Music for Dance

Jesse Manno was born into a performing arts family in New York City in 1966 and grew up in New York and Colorado. His mother Sarah is a Dancer and his father Jack is a Musician, so he was indoctrinated early into spending hours in studios and theatres. He started out accompanying dance classes (at $2 an hour!) for several different teachers at age 14, then began composing and performing professionally for modern dance–theatre–multimedia productions in 1982 and has since created over eighty original scores, including twenty evening–length pieces. Working both live and recorded, he has created original scores for Gabriel Masson, Mel Wong, Bill Evans, Kim Robards, Jeff Slayton, Liz Lerman, Nancy Smith, and David Taylor among many others, and his work has been presented all across the U.S., as well as in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, the U.K., Hong Kong, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia. His strength as a composer for visual images and dance in particular lies in his versatility with many musical styles, instruments and energies — from the most awful noise to the sweetest lullabye — and his ability to buoy a choreographer's or director's artistic vision with music that deepens it without overwhelming it. He also has a well developed sense of how to integrate text or dialogue and how to manipulate musical energy flow and create transitions between contrasting sections of larger works.

Jesse has been Music Director and Head Accompanist for the C.U. Dance Department since 1991. His part–time position there is evolving so that he may teach one course per semester and still have plenty of time for outside projects and weekend jaunts. He was Music Director for the Colorado Dance Festival throughout the 1990s up to its demise, and has since been a regular at the Bates Dance Festival. At these and other institutions, he has accompanied ongoing classes taught by David Dorfman and Company, Lisa Race, Doug Varone and Company, Remy Charlip, Sean Curran, Nina Weiner, Doug Neilson, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (Urban Bush Women), Victoria Marks, Mark Dendy, Margaret Jenkins, Sarah Shelton Mann, Bebe Miller, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Shonach Mirk-Robles, Letitia Williams, Nada Diachenko, Michael Foley, and Ralph Lemon among others, many of whom have become friends in the process. His successful career as an accompanist is due to his strong sense of rhythm and comfort with improvisation, which is in turn due to his long career as a dance accompanist, still an amazing training ground and laboratory for new ideas.

Related Links

Jesse Manno at University of Colorado at Boulder (Theatre and Dance)