Choreographer Jeffrey Page, Tricked Into A Life Of Dance
DUKE ARTS JOURNAL, Jan. 30, 2012
By Thea Neal
His work creates striking, bold movement that is hard to look away from. Jeffrey Page, 32, has choreographed for the biggest names in the business, including Beyonce, R. Kelly and Will Smith. His work is a fusion of African, hip hop and funk styles.
But Page says that it was at the age of 10 when he was “tricked” into dancing.
Growing up in Indianapolis, IN, Page said he saw flyers for hip hop group around town.
“It was actually African dance, and (the dance teacher) kind of tricked all the kids into coming. I was the only boy, and I liked it, so I stayed,” Page said.
An artist in residence at Duke this week, Page has already taught a master class and is now choreographing routines for Duke's African Repertory Ensemble, a group of 10 advanced dancers. The dance he creates will premiere April 21 at 8 p.m. and April 22 at 3 p.m. at Reynolds Theater.
Here, Page talks about his work and visit to Duke.
Who are your favorite people to work with?
I enjoy working with artists who have become master craftsmen at their particular art. Not one particular style or person. I just really enjoy working with the person who has time to polish their art. From modern dance to African to hip hop, to the celebrity, I really enjoy working with all kinds of things from the entertainment field to the very "artsy fartsy" field. It's a real joy. I enjoy working with students a lot because they have less baggage that they carry along the way. But then again, I also like working with really seasoned folks who have years of experiences, and lots and lots of bags to grab material from to color the execution with their past experience.
How would you describe your work?
I would describe my work as for and about the people. It's what art is. Art exists to reflect the people. If you want some type of picture of how the people are doing and how they're living, just look at their art. Look at their music, look at their dance. Listen to their literature. Listen to their dialect. I find that my research with African dance and my research with vernacular jazz dance gives me a better block on how to explain those things visually in terms of art. I think that's my texture, that's my hue.
What upcoming projects are you working on?
I'm working on developing a Broadway show called "The Hole in the Wall," and as artists we're always looking for funding to make the art happen. I'm looking for investors, and I've been working on that for a few years now. I produced it in LA in 2008. The show was very beautiful on a commercial stage. I'm working on that with a writing partner, and I'm really looking forward to making that happen.
What should Duke students look forward to with your visit?
I never try to expect anything. I get into a situation and then figure out what the situation is, and then I move forward to the best of my ability. What could be expected is for some great art to happen, and for some moments of reflecting the common man's language. I'm really pushing what it means to be a creative person in this world. But I'm not really sure. The artist part of me wants to make it big, but the really human part of me says I'll figure it out when I get there!