“I instill in my dancers the discipline of proper training, but I also let them know they have a voice—a voice that shows where they came from—and I want to hear it.”
Born and raised in Chicago, where he still resides, Joel Hall started his life in dance as a teenager under the guidance of Ed Parrish. In 1974 Joel and Joseph Ehrenberg co-founded the Chicago City Theatre Company, which then became the Joel Hall Dance Center and Joel Hall Dancers. Through his life experiences and his dance career, Joel has been able to develop and maintain his unique jazz dance style, which embodies jazz, modern, funk, and street dance. His movement is only embellished by the use of house and contemporary jazz music. The mission Joel founded his company on, and maintains today is inclusivity for all. He vowed to never turn a student away from class based on age, gender, race, sexual orientation, body type, or ability. Joel still spends his Saturday mornings in the studio guiding dancers through his jazz class. His support and enthusiasm reaches out to the dancers, and they in turn give themselves to him and his movement. Joel is revered and respected in the jazz dance community as a leading force and guide through the history of jazz dance. Students can now train in Joel’s codified technique and obtain a teaching certification as well. With his movement and passion, Joel has reached into the lives of people all over the world as a performer, educator, and mentor.
Jacqueline Sinclair recaptured as Joel Hall
While my mother turns a phrase in an undeniably similar way to me or may walk the streets moving her body similar to mine, a signature Sinclair step, I find the same curiosity is sparked when I see my movement in my mentors. Joel Hall has been that primary influence in my dance training. I have studied his jazz hands for three decades. I have come to learn his patterns of creation and creativity to the point where I will know what movement will come next before he demonstrates it. I have spent countless hours watching his body language in addition to learning his class materials and choreography. During this time, his jazz style has steeped it’s way into my DNA, next to my mother’s DNA. Similar to acquiring a verbal vocabulary, I have acquired his jazz vocabulary. I have become one with his training and can no longer separate my movement from the Joel Hall Urban Jazz dance accent. It is a challenge for me to create a phrase that does not resemble the Joel Hall movement, just as it is a challenge for me to avoid walking without the signature Sinclair step. Since I have spent 30 years under the direction of Joel Hall, I embody the connection I feel to his teachings. I enjoy speaking about how I perceive his classes, technique, choreography, choreographic structure, and social impact because it is now who I am as a teacher. In addition to being fascinated by the development and growth of jazz during my lifetime, I also find deep satisfaction when epiphanies come through the study of the decades of jazz previous to my life. As I look at the history of jazz, in particular, the history of Joel Hall jazz, I cannot help but think about the future. It is with great passion that I will speak with my Joel Hall accent to future jazz generations.
Jacqueline Sinclair, Joel Hall Dancers, Artistic Director