vernacular jazz 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."
I am first and foremost a lindy hop artist. 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.
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.
My solo jazz and chorus girl choreography is widely sought after, in the classroom and for professional troupes. More than a decade of solo jazz study informs my unique and artistic ideas: I am well-versed in the traditional 1920s dances and swing era solo jazz, and I have also studied Dunham technique at the renowned Katherine Dunham Seminar in East St. Louis.
Some of my favorite solo jazz class topics include: jazz roots vocabulary, improvisation technique, movement articulation, and the expression of rhythm.
Erin Morris is a champion solo jazz dancer, celebrated lindy hop artist, and a working jazz musician. She is a formidable improviser and spirited partner, able to draw upon a wealth of musical knowledge and vernacular dance movement. Her strongest influences are Katherine Dunham and Leon James and, of course, the music itself. In the classroom she is renowned for her depth and clarity, and she strives to develop artists and individuals. She is very proud that none of her students ever look like her. She has taught, performed, and competed around the world.
Erin began teaching dance in 1999 for the University of Michigan swing club. She invested more than a decade in her home lindy hop scene and spent four years teaching primarily as a lead to meet the unique challenges of that scene. In 2011 she founded Michigan’s first chorus girl troupe, Erin Morris & Her Ragdolls, to explore her voice as a choreographer and to become an ambassador for women in jazz. She choreographed more than 40 original routines for the Ragdolls and worked closely with local band leaders, including the acclaimed James Dapogny, to present revues and performances that featured live music.
Erin moved to St. Louis in 2016 to continue her journey as a working musician and dancer. She is currently developing a traditional jazz program for local high schools that combines jazz band with dance class.