Melanie George

Educator, Choreographer, Scholar

ARTIST STATEMENT

I am a jazz dancer, choreographer, educator, scholar, and advocate.  Each of these roles is critical to my artistic identity. I am inspired by the democratic nature of jazz music, a uniquely American art form, and center its culture, history, and structures in my work. I value stylization, individuality, and humanity in jazz dance, honoring the roots and fruits of jazz in the classroom, in the studio, and on stage.  I see my embrace of historically informed jazz dance as a radical act in both the commercial and concert dance worlds. I mine the riff, embrace the shed, cultivate the groove, and seek the pocket.  My willingness to be rhythmic, weighted, and vernacular is purposely perpendicular to the predisposition of valuing modern and contemporary dance over other forms. I am intrigued by topics that are often relegated to the margins of history and criticism. My research interests center on an investment in process before product, providing language and context for the ineffable, and investigating the past as prologue to future trends in dance. My scholarship purposely and strategically informs my choreography and pedagogy.  I have great interest in upsetting traditional hierarchies in dance on the stage and the page. Each creative project I undertake involves a three-pronged approach to inquiry - pedagogy, choreography, and research. – simultaneously exploring the topic in the classroom, while creating original work for the stage, and investigating it through the written word. My role is as the conduit to learning, not the container of knowledge. The virtuosic jazz dancer must improvise and collaborate, always leaving room for her co-signers; embracing harmony and dissonance, in pursuit of agency.