Lees Hummel specializes in teaching Simonson Jazz Technique and Jump Rhythm Jazz Project tap technique. Simonson jazz technique is a highly regarded jazz dance discipline developed by Lynn Simonson, founding director of Dance New Amsterdam, New York City. This technique emphasizes understanding, conceptually and physically, how the body most efficiently and effectively performs dance movement. The movement is made challenging by using instrumental music and rhythms. The technique was developed to cultivate the student's internal and external sense of body placement and alignment, thereby providing a safe and consistent way of working in class and performing. Jump Rhythm Technique emphasizes full-bodied rhythm-making – transforming the dancing body accompanied by the scat-singing voice into an emotionally focused, rhythm-accurate percussion instrument. Students vocalize bursts of accents in group improvisations and at the same time articulate them through the body's four primary "drumbeaters" – the hands, the head, and the voice – as well as through all the other body parts capable of percussing accents against the "drumheads" of the space.
Lees Hummel began her performing arts training in Reading, Pennsylvania with the Berks Ballet Theater of Regional Dance America. She then moved to New York City where she earned her B.F.A. in Dance (1984) and M.F.A. in Pedagogy & Choreography (1994) from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Upon completion of her B.F.A., she became a principal dancer with the Clive Thompson Dance Company and the New York City Jazz Company. These companies enabled her to perform works created by noted choreographers Danny Buraczeski of JazzDance Company, Bill T. Jones of Bill. T. Jones and Arnie Zane, Rosiland Newman, Maria Chang, Milton Myers, Rudy Perez, and Cliff Keuter.
Lees Hummel is an honorary member of S.A.G appearing in the film Spring Break Reunion as Mrs. Peterson, opposite Frankie Avalon with additional visibility in commercials for Del Taco and Sea Escape cruises. Her professional performance engagements include: Cassie in A Chorus Line and Shy in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. At age 17 Lees began her professional career in Hershey Park's review Dance, Dance, Dance. She then went on to perform at Action Park, Busch Gardens, Opryland USA, and Les Violins Dinner Theater in Miami. Her work took her to the sea where she was a swing and dance captain/rehearsal director on board the ocean-liners Sea Escape and Norwegian Cruise Lines.
In Nashville, Tennessee, the City of Music, Lees performed on the following television specials: Country Music Awards, the Tommy Lasorda Tribute, the Ray Stevens Show, The GMC True Value Country Showdown, The Spirit of America starring Brenda Lee, Love My Country starring Louise Mandrell, the Miss Tennessee and Virginia Pageants starring Lee Greenwood, the 1995 Governor's Inauguration, and the Music City News Songwriter Awards Show starring Marie Osmond, which she also choreographed. Lees has also appeared on stage and screen with Billy Ray Cyrus, Tanya Tucker, Lucie Arnez, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson.
In addition to a myriad of jazz, modern and theatrical dance works, two world-premiere ballets: a futuristic adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (Fort Wayne Ballet, Indiana) and The Masque of the Red Death based upon the short story by Edgar Allen Poe (Bowling Green – Western Kentucky University Symphony Orchestra,) she was founding Artistic Director of the Nashville Dance Project, a professional contemporary dance company contributing to the education and inspiration of modern/jazz dance in the city of music.
Her choreography, Dream Vision, premiered by Berks Ballet Theatre, was awarded the Monticello Award for Best Young Choreographer of Regional Dance America. Additional choreographic works were featured at the Florida Dance Festival and the International Hispanic Ballet Festival for several years in a row. Her creation titled Spanish Love Songs was selected for adjudication at the Miami Dance Sampler in addition to the aforementioned festivals.
Lees' teaching and choreography has been included at prestigious summer programs such as: American Ballet Theatre, Detroit, Michigan, the Fort Wayne Ballet, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Virginia School of the Arts, Lynchburg, Virginia, Florida Dance Festival, Miami, Florida, lustigdancetheatre, New Brunswick New Jersey, and Berks Ballet Theater in Reading Pennsylvania. She also guest taught the Summer Teacher's Conference for the Miami Dade Public Magnet School Teachers of Dance.
Lees has a strong record of holding academic positions which have comprised of: Lecturer at the University of Miami, Adjunct Professor: Rider University, Miami Dade Community College, New World School of the Arts, University of North Carolina Charlotte, Winthrop University and Central Piedmont Community College, Assistant Professor: Western Kentucky University and Southeast Missouri State University and Director of Dance: Dillard School of the Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Berks Ballet Theatre, Reading, Pennsylvania and Conchita Espinosa Academy, Miami, Florida (where she assisted in creating the Sunshine State Standards for Dance in grades K-12).
In the fall of 2002, Lees resigned from her Assistant Professor position at Western Kentucky University to give birth and raise her daughter, Nyssa Shoshanna Harris. During this time, she was a member of the Board of Directors and featured performer with Kinetics Works Dance Ensemble under the direction of Martha Connerton, while continuing her adjunct work at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, and Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Her most recent university appointment was Assistant Professor of Dance at Southeast Missouri State University's Department of Theatre and Dance. Her university responsibilities enabled her to work as a significant partner in creating new dance and music theatre curriculum for NASD/NAST Certification process and connecting the Department of Theatre and Dance to the community, via grants and guest artists, through the newly constructed River Campus and the State of Missouri Arts Council. Her teaching capacity consisted of teaching all levels of Simonson jazz technique, all levels of Ballet, all levels of Jump Rhythm Jazz Project rhythm tap technique, Principals of Teaching Dance, mentoring student teaching in the local dance studios, Pilates, choreography for the yearly musical and dance concert, advising and choreographic student mentorship, grant writing, rehearsing guest repertory, Dance Day (a recruiting and administrative event), serving on the University Committee Center for Teaching and Learning, serving on three College committees, advising the B.F.A. Dance majors and minors and coordinating student involvement in ACDFA (American College Dance Festival) and TAD (Tennessee Association of Dance). In addition, Lees completed her level 1, 2A and 2B Touch For Health kinesiology training with Norma Harnack, the National Representative for Touch For Health Training in St. Louis, Missouri which she incorporated into the dance curriculum.
Since arriving in New Jersey, she has been a major force in promoting dance through education initiatives and programming in grades K-12, while maintaining teaching and choreographic works at Middlesex County College, Rider University, Rutgers University Recreation, Dance New Amsterdam (NYC), and as the Education Director for American Repertory Ballet and most recently the newly formed lustigdancetheatre.
Former students of Lees have gone on to perform in:
Thoroughly Modern Millie
The Blue Man Group
The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular
The Wedding Singer
The Jump Rhythm Jazz Project
New World Dance Company
Inside Chicago Dance Company
Other Live Performance:
Country Tonight – Pigeon Forge, TN
Stephen Foster Theatre – Elizabethtown, KY
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Brothers & Sisters - ABC
The Deep End - ABC
Jack & Bobby – WB Network
Academy Awards, Tony Awards
Read a recent article about Lees on Mom's New Stage
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