Larissa Velez-Jackson

Undergraduate Discipline

Theatre

Graduate Program

MFA Theatre Program

A choreographer and hybrid artist who uses improvisation as a main tool for research and creation, focusing on personhood and the dancing/sound-making body, Velez-Jackson employs a deep humor to grant audiences universal access to contemporary art’s critical discourse. Of her 2010, critically-acclaimed show at Danspace Project, The New York Times said, “Ms. Velez-Jackson demonstrates her own formidable presence as she bursts into the space…A choreographer who is not afraid of being (or showing) ugly onstage, she disarms her audiences with humor….” In 2011, she launched a song-and-dance collaboration with her husband, Jon Velez-Jackson, called Yackez, “The World's Most Loveable Musical Duo." Velez-Jackson is also the artistic director of the LVJ Performance Co. Her works have been performed widely in New York City, including at The Bushwick Starr, The Chocolate Factory, Roulette, Museum of Art and Design, Danspace Project, New Museum, American Realness Festival at Abrons Arts Center, and Martin E Segal Theatre. In May 2014, LVJ performed an exciting mobile outdoor work, S.P.E.D. THE BX, with the support of Bronx nonprofit Pepatían and Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education. S.P.E.D. THE BX was a durational, site-speciific work that culminated for an audience of 70 children and BRONXNET cable television. Later in 2014, LVJ premiered “Star Crap Method” at Chocolate Factory Theatre. The piece was the culmination of three years of studio and stage research in LVJ’s improvisational performance practices for a cast of four people. The piece also featured lighting designer Kathy Kaufmann, who improvised the lighting design anew for each performance. Talya Epstein, a member of the cast, was nominated for a 2015 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” award for her performance in “Star Crap Method.” SLC, 2020–

Undergraduate Courses 2021-2022

Theatre

Choreographic Strategies and Theatre

Open, Component—Year

This course will explore methods of creating original theatre through a choreographic lens as a way of assembling the various building blocks from which theatre is made (sound, image, movement, language, design, etc.), as well as through the influence and manipulation of time. The semester will begin with structured prompts and assignments largely completed in class, eventually moving into self-generated collaborative projects with some work to be completed outside of class. One of the main focuses of this course is the attempt to articulate, through open discussions, one’s creative process and choices therein. Through analysis of said exercises, students will more clearly come to know one another’s work and methods. Students will be asked to create movement sequences, collaborative projects, and other studies as a way of encountering the use of assembly, juxtaposition, unison, framing, interruption, deconstruction, and other time-based art practices. Readings will include manifestos and selections from an array of artists, essays, and excerpts of various theatre practices from around the world, as well as video examples. As students will be working within various levels of physicality, wearing loose, comfortable clothing is encouraged. No dance or movement experience is necessary; to find value in this course, one only needs curiosity and a willingness to jump in.

Faculty

Movement for Performance

Open, Component—Year

In the fall semester, this class will explore the full instrument of the performer; namely, the human body. Each class will open with a warmup, encouraging a listening approach to functional alignment, breath and core support, movement effort, and more. Through a strong use of improvisational scores and strategies, the class will build an ensemble movement language while honing solo, partner, and group skills in movement. Working from what is readily available in one’s body and also movement from one’s culture or lived experience, this class allows students to enhance their dynamic range from large, full bodied, locomotor motions to subtle and interior experiences of movement. No movement background or particular physical ability is required—just a healthy mix of curiosity, humor, softness, and courage. In addition to occasional reading handouts, there will be opportunities to view excerpts of performances of professional theatre and dance that pertain to core themes of class. Please wear loose, comfortable clothing. In the spring semester, the class will also explore the full instrument of the performer; namely, the human body. A daily warmup will open the body to larger movement ranges while introducing students to a better functioning alignment, efficient muscle and energy use, full breathing, clear weight transfer, and increased awareness while traveling through space. A combination of improvisation, contact improvisation, set phrases, and in-class assignments—creating short, movement-based pieces—will be used to explore a larger range of articulation that the body reveals regardless of the words spoken on stage. In all aspects, the goals of this class are to enable students to be courageous with their physical selves, more articulate with their bodies, and more personally expressive in performance. No movement background is required—just a healthy mix of curiosity and courage. In addition to occasional reading handouts, there will be opportunities to attend rehearsals and performances of professional theatre and dance in New York City. Please wear loose, comfortable clothing.

Faculty

Sensing, Devising, and Performance

Open, Component—Fall

Through the lens of experimental dance-theatre practice, this course proposes theatre as a container of one’s own making for the desires, needs, and realities of the body and of the greater community to which it belongs. Centering the politics of care, this course explores improvisation and body-based inquiry—including, but not limited to, movement, somatics, vocal sound, song, spoken and written words, and archetypal embodiment. By workshopping these forms, participants will devise their own solo performance practices; create scores, texts or compositions; and work collaboratively and instructively to create for and with each other. Our study will consider how to collect and integrate “material” from outside the body in order to further apply interdisciplinarity as a force for creation, all while being mindful of the body’s somatic response to said materials and the particular responsibilities that we collectively have when considering appropriation. The capturing of these materials will include two or three workshops on experimentation in various technological platforms, collecting found sound and language from our environment (aspects of the course will involve safely going outside the “studio” during class time), and students creating and sharing their own methodologies for harvesting. Group discussion will make room for critical dialogue around all terms that we use, and the course will include supportive readings to illustrate the precedence for these practices in our contemporary landscape. 

Faculty

Previous Courses

Theatre

Sensing, Devising, and Performance

Open, Component—Fall

Through the lens of experimental dance-theatre practice, this course proposes theatre as a container of one’s own making for the desires, needs, and realities of the body and the greater community to which it belongs. Centering the politics of care, this course explores improvisation and body-based inquiry including, but not limited to, movement, somatics, vocal sound, song, spoken and written words, and archetypal embodiment. By workshopping these forms, participants will devise their own solo performance practices; create scores, texts or compositions; and work collaboratively and instructively to create for and with each other. Our study will consider how to collect and integrate “material” from outside of the body to further apply interdisciplinarity as a force for creation, all while being mindful of the body’s somatic response to said materials and particular responsibilities that we collectively have when considering appropriation. The capturing of these materials will include two-to-three workshops on experimentation in various technological platforms, collecting found sound and language from our environment (aspects of the course will involve safely going outside of the “studio” during class time), and students creating and sharing their own methodologies for harvesting. Group discussion will make room for critical dialogue around all terms that we use, and the course will include supportive readings to illustrate the precedence for these practices in our contemporary landscape.

Faculty