"Along with directing the dance program at Knox College, I have an active professional career as the Artistic Director of "Back & to the Left Productions", a modern dance based performance company. Through my work with Back & to the Left Productions, I have produced work in Dance Chicago, The Minnesota Fringe Festival, The International Festival for Dance Artists in Toronto, Canada, as well as in Avignon, France. Currently, there are several Knox College dance students, as well as a few alumni, that are performing members of my company.
My dance pedagogy has been greatly influenced by my research in somatic study, best described as the integration of the mind and body. I believe you cannot truly develop one without a connection to the other"
Years at Knox: 1997 to present
MFA, 2007, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
M.A., 2000, Columbia College.
B.A., 1995, Columbia College.
Modern dance, theory and improvisation, dance history and contemporary trends in choreography, dance composition, dance ensemble, ballet.
Philip Green Wright / Lombard College Award for Distinguished Teaching, Knox College, 2003.
Granted Dance Residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, working with New York Choreographer, Doug Elkins, 2003.
Illinois Arts Council, Art Tour Grants: 1998, 1999, 2001 & 2002.
Named one of "30 Young Show-Stoppers under 30" by the Chicago Tribune, 1999.
"Developing an Integrated Dance Curriculum." Teaching Artists' Journal, 2007.
"The Neutral Mask: An Approach to Kinesthetic Re-education." Workshop presentation, National Dance Education Organization, Phoenix, Arizona, 2010.
"Creating Fusion -- The Art of Collaboration." Co-Presented Panel Discussion, World Dance Alliance, New York, New York, 2010.
"Passage" - A Dance Concert: The Minnesota Fringe Festival, 2009.
"Integrating Technology in the Dance Technique Classroom": A Workshop - presented at the NDEO annual conference held in NYC, 2009.
"Dance Chicago" - Select company work presented as a part of the annual dance festival, 2008.
"Drawing Connections: Developing an Integrated Dance Curriculum." Hawaii International Conference for Arts & Humanities, Oahu, Hawaii, 2006.
"The Raven." Solo Performance. Dance Chicago (annual Dance Festival), 2010.
"(re)ACTION" in Festival Off’Avignon, 2007.
"Sight/Unseen." Directed, Dancemakers Concert, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2007.
"Somebody's Turn." Directed by Melinda Blomquist. Dancemakers Concert, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2007.
"V2/C" in American College Dance Festival, University of Michigan, 2002.
"Falling Up," Knox College, 2002.
"Modern Ways to Wed" in C-Pop Gallery, Detroit, Mich., and Links Hall, Chicago, Illinois, 2001.
"Still/Going" in the American College Dance Festival and in Chicago, 2000.
"Temenos," Knox College, 1999.
"Body Follows Thought," Chicago, 1998.
Campus & Community Involvement
Associate artist in residence, Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smryna Beach, Florida.
Associate Artist in Residency with Doug Elkins, Altantic Center for the Arts.
Co-Director, "Back and to the Left Productions," interdisciplinary performance group, with Tiffany VanCleaf, Chicago.
Performer with the New Music/New Dance Ensemble, Summer Festival in Pisa, Italy.
Performer with New York-based choreographer David Dorfman, Chicago's Navy Pier Celebration.
Member, International Association for Dance Medicine & Science.
Member, National Dance Education Organization.
What Students Say
"Jen recognizes her students for what they are-- dynamic humans, as well as college students-- and creates a comfortable environment in which the personal and intimate study of dance and movement can be explored. Jen shares her own experiences with her students by recounting her stories, providing honest advice about the "real world", and even includes students in her professional dance company. Jen Smith is Knox because she actively reminds her students of one of life's greatest lessons that she applies to dance and somatic creativity: the process is just as important as the destination."
-Kate Cochran, Psychology Major, Dance Minor
Britt Anderson encourages current Knox students to take classes in constitutional law, LSAT preparation, and to be ready to focus only on the study of law.
Scholar John Agnew aims to debunk myths and promote a better understanding of the dimensions of immigration in the United States and elsewhere.
A double-major in English literature and gender and women's studies, she walks in the footsteps of James Joyce and other writers, gaining a better understanding of them and their work.