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 whose theatre-dance productions use vocally accompanied, jazz-and-rhythm-based body-percussion to celebrate the energy-rich roots of emotion-driven human behavior.
He is the creator and developer of three teaching concepts: Jump Rhythm® Jazz Technique, a jazz-rhythm-driven system of rhythmically vocalized, everyday-bodied, percussive-movement training for dancers, actors, and singers; Standing Down Straight® a movement-efficient, injury-preventive system of postural and motional re-education for people of all ages and backgrounds; and American Rhythm Dancing®, a term embracing both the aesthetics and, via film-discussion, the performance history of African American-originated, rhythm-driven dancing and singing in the 20th and 21st centuries. A public lecturer and author, both his first and most recent 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 Jump Rhythm® Technique; Jump Rhythm® Tap; Choreographing Music; Standing Down Straight® for Actors; American Rhythm Dancing® and the African American Performance Aesthetic; 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, citing him for “his vibrant dance artistry, development of a unique dance vocabulary, and the exciting choreography created in that dance technique”; the Jazz Dance World Congress Award for making “major contributions to the art of jazz dance”; being designated a Fulbright Senior Scholar by the United States Fulbright Commission, an honor that took him to Finland where he introduced Jump Rhythm® Technique to the Arts Academy of Turku University of Applied Sciences; 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.” Beside taking class in numerous dance techniques, he 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..
Jeannie Hilljoined the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point faculty in 2004 and teaches Tap, Jazz, Musical Theatre Dance, Composition and Career Seminar.
In recent years Jeannie has presented the the Point Tap Festival (www.pointtap.wordpress.com), a three-day summer workshop that brings master teachers from across the country to teach and perform at UWSP. Guest artists include: Robert Audy, Josh Hilberman, Lynn Schwab, Mark Yonally, Brandi Coleman and Ryan Korb. Participants include UWSP alums, current students, local dancers and professional tap teachers and performers from around the country and Europe.
Each year Jeannie choreographs for the UWSP faculty concert Danstage and for main stage musicals. Her collaboration with mathematics professor Cindy McCabe and the UWSP Women’s basketball team brought rhythms of the Fibonacci sequence to the Noel Fine Arts Center with a Courtyard Connections lecture and to Jenkins Theater in Danstage i2012. This spring the McCabe-Hill collaboration continues with “Fibonacci Rhythms: Moving Mathematics” workshops for 7th & 8th graders at UWSP’s Women and Science fair. Jeannie’s ballet for freshmen repertory “Le Bal de Beatrice D’Este” offered dance students in their first year the opportunity to perform with UWSP’s Wind Ensemble under the direction of Professor Brendan Caldwell. Her UWSP musical theatre choreography credits include: Lucky Stiff, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Drood, Rent, Hair, Urinetown, Pirates of Penzance, Crazy For You, Fiddler on the Roof and coming this May, The Producers. Jeannie‘s professional choreographic commissions include creating dances for Auburn University, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (Calgary), Point Park University, The Legacy Dancers, Step Aside, Tappers With Attitude, Manhattan Tap, Jump Rhythm Jazz Project and Northwestern University.
As a tap soloist Jeannie’s performances as part of the Hoofer’s Weekend in New Orleans with Brenda Bufalino and late tap masters James Buster Brown, Jimmy Slyde and Jeni LeGon bring fond memories. Incredible opportunities to share the stage with numerous tap and jazz musician greats at venues and festivals like Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, New York’s Tap City at the Joyce Theatre and the Duke Theatre, Zinno’s, Discover Jazz Festival, Sculler's Jazz Club, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, St. Louis Tap Festival, Southern California Tap Festival and The Saco River Grange Hall highlight her career. Attendance at her first tap festival in 1990 provided inspiration for Jeannie to audition for Manhattan Tap (Heather Cornell, artistic director). During the seven years of rehearsals and touring that followed she was introduced to the ever-expanding international community of rhythm tap dancers and the pleasure of working with great terrific jazz musicians.
Jeannie's current collaborations with UWSP music faculty include an informal concert, Music in Between, with Ryan Korb, David Hastings, Dave Story, and Matthew Buchman and, in March, Gypsy Radio and The Rock and Roll Consecration, Brendan Caldwell’s new song cycle.
Her varied performance career includes international touring as a Noh dancer in Robert Wilson and David Byrne’s the knee plays (Suzushi Hanyagi, choreographer); originating the role of Clara in the world premiere of Drika Overton’s jazz-tap Nutcracker Clara's Dream; touring with Mike Gordon (Phish) as a tap dancing rock jam-band member; performing at The Supper Club in New York in a five month run of A 40s’ Review with the Tony Corbiscello Big Band, and ten years with comic country band, The Chalks (including an appearance on Comedy Central's Premium Blend, release of a cd of original music, and co-authorship of a sit-com pilot script for Big Ticket Television).
Jeannie continues her longtime association with Chicago-based Jump Rhythm Jazz Project (Billy Siegenfeld, artistic director) performing, teaching with and choreographing for the company whenever schedules permit. (www.jrjp.org) For over twenty years she has enjoyed touring nationally and internationally with the company. Jeannie shares Jump Rhythm’s unique rhythm-first approach to movement learning, Jump Rhythm ® Technique with UWSP Theatre & Dance students. Jump Rhythm Jazz Project: Getting There, a one-hour TV special documenting the work of JRJP was produced by HMS Media and held its premiere on Chicago's WTTW in May of 2007. Along with the rest of the company members Jeannie received an Emmy Award (Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence on Camera: Performer) for her performance in the documentary.
While living in NYC Jeannie taught tap and Jump Rhythm ® Technique at Steps on Broadway and Manhattanville College. Jeannie holds a BA in Theatre from the University of Vermont (1985) and an MFA in Dance from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Peck School of the Arts (2009).
Thelma Goldberg grew up in Cambridge, MA, where she studied dance at Bates School of Dance in Central Square. After earning her B.S. in Special Education from Lesley College in 1974, she taught in the Boston Public School system, earning her Masters in Special Education from Regis College while starting a family and relocating to Lexington, MA.
After founding the Dance Inn in 1983, in the dining room of her home, Thelma eventually found her way to the rich tap scene in the Boston area, studying at the Leon Collins Studio in Brookline and meeting many of the friends and associates who have continued to inspire her since then. In 1997 she started Dance Inn Productions, a nonprofit organization producing annual International Tap Day Festivals that honored master tappers with the Tapestry Award for Teaching. Among the dancers she has celebrated are Dianne Walker, Brenda Bufalino, Sarah Petronio, Buster Brown, Jimmy Slyde and Billy Siegenfeld.
Currently, Thelma writes the monthly “Tap Tips” for Dance Studio Life and is proud to be a faculty member of the Dancelife Retreat Center as well as the 2015 Dance Life Teacher Conference. A guest instructor for the American Tap Dance Foundation’s Tap Teacher Training Program, she founded the pre-professional program of Tap City: The New York City Tap Festival. She is artistic director of the Legacy Dance Company, the pre-professional program of the Dance Inn. The Boston Dance Alliance recently honored her with the 2015 Dr. Michael Shannon Dance Champion Award for “sustained excellence in teaching and passionate advocacy for the art of tap dancing.”
Thelma’s passion for tap education has now resulted in two volumes of Thelma’s Tap Notes: the 2013 Children’s Edition, and the new volume, Tap into Life: A Guide to Tap Dancing for Adults. She continues to study and perfect her approach by teaching full time while mentoring a passionate young faculty. Her goal is to dance forever!