Dance Teacher / Artistic Director

Mathew James poses for the camera.
Mathew James '12

"LMU Dance produces bright, talented, and skillful dancers while offering life-changing opportunities to grow, learn, and connect to other artists, educators, and professionals."

After graduating from LMU with a double major in Dance and Theology – Jewish Studies, Mathew went on to pursue his MFA from New York University - Tisch School of The Arts. He is using his degree to pursue a career as a teaching artist, choreographer, and arts administrator. As a faculty member at Peridance Capezio Center, one of New York City's most prominent dance centers, he teaches contemporary technique in addition to leading a professional performance seminar program that requires him to create original contemporary work every three months.

He is also the Artistic Director of U R B A N / T R I B E, a NYC-based dance theater company. U R B A N / T R I B E has been invited to teach at institutions such as Sacramento State University and has been commissioned for works by the JCC: Manhattan and Steffi Nossen Dance Foundation.

Why did you want to be a lion?

Funny thing, I decided to make it a goal to attend the LMU Dance Program when I saw a piece performed by LMU dancers and choreographed by then-faculty member, Mike Esperanza. The skill, craft, and artistry was captivating. The work ignited an intensity that made me yearn to be like those dancers. It was then that I decided that I wanted to be an LMU alum, and I definitely made the right choice.

What was it like being a part of LMU dance?

LMU's Dance Program progressed my skills as a dancer, educator, and choreographer. The program helped me develop into a powerful and versatile dancer, fully prepared for the professional industry. I was lucky to have the tremendous support and mentorship of faculty members Teresa Heiland (Associate Professor of Dance) and Judy Scalin (Associate Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts), which allowed me to better navigate through LMU and bridge myself into post-grad life. Teresa guided me through the process of choosing and applying for grad school, which was pivotal in reaching my current successes. The attention and care I received from both Teresa and Judy gave me the confidence to reach for goals that otherwise seemed impossible.

There were certainly amazing opportunities to meet artists and professionals in the dance industry throughout my whole academic career at LMU. The yearly PLUNGE intensive that was held a week prior to the fall semester beginning was a major opportunity to meet so many working professionals and dance with/for them.

The most inspiring connection I made while at LMU was when I was given the opportunity to work with choreographer Barak Marshall. I must give thanks to faculty member and co-artistic director of BODYTRAFFIC, Lillian Barbeito and chair of the LMU Dance Department, Damon Rago, for inviting Barak Marshall to set his work, Monger, on a select group of students. This artistic process with Barak was a defining moment of growth and artistic development for me that ultimately guided me in the type of work I would pursue post-graduation.