Introducing the Performing Arts Department Faculty...

Mori Achen / Paul Ackah / Rosana Barragan / Linda Baumgardner / James BrosnahanDan Cawthon / Michael Cook /Catherine Marie Davalos / Rebecca Engle / Julie Ford / Dawn Foster-Dodson / Pamela Freund-Striplen / Patrice Hambelton / Donald Kennelly / Bliss Kohlmyer / Daniel Larlham / Dana Lawton / Sharon Lee / Rojelio Lopez Adam Luftman /Dave Maier / John Maltester / Frank Murray / Donna Olson / Megan Opel / Elizebeth Randall / Lino Rivera / Martin Rokeach / Vera Schwegler / Jennifer SmithTimothy M. Smith / Anthony Striplen / Wendy Tamis / Shaunna Vella / Michael Williams / Renée Witon / Jia Wu / Deanna Zibello


Mori Achen

Classical Guitar

Mori Achen earned his M.A. in Guitar Performance from California State University, East Bay, where he studied with James Bertram. He has performed contemporary music in several Composer's Inc. concerts and a wide range of repertoire in solo and chamber recitals throughout the Bay Area. In addition to Saint Mary's, he teaches at the Crowden School of Music and maintains a private studio. He is a member of WindString Duo and the Mori Achen Trio.


Paul Ackah (a.k.a. Pope Flynn)

African Dance, Dance class accompanist/percussionist

Ghanaian performer/composer/educator Paul Ackah (a.k.a. Pope Flynn) is best known as lead vocalist for the legendary Sweet Talks band of Ghana, where he brought the art of highlife music to new heights. When not on stage, he shares his joyful spirit and vast knowledge of African folk music, dancing and percussion with his legions of American students. He joined the Performing Arts Department of Saint Mary's College in 2001, where he is percussionist/accompanist in dance classes and teaches African dance.


Rosana Barragan

Dance, Choreography, Yoga

Rosana Barragan is a dance and movement artist and educator from Colombia.  She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Social Studies from Universidad Javeriana in Bogota and a Master’s degree in Dance from the Laban Centre/City University in London.  She is also certified in Yoga, Participatory Arts and as a Somatic Movement Therapist and Educator.  Rosana worked as a professor of dance and researcher at Universidad Javeriana and at Academia Superior de Artes de Bogota in her native country for five years before she moved to the United States in 2006 to work with the Latin Ballet of Virginia as the Educational Program Director.  Rosana has been around dance since birth, inheriting the art form from her mother; Rosana comes from a family of dancers and her technique evolves from her life experience in movement, combining her European training in contemporary dance with her early training in classical ballet, her Latin American roots, Yoga and a high influence of the world of Somatics (Bartenieff Fundamentals, Body Mind Centering, Laban Movement Analysis and the Alexander Technique).  As a choreographer, she questions and explores new approaches to the body in art practice and creates challenges for her work to be performed in unconventional sites.  Her artistic interests move her along the territory of the socially conscious body through somatic movement exploration.  Her site-specific works have received several awards and have been performed on sites such as: the Thames River beaches in London, parks, plazas, churches, roofs, glass cubes and art galleries.  She has received various grants for choreography from the Government of Colombia and Mexico as well as from the National Endowment for the Arts through the Latin Ballet of Virginia.  In 2006 Rosana obtained the National Dance Research Award given by the Colombian Ministry of Culture.  She has publications in Arts Journals and Dance books in Colombia and her artistic work has been shown in Central and South America, Europe and the United States.  Rosana owns a dance school for children in San Francisco and has worked as a professor of dance at Saint Mary’s College since 2008.


Linda Baumgardner

Production Coordinator, Resident Lighting Designer

Linda Baumgardner  is a lighting designer, stage manager, and production manager who has worked in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Chicago, at venues including: The Kennedy Center, ODC Theatre, The Cowell Theatre, The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, CounterPULSE, Dance Mission Theater, Pier39 Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Osher Studio, and The San Francisco Circus Center. Select lighting design credits include: Volver for The Latin Ballet of Virginia; the premiere of Wonderland for the San Francisco Circus Center’s Professional Aerial Program; the premieres of Time Sensitive and The Fortune Project: Complete Works for Ragged Wing Ensemble; A Wintery Mix and Six Questions for Davalos Dance Company; Beyond This Moment, Inside, Horsethief Lake, Coasting, Del Mar, Meet Me at the Shenanigan and Who is She? for Dana Lawton Dances; Okeanos Intimate and the premiere of  The Perfect Flower for Capacitor.  Select management credits include: the North American Premiere of Sextuor L’Origine des Especes at CalArts (stage manager); the world premiere of Richard Foreman’s What to Wear at REDCAT (assistant stage manager); the world premiere of That Untravelled World at CalArts (production manager); the world premiere of Open (producer) and the world premiere of Handless (production manager) for Ragged Wing Ensemble. She worked as Producer and Company Manager for foolsFURY where she produced the 2009 FURY Factory, an international ensemble theatre festival which featured works by 23 companies, including many San Francisco artists, and ensembles from as far as Afghanistan and the UK. Additionally, she worked as Managing Director and Producer for Ragged Wing Ensemble for their 2010-2011 season, transitioning to the position of Developing Board Chair for 2011-2013.  She served on the California Institute of the Arts Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2006 to 2013, acting as Co-Chair for the San Francisco Chapter from 2010 to 2013. Ms. Baumgardner has been a member of the Saint Mary’s College Performing Arts Department faculty since 2008, teaching classes in production and design for theatre and dance and serving as the resident lighting designer for the Saint Mary’s College Dance Company.  Currently she serves as the Chair of the Ragged Wing Ensemble Board of Directors and as a member of the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) Board of Directors. She holds an MFA in Theatre: Design and Production with a double emphasis in Stage Management and Production Management from California Institute of the Arts, and a BA in Performing Arts from Saint Mary’s College.


