From Communal Connection to Extraordinary Movement
By Jacqui Poor
Jennifer Archibald, one of the most sought-after choreographers, takes the Modern America Dance Company (MADCO) dancers on an introspective exploration. By immediately connecting the audience with the dancers, something special happens during the communal emotional creative journey.
“This is actually the first time where I’m going to have the dancers talk on stage,” says Archibald. “There’s something about an audience that sees dance and it’s like an abstract. We know that they’re beautiful movers on stage, but don’t really know anything about them personally.”
The beginning of the work, “Freedom”, the dancers come down stage and they simply start to talk about who they are, where they’re from, and their personal story.
“I think when that is the first thing that happens between the audience and the dancer it can be a beautiful moment of connection. It was a way for me to make these dancers really understand their attachment to the work in regards to what their personal history was and how they could bring that to the table in the work. And then it transitions into movement,” explains Archibald.
This unique approach perhaps stems from her extensive educational background. She is a graduate of the Alvin Ailey School where she was awarded a Choreographic Fellow for Ailey’s New Directions Choreography Lab under the direction of Robert Battle, and at the Maggie Flanigan Acting Conservatory where she specialized in the Meisner technique.
Archibald is currently an acting lecturer at the Yale School of Drama. As an appointed guest faculty lecturer at Columbia/Barnard College, she developed their Hip Hop Dance Curriculum. Internationally, she has taught in Brazil, Bermuda, Canada, Italy, Slovenia, Sweden, France, Russia, Mexico, China, and Ecuador.
Archibald is also a guest artist at several universities including Fordham/Ailey, State University of New York at Purchase, Princeton, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of South Florida, Goucher College, Columbia College Chicago, and Bates College. In 2017, she premiered new works for Miami New World School of the Arts, South Carolina’s Governor’s School of the Arts, Ailey Fordham, Boston Conservatory, and Point Park.
As an award-winning choreographer, Jennifer Archibald was selected as the Artist in Focus for The Jamaica Performing Arts Center and is a recipient of the “Talk of The Arts” Award from the University of South Florida. And was the Choreographic Winnings recipient by the Joffrey Ballet.
Archibald’s innovative choreography has been commissioned by the Atlanta Ballet, Ailey II, Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet Memphis, Kansas City Ballet, Tulsa Ballet II, Ballet Nashville, Stockholm’s Ballettakademien, the Canadian Contemporary Dance Company, and she’s worked commercially for high profile clients including Tommy Hilfiger, NIKE and MAC Cosmetics as well as chart-listed singers and actors.
Her works have been performed in some of the nation’s most prominent venues including New York’s City Center, Lincoln Center, Aaron Davis Hall, Jacob’s Pillow Inside Out Stage, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and and Central Park’s Summerstage Mainstage. The international portion of Ailey II’s 31-city world tour premiered Jennifer’s work “Wings” in Poland, Germany, Luxembourg, France, and Canada and her work “Delilah toured Scandinavia.
For MADCO, her commissioned works include “Seven”, a biographical work about Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and in “Freedom” inspired by Henry Hampton’s Eyes on the Prize film and media collection at Washington University in St. Louis Libraries.