College professor, esteemed choreographer, and dancer: Is there anything Jodi Melnick can’t do? Melnick, a Barnard professor, has made a name for herself among New York City’s many notable dance companies—most recently by being included in this year’s Fall for Dance festival as a dancer and choreographer.
2012 marks the ninth year of the annual Fall for Dance festival, held at the New York City Center. The festival features 20 companies from all around the world dancing throughout 12 evenings of performances. Each performance consists of a program of four different companies of various styles. In the Fall For Dance festival, Melnick will perform her work on the same stage as major companies such as American Ballet Theatre and Martha Graham Dance Company.
Melnick’s choreography was noticed by a Fall For Dance curator during a show at New York Live Arts. Upon seeing her work, he approached Melnick about participating in the 2012 festival.
“I’m excited and honored,” she said, but acknowledged that her choreography is, “at a much more experimental, postmodern point, whereas Fall for Dance is a little more traditional.” But nonetheless, she said, “We’ll see what happens. I’m sticking to my guns.”
Those guns have earned her great recognition in the dance field before. Melnick was recently recognized as a 2012 Guggenheim fellow. She is also the recipient of the Jerome Robbins New Essential Works grant, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant, and has received two Bessie Awards for innovative achievement in dance.
In her Fall for Dance festival piece, “Solo (Re)Deluxe Version,” Melnick, along with three other dancers, executes her choreography through a series of solos, duets, trios, and quartets. Four band members play live music by composer Steven Reker to accompany the choreography.
“This piece was mostly about extracting and inserting other bodies, other situations, and how that would change my approach to performing … how I would amend it with another person, how I would explore it on my own,” Melnick said.
Melnick explained that although she spent a great deal of time working independently in the studio, the experience was also a collaborative effort where she would transfer existing material onto the dancers and also work improvisationally.
The collaborative nature of dance for Professor Melnick not only describes her experience as a choreographer, but also as a teacher. “Teaching feeds me so much in my exchange with the students and the dance faculty,” she said.
Though Melnick has had enormous success outside of the academic world, she said that she’s happy where she is in Barnard’s dance department.
“I love the atmosphere. It’s just a really great home.”
“Solo (Re)Deluxe Version” will be performed in the Fall For Dance festival at New York City Center on Oct. 4-6 at 8 p.m.