jazz movement artist
"For me, jazz dance and music have both the sincerity and virtuosity to live forever. I believe that although this art grew up in a specific era and culture, which is important to understand, it will always feel relevant. Jazz will always move the movers and inspire the improvisers."
lindy hop and jazz roots
I was a Lindy Hop artist before all else. I believe in the beauty of basics, and the importance of individual movement and responsibility within a partnership. As lindy hop is a Black American dance, I continually strive to be an ambassador for the history, culture, and movement ideals of African American vernacular dance. I am an advocate both for the performative nature of lindy hop (the stage! the jam circle!) and for the personal -- connecting to a partner, and the intimacy of shared and mutually supportive creativity. My lindy hop classes are a balancing act of rhythm, connection, musicality, and personality -- and the biomechanical techniques underpinning all of these.
My higher education curriculum is an embodied approach to the historical social dances of the Savoy Ballroom in the 1930s and 40s. We also look at how the modern dance tool kit borrows from and dialogues with jazz dance methods of improvisation and collaboration.
As a jazz musician myself, I bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to musicality classes. From standard structures and phrasing to riffs, stops, and call and response, knowing what the musicians know gives you the ability to respond in the moment and look both organized and effortless -- just like the music! Comfort with where the music is headed during a song improves your ability to take chances. One of my favorite quotes about playing jazz -- It’s not about playing a lot of notes, it’s about playing the right notes -- lends itself perfectly to the decision-making dancers must face when choosing their moves, whether in choreography or spontaneity.
Erin Morris has been teaching, performing, and competing in jazz and swing dancing for over 20 years. She has enjoyed international artist residencies in Vienna, Berlin, and Krakow but above all loves contributing regularly to her local communities and students. Erin paused her professional lindy hop career in 2020 in order to explore modern dance and broader dance academia, and will be receiving her MFA in Dance in 2023 from Washington University in St Louis. Her art-making focus has been on blending her background in Black social jazz dance with personal explorations in postmodernism, and she finds that all paths return her to the importance of improvisation and collaboration with musicians. Her thesis, "Bodies in Jazz" (premiere 2023) is about the performative spectrum of socially-formed dance, from the intimate to the virtuosic. Whether in the studio, the classroom, the forest, or the jazz club, Erin is committed to laying bare cultural roots and discovering a present that is individual, informed, aesthetic, and connective.