Specialist in Music
Ken Beck is a native of Washington, DC. He studied composition and piano with Robert Dumm, continuing these studies with Wilfred Churchill, John Adams, and Joel Kabakov at the Boston Conservatory of Music. He graduated in 1977. While in Boston, Beck discovered the art of dance. Following his graduation, he served as music director of the Westport Ballet in Kansas City, creating several scores for the company before returning to his hometown for a period of freelance work. In DC, Beck accompanied for Eric Hampton, the Academy Division of the Maryland Youth Ballet, George Mason University, George Washington University, Dance Place, and the Washington Ballet. He also accompanied the annual Cecchetti Council Northeast Conference. He joined the staff of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1998 and serves as a specialist in music for Dance at Illinois.
Jason Finkelman's artistic concerns focus on improvised music, cross-cultural collaborative projects, and composition for dance, theatre, and film. A Philadelphia-born percussionist, Finkelman specializes in the berimbau, an Afro-Brazilian musical bow, and performs on African and Brazilian instruments, many handcrafted by Adimu Kuumba. Finkelman currently combines laptop electronics and acoustic percussion in a duo with Ben Wheeler, blending ambient and noise with music traditions of the world, and with IO Mining Corp, an improvising ensemble featuring four generations of musicians bridging diverse musical backgrounds. He is a founding member of the New York-based ambient, avant world trio Straylight featuring Charles Cohen and Geoff Gersh. Finkelman's extensive work with choreographer Cynthia Oliver includes BOOM! (2014-15), Rigidigidim de Bamba de: Ruptured Calypso (2009-10), the dance film AfroSocialiteLifeDiva (2004), and the New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") Award-winning works SHEMAD (2000) and Death's Door (1996). In 2012, Finkelman was appointed director of Global Arts Performance Initiatives, an outreach program of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and has enjoyed accompanying for dance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2000.
Cody Jensen specializes in tonal percussion and drum set. He began playing music for dancers in the Mande tradition of West Africa. After studying djembe and dunduns with master drummer Bolokada Conde for several years, Conde asked him to perform on and produce an album of traditional music on location in Guinea. While there, Jensen took advantage of the opportunity to study balafon with Khaly Camara. Additionally, Jensen studied Balinese traditional music and dance accompaniment with I Ketut Gede Asnawa at the University of Illinois and with I Nyoman Astita in Denpasar, Bali. Currently, he tours with Bones Jugs N Harmony, playing traps, steel drum, xylophone, and rhythm bones.
Music was always something that captivated Charlie, starting with sing-alongs in the car with his mother ever since he developed the ability to vocalize. He studied vocal music from kindergarten through high school, and he developed a voice that would land him in multiple Virginia county, district, and state honors choirs under the direction of Millie Hollis, Kelly Kingett, and Carol Anne Rethmel-Forgas. Charlie also developed a love for playing musical instruments in his teenage years and started guitar lessons with Tom Phillips at Dale City Music Center. After a time, he found that he excelled in the field of percussion, especially on drum set and cajón. After getting his first drum set at the age of 14, he taught himself the basics of rock 'n' roll drumming. Since graduating high school, Charlie has started and fronted many bands—such as a cover band known as The Electrocoustics and two Richmond-based, hard rock bands, The Bar Room Bruisers and The Primas—and for all of these he provided guitar lines and lead and backing vocals. He has also appeared as the fill-in drummer for the rock band The Earth Is Flat (now known as Papillion) as well as the cajón/percussion player for the folk band Atlas Waltzed. While obtaining his BFA in dance and choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Charlie played alongside percussion accompanists Robbie Kinter, Bentley Cobb Jr., Todd Woodsen, and CJ Alicea for modern dance classes. He has had the pleasure of playing drum set and percussion for professors and guest artists such as Christian Von Howard, Martha Curtis, Judith Steele, Autumn Waddell, Scott Putman, Starr Foster, and Melanie Richards. Since graduating in May 2014, Charlie has moved to Urbana-Champaign and currently plays accompaniment for Dance at Illinois classes for professors and guest artists such as Jan Erkert, Linda Lehovec, C. Kamal Nance, Sara Hook, and Sonya Tayeh.