BJP’s teaching practice is based in a fervent passion for movement, articulate language creating passages into complex material(s), and a learning environment that bridges welcoming playfulness with rigorous work ethic. BJP’s full teaching philosophy.
Ignite the physical and cultivate the conceptual. A contemporary practice of roving through contemporary practices involving technical rigor, artistic clarity, rhythmic acuity, improvisational research, and somatic awareness. We will start on the floor (centering, warming, welcoming), press through the space (traveling, spiraling, harnessing momentum) and culminate with phrases that push performance and perseverance. We will invest in the fullness of our bodies, test our relationship with gravity, play with the edges of musicality, and cultivate detail within instinct.
PARTS AND PARTNERS:
Part listening, part engaging—partnering the body, the space, and what is in the space. In this contemporary movement practice we will parse through our multiple partners within our movement practices through weight sharing, listening, skill building, improvisation and phrasework. Together, we seek to bolden our individual voices while honing partner and ensemble awareness.
Is dancing jazz a patriotic act? I begin here, because every time I broach this provocative, exasperating question I arrive at different places. As a United States art form, jazz dance brings us into an embodied experience of the country’s history, including the enslavement of West Africans, oppressive regulation of artistic practices and expression of enslaved peoples, and appropriation and “fusion” of the art form and it’s many descendants. Jazz is firmly rooted in the traditions of West Africa, with strong influences from Latin America, Ireland and beyond. Jazz dance is the embodiment of rhythmic prowess, creative curiosity, community cultivation and energetic exchange. It is no wonder that the art form and it’s descendants are magnetic; the rhythms and dynamic expressive qualities call dancers in to clubs, studios, theatrical stages, living rooms, television sets, concert stages and more. The practice of jazz dance forms is incredibly evocative for me. I am invigorated by the potential of rhythm, I find connection to community, I am humbled by those who have created and developed the form, I find complicated sense of home. Continuous engagement with jazz dance and music history in relationship to my movement practice yields a daily questioning: what is my role, place validity, and responsibility in this art form as a white woman? What kind of jazz is being taught, performed, and discussed our country today? Is dancing jazz a patriotic act? I keep coming back to this question.
I approach jazz by exploring connections between three main areas; relationship with rhythm, relationship with others and relationship with the ground. When we relate to rhythm, we’re recognizing musicality, swing, accent and syncopation. Jazz’s connection to others encompasses the improvisational underpinnings, social tradition, and conversational nature with sound and fellow dancers. Jazz’s connection to the ground involves—specifically for my work—the how we relate to the earth, weight shift and momentum. At the intersections of these three expansive relationships, I find groove.
My singular body engages with multiple styles within the jazz dance continuum including historical vernacular, social dance, hip hop styles, West African dance, musical theatre, and tap. Additionally, my practice in contemporary dance, improvisation and ballet is held within this body. Whenever I dance, I engage with the knowledge from all of these embodied practices.
Therefore, my jazz dance practice of connecting and relating within the form also honors the multiplicity of embodied knowledge within my body, the dancers’ bodies, and the form itself. Jazz is a form of innovation, however it is not without purity or definition. I see the label of “jazz” applied to many movement styles, which brings me pause and concern for the lack of recognition and respect for the history from which the music and movement was developed. Therefore, I choose to refer to my specific practice with language that is unique to my specific approach. The foundation, or the base, of my practice is built on the embodiment of jazz dance knowledge, and the momentum within the practice is continuous seeking of groove.
Base Groove: Rooted in rhythm, we physicalize the pulse inherent within the diverse lineage and impact of jazz music and movement. While honoring traditional jazz music and steps, we situate the practice within our current bodies, focusing on quality, style, connection and musicality.
HARDWARE STORE HIGH ART
with Evan Anderson
If you’re like us, you most likely don’t have an endless supply of cash to make your artistic dreams come true. You have to stretch your resources as far as they can go. One way to do so is to hit up the hardware store. Come hang with Evan Anderson (lighting), Garrett Johnson (responsive media) and Britta Joy Peterson (dance) and we’ll explore ways to creatively utilize the resources that Corporate America is willing to let you return.
Step into the process through lecture/demonstration. BJP presents work through lectures involving demos that are movement-based, process-based, story-telling, video, and technology. With collaborators, team presentations include technology, responsive media-based demonstrations and content.
BJP works with artists, both professionals as a consultant, and students as a mentor/advisor on creative projects through rehearsal visits, formal feedback, adjudication, and full-process advising formats.
PROPELLING PROFESSIONAL PERFORMANCE PROJECT or P^4
The Propelling Professional Performance Project, also known as P^4, brought four professional dance artists and students together for a three week residency to work alongside one another. Together, the professionals and students create and perform a new dance work under BJP’s choreographic direction. Through direct engagement with professionals in the research, creation, and performance phases of dance making – they are able to rapidly progress as performers. During this immersive role-modeling process, the professionals also engage with students by attending social events, teaching classes, and performing in Show + Tell and Movement Speaks. P^4 provides students with a multi-faceted performing arts opportunity that enriches their education both inside the classroom through access to artists from multiple perspectives, targeted career oriented education via development of performance skills in rehearsal and in performance, and provided a base for professional development by giving students the opportunity to create a network of dance and music professionals across the country.
Reactions from 2016 Participants:
“I have grown as a performer from my participation. I feel much more connected with dance, music, and the power of genuine performance.”
“The professional’s presence absolutely impacted my learning throughout the rehearsals. It was so beneficial to watch how a professional dancer works behind the scenes. We often only get to see them in performance and rarely or never in rehearsals. It was so eye opening to watch their work practice, and their preparation for performance and rehearsals. I was able to see the way they prepare and work and how it directly impacts the way they perform and then apply it to my own practice.”
“The pros [syc] brought a very mature, fun, inclusiveness with them that really made learning easier. Also just leading by example really had an impact on me as a musician and a performer.”
“A valuable lesson I learned is dealing with collaboration. Everyone wants to be heard but it takes practice to filter all the information to produce the most useful information.”
“The professionals taught me so much and I was eager to learn from them every single day. They taught me about dance and what the real world is like for artists. Everyday they came into class, rehearsal, or even just to hang out and were completely open about their struggles and achievements.”
“I have learned so much from the professionals outside of the performance process about the professional world. From a conversation with one of them, I learned about aesthetics, conferences and festivals, how to make connections, and the importance of figuring out what is valuable to you. I talked to another professional about the future and they said, “I still wake up every morning and ask myself what I want to be when I grow up.” It is relieving to hear that we are all going through the same things.”
–2016 P^4 Student Participants
MOVEMENT SPEAKS: conversations about dance
A curated series of lecture/demonstrations by BJP, currently hosted at American University. Dance Professionals gather to discuss current research, practice, questions, intersections and more with students and the public.
Recent, select professional teaching –
2018, Montclair University
2017, University of Maryland
2017, Breaking Ground Contemporary Dance Festival – Tempe, AZ
2017, [nueBOX] – Mesa, AZ
2016, ASU Synthesis Center, Tempe – AZ
2016, University of Wyoming
2016, Danca Nova – Casper, WY
2015, National Great Teachers Seminar – Hilo, HI
2015, Edina Performing Arts Center – Edina, MN
2014, University of Northern Colorado – Greely
2014, Velocity Dance Center – Seattle WA
2014, The Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts – Minneapolis, MN
2014, The Movement Lab – Minneapolis, MN