Roger was my teacher and mentor in high school. First, Roger was a great teacher. He got through to the kids nobody could. EVERYBODY was at attention in his class. He demanded excellence… all the time. All the students loved his class even if they never said it, it was clear. They felt challenged and so did I. He pushed me to be the dancer I am today. He was more than a great dance teacher. I also learned so much about music and culture and life. Roger always went above and beyond for me, and he still does. He has supported me throughout my career and is my biggest “fan”. He always believed in me. Even though we don’t see each other as much as we used to. I know that he is always rooting for me.
Roger C. Jeffrey was born and raised in New York City where he began his training at Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center in Jamaica, Queens. A graduate of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts, he received his B.F.A. from The Juilliard School under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy. Mr. Jeffrey has performed in the companies of Bernice Johnson, Kevin Iega Jeff, Obediah Wright, Earl Mosley, Zvi Gotheiner, Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovitch, Metropolitan Opera Ballet and with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project. He has also worked with Dudley Williams, Eleo Pomare, Otis Sallid, Debbie Allen, Danny Tidwell, Ayodele Casel, D’bi. Young, Rasta Thomas, Sean Curran, Doug Varone, Richard Move and Mark Dendy. Mr. Jeffrey is a New York based freelance choreographer/director. Inspired by his mentor Kevin Iega Jeff, he began to explore his artistic potential as both an instructor and choreographer at the Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center, Edge School of the Arts, South Shore Dance Alliance, The Ailey School, The Joffrey School, The Joffrey Concert Group, The Juilliard School, Peridance Center, American Ballet Theatre/Make a Ballet Program, Studio Harmonic, Elisa King and Dancers, CityDance Ensemble, Camille Brown and Dancers, Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance, Dario Varcaro Dance Project, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Verb Ballets, Collage Dance Collective, Philadanco!, BalletX, New York Hip-Hop Festival, Ballet Arabesque company and La Companyia to name a few.
Mr. Jeffrey has choreographed and or directed various theatrical productions including Death of the Diva featuring Amanda Seales, The Emancipation of Ms. Lovely featuring Ngozi Paul, Blood Claat featuring D’bi. Young, Gemini Rising and Da Kink in my Hair featuring Angie Stone, Melanie Fiona and Terri Vaughn to name a few. He is also the artistic consultant for Rasta Thomas and associate artistic director of Dawn Branch Works. In 1997, Mr. Jeffrey founded Subtle Changes, Inc., a nonprofit artist collective committed to the presentation, development, and exposure of the arts. The company has presented work for Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Central Park SummerStage Harlem, E- Moves/Aaron Davis Hall, Judson Church, P.S. 122, DanceNow Festival, Theatre of the Riverside Church, JoyceSoho, Back Yard Dance Project, Bric and Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out among others. “Roger C. Jeffrey is one of the most sensitive and savviest of young producers in New York.” -New York Times
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to do what you’re doing now?
When I was a child I wanted to be a dentist. I was inspired by my father who was a dental technician. After my mother brought me to Bernice Johnson cultural arts center, my dreams of being a dentist died. At 14, I knew I wanted to be a dancer, choreographer & director.
Your Favorite Things?
Yoga, Films, Theater, Books, Museums, Hip hop and Jazz , a quiet Sunday at home
Favorite Things to eat?
Kiwi, alfalfa sprouts, Thai food, gnocchi, coconut pancakes and anything my girlfriend cooks
Billy by Albert French, Zealot by Reza Aslan and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Dirty Pretty Things by Stephen Frears, El Secreto De Sus Ojos by Juan Jose Campanella, Spanish Prisoner by David Mamet and Malcolm X by Spike Lee
Favorite Dance Piece or Show/Musical or both?
Naeemah’s Room choreographed by Kevin Iega Jeff and various works by Jiri Kylian
I like dancers who…
are committed, passionate and technically proficient in the art form.
I am afraid of…
not always appreciating my legacy.
A dance piece should…
tell a story, enhance, transform, inform, excite the viewer.
Something you like to do other than your current job?
One of the happiest moments in your life?
When Mikhail Baryshnikov invited me to dance with his company, White Oak Dance Project.
One of your most unusual or coolest experiences?
Hiked one of the tallest mountains in the Canary Islands and stood above the clouds.
One of the most embarrassing moments in your professional career?
While performing outdoors in Israel with Tharp, I slipped on wet marley and slid half way across the stage and slammed onto my stomach. It was like a belly flop on stage!
Who has been the most influential person/people in your life? or Career? and why?
My immediate family along with my dance family from Bernice Johnson. Especially, Kevin Iega Jeff. He is my backbone. Always encouraging and demanding.
One of the hardest things about your job?
As a freelance artist, it’s hard to thoroughly develop meaningful ideas while overcoming production obstacles. The difficulty is to not sacrifice your original creative vision, while staying fluid, in order to make it work.
Something you would change in the DANCE world?
Compensation should be parallel to the NHL, NFL, NBA and NBL
Something you would change in the REAL world?
Free education and an honest implementation of the Curriculum of Inclusion by Leonard Jeffries.
Do you have any goals you still wish to achieve?
My constant goal is to continue learning from my mistakes.
A question you want to know the answer to:
I’d rather search for the answers!
A piece of advice for aspiring artists?
Trust yourself and learn your history.