An extremely engaging speaker, Sperling has presented lectures at colleges, universities, museums, festivals and conferences around the world. Recently, she has developed presentations that combine dance and climate science. Below is a sample of offerings.
Turbulent Ice: Dance and the Science in the Arctic
In 2014, Jody Sperling accompanied a 43-day science mission to the Arctic polar cap as the first-ever choreographer-in-residence aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy. She was privileged to journey to a part of the world that few ever get to see and that is in the process of radical transformation. In this compelling presentation, Sperling shares both her methods for dance-making in such an inhospitable environment as well as the science motivating the expedition. An active participant in the ship’s Ice Watch Survey team, Sperling learned about ice processes and shares her knowledge, explaining what makes sea ice so fascinating and why it’s so vulnerable to climate change. Ice’s visual splendor and motion dynamics make for a compelling subject for Sperling’s own art. The program includes dozens of visually-arresting images shot in the Arctic concludes with a screening of Ice Floe, Sperling’s award-winning movie of her polar dancing. (1 hour 15 minutes)
Loie Fuller and Early Cinema: A Lecture-Presentation
Early modern dancer Loie Fuller (1862-1928) created a unique art form by crafting mesmerizing, multi-media spectacles out of fabric, motion, colored lights and projections. From the 1890s through the 1920s, she enraptured audiences and visual artists with her iridescent, sculptural creations. In a period when movies were coming into being, the art of Fuller and her many imitators, or “serpentine dancers,” captured the essence of motion pictures. Instead of moving the “picture,” they fanned their ample skirts to fashion dynamic, mobile screens. Appropriately, many of the earliest performers captured on film are serpentine dancers and Fuller look-a-likes. This presentation highlights the proto-cinematic elements of Fuller’s craft as well as Fuller’s influence on the movies. Fuller’s 1908 Ballet of Light, which featured drop-screens and multiple sources of projection, brought the viewer on a fantastic geographic journey in a way that anticipated the IMAX adventure. Also discussed, will be Fuller’s own cinematic experiments, in particular her 1920 film “Le Lys de la vie.” This movie is perhaps the first to use negative images as a scenic element. The presentation features slide-show of dozens of Fuller images, screenings of rare historical footage and select video clips from Sperling’s recreations. (1 hour and 15 minutes)
“In her remarkable program [Loie Fuller lecture], dancer-scholar Jody Sperling re-animates the spirit of Loïe Fuller, a pioneer of the 20th century dance stage. With imagination and style, Sperling shows us Fuller’s dance in the context of an emerging technological culture.” –Marcia Siegel, Dance Critic/Historian
In ‘Materializing the Ephemeral,’ [a lecture demonstration] Jody Sperling took students through a wonderful excursion-verbal, visual and kinetic- into the creative and interdisciplinary contributions of Loie Fuller. Using slideshow/lecture and movement articulation Ms. Sperling brought modern dance students onboard with the prowess of possibilities that spawned and underlie the tradition.” -Catherine Mapp, Chair, Fine & Performing Arts Dep’t, Iona College
“Jody Sperling’s lecture-performance on the art of Loie Fuller distills the active transmission of dance and dance history. Her artfully seductive presentation quickly captivates students—especially those who have never seen a dance performance—enabling them to apprehend the visionary movement of Fuller and see it transposed into a contemporary idiom.” -Susan Tenneriello, Prof. Dept of Fine & Performing Arts, Baruch College