Choreography

i lost my identity

Posted on: January 6, 2017

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I recently stumbled upon a Ted Talk while browsing facebook and it spoke to me in volumes. I’m not going to discuss it too much but if you would like to check it out you can do so here! Basically she spelled out everything I have been feeling lately and helped me feel valid in what I was experiencing. I also came across an article stating that our “online world” is a little too perfect, so I will let you behind the curtain a little bit today. With that being said, you’ve been warned and are free to read on or pass by. But I hope you’ll stay because real talk is important!

I’ve been tied to my title as a “dancer” for as long as I can remember and I find myself a little lost without it. My success, failures, struggles, and triumphs all existed in that realm and I’m not sure I ever had to find myself outside of that. Anyone seen the Disney movie Inside Out? If you have, you could say I have two really large islands. One is labeled “family” (self explanatory) and the other labeled “dancer” which contains everything else. So when Dancer island falters, so does the rest of my world.

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I would assume most of us go through this at some point but basically it’s a crisis of identity. Am I important without “I’m Jessie and I’m a Dancer”? Can it just be “I’m Jessie”? Is “I’m Jessie” enough? I’m not asking if it’s enough for you. I’m asking if it is enough for me. Can I feel accomplished, special, and proud of myself without that title?

You may be asking yourself, “why is she freaking out? she’s not done forever, and she freakin lives in spain! What a dream!” Your right. Spain is dreamy! I will agree with you there, but this is no vacation. Vacation is when you get to forget about your life and come back to it a week or two later refreshed. This is life my now. This is my everyday! This is where I want, no need, to find myself. Redefine what my day to day purpose is and what fills my cup. I strongly believe we have to fill our own cup before others can help us fill the last few drops.

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So begins the research. What are my interests and can I expand them here? Of course I can. What have I been itching to achieve that I know how the time and space to do so?  In what ways can I fill the need to create? It may be a good start to learn Spanish so I can easily grocery shop, or maybe I’ll take a course on our new fancy camera. The moral of the story is this….I’m a little lost and that is A-Okay. We have to be a little lost to be found right? What a chance I have before me to discover so many new ideas, hobbies, and skills i’ve never tapped into.

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love and my new favorite Big Magic, quoted Jack Gilbert and his advice to his students saying: “He asked his students to be brave. Without bravery, he instructed, they would never be able to realize the vaulting scope of their own capacities. Without bravery, they would never know the world as richly as it longs to be know. Without bravery, their lives would remain small-far smaller than they probably wanted their lives to be.”

So bravery may be my word for life, not just last year. And brave I shall (try) to be!

xoxo

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SYTYCD for kids?

Posted on: February 9, 2016

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Have you seen the news? Fox has renewed So You Think You Can Dance for another season. The only twist is you have to be between the ages of 8-13 to audition. I’ll repeat that. 8-13 years of age everyone.

While its exciting for that group of kids its disgusting to me as a professional.  The importance of “fame” is valued too greatly in the dance world. These kids look to a reality show for their inspiration and career aspirations. What happened to buying a ticket to the ballet, or the latest professional company that is rolling through town? Daily training full of success and failures. Blood sweat and tears. Not a makeup team telling you which camera to play to.

This isn’t to discount the talent of any dancer that has previously been on the show. I myself auditioned and had a great experience. I know many past contestants and they are fabulous professionals. That’s just it though, they are professionals. I can’t imagine the pressure and mental stress these little dancers will face with the america telling them if they are good enough. It’s worrisome.

Overall, I miss the good ol days without youtube, instagram, and reality tv.  The days of hard work, kickin your butt in class, supporting your friends, and creating true art. What happened to all that? I miss art and it’s our jobs to create it without the pay off of “fame”.

xoxo

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What Am I Afraid Of?

Posted on: January 4, 2016

Jesse by joseph@josephspelman.com 2015-09-23 (15)Ever wonder why the blog goes silent for awhile? I’ll tell you. I don’t have much to say on those days and I don’t want to fill your feed with froo froo posts just to say I’m posting often. I’ve repeated over and over again how I want this space to honest, real, and a peek into a dancers life, so let’s  keep it there for today. Here comes another deep dancer post…don’t complain I didn’t warn you 🙂

Did you catch that? I just tried to get you to skip this post because I am afraid.  Not afraid of the boogie monster or zombies, although I probably should be, I’m afraid of failure.  You may be wondering why I chose to be a dancer then? Failure is more common than success and I didn’t step into this career blind about it. I knew I would get cut at 100 auditions before booking one, or fail in class multiple times.

