JOY FRENCH

Owner of Bare Bait Dance Company in Missoula, Montana, and a dance professor at the University of Montana. 

 

    In the Shakespearean era, bear-baiting was found to be a huge form of entertainment. Think like the lions of the Colosseum, except with bears. Which may seem like quite the jump to associate such entertainment with modern dance; but Joy French thinks otherwise. 

    Her dance company, Bare Bait Dance, got its unique name from an academic discussion about the difference between high art, like the opera and classical ballet, versus low art, which she feels everything else falls into. Her thought was that “if you’re not Shakepeare, then you must be bear baiting.” 

    She changed the lettering to Bare Bait, and it seemed to fit to her. 

    “As an artist, you’re kind of vulnerable and raw,” French said. 

    The name stuck, and it’s now one of two dance companies based in Missoula, and one of six in the state. 

    Bare Bait started in 2011, when French had what she thought would be a one time dance show, Crack in Yoke. But after seeing the local talent and the audience turn out, she decided to stick around and create the company. 

    Now in their fourth season, there are six dancers in the company. Most of them also dance for Headwaters Dance Company - the other Missoula dance company - and they have guests perform with them as well. 

    The other part of French’s life lies on the UM campus. She teaches jazz, modern, improvisation, and a dance film class, as well as choreographing Pippin in the spring of 2015. She also choreographs pieces for student performances like Dance Up Close, Dance In Concert, and Dance On Location.