Donna Peckett, deviser, actor, choreographer, tap dancer and devoted arts educator, is the co-producer of TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater, which she co-founded with her partner, Danielle Dresden, in 1985. She has performed in and co-produced 40 theater works, touring from Florida to California, from Kansas to Washington, DC, from Canada to Mexico, from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Alaska, as well as venues throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest.
She received two Choreography Fellowships from the Wisconsin Arts Board and was recognized by the Wisconsin Dance Council for her contributions to the field. She received a BA in Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and trained briefly with the Bread and Puppet Theater and at the HB Studio in New York City. Donna was born in Atlanta, Georgia, February 19, 1945, and grew up in Homestead, Florida.
Currently on the faculty at Edgewood College, Department of Theatre Arts, in Madison, Wisconsin, she teaches technique, choreography and multi-cultural perspectives of American rhythm tap dance. She is an instructor for UW-Education Outreach and for the UW-Madison Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts.
Donna performs in TAPIT/new works’ Zombie Apocalypse Coffee Shop Tour in the Midwest through 2014 – 2015. In 2013 she appeared in TAPIT/new works’ production of Now What, an Ohio-Wisconsin touring exchange theater project with the New World Performance Laboratory (Akron, Ohio). She choreographed, co-produced and performed in Take Care, the Company’s major 2012 production, premiering in Wausau, Wisconsin, playing Madison, Wisconsin’s Overture Center and touring to The Last Frontier Theater Conference, Valdez, Alaska. In 2011 Donna choreographed and co-produced Bullying: The Musical at the Barrymore Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin. She co-produced, choreographed and performed in the Company’s 25th anniversary production in 2010, Help Wanted: The Search for Security, True Love or at Least a Decent Part-Time Job. From 2008-2014, Donna co-produced and performed in the Company’s production of Mangia Mangia, a play about Madison’s historic Greenbush neighborhood. She continues to tour with her play Garden Party, which premiered in Madison in 2008 and so far has traveled to locations in Wisconsin, Illinois, Canada, and Washington, DC.
Donna’s acting and choreography were seen in Source Code: Candide, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in March 2008. She acted in and choreographed the Syncopated Syndromes tour to Door County, Wisconsin, which included cameos and talkbacks with Dr. Zorba Pastor; and The Girls From Building B, performed in Ohio at the Lakeside Association’s 3,000-seat theater and in Miami Beach. Other key performances include her work in Without Pity at the Krannert Center, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and at the AIDS Theater Festival in San Francisco, and in Soul Journey in Toronto for the International Festival of Madness and Arts.
In 2014, she co-produced and co-hosted a week-long residency with Brenda Bufalino, living legend of tap dance. The residency was a collaborative effort with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison’s Edgewood College, and UW-Stevens Point. A devoted arts educator, she has produced and hosted workshops with some of the leading figures in American rhythm dance, including Roxanne Butterfly, Anita Feldman, Keith Terry, jazz and tap historian Ernie Smith, Frankie Manning, Ralph Brown, Steve Condos, La Vaughn Robinson and many more. She is a specialist in creative movement and drama for young children. Through TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater, she coordinates and teaches in two summer arts programs for school-age students.
As a residency artist, Donna received training from Kennedy Center facilitators and co-developed a model format combining creative writing, movement and visual arts for school-age students. She currently co-facilitates creative arts residencies in Madison, Wisconsin, public schools on the historical achievements of little known women in Wisconsin history. From 2006-2012 she co-facilitated stop bullying arts residencies in Madison, Wisconsin, public schools. In 2007 and 2012, she co-facilitated theater arts residencies at UW-Marathon County, Wausau. She performed and taught in a National Performance Network residency at Alverno College, Milwaukee, and served as a featured speaker at the Annual Meeting of the Georgia Association on Young Children. She has facilitated arts residencies and workshops around the U.S.
An artist and activist, Donna believes that positive social change can be fostered through the arts. A founding member of the International Tap Association, member of the Network of Ensemble Theaters and member of the Wisconsin Dance Council, she enjoys cooking and gardening.