Above Video: Joel Hall Dancers in rehearsal for “Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn” — with original choreography by American jazz dance icon, Joel Hall. (Video created by Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth.)
Joel Hall Dancers (JHD)
The signature dance style of the Joel Hall Dancers (“JHD”) incorporates ballet, jazz, modern, funk, and “street dance” using contemporary jazz and house music to create an innovative and continuously evolving dance style that is appealing, relevant, and approachable for those frequently underserved by the arts. Both JHD and its audience exhibit a rare diversified spectrum of cultural, ethnic, racial, and socio-economic backgrounds.
The Joel Hall Dancers maintain a city-wide, national, and international reputation not only for their diversity and innovation but also for their substantive sociological content and engaging aesthetic style.
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Joel Hall, the Joel Hall Dancers have carried their unique yet universally accessible voice to venues that span the world. In June of 2010, the Joel Hall Dancers presented “Here’s to Life” which included six premiere works in addition to the re-staging of multiple works, including the critically acclaimed piece Y2Day.
In September of 2010, the Joel Hall Dancers performed at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton, United Kingdom at the invitation of Merseyside Dance Initiative. The Joel Hall Dancers presented “In the Shadow of Nina Simone,” which once again received extraordinary reviews and feedback from both the public and the dance world. Just as Nina Simone always searched for new ways to present her music, the Joel Hall Dancers mirrored this quest for novel presentation, building upon their original unique style rooted in traditional jazz dance. The Joel Hall Dancers also performed several other staples from their repertoire, including “El Gato Negro” and “Compassion of the Sorceress.”
During our 2015 40th anniversary “Celebration Season” — the Joel Hall Dancers electrified audiences across Chicagoland with performances on some of the region’s grandest stages. From creating the world’s largest kick-line at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park… to “Anja: the Unexpected” an ambitious fusion of live jazz music and dance at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center in Hyde Park … to the spectacular culminating performance of the Billy Strayhorn centennial celebration: “Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn” at the Auditorium Theatre.
JHD’s performance in this grand show was a highlight of the stellar evening, as Chicago Tribune critic Howard Reich said of “Lush Life” noted in his review: “Add to this the sometimes slinky, sometimes sensuous choreography of the Joel Hall Dancers, and you had a multifaceted Strayhorn homage that captured the intrinsic elegance of the man’s music.”
Meet the JHD Company — click on a name below to see their bio:
- Michelle Bronstein — (dancer)
- Kareem Dixon —(dancer)
- Carl Jeffries — (dancer)
- Dria Fair — (dancer)
- Rosetta Fair — (dancer)
- Melissa Metro — (dancer)
- Tarah Ortiz Durnbaugh — (dancer)
- Michelle Reid — (dancer)
- Melissa “Missi” Roh — (dancer)
- Jacquelyn Sanders — (dancer)
- Luewilla Smith-Barnett — (dancer)
- Moo Vang — (dancer)
- Kristin Vollmer — (dancer)
- Heather Zimny — (dancer)
For the latest on Joel Hall Dancers, please visit the Company’s Facebook Page.
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