Janis Brenner & Dancers is an acclaimed NY company known for its “meticulous artistry” (Deborah Jowitt, The Village Voice). They have performed throughout the U.S., Asia, Southeast Asia, and Europe for more than twenty years and been presented by leading NY organizations and festivals including Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Madison Square Garden Theater, Symphony Space, Joyce SoHo, The 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Festival, DanceNow, Battery Park Dance Festival, Dance In the Square, Fiorello Festival, and the screening of the Dancing In Absentia video at The Joyce Theater. The company has appeared at many festivals including ones in Russia, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, France, Switzerland, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the American Dance Festival, New Moves Festival, Huntington Arts Festival, and many others. Ms. Brenner’s project for JB&D,  A “Peace” For Women, premiered in September, 2000 at Madison Square Garden Theater for 5,600 people on the “Celebration for Peace” Concert in honor of the United Nations Millennium Summit Conference in New York. In November ‘04 the company had its second performance at the UN sponsored by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

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Now Touring

Dates Available for Touring: February 2017 – December 2018

Touring Personnel
Performers: 7 dancers
Artistic/Administrative Staff: 1
Lighting Designer/Production Staff: 1

Lost, Found, Lost
Music: Meredith Monk, Bang on a Can, and the dancer’s breath score
Costume Design: Ramona Ponce
Lighting Design: Mitchell Bogard

“Clever structure and the marriage of text and movement make Brenner’s Lost, Found, Lost  an eye opening, draining, and emotionally cleansing work. Brenner’s decision to enter the audience saying, “I lost my ticket,” invites the audience directly into this artwork’s journey. Trivial loss, such as “I lost my sock,” builds into “I’ve lost my innocence, my courage, my father.” A particularly striking image is Barkin riding a toy horse, listing what she does have. This piece successfully pairs the concrete and the abstract. Even more memorable is when the dancers breathe in exaggerated rhythmic patterns of holds and releases, mimicking life’s routine of finding and losing. In the end, dancers crawl downstage to a line of objects. Kneeling, they stare down at what they have found in a most honest image. Having followed the tension and release of the entire work, the audience feels as drained and as calm as the dancers.” The Dance Journal, Philadelphia, PA

The company also offers a special residency option for dancers from the local community or dance department to be incorporated into the final section of the work and to perform alongside the company. JB&D has collaborated with dancers in Philadelphia, Maine, Massachusetts, and Indonesia. Lost, Found, Lost has also been restaged at Bates College, Adelphi University, Wayne State in Detroit (where it received the Copperfoot Award), Hillsborough Community College (FL), and on DanceM in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, The 15-minute work is available for new re-stagings.

Once You Are Not a Stranger (*2017 Premiere)
Music: Original Commissioned Score by Svjetlana Bukvich, with vocals by Janis Brenner
Costume Design: Janis Brenner and Sue Julien
Costume Construction: Sue Julien
Set Design: Janis Brenner and Eva Petric
Video Design and Projection: Eva Petric
Lighting Design: Mitchell Bogard

Once You are Not a Stranger is a 40-minute new dance/music/text/video work exploring the idea of Empathy as both a subject in the personal histories of the company dancers, including their family ancestries, and also the larger multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious context of the larger world. Ultimately, the work is an artistic plea and an expression of our desire for compassion and connection in a presently perilous world.

The work is set to premiere at the Sarajevo Winter Festival in Bosnia-Herzegovina on February 10, 2017. It will have its New York premiere from June 1-3 at Gibney’s Agnes Varis Dance Center.

Vocal Suite from Songs From The Hill
Composer: Meredith Monk
Performer: Janis Brenner
Songs: Porch Song, Bird Code, Mesa, Jade, Wa-Lie-o-oh and Breath Song

“The peerless Janis Brenner… sang five songs from Meredith Monk’s famous 1970′s work Vocal Suite from Songs from the Hill with a breathtaking. On stage I have only been as impressed and charmed by Monk himself. Brenner makes the songs her own partly through making choreography of the sounds. Incredible vocal excursions.” Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm, Sweden 2016

Meredith Monk composed Songs From The Hill in the summers of l975-76 in Placitas, New Mexico. The songs were inspired by the timeless hills of the American Southwest and, by extension, any desert landscape. Each section explores a distinctive vocal quality or character in terms of pitch, texture, volume, speed, timbre, breath, resonance. It was the first solo composition that Ms. Monk gave to another singer: Ms. Brenner.

Outreach and Engagement

“Moving, Sounding and Acting” Improvisation Workshops
These workshops explore the process of integrating movement, voice and speaking by delving into the mind/ body connection, sensations and experiences through structured improvisation. The classes are geared toward the specific participants in each class; from professional dancers to singers and actors to non-performers who want to increase their range and means of expression, to take risks as performers and discover their own holistic sense of creating art.

Each class incorporates a physical warm-up as well as a vocal warm-up with the group also learning songs to be sung together in “rounds”. This creates a great sense of community and unified purpose within the group, from which we can move into movement, voice and text explorations together and individually.

The classes are a synthesis of Janis Brenner’s many years working with such artists as Meredith Monk, Murray Louis and Alwin Nikolais and the development of her own, unique teaching aesthetic and choreography over the last twenty years.

