The Peanut Butter & Jelly Dance Company was founded in 1980 to present performances and programs for children by adult professional dancer/teachers, to sponsor concerts for the public, and to teach classes and workshops for children and teachers. PB&J currently has three facets:
- PB&J Dance Co, a company of professional dancers who perform for and do workshops for children,
- PB&J Dance Classes for Kids, an after-school program of dance classes for children ages 3-8, taught from a creative movement perspective, and
- SMALL FEETS dance company, a dance company for children ages 6 and up.
The PB&J Dance Company has presented assembly programs, workshops and residencies to over 70,000 children in 300+ sites around Massachusetts since 1980. In 1997, the company presented their work at the ‘dance and the Child international’ conference in Finland, where they were well received by young dancers and teachers from around the world. The SMALL FEETS dance company, formed in 1997 has presented an annual concert and programs in schools, community events, and elder homes. SMALL FEETS and Peanut Butter & Jelly Dance Company have shared their work with dancers at the daCi USA intergenerational gatherings in Philadelphia in 2005, Provo, Utah in 2008, and Denton, Texas in 2011.
PB&J is an organization that has been supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. We have also received grants from the Brookline Council for the Arts and Humanities.
Who’s Who In the Company
Jim Banta, a member of PB&J for 21 years, has also danced locally with Boston Liturgical Dance Ensemble, Margot Parsons, Cambridge Chamber Ballet Ballet, and Impulse Dance Company. He has performed recently with Chu Ling Dance, Rozann Kraus, Foremost Dance Troupe, Mariale Celiman, Angel Dance Company, and Back Pocket Dance Company. He is currently performing ‘Drosselmeyer’ in Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theater production of “The Nutcracker.”
Lynn Frederiksen is West Indian, from St. Croix, USVI. She attended college in Massachusetts, obtaining a BA in Biology and an MA in Environmental Studies from Clark University. She worked for the Mass. Dept. of Water Resources, but dance kept nagging her, so she abandoned the rivers for an MFA from Smith College, and embarked on a life in the arts. She artistically collaborates with her husband, John Minigan, playwright and retired drama teacher. She and co-peanut Paul Kafka Gibbons comprise Lynn & Paul Dance. Her book and multimedia educational resource Chinese Dance: In the Vast Land and Beyond, co-authored with Shih-Ming Li Chang, was published in 2016 by Wesleyan University Press. She is happy to have been a member of PB&J since 2007. Lynn will be presenting an evening length work in January at Clark University.
Molly Hess is a Cambridge, Massachusetts based dance artist whose work employs vivid imagery and non-linear storytelling to create immersive experiences for audiences. In 2017 Molly created and performed a series of Lost Gnome solos and showed work as part of the Tracks touring artist program in Boston and Pittsburg. In 2016, Arc Dance Research Laboratory selected her as the emerging artist in residence. Also in 2016, Molly toured the evening length performance “Molly + Tessa Make a dance” around the East coast.” Molly’s work has been presented regularly in the Greater Boston Area and beyond. Besides having a dedicated choreographic practice Molly is a member of Back Pocket Dancers and teaches dance with a focus on creative process in Cambridge and Arlington, MA. She received her B.A. in dance from St. Olaf College in 2012. She also wears an administrative hat as part of Green Street Studios, and Bearnstow on Parker Pond.
Paul Kafka-Gibbons has danced with PB&J since a lively audition in 1997, when he and Jim were both taken into the company. Paul also dances with Joe Burgio in a free-form improvisational spoken-word and movement duo,dance, free-jazz quartet, Ému and with Melissa Shook (Shookumchuck). He and fellow Peanut, Lynn Frederickson, are Lynn and Paul Dance. Paul has written novels and book reviews. His fiction can be downloaded and dances viewed at www.kafka-gibbons.info. Paul also curates two annual day long showcases of avantgarde/contemporary dance, music, poetry, and monologue on the day after Thanksgiving and on Good Friday, called THANG.
Jeanne Traxler, Director, was an original founder of the PB&J Dance Company in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1976 and in Massachusetts in 1980. She teaches PB&J Dance Classes for Kids and co-directs the SMALL FEETS dance company. Jeanne served for many years on the USA Chapter National Board of dance and the Child international, an organization whose mission is to increase and develop opportunities for young people to experience dance as creators, performers, and spectators. She was the USA Chapter National Treasurer and has taught for daCi at the international meeting in Finland in 1997 and at two National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) conferences. She is also a founding member and on the organizing committee of the Children’s Dance Festival, an annual day of dance workshops and performances for and by children. Jeanne has taught workshops for all of the Dance Across the City days, the Dance for World Community Festival, and at the Wang Theater’s Artropolis program. Jeanne has been the Dance Teacher for classes at BEEP (Brookline Early Education Program) for several years. Jeanne is the 2018 Michael Shannon Dance Champion Award given by the Boston Dance Alliance for her work with the youngest dancers.
While growing up, Jeanne ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch every day for 14 years!
She has created many site-specific pieces for the Brookline 1st Light Festival, at sites as varied as Marriott Hotel Pool, Coolidge Corner Arcade, Magic Beans Toy Store, and Brookline Booksmith. Her outdoor pieces include “A Tale of Sparks,” “Plaza Extravaganza.” and “Light Work” for the trees and wide sidewalk at Brookline Town Hall, “Stone Angels” for a pocket park in Coolidge Corner, and “Alley Hoop” For Beacon Walk. She has also choreographed six elementary school musicals in Brookline.
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