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, originally from the Olympic Peninsula (Port Angeles, WA). My creative work manifests from my dancing and takes shape in choreographed work, photography, collage, creative writing and sound design. I think of my process as mercurial and shape shifting and when I’m making a dance, I am constructing and distilling an atmosphere that rides parallel to the work. I immerse myself in a process of dance training, continuously interested in the materiality of the body and the invitation from dancing into magical thinking and fantasy. When I look at my creative work, I see slippage, blurry foggy chaos, melancholy, collaged limbs.
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 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, hierarchy and class. I’m thinking about what form my dance practice takes as I reflect on the kinesthetic history of my movement and what it looks like to continually “read” my 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 the lineage of teachers I am indebted to. I’m thinking about how ideas move through my body. 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. I’m thinking about the importance of a committed physical practice, based in rigor and discipline. I’m thinking about what dance can do.
My upbringing in the Pacific Northwest infuses my work: wet and sliding landscapes, saturated forests, weighted darkness, grunge aesthetics, looming fault lines/pending earthquakes. All these sensations influence the way I understand my body, my relationship to time how I engage with my imagination. The performances I make emerge from this collision childhood landscape and emergent adult present reality. I think of my creative work as chaotic ecosystems, challenged by histories of dance training, whimsical curiosity, a capacity for endurance. 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