This doesn’t scare me.  I’m not afraid of messing up in class, getting cut at an audition, or falling on stage.  I’m simply afraid of disappointing others. Why should I care about others? I shouldn’t.

I had a teacher tell me just the other day that I’ve got to figure out how to let go. “Screw perfect” she said. I get that and I am always preaching to my students the same principle. Perfect is boring.  How the heck do I let go? Is it just that easy? I’ll take any and all available tips!

Apparently not for me. I like to be in control. Control of my schedule, control of my job, and control of my body. Well its 2016 and it’s time for a change.

Have you ever heard the story of Icarus? To sum it up Icarus and his father attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax. Icarus’s father warns him first of complacency and then of hubris, asking that he fly neither too low nor too high, so the sea’s dampness would not clog his wings or the sun’s heat melt them. Icarus ignored his father’s instructions not to fly too close to the sun, whereupon the wax in his wings melted and he fell into the sea.

The first time I heard this story I was only told half. I believed the story to only contain a warning of being too confident and flying too close to the sun.  It recently came to my attention I had not heard the entire story.  Icarus is also warned of flying too low. Has anyone ever warned you of flying too low? Probably not and I’ll tell you why.  It’s easy for the media, society, and culture to warn us of getting over confident and flying to high. They’d like us to fly to low. Flying to low keeps us from gaining wings to fly at our highest. I had the opportunity to sit an listen to Seth Godin a few months back and he shared another analogy I loved. We gain nothing from standing on the edge of a cliff. But if we run and jump we either fly or find our wings on the way down.

I spent 2015 standing on the edge afraid of failure and I refuse to spend 2016 the same way. Although I may crash a burn, an artist never holds back. I’m going to brave and I invite you to do the same.

Happy New year friends!

xoxo

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What You Get When You Hire a Choreographer

Posted on: August 20, 2015

What exactly are you paying for when hiring a guest choreographer? Well, I’m here to tell you and give you a small peek behind the curtain!  As a free lance choreographer and teacher I spend most of my time traveling to studios nationwide. A studio normally reaches out to the choreographer of choice and communicates how much and what type of work they are looking for.  Solos, duos, trios, small groups, large groups and sometimes even production numbers.  It’s then determined what style is needed for the competition season. I usually choreograph Jazz, lyrical, or contemporary pieces, but mostly contemporary!

11781720_10207057776899981_2440039941958660770_nDates are set and flights are booked. Now what? Well I spend hours pouring over music waiting for something to inspire me.  I can’t create without a song that speaks to me and shows me exactly how the piece should go.  I am a big believer in each piece having a specific intention and story. Once the song is selected and the studio approves, I usually have to cut it to meet the under 3 min requirement.  I edit all of my music since it is sometimes stressful sending it out to someone else.  That usually takes a bit of time and dedication at my computer to make it sound how I want it to.

I then spend time brainstorming concepts and ideas.  Sometimes that entails props, costume design, staging etc. Every choreographers process is different but I can’t create much more than a chorus unless I am in the studio with the dancers.  I need to feel the energy in the space and get and idea of what they can and can’t do. I won’t be the one on stage so it should feel good on their bodies, not mine.  Most parents and studio directors only see the in studio process but there is so much more that happens behind the scenes.

I love what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  It can be a long and hard process with months of traveling but creating art fuels my soul and I consider myself extremely lucky to call this my job.

xoxo

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I can’t do all the things….

Posted on: July 13, 2015

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This one may get a little churchy so consider yourself warned. I was sitting in church sunday and wasn’t feeling well.  I made it through sacrament meeting, then sunday school, and considered heading home for the 3rd meeting.  Sunday school ended and I about stood up to go but decided I could last a little longer.  The teacher walked over and handed me a quote to read during the lesson.  I couldn’t leave now.

The lesson began and it was about love.  Pure Christ like love.  Most of the lesson was pulled from talks by Cheicko Okazaki.  She has numerous books and spoke a lot for our church but I had never heard of her previous to the lesson.  I glanced down to the quote and of course it was everything I needed to hear.  It’s no coincidence she had me read the following from her talk.

