Keith Terry

Keith Terry

Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: Choreography

Competition: US & Canada

Keith Terry is a choreographer/composer/percussionist/rhythm dancer/educator whose artistic vision blurs the line between music and dance.

Trained as a jazz drummer Mr. Terry treats the human frame as though it were a trap set with a large battery of drums. In his solo performance, he claps, jumps, slaps his butt cheeks, shuffles his feet, patty-cakes his thighs, scuffs his shoes, clicks his tongue, and glides across the floor, switching up tempos and altering rhythms with dexterity.

Mr. Terry has played drums professionally for most of his life, in a wide variety of music and dance settings, including keeping time for an older generation of tap dancers, like Chuck Green, Eddie Brown, Charles "Honi" Coles, and Charles "Cookie" Cook. About thirty years ago Keith Terry co-directed a group called the Jazz Tap Ensemble and created his first body music piece, which quickly got inserted into the company’s repertoire. When he demonstrated some of the movements for Coles and Cook, they compared it to the hambone dances they were doing in vaudeville. But rhythmically, Mr. Terry was onto something else, they said. He liked the idea of harking back to an older tradition, while adding innovations of his own.

As a soloist Keith Terry has appeared in such settings as Lincoln Center, Bumbershoot, NPR’s All Things Considered, the Vienna International Dance Festival, and the Paradiso van Slag World Drum Festival in Amsterdam. As a band leader his groups SLAMMIN All-Body Band, Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble, Professor Terry’s Circus Band Extraordináire, and Body Tjak (with I Wayan Dibia) have performed in venues including Joe’s Pub, WNYC, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors (NYC), Grand Performances, LACMA Jazz, the Roxy, and the Skirball Center (LA), SFJazz, Vancouver Island MusicFest, and the Bali Arts Festival. In addition, Keith has performed with a wide range of artists including Charles "Honi" Coles, Turtle Island String Quartet, Jovino Santos Neto, Gamelan Sekar Jaya (charter member), Kenny Endo, Freddie Hubbard, Tex Williams, Robin Williams and Bobby McFerrin. As a producer he has created five CDs and four DVDs on Crosspulse Media.

Among his most significant choreographic performances are the International Body Music Performance Project (2006) in Salzburg, Austria; Body Tjak Project (1990, 1999, 2002) with I Wayan Dibia, which was performed in the U.S., Bali, and Java; Keith Terry / Turtle Island String Quartet (1990), which was featured on PBS’s Lonesome Pine Specials; Sound Proof (1989), a solo show commissioned by The Lively Arts at Stanford University; and Sandiarsa Muni (1985), with Michael Tenzer and I Wayan Sinti, which they performed in the U.S., Bali, and Java.

From 1998 to 2005 Keith Terry was on the faculty at UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures, where he designed and taught a dozen courses on the relationship of music and dance; deep listening; synchronicity, time and timing; and intercultural communication in the arts. In 2006 he conceived and directed the first international body music performance project for the Orff Institute in Salzburg with artists from Turkey, Finland, Spain, Austria and the U.S. As Artistic Director, he debuted the First International Body Music Festival in Oakland/San Francisco in December 2008. Mr. Terry tours extensively in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, where his Body Music performances, workshops, residencies, and choreographic commissions are popular among professional performers and educators.


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