Artist Statement 

Interpretations was a 2017 project that features Joy-Marie Thompson emulating prominent African-American dancers and choreographers. The artists selected sparked her interest because of their leadership, dedication, and contributions to the dance world. ​


Co-creator, Jill Thompson, designed and created some of the costumes while the New York based photographer, Rachel Neville, partnered with the mother-daughter duo to make these photos come to life. These three collaborators worked for six months to research, identify the dancers, and selected the original images  recreated in the series. Ultimately, the unifying theme was to honor key dance artists who left an indelible footprint on American dance history.

Note from Joy-Marie: 

There are numerous black dance creatives who made legendary contributions to the art form. We decided to narrow them down to ten. In selecting the ten artists, Joy-Marie researched the individual dancers who influenced her personal dance aesthetic. The team then prioritized the ones who trail-blazed to create communities for black artists. Ones that were unique to our culture and stood apart from the style typical of earlier European ideals and aesthetics. All of the artists celebrated in this project are unique in that they not only pioneered in their field of dance, but they also had a variety of unique talents such as, visual art, acting, directing, anthropology, and activism.

Preparing Interpretations provided an opportunity to not only honor important black artists, but to also discover more about the diversity,  beauty, and pride of the African-American dance history and of our people.

"From classical to modern, from jazz to musical theatre, photographs of Joy-Marie Thompson illuminate the dance choreography cannon and will celebrate the masters who have influenced her creative journey."
     -Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Beaver County Times- Rochester dancer featured in August Wilson Center Exhibit 


Dance Spirit- This Student Reenacted Classic Photos of African-American Dancers 


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette- CAPA grad pays homage to African American dancers 02/15/17