Jody Sperling: Guest Artist

Jody Sperling joins the Department of Dance at Illinois during Spring term.

A New York City-based dancer-choreographer, Jody Sperling has created more than 50 works. She is considered the world’s leading exponent of the style of early modern dancer and performance technologist Loïe Fuller (1862-1928). Sperling has expanded Fuller’s genre into the 21st century, deploying it in the context of contemporary and environmental performance forms. She is currently Eco-Artist-in-Residence at The New York Society for Ethical Culture.

Years of working in Fuller’s idiom, which involves kinesphere-expanding costumes, has influenced Sperling’s awareness of the body’s relationship with the larger environment. In 2014, she participated in a polar science mission—as the first choreographer-in-residence aboard a US Coast Guard icebreaker—and danced on Arctic sea ice. Her short film Ice Floe, shot during the expedition, won a Creative Climate Award.

Following her Arctic experience, her artistic focus has been on engaging with climate creatively. Currently, Sperling is developing a dance practice called ecokinetics that cultivates the relationship between the moving body and environmental systems while providing strategies for climate-engaged artmaking.

Sperling earned a World Choreography Award nomination for her work on the French feature film “The Dancer” (Dir. Stephanie Di Giusto, 2016 Cannes Film Festival). She is also featured and created a new work for the Fuller documentary Obsessed with Light (Dirs. Sabine Krayenbuehl and Zeva Oelbaum, premiere 2023 Rome Film Fest).

Sperling and company have performed or taught throughout the US and in Bahrain, Canada, France, India, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, and Scotland. Sperling and has been in residence at dozens of colleges and universities including The Ailey School/Fordham, Barnard College, Brenau University, Bloomfield College, DeSales College, Hobart & William Smith, Hofstra University, Hunter College, Montclair State University, Rutgers University, Skidmore College, Vassar College, Wesleyan University, UC Irvine, UCLA Art-Sci Center, UMass Amherst, University of Nebraska, and University of Wyoming, among others. She holds a BA from Wesleyan University in Dance and Italian Studies, an MA in Performance Studies from New York University Tisch School of the Arts, and an MFA in Dance from Montclair State University.

Sperling and Time Lapse Dance have received commissions from the Vermont Performance Lab with Marlboro College, The University of Wyoming through the NEA American Masterpieces Program, and the Streb Lab for Action Mechanics. Works have been featured in the repertory of The Netherlands’ Introdans ensemble and performed by Ice Theatre of New York.

Sperling, also a dance writer and scholar, has served on the Board of Directors of the Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS). Her dance writings have appeared online and in print in Dance Magazine, The Village Voice, The SDHS Conference Proceedings, The International Encyclopedia of Dance, and she has contributed chapters to the books Birds of Paradise: Costume as Cinematic Spectacle (British Film Institute, 2014) and Milestones in Dance in the USA (Routledge, 2022).

Prior to founding Time Lapse Dance, Sperling performed as a dancer in the works of other choreographers including Sarah Michelson and Yvonne Rainer.

Jody Sperling headshot
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