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BILLY SIEGENFELD is the director, principal choreographer, script-writer, musical arranger, and performing ensemble member of the Chicago-based Jump RhythmÂ® Jazz Project (JRJP), a national-and-international-touring group he founded in 1990. JRJP performs a âtheatre of energyâ that fuses rhythm-driven vocalizations and texts with dynamic motion. Recent projects include: 1) writing the play Jimmie Blues and The Strange Case of the Accidental Dancer, which he also choreographed and performs in; 2) touring with JRJP to Barcelona to perform at LâEscola de Artes Musicales; 3) doing movement direction for the Writersâ Theatre production of the new play, Quixote: On the Conquest of Self; 4) premiering a short solo one-act at the American Comedy Institute in New York City; 5) directing Chicago Tap Theatreâs production of Time Steps (which Dance Magazine cited as âBest New Production of 2016â); 6) editing his writings for Getting Down To Go Forward, a forthcoming book on Jump Rhythmâs holistic-pedagogical point of view (University of Florida Press). Shows heâs enjoyed serving as movement director/choreographer: AimÃ©e & Jaguar; How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes; All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten; and the musical version of Itâs a Wonderful Life. Recognitions from 1994 to 2016 include the Jazz Dance World Congress Gold Leo Award for Outstanding Choreography; the Ruth Page Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field; an EmmyÂ® Award for his choreography and performance in the HMS-produced PBS documentary Jump Rhythm Jazz Project: Getting There; and the Artistic Achievement Award of the Chicago National Dance Masters Association of Dance Masters. He is also a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence in the Department of Theatre at Northwestern University where his courses draw on 3 concepts he created: Jump RhythmÂ®, a vernacular-bodied, rhythm-driven system of voice-and-movement training for career and non-career actors, dancers, and singers; Standing Down StraightÂ®, a method of postural re-education that uses gravity-directed relaxation as a means of moving and vocalizing with more power and less effort; and American Rhythm DancingÂ®, an historical appreciation of the impact the African-American performance aesthetic had had on the arts and daily living. After graduating from Brown University with a degree in literature, he moved to New York City and performed dance with Don Redlich; acted and danced in off-off-Broadway plays and musicals as well as in the Broadway production of Singinâ in the Rain; and, after stopping dancing because of dance-training-related injuries, studied ideokinesis with AndrÃ© Bernard, who taught him how to let the force of gravity, not human speculation, determine how the body should move. For more information: www.jrjp.org.
BRANDI COLEMAN is the associate artistic director of Jump Rhythm Jazz Project and has been a performing and teaching artist with the company since 2001. She is proud to have received an EmmyÂ® Award for her performance in the PBS documentary Jump Rhythm Jazz Project: Getting There and has had the pleasure of touring with The Jump Rhythm Quartet and The Jump Rhythm Quintet to Finland and Italy. Brandi is the leader of residencies specializing in teaching Jump RhythmÂ® Technique and re-mounting JRJP Repertory at universities and dance companies across the country and internationally.Â These include University of Minnesota, Duluth; Western Kentucky University; Randolph-Macon Womenâs College; Louisiana Dance Theatre; Point Tap Festival; University of North Texas; Ohio Northern University; Fort Wayne Ballet; the University of Alaska, Anchorage; Rhode Island College; University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point; Slippery Rock University; University of Applied Sciences, Turku, Finland, and most recently, an eight-week guest-artist residency at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri.Â Since 2002, she has also served as an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University, teaching to undergraduates from the areas of dance, musical theatre, and acting, and assisting Billy Siegenfeld in re-mounting JRJP repertory for NUâs Dancworks.
