Bridget Archer: Always ready to dance the night away!

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JANS – Jackson native Bridget Archer is revered as the most accomplished choreographer in the Magnolia State. She is best known for her contributions to the Montage Dance Theatre at Hinds Community College, both as choreographer and performer.  Many dance enthusiasts credit her, along with Director Tiffany Jefferson, with the success of the adaptations of The Lion King, The Wiz, and The Five Heartbeats, just to name a few. If it’s precision in incorporating creativity, athleticism, and technique you’re looking for, you won’t be disappointed in this award-winning dance company.

The Montage Dance Theatre is Mississippi’s only multidisciplinary dance company. It has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Center, the 2012 Olympic Games, and the Scottish Fringe festival, to name a few. Notable Montage alumni have performed at the Super Bowl, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Cirque du Soleil, with Jennifer Lopez, Steve Harvey, and at Harvard University.

Having been raised in Frankfurt, Germany, and Tacoma, Washington, Archer  has a diverse background in the performing arts. Her early years of training began in Oakland, California, where she trained under the renowned Halifu Osamare and performed works written by the extremely talented writer, Ntozake Shange, including “For Colored Girls Only” and “From Okra to Greens”. 

She also trained at the Broadway Dance Center under the instruction of the very talented Maurice Hines and world renowned choreographer Frank Hatchett, also touring as his apprentice. She also trained at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Steps on Broadway; several studios in Tokyo, Japan; trained and performed with Hollis Pippin, an original member of the “Soul Train Gang”, a well-respected actor, dancer, and choreographer; and was a member of his performance company. 

Since those early days, Archer has formed her own company, The Bridget Archer Performing Arts Company. “I wanted to create an organization to enhance cultural arts in Mississippi and other areas to provide awareness and training opportunities, especially for inner city youth,” stated Archer. “We’ve been very successful in exhibiting the benefits and knowledge that embracing the performing arts may provide.”

In that same vein, she has taken on the responsibility as the Vice President of the Mississippi Arts Coalition, Inc., and serving as director/instructor for the City of Jackson Dept. of Parks and Recreations at the Johnnie Champion Community Center dance program. “I love teaching choreography to our youth. The age doesn’t matter; all they have to be is two years old to perform in our recitals and group production performances,” she said.

Archer’s body of work is quite extensive and absolutely impressive. She has toured throughout the United States with actress Tonea Harris Stewart, lauded for her performances in “In the Heat of the Night”, “A Time to Kill”, and many other movies and sitcoms. Along with Stewart, she played in “Profiles of Me”, touring across the country.

As a dancer, Archer was a contestant on the national television show “Dance Fever” and a regular dancer on “Soul Train” and the locally syndicated TV show, “Black Gold”. She has worked with several recording groups such as “Sho-nuff!”, “Foreign Matter”, “New Orleans Sound”, and Sony recording artist “Eddy Yamamotto”.

Archer has toured the U.S. with a number of critically acclaimed plays, such as “The Diary of A Black Man”, “From Okra to Greens”, “For Colored Girls Only Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Isn’t Enough”, and “Profiles of Me”, as well as gospel musical plays with Dottie Peoples and Johnny Gill. 

Her international travels, as a lead vocalist, dancer, and choreographer, include Tokyo and Osaka, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; and the Canary Islands and Barcelona, Spain. She also choreographed numerous videos and live performances, and was contracted to do several recording sessions for artists and recording companies.

Early in her career, besides working with Hollis Pippin, Archer collaborated with Beverly Branson and the Repertory Theater of Mississippi and jazz promoter John Reese of the Black Arts Music Society (BAMS). 

Archer has worked with several local organizations in preparing production numbers. Among them are the NAACP ACT-SO program; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Prancing J-Settes of Jackson State University, of which she was a member; Jackson Music Awards; New Stage Theatre; and various school groups and other civic organizations. She managed and choreographed for local recording artists “Compozitionz” and “MacAfee”.

She has been a guest presenter at the Academic and Performing Arts Complex (APAC) of the Jackson Public School District and Ballet Mississippi. In addition, she has served as guest instructor for the Madison Cultural Arts Center and has produced, directed, and choreographed several shows for the Arts Alliance of Jackson, MS. 

Several churches have also benefited from Archer’s artistry. She presently serves as chairperson and choreographer of the dance ministry at Anderson United Methodist Church where she developed six different companies working with all age groups.

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Bridget Archer: Always ready to dance the night away!

By Jackson Advocate News Service
October 2, 2023