By Luiza Karnas
Following the series of interviews with the new faculty members of the Dance Department, the third and last article features our ballet specialist, Assistant Professor Jennifer Weber. Along with her tremendous knowledge in ballet technique and pedagogy, Jennifer’s interests include dance community engagement, improvisation, creative process, and wellness practices.
Jennifer holds an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa and a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She performed as a member of Omaha Theater Company’s professional company for three seasons, with Ballet Quad Cities for six seasons, and Ballet Nebraska for one season. Jennifer has traveled twice to Les Ceyes, Haiti and Panama City, Panama, to conduct movement research with orphans and local inhabitants. Her research uses movement exploration as a tool for building agency and to communicate through language barriers. She is passionate about developing creative problem solving skills via movement to assist in the development of agency and personal development.
Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Jennifer is thrilled to have Brockport as her new home. During her job interview, she felt a strong connection with the student-centered philosophy of the Dance Department. Jennifer is fueled by the presence and power of the individual, which is evident in her teaching methodology. Ballet can sometimes be labeled as rigid and exclusive, but Jennifer’s pedagogical practice approaches ballet by prioritizing students’ singularities and individualized goals. She doesn’t believe that her ballet class should be less rigorous due to the emphasis on modern and contemporary technique that Brockport’s program offers. “I don’t water down ballet just because someone might be focused on a different movement style.” She has put her teaching philosophy into practice through different courses here at Brockport. Alongside the beginning, intermediate and advance ballet classes, Jennifer also teaches Career Seminar and Composition courses.
In addition to teaching classes, advising students, and engaging with departmental duties, Jennifer is the new director of Chamber Ballet Brockport (CBB). With the goal to build a bridge between the academic and professional world, Chamber is one of the touring dance ensembles of the Dance Department and develops multidisciplinary works that focus on contemporary ballet and collaboration. Charged with CBB in her first year, Jennifer wants to deeply understand how the ensemble fits within the dance department community. The exuberant student body, which composes CBB makes it exciting to plan for the future. She aims to expand Chamber’s repertory and outreach program in order to engage with the community, expand the student’s skills and experiences, and raise awareness of the department.
As part of the director’s role, Jennifer choreographed the newest piece on Chamber Ballet Brockport. Tenacity Abound will debut in Danscore (November 16-18) and is an investigation inside the language of contemporary ballet. Jumping into a new semester, in a new job, and in a new city brought opportunities to break some of her choreographic habits. “I tried to let my getting to know the students and their movement proclivities guide this piece. I’d like to think that their movement input in the piece combined with my inclinations are like a first date, where both parties dance around eager and inquisitive.” Thus, she allowed the presence of individual that appears in her teaching practices to inform this particular choreography.
Jennifer is extremely proud of the work Chamber’s dancers have put in and is excited to see the piece come to life on stage. As exciting as the first date is, she welcomes the deeper relationship that develops through time. She is enthusiastic about what the future holds for CBB and for the Dance Department.