Jim Self, an Alabama native, works in painting, performance, writing, and installation. His dancing career began in 1972 with the Chicago Dance Troupe. He first taught dance at Columbia College/Chicago, and was an original founder of Moming Performance Collection, and later started Self Performing ARTs, Inc.
After moving to NYC in 1976, he joined the Merce Cunningham Dance Company debuting in the company’s landmark season at Broadway’s Minskoff Theater on Times Square. During the 1980’s, he choreographed and performed with Robert Wilson / Byrd Hoffman School for Byrds, founded the touring company Jim Self and Dancers, and with Frank Moore won a 1985 'Bessie Award' for BEEHIVE, a film and ballet depicting the stories of a worker bee and a drone, and their animated/ cartooned/ mutated / inter-species life. The Moore/Self collaborations, declared “unlike anything of their generation” by the NY Times, continued throughout the 1980’s and into the 1990’s. The Beehive Film, called “an East Village classic” by critic Roberta Smith, has been shown internationally at venues including: NYC’s Public Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Film Forum, The New Museum, Museum of Modern Art, NYU/Fales Collection, Institute of Contemporary Art/ Philadelphia, Skidmore’s Tang Museum/ Saratoga, and Paris’s Cinemateque Francaise with a sponsored tour of European and Asian venues.
Self, described as a “post-modern bad boy” and a “uniquely eccentric artist,” by the Village Voice has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, NYS Council on the Arts, NY Foundation for the Arts, Jerome Foundation, Art Matters, National Choreography Project, and Tompkins County Arts Partnership, among many others. His work has been commissioned by the Boston Ballet, the Rome Opera Ballet, American Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Dance Theater Workshop, the Serious Fun! Festival, Centre National de Danse Contemporaine d’Angers/France, WerkCentrumDans/Rotterdam, Sundance Institute/Ballet West, Cornell University, and Primary Performance Group. Self is featured in the dance films: Retracing Steps by Michael Blackwood; In Artificial Light by Curt Royston; Locale by Merce Cunningham, and Alabama Television’s Jim Self Comes Home. Additionally, Self’s work has been performed at the Tate Museum/London, the Whitney Museum, and he received a ‘University of Alabama Arts Award,’ in part for the Alabama Trilogy dance project.
A member of the dance faculty at Cornell University from 1989- 2014, he taught movement explorations, post-modern dance technique, dance history, performance improvisation, and the history of Hip Hop dance culture. In 1996 he graduated Summa Cum Laude (Cornell ’96), receiving a BA in ‘Ritual and Performance.’ During this period he created Dancing Iguana Consciousness, Dada ART Barking, Booda Fairyism, and staged the first gay wedding ceremony at NYC’s Lincoln Center (Getting Married—1990). But perhaps most significantly, he created a series of healing rituals directed by the ‘channeled' animal spirit goddess and shamanatrix, Ramona Wolf. Sanctuary: Ramona and the Wolfgang Work for a Cure was chronicled in David Gere’s book, “How to Make Dances in an Epidemic.” His work from the 1970’s through the 1990’s has been detailed in Sally Bane’s book, “Writing Dancing in the Age of Postmodernism.”
Since 2007, Self has been a member of The New York State DanceForce, a consortium of artists, presenters and activists. Projects have included: Ithaca LoveShoe Festival, Dancing Green, and Figures in the Field.
From 2012 – 2014, Self maintained a studio in Los Angeles at 1019 WEST Arts Complex where he created The Prometheus Project and its accompanying ‘Promethean Replication Theories,’ as well as Scene From Above, a rooftop performance project for planes approaching LAX airport.
Currently, he continues living and working in upstate New York while generating performance and other collaborative projects, including a new series of performed memoirs.
