Frances Wessells

Associate Professor Emerita

Frances Wessells

Frances Wessells (Associate Professor Emerita) received a BA from the University of Denver and an MA from NYU. She taught at Sweet Briar College for three years, at the University of Richmond for 25 years and has been at VCU for 30 years. In addition to teaching and performing with her own company she choreographed 30 “Broadway” musicals for theaters in and near Richmond including the Virginia Museum Theater, Barksdale, Swift Creek Mill, Haymarket, and Fort Lee. For 25 years she was the dance critic for the Richmond Times Dispatch writing a regular dance column. Her first famous teacher was Hanya Holm (one of the four originators of “Modern Dance”) whose full-time 3-year school for professional dancers she attended. She subsequently studied with most of the famous dancers of the time during short stays in New York city. At the outset of her teaching career, Ms. Wessells concentrated on technique courses and gradually added improvisation, choreography, and dance history. Most recently, Ms. Wessells has been teaching almost exclusively improvisation, a basic requirement for VCU’s Dance/Choreography major. She says, “it has been my goal, through improvisation, to help each student find and have the courage to use, his/her own innovative voice-and to do this in a unique and visually interesting way. I feel all life is an improvisation and improvisational dance is a most exciting and beautiful way to express this magnificent experience.”