Billy Siegenfeld

Billy headshot 2014 Smaller Billy Siegenfeld is the founder, artistic director, principal choreographer, vocal arranger, and ensemble performing member of JUMP RHYTHM® Jazz Project, a national and international-touring company. He is the creator and developer of three teaching concepts: Jump Rhythm® Jazz TechniqueStanding Down Straight®, and American Rhythm Dancing®.  A public lecturer and author, his essays, “If Jazz Dance, Then Jazz Music” and “Performing Energy: American Rhythm Dancing and ‘The Great Articulation of the Inarticulate’,” appear in the 2014 anthology, Jazz Dance:  A History of the Roots and Branches.  He is a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence in the Department of Theatre at Northwestern University where he teaches his techniques, and, to combined engineering and performing arts students, Partnered Swing Dancing as a Source of Collaborative Decision-Making.  Other recognitions include: the Dance Chicago “Choreographer Of The Year” award; an Emmy® Award for the multiple-Emmy®-Award-winning PBS documentary Jump Rhythm Jazz Project: Getting There, produced by HMS Media; the Ruth Page Award; the Jazz Dance World Congress; being designated a Fulbright Senior Scholar by the United States Fulbright Commission; and being designated by the Newberry Library as a Stone Camryn Lecturer on the History of Dance. The magazine Dance Teacher placed him on its Twentieth Century Timeline of Choreographers and Innovators for “develop[ing] the Jump Rhythm Jazz Technique and found[ing] Jump Rhythm Jazz Project,” and the magazine Dancer credited him with “inventing the first genuine jazz technique in forty years.”  After graduating from Brown University with a B.A. in Literature, Billy worked in New York City where he performed with the Don Redlich Dance Company for nine years.  He also served as a full-time faculty member at Hunter College for 13 years and served as the director of its Dance Program from 1982 to 1991.  He performed in the Broadway production of Singin’ in the Rain as well as in off-Broadway theatre.  He earned his M.A. in Dance from New York University with the thesis “Hunting the Rhythmic Snark: The Search for Swing in Jazz Performance.”  Billy studied acting with Tim Phillips, voice with Joan Kobin, and the Todd-Sweigard ideokinetic principles of gravity-directed, injury-preventive human posture and motion with Andre Bernard.  His work with Bernard serves as both the foundation of Standing Down Straight® and is the reason he is still dancing.