Jeff Friedman

Director of the MFA Dance Program

Jeff Friedman is a dancer and choreographer, formerly based in San Francisco from 1979 to 2003. He received a professional degree in architecture from the University of Oregon and specializes in the creation of multidisciplinary site-specific performance events. His original choreography has been commissioned throughout California and the West Coast and travels with LOCUS Solo Dance throughout the United States. Friedman was a member of the Oberlin Dance Company from 1980-1989, touring nationally and internationally in Southeast Asia, Australia and the former Soviet Union. He has also been a guest artist with the Santa Fe, Los Angeles and San Francisco Opera Companies and has taught dance technique and history throughout California including faculty appointments at Sonoma State and San Francisco State Universities.

In 1988 Friedman founded Legacy, an oral history project for the Bay Area dance community held at the San Francisco Museum of Performance & Design where he is now Legacy’s senior editor and director of the annual training workshop. Friedman also consults throughout the United States and internationally, creating new dance oral history projects based Legacy's model, including Korea, Germany and Poland. Support for Legacy has included numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council.

Friedman holds a PhD in Dance History and Theory from the University of California Riverside where he was a Jacob K. Javits United States Department of Education Fellow. His research areas include oral history theory and methodology, narrative, phenomenology, and Futurist photography. A certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst, Friedman's research includes a qualitative study of oral history interviews with former members of the Twyla Tharp Dance Company and investigating European philosopher’s perspectives on embodiment.

His research on oral history and performance has been published in Sounds and Gestures of Recollection (Routledge); The Oral History Handbook (AltaMira Press); Historia, Antropologia y Fuentes Orales (University of Barcelona), The Korean Journal for Dance Documenta-tion, Oral History (UK), and Oral History in New Zealand, where he was guest lecturer at Auckland University’s Dance Studies Programme. Additional works include a book chapter in Bodies of Evidence: The Practice of Queer Oral History (Oxford) and several oral histories for the School of American Ballet. Friedman has also choreographed six original or reconstructed historical works for the Rutgers University main-stage theater, under the auspices of the Dance Department.

In the United States, Friedman has lectured and performed at Columbia, Duke, and University of California-Berkeley. Internationall, he has lectured at Charles University (Prague), Leipzig and Giessen Universities (Germany), with the support of a 2010 Fulbright Fellowship in Frankfurt, Germany, University of Warsaw (Poland) and Coventry, and Bournemouth and Surrey Universities (UK).

Forthcoming works include an online publication for the Cervantes Institute (Spain) on the relevance of Czech phenomenologist Jan Patochka’s theories of embodiment for dance and oral history practices; an article titled “Shimmer/Glimmer: Re-gendering Historical Works of Dance Toward Discursive Exposure” for Leipzig University; and “Minding the Gap: “The Choreographer as Hyper-Historian in Oral History-based Performance” for the University of Ottawa’s forthcoming book History, Memory and Performance (submitted). Friedman is also developing an International Service Learning course in oral history and performance, located collaboratively at Tel Aviv and Hebrew Universities in Israel.

Listen to Friedman talk about his career and the dance community on the Movers & Shapers podcast: Download here | Movers & Shapers website