Jennifer Gwirtz is fascinated with biomechanics, interior spaces, movement, masks, neurology and the essential qualities of sentience. Her work emerged from a background in ballet, contemporary dance, music, technology, Butoh and visual art. As the daughter of a high school vocal music teacher, she grew up in a deeply musical environment and sang in six languages by the time she was ten years old. She began her career performing for ballet companies, discovered performance art and video at university, then moved to contemporary dance and Butoh when she arrived in San Francisco. She developed a passion for early web technology and blending disciplines while earning her MFA in New Genres at San Francisco Art Institute where her work took a conceptual turn towards the virtual and human patterning. In the 1990s she created theatrical, movement-based experiments that challenged assumptions about performance for theaters, galleries and outdoor spaces, performing nationally and internationally. In 1999 she co-founded Right Brain Performancelab with John Baumann, an experimental Bay Area performance ensemble.
She currently divides her time between RBP and other projects, including Gwirtz & Pipe.
Jennifer is a mother, a performer, a writer and a student of the human body. Originally from Philadelphia, Jen has a masters degree in New Genres Art from San Francisco Art Institute and a bachelors in Sculpture from Washington University in St. Louis where she also worked as a work-study technician at Edison Theater. She has travelled a long and meandering path through the dance, clowning and underground theater scenes, starting with a professional ballet career and most recently in the Bay Area where she directed Right Brain Performancelab for nearly fifteen years.
Her discovery of Pilates in 1996 ended her decade-long back injury and ignited her curiosity about the workings of the human body. In 2003 she received her Pilates certification from Madeline Black and Jean Sullivan’s Integrated Teacher Training. She maintained a practice in San Francisco and Sausalito for many years. In 2009 she began to study GYROKINESIS® and GYROTONIC® methods. In 2014 she became certified to teach the GYROKINESIS® method of exercise.
During her tenure as Technology Manager and Ergonomic Evaluator for the Department of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley she began to explore topics about the workplace, how we work and how we move in daily life. She continued this train of thought by delving into Aston Kinetics with Judith Aston and Ronnie Oliver. In 2010 she spent a year of concentrated research and study with Pilates Master Trainer Elizabeth Larkam through a one-on-one mentorship program in which she pursued her interest in how the feet connect to the core.
Jennifer is also passionate about teaching dance movement and facilitating Fieldwork workgroups in which artists bring new work and works-in-progress for showing and feedback. She currently studies and practices Butoh and traditional Egyptian and Turkish Romani dance. She is grateful and honored to be a part of the Body Mechanics community/family!