Dancing/Integration: Observations of a Teaching Artist


  • Jessica Renee Humphrey San Diego State University


dance, education, contemplative practice, contemplative pedagogy, improvisation, contact improvisation, Integral Theory, integration, meditation, mindfulness, practice, performance, somatics, Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis, Body-Mind Centering, embodied anatomy,


“The dancing does the teaching. The teacher points to that.”   -Steve Paxton

Learning (and perhaps contemplation?) asks people to stand on a foundation made of what they already know and bravely fall, supported by curiosity, into what they do not know. In dance education, this is not a metaphor. The learning process is public in the performing arts, and the focus on the body in dance can make even the most proficient students feel overexposed. I am willing to do whatever I ask of students because I am learning right alongside them. I continue to make dances because I have questions. Contemplative and somatic practices temper my inner perfectionist’s need to answer them. My hope is that my own vulnerability promotes an atmosphere of risk-taking where art simply emerges...and we all point to it. Integration is a central and recurring theme, goal, and catalyst in my life. Creating conditions for integration is a contemplative practice. In my wildest dreams, integration might someday come alive as an experience in those who witness my dances. At this moment in my experience and study, integrating is a process where differentiated parts find context-appropriate, well-timed, dynamic relationship(s) with each other and/or a whole that is undergoing its own transformation into a larger, more complex whole. What are the relationships between my dancing, teaching, and contemplative practices that will act as catalysts in my development as a human being? This piece is an early articulation some of the details of my research and embodiment of integration. It is also, in and of itself, an attempt to further integrate. 

Author Biography

Jessica Renee Humphrey, San Diego State University

JESS HUMPHREY, MFA, CLMA, RSME, is a contemporary dance artist and teacher. Her movement research began in childhood with competitive gymnastics, and continues today with dancemaking from various, shifting perspectives and states of body~mind. Her dances are expressions of her engagement in contemplative and somatic practices, Integral Theory, and her situation within the western, theatrical dance lineage. She earned an MFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah, and a BFA in Dance from California State University, Long Beach. Intensive study with Deborah Hay in 2009 changed her life and continues to enliven her every move. She certified as a Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA) in the Integrated Movement Studies (IMS) program, is currently studying Body-Mind Centering (BMC), and continues to learn through teaching at San Diego State University where her role will change from Lecturer to Assistant Professor this Fall. Last year, she was Artistic Director of A Step Beyond, a non-profit organization that provides rigorous contemporary dance training, tutoring, and family services to underserved youth. She is currently making dances with Eric Geiger, collaborating with Leslie Seiters/Little Known Dance Theater, and is beginning her 8th year of practicing weekly with an evolving dance research group formerly known as LIVE in San Diego.


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