Joseph “jo” Blake, M.F.A. recipient from the University of Washington (2017), received his B.F.A. from 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. His research interests included 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 bonded dance with my personal growth allowing me to develop self-awareness, establish personal goals and create bonds with diverse communities, which I utilize to create safe spaces for learning and growth.
The University of Washington’s Master of Fine Arts program in dance focuses on educational theory, philosophy and methodology with the goal of developing knowledgeable and progressive teachers of movement studies. As a graduate student I pursued courses that established a strong base for my research. The courses that supported my research were located in the Disability Studies program, Special Education, Philosophy and Physical Therapy/Anatomy. Organizations and classes that I taught were based on certification and professional experience; those included 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.
With 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.