Jessica first discovered her love of the performing arts at the age of 10 through musical theater and dance. Growing up in Victoria, she trained primarily in ballet and jazz and participated in local dance festivals as part of Wendy Steen Mitchell Dance’s performing company. She has remained active in the Victoria dance community as a teacher at Pirouette Dance Studio and training at Raino Dance. Jessica first started working with Broken Rhythms in early 2016 and has since been involved in many projects such as Universal Horrors, Giants Door, Theater Under the Gun, Striga Form, and LashBash. She continues to be amazed by the opportunities supplied by Broken Rhythms and looks forward to further developing as a dancer under the company’s direction.
How relevant is this show and how do you think it will speak to people?
“With the current movement to destigmatize and bring greater awareness to mental health issues I think ThySelf is very relevant to the times. Almost all of us have or know someone who has struggled with the anxieties that come with self-identity and listening to one’s inner monologue. Even if you are not someone who struggles clinically, you’ve likely heard that inner voice whether it is telling you you’re not worthy of your success, that everyone is judging you, or that you’re doing amazing and thriving in your current situation. We’ve all heard it, the good and the bad. As Thyself explores the various parts of self and the different roles the inner voice can take on, the audience will see familiar emotions and behaviours. I think people will feel a sense of comfort in that recognition as they are reminded they are not alone in their struggles and that we all endure similar ups and downs as we figure out who we are and how we fit into this crazy world.”
What was the funniest moment during rehearsal of the show?
“Oh man, there are so many hilarious moments with the amazing group of women involved with ThySelf. Granted most of these are when we are all headed towards delirium after long days of rehearsal where coffee, chocolate, and laughing are about the only thing getting us through. One particular moment that stands out was when all of the dancers were struggling with the timing and counts of a particular phrase. As usual Dyana proceeded to breakdown the phrase for us. It started out pretty normal with the phrase being broken down into counts of 8, as dance is usually counted (Sidebar: If you’re someone who has danced with Dyana you will understand the rarity of getting actual counts and not just boom bah gee ha’s out of her). At some point during the phrase, Dyana forwent the traditional counting method and continued past the eight count well into the thirties. As us dancers watched on trying to find clarification we became only more confused as Dyana was madly spouting off numbers. Realizing what was occurring the group proceeded to break into a fit of laughter and bewilderment. As with most funny moments you had to have been there and equally exhausted to truly appreciate the moment. You’ll be relieved to know that once the laughter was contained we proceeded to figure out the true counts of the phrase and have since overcome our struggles.”
Why do you think the art of dance is the most effective in portraying such sensitive material?
“I don’t know about most effective however I do feel dance plays an important part in the portrayal of sensitive material. Unlike many other forms of portrayal, dance doesn’t tend to be as explicit in the message it supplies. The message taken away is formed in part by the viewer’s life experiences as by the dance itself. I believe this allows dance to impact a greater number of people as each person takes away something slightly different and the message is more personal to their experiences and what they know. The subtlety supplied through dance can be extremely beneficial when it comes to sensitive material. Having this material be too in your face can often be off-putting, when an equally powerful message is displayed through dance it can be much more approachable to the viewer. However, that being said there are also many people who are unable to find messages within dance and only take it at face value in which case it is not as effective for those people. As someone who has watched lots of dance I have been on both sides of this from being hugely emotionally moved by a piece to being unable to connect and get anything from a piece. Sometimes this can even be the same piece viewed at different times. For me, this highlights the power of dance and how so much of what you take from a piece is based on what emotional and mental state you are in as a viewer.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years as a performer?
“10 years?! I’m still at the stage of life where I am trying to figure it out 6 months – 1 year at a time. I guess all I can say is that in 10 years I hope that I am still able to find balance within my life to allow dance to play a significant role and that within that role there are still performance opportunities. Two years ago, before starting to dance with Broken Rhythms I never thought I would be dancing and performing at the level I currently am, so who knows what the future holds. The great thing about dance is that through taking classes it is relatively easy for it to remain apart of your life if you so choose. I can’t imagine a time in my life when I am no longer dancing so I think it is safe to say in 10 years I will still be dancing in some capacity no matter where life takes me.”
ThySelf – is the newest piece from Victoria’s innovative indie dance company BR explores anxiety, self-sabotage and identity through dance.
This show is for anyone who has felt lonely in a crowded room or at peace in a moment of solitude.
March 16&17 @7:30 March 17 @2pm
Metro Theatre (1411 Quadra Street)
Get Tickets: http://www.ticketrocket.co/Event/Season/239
Interview: by Sivert Das