JUSTINE MARIE SHEEDY-KRAMER portrait
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, School Of Dance
801-581-8231

Research Statement

My research combines both creative and scholarly mediums, and pursues the analysis of historical, cultural, pedagogical, and interdisciplinary modes in relation to classical and contemporary ballet. Four primary interests comprise my current research agenda: best practices for effective and efficient collaboration in the arts; the authentic use of character, folk, and ethnic dance forms in ballet and the potential for these dance forms to assist with cross-cultural communication and understanding; the development of ballet as a tool for community outreach programs and atypical learning groups; and the incorporation of technology in dance education for pedagogical effectiveness and efficiency.

 

Collaboration

Dance has a unique position within higher education as it creates an exceptional foundation for collaborative learning in the arts. The benefits and challenges of the artistic collaborative process is one of my primary research interests, especially in regards to choreographic projects and interdisciplinary communication. Following the recent publication of my exploration of an educational tool for collaboration between ballet and music,[1] I am greatly interested in continuing to apply this research to both new projects and student mentoring. What are the tools that students need to succeed in working collaboratively with fellow artists? How can dance students be better prepared to communicate and interact with various project partners such as musicians and composers, visual artists and filmmakers, actors and directors, and advertisers and project sponsors? How can artistic collaboration move beyond a trendy project qualifier and towards the enhancement of art forms and learning opportunities? These considerations are emerging as I continue to expand my research on this topic and seek to develop a blueprint for effective and efficient practices in artistic collaboration. These considerations also assist with my involvement in mentoring, as I encourage students to engage in critical thinking and active analysis in supporting their own exploration of collaborative possibilities and challenges.

 

Cross-Cultural Communication

With increased ability for international travel and communication in the 21st century, there are wonderful opportunities to improve upon the incorporation of character dance in the classical repertoire. Refining character dances to demonstrate authentic movement and stylization, rather than a combination of pseudo-folk steps and imitated attitudes, can serve to enhance the reconstructions of classical repertoire pieces and also enrich students’ artistic interpretation and performance dynamics. Ballet has served as a unique vehicle for the representation of folk, ethnic, national, character, vernacular, and historical dance forms; however, the balance of authenticity and amalgamation has often been distorted. Character dance can be greatly reexamined to demonstrate better access to research material and increased accessibility of first-hand knowledge of the folk traditions represented in the major classical works. Recent analysis of this topic has included primary-source study in the folk background of the Hungarian Csárdás to better inform the restaging of the “Danse Hongroise” in Swan Lake. [2]a

Furthermore, the cultural backgrounds and geo-political boundaries represented by character dance present a unique foundation for analyzing the nuances involved in historical, geographical, and ethnic conflict. Reconstruction material from the classical ballet La Source, along with primary-source studies and my creative research of Georgian and Azeri dance forms (Gantiadi, Gragnili Biliki, Samaia, and Yalli:Isti Ruh) 2b have served as my foundation for studying the stylistic similarities and contemporary inspirations between classical ballet and the folk, ethnic, national, and historical dance forms of the Caucasus. In the long-term, I am interested in developing primary-source learning opportunities to study the cultural, societal, and educational influences of folk and ethnic dance forms, especially within historically-conflicted regions.

 

Outreach Programs

Ballet may not be perceived as a typical medium for outreach programs and it is easy to disregard its incorporation as idealistic or less than practical. However, I believe that classical ballet, along with contemporary and world dance styles, provides an ideal foundation for nurturing coordination with freedom of movement, creativity with discipline, independent learning with teamwork, and more. I have witnessed and experienced the success and challenges of introducing ballet elements in atypical settings, from volunteering for several years in dance classes for students with special needs, to working with at-risk elementary schools to encourage student attendance and involvement through dance. Drawing from this experience, I am eager to develop similar programs in Utah and assist student instructors in discovering opportunities to serve the community through ballet. My research in this area will address challenges and possibilities, communication and collaboration, and best practices for program design, student-directed goals, and community outcomes.

 

Technology and Pedagogy

The juxtaposition of technology and pedagogy are ever-present in higher education. Ballet pedagogy in this environment can greatly benefit from blending traditional approaches with innovative teaching methods and technology to enhance student learning. I am very interested in analyzing ways that hybrid teaching models can impact student comprehension and pedagogical efficiency in ballet. Following a foundation in Cyber Pedagogy course work several years ago, I have begun to transfer elements of my Music for Ballet Dancers and Senior Capstone classes into a format for possible hybrid teaching. Case studies and direct application will serve as the next step in this research. Developing new ways of engaging students in the learning process, while preserving the historical and traditional elements of classical ballet, will be the primary goal in this research endeavor. 

 

Each of these research aspects serve to enhance the presence of classical and contemporary ballet in higher education. From the strong influence of music in my choreography and collaborative activities,[3] to the study of world dance forms and involvement in outreach programs, my creative and scholarly research constantly connects various art forms and external fields to ballet. I am enthusiastic about the possibilities for pedagogical development and artistic innovation in ballet, and my research will continue to investigate and inform the interdisciplinary, societal, and educational attributes of this art form.    

 

 

 



[1] Research Example 1:  The Symphony and the Ballet: Select Compositions of Tchaikovsky as an Educational Tool for Music and Ballet. The Journal of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, Vol. 92.

 

[2]2a-b Research Example 2:  Danse Hongroise (restaging), Gantiadi (original choreography), and Yablochko (original choreography)

 

[3] Research Example 3:  Verge (Choreography Video & Written Excerpts from “An Exploration of Choreography and Live Music: Verge and The Firebird”)

 

Research Keywords

  • Folk or Ethnic Arts
  • Collaborative art
  • Choreography

Creative Research

  • "Trochi Balbatni" Creative research of Belorussian folk dance, restaged for Character Dance Ensemble and presented in Florence, Italy. Choreography, completed 05/2018.
  • "Janana" Creative research of Afghan folk dance and music. Developed with International Movement & Music Collective in collaboration with, and live musical accompaniment from, Eastern Arts and Qais Essar Ensemble. Choreography, completed 03/2018.
  • "Gragnili Biliki" Creative research and performance choreography based on Georgian folk dance movement. Research was enhanced by cultural exchange with Ensemble Gurjaani of Georgia, and also contributed to reworking "Gantiadi" for Character Dance Ensemble's repertoire, as well as Georgian etude for Character Dance II course. Choreography, completed 11/07/2017.
  • "Gilaki Rice Dance" Creative research and performance choreography based on ethnic cultural traditions of northern Iran. Performances: Eccles Theatre Grand Opening (10/22/2016) and WorlDance (11/16/2016) Choreography, completed 11/16/2016.

Geographical Regions of Interest

  • Azerbaijan
    Choreographic interest, with small group study under the tutelage of Namus Zokhrabov (former soloist and resident choreographer with the State Ensemble of Azerbaijan).
  • Czech Republic
    Choreographic interest in Czech, Slovak, and Moravian dance and music. Coordination of research trip for Character Dance Ensemble's upcoming research tour.
  • Hungary
    Coordinated research trip for Character Dance Ensemble to study at the Hungarian Dance Academy (2015). Studied folk foundations of the Hungarian Csardas as applicable to ballet and character dance.

Publications

  • Sheedy-Kramer, J. (2015). The Symphony and the Ballet: Select Compositions of Tchaikovsky as an Educational Tool for Music and Ballet. The Journal of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, Vol. 92. 47–65. Published, 03/2016.
    http://www.utahacademy.org/academy-journal/