Dancer Spotlight: Jennifer Harmer

You’ve been a company member since the beginning. Please describe your experience as the company has shifted and evolved.
Chris and I met in the Dance Conservatory at NYU, Tisch School of the Arts. He was getting his M.F.A. and I my B.F.A. He was looking to cast a trio he wanted to make for one of the student concerts, and a fellow dancer, Chris Yon, recommended me to him. I’ve never really talked to Yon about that recommendation, but I think about the ramifications of it sometimes… that boy really did set the course of my life in a big way!

Anyway, I fell pretty hard for that first piece of work, “Looking Long in the Stampede.” It was a trio set to Tuvan throat singing and “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head”, with silences interspersed. The unifying element of the piece was represented by bright green painted index fingers for all three dancers. Chris’ work just made perfect sense to me. I enjoyed creating work that really showcased my personality and emotional make-up as a human being– the universal aspect of that as well as my uniqueness as an individual. I felt at home exploring the balance point between dichotomies such as unbridled joy and sorrow; loneliness and fellowship. It seemed that everything could be felt and conveyed fully in just one piece, that each work was a universal strand of DNA all unto its own. That initial satisfaction with Chris’ work has never left me, and I have been working with Chris for almost a decade.

Misnomer did a webcast of the final performance from the 2008 New York Season to a worldwide audience. How did you feel on the night of the webcast?
I felt like we were boldly stepping where no dance company had ventured before. It was thrilling to know that people all over the world would be watching us live to help close out our unprecedented two week run at Joyce Soho. I thought I would be more nervous when I got onstage (thinking about it beforehand in the dressing room made me shudder with equal parts joy and terror) but luckily, I forgot all about it once I started moving, and the camera sat quietly and unobtrusively in the back of the house. It was so wonderful to know that my parents would be watching me in real time on their vacation in Cabo San Lucas!

What do you do outside of Misnomer?

I am taking a year off from making new work with Misnomer in order to focus on building my teaching practice. I am enjoying creating a new class format based on the martial art Bagua (a cross between Tai Chi and Shaolin) that functions like an Eastern Calisthenics class.

I am excited about it because it combines the best of aspects of modern dance and of yoga– the Chi Gung breathing and zen like quality of a yoga class combined with the movement through space, intense physicality and dynamic range of a modern dance class. I am also teaching Gyrotonic at a wonderful studio in the West Village called ‘Village Gyrotonic’ and continuing to perform with the caburlesque troupe Lady Rizo & The Assettes.