"Enter the blank room: walls flanked by two levels of barres except the one wall of mirror.  Sometimes you must study what’s reflected; other times you must ignore it.  Eyes deceive, especially your own eyes upon your own form.  Breathe.  Demi-plié.  It’s a way to begin." --From "Never Famous"

Renée K. Nicholson splits her artistic pursuits between writing and dance. She is Assistant Professor in the Programs for Multi- and Interdisciplinary Studies at West Virginia University. She was the 2018 recipient of the Susan S. Landis Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts. 

Dance: While her performing career was cut short by the onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Renée has taught ballet and other classes at West Virginia University, and is a frequent guest instructor and coach.  Her students have been accepted and gone on to many intensives and companies, including American Ballet Theatre’s Collegiate Intensive, American Ballet Theatre's Young Dancers Summer Workshop in NYC, Milwaukee Ballet, BalletMet Columbus, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Nashville Ballet (full scholarship), Oklahoma City Ballet (partial scholarship), Richmond Ballet (full scholarship), The Florida Ballet, The Charleston Ballet (SC), Gelsey Kirkland Academy in NYC, West Virginia's Governor's School for the Arts, and many others. She is on the Board of Directors of the nationally-renowned Pittsburgh Youth Ballet and in the past served on the West Virginia Regional Committee for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

Renée is an American Ballet Theatre (ABT®) Certified Teacher, who successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level Seven of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.  A portion her certification received financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Available in Leadership in the Humanities is "The slow-changing face of leadership in ballet: an interdisciplinary approach to analyzing women’s roles" co-authored with Dr. Lisa DeFrank-Cole.

Renée is a member of the Dance Critics Association (DCA).


Writing: Renée studied English at Butler University, and holds a MFA in Creative Writing from West Virginia University where she won the Rebecca Mason Perry Award for Outstanding First-Year MFA Student and the Russ MacDonald Prize for Graduate Writing, Fiction. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Chelsea, Mid-American Review, Perigee: A Journal of the Arts, Paste, Poets & Writers, Crosstimbers, Naugatuck River Review, Honey Land Review, Dossier, Stymie, ABZ, Prime Number, Blue Lyra Review, Switchback, Fiction Writers Review, Moon City Review, Redux, Cleaver Magazine, Barely South Review, Saw Palm, Bluestem, Bellows American Review, The Superstition Review, South 85 Review, Rathalla Review, Triggerfish Critical Review, River Teeth's Beautiful Things, Midwestern Gothic, The Gettysburg Review and elsewhere.  Her work has been included  in the anthologies Not A Muse, A Generation Defining Itself, The Appalachian Anthology of Writers, and in Keeping Track: Fiction of Lists from Main Street Rag.  She served as Assistant to the Director of the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop 2007-2017, serves on the book reviews staff at Los Angeles Review, and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She co-hosted the literary podcast SummerBooks and co-founded the journal Souvenir. Her collection of poems, Roundabout Directions to Lincoln Center, was published in 2014 in the Crossroads Poetry Series at Urban Farmhouse Press.

In 2011, Renée was the Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona.

She is currently involved with Narrative Medicine Projects at WVU's Health Science Center. She is co-editing a forthcoming anthology Bodies of Truth: Personal Stories on Illness, Disability, and Medicine (University of Nebraska Press, 2019). 


Affiliations & Memberships (Present & Past):

American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum, Pre-Primary-Level 7 

Appalachian Studies Association (ASA)

Association for Interdisciplinary Studies (AIS)

Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP)

Dance Critics Association (DCA)

International Leadership Association (ILA)

National Book Critics Circle (NBCC)

Pittsburgh Youth Ballet Board Member