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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Dance

Kentuckians in Dance

Folk Dancer Jennifer Rose
Berea, KY

Who Jennifer Rose grew up singing and dancing with her family and friends in Berea, KY and was performing as soon as she could talk. Throughout elementary and high school, she organized folk dance groups, and by the time she was a junior in high school she was teaching dance at elementary and middle schools. While earning a degree in voice at Berea College, Jennifer sang in the Berea College Concert Choir and Chamber Singers and performed with the Berea College Country Dancers both as a dancer and musician, often singing between dance numbers—and sometimes playing in the band, too. Her performances with the Country Dancers took her to Japan, Denmark, and Italy, as well as throughout the United States. Since graduating from Berea in 1992, Jennifer has performed around the United States and Europe. She is a full-time performer with a busy schedule of concert tours, teacher development seminars, appearances in musical productions, and educational residencies in schools. In the Dance Arts Toolkit, Rose teaches several traditional dances on the Dances from Many Cultures video/DVD and contributed information and instructions to the Dance and Culture binder section.

What “I am primarily a concert musician [playing guitar and dulcimer], but because I have danced all my life and taught dance for 17 years, I have enjoyed a part of my career in leading dance, especially for beginners, and especially for students in school. I specialize in folk dance that is traditional to the Appalachian people and their ancestors, community-oriented circle dances, singing games, and other social set dances. I also do artist residencies in schools and workshops on how to use dance in school and how to teach dance to children.”

Where/When “I'm in schools most of the spring semester, from one to five days at a time. During the fall, I sing at different festivals, and in winter I'm on tour in Florida singing.”

How “I work with students, teachers, audiences, all ages. The biggest challenge for anybody in a non-traditional business, anybody who's freelancing, is making sure that the work is there, that you've planned far enough ahead in managing finances so that if you take some free time, there's still money there. I think that's one thing that students don't have a concept of—that you've got to be on top of it all the time.”

Why “There are two things that keep me excited. Every place I go is different, and that keeps me inspired. It's also inspiring to be the person who inspires others. When I'm doing a concert, everybody out there is smiling. When a teacher says, ‘Your book really helped me,' it's satisfying. I like to know that I'm helping people every time I go out the door.”

Getting There “The more you dance and the more styles you dance, the better teacher you are because you know where your students are coming from, and you can better identify with them. For me, it wasn't necessary to get a Master of Fine Arts degree in dance and be very good at one style. Instead, it was a lifelong learning process for me—and teaching is a lifelong process, too. I've watched really good teachers. You need to be a really good observer of people who do what you want to do. And it never hurts to read a lot about the art forms and their history.”

Photo: Steve Shaffer

600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951