Performer, choreographer, and educator, Joseph “jo” Blake earned his M.F.A. from the University of Washington (2017) and B.F.A. from the University of Utah (‘03). As a member of the Salt Lake City-based Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, he taught and performed internationally for ten years dancing in works by such artists as Alwin Nikolais, Doug Varone, Wayne McGregor, Carolyn Carlson, Bill T Jones, Susan Marshall, Charlotte Boye- Christensen, as well as many other influential dance makers. His interest in educational theory, community-based engagement, and social justice have led him to work with community outreach projects such as Yoga Behind Bars and Mark Morris’s Dance for Parkinson’s Disease. Last year, jo spent eight-months on a UW Bonderman Travel Fellowship visiting Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Australia, Nepal, Thailand, and Bali, re-kindling his appreciation and passion for community and culture. Currently, jo is a part-time lecturer with the University of Washington’s Department of Dance, guest artist with NOW-ID Interdisciplinary Dance, certified movement instructor for Minding Motion for Graceful Aging, and choreographer of new works for future national festivals.
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.
Now 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.