Choreographer and Ballet Master Jae Man Joo Joins Point Park University's Department of Dance Faculty
"I want to give everything back to the students and share all the knowledge and experiences that I have gained through my beautiful career. It makes me so happy when I see my students grow and develop into strong dancers and beautiful human beings."
What inspired your passion for a career in dance?
My passion for dance comes from within; it is this love that has led me to believe that I was born to dance. I am so grateful that I was able to experience learning, performing, choreographing, directing and teaching. My career path has not always been easy, but my passion for dance has kept me going and the dance world has opened up my eyes. I'm so lucky that I have an incredible career and I still have so much to achieve and learn.
Tell us about your career path and what brought you to Point Park University?
I was born and raised In Kwang-Ju, Korea, where I studied classical ballet, modern and traditional Korean dances.
After I graduated from Dankook University in Korea, I came to America and worked with Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Ballet Hispánico as a principal dancer. I was honored to serve as the associate artistic director, a ballet master and a resident choreographer at Complexions for 21 years. I traveled around the world to perform with the company and worked with Shen Wei, Zvi Gotheiner, Igal Perry and Jessica Lang.
It was my dream to be a choreographer, and I began creating my own pieces while teaching and choreographing for other companies and universities. In 2006, I created seven different works for Complexions, all of which premiered at The Joyce Theater in New York City. Additionally, in 2009, I received The Princess Grace Award for Excellence in Choreography.
Teaching is my passion and it has been extraordinary to teach at Point Park University. I truly want to help dancers grow technically and artistically. What is the purpose of dancing? Who do you want to be?
I want to help my students open their eyes. I want to give everything back to the students and share all the knowledge and experiences that I have gained through my career. It makes me so happy when I see my students grow and develop into strong dancers and beautiful human beings.
What courses do you teach in our dance program and what can students expect in your classes?
I teach classical ballet and contemporary ballet partnering classes. I believe the technique is the root of dance training and class is where dancers hone their foundation. My ballet offers the dancer an explorative approach to classical ballet technique that incorporates the full upper body combined with precise footwork. I also focus on encouraging the dancer to work smart and hard within the framework of traditional ballet with an emphasis on developing strength, fluidity, artistry and appreciation of musicality.
What’s it like teaching the next generation of artists in Point Park’s George Rowland White Performance Center?
It feels incredible to teach in such beautiful, open spaces. I feel so happy to walk into the studio every day. I am also thankful for our incredible accompanists who support our classes daily.
What advice do you have for a student auditioning for our dance program?
Continue to train and expand your skills, push your limits further and don’t focus on one style of dance. Take ballet class even if you don’t plan on being a ballet dancer — every style of dance can offer you different qualities and strengths that value your diversity and range. Keep dreaming big and set new goals. Never doubt yourself or your abilities. Always be present, focused and work hard. Let your passion lead you and guide you.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
As a Korean-born artist and choreographer, it was an honor to receive The Princess Grace Award. It was one of the proudest moments of my career to have my work recognized by a prestigious art organization.
More About: dance, George Rowland White Performance Center, ballet, faculty, Conservatory of Performing Arts