Justin Tornow
Justin Tornow
dance artist, educator, researcher

Justin Tornow is a dance artist, educator, and researcher.

Justin Tornow (MFA) is a dance artist, educator, and researcher based in Durham, NC. Her artistic work is primarily collaborative and interdisciplinary, created with a core group of partners in visual art, sound design, filmmaking, and lighting design. She is the architect for the HAPPENINGS projects in and around Durham, NC, the producer of PROMPTS, and a co-founder of Durham Independent Dance Artists (DIDA).

Tornow teaches college-level courses and workshops in dance technique, composition, and repertory, and serves as visiting and guest teaching artist across the U.S. She was the 2017 teaching-artist-in-residence at Tanzart Atelier in Kirschau, Germany, and was recently a 2019 artist-in-residence at The Commons at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Justin was a 2018-2019 Cunningham Dance Research Fellow with the New York Public Library, publishing original research on the pedagogy and practice of the technique titled Cunningham Technique as a Practice of Freedom. She continues this research through workshops and series at Duke University, ACDA, and the American Dance Festival,  examining sustainable pedagogy methods for studio dance practices and devising collaborative lab environments for repertory and composition courses. 

PC: Alex Maness

PC: Alex Maness


 MFA, May 2010
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Dance (Choreography).
Teaching Assistant 2007-2010, Additional concentration: Pedagogy
Thesis: “transparency” | Committee: Jan Van Dyke (chair), Ann Dils, John Gamble

BA, December 2001
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Dance (Choreography).
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Political Science 

Fellowships, residencies, and Awards

May 2019 The Commons, Carolina Performing Arts at UNC
Artist in residence for the creation of HAPPENING. Festival performance May 31, 2019

2018 - 2019 New York Public Library Dance Research Fellowship
Research Fellow on the pedagogy of Merce Cunningham. Cunningham Technique as a practice of freedom, January 2019

Oct-Dec 2017 Artist-in-Residence, Tanzart Atelier, Germany
Residency provided lodging and support for the creation of new work No. 22 / Penumbra. Led choreography workshop intensive for professionals, and classes in Cunningham technique for area students and Wee Dance Company (Goerlitz, Germany)

2015 Emerging Artist Grant, Durham Arts Council
Performance support for No. 15 / The Value of Words at the SARUS Festival, Wilmington, NC

2014 NC Dance Alliance Choreography Fellowship
Grant for the creation of new work, No. 14 / The Weights

Teaching Experience

Jan 2015-present Elon University
Adjunct Professor
, Dance and Theater
Choreography I, Beg Modern Dance, Int Modern Dance, Repertory, J-Term Dance Intensive

Sept 2018-present American Dance Festival, Scripps Studios
Cunningham Technique (ongoing)
Workshops/Series: Cunningham Fundamentals; Chance Procedures for ages 9-12 and 13-17 yrs, Technique Clinic (Co-teaching w/ somatic practitioners)

July 2019 ADF in CLE Intensive, Cleveland, OH
Chance and Collaborative Composition

June 2018-present American Dance Festival, Durham, NC
Faculty, Composition, technique, seminars
2019: Looking at technique through the lens of “Freedom”; Cultivating Responsiveness (Leadership); Making it Beyond NYC; Chance Procedures for Contemporary Dancemakers
2018 SDI: Chance and Collaborative Composition, Workshop: Cunningham Technique

Sept 2013-May 2019 University of North Carolina- Greensboro
Part-time Dance Faculty, School of Dance
Spring 2019: Int/Adv Repertory (a collaborative lab course, co-facilitated with Chris Fleming, light and design)
Fall 2013-Spring 2018: Introduction to Dance, Beg, Int/Adv, Adv Contemporary Technique, Independent Study in Dance, Graduate Choreography, Graduate Teaching Practicum, Choreography I, Choreography II, Int Repertory, Graduate Repertory, Honors College: Creativity in the Arts, Honors College: The Performing Body
2016-2017 Service: Scholarship Committee; Graduate Thesis Committee member for MFA Thesis Concert for Taylor King; MA Thesis Project committee member for Olivia Meeks

