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Cara Rawlings

Cara Rawlings, Associate Professor

Cara Rawlings, Associate Professor
Cara Rawlings, Associate Professor

School of Performing Arts 
309 Henderson Hall (0141)
195 Alumni Mall
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-5335 |

Cara Rawlings teaches movement, acting, and stage combat and has worked as movement/acting coach, fight director, and dance choreographer for multiple productions.

  • Production/Research Areas: Choreography, Movement Coach, Acting
  • Teaching Areas: Movement, Stage Combat, Acting
  • MFA, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • BS, Middle Tennessee State University
  • Certified Stage Combat Instructor with The Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD)
  • Member of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
  • Member of the Association of Theatre Movement Educators (ATME)
  • Serves on the boards of Virginia Theatre Association (VTA) and Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC)

When do you first remember making the decision to go into the arts?

I was working as a dance choreographer for Warrior, a new musical written by Grammy Award winning songwriter Marcus Hummon, when I noticed the director struggling to help the lead actor express the grief his character was feeling while singing a lament for his deceased father.  I suggested the actor try lifting his arms and eyes up to heaven as he sang and suddenly what had been a vocal riff, became a heart-wrenching wail filled with the pain of loss. The physical manifestation of that moment caused a marked emotional and psychological shift for the audience, but more importantly for the actor.  Years later I recognized that same profoundly simple gesture as one of our first expressions of need when my one-year-old son awoke crying in the middle of the night with a fever. I found him standing in his crib reaching his arms up for me to comfort him.

Warrior was the turning point toward my career as a movement specialist.  I realized that I had the ability to help actors tap into their most primitive instincts—those that we understand from an early age—in order to experience and communicate the fullness of a character’s humanity on stage.

What is the most important quality for any student in the performing arts to cultivate?

Curiosity in the world around you.  Put down your phone. Interact with, and observe, other human beings. Have face-to-face conversations rather than text, listen to what is not said as much as what is, notice sensation, play, and be present in your life. 

Engage in every moment with the awareness that life experience is the foundation for your life as an actor.

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