“We need to love ourselves. Remember that in a gospel sense love means and unconditional desire for the eternal well-being of a soul. Do we feel that we’re worthy of such an unconditional regard? Not just someday. Not just if we do everything on the list.  But right now? The lord is my helper.  I can go to him.  He loves me and wants an eternity of good things for me.  But he also wants to give me seconds, and minutes, and hours of good things right now. This is true for you, too. He’s not waiting for us to become perfect before we can be happy.  We can take our time. We can enjoy ourselves. We can consult our own needs and wants. We can forgive ourselves for what we can’t do, and we can be patient about the things we can’t do yet.  We can lighten up and stop punishing ourselves by thinking we have to do it all.”

Pretty heavy stuff right? The conversation went on and we touched upon the pressure that we all feel to be perfect. The pressure to be the best house wife, blogger, photographer, killer abs, dancer, choreographer, best dressed… and the list goes on and on and on.

Celebs look perfect from the outside and so do the Jones’ next door.  The reality is we are all fighting our own battles and sometimes I can only do one thing on the list.  That should be enough. Why do we beat ourselves up at the end of the day? So what dinner isn’t done? At least the laundry is! I’m ok with that! I can’t do all the things but I’ll try my best.  If it’s enough for God, it’s certainly enough for me.

xoxo

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Type Casted Cut

Posted on: April 22, 2015

Another peek behind the curtain into the dance world. I hope you aren’t sick of “dance world” posts yet or else you are in the wrong corner of the internet 🙂 Someone asked me a funny question last night and it sparked my interest to write.  They said “so now that you have an agent, should you have booked a job by now?” I don’t think this person was asking to be pushy or rude just an honest question.  I explained what I am about to explain to all of you.

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Thankfully there is a lot of opportunity in LA for dancers right now and a lot of different paths to take. I decided if I am going to be in LA I should explore as many avenues as I can.  Exploring the commercial side is a bit tricker than I am used to.  It comes with a lot more than just dancing. Professional headshots, bodyshots, and dance photos like the one above (terrified to post it so don’t judge) and stepping into auditions and stepping out 5 minutes later.  Type casting is the largest part of the commercial world. Height, weight, eye color, hair color, skin color, body type etc… I usually walk into an audition and walk out minutes later after not being the right type.  Kind of a bummer but it is what it is and no time wasted.

Its a lot. It’s a lot for me to handle most of the time and I’m learning how to deal with it. What I want the outside world to know is that it’s simple.  50 auditions and you may only book two. It takes time and lots of work to get what you want out here.  I guess you could say I am learning patience and self confidence.  Its not easy to walk in and walk right out but every time it gets a little easier.  Getting cut is no reflection on how good of a person I am or sometimes even my talent! There isn’t a ton I can change about myself but there is always room to grow and improve.  Especially in class! I feel so lucky to be here because this is the place to do just that.  This is the place to change and grow regardless of how many jobs I may or may not book.

xoxo

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Stand Up For Art

Posted on: April 18, 2015

 

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I sat down to write this post and found myself browsing the internet instead.  I haven’t been inspired to write lately and I think it’s because I am so frustrated with the dance world right now. I’m being a little dramatic to categorize my feelings into the entire dance world but I think it boils down the the publics opinion on dance.  Thanks to youtube, instagram, and access to unlimited video, art is slowly fading away.  No one attends live performances anymore and reality TV stars have become more important than great thinkers and artists. I’m no internet bully hiding behind my computer. I respect and often times am impressed by the talent I see on shows like Dance Moms, SYTYCD, and Dancing With The Stars. Many close friends have participated on these shows and have had great success. I sit here to question the value of those shows. I’ve auditioned for SYTYCD and actually got through vegas week.  Its was hard but an amazing opportunity to be dancing along side americas best.  The only problem was that the producers and judges were only interested in my back story or if I could do cool tricks.  I stood there as a nervous 19 year old as the judges proceeded to tell me I lacked personality.  Am I not interesting enough as a dancer? What about as a human being? What about as an artist? Is art defined by the amount of turns I can do or how flexible I am? I certainly hope not because I won’t get very far if that’s the case.  Art is exploration, not perfection. Art is visual. Art is human expression.