James Brosnahan


James Brosnahan holds a Bachelor's degree in English Literature and a Masters in Fine arts in Web Design and New Media and most proudly is the father of two. As a dancer he started training in his home town of Berkeley, then went on to tour the United States and Europe, performing in shows with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Bobby McFerrin, Julio Iglesias, and Little Richard, and was a featured swing dancer in the movie Swing (2003). Brosnahan was the choreographer for the Disney movie James and the Giant Peach, as well as the animation choreographer for the 20th Century Fox movie Monkeybone. He has choreographed and danced for Dance Through Time and The Dick Bright Orchestra and recently worked as choreographer for the animatronics “Lake of Dreams” exhibit currently showing at the Wynn hotel and casino in Las Vegas. James completed an extensive teaching residency program for Edinburgh International Art Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. He has taught for 12 years for San Francisco Ballet’s DISC program and is in his 16th year on the faculty of St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA.


Dan Cawthon (Professor Emeritus)

Acting, Theatre History, History of Musical Theatre

Fascinated by the intersection of spirituality and theatre, Professor Dan Cawthon holds a Ph.D. in theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the theological underpinnings in Eugene O'Neill's late plays. He holds a graduate degree in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome and another in literature from the University of Tulsa.

From 1971-1980, he taught in the Religious Studies Department at the University of Manitoba (Canada). He then joined the Religious Studies faculty of Saint Mary's College, and was instrumental in establishing its Performing Arts Department, which he chaired for 12 years. He has directed more than two dozen student productions at the college that cover a wide range of styles and traditions including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Zoo Story, Inherit the Wind, Rashomon, The Fantasticks, Hippolytus, Man of La Mancha and Our Town. He is also a founding member of the Graduate Liberal Studies faculty at Saint Mary's and served for many years on its advisory board.

Dan is a member of Actors' Equity Association, and has performed at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the San Jose Repertory Theatre, the California (Berkeley) Shakespeare Festival, and other theatres in the Bay Area. His performance of DAMIEN, a one-man play recounting the life of Father Damien de Veuster, the Leper Priest of Molokai, which was first performed at the Berkeley Stage Company, toured extensively—culminating in a two-week run at the Edinburgh Festival in 1989. The production was remounted in 2007 and numerous performances took place throughout California.

Dan is the Artistic Director of the Eugene O'Neill Foundation, Tao House (in Danville), Along with his many directing assignments there and at Saint Mary's College, he has directed at the Willows Theatre (Concord) and the Walnut Creek Center Repertory Theatre.


Michael Cook

Design, Retired Technical Theater, Retired Children's Theater Director

Michael R. Cook has been designing and directing professionally in and around the Bay Area for the past thirty years. Among the professional companies and colleges he has designed for are Berkeley Shakespeare Festival (Resident Designer and Production Manager - 8 years), California Shakespeare Festival, San Jose Rep. (Resident Designer - 3 years), Shakespeare at Paul Masson (VITA - Resident Designer - 4 years) and Saint Mary's College (Resident Designer - 18 years). In addition he has been a Guest Designer for the California Actors Theatre, Contra Costa Music Theatre, The Attic Theatre, Saratoga Chamber Theatre, Berkeley Jewish Theatre, San Jose Stage Company, Sunnyvale Repertory Theatre, Solano College and Tau House among others. He has also Stage Managed and Tour Managed in Europe, United States and Canada. Michael is also an actor, (a longstanding member of the Actors Equity Association) and a director, and has directed at many theatres around the Bay Area. His two most recent directing assignments were “City Of Angels” (the only Broadway show with a jazz score) and “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum." He now home bases out of Saint Mary's College of California where he teaches and is the resident Scenic and Lighting Designer for the Performing Arts Department. He is also the Theatre Manager, in charge of all the technical aspects of running the theatre. Last year he received the “Freeman Award” from the Eugene O'Neill Foundation in Danville, California

Michael is most proud of having created and directed all the shows for the Children's Theatre Program at Saint Mary's College. Now in it's 15th season, its offerings have included Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Charlotte's Web, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Ugly Duckling and The Princess and the Pea, and each year draws capacity audiences of elementary and pre-school students. In 2004 Michael wrote and performed around the country a one-man show based on the life of Saint John Baptist De La Salle, called “Saint John Baptist De La Salle — Journey Of A Man.” He was blessed to have Jeffra (his wife) and SMC theatre professor Dan Cawthon co-direct this production. Jeffra also wrote and produced all the original music for the play. Also a painter and sculptor, Michael recently had an exhibit called “portraits," presented by the Library at Saint Mary's College.

CatherineMarie Davalos

Modern Dance, Choreography, Dance History, Dance Criticism and Analysis

CatherineMarie Davalos is a Chicana choreographer.  Her work emerges from her Mexican voice and the constant rediscovery of identity.  She has been inspired by contemporary Chicano literature because of the thematic similarities between their words and her life.  “We are all looking for a place to fit, a space to identify proudly with our heritage. Growing up in Southern California with brown skin makes you both invisible and the target.”  Davalos makes dances that question heteronormativity using a feminist, Latina, and Chicana perspective.  She utilizes a movement style that is rooted in breath and momentum.  Her dances are often multilayered interweaving theatre with pure movement, humor with satire, and a political agenda with sexuality.  Her passion is to cross many borders and delve into the coalescence and contradictions of being a Chicana and a Mexican American Princess.

