Billy Siegenfeld

Billy Siegenfeld is the Emmy Award-winning founder, artistic director, principal choreographer, vocal arranger, and ensemble performing member of JUMP RHYTHM® Jazz Project, a national and international-touring company whose theatre-dance productions use vocally accompanied, jazz-rhythm-based body-percussion to celebrate the energy-rich roots of human behavior.

He is the creator and developer of three teaching concepts: Jump Rhythm® Technique, a vocal-rhythmic-generated system of dance and theatre-movement training for all performing artists; Standing Down Straight® an injury-preventive system of postural and motional re-education; and American Rhythm Dancing®, a term embracing both the aesthetics and, through film-discussion, the performance history of African American-originated, rhythm-driven dancing and singing in the 20th and 21st centuries. A public lecturer and author, his most recent essay, “Performing Energy: American Rhythm Dancing and ‘The Great Articulation of the Inarticulate’,” appears in the 2014 anthology, Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches

He is a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence in the Department of Theatre at Northwestern University where he teaches Jump Rhythm® Technique; Jump Rhythm® Tap; Choreographing Music; Standing Down Straight® for Actors; American Rhythm Dancing® and the African American Performance Aesthetic; and, to combined science and performing arts students, Partnered Swing Dancing as a Source of Collaborative Problem-Solving.  For further information:


MADance, New York University
BALiterature, Brown University

Recent Publications

A writer on various subjects including vernacular-bodied, jazz-rhythm-based performance; teaching to "the person inside the student"; and "Standing Down Straight®," a gravity-directed, injury-preventive approach to both performing arts training and everyday behavior, Billy Siegenfeld’s most recent article,“Performing Energy: American Rhythm Dancing and 'The Great Articulation of the Inarticulate,'” appears in Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches, edited by Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver and published by the University of Florida Press.

Recent Awards and Honors

  • Registered Trademark for “American Rhythm Dancing,” granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (2014)
  • Tapestry Award, given by Dance Inn for making contributions to the art of tap dancing (2013)
  • Inspiration Award, given by Chicago Tap Theatre for serving the company asitsn artistic consultant on the company’s story shows (2012)
  • Stone Camryn Lecturer on the History of Dance, conferred by the Newberry Library, Chicago:  “The Art of Misbehavior: Jump Rhythm Technique, American Rhythm Dancing, and The Aesthetics of Not Being Good” (2012)
  • Choreographer of the Year Award, given by Dance Chicago Festival and the Cliff Dwellers Arts Foundation, citing three works: “There Never Was A War That Was Not Inward”; “You Do Not Have To Be Good”; The Sumptuous Screech of Simplicity” (2011)
  • Registered Trademark for “Jump Rhythm,” granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (2011)
  • Registered Trademark for “Standing Down Straight,” granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (2011)
  • European Union/City of Turku Choreographic Commission, funding the site-specific version in Kakserta, Finland of “Sorrows of Unison Dancing” (2011)
  • Emmy Award for his work as performer-choreographer on the PBS documentary Jump Rhythm Jazz Project: Getting There (2007)
  • Ruth Page Award, given by the Ruth Page Foundation, citing “his vibrant dance artistry” and “development of a unique dance vocabulary” (2006)
  • Fulbright Scholar, conferred by the U.S. Fulbright Commission to introduce the theory and practice of Jump Rhythm® Technique to the students of the Arts Academy at Turku University of the Applied Sciences, Finland (2005)
  • Jazz Dance World Congress Award, given by the JDWC for “contributions to the art of jazz dance” (2005)
  • National Performance Network Creation Award, funding the creation of “The News From Poems” and “Sorrows of Unison Dancing” (2003)
  • Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence (2002)
  • Limón Dance Foundation choreographic commission, funding the creation of “If Winter” for José Limón Dance Company (2000)
  • Outstanding Choreography Award, given by the Ruth Page Foundation, citing two works, “No Way Out But Through” and “Romance in Swingtime” (1997)
  • Gold Leo Award for Outstanding Choreography given by Jazz Dance World Congress, citing “Getting There” (1994)

Recent Grants

In partnership with Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, he has received grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and the Richard Driehaus Foundation.


101Movement Awareness: Standing Down Straight® as Source of Movement-Efficient Posture and Action
260Jump Rhythm® Technique
280Jump Rhythm® Tap
325Choreographing Music: Rhythmic-Dynamic Approaches to Dance Composition

American Rhythm Dancing™ and the African American Performance Aesthetic


Billy Siegenfeld





Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center
10 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208