Kimberley Cooper

Kimberley Cooper is the Artistic Director of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD) in Calgary, Canada.

She has been a part of DJD for over three decades, as a dancer, Resident Choreographer/Artistic Associate and as Artistic Director (2013-present). In 2002, Cooper was named Emerging Artist of the Year by Alberta Dance Alliance, and since 2002, she has created 18 full-length works on DJD. She served as an Artist in Residence during Calgary as Cultural Capital of Canada in 2012 and was awarded Dance Victoria’s Crystal Dance Prize in 2014 for her research in Brazil. Cooper has contributed chapters to the books; City of Animals, for University of Calgary’s Humanities Department about New Universe, a work she created with American jazz bassist and composer William Parker in 2017 and Rooted Jazz Dance: Africanist Aesthetics and Equity in the Twenty First Century (University Press of Florida, forthcoming).

About Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD)
Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD) is a 35-year-old creation-based company based in Calgary, whose mission is to enrich lives by engaging people in exploring, evolving, and promoting the art of jazz dance.

DJD is made up of a professional company, a professional training program (PTP), and many education and outreach activities including a recreational dance school. The company creates two to three original works each year, at least one with live music and performs in Calgary and beyond. DJD has toured nationally and internationally including being invited to perform at the Havana International Jazz Festival in 2005.

In 2016, DJD opened a new purpose-built, seven-studio facility, including a 230-seat theatre. The DJD Dance Centre has quickly become a major dance hub in Calgary.

What does jazz dance look like?

Jazz… an art form born in America, of West African roots and the Black American experience.

When we speak of jazz music we know what it sounds like – over 100 years of musicians and music – hot, cool, swing, bop, free… Armstrong, Ellington, Fitzgerald, Mingus, Sun Ra, Davis, Coleman, Blakey, Basie, Cherry, Jones, Hancock,

Brown, Parker, Lateef, Washington, Coltrane, Akinmusire, McCraven, to name just a few… fusions, influences, evolution, tradition, cousins… so much to hear, but what does it look like?

I fell hard for jazz dance at a very young age. I happened to be born in the same city as Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, Calgary, an unlikely place to find rooted jazz dance. And from the moment I saw the first DJD concert, Body and Sole, in 1984, at age 13, I knew I had to do THAT.

And what was THAT? It was music for the eyes. Sure, I had heard jazz music before, but I had never seen it. I had also seen “jazz” dance, but this was completely different. The more I learned about jazz, the more I understood that to be worthy of it meant responsibility and a lifetime of work, especially as a guest. But there was no choice, when jazz called my name, I had to answer.

Since then, with hard work, luck, and perhaps some destiny, jazz has been the driving force of my life as an artist. These portraits capture moments of some of the possibilities I’ve had the pleasure of exploring with some of the incredible souls who are also very much in love with jazz. Even though these images are still, I hope you will see that they are full of music.

– Kimberley Cooper, Co-Curator