You may be offended to hear this but little dancers on stage in chin stands and scorpions does nothing for my soul! Flips and tricks is old news guys.  Where is their room for real dancers in this industry? The world believes dance is about the wow factor and perfect dancer bodies.  It’s not.  It’s about pushing the boundaries of what’s been done and challenging our bodies past their limits. I wish the world could see what goes on in the studio and the magic that happens there. Why is it so hard for you to hire me without a famous name or TV show under my belt?  Is my talent enough? It’s sad that some of the most brilliant dancers I know are turned away SYTYCD or America’s Got Talent because they didn’t show off cool tricks on stage.  Boring! Or they didn’t have an inspiring enough back story.  That boggles my mind. Everyone has fought their own personal battles, large or small, let it be about dance! Because I’ve lived a “normal life” and have a normal girl body type I won’t make it in this business. I refuse to believe that. I stand up for art and my craft.  Its about time the rest of the world does too…

xoxo

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When I’m Not Blogging

Posted on: March 2, 2015

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How about that new headshot?! Do I look like I could book a disney audition? Let’s sure hope so! This LA dance world is so silly sometimes. Let’s move on…

Hello to all my new readers! Welcome welcome! Although I am not an everyday blogger, I don’t have a lot of important things to say daily, many of you newbies may wonder what I do behind the scenes.

Well…

When I’m not blogging you can find me catching up on my favorite shows while I clean or cook.  I’m not sure why but I can’t handle the silence of an empty house.  I like to have background noise while I clean and get things done.  Silence is a little off putting to me!

When I’m not blogging you can find me digging through itunes and spotify for new music.  As a choreographer and teacher I am always on the search for new material to inspire me!

When I’m not blogging I’m working part time at lululemon athletica.  Yes, it is VERY dangerous for my paycheck considering that’s all I wear.

When I’m not blogging I am bumping around my kitchen working on choreography. Its the only space large enough in our apartment and it conveniently has wood flooring. The puppies seem to think they need to be involved as well.

When I’m not blogging I am on a plane.  I seriously need an apartment at the airport because I seem to be there way to often.  Its bittersweet because when I travel I am usually headed to a studio and I LOVE those trips, but I don’t love the airport.

When I’m not blogging I’m running the puppies out to piddle.  Their bladders are way to small.

When I’m not blogging you can find me in class. Dance, yoga, pilates, you name it!  I love LA for this reason! It’s always humbling, but if I could be paid to take class that would be a dream.

When I’m not blogging you can catch my husband and I eating homestyle flavored popcorn, in front of netflix, and surfing amazon. We are proud amazon prime members.  If you aren’t prime you should look into that:)

When I’m not blogging you can catch me surfing my favorite blog for DIY home decor and wishing I was that creative. They’re pretty creative over there:)

Life behind the scenes may not be terribly exciting but it’s the life I love.

xoxo

p.s. did you enter the J Crew giveaway?!

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New Artist Round Up

Posted on: February 12, 2015

 Hi all! Not sure if I have mentioned this before but if I wasn’t a dancer, I would’ve been a musician.  I have no idea if I am musically inclined since I jumped into dance as a baby but music affects me almost more than dance does.  Dance doesn’t happen without music first.  Without the hard work of the artist, dance doesn’t mean a whole lot.  I’m so affected by lyric choice, instruments, and overall sound.  I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites as of late. Some aren’t exactly brand new, but new to my favorite playlists!

PicMonkey Collage1. Jack Garratt. 2. Chet Faker. 3. Purtity Ring. 4. Of Rust And Bone. 4. Laura Welsh. 5. Vaults. 6. Lewis Watson. 7. Son Lux. 8. Laurel.

xoxo

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Booty Rolls

Posted on: January 27, 2015

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Yes you read that right. Booty rolls. Hair whips. Crop tops. High heels.

I made a goal with the new year to take at least two classes a week that are completely out of my comfort zone. I’m pretty comfortable in a hip hop class but ask me to be girly or whip my hair and I shrivel like a raisin.

Not saying that the only classes out here are sassy and girly, there are many styles, but if I am going to start auditioning I should learn to get comfortable in any setting. Since I am indeed a girl, being girly may be something I should be comfortable with, don’t you think?

Scary right? But I think it’s kinda fun. Who knows if I am making a fool of myself in those classes as a little white girl but I’m going for it. Thankfully, I’m still an individual and can make choices about what I allow myself to do. So no, I’m not saying because I live here I have to be whipping my hair all the time but I do need to push myself.

Jumping into a contemporary, jazz, and some hip hop classes I usually can hold my own but i’ve taken some classes lately that have really put me out of my box….I branched out and took class from a teacher I wasn’t familiar with and everyone around me was equally amazing.  I secretly just wanted to sit in the back and watch. The level of talent out here is insane!

What’s that quote about living outside your comfort zone? if you know it please do share because it needs to be my motto!

xoxo

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