Mission and Vision
The mission of Rhythmically Speaking is to revitalize jazz and American vernacular dance forms in the Twin Cities, supporting its practitioners, educating its audiences and celebrating its rich history while nurturing innovation through performance. We visualize success as being the local and national leader in the presentation and support of American vernacular dance.
Who We Are
Rhythmically Speaking is a jazz and American vernacular dance supporting and presenting organization that sees these diverse forms as socially-informed, vernacularly inspired, musically dynamic and ever-versatile frameworks to explore movement that ignites and unites. We’ve supported work in rhythm tap, breaking, classic jazz, contemporary African, house, rhythm-driven modern and many other styles, and enjoy experiencing the breadth of which our communities interpret the term ‘American vernacular dance.’ Touted by Dance Magazine as ‘revitalizing jazz dance in the Twin Cities area,’ we are proud to be rooted in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, a locale with a rich history in American vernacular dance. Since our founding in 2009, we’ve endeavored to support and nurture these forms through enthusiastic idea exchange with other like-minded creators, viewers and students of jazz and American vernacular dance.
What We Do
The mission of Rhythmically Speaking is currently fulfilled through the ongoing development of several programs: an online community to connect with, visiting artist workshops and productions. The mission is also fulfilled through support of the creative work of Artistic Director Erinn Liebhard, whose performance, teaching and scholarly projects are driven by the desire to ignite and unite people through jazz and American vernacular dance. For more information, please visit the ‘Get Involved‘ tab of this site.
Erinn Liebhard (BFA University of Minnesota, MFA University of Colorado Boulder) is a dance artist that makes opportunities for people to experience the embodiment of music, with a specialty in jazz and the American vernacular. She focuses her efforts on teaching, performance and scholarship. An active educator and is currently on faculty at Winona State University and is a Teaching Artist for the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, and her choreography has been presented across the U.S. and Canada. She has performed for, worked and trained with creatives as varied as urban dance artist Teena Marie Custer, Ballet of the Dolls, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, house and hip-hop artist Rennie Harris, Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, transnational fusion artist Donna Mejia, contemporary performance company Off-Leash Area, St. Paul Ballet and the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers Appalachian clogging company. She also flexes her physical comedy muscles by playing “Nerdette” as a part of Saint Paul Saints Baseball’s Entertainment Team. She believes wit, sincerity and rhythmic variety are the spice of life, and is grateful her career allows her to use creative input and output to organize and inspire communities around and through the embodiment of music.
Katie LeBlanc-Gamades: Director of Development @ The Sheridan Story
Erinn Liebhard: Artistic Director @ Rhythmically Speaking, Dance Artist
Ben Marcy: Leadership Specialist in Leadership Minor @ University of Minnesota, Adjunct Professor @ St. Catherine University
Caitlin Milligan Sheaffer: Project Manager @ Simple
Dameun Strange: Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow @ The Bush Foundation, Composer & Producer @ the Labs at StrangeCo
Heather P. Westerlund: IT Manager of Library Services @ Walden University
Zoe Sealy: Professor Emeritus @ UofM, Retired Artistic Dir. @ Minnesota Jazz Dance Co.
What People Are Saying
“Saw this last night… it was fantastic! There’s so much diversity with the various dances and music. I loved how some dancers shared insights into their creative process/motivation using spotlight/ voiceovers. I also loved the live JAZZ. It all flowed effortlessly! Thanks performers for a great evening.”
– Colleen Schaefer, Audience Member
“Thank you so very much for the great experience this past week. From start to finish, the show was run impeccably – from the production preparation (in terms of technical needs, program requirements, etc), and ya know, the tech itself was fantastic. Heather and Erinn, you have a truly fantastic thing going here, and I am so fortunate to have been included these past two years. The show is eclectic, professional, and currently provides a vital foray into otherwise uncharted territory in this community. Bravo. You’ve allowed me to continue a crucial aspect of my personal technical and creative journey, and present that to an audience. Thank you again for a fantastic experience.”
– Jeffrey Peterson, Choreographer
“Creative, Energetic, Absolutely Fantastic! Congratulations to all the choreographers, dancers and the producers Erinn and Heather for helping bring jazz and rhythm-based dance to the Twin Cities.”
– Matt Shropfel, CEO of The Dancing Fair, Sponsor and Audience Member