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Chamber Dance Company Archive: Joseph Gifford

A unique collection of video documenting the UW Chamber Dance Dance Company's over 25 year history of performing modern dance classics.

Joseph Gifford

Joseph Gifford

Dancer, choreographer, movement coach, company director

Every emotional expression should be done on a release, not a contraction. Do not substitute tension for intensity. Do not confuse the two. When tension begins to disappear, then intensity, a fullness of expression, can take place. Tension always squeezes away fullness and the ease that comes with it.

                                          Joseph Gifford

Born Niagra Falls, NY, 1920.

Joseph Gifford began his performing career in New York City as a member of the Humphrey/Weidman company. Subsequently, he formed his own company, the Joseph Gifford Dance Theater, which performed annually in NYC and on tours throughout the U.S. During his years in NYC, he assisted Doris Humphrey in her teaching, appeared in several musicals on Broadway, and taught for many years at the New Dance Group Studio, which offered an agenda that was intercultural and interracial, making dance a vital contemporary artistic experience. In keeping with the New Dance Group's fundamental rule that “ must not dance or choreograph in a vacuum but address everyday problems in a coherent style that would connect with a working-class audience..." Gifford created The Pursued after seeing Picasso's Guernica that was painted in reaction to the Nazi German bombing of the Basque cultural center, Guernica, during the Spanish Civil War. Doris Humphrey advised him on the choreography and Gifford first performed the work with his dancing partner at the time, Mary Anthony. In mid-career, he joined the faculty of the School of Theatre Arts, Boston University, to establish a curriculum in movement training for the actor. In 1985, Mr. Gifford joined the faculty of the American Symphony Orchestra League’s workshops for conductors working privately with prominent American conductors and he continues to give seminars and private classes for conductors and instrumentalists throughout the U.S. and in Europe.

Watch Joseph Gifford's The Pursued at the Media Arcade in Vol. 45 of the Chamber Dance Company Archives (DVD UWDP 001 v.45).