The Davalos Dance Company has been presented at various venues since its inception in 1994.  Ms. Davalos is currently working on a new duet with Rogelio Lopez; it is based on the Aztec dancing tradition and will be performed for Dia de Los Muertos with the Latin Ballet of Virginia in October 2013.  Previously, she created a full evening work titled Volver with Ana Ines King and the Latin Ballet of Virginia, October 2012.  They received numerous grants for this dance theatre piece including one from the National Endowment for the Arts.  San Francisco dance space, CounterPulse, produced the Davalos Dance Company for A Wintry Mix in 2012.  In addition to choreography by Davalos, this concert also featured the work of dance faculty members Rogelio Lopez and Shaunna Vella.   In 2011, Ms. Davalos had the pleasure of a choreographic collaboration with dance faculty members Rosana Barragán, Dana Lawton, and Jia Wu.  Who Is She? premiered at the San Francisco International Art Festival at the Southside Theater in May 2010. The Davalos Dance Company celebrated their 15th anniversary season in 2009 with Six Questions set to live music composed by Martin Rokeach.  In 2008, Terrain, premiered in Port Townsend, WA, in a shared evening of dance with world-renowned choreographer and dance teacher Bill Evans. Borders, Spaces and Brown-Eyed Girls (a reconstruction of a 1995 group piece) premiered as a solo in August 2007 at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus, St. Paul, MN.  Her trio Finding Equal, was performed at the Cowell Theater in San Francisco, CA with the Vision Series, December 2007.  In 2006, Blue Monkeys was created after visiting Guadalajara, Mexico.  It premiered at Raw and Uncut, Footloose Dance Studio, San Francisco, CA, was also performed at Centrum Center for the Arts, Port Townsend, WA, and Works in the Works, Berkeley, CA.  The company was chosen for the Women on the Way Festival in January 2006 for the full evening work “Dreams Suite”  which was created with the generous support of the Zellerbach Family Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Faculty Development Office of Saint Mary’s College of California.   January 2005 marked the 10th anniversary of the Davalos Dance Company and they celebrated with a concert at ODC Theater in San Francisco.  The concert, Sacral Queens, Latinas, and Dreams was praised by Rita Felciano in  In January they also performed in the Women of the World Festival at Dance Mission and at the Dance IS Festival 2005, at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, in Berkeley.  In 2004, they were part of the Printz Dance Project’s performance, Encore 2, in San Rafael, CA and the Saint Mary’s College Dance Company spring concert, Mandala, Moraga, CA.  In 2002 they were produced by ODC Theater for Rock, Paper, Song, as part of the series, Migrations.   This honor was awarded after performing One Size Fits All in Pilot 33 and Moon Dance in Pilot 35.  July of 1998 marked the company’s Northern California debut when they performed two new dances for Summerfest/Dance ’98.  Later that year, the company performed at Saint Mary’s College with the CLAM series.  In 1997 Ms. Davalos received a second multi-cultural grant to perform at the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).  The first grant was awarded in 1995 for Mixed Company.  In 1996 she was presented by Highways (Santa Monica, California) for American But Hyphenated.   Highways also presented her full-evening work Borders, Spaces, and Brown-Eyed Girls in 1995. The Davalos Dance Company has performed at Beyond Baroque (Venice, CA) with VIVA for Chicks and Salsa ‘95, the Long Beach Museum of Art (Long Beach, CA) for the Children’s Cultural Festival; Highways for Fierce Tongues, A Celebration of Latina Art & Artists, produced by Luis Alfaro and Monica Palacios; and they performed with Voices In Motion V, at LACE (Hollywood, CA).  Ms. Davalos performed at the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.) when her duet Doblez was chosen to represent the Southwest region at the National College Dance Festival in 1994.  She was nominated for the Dance Magazine “Outstanding Choreographer” award for 1994 and the Los Angeles, Lester Horton Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography, 1997.  The Davalos Dance Company has been praised in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.  Her work has been supported by the Zellerbach Family Fund and by the generous support of the Faculty Development Fund of Saint Mary’s College of California where she is also the Director of Dance and a Professor in the Performing Arts Department.  She has been at Saint Mary’s since 1997 when she was hired to develop the dance program.  In 2010, the Saint Mary’s College Dance Company received national recognition when they were invited through adjudication to perform at the Kennedy Center for the National College Dance Festival.  Ms. Davalos received a BA in Philosophy and Dance and an MFA in Dance from CSU, Long Beach, where she was honored with the title “Most Outstanding Graduate for the College of the Arts.””

Rebecca Engle

Theatre History, Acting, Theatre Masterpieces

Rebecca Engle has worked as a professional actress and director at such Bay Area institutions as the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival, the Eureka Theatre and the Bay Area Playwright's Festival. Before joining the Performing Arts faculty at Saint Mary's College, she taught in the theatre training programs of San Jose State, UC Berkeley and the Drama Studio of London at Berkeley, among others. As a director, Ms. Engle is known for her physically-heightened ensemble-driven productions of contemporary American plays - Ellen McLaughlin's Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Anthony Clarvoe's The Brothers Karamazov, Octavio Solis' Marfa Lights and Susan Lori Parks' Venus among them. Her directorial work has been frequently honored by the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. In 2005 she received their "Excellence in Education" award, and at the start of 2009 she was awarded the 2009 Kennedy Center National teaching Artist Grant. Ms. Engle has extensive experience with the collaborative process, and her work with playwrights, poets, dancers and musicians has yielded a number of original, movement-based works of theatre.

Dawn Foster-Dodson

Cello, Chamber Music

Dawn Foster-Dodson has performed as a soloist on most of the major concert series in the Bay Area. She is frequently the Principal Cellist of the Best of Broadway theatrical productions at the Orpheum, Curran and Golden Gate Theatres. For twenty-three years she played with the San Jose Symphony, and she has also been a member of the California Symphony, Oakland East Bay Symphony, and most other Bay Area orchestras. She has played with many of the world's favorite vocalists, including Pavarotti, Marion Anderson, Ray Charles, Liza Minelli, Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Ben Vereen, Rod Stewart, and Smoky Robinson. She maintains an active teaching studio, and joined the Performing Arts Department faculty in 1998, coaching chamber music ensembles and teaching string classes.


