Founder & Artistic Director
Joy French is a dancer, choreographer, videographer and producer. Her creative journey started on the stages of mid-Missouri, then she traveled for a year post-high-school with Up With People before landing in Missoula for undergrad. Her professional stage debut was with MoTrans Dance Company, under the direction of Amy Ragsdale, and Joy would go on to dance with MoTrans’ incarnation as Headwaters Dance Co. (Missoula) as well as The CoMotion Dance Project (Missoula), Evolving Doors Dance (Boulder, CO), Impact Dance Company (Ft. Collins, CO), and betterbisquitdance (Seattle, WA). Wanting to pursue graduate studies in dance, Joy studied at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her passion for dance and film led her to create original screendance shorts, many selected for screenings at Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema (Boulder, CO), as well as being hired as Property Master for a feature dance film, Leading Ladies, directed by Erika Randall, which premiered at the Sonoma International Film Festival in 2010. Joy and Erika collaborated again in a tour through Costa Rica, performing and teaching, sponsored by Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano which selected Joy as a “Promising Artist of the 21st Century.”
After earning her MFA in Performance and Choreography, Joy returned to Missoula, MT and in 2011 founded Bare Bait Dance. Joy created BBD to be a home for dancers in the region and to produce nationally and internationally acclaimed artists. In addition to BBD, Joy is on faculty at The University of Montana and Ballet Arts Academy, and teaches in Missoula high school's through BBD's Montana MoDE (Model Dance Educator) program. In 2017, Joy received an Artist's Innovation Award from the Montana Arts Council in recognition of her devotion to her art and the state. Beyond Montana, Joy has taught and creatively collaborated with Bellingham Repertory Dance, Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School, Ursinus College, and the University of Colorado-Boulder. Joy recently added to her movement arsenal by becoming a Peak Pilates Certified instructor and is currently teaching clients at Main Street Pilates Studio.
Eighth Year Company Member
Jessica Shontz has been in love with dance since before her first memories. Class and performances are where she finds her zen, so she's reveling in her seventh season with BBD. Jess has been fortunate to call Montana home for her entire life, and she wishes to give BBD her eternal gratitude for spreading dance in Missoula. She has trained in Ballet and Modern for over 21 years, and has a BFA in Dance from the University of Montana.
Kaitlin (Kinsley) Dickinson
Sixth Year Company Member
Kaitlin Kinsley was born and raised in a suburb of The Big Apple and started dancing when she was five years old. She discovered her true love for the west while attending the University of Montana. She received a BA in Dance from UM in 2013 and afterwards went on to dance with Headwaters Dance Co. and the CoMotion Dance Project here in Missoula as well as staring to perform with Bare Bait Dance. Now entering her 22nd year of dancing, she is honored to be dancing with BBD for her 5th season. Kaitlin could not be more grateful to Joy French and BBD for creating professional dance opportunities in beautiful Missoula, MT!
Third Year Company Member
Tara is originally from Salmon, Idaho and after a childhood of sports, she discovered the soft-contact, non-repetitive, non-competitive, beautiful, bilateral, expressive world of dance! She now holds a Bachelors of Science in Dance from the University of Idaho and a Masters of Science in Dance Science from the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance (City University of London) (formerly the Laban Institute). She enjoys teaching dance for BBD’s MoDE program as well as at the Downtown Dance Collective & On Center Performing Arts. She is so grateful to BBD for providing professional dance performance opportunities in Missoula and sharing her passion for dance with Montana.
First Year Company Member
Katie Conrad is a Montana native, beginning dance at the age of four in her home town of Laurel. She has since made Missoula her home, where she has earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance through the University of Montana. Katie danced in Bare Bait Dance’s 2017 production of Hysteria as a guest performer. She is incredibly grateful to start her professional dancing career with BBD!
First Year Company Member
Lizzie Archer grew up in the heart of the midwest on the plains of South Dakota. In Sioux Falls, her dance journey began as a total bunhead. Since then she has had the opportunity to explore some of the many different realms of the dance world. From the technical niche of the Cecchetti ballet method, to belly dancing in Costa Rica, then being embraced by the modern dance community here in Missoula. She is currently wrapping up her undergrad experience and will graduate Spring 2020 with a BA in Environmental Studies and a BA in Dance from the University of Montana.
2019|20 Season Apprentices:
Past Company Members
Jordan Dehline Burt
We are so grateful for the community we live in here in Western Montana. Thank you to these artists who have contributed to past BBD productions in a variety of ways, both on and off the stage.
Special BBD Company distinction:
*Assistant Director (2015-16) & Co-Director (2016-18)
**Booking Agent (2012-14)
+Development Director (2014-15)
++Managing Director (2013-15)