a Sun Commentary, Mark K. Joseph told the remarkable story of the founding of BSA, concluding, “after 35 years the Baltimore School for the Arts is still a place where artistic stars shine and kids’ lives are changed.” Click here to read the letter. In another Sun editorial earlier the same week, BSA students and their peers at Poly and City College were recognized as reasons for Baltimore residents to be proud of their city.

We’re pleased to make The Founders, a student and faculty-produced video about the birth of BSA, available online at This is a must see if you’re a fan of BSA!

Join the Newsletter

Sign Up for Updates!