Jenny Hillock (front, left) and her fellow co-founders of Spectrum Dance Theater (clockwise from left) SuzAnne Duckworth, Carol Borgmann and Dale Merrill
Q. What will audiences see when they watch your piece, "Shadow Dancing."
A. They will see performers on stage who truly love to dance! Additionally, they'll see a fun, timeless stylized jazz piece reminiscent of Bob Fosse.
Q. For those who don't know, who is Bob Fosse?
A. He started off as a dancer and became a choreographer who created a whole style of movement that's now almost synonymous with "jazz dance."
Q. Why is this a style you're attracted to?
A. I grew up watching old Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire movies, and those are the dancers I looked up to. It was always fun, always good music, and it didn't have to have a deep meaning. As a classically-trained dancer, later on I grew to appreciate how jazz allows you to truly express yourself, and have a bit of an attitude.
Q. Tell me about the inspiration for this dance.
A. In Relay's show, you'll see jazz-dance influences, especially in pieces with hip-hop music. This piece shows a style that has influenced the urban dance forms of today.
Q. What was it like working with Relay Dance Collective?
A. It was a ball; very fun. These are dancers who really want to learn and throw 100 percent into it. For every movement, they'd have a question. They were so precise; really wanting to know the correct way, the best way, it could be done.
Q. What's your impression of this new dance group?
A. A promising young dance group. I'm excited about their upcoming show, because they take a lot of different styles in to the mix and the show feels refreshing, urban and contemporary. I am positive audiences will be thoroughly entertained and educated on the many facets of dance. It's wonderful to watch a young dance group blossoming from scratch, and it will be fun to follow them as they grow in the future.
Q. What kinds of dances do you like to make?
A. My pieces don't ever have a heavy meaning; in other words, I don't ever go to the dark side. Because I think what you want to share with people is your love of dance. I want people to come away feeling good, not in a frivolous or superficial way, I just want them to come away with a positive experience.
Q. You co-founded Spectrum Dance Theater in the early '80s. What are your favorite memories of that time?
A. Everything. All of it. I loved working with so many different choreographers from around the country and region, as well as our own choreographers like Dale Merrill, SuzAnne Duckworth and Wade Madsen. We didn't get paid much. But it was a whirlwind of what we loved to do.
Q. What's the most rewarding thing about being a teacher?
A. Seeing the tradition of dance continue. I got an email recently from a student who took classes from me years ago. Now, she's dancing in New York and she remembered so much about me. To me, that means I did my job right. Contrary to what people think, dance is something you can do your whole life. It will keep you in good shape. It will feed your brain, and feed your soul.