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Sep 22, 2021

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra interviews Billy Siegenfeld, Founder of Jump Rhythm, creator of the Standing Down Straight technique, and a myriad of other things — playwright, choreographer, music arranger, performer, director, professor, and much more. Billy received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and a graduate degree in jazz studies from New York University. As a professor at Northwestern University, Billy is a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence in the Department of Theatre.

Jump Rhythm is a multiple-Emmy Award winning performance and teaching company that is a manifestation of Billy’s Standing Down Straight technique. This form teaches its performers to utilize “primal human behavior,” which taps into the mental and physical energy of the performers and teaches performers to not fight against gravity while dancing. On the podcast, Billy lays out his technique in full and explains in detail how his form can benefit people from all walks of life — not just dancers.


Moving Quotes:

"Primal human behavior is the behavior coming from the inside of us, unedited. It is our energy — our physical and emotional energies... So much of our art is created by these energies."

"One of the hardest things in the world is letting the body let go. We're all under pressure. My technique is just telling our bodies to slow down."

"When we're too much in the grip of having to 'make it' and succeed, what's more needed is just figuring out how to slow that down a little bit."

"The real question you have to answer when making a piece of art is this: how do you make it as truthful as possible, so that somebody who is absorbing it feels, 'Ah, me too — I feel that too'?"

"For every class you take, give yourself the time to not go to a class. Make some time into 'nothing time.' Don't be doing something all the time... Not doing is as important as doing."

"Art functions as a catalyst for a person becoming more aware of themselves and also becoming more aware of the other people they're dealing with."

"Relaxation is the crying need of our age... Let's figure out how to use relaxation as an active tool when doing our work."


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

3:50: Billy discusses the concept of “primal human behavior” and how tapping into this idea makes art more real for both audiences and performers.

9:58: Billy explains how dance uniquely helps release pent up emotions inside of dancers.

14:00: Siegenfeld discusses the concepts inside of his essay Standing Down Straight and how these concepts are taught inside of his workshops.

21:14: Siegenfeld explains how his technique is helpful for people of all walks of life — especially general populations who spend their days looking down at their phones.

23:33: Siegenfeld describes how his technique is particularly valuable for older populations.

25:40: Billy provides some more information on another of his essays, which traces the history of swing dance and how it’s a metaphor for democracy.

29:39: Billy, who is also a playwright, describes the premise of his play, What Do You Want to Be When You Give Up.

36:31: Siegenfeld describes the classes he teaches at Northwestern University and explains how rest and relaxation are desperately needed in the modern era.

43:36: Billy shares some expert advice for anybody starting their careers in the dance industry.


Bullet List of Resources – 

Billy Siegenfeld

Jump Rhythm