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"The function of freedom is to free someone else"
Toni Morrison

Embodied history

Assistant Professor of Jazz Dance and Pedagogy
University of Massachusetts Amherst


Jazz - Improvisation - Contemporary - Industry Prep

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MY GENERAL APPROACH

I enjoy collaborating with poetic dancers of all backgrounds and encouraging whomever to be their honest selves ... to bring into the room everything they have ever learned.  To use it as a means of surrender.  I too bring all of my training into a room and use, interchangeably, techniques in Jazz, Pan-African, Samba, Modern, Hip-Hop, Improvisation, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Meditation, Dance History and Critical Analysis.  I have had the pleasure of collaborating with professional & pre-professional, old & young, male, female & gender non-conforming, rich & poor, trained & untrained, the happy & the sad.  We are a spectrum. I love people regardless.

My jazz curriculum 
 

Jazz I 

Embodied History of Jazz: (prerequisite for all Jazz courses) The Jazz Curriculum facilitates an introduction to the historical, theoretical, technical, and creative importance that Jazz boasts in the creation of dance, society, and culture in the Americas. Students will experience jazz history within the African American Diaspora, contemplate its origins, intersections, innovators, and deeper meanings.  We will play with conceptual and personal creation through collaboration, observation, play and discussion. Students will walk away having an embodied understanding of the depth and expansiveness of Jazz; how its fundamentals continue to shape society today; and be able to construct an insightful narrative of their own individuality within a greater community.

 

Jazz II 

A Survey of Jazz: This is an open level course offered following the embodied history pre-requisite.  It is a continuation of the embodied practices of its heritage in modern day.  Students will utilize their knowledge of jazz history in a contemporary context.  We will follow the evolution of it in the United States with a driven approach, touching upon subgenres including Afro-Jazz, Jazz Funk, Latin Jazz, Theatrical Jazz, Contemporary Jazz and Street Jazz.

 

Jazz III 

Defining Technique: This course brings emphasis on defining the diverse techniques within the Jazz Framework.  Through embodied and contemplative practices, students will work on western technique, social dance vocabulary, and fostering their individual style and journey through jazz play.  The class also emphasizes diverse methodologies of breathing, strengthening and alignment, rhythm and musicality, isolations, intention, focus, power, and community.

 

Jazz IV 

The Art of Freelance: This course will prepare the student for a career as a versatile freelance dance artist.  Utilizing and expanding upon techniques of jazz learned in Jazz I-III and with an emphasis on improvisation, versatility, pick up and retention skills, and performance; students will learn how jazz methodologies help with audition technique and job retention in the field.  The course will be structured with mock auditions, camera work, headshot and resume prep as well as individualized mentorship.  This course is meant to complement the seminar work in both NYPOP I and NYPOP II. 

 

Jazz V 

Performance Study in Jazz: (Prerequisite two semesters of Jazz) This performance study doubles as a technique course and a reparatory class.  Through the process of creation and community students will embody jazz performance in spontaneous and contemplated spaces.  They will study and apply modalities taught and learned in the jazz framework to facilitate a performance that is reflective of its core components.  

 

New York Performance Opportunity Program - NYPOP I

This course serves as a pre-professional disciplinary pedagogical workshop focusing on the desires of artists entering the workforce and developing a career that best matches their passion, strengths, and skills. With the help of industry guests, group discussions, oral presentations, and personal investment projects, students will develop and work ideas to solidify aspirations for their own career in dance. This course is meant to complement the physical industry preparatory work explored in Jazz IV. 

New York Performance Opportunity Program - NYPOP II

This course prepares the pre-professional to enter the workforce and navigate their journey from campus to the real world.  Students will prepare themselves professionally in alignment with the personal knowledge learned from NYPOP I.  With industry guests and communal guidance they will develop personal media, a website, learn how to market themselves and prepare for a class trip to New York City. This course is meant to complement the physical industry preparatory work explored in Jazz IV.