April 2019 Duke University, Durham, NC 
Guest research artist, Dance
Cunningham Technique as a Practice of Freedom- 5-class series

2017-2019 NC State University, Raleigh NC
Chance Procedures—April 2019
Guest artist, Dance Sept 2016-May 2017
Cunningham technique—2016-2017 guest teacher and choreographer
Creation of No. 22 for NC State Dance Company—2016-2017 guest choreographer

Catalogue (selection)

one journey, a performance of John Cage’s STEPS: A Composition for a Painting. North Carolina State University. September 19, 2018.

No. 23 / SHOW. A one hour site-reactive, interdisciplinary work for 6 dancers and guest artists in two parts: 30 minute performance installations and 30 minute staged dance production. Created in collaboration with Heather Gordon (visual concepts, sound,) Alex Maness (film, projection, and sound,) Chris Fleming (lighting and set design,) and COMPANY dancers. Choreography and direction by Justin Tornow. Premiere: Durham Fruit and Produce, Durham, NC. July 11-15, 2018.

No. 22 / Penumbra. A 12 minute solo dance work for live performance on-site at And Then The Sun Swallowed Me by Heather Gordon. Choreography and performance by Justin Tornow, with concept collaboration with Heather Gordon.  Lighting design and performance by Chris Fleming. Premiere: Contemporary Art Museum (CAM,) Raleigh, NC. February 1, 2018. Work created with the support of Tanzart Atelier residency 2017.

No. 19 / Modulations. A one hour dance work for 7 dancers for camera/livestream and live performance. Choreography and concept by Justin Tornow, with visual component collaborations with Heather Gordon. Performance A: Public livestreamed performance by COMPANY, multi-camera shoot directed by Alex Maness, projection by KONTEK Systems, with live music Del Ward. Performances B: Live performance by COMPANY, with live music performances by Jess Dilday/Playplay (7/24) and Lee Weisert and Matt McClure (7/23.) Premiere: 21c Museum Hotel and CCB Plaza, Durham, NC. July 21-24, 2017.

ECHO. A 10 minute work for 1 dancer. Music by various live and recorded artists. A site-specific installation / performance work created in collaboration with visual artist Heather Gordon. Materials: 6 walls covered with pattern of reflective Mylar tape, surveillance camera and projection, solo dancer. Premiere: 21c Museum Hotel, Durham, NC. February 23, 2017.

No. 17 / The Lowest Form of Poetry. A full length dance work created in collaboration with MW Duo (Matthew McClure- saxophone, lasers construction, and Lee Weisert- electronics, composition, lasers construction.) Choreography by Justin Tornow. Composition features text from Merce Cunningham’s “Space, Time, and Dance.” Danced by Emily Aiken, Amy Blakely, Austin Dixon, Sam Steffen, and Justin Tornow. Lighting design by Chris Fleming.  Premiere: The Process Series, Kenan Rehearsal Hall, UNC-Chapel Hill, March 5-6, 2016. University of Georgia, October 7-8, 2016.

No. 15 / The Value of Words. Ongoing. A full-length dance work created in collaboration with artist Heather Gordon. Choreographed by Justin Tornow. Score and sequence selected by chance methods for each performance. Danced by Emily Aiken, Amy Blakely, Austin Dixon, Alex Lieberman, and Sam Steffen. Premiere: Cortona, Italy at the MAEC Museum, July 17, 2015. Public performance in Piazza Repubblica, Cortona, Italy, July 18, 2015. UGA-Cortona, July 19, 2015. USA premiere at KIN by Heather Gordon, The Carrack Modern Art, August 8 & 15, 2015. Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) October 25, 2015. Contemporary Art Museum (CAM)-Raleigh, November 13, 2015. SARUS Festival, Wilmington, NC, July 7-10, 2016.