John Toenjes

CV, Bio and Work Samples

Welcome, and thank you for visiting my site. Here you will find my CV, which contains links to online materials for many of the entries, and a menu of a few chosen samples of my creative works. I also have put a link in the nav bar to a major effort of mine over the past few years, the Laboratory for Audience Interactive Technologies, or LAIT.

Biography

John Toenjes is an Associate Professor and the Music Director and Co-Director of Undergraduate Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Department of Dance, and past President of the International Guild of Musicians in Dance. Upon graduating from Stanford University with a degree in music in 1978, he began his career as freelance classical and improvising musician, dance musician, theater composer and conductor, and harpsichord maker. He performed on harpsichord with ensembles such as the San Francisco Symphony, the Baroque Arts Ensemble, and his improvisation group Crossing Vistas. He also began his life-long work playing and composing for modern dance, working in the SF Bay Area with teachers and choreographers such as Margaret Jenkins, Aaron Osborne, Joe Goode, and Lucas Hoving, having over 30 dance scores commissioned over the years. He also had an active career as composer and conductor for children's theater.

After his Bay Area stint, he moved to Columbia, MO where he obtained his Master's Degree in music composition from the University of Missouri (UMC). In 1994 he began working at the UMC Advanced Technology Center as Composer and Sound Designer of multimedia programs, gradually becoming a producer on several notable projects, such as the national award-winning pediatric asthma program IMPACT Asthma–Kids!

In 2001 he accepted the Music Director position at UIUC, and gradually stopped accepting commissions for dance scores, instead devoting himself to combining his compositional skills with his knowledge of multimedia production to produce works in the new field of Interactive Dance. These include the Inventions Suite, an evening-length work performed at the 2008 Cleveland Ingenuity Festival, and e’s of water, a dance/computer installation at UW-Milwaukee in 2007. John wrote a new interactive music score for, and designed the wireless sensor networks used, in Trisha Brown’s Astral Convertible Reimagined at UIUC in 2010. In 2011-12 he wrote the music for and designed the computer systems for FraMESHift, produced at Teatro Astra, Turin, Italy. For three years he was Technical Director of the Illinois-Japan Performing Arts Network (IJPAN), culminating in his networked performance Timings: An Internet Dance, with dancers in three locations, including Tokyo, connected to live avatars. Since then his focus has been on mobile device-enhanced works. In 2014 he began research with an iPad ensemble, which culminated in the dance theater piece Kama Begata Nihilum, which featured a cast of dancers carrying networked iPads and an AR app for audience participation, programmed by collaborator M. Anthony Reimer.

This inspired John to establish the Laboratory for Audience Interactive Technologies (LAIT), which has designed a platform for quickly creating mobile apps for use in live performance. He, Reimer, and L.A.-based choreographer Chad Michael Hall have been investigating the possibilities inherent in mobile devices in a series of works: Public Figure, premiered at UC-Irvine in 2015, which is the first theatrical work to integrate LAIT into its development process; Critical Mass, which premiered at the UIUC Krannert Center in 2017, and Alternate Reality, a new work incubated at the UC-Irvine Institute for 21st Century Creativity in February 2018. For more information on LAIT (which is now called "Mosho") please visit http://lait.ncsa.illinois.edu.