Before coming to Smith, Rodger Blum was ballet master/soloist for the original Raleigh Dance Theatre (now Carolina Ballet) and then chair of the dance program at the Performing Arts School in Louisville, Kentucky, where he was given an excellence in teaching award from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. His choreography has been presented by various companies on the east and west coasts as well as in Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Germany.
Blum’s research interests span from traditional proscenium dance to screendance installations involving a variety of handmade projection surfaces. His repertory for theatre includes evening-length works, including Billy Tombs, a narrative dance built around Appalachian folk tales and music, and More Clearly in Dreams, a dance/theatre work exploring the mind and creative life of Leonardo da Vinci. Blum has also created one or two single-act works for students every year during his 26-year tenure at Smith.
In the field of screendance, Blum investigates both the highly technical and the handmade. He is passionate about the connection between the haptic and visual worlds and distills these interests into installations of one- to three-track projections on original, crafted surfaces. Recently he presented The Silk Room, a single-track original video projected on approximately 60 pieces of hand-printed silk organza. The Silk Room explores themes of memory, touch and human connection. Persephone’s Library, a three-track installation based on the Greek myth, connecting ideas of personal history as they play out over the passage of time, preceded it.
Blum’s dance/theatre video Embrace was shown at the FAIF International Film Festival in the Mann Chinese Theatres in Hollywood. Recently he has premiered video installations at Smith College, Amherst College, Hampshire College and Keene State College.
Rodger served as the chair of the Smith College Department of Dance for 15 years and completed a two-year appointment as chair of Five College Dance in 2019. Rodger’s courses include intermediate and advanced ballet and floor barre techniques, undergraduate and graduate choreography, seminars in dance pedagogy and the history of American ballet, and dance and technology and screendance. He received the Smith College Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching in 2014 and was a recipient of the 2016 Fund Grant for New Directions in Scholarship and Teaching.
On sabbatical fall 2021.