Donna Peckett, choreographer, actor, tap dancer, and arts educator, is producing artistic director of TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater, a non-profit, professional arts organization which she co-founded in 1985. She has performed in and co-produced 40 theater works, touring the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Scotland.
Donna 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 in 1968 and trained briefly with the Bread and Puppet Theater and at the HB Studio in New York City. Donna was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and grew up in Homestead, Florida.
Currently on the faculty of Edgewood College, Department of Theatre Arts, in Madison, Wisconsin, she teaches Tap Dance: Technique and Multicultural Perspectives. An instructor for UW-Madison Continuing Studies, she also developed and teaches her own movement and drama program for school-age children, “Move! Learn! Imagine!”
Donna co-produced and performed in TAPIT/new works’ 2017 production, Typhoid Mary, Patient Zero… and the M Factor, as well as Ben Franklin & Baron von Steuben vs the Paine County School Board (2016-2017). She co-produced and appeared in the Company’s 30th anniversary production in 2015, Work the Act. In 2014, she developed the original concept for Convenience, a site-specific, multi-disciplinary performance work about the historic Schenk-Atwood neighborhood in Madison, Wisconsin. She appeared in TAPIT/new works’ 2013 production of Now What, an Ohio-Wisconsin touring exchange theater project with the New World Performance Laboratory (Akron, Ohio). Now What was performed in Wisconsin in 2014 – 2015. Donna choreographed, co-produced, and performed in Take Care, the Company’s 2012 production, opening in Wausau, Wisconsin, playing Madison’s Overture Center, and touring to The Last Frontier Theater Conference in Valdez, Alaska. In 2011, she choreographed and co-produced Bullying: The Musical at the Barrymore Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin. From 2008-2014, she co-produced and performed in TAPIT’s production of Mangia Mangia, a play about Madison’s historic Greenbush neighborhood. She toured to Canada in February 2008 with the play Garden Party, which premiered in 2005, and went on to tour Wisconsin, Illinois, Washington, D.C., and continues through 2018.
Donna’s acting and choreography were seen in Source Code: Candide in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, March 2008. She acted in and choreographed the Syncopated Syndromes tour to Door County, Wisconsin, which included cameos and talkbacks by Dr. Zorba Pastor. The Girls From Building B, performed at Ohio’s Lakeside Association’s 3,000-seat theater, toured twice to Miami Beach. Other key performances include her work in Without Pity at the Krannert Center, University of Illinois, at Performing AIDS: Politics, Pedagogies, and Practices (Cleveland Clinic), and at the AIDS Theater Festival in San Francisco; and Soul Journey in Toronto for the International Festival of Madness and Arts.
In 2014, Donna co-produced and co-hosted a week-long residency featuring tap dance legend Brenda Bufalino, collaborating with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Edgewood College, and UW-Stevens Point. A devoted arts educator, she has produced and hosted workshops with some of the leading practitioners of 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, Donna coordinates and teaches in the Company’s summer arts program for school-age students.
Donna is a certified Kennedy Center-Trained Teaching Artist through Madison’s Overture Center. She currently co-facilitates creative arts residencies in the Madison, Wisconsin, public schools. From 2006-2012 she co-facilitated stop bullying residencies in the Madison, Wisconsin, public schools. In 2007 and 2012, she co-facilitated theater arts residencies at UW-Marathon County, Wausau. Donna has performed and taught in a National Performance Network residency at Alverno College, Milwaukee, and she facilitates 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 and member of the Network of Ensemble Theaters and the Wisconsin Dance Council, she enjoys cooking and gardening.