Dr. Julie Ford

Director, Glee Club and Chamber Singers

Dr. Julie Ford is a classical and jazz conductor, vocalist, and educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. As an Associate Professor of Music at Saint Mary’s College of California, she directs the Chamber Singers, Glee Club, and Jazz Choir, and teaches lyric diction, sight-singing, piano, and conducting. The SMC Glee and Chamber Singers received Gold Medals at the 2014 World Choir Games. As Director of Liturgical Music at St. Mary’s, Dr. Ford directs music for masses and ecumenical services. She also sings professionally in Moodswing, a vocal jazz quartet (2005 Champions of the San Francisco Harmony Sweepstakes). From 2002-2013, she served as Director of Worship and Music at Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church leading worship as vocalist and pianist, directing choirs, and conducting choral-orchestral works biannually; the LOPC Chamber Singers performed at the 2009 ACDA National Convention. Dr. Ford served two terms as Repertoire & Standards Chair of Music in Worship (CA-ACDA) and guest conducts, leads workshops, and adjudicates throughout northern and central California. She holds degrees from San José State University (Bachelors-Voice), The Eastman School of Music (Masters-Conducting) and the University of Oklahoma (Doctorate-Choral Conducting), and is indebted to her primary conducting teachers: Perla Warren, Charlene Archibeque, Donald Neuen, and Dennis Shrock. For more information, please visit Dr. Ford's website,


Pamela Freund-Striplen

Violin, Viola

Violist Pamela Freund-Striplen is a member of the St. Mary's College faculty and Artistic Director of the Gold Coast Chamber Players. Her chamber music credits include San Francisco Symphony's Chamber Music Sundaes, Midsummer Mozart, Composers, Inc., UCSF's Chancellor's Concert Series and the California Mozart Society. In April 1999, she was a guest artist in chamber music concerts in Germany, and was invited in November 2001 to join the Amati Quartet in Holland for a quintet concert. Her recent solo appearances include performances in Holland with members of the Rotterdam Philharmonic. She studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and with the Curtis Quartet in Philadelphia, where she received the Young Musician's Award in chamber music two consecutive years. Pamela has performed with the San Diego Symphony and as Principal Violist with the San Diego Opera before relocating to the Bay Area. She became Principal Violist of San Francisco Opera's touring company, Western Opera Theater, touring nationally for three years, and performs frequently with the San Francisco Symphony and Opera Orchestras. In 1994 she was invited to tour Europe with the New European Strings, under the direction of Dmitry Sitkovetsky, and has performed with them at the Seattle International Music Festival. Pamela is an active recording artist, performing regularly for film projects at George Lucas' recording studio, Skywalker Sound. She has a private teaching studio in Lafayette and is a frequent guest coach throughout the state, most recently for the American String Teachers Institute for Chamber Music in Los Angeles and the University of the Pacific in Stockton.


Patrice Hambelton


Patrice Hambelton studied flute at Whittier College and the Music Academy of the West, and was the winner of the Prestigious Los Angeles Phi Beta Auditions for Young Artists. She has performed in master classes with Julius Baker, Geoffrey Gilbert, Alain Marion, and James Galway. She served as Principal flutist for the Arch Ensemble in both concerts and recordings, touring with the ensemble throughout the United States and Europe. Currently, she performs with the Berkeley Symphony in their Music Education Program and freelances throughout the Bay Area.

Donald Kennelly


Donald Kennelly is a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra’s trombone section, where he has held a position since 1980. A graduate of San Francisco State University, he has been Principal Trombonist with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and a featured soloist with that ensemble on both alto and tenor trombones.

He has also performed as a member of the Carmel Bach Festival, the Lake Tahoe Summer Music Festival, the Midsummer Mozart Festival, and Sinfonia San Francisco. In addition to his responsibilities with the Opera, Don enjoys an active schedule with the Golden Gate Brass Quintet.



Bliss Kohlmyer


Bliss Kohlmyer began her training in Wooster, Ohio. She attended The Juilliard School for two years, and then graduated from Dickinson College with a BA in Dramatic Arts. In New York City, she danced and toured internationally with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and The Sean Curran Company. In San Francisco, she danced with Janice Garrett and Dancers, Robert Moses' Kin, and The San Francisco Opera Ballet, among others. Bliss has set Moses’ “The Supplicant” and “Lucifer’s Prance” at Cal Poly University and assisted in setting “Speaking Ill of the Dead” at Jacob’s Pillow. She was on faculty at ODC School for a number of years and was a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley from 2007-2009. Bliss has taught master classes at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, The University of Nevada at Reno, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, Arizona State University, San Francisco State University, Cal Poly University, Stanford University, and The San Francisco Dance Center. She has also been an artist-in-residence for the San Francisco Arts Education Project and is a certified pilates instructor. Along with Kara Davis, she established project agora in 2006, co-producing two evenings of work at Dance Mission. Studying the intersection of dance and technology, Bliss recently received her MFA in Dance from The University of Washington.

Prof. Daniel Larlham


Assistant Professor of Theatre

Daniel Larlham, Assistant Professor of Theatre, joined Saint Mary’s Performing Arts Department in 2014.  A performance-maker and theatre researcher invested in the reciprocal relationship between theory and practice, Daniel holds a PhD from Columbia University and an MFA from NYU’s Graduate Acting Program.  His research and teaching interests include systems of actor training, theatre and philosophy, comedy, voice, and South African performance.  Daniel’s scholarly work has appeared in TDR/The Drama Review, Theater (Yale), Theatre JournalTheatre Survey, and The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation; he contributed a chapter on Stanislavsky and Tolstoy to the recently published Routledge Companion to Stanislavsky (2013).  Over the past handful of years, Daniel has directed collaborative adaptations of Bertolt Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle and Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.  He will direct Brecht’s The Good Person of Setzuan as Saint Mary’s spring 2015 mainstage production.

