a b o u t
J e s s i e Y o u n g
I am a dancer, choreographer and teacher living in Brooklyn. My work manifests as a relational experience, whether an hour-long dance performance or a series of photographs documenting bodies in space. My creative process is a mercurial experience of constructing and distilling an atmosphere. I immerse myself in a process of slippage, collaging embodied and visual practices and then listening to the reverberations in the material. I work with movement improvisation and teaching dance classes is the bedrock of my choreography. In my classes I’m thinking about dynamic movement practices that support the development of personal care, personal training and individual artistry. I focus on exercises that prepare the body for extreme movement - intensive warm-ups, floor work, phrase work and partnering will all be approached through the lens of self-awareness and care. I approach class as a space for considering how movement, perception, sensation and ideas of self all fold into the rituals of a dance class.
I’m thinking about dance as a cultural practice, suffused with myths, narratives and ideologies about gender, sexuality, race, empire and class. I’m thinking about what form my dance practice takes as I reflect on the kinesthetic history of my movement training. I’m thinking about what form de-colonizing dance practice takes, to work against white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal and racist structures embedded inside Westernized dance forms. I’m thinking about my training as a result of those structures and how that training (specifically through women I grew up with as teachers in Port Angeles, Washington) is also part of my history, story and identity. I’m thinking about dance class as a container for shift. I’m thinking about dance class as a body of people acting collectively. I’m thinking about dance class as the activity that gets me out of bed, out of my apartment and into myself; a place of joy and challenge. I’m thinking about how dance is also spiritual for me, even though I don’t identify with belonging to a named religious practice. I’m thinking about the importance of a committed physical practice, based in rigor and discipline. I’m thinking about virtuosic movement, and permission to desire “excelling” inside of a form. I’m thinking about how being a person in the world and a dancer are simultaneous realities and how the heart of dance practice is a recognition and practice of existing in multiple simultaneous realities.
My upbringing in the Pacific Northwest infuses a poetics of wistfulness into my work: melancholic affect, grunge aesthetics, and weighty landscapes recur as guiding motifs. Tectonic friction surfaces as I layer nuanced somatic attention with expansive formal dance.The performances that emerge from this collision are chaotic ecosystems of durational movement that challenge the theatrical structure. I use complex spatial patterns and bold physicality to evoke a world of whimsical endurance edging toward euphoria. These works always exist in relation to my past dance training—of which I am in an ongoing process of reevaluation, attempting to build new frameworks for imagining the body. The tension in this reckoning creates the potential for an atmospheric shift: navigating volatile terrain, performer and spectator alike witness the malleability of reality and the liveness of the individual and collective bodies.
My work has been presented by Pieter Performance Space, Danspace Project (DraftWork) , New York Live Arts (Fresh Tracks Artist in Residence), FringeArts, The Current Sessions, Festival International de Teatro Susana Alexander (Mexico), Fleet Moves Dance Festival (Cape Cod), Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (Illinois), the Domestic Performance Agency and extensively in Chicago with institutions such as Links Hall, Chicago Home Theater Festival, Chicago Dance Crash, and The Inconvenience. I was New York Live Arts Fresh Tracks Artist for 2017-18, collaborating on a duet with Jasmine Hearn and an Artist-in-Residence at Brooklyn Studios for Dance (Spring 2018 - Winter 2019). My sensibilities as a choreographer and dancer continue to be shaped by the artists I work with - most recently with Abby Z and the New Utility, Julie Mayo and Stephanie Acosta. Additionally, I have performed and collaborated in the works of The Seldoms, Kristina Isabelle Dance Company, Khecari Dance Theater, The Moving Architects, The Space/Movement Project, The Space We Make, Julie Mayo, Stephanie Acosta, Nico Brown, Sara Gurevich and Erin Kilmurray among others. I hold a BFA from the University of Utah and an MFA from the University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign. In addition to my work as a choreographer, dancer and dance teacher I also work as a freelance pilates and yoga instructor.
my blog > > > S H I M M E R I N G S P A C E
my soundcloud > > > NEVER CALL