VPA Welcomes New Full-Time Faculty

VPA new faculty members
Top row, from left: Gabrielle Demeestère, Jim Elenteny, Alix N. Ferrer-Yulfo, Charquetta “ChaCha” Nicole Hudson, Izmir Ickbal. Bottom row, from left: Loren Loiacono, Carmen M. Martinez, Felipe Panama, Rochele Royster, Stewart Thorndike.


The College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) welcomed ten new full-time faculty members for the 2021-22 academic year. 

  • Gabrielle Demeestère joins the Department of Transmedia as an assistant teaching professor of film and will teach screenwriting and directing. Born and raised in Paris, Demeestère wrote and directed the feature film “Yosemite” starring James Franco and Henry Hopper, which Variety called “an impressive debut” and was released theatrically in 2016. She also wrote and directed a segment of the feature film “The Color of Time” starring Jessica Chastain and Mila Kunis. Her short film “The Last Cigarette” won the 2010 Reel 13 Competition and was broadcast on PBS. She is currently in development on “Putain!,” a half-hour comedy series with Sarah Jessica Parker’s company Pretty Matches, and writing her second feature film “Terra.”
  • Jim Elenteny joins the Rose, Jules R. and Stanford S. Setnor School of Music as an assistant teaching professor of sound recording technology. His research focuses on all phases of music production, including composition, performance, recording and production. As a composer and performer, he has produced music ranging from solo guitar to funk/fusion trio to Americana and rock. He has toured nationally, performing with the acoustic duo Science! and funk/fusion trio The Insinuators. As a recording engineer, he has worked in many genres, ranging from solo and chamber classical music to jazz combo and big band, rock, hip hop, folk, metal and more. He has also recorded and mixed sound for film, radio and other media and worked as a live sound engineer.
  • Alix N. Ferrer-Yulfo is a faculty fellow in the School of Design’s museum studies graduate program. She is a multilingual interdisciplinary researcher, museum professional and heritage consultant specializing in museology and intangible cultural heritage safeguarding and management. Her research interests include intangible cultural heritage museums; the documentation of living heritage; community involvement in cultural policies and museum work; the decolonization of museum and heritage studies; and alternative forms of museology. Among other projects, she is currently working on a paper discussing different global perspectives on the decolonization of museum and heritage studies and practices to be published in the fall of 2022.
  • Charquetta “ChaCha” Nicole Hudson is an assistant teaching professor of fashion design in the School of Design, where she teaches courses in fashion product development, including apparel construction, pattern making, draping and lectures focusing on entrepreneurship in fashion and design inclusivity. Her research focuses on business innovation in fashion and improving apparel fit for plus-size consumers. In 2018, Hudson opened the SEWcial Cafe, LLC, a creative coworking space for female fashion designers and crafters, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation. She received the exceptional entrepreneur award from the Women’s Business Center at True Access Capital for providing education and resources to members of the SEWcial Cafe to assist in growing their fashion businesses in 2020.
  • Izmir Ickbalis a multidisciplinary theater designer and an assistant professor of theater design and technology in the Department of Drama. He has designed more than 60 productions locally, regionally and internationally, at large theater spaces such as the Mark Taper Forum for Center Theater Group in Los Angeles; at premier national venues in Singapore such as the Esplanade Concert Hall and the National Gallery of Singapore; at the tiniest off-off-Broadway spaces such as Theater C at 59e59 theaters in New York City; and to bustling outdoor audiences at the annual Shakespeare productions in Connecticut with the Elm Shakespeare Company. As a designer and artist, he aims to give voice to the under- and/or misrepresented, seeks to decolonize eurocentrism in theater and believes theater is for all.
  • Loren Loiacono is an assistant teaching professor of composition and theory in the Setnor School of Music. An emerging orchestral voice, she received commissions and performances from such nationally esteemed ensembles as the Detroit Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra and the American Composers Orchestra. She is a frequent collaborator of the Albany Symphony and a prolific writer of chamber and vocal music, with performances by ensembles and performers including clarinetist Anthony McGill; pianist Xak Bjerken; cellist Peter Stumpf; New Morse Code; Latitude 49; the New York Virtuosi Singers; Music from Copland House; Transit New Music Ensemble; and the JACK, FLUX, Friction, Argus and Altius String Quartets.
  • Carmen M. Martinez is an assistant professor of theater design and technology in the Department of Drama, with a focus on scenic and costume design, Prior to Syracuse University, she lived in New York City, where she founded and ran her own studio. Among her clients were Katy Perry (2017 Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala performance), Lisa Lampanelli (“Stuff’d”) and several theaters and performance spaces in the city. Her design credits include “The Wild Party” (VPA Department of Drama), “James and The Giant Peach” (Atlantic Theater) and “King Lear” (Cherry Lane Theater). Before concentrating on theater, Martinez worked as a graphic designer at both the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Felipe Panama is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and visual artist who joins the Department of Drama as an assistant teaching professor of musical theater, teaching ballet technique, jazz, and contemporary styles. He is a soloist dancer with Syracuse City Ballet (“Dracula,” “The Nutcracker,” originated the role of Spring Fairy in “Cinderella”). He shot, edited and produced Syracuse City Ballet’s 2020 Digital Season, premiering five works: “The Dying Swan,” “Empire,” “Goldilocks meets Little Red,” “Frolicsome” and “Peter and the Wolf,” as well as historical and educational capsules. Panama has danced with Ballet San Antonio; Brooklyn Ballet; and Ballet de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico, and has been featured in numerous corps and soloist roles.
  • Rochele Royster joins VPA’s new Department of Creative Arts Therapy as an assistant professor of art therapy. She has worked for the last 20 years integrating art therapy into the educational setting and has worked with youth, adolescents and young adults with various learning differences such as autism, traumatic brain disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Using a trans-disciplinary approach, she is interested in community and school-based art therapy; race, power and policy in education; multi-sensory methods in reading and literacy; trauma-informed classrooms; environmental justice; black disability; and special education as it relates to decolonization of pedagogy and practice in institutional and public settings.
  • Stewart Thorndike is an assistant teaching professor of film in the Department of Transmedia, where she will teach narrative filmmaking beginning in Spring 2022. Thorndike is an award-winning filmmaker who tells feminist genre stories. She is currently writing a feminist slasher film that centers around women in their 60s. Her debut feature “Lyle,” a queer horror film starring Gaby Hoffmann, premiered at Outfest 2014, where Hoffmann received the Grand Jury Prize for Best Actress. “Lyle” was selected to play at Fantastic Festivals premier Queer sidebar in 2019 and continues to play at festivals. She recently released the podcast “Come On, Come Out,” a dark comedy produced by Refinery 29 and Vice that is currently being developed as a television series.