Dana Lawton

Director, SMC Dance Company

Dana Lawton has been dancing and choreographing for twenty five years, Dana is a founding member of Janice Garrett & Dancers, and has had the honor of performing works by Joe Goode (Joe Goode Performance Group), Randee Paufve (Paufve Dance), Nina Haft (Nina Haft & Company), Rebecca Salzer (Rebecca Salzer Dance Theater), and CatherineMarie Davalos (Davalos Dance Company), among others.  In 2006, Dana was the Artist-in-Residence at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, and founded her company Dana Lawton Dances. Her recent focus on collaboration with innovative composers has been very exciting. Dana created Coasting, in collaboration with Los Angeles-based composer, David Karagianis, was invited to perform at the Isadora Duncan Awards Ceremony at the Brava Theater in San Francisco, the Work Gallery in Brooklyn, New York and the Dallas Hub Theater in Dallas, Texas.  Dana Lawton Dances co-produced, 18 Virgo Horses with CounterPulse in San Francisco.  The evening garnered rave reviews from the San Francisco Bay Guardian calling Lawton's work "evocative", "delicious", and "fresh and rich."  Who is She?, in collaboration with dance faculty Rosana Barragán, CatherineMarie Davalos, Jia Wu, and composer EJ Youngblood, premiered at the San Francisco International Arts Festival in 2010, and was praised as “mesmerizing.” Her present collaboration Beyond This Moment, with Sean McCue and Michelle Beauchesne marks the first time the Dana’s work uses live musical performance. Dana was awarded “Outstanding Performer” in the 2000 Vision Series, for her own solo choreographic performance, and nominated for an Isadora Duncan Award (Izzy) for her performance in Garrett’s Wayfarers in 2002.  Dana Lawton Dances has been presented in the Women on the Way Festival, The Harvest Festival, Stage Dor Showcase, 2nd Sundays Series, the Vision Series, The Pilot and Flight Series at ODC, Summerfest Dance, and the San Francisco International Arts Festival.  Dana holds an MFA in Choreography from Mills College and a BFA in Dance from California Institute of the Arts.  She is an associate professor at Saint Mary's College , a faculty member at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center and a certified yoga instructor.


Sharon Lee


Sharon Lee joined the St. Mary's College Music Faculty in the fall of 2008.  She actively performs as choral accompanist, collaborative pianist, vocal coach, music director, and piano instructor. She has performed and recorded throughout New England and the nation, with various colleges, companies, and organizations including the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Children’s Chorus, MassTheatrica, Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute, New England Conservatory, Wellesley College, and Boston College. During past summers, Ms. Lee attended the Music Academy of the West, SongFest Professional Program, and Mendocino Music Festival's Emerging Artists Program.  She has participated in masterclasses with Mitsuko Shirai, Martin Katz, Graham Johnson, Pierre Vallet, Thomas Quasthoff, Warren Jones, Craig Smith, John Harbison and Myung-Hwa Chung.  

Ms. Lee graduated with honors in music from UC Berkeley and continued her studies at the New England Conservatory where she received her Master's degree with honors and distinction in performance in Collaborative Piano.  She then furthered her Collaborative Piano studies at the conservatory to receive her Graduate Diploma.  Ms. Lee's teachers have included Irma Vallecillo, Kayo Iwama and John Greer, and Barbara Shearer. 

Aside from working at St. Mary's College, Ms. Lee accompanies for the Voci Women's Choral Ensemble, teaches and accompanies at the Crowden Music School in North Berkeley, and loves teaching students of all ages in her private piano studio.  Sharon, her husband Eurus, and her two young daughters love living in the Bay Area, close to family and friends. 


Rojelio Lopez


is a dance instructor, choreographer, costume, lighting, and scenic designer. He earned his MFA in dance at CSU Long Beach. Rogelio has danced professionally for Vox Theater, PTERO Dance Company, Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, Keith Johnson, Hope Mohr, Joe Goode, Ledges and bones, Nina Half, among others.  He has set work for Copious Dance Company, Loyola Mary Mount University, Cerritos College, Fresno State, Modesto Jr. College, San Jose State University, Saint Mary’s college, Wild Wood Secondary School, Shawl- Anderson Youth Ensemble. His choreography has been presented by the American College Dance Festival Association, in Gala Performances and at National College Dance Festival at The Kennedy Center in Washingtion D.C. Rogelio has won three Lester Horton awards, two as a dancer and one as scenic designer and was also a winner at the United States Institute of Theater Technology for "Best Student Set Design" in Region VIII. Presently he is on faculty at Saint Mary’s College, San Jose State University and Shawl-Anderson Dance Studio.


Adam Luftman


Originally from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Adam Luftman joined the San Francisco Opera Orchestra as Principal Trumpet in 2007. Before moving to San Francisco, Mr. Luftman spent two seasons with the Baltimore Symphony, three as Co-Principal Trumpet of the new World Symphony in Miami, and one with Civic Orchestra of Chicago.During his time off from the opera, Adam has been a guest artist with many of the country's finest orchestras, including The Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, and Seattle Symphony. He has also enjoyed domestic and international touring, as well as recording with some of these ensembles.

During the summer, Mr. Luftman has performed at the Grand Teton Music Festival, Mainly Mozart Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, National Repertory Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute, Spoleto Festival, Music Academy of the West, Breckenridge Music Festival, and the Pacific Music Festival in Japan.

As a soloist, Mr. Luftman has been featured with the New World Symphony, New Century Chamber Orchestra, Springfield (MA) and Canton (OH) Symphonies, and twice with the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra. In addition to his orchestral work, Mr. Luftman has also performed with the Bay Brass, New World Brass Quintet, Breckenridge Brass, and is an avid jazz musician.

Adam has recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, for ESPN Sunday Night Football, and on many movie and video game soundtracks recorded at George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch in California. He can be heard on Naxos, Ondine, and Sony records.

Mr. Luftman is currently on the faculty of San Francisco State University and Saint Mary's College. He has presented masterclasses all over the country, including at The San Francisco Conservatory, New World Symphony, Baltimore School for the Arts, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and Tanglewood.

An honors graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Interlochen Arts Academy, Mr. Luftman's teachers have included Michael Sachs, Raymond Mase, Mark Gould and Adolph Herseth. 


