Jennifer Nugent danced with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company from 2009-2014, Paul Matteson, from 2004-2021, and David Dorfman Dance from 1999-2007, receiving a New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) for her work in the company. Nugent received a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2019 from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. She is currently a teaching artist at Sarah Lawrence College, Gibney Dance NYC, and Movement Research NYC.
Her teaching and dancing is inspired by all her teachers and mentors, most profoundly by Ann Cummings, Patricia Cummings, Linda Rogers Albritton, Beatrice LaVerne, Daniel Lepkoff, Wendell Beavers, Dale Andree, Bambi Anderson, Gerri Houlihan, David Dorfman, Lisa Race, Bill T. Jones, Janet Wong, Paul Matteson, Wendy Woodson, and Patty Townsend.
In my artist practice, I address my body, my mind and my being through questioning. I work to articulate my internal experiences through performance and teaching; augmenting these practices by sharing and refining my ideas in front of others—a transmission of spoken and gestural language. My aim is to nurture the proposition of physicality as a theoretical and complex language that resides inside a rejuvenating container of possibility. I see teaching as a collective and collaborative endeavor that spans beyond the dance studio and towards radical listening, philosophy, theory, action, writing, and discourse. Dance’s intellectual and physical rigor continues to present me a sense of humility and a play of transmission between the listening and the doing. When I am embedded inside collaboration or an exchange with an audience, I experience intimacy, directness, and the honesty that comes from not being able to hide. While sharing and listening, and a relentless awareness of who I am and who I am not, I work to continue mobilizing my artistic practices towards uncharted and indeterminate places. Within my work, I connect with myself through a process of being both a dancer and a feeling/desiring/alive being that becomes revealed through the practice of performance and the continual attending to presence.
My teaching practice offers a structure that allows a following of instinct, intuition, and desire- a place where expressive improvisation is happening at every moment, where relating to space, others, and one’s own interior can become equal priorities.
I begin my classes with standing, noticing the floor coming up underneath the feet, feet yielding and wanting to be in relationship with the floor, while allowing our sensate mind to move towards an understanding of energetic lines moving up two legs, the center of the pelvis, the pubic halves, torso, and limbs; vertically and horizontally, laterally, and diagonally. All the while, offering reminders for the coccyx to stay curious by softening the circumference of the tail, noticing the front and back of the spine, encouraging the crown of the head to remain receptive, considering bones that are alive and breathing, opening to a peripheral body, peripheral sight, and allowing breath to be felt, inflating and deflating, to the floor, and up again.
There is an earnesty in watching someone discover the simplicity and complexity within oneself. I take care to know how students ignite themselves, understand verticality and off-centeredness. The exchange I have with students becomes an experiencing-together which provides continuity and guides future classes. Together we discuss the importance of following details inside movement encounters and the connectivity that is personal and relational, that is available, that is human. Using improvisational structures, set warm-up material, and dialogue, I ask for students to reconsider what is heard and spoken and question this in their own physicality through integrated presence and the understanding of building a practice.
I work to engage with my students in a thoughtful, informative, energetic, and passionate embrace of all dance while offering experiences that might re-enliven form with individual and worldly presence. My hope is that these explorations will further expand an understanding of how our practices can support each other. I ask my students to simply see each other and themselves in the reflection they receive by looking; acknowledge armpit while lifting arm, and noticing finger, and allow this finger to become so divine that they could do this forever, alone and together. While teaching I often take on my students point of view; physically and by listening to their questions, and opinions of their current experiences.
Often I am left wondering why I am teaching what it is I am teaching since their point of physicality feels so good! Perhaps I am not actually teaching my students how to dance, but instead offering them a way into experiencing themselves.
My performance life is rich with experiences, failures, and successes. These experiences guide both my teaching and making, embedding these practices within each other. I have been performing since I was eight years old. Performance’s ability to capture who I am and reveal this capture to me, in the exact moment that it is happening...it is one of the most exquisite sensations, and I am forever grateful.
“This is a woman you think you’d like to get to know”
- Deborah Jowitt (The Village Voice)
"I was drawn especially to Jennifer Nugent,
whose intelligence and liquid ferocity
- Claudio LaRocco (New York Times)