Melanie George

Jazz Dance Is...: A Conversation with Melanie George

Join the Performing Arts Department for a conversation with Melanie George, named one of Dance Magazine's "30 over 30" in 2021 and an Associate Curator at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.

As an artist, thinker, writer, and educator specializing in jazz dance, Melanie George centers the West African roots of jazz dance via the historically-informed technique, Neo-Jazz, which aims to unseat the privilege of Eurocentric dominance in contemporary jazz dance. In an effort to advance recognition and awareness of this form — and all jazz dance styles and techniques, Melanie founded Jazz Is… Dance Project. In this conversation, Assistant Professor of Dance Joanna Dee Das will talk with Ms. George about the history of jazz dance and its relationship to jazz music, Ms. George's work in advocating for jazz dance as a Black aesthetic form, how the multiple hats she wears (as scholar, artist, educator, and curator) weave together, and what she sees as the future of jazz dance.

Please join us for refreshments following the talk.

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Bio: Named one of Dance Magazine’s 30 over 30 in 2021, Melanie George is the founder and director of Jazz Is… Dance Project and Associate Curator and Director of Artist Initiatives at Jacob’s Pillow. A sought-after teacher and choreographer of the neo-jazz aesthetic, her jazz choreography is regularly commissioned by colleges throughout the United States. As a dramaturg, she has contributed to projects by Raja Feather Kelly, Susan Marshall & Company, Urban Bush Women, Machine Dazzle, Alice Sheppard/Kinetic Light, Helen Simoneau Danse, David Neumann & Marcella Murray, and SW!NG OUT, among others. Current projects include new works by LaTasha Barnes, and Ephrat Asherie Dance. Publications include chapters in Working Together in Qualitative Research, Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches, and Rooted Jazz Dance: Africanist Aesthetics and Equity in the Twenty-First Century. Melanie is featured in the documentary UpRooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance, and founded the global advocacy website She has worked as a consultant in the arts for over a decade, applying her expertise in scholarship and education to assist artists and arts organizations in articulating language and facilitating the development of creative work. In addition to her work with independent choreographers and dance educators, Melanie has provided professional services for The Guggenheim Museum, BAM, The Joyce Theatre, and Stephen Petronio Company, Dance Education Laboratory, among others. She is the former Dance Program Director at American University, and has guest lectured at Harvard University, the Yale School of Drama, and The Juilliard School. Melanie is the 2021 recipient of the Outstanding Leadership Award from the National Dance Education Organization.

Co-sponsored by the Performing Arts Department and The Divided City: An Urban Humanities Initiative