Humor and fast-paced movement are hallmarks of Goode's technique.
UW students are on winter break at the moment, but the dance department is busy preparing for the arrival of a new guest choreographer. On Jan. 17, it will welcome Joe Goode, an icon in the worlds of both theater and dance. Goode will share his specialty, a fusion of theater's vocal elements and dance's emotive possibilities, with students and faculty during a four-week residency that culminates in a concert at Lathrop Hall Feb. 6-8 and Feb. 13-15.
Based in San Francisco, Goode is a performer, a mentor and a professor at the University of California-Berkeley. He teaches a performance style that uses humor and fast-paced movement to weave together gestures, text and, in some cases, images.
"It just never occurred to me to separate the voice and the body and the story and the spectacle," he says. "All of those things feel of a fabric to me."
Goode has big plans for the UW. His core teachings center on a specific way of moving through space, one that focuses on "release techniques, working softly through the joints [and] not pushing through things in a muscular way." These techniques are paired with vocalizations that allow dancers to get comfortable with speaking while moving. Goode believes dancers are smart people with a special gift: the ability to communicate ideas through movement.
"It's not that big a stretch to ask them to open their mouths and...produce a sentence," he says.
Of course, this combination of sound and movement didn't emerge overnight. After spending half his career as a theater professional, Goode felt the different pieces of his artistic practice were not fitting together correctly. He began developing his technique nearly 35 years ago.
"It wasn't until later in life that I said, 'I really have to have all of these things in the same place,'" he notes.
In his mission statement for the Joe Goode Performance Group, Goode says he aims "to take dance theater out of the traditional theater setting and to place it in a more living, breathing relationship to the viewer." But forming a bond with the audience is only one part of Goode's vision. His troupe often draws attention to parts of the body that we do not understand or may not want to understand. Goode says he aims to emphasize "the unglamorized body, the body in more intimate moments, when it is fallible or agitated or inept."
In addition to showing the body's weaknesses, Goode's work promotes healing. For instance, he teaches community classes for people with Parkinson's disease as a part of the national organization Dance for PD.
At Berkeley, Goode is known for teaching anyone willing to learn, not just professional dancers and trainees. His residency should show UW students how to integrate different modes of expression to create coherent works that can be enjoyed -- and danced -- by audiences of all kinds.