*Workshop participants have included: Professional and college-level dancers, musicians, singers, actors, writers, university faculty, chairpersons and deans, psychotherapists, senior citizens, community members, junior and high school performing arts departments, and a Conflict Resolution group. The workshops have been conducted throughout New York City, in cities and states throughout the U.S. and in such diverse places as Copenhagen; Denmark, Stockholm; Sweden, Turku; Finland, Perth; Australia, Basel; Switzerland, Braunschweig and Frankfurt; Germany, Nancy; France, Senegal; West Africa, Indonesia and Taiwan.

Technique Classes: (geared to student and professional dancers)
The goal of Contemporary technique class is to strengthen the dancers’ physical facilities, their understanding of the body’s qualities and their mental capacities for “reading” and interpreting movement. We employ concepts of using space, time, shape, motion, focus, breath, gravity, suspension, energy, dynamics, lyric flow and musicality as we also work on physical strength and proper placement to create a “total” dancer. The classes employ philosophies of movement derived from a synthesis of principles from Jose Limon, Alwin Nikolais, Murray Louis and Ms. Brenner’s own aesthetics and wide-ranging experience as a dancer/ teacher.

To continually “re-discover” the body through experiences in spontaneity, risk-taking, and trust.

To taste and to use the intelligence of the body and develop the body as an instrument for clear communication.

To develop a constructive verbal vocabulary for communicating about non-verbal art forms.

To develop and improve performance skills and to be immersed in “Serious Play!”

Composition/ Choreography classes further develop the unique, creative potential of each performer, building from improv ideas and skills into structured studies and fully-realized dances.

Work in composition is intended to further each dancer’s exploration into the depths of their creative, choreographic potential. The desire to increase the range of movement ideas and qualities in order to say what you want to say is greatly stressed as an essential element in developing a unique choreographic language. Improvisation is employed and discussed as both a skill in itself and as the basis for investigating movement possibiliites that can be applied to the choreographic process. Dancers work on choreographing both short movement studies using specific concepts such as space, body parts, time, texture, contrasting qualities, dynamics, voice and text work, etc. as well as working on major choreographic compositions for presentation at the end of an Intensive or Residency. Music (or lack of music!) as an essential element of dance work will be greatly stressed and explored in terms of how sound affects what is seen and felt in a dance and why a particular piece of music may “work” or not work. Throughout the sessions, our work is discussed, dissected and enhanced by critical feedback and personal exchange. We are looking to find ways to bring out the unique artistic self and to discuss the nature of being a choreographer, performer and artist.

Repertory classes
Classes focus on learning the wide-ranging dance works of Janis Brenner, emphasizing the importance of performance skills, intention and emotional connection to the material. Depending on length of the workshops or residency, everything from phrase work to fully restaged repertory can be encompassed.

JB&D’s brochure


Artist's Calendar

Venue / Time
“Premiere of Once You’re Not a Stranger”
The Dance Hall
Kittery, ME
“Pentacle Presents: The Gallery: Boston”
The Dance Complex
536 Massachusetts Ave

Cambridge, MA 02139
8:00 PM
Our Three Voices with Helena Franzén and David Norsworthy”

Stockholm, Sweden
12:30pm, 6pm
“Pentacle’s Gallery Showcase: APAP 2017”
City Center, Studio 5
New York, NY
“Sarajevo Winter Festival”
National Theater
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
“Pavarotti Music Center and United World College”

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Contents May Have Shifted
Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre
Long Beach, CA
“Master Classes & Workshops”
UCLA, Pomona, Cal State at Long Beach
Southern California
“Master Classes”
The Dance Complex
Boston, MA
“Movement/Voice Workshop Intensive”
The Dance Hall
Kittery, ME
“The Dance Hall Performance”
The Dance Hall
Kittery, ME
Lost, Found, Lost
The Dance Complex
Boston, MA
Once You are Not A Stranger and Lost, Found, Lost
Gibney Dance
New York, NY


JB&D is known for its wide range of residency activities in dance technique, composition, improvisation, repertory, Yoga, and personal fitness training and is hailed for the caliber of its dancers and its “emotionally authentic” and musically diverse work. Jennifer Dunning of The New York Times has referred to Brenner’s dances as being full of both “free-wheeling motion and rooted emotional intensity”. Anna Kisselgoff (New York Times) writes: “Rarely has a choreographer invited an audience to identify so strongly with her dancers as Ms. Brenner did here with creative flair.” Brenner explores the passion, humor, depth and emotional power of our relationships to others, to ourselves and to the world around us. Her work has the uncanny ability to encompass “clownesque humor and grotesque tragedy” simultaneously. “The audiences’ laughter sticks in the throat or hangs in the air.” (Basel, Switzerland) The work is an on-going exploration into the power of movement to inform our spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical states of being and to search for a state of balance.

Ms. Brenner’s works range from the virtuosic and musical heartSTRINGS, to the solo tour-de-force Solo For Janis by Richard Siegal, to her characteristically intense and “emotionally authentic” dances such as Lost, Found, Lost and A “Peace” For Women, to her vocal/movement collaborations with Meredith Monk, her multidisciplinary, intergenerational The Memory Project, and the “profoundly moving” (Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Infinite Body) movement/improv/text 2011 premiere, The Mind-Stuff Variations.

The company’s last three NY concert seasons — 2007, 2009, 2011 — have been major, critically acclaimed events in the dance community, encompassing work from Ms. Brenner’s twenty-five year choreographic journey as well as works of major creative forces and mentors such as Murray Louis, Meredith Monk, Annabelle Gamson, Mary Wigman and collaborators Mitchell Bogard, Richard Siegal, Theo Bleckmann and Michael Moschen.