Why do I dance for Jump Rhythm? Â âAfter my first workshop studying Jump Rhythm with Billy, I knew that this was the way I wanted to move â with an energetic punch fueled by raw emotion. Jump Rhythm not only asked, but required me to grow as a person first and a dancer second.Â As a result, I am able to connect more openly with both my fellow dancers onstage and in the studio and with people in my life.â
JORDAN BATTA graduated from Northwestern University with a BS in dance and a minor in psychology in 2004. She studied Jump RhythmÂ® Technique with Billy Siegenfeld at Northwestern University and has been making rhythm ever since. In addition to being an ensemble member for eight years, she is now the companyâs rehearsal director as well as its apprentice and scholarship coordinator. Â She has been a lead teacher in choreographic residencies around the country, some of which include those at Viterbo University, Slippery Rock University, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and The Dance Inn. She is proud to have toured internationally with both The Jump Rhythm Quartet and The Jump Rhythm Quintet in Finland and in Italy.Â She received an EmmyÂ® Award for her performance in the PBS-aired documentary Jump Rhythm Jazz Project: Getting There, produced by HMS Media. She has taught many master classes in Jump RhythmÂ® Technique in schools around Chicagoland such as Stevenson High School and New Trier High School. She is also delighted to be teaching Jump RhythmÂ® Technique in her weekly tap classes at Dance Center Evanston.
Why do I dance for Jump Rhythm? âI love dancing with Jump Rhythm because I have finally found my voice not just as a dancer, but also as a human beingâ
JOSHUA PAUL WECKESSER is a Chicago-based lighting designer, technical director, and production stage manager. Working primarily in circles of dance, his designs have been seen in Chicago, throughout the United States, and internationally. Â He is proud to be working as both a technical director and a lighting designer for JRJP, and is delighted to have created the lighting for several of Billy Siegenfeldâs works, including, most recently, the award-winning âWhy Gershwin?âÂ He also works closely with Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak Dance Company; as its lighting designer he has been a core collaborator on such projects as Eye Cycle, My Name is Blackbird, and the critically acclaimed Sharks Before Drowning. He lit Sidra Bellâs âResolutaâ as well as Frank Chavesâs âSimply Miles, Simply Usâ for River North Dance Chicago, for which he now serves as lighting director.Â Josh is also the production manager for the annual Dance Chicago Festival, production manager/lighting designer for the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, and the lighting designer for Be the Groove and the Leopold Group. He has also worked closely with other Chicago-based companies such as DanszLoop Chicago, Elements Contemporary Ballet, and Inaside Dance Chicago among others. Recently he founded Bread & Roses Productions with Lauren Girard, a company dedicated to providing production support to stages filled with dancing everywhere.
Â is a Chicago-area native whose rhythmic studies began at the age of 10 when he studied percussion and drumming with Paul Kairis. Later, as a theater major at Northwestern University, he was thrilled to study Jump RhythmÂ® Technique for three years. He was also a four-year member of Boomshaka, an on-campus rhythmic performance ensemble.
Â Â His love of rhythm and performing led him to become a scholarship student with Jump Rhythm post-graduation. After working with the company as a scholarship student and apprentice, he became an ensemble performing member and teacher in 2009. He was honored to perform with The Jump Rhythm Quartet in tours to Italy in 2010 and Finland in 2011.
Â Â Â He has also taught Jump RhythmÂ® Technique in various colleges and workshops in the United States, most notably to the first-year dance students at the Turku Academy of Arts and Sciences in Turku, Finland. He is delighted that âShot in the Dark,â his spoken-word poem chronicling the history of rhythm, is now a part of JRJPâs touring repertory. He is also the associate artistic director and a performing ensemble member of www.bethegroove.com , a Chicago-based rhythm ensemble.
Why do I dance with Jump Rhythm? Â âTo free my body, so it can share my energy and rhythm with other people, and to protect my body, so that I can decide when my body stops dancing, and not the other way around.â
KRISTINA SALDARELLI has been dancing and making rhythm for more than 25 years. As a student of traditional dance, she broadened her education by attending University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, earning a BA in Theatre Arts/Dance. She is presently working toward her MA in Communication, Media, and Theatre at Northeastern Illinois University.Â She is an active dance educator and choreographer in the Chicago area. Her work has been adjudicated at the American College Dance Festival; produced in numerous concert venues; and has been ranked highly in national youth dance competitions. She joined Jump Rhythm in 2005. She became a company member in 2008, performing with the company in Chicago as well as on tour.Â She received an EmmyÂ® Award as âOutstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence On Camera: Performerâ for her work in the documentary Jump Rhythm Jazz Project: Getting There, produced by HMS Media and aired on PBS. In addition, she has taught Jump RhythmÂ® Tap as an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University.Â She created her tap piece âSame Old Shaggy Dressâ for NUâs Danceworks in 2011; she is honored that âShaggyâ has now become a part of the JRJP Repertory. In 2012 she worked with Danceworks again, having the pleasure of re-creating on the students the second section of âThe Sumptuous Screech of Simplicity,â choreographed by JRJP artistic director Billy Siegenfeld.