Dave Maier

Fight Director/ Stage Combat Instructor

Dave Maier is an award winning fight director whose recent work includes Macbeth (Shotgun Players), Rich & Famous (ACT), and Crime and Punishment (Berkeley Rep).  In addition to working with St. Mary’s Theatre program, he has built fights for UC Davis,The Magic Theatre, African American Shakespeare, Impact Theatre, Cal Shakes, Shakespeare Santa Cruz and Berkeley Opera, among others.  He is an Associate Instructor of theatrical combat with Dueling Arts International and a member of Actor Equity Association.  Dave also teaches at Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, where he serves as Outreach Coordinator, and has taught courses at UC Santa Cruz and Cal State University East Bay.  Some current projects include The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Berkeley Rep), Romeo and Juliet (Cal Shakes), and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Impact Theatre).

John Maltester

Director, SMC Jazz Band

John Maltester earned his Bachelors and Masters of Arts degrees from Cal-State University at Hayward. In addition to directing the Jazz Band at Saint Mary's (a position he's held since 2006), he has been Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Los Medanos College for thirty-five years and is also Music Director Emeritus of the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra and Artistic Director for the Diablo Wind Symphony.

Mr. Maltester brings a diverse background of abilities to the conductor's podium. He directs bands, orchestras, jazz bands, and chamber ensembles. Recognitions include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Parent Teacher Association, Outstanding Educator of the Year Award (1989-90) at Los Medanos College, the KABL Citizen of the Day award (1984), the President's award for Lifetime Contribution to Education at Los Medanos College (1999), and the Contra Costa County Regional Arts Council award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts (1999). He has been listed in the “Who's Who in Education” in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2004. He is involved in several community-oriented activities including the Contra Costa Arts Council as well as several advisory board positions. He is one of only two conductors to conduct both the California State Honor Band and Honor Jazz Band.

His ensembles have performed at countless local, regional, state, and national music conferences, as well as many international venues. The LMC Jazz Ensemble received a Superior rating at the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Jazz Festival for twenty-six straight years. The LMC Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble have toured Hawaii, Europe, Australia, Jamaica, China, and the Pacific Northwest as well as throughout the Western United States. In the brief time he has directed the Saint Mary's Jazz Band, the ensemble has enjoyed dramatic growth both in numbers and musical quality.

Mr. Maltester is also active as a trombonist, rehearsal techniques clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor and lecturer throughout Australia, the Western United States, Hawaii, and Alaska. In addition he is the American Youth Soccer Organization Regional Referee Administrator for Area 2C (Contra Costa, Solano, and San Joaquin counties), a National referee and assessor, a USSF referee, and is also active as an ASA umpire. He resides in Martinez, California with his wife and two daughters.

Frank Murray

Theater Director

Frank Murray joined the Performing Arts Department in 1988. He has taught a wide range of theater courses, including theater history of all periods, theater theory and literature, acting, Perceiving the Arts, and theater/film courses during January Term. He is particularly interested in both the origins of theatre and 19th and 20th century drama. He has directed numerous college productions, including Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Trojan Women, She Stoops to Conquer, The Bacchae, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), The Actor's Nightmare, and Little Shop of Horrors. From 2002-04 he served as Chair of the Performing Arts Department, and since that time as Dean for Academic Development. On the side, he sings in the baritone section of "Cantare," one of the Bay Area's finest choirs.

Donna Olson

Voice Instructor

A native of Boston, Donna completed her Bachelor of Music at the Boston Conservatory of Music, Dance & Drama, staying an additional two years to perform with the famous Opera Theater of The Boston and New England Conservatories. She moved west in 1986, met her mentor, Ellen Faull, in Seattle, and has since enjoyed great success as a professional opera singer and voice teacher. Donna is the teacher and founder of The Vocal Studio in Oakland, CA, specializing in all aspects of bridging the gap from undergraduate to graduate studies for serious young singers. Many of her students are working professionals and many have gone on to receive full scholarships to major institutions such as Boston Conservatory, San Francisco Conservatory, University of Arizona, and Loyola University. A well-sought Mezzo Soprano and "artist of great expression" in recital as well as opera, Donna is a frequent performer of oratorio and recital work. She has sung with companies, festivals and orchestras across the United States, including: Seattle Northwest, Fremont, Columbia, Bravo Vancouver, Los Gatos, Newport, Boston, Portland Chamber, and Oregon Symphonies, as well as the Midsummer Mozart and Mendocino Music Festivals. Donna has sung major roles with the Opera Companies of Portland, Sacramento, Nevada, Stockton, Auburn City, Sierra, Washington East, Eugene, West Bay, Livermore, Old Church, Berkeley, and Opera Idaho. She has been the featured soloist on CD recordings of Handel's Messiah, Mozart's Requiem, and Vashti. Recent credits include conducting master classes on vocal technique and speech projection at Starr King Academy, Laney College and UC Berkeley; staging and originating the creative concepts of David Schiff's VASHTI, performing the seven roles with "humor, vocal strength and warmth;" and becoming a member of National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). Donna joins the Performing Arts Department at Saint Mary's College of California as our new Lecturer of Voice.


Elizebeth Randall


is a passionate and endlessly curious teaching artist who believes in dance education as a collaborative experience of growth, joy, and transformation.  She teaches classes in ballet and modern technique, composition, improvisation, and embodied anatomy.  Elizebeth earned her BA in Dance from SFSU and her MFA in Dance Performance & Choreography from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied on full scholarship and was honored with the position of Graduate Student Assistant in Dance History.  Elizebeth has worked with choreographers including Deborah Slater, Paco Gomes, CatherineMarie Davalos, Liss Fain, Jill Johnson, Deborah Jowitt, and Margot Parsons. She is currently choreographing and performing with Stranger Lover Dreamer, the Oakland-based company she co-founded in 2013.  Elizebeth spent three years on faculty at Boston Ballet School and now teaches at SF State and Shawl-Anderson Dance Center.