B.A. 1996 Cornell University - Summa Cum Laude
(Ritual and Performance)
Moosewood Restaurant, Ithaca, New York
2012 CAP Art Space, Ithaca, New York
2011 Kitchen Theater Lobby, Ithaca, New York
2007 Moosewood Restaurant, Ithaca, New York
1999 Art Church, West Danby, New York
2016 State of the Art Gallery, Ithaca, New York
1019 WEST Arts Complex, Los Angeles, California
2013 State of the Art Gallery, Ithaca, New York
2012 Beacon Arts Building, Los Angeles, California
2008 Enfield Art Center, Enfield, New York
1999 The Dummy Collection Studio show
Tang Museum – Saratoga Springs , NY
Fales Collection – New York University, NYC
2021 - Mama Mat'e June Dance @ Cherry, Ithaca
2019 – Swiveling(s) with Rik Daniels/ Spring Writes Festival, Ithaca
Qverride / Spring Writes Festival, Ithaca
2018 -- 40 Years a New Yorker (+2)/ Emelin Theatre, Mamaroneck,NY
2017 – EXPRESSION CONTAGION / Cayuga WaterMusic Festival, Ithaca
Booking/ CRS Barn Showcase, Ithaca
40 Years a New Yorker in 8 Episodes/Spring Writes Festival, Ithaca
2013 – Celebration (solo for Rik Daniels) /Cornell
2012 – Scene From Above/1019 WEST Los Angeles, California
2010 – Lobster, Lobster Crab/Cornell
Dance, Drama and the Disco of
Dancing Green Project/Ithaca, NYC, Trumansburg
2008 – Cyberotic Comedy/ Ithaca Loveshoe Festival
2007 – Hi Pop/Cornell
Ithaca Loveshoe Festival
2006 – Prometheus Rebound, or Hercules has two Daddies/Cornell
2004 – The Shell Game: Prince, Savior, Star, boy, woman, man --
Peacocks on Parade/Cornell
2003 – Breakables, Animan/ Cornell
2002 – Les Elements Dansant et Les Chevreaux/Cornell-
--Animals, Dreams and Televisual Transformations
2001 – The Ennead/Cornell U.
2000 - The End is a Gesture /Cornell ---- The Aesthetics of Snoredom / Ithaca Men's Fest
1999 - The Fairy Malaise
1998 - Our House /Philadelphia Fringe Festival
1997 - Rite Rev. Dada Channels Dancing Iguana Consciousness/ Link's
- Animals, Dreams and Televisual Transformations/ U. of Ala.
1996 - Chez Dada, Chez Moi/ Cornell U/ New World School of Arts, Miami
1995 - Name-Dropping, Art-Barking Dummies/ Cornell U.
- Merce Cunningham and The Shrine of Dancing Iguana
Consciousness/ Cornell U.
1994 - Sweet Homecoming Chicago/ Link's Hall, Chicago
1993 - Ramona Works for a Cure/ St. Mark's Church & Artist's Space, NYC
1987 - Miller's Wife/ P.S. 1, NYC
1981 - 1991 Beehive --Kitchen, Brooklyn Academy of Music,
Public Theatre/NYC, Angers, Paris, Abbey Fontevraud/France – Boston Ballet - Cornell
New York State Dance Force (yearly project funding) –2007—now
Community Arts Partnership Grant Tompkins County –2022, 2021, 2016, 2010, 2007
Cornell Council for the Arts Grant–2010, 2007, 2006, 2004, 1999
Alabama Arts Award - 1992
New York Foundation Choreography Fellowship - 1988
New York State Council on the Arts Film Grants -1987, 1983
BESSIE (New York Performance Award) - 1985
NEA Choreography Fellowships - 1987, 1985, 1984, 1982, 1981,1975
NEA Film/Video Fellowships - 1987, 1985, 1982
1st Prize/ West Alabama Jr. Welfare Association - 1969
3rd Prize/ Chattahoochee Valley Exposition - 1963
1986 Jim Self Comes Home/ Alabama Public Television Special
1984 Beehive/ Frank Moore and Jim Self, Director/ Designers
1981 Stations by Robert Wilson/ Performer/Choreographer
In Artificial Light/featured performer/ Kurt Royston Production
1977 - 79 Locale, Torse, Exchange/ Performer/ Merce Cunningham Dance Company
1980 -1988 Jim Self and Dancers, Artistic Director
1980 -1984 Robert Wilson's The Civil Wars, Performer/Choreographer
1976 -1979 Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Dancer
1975 -1976 Self Performing Arts Company/Chicago, Artistic Director
1974 -1975 Moming Collection, Chicago/Co-Founder
1972 -1974 Chicago Dance Troupe, Performer/Choreographer