Why do I dance with Jump Rhythm? âAs a child, nothing thrilled me more than making dances to the propulsive rhythm of Michael Jacksonâs âBeat It.â As an adult, I study Jump Rhythm to elicit those same instinctual emotions which now feed my desire to perform, create, connect, share, and feel alive.â
LEAH NOBERS began dancing and performing at the age of six in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Leah attended Slippery Rock University where she earned a B.A. in Dance. Â In her sophomore year at Slippery Rock University, Leah was introduced to Jump RhythmÂ® Technique during a choreographic residency. Â During it Leah was given the opportunity to perform JUMP RHYTHMÂ® Jazz Project choreography at a number of venues, including the American College Dance Festival. Â Her involvement with the residency sparked a love for rhythm making that lead her to attend the summer intensives each year. Â Leah is currently a scholarship student with JUMP RHYTHMÂ® Jazz Project.
LIZZIE PERKINS began dancing, singing and telling stories early on in her California childhood. She moved to the Midwest to attend Northwestern University as a theater major who spent as much time dancing as she did acting.Â While a student at NU, she studied Jump RhythmÂ® Technique with Billy Siegenfeld and marveled at the similarities between its emotion-based approach to dancing and the work she was doing in her acting classes. Upon graduation, she was invited to continue studying the technique with the company as a scholarship student. She then became a performing apprentice and, in 2010, an ensemble performing member, teacher, and costume coordinator.Â In addition to working with Jump Rhythm, she is devoted to arts education and serves as Lookingglass Theatre Companyâs director of education and community programs.
Why do I dance with Jump Rhythm?Â âI dance with JRJP because this approach requires me to commit my whole self to being rhythmically and emotionally clear, as an individual dancer within a community â an exhilarating challenge that Iâm delighted to undertake.â
LOIS SNAVELY began her love of rhythm and movement at the age of 10 with traditional Irish step dancing in her hometown of Dublin, Ohio. She went on to study classical ballet, modern, jazz and other world and ethnic styles before deciding to attend Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. While there she pursued degrees in dance and philosophy, as well as artistically producing her own shows and choreographing a number of works, including one that was chosen among the top ten in the state of Ohio to be performed at the Ohio Dance Festival. Lois was a summer intern for JUMP RHYTHMÂ® in 2010 and later joined the company in the fall of 2011 as a scholarship student and the company’s marketing manager. Currently she is an apprentice with the company and helps assist the coordination of the annual summer intensive. Additionally, Lois’ passion for fashion keeps her busy in regional training and development with lululemon athletica.
PETER HAMMER began dancing at the age of 14 in Laurel, Montana. After earning a BA in dance performance and choreography from Hope College, he moved to Chicago and performed with Chicago Tap Theatre. During this time, he met Billy Siegenfeld and was introduced to Jump Rhythm Jazz Project. He joined the company as an apprentice, and became an ensemble member and social media coordinator with it in 2010. In 2011 he had the great pleasure of performing and teaching as a member of The Jump Rhythm Quintet on its Finland tour.Â Peter also serves as the Education Coordinator of JRJP and he is very excited to bring Jump RhythmÂ® Technique to more studios and schools throughout the greater Chicago area.
Why do I dance with Jump Rhythm?Â âI dance with Jump Rhythm because of the joys and challenges it brings me, not only as a dancer but, each day, as a human being.â
BILLY SIEGENFELDÂ Artistic Director
BRANDI COLEMANÂ Associate Artistic Director
JORDAN BATTA Rehearsal Director/Apprentice & Scholarship Program Coordinator
PETER HAMMERÂ Education Coordinator/Costume CoordinatorÂ
KEVIN DURNBAUGH Website Manager/Technical Adviser
LEAH KOCH Social Media Manager
LEAH NOBERS Costume Coordinator
JOSHUA PAUL WECKESSERÂ Production Manager/Lighting Designer
JEANNIE HILL Artistic Advisor
Board of Directors
NANCY GIDWITZ, Board MemberÂ Emeritus
BERNARD J. DOBROSKI
SUSAN A. LEE