The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance at Princeton University announces dance artists Kyle Marshall and Larissa Velez-Jackson as the Caroline Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence for the 2021-22 academic year. Marshall’s and Velez-Jackson’s residencies will include teaching dance courses in the fall semester and choreographing new works that will be performed at the Princeton Dance Festival in November. The purpose of the Hearst program is to bring prominent choreographers and dancers in conversation with Princeton students through a variety of engagement activities while supporting the development of these choreographers’ work. These residencies, along with others being planned for the coming year, are aimed at maximizing that potential engagement.
Launched in 2017, the Caroline Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence Program fosters the Program in Dance’s connections with the dance field. It provides selected professional choreographers with resources and a rich environment to develop their work and offers opportunities for students, faculty and staff to engage with diverse creative practices. The program is supported through a gift from Margaret C. and William R. Hearst, III.
“What I love about this year’s Hearst choreographer engagements is that our students will get a chance to experience a creative process with these exceptional artists and, then later, meet their company dancers and observe their work-in-process,” said Susan Marshall, Director of the Program in Dance. “This is a deep, dimensional exchange with these risk-taking choreographers. Larissa Velez-Jackson and Kyle Marshall cultivate caring communities and are redefining the rules of contemporary dance — I’m thrilled that our program can support the development of their work.”
Kyle Marshall is a choreographer, performer and teaching artist. He recently received the 2020 Dance Magazine Harkness Promise Award and a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award nomination for the production “Colored.” His dance company, Kyle Marshall Choreography (KMC), sees the dancing body as a container of history, an igniter of social reform and a site of celebration. Since its inception in 2014, KMC has performed at venues including BAM Next Wave Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out, Joe’s Pub at the Public, Actors Fund Arts Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, New York City Summerstage, and Roulette. He has also received commissions from Dance on the Lawn, Montclair’s Dance Festival, and Harlem Stage. Marshall has been in residence at the 92nd Street Y, CPR, Jamaica Performing Arts Center and is currently a resident performance artist at MANA Contemporary. As a teacher, Marshall conducts dance masterclasses and creative workshops at schools including American Dance Festival, Montclair State University, Ailey/Fordham, County Prep High School, and Bloomfield College. He is a member of the Trisha Brown Dance Company. He also danced with Doug Elkins Choreography Etc. and Tiffany Mills Company. Marshall graduated from Rutgers University with a B.F.A. in dance.
“This is a deep, dimensional exchange with these risk-taking choreographers.”
—Susan Marshall, Director of the Program in Dance
Larissa Velez-Jackson is a choreographer and multi-platform artist who uses improvisation as a main tool for research and creation. Called “an adroit physical comedian” who “seems to be questioning entrenched conventions of contemporary performance” by The New York Times, her improvisations yield humor to grant audiences a deeper accessibility to contemporary art’s critical discourse. In 2011, she launched a song-and-dance collaboration with her husband, Jon Velez-Jackson, called Yackez, “The World’s Most Loveable Musical Duo.” In 2017, Yackez presented their two-act spectacle, “Give It To You Stage” at New York Live Arts with a cast of elder exercise-dancers and a queer post-modern wrestling ensemble, The Yackez Dancers. Velez-Jackson is also the artistic director of the LVJ Performance Co., where her solo and collaboratively made dance performances have been presented widely in New York City, including The Bushwick Starr, The Chocolate Factory, Roulette, Museum of Art and Design, Danspace Project, New Museum, American Realness Festival at Abrons Arts Center, and Martin E. Segal Theater. Velez-Jackson’s works have been curated internationally in Mexico City and Madrid at Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo. In 2016, Velez-Jackson was awarded the prestigious Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant to Artists award and was nominated for a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer. She was selected as a choreographic artist-in-residence at the historic Harkness Dance Center at the 92nd Street Y for 2017-18 and was a Movement Research artist-in-residence for 2018-2020, where she furthered her research on the healing properties of her improvisation practice, the Star Pû Method.
In the fall, Marshall will teach a section of the course “Dance Performance Workshop” through which he will create and stage a new dance work with Princeton students to be performed in the Princeton Dance Festival being presented in November. Velez-Jackson will teach the fall course “Politics of Care,” which explores dance-theater practice addressing the desires, needs, and realities of the body and its greater community, centering the politics of self and group care, which will also culminate in a new work to be performed as part of the Festival.
Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence are chosen annually through a nomination process and include choreographers at various stages of their careers exploring a wide range of aesthetics, including those who may not otherwise fit easily into the Dance Program’s curriculum. Past Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence have included Souleymane Badolo, Brian Brooks, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Shannon Gillen, Miguel Gutierrez, Jessica Lang, Ralph Lemon, Jennifer Nugent and Paul Matteson, Annie-B Parson, Jumatatu Poe, Karen Sherman, Olivier Tarpaga, Urban Bush Women, Raphael Xavier, and Abby Zbikowski. Additional dance artists will be chosen later for the 2021-22 academic year for shorter residencies.
Over the past 12 years, the Program in Dance, under Director Susan Marshall and Associate Director Rebecca Lazier, has grown from two full-time faculty and four adjunct professors to five full-time and nine adjunct faculty. The number of dance courses have also increased from nine to 23 and the curriculum includes introductory courses, courses suited for dancers at the pre-professional level, as well as courses in dance studies and interdisciplinary contemporary practices. Acclaimed artists who have visited campus to work with student dancers include choreographers Bill T. Jones, William Forsythe, Dean Moss, Robert Battle, Jessica Lang, Miguel Gutierrez and Pam Tanowitz, and dancers Lil’ Buck, Ana “Rokafella” Garcia, Robert La Fosse, Heather Watts, Damian Woetzel, and Silas Riener, Princeton Class of 2006. Riener, whom The New York Times described as, “one of the superlative performers of our day,” explored dance for the first time as a Princeton undergraduate and went on to dance with Merce Cunningham Dance Company, working now as an independent choreographer and dancer.
The presence of more than 20 extracurricular dance companies makes Princeton a particularly lively environment for dancers, choreographers, and their audiences.
Students in the Program in Dance earn a certificate, similar to a minor, in addition to their major area of study. These certificate students are deeply committed young artists who often create full-length works as part of their senior thesis projects. The guest artists made possible through the Hearst Choreographer-in-Residence program contribute significantly to an environment focused on creativity, risk-taking and process. Increased access to respected working artists in the program is also expected to raise the curiosity of introductory-level students and students in other disciplines.
For more information on the Program in Dance, future events related to the choreographers-in-residence program, and the more than 100 other performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts and lectures offered each year by the Lewis Center for the Arts, most of them free, visit arts.princeton.edu.