Reginald Ray-Savage began dancing at Katherine Dunham's Performing Arts Training Center in East St. Louis, IL, where he studied ballet, tap, jazz, and Dunham technique, with such outstanding Dunham company alumni as Norman Davis, Lenwood Morris, and his mentor Archie Savage. His training with these legendary dancers has informed his teaching style and choreography. Mr. Savage began his professional dance career with the Katherine Dunham Dance Company. He moved to Chicago where he danced in several companies including Joel Hall Dance Company, Ruth Page Ballet Chicago, and Lyric Opera, as well as touring productions of "Music Man" and "A Chorus Line". In Chicago he trained with acclaimed ballet instructor Larry Long, a well as Delores Lipinski, Warren Conover, and Homer Bryant.
Mr. Savage came to California in 1989 and founded Savage Jazz Dance Company (SJDC) in 1992. Since then, he has produced a career’s worth of exceptional dances that respond to, spring from, and are inspired by the intentions, energy, and rich cultural heritage of jazz music. The spirit of jazz is the foundation for the company’s existence. Driven by the vision of Mr. Savage, and realized by the commitment of the company’s exceptional dancers, SJDC’s movement is defined by three primary beliefs: the importance of disciplined, technical dance training, rooted in classical ballet and modern techniques; the willingness to give into the rich artistic expression of music, in all forms; and, last but not least, ENERGY. And it is these same beliefs that inform Mr. Savage’s teaching style and daily practice. Since its founding, the company has produced more than 100 new works, choreographed by Mr. Savage, and guest choreographers. In addition to their annual home season, SJDC continues to tour the US, conducting residencies and concert performances. Notable engagements include SJDC’s performance at Casa del Jazz in Rome, Italy in 2006; it was the first dance company to receive such an invitation, performing to a packed house and rave reviews. In 2003, SJDC was invited to perform at the Jazz Dance World Congress at NYU Buffalo. And SJDC was a resident company in the Lincoln Center Institute’s Aesthetic Education Program in Bay Area schools offered through the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts.
Through his work with Savage Jazz Dance Company and his teaching practice, Mr. Savage’s contributions to the arts and dance have been recognized in various ways. In 1993, Mr. Savage was awarded the Creative Artists Fellowship in Choreography from the City of Oakland. Mr. Savage was also distinguished with a 2001 GOLDIE Award by the San Francisco Bay Guardian for outstanding contribution to the arts. SJDC has also had the honor of being nominated for several IZZIEs (Isadora Duncan Dance Awards): in 2003 for Company Performance for its entire 2002 season at the Cowell Theater (SF) and in 2007 for Individual Performance by Principle SJDC Dancer, Alison Hurley, in SJDC's 2006 performances at ODC Theater (SF).
Mr. Savage has taught dance in the Bay Area since 1989, teaching regularly at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley (where he still teaches) and at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts in Oakland. In 2003, he joined Oakland School for the Arts faculty as Chair of The School of Dance. Students of Mr. Savage have gone on to dance with Philadanco, Martha Graham Dance Company, Mark Morris Dance Group, Garth Fagan Dance, Dallas Black Dance Company, Oakland Ballet, Ailey II, Hubbard Street 2, River North Dance Chicago, The Lion King, and dance companies in Europe and South America, as well as been accepted to The Ailey School, North Carolina School of the Arts, The Graham School, San Francisco Ballet School, The Boston Conservatory, and many other dance schools, programs, and Summer Intensives throughout the country.
Mr. Savage brings to his teaching and choreography a wealth of training and professional performing experience in a variety of dance styles and techniques. This experience has allowed him to bring such high caliber teachers, guest teachers, and choreographers to OSA’s School of Dance as: Broadway veteran Alex Sanchez; Martha Graham Dance Company dancer Christopher Dolder; long-time Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer Renee Robinson; Ailey School, Dance Theater of Harlem School, and Jacque D’Amboise’s National Dance Institute teacher and LINES Ballet B.F.A. Program faculty member (and former student of Mr. Savage’s) Corrine Nagata, and many others. His experience in ballet, Dunham technique, contemporary and theater dance give him a broad and extensive dance background with which to both inform his teaching style and provide expertise in helping to guide and advise students in their artistic and life choices and pursuits.
Mr. Savage does not take lightly the fact that his was the last generation of dancers to be trained by many of the "old school" teachers whom he feels eternally grateful and fortunate to have learned from and studied under. His respect for them can be found today in every class he teaches and every piece of his choreography.
“Once in a great while a rare person comes on the scene – for whatever reason – who seems to reincarnate the lessons from his teachers and forebears. It is this quality in Reginald Ray-Savage that gives the depth of heritage and authenticity to his company” –K.C. Patrick, Dance Magazine.
"Reginald Ray Savage is tremendously skilled at identifying talent and forging committed artists. The public Oakland School of the Arts is fortunate to have him at the head of their dance program." -Rachel Howard, Dance Critic