Lino Rivera

Piano, Chamber Music, Music History

Born in the Philippines, Dr. Lino Rivera won his first national competition at age eight. He has performed as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist, and accompanist on three continents. He has been featured on several radio and television broadcasts, notably live performances with the Manila Symphony Orchestra and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. Rivera makes it his mission to advocate and premiere contemporary works; to explore and meet the artistic, creative, and technical challenges of piano transcriptions (the subject of his doctoral dissertation); and to discover and perform obscure solo piano repertoire throughout the ages.

Rivera is a celebrated performer for Composers, Inc. an organization based in San Francisco dedicated to promoting works by contemporary American composers. Recently he performed many of the Beethoven sonatas in conjunction with renowned music historian Robert Greenberg on a concert lecture series presented at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, California. He is a frequent soloist at Music Teachers' Association of California conferences, and regularly serves as an adjudicator of piano competitions. Recent solo recitals have taken place in Miami, Corpus Christi, Savannah, Chicago, Los Angeles and Anchorag.

Prof. Marty Rokeach

Martin Rokeach

Theory, European Music History, Jazz and Blues History, Chamber Music, World Music

A member of the Performing Arts Department since 1984, composer Martin Rokeach has written music for orchestra, wind symphony, voice, chamber ensembles, solo instruments, and film. His works are widely published, have been performined in more than twenty foreign countries, and have earned honors in fourteen national and international competitions. Upcoming performances include a world premiere with the Oakland East Bay Symphony and concerts in New York, Maine, and Melbourne, Australia. In 1999, he was named Saint Mary's College Professor of the Year. For more information on Martin Rokeach, please visit his website,


Vera Schwegler


Vera Schwegler was in the dance film "Chicken Boy" made by Jia Wu and Cari Ann, which has been released to enthusiastic audiences both in domestic and international festivals. She performed at the Kennedy Center for the 2010 American College Dance Festival and worked with Janice Garrett and Charles Moulten on their production of "The Experience of Flight in Dreams" in 2011, for which the cast was nominated for an Isadora Duncan award. During all of August 2011 she participated in the world renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has been dancing for Dana Lawton Dances since 2007.  After practicing yoga for many years, she received her 500 hour yoga certification from YogaWorks.


Jennifer Smith


Jennifer Smith has been performing and teaching dance in the Bay area for over 20 years. She earned her BA from the University of California, Berkeley in Physical Education/Exercise Science, and her MA from Saint Mary's College in Kinesiology. She is also a certified Pilates instructor. Ms. Smith combines her interest in the art and science of the human body while teaching a variety of classes in the dance studio and the classroom. Ms. Smith was a founding member of the acclaimed California Contemporary Dancers, performing with company for ten years. She currently performs with Dana Lawton Dances.

Timothy Smith

Timothy M. Smith

Director and Conductor, Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra

Timothy M. Smith is Music Director and Conductor of the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra and Professor Emeritus of Music. Maestro Smith is a seasoned conductor, veteran music educator and accomplished performer, most recently serving for twenty-two years as Professor of Music at California State University East Bay in Hayward. In addition to his work with the CCCO, Maestro Smith is in continuous demand as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator. He has conducted professional orchestras and wind bands and, over the past 30 years, has appeared as guest conductor with hundreds of high school and junior high school honor orchestras and bands throughout the western, northwestern and mid-western states, including several all-state ensembles. For several years he was Music Director of themulti-level Youth Orchestra of Southern Alameda County and, in the summer of 2007, conducted the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra during their tour to China.

Professor Smith holds degrees in Horn Performance, Conducting, and Music Education from the Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific and the prestigious School of Music at Northwestern University, is a former member of the Stockton, Modesto, and Spokane (WA) symphony orchestras, and still maintains a performing schedule as a freelance horn player. In recognition of his deep commitment to music education on several different levels, Professor Smith was named the California Music Educators Association Bay Section's "Outstanding Music Educator of 2006." He has served for 23 years at La Sierra Fine Arts Camp, and participates as a professional coach and performer at the Humboldt Brass Chamber Music Workshop.


Anthony Striplen


Anthony Striplen, Clarinetist and Bass Clarinetist, is a native of Bakersfield, CA and has been a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra since 2000. He has been associated with San Francisco Opera for many years, initially as Principal Clarinet with the company's touring arm, Western Opera Theater.

In addition to performing his duties with the Orchestra, Mr. Striplen has been active at various studios (including Skywalker Studios) recording soundtracks for numerous motion pictures, television programs, and video games, among them Jurassic Park III, a video/CD with rock band Metallica, and commercials for Dove Soap featuring cartoon characters Wilma Flintstone and Jane Jetson. As chamber musician, Tony appears with the Gold Coast Chamber Players, of which he is a co-founder.

Outside the Bay Area, Mr. Striplen has performed at Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and at the Jerash Festival in Amman, Jordan.

Tony attended San Francisco State University, studying clarinet with Donald Carroll of the San Francisco Symphony. Other mentors include Boston Symphony clarinetists Rosario Mazzeo and Harold Wright, as well as his first teacher, Mary Moore. Tony has been a participant at the Berkshire Music Festival at Tanglewood, a clinician at Bay Area music camps, and a guest speaker at the 1997 California Music Educators Conference for Northern California. Tony is on the faculty of St. Mary's College.

Wendy Tamis

Harp Instructor

Wendy Tamis holds the post of principal harpist with the Berkeley Symphony and the Fremont Symphony. She was the principal harpist with the Bear Valley Music Festival for 15 years and the acting principal harpist with the Boise Philharmonic in Idaho for over 10 years.  Ms. Tamis performs regularly with several Bay Area orchestras including California Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, West Bay Opera, Modesto Symphony and Santa Rosa Symphony.  She has performed with the San Francisco Symphony, Opera and Ballet orchestras and has toured several times with the Western Opera Theater, the touring company of the San Francisco Opera.  She performs as a member of a flute and harp duo and the Muir Trio, a harp, clarinet and soprano ensemble. Her principal teachers include Anne Adams and Susann McDonald.

