Director of Community Engagement
Valerie Cookson-Botto began her dance training in the Washington D.C. area and then moved to Dallas, Texas in 1987 to study dance at the Meadows School of Fine Arts at Southern Methodist University. After earning a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance Performance, she was awarded a teaching fellowship at Temple University’s Department of Dance in Philadelphia and earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Dance. Ms. Cookson-Botto’s technical training includes both Vaganova and Cecchetti ballet techniques; and Limon, Graham, and Cunningham modern techniques. She continued her professional training at the London Contemporary Dance School and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange.
Ms. Cookson-Botto has taught and choreographed as a Faculty In Residence at the University of New Hampshire and Adjunct Faculty at Shenandoah University in Virginia. She developed K-12 dance programs based on national standards for the arts at Berwick Academy in South Berwick, Maine and at the Pomfret School in Pomfret, Connecticut. Ms. Cookson-Botto joined the Festival Ballet Providence faculty in 1999 teaching modern technique, creative movement and pre-ballet.
Ms. Cookson-Botto has choreographed throughout her career staging pieces on companies and students throughout New England. In 1996 she was commissioned to choreograph Chromatic Fantasy as part of the New Hampshire MacDowell Celebration to the musical composition of MacDowell fellow, Barbara Kolb. Ms. Cookson-Botto has brought several works to Ballet RI including the Chatterbox family favorite, Peter and the Wolf; and Fleet Bank Showcase series for Middle School audiences, The Unicorn, The Gorgon and The Manticore.
After a long history with Festival Ballet Providence, Ms. Cookson-Botto is thrilled to be taking on the role of Educational Outreach Coordinator bringing all of the magic and artistry of Festival Ballet Providence to schools and community groups throughout New England and teaching in our Young Children’t Program.