Benson ’13 Tells Jazz Dance History Through New Production

Gustavus Adolphus College alum Rush Benson ’13 showcases how Black culture has influenced American jazz dance in “Teach Me.”
Posted on August 20th, 2021 by

Rush Benson ’13 is a multi-talent artist — he is an actor, dancer, teacher, musician, and choreographer. His portfolio includes collaborations with many professional theaters around the Twin Cities, such as the Guthrie, the Ordway, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Park Square Theater, and the Old Log Theater. His latest production Teach Me presents an educational music video centered on the Black influence on American jazz dance.
Tell us about
Teach Me. 

RB: Teach Me is an artistic approach to jazz dance history. It’s a tool for anyone teaching or learning jazz dance that recognizes the contributions that largely go overlooked. It centers Black voices, Black creatives, and challenges the white narrative so commonly placed before us.

What was your inspiration to write Teach Me?

RB: The artistic director, Regina Peluso, of Collide Theatrical asked us what we wanted to create as a company. As a predominantly white company, it felt important to me to acknowledge the Black contributions and origins of the artistic medium through which we make our living.

As an artist, how important is it to educate our audiences?

RB: I think education is the most valuable asset humanity has. Continual growth and learning is the only way we will rise as a species to the myriad challenges we are facing. My goal is to make that education entertaining. It’s much easier to take in information that challenges long held beliefs when you’re tapping your toes at the same time.

How has Gustavus prepared you for your career?

RB: Gustavus was a bastion of social justice in my arts education. It taught me all along the way that art can be subversive and powerful by challenging the structures that exist. From staging artistic protests, to creating shows for incoming students that don’t shy away from any of the dangers college life can possess, Gustavus always taught me to push the world forward with the art that I make.

 

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