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.
Seventh 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.
Fifth 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!
Second 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
Freya grew up in New England and began dancing at the age of ten, studying ballet and contemporary dance. She performed across the greater Boston area, including The Institute of Contemporary Art, The Sanctuary Theatre, and Duxbury Performing Arts Center. Freya attended The School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s Professional Training Program, graduating in 2011. During her time in school, she worked with acclaimed artists such as Marc Boivin, Sharon Moore, and Christopher House. Freya has worked as an independent artist in Boston, New York City, Toronto, and Missoula performing in projects that range from live theater productions to flash mobs and films. Freya is currently a senior in the College of Forestry at the University of Montana and hopes to continue working as a double threat: Conservationist and dancer.
First Year Company Member
Jamie Arnold was born in Providence, Rhode Island. She received her BA in Dance from Rhode Island College in 2011. Jamie danced with Betsy Miller Dance Projects, Aerplaye Dance and with many other independent choreographers on the East Coast. She taught dance and performed professionally in RI for 5 years after college before she moved to Bismarck, ND to teach dance full time. She discovered Bare Bait Dance in her research of dance companies and was drawn in right away! Jamie is really looking forward to joining BBD in its 8th season and is grateful for every dancing opportunity!
2018|19 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)