  Shaunna Vella

Shaunna Vella


Shaunna Vella is a choreographer/ dancer/ teacher/ and performance artist who has been creating work in the Bay Area since 2003. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from St. Mary's College where she double majored in Dance and Psychology, and was the recipient of the Louis LeFevre Award for Performing Arts. Her work has been seen at ODC Theater, Dance Mission Theater, The Garage, Studio 210, and The Ashby Stage. As a dancer, she continues to dance for local companies such as Anne Bluethenthal, Deborah Slater Dance Theater, Liss Fain Dance, Paufve Dance, Agora Dance Project, Dance Ceres and Davalos Dance Company. She has been teaching at St. Mary’s College since 2004, and teaches at Ace Dance Academy in Walnut Creek. She served as a active artist for the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards Committee in 2007-2008. As well as being an artist and teacher, she works in the field of social justice and has worked for the Tides Foundation, The Family Violence Prevention Fund, and currently works at the Jewish Community Federation.

Mike Williams

Jazz Guitar

Mike Williams earned his Master of Arts from Caifornia State University, Hayward and has performed professionally as a guitarist for thirty years in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1995, he authored the advanced guitar instruction book, Guitar Lessons with the Greats, for Warner Brothers Music. His private students continue to receive major local, state and national awards, and many have become prominent performers in the music industry.

Renée Witon

Class Piano

Renée Witon is a pianist, accompanist and composer. She received her Bachelor of Music Degree from Alverno College (Milwaukee) and the Master of Music Degree from Catholic University of America (Washington, DC). In addition to working as a lecturer at St Mary's College, Renée is director of music theory for the San Francisco Girls Chorus, is Assistant Director of Music at First Unitarian Church in Oakland, and maintains a private piano studio in Oakland. She has also taught at the Community Music Center in San Francisco and George Washington University in Washington, DC. While in Washington, she also worked as a music specialist at the Library of Congress. In addition to solo and chamber concert performances, Renée frequently appears as a guest host on KUSF radio's contemporary music showcase, “Classics Without Walls.” In 2000, she released a solo piano CD, Coming Home, featuring music of Brahms, Beethoven, Suk, Ravel, and her own compositions.

Jia Wu

Modern Dance, Choreography

Jia Wu  joined the Performing Arts Department in the fall of 2008. A native of China, she earned a BA in Choreography and Performance from Beijing Dance Academy and an MFA in Choreography from the University of California, Los Angles. As a choreographer, performer and dance filmmaker, her daring kinetics and provocative works apply Asian dance vocabularies and aesthetics to explore modern issues such as globalization, feminism, and multiculturalism.  She has earned numerous honors, including an award for outstanding performance and choreography at the Chinese National Dance Competition in 2000 and a  prix d'excellence for best performance at the 2004 Festival International de Musique Universitaire in Belfort, France. She is the recipient of the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Performing Arts Award, Edna & Yu-Shan Han Scholarship, and the Clifton Webb Scholarship from the School of Arts and Architecture at UCLA. She received the "Jumping Frames 2008 Dance Video Award" in the Jumping Frames Dance International Video Competition in Hong Kong. Most recently, Jia’s dance film “Chicken Boy” was included into American Dance Festival -Screendance Festival Anthology DVDs.

Ms. Wu has performed both her contemporary choreography and traditional works on programs in China, France, Germany, Mexico and the United States. In 2012-2013, she accepted a Performing Diaspora residency invitation by CounterPULSE theater and created a one woman dance theater entitled “MAMA/MEDEA”, which has been performed at three national and international dance conferences and at the Performing Diapora Festival in San Francisco. In 2011, Between You and Me II was invited to the 3rd National Asian American Theater Festival, Los Angeles. In 2008, her work The Other Shore was included in the premiere performance of Los Angeles Movement Arts at the Nate Holden Theater, and also was selected by Pina Bausch for the NRW International Dance Festival in November 2008 in Essen, Germany. In 2007 Bird Cage was programmed on the Gala Concert of the American College Dance Festival at the University of San Francisco and subsequently performed in the Los Angeles Dance Invitation. Born to Search premiered in 2007 at the Dance in August Festival in Berlin. That same year Ms. Wu's solo piece, Situ-Asian, was selected for the Dancing in the Margins Festival at Electric Lodge and also the International Meeting on Research in Dance in Mexico. Ms. Wu has received commissions from Ren Min University, Peking University, Tsinghua University, and South China Normal University, and her dance works have been televised throughout China.

As a filmmaker, Ms. Wu's dance films have been presented at festivals in China, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, India, Japan, Hong Kong, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, UK and the U.S.A.

Prof. Deanna Zibello

Deanna Zibello

Technical Theatre and Design

Deanna L. Zibello is an Assistant Professor and head of the Technical Theatre and Design track of the Theatre Program at Saint Mary’s. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Williams College and an MFA in Scenic Design from the University of Washington School of Drama. Previously, she taught at Gonzaga University. Deanna is also an award-winning scenic designer, having been recognized with Theatre Puget Sound’s Gregory Award for Outstanding Scenic Design in 2012 for her work on Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train with Seattle-based company Azeotrope. She was recognized in 2013 by the Seattle Theatre Writers for her work on Gruesome Playground Injuries, also with Azeotrope. Other favorite productions include Slap That Bitch: A Hip-Hop Retelling of The Taming of the Shrew with Fuse Theater Ensemble (Portland, OR); Cancer: the Musical with Washington Ensemble Theater (Seattle); MilkMilkLemonade with Impact Theatre (Berkeley); Artifacts of Consequence with the Satori Group (Seattle); the opera Eugene Onegin with the University of Washington Schools of Music and Drama; Big Love, Arabian Nights, and Jane Eyre with the UW School of Drama; and Middle-Aged White Guys with Open Eye Productions (Chicago), for which she was awarded Gay Chicago Magazine’s After Dark Award for Outstanding Scenic Design in 2005. Deanna lives in the East Bay with her husband and their young son. For more information, please visit Deanna's website,

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1928 Saint Mary's Road
Moraga, CA 94575
(925) 631-4000
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