“i am me.”
Joseph “jo” Blake, a second year candidate in the M.F.A. program at the University of Washington, received his B.F.A. at the University of Utah in 2003. Immediately upon graduation he became a member of the internationally renowned Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company where he remained for ten seasons. He has worked with distinguished choreographers from Utah and abroad, including Charlotte Boye-Christensen, Keith Johnson, Johannes Wieland, Alberto del Saz, Alicia Sanchez and Brook Notary. Joseph has also performed the works of Alwin Nikolais, Wayne McGregor, Doug Varone, Bill T Jones, Carolyn Carlson, Ann Carlson and John Jasperse. He continues his research teaching with Dance for Parkinson’s Disease/Seattle Theatre Group and Yoga Behind Bars.
My experiences as a performer, choreographer, and teacher have led me to an interest in the transformative capacity of dance in people’s lives. I strongly believe that dance and the arts contribute to the enhancement of the “whole self.” I am interested in the impact that dance has on students’ development and personal growth. In my professional career I have created a relationship bonding dance and my personal growth that has offered me the opportunity to make progression of self-awareness, establishing personal goals and creating bonds with diverse communities. These tools that I have discovered through non-verbal activities have helped to create safe spaces that I share within the courses of my research. By means of collaborative education I contribute my craft through multicultural exchanges, continued arts education, scientific studies on the benefits of dance and community through a language that is worldly and broad based.
The University of Washington’s Masters Program of Dance in Higher Education is dedicated to methodologies of teaching and teaching excellence for graduate students seeking to educate dancers novice to advanced. As a graduate student I am pursuing courses that establish a strong base for my research. The courses I consider to support my research are located in the Disability Studies program, Special Education, Philosophy and Physical Therapy/Anatomy. Organizations and classes that I teach based on certification and professional experience include Teaching Assistant for “(dis)abilities, Education and the Arts, ” teacher/volunteer for Dance for PD (Parkinson’s Disease), movement instructor for Yoga Behind Bars and student of Feldenkrais studies. My current pursuits to further my research are to establish Dance for PD classes on the University of Washington campus, as well as create a series that will unite locally based movement therapy clinic, The Space, and university/Seattle- based community members for monthly clinics of health and nutrition through dance. The classes that I teach and the choreography that I create will ultimately detail and portray the information that I have, and will have, gained from these experiences.
Upon the completion of my degree I plan to continue my research by facilitating courses that will empower students with the educational tools that will enrich their daily experiences in and out of academia. My research will entail lectures and studio practices. This research will offer a vehicle for helping diverse populations in the way that dance helped me to grow. I am interested in the able and non-able bodied in hopes of developing a language for non-traditional movers for rediscovery and recovery.