John Giffin History

John Giffin is a dancer, choreographer, and dance educator   who was born in Akron, Ohio. He has been dancing for over 70 years. As a toddler, he started tap lessons which continued through high school. Serious ballet classes started when he was 16. After high school graduation, he auditioned and was accepted in the Dance Division of the Juilliard School of Music in NYC. There he studied with and danced in works by Antony Tudor, Anna Sokolow and Jose Limon. After receiving a BFA degree, he danced with Les Grands Ballets, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and other companies. In Europe, he performed with the Dansk Ballet Gruppe, the Slavensky Ballet, and Opera houses in Nurnberg and Freiburg. He joined the Wuppertaler Tanztheater directed by Pina Bausch in its first season and danced four years with the company creating roles in some of her most iconic works and touring internationally. Back in the USA, he danced with Agnes de Mille’s Heritage Dance Theatre and served as Dance Captain for her revival of Brigadoon on Broadway.

Giffin returned to Ohio to do graduate studies in dance at Ohio State where he earned an MA degree. He taught in the Dance Department for many years and is now Faculty Emeritus. He
has received Choreographic Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council and the Greater Columbus Arts Council for his creative works. Among his evening length dance theater works are The Fall River Follies commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts, and East Market Gardens commissioned by the Contemporary American Theatre Company. He was a member of the arts collective Five Minds, and his acclaimed Last Songs were presented throughout Ohio on their joint programs.

In recent years, Giffin has performed with Beth Corning in 2 productions of The Glue Factory Project in Pittsburgh. He has collaborated with Jeanine Thompson on The Dream Dancer presented at the Fringe Festival in DC and other projects. He is currently a member of the Perennial Movement Group of senior performers and is creating a work for them to premiere on their concert in May.

Milestones

1964
Graduation from St Vincent High School, Akron OH.
1968
Graduation from the Juilliard School of Music in NYC.
1968
Danced with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal.
1970-1971
Danced with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Dansk Ballet Gruppe, The Slavensky Ballet.
1971-1972
Danced in Opera house in Nurnberg.
1972-1973
Danced in Opera house in Freiburg.
1973-1974
Joined Wuppertaler Tanztheater directed by Pina Bausch. Danced the Champion Roper in Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, the Young Soldier in Kurt Jooss’ The Green Table and roles in Fritz and Iphigenia in Tauris by Bausch.
1974-1975
Danced in Heritage Dance Theater and Conversations on the Dance by de Mille In NYC and on tour.
1976-1979
Wuppertaler Tanztheater. Created roles in Bausch works Blaubart, Komm Tanz mit Mir, Renate wander aus, Kontakthof and Arien. Danced roles in Rite of Spring and Seven Deadly Sins. Toured Bausch works to major dance and theatre festivals in Europe and Asia.
1980
Dance Captain and dancer for Broadway revival of Brigadoon with choreography by de Mille.
1981-1983
Graduate work on MA at OSU.
1984-2009
Faculty in OSU Department of Dance.
1986
Performed in Deborah Andersen program In Your Face at Dance Theater Workshop in NYC and Ohio. Choreographed All the Way Home with The Moving Arts Company.
1987
Collaborated and performed Til Death Do US Part with Susan Van Pelt. Choreographed first full-length dance work The Art of Serving Coca-Cola.
1988
Created Reception for 12 ¼ Degrees: Primary Access, a performance event on the unfinished site of the Wexner Center for the Visual Arts. Created and danced solo work Second Skin.
1989
Created full-length work But Nicolette One Night Escaped.
1989-1991
Created Last Songs with Micheal Milligan. These four duets are Swan Song, September, Spring and At Sunset.
1990
Created Old Blue Borrowed New as part of An Evening With Igor, a joint concert with Victoria Uris.
1991-1997
5 Minds,Inc founded as a non-profit to promote creative work of John Giffin, Victoria Uris, Susan Hadley and Bradley Sowash with Jenifer Blumberg as Managing Director.
1992
Created The Fall River Follies or Oh Mrs. Churchill, Do Come Over, Someone Has Killed Father, a full-length dance theater work commissioned by The Wexner Center for the Arts.
1993
The Fall River Follies performed as co-production of 5 Minds, Inc and the Contemporary American Theater Company.
1994
Awarded Choreography Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
1996
Created One If By Land commissioned by Dayton based company Rhythm in Shoes and East Market Gardens, a full-length dance theater collaboration for dancers and actors co-produced by 5 Minds, Inc and Catco.
2001
Created movement commentary for OSU Departments of Dance and Theatre and OSU School of Music co-production of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. Filmed and aired on WOSU TV.
2003
Created full-length dance theater work The Fire Still Burns co-produced by the OSU Departments of Theatre and Dance.
2005
Reconstructed Nijinsky’s 1912 choreography of L’Apres-midi d’un Faune from Labanotation score for BalletMet and OSU Department of Dance collaboration Firebird and The Rite of Spring: A Russian Revolution.
2008
Created full-length dance theater work Wild Stages: Kabarett MFA! For OSU Department of Theatre.
2009
Dance Teacher Magazine Award for Higher Education.
2009
Retirement from OSU Department of Dance with Faculty Emeritus title. Performance of Susan Hadley’s Companions with Victoria Uris.
2012-present
Collaborations with Jeanine Thompson on Senor Juan and Yolanda and the 2016 creation of The Dream Dancer which was performed in Columbus and the Fringe Festival, Washington, DC.
2013
Invited by the Pina Bausch Foundation to be part or a team to revive Wind von West and Der Zweite Fruhling for student dancers at The Juilliard School in NYC and the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany. These works originally preceded The Rite of Spring on Bausch’s 1975 all Stravinsky program and had not been seen together since 1979.
2018
Performed in The Glue Factory Project In House created by Beth Corning in Pittsburgh, PA.
2021-present
Performing with the Perennial Movement Group in Columbus. Creating a new dance theater work to premiere in May, 2023.