Who’s Helen?

We (Eric Geiger and Jess Humphrey) are practitioner-researchers whose work as dance educators in higher education is driven by our dancemaking—our devotion showing up for each other in the studio every week. Our decade-long collaboration has shaped us as individuals, our relationship, and another entity we’ve come to call Helen.

Helen is (our body) of work. She is a dancemaker, lover, fighter, and educator. Her fascia is an activist. She is at once both of us and all the dances we’ve made together. She is more privileged than most and has survived more than many imagine. She is made of things rather than being “about” them. Audiences decide what she is “about”, and when they tell us, they share a part of themselves and her identity expands. And that is where the conversation that is live performance really gets started. 

We choreograph our perception and then notice what that does to our colonized bodies. How does our training own us and how does it liberate us? What do awareness, agency, and intention have to do with how we choreograph and are choreographed? We use somatic techniques to help us slow down and study our patterns so we can thank, steer, and/or queer them as needed. They create a healthier distribution of labor in our bodies so we can better recognize that in the world. They are training tools for connecting with each other and the audience with our(innermost)selves and without vacating or dishonoring (any part of) ourselves.  

We learned from Deborah Hay that our best choreography is impossible to do and we do our best dancing when we go at it as if it is, wholeheartedly and with every cell in our bodies. We have also learned that we value equally our everyday movements and the ways our technical training moves us every day. What is revealed when we put them both in a dance is at the heart of our work as dancemakers and human beings waking up through this art form. 

Our individual careers are summarized in a collective bio, below. Both of us have not done all that is listed, but the consistency (we connect daily), intimacy (we are best friends as well as colleagues), and embodied nature of our collaboration allows us access to each other’s knowledge in uncommon ways. 

Dance professors at San Diego State University (SDSU) and UC San Diego (UCSD), they have over fifty years of experience as dance artists and have performed with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (1990-94), Sarah Shelton Mann, Guillermo Gomez Pena’s La Pocha Nostra, and while dancing with Lyon Opera Ballet, in works by William Forsythe, Stephen Petronio, Susan Marshall, Maguy Marin, Angelin Preljocaj, and others. In San Diego, they performed with McCaleb Dance (also serving as Associate Artistic Director), Karen Schaffman, and Gabor Tompa. They have collaborated with Leslie Seiters in multiple contexts. Their “trioness” includes pause, by Deborah Hay, till your eyes water, and practicing spontaneous dancemaking with a group called LIVE every Thursday morning since 2008 which they began co-facilitating in 2017. 

They have an MFA in Dance from the University of Utah, a BFA in Dance from CSU Long Beach, an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies, and a BFA in Design and Architecture from the Design Institute of San Diego, both from SDSU.

They hold certifications in Integral Facilitation, Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis, the Feldenkrais Method, dance-specific Pilates, and a certificate in Somatic Psychotherapy (Antioch University). They are intentionally spreading their Somatic Movement Educator (SME) certification with the School for Body-Mind Centering over many years.

To learn more about Helen’s parts, see Jess’s bio here and Eric’s here.