Professional Contemporary Dance
Influenced greatly by the practices of Vinyasa yoga and meditation, Skinner Releasing Technique, Body-Mind Centering, and the philosophy of Henri Bergson, Jessie’s classes focus on tuning awareness within the colorful modulations of the dancing body; to nurture clarity and specificity while dancing.
Jessie approaches moving with playful curiosity and wonder. Equally captivated by the experiences of stillness and exuberant motion, her in-class exercises permeably shift between sweaty athleticism and mindful research, via the lens of somatic awareness, improvisation, set phrase work, and compositional frameworks.
Improvisation into Phrase Work
Drawing on somatic investigations to inform dancing, this class begins with an invitation to attend to inward sensation. Somatic exploration leads to structured improvisation through the space. The class culminates in led phrase work which aims to guide the practitioner to arrive into and out of form, so that the dance happens at the cusp of where insides and outsides meet. Dancers are invited to study the dancing body from the inside out through doing, "developing an inverted sense of muscles, tendons, heart valves, and lung cavities… coming to live the opening and closing of these corporeal zones as we do with external limbs" (Morley, 2001, p. 76).
Somatically-informed Vinyasa Yoga
Jessie teaches a somatically-informed vinyasa flow yoga class which focuses on building strength, stability, and flexibility. She draws on her experience as a dancer/somatic movement practitioner to develop classes which condition and increase anatomical awareness of the physical body. Sequences are designed to weave postures gracefully together in an anatomically sound and intuitively easeful manner, subtly leading the practitioner to employ movement as a way to heal, restore, and express one’s inner landscape.
The use of metaphors and imagery are key methods of Jessie’s teaching style which serve the purpose of guiding her students to a deep, subjective understanding of how the techniques and philosophies underpinning the practice apply to them as individuals. She encourages depth of understanding over superficiality: quality versus quantity.
The pace of the class generally includes a quiet time of transition from the business-like execution of every day life into the mindful space of the mat. Tapas (Sanskrit: heat/self discipline) is employed and internal fire builds quickly as the physicality of the practice intensifies. The culmination of this meditative fire finds resolution in the final moments of relaxation, observation and reflection, leaving students energized and thoughtful, prepared to step back out into the hum of life encased by the energy that their very own body-mind cultivated as a glowing membrane of radiance.
Yoga+Dance Lab© is a technique class which combines vinyasa (flowing) yoga asana (postures) with contemporary dance moves. This class is suitable for intermediate-advanced level movement practitioners. We start with a 30 minute dynamic vinyasa warm up which moves like a stream of conscious flow with no beginning and no end. Specific postures will be called out one after another by the instructor which are practiced on the mat as a group. Once the sweat is nicely flowing and the blood is adequately pumping, we break quickly to grab some water, remove the mats, and start to take the asanas into traveling sequences through the space. Turns, jumps, balances, and floor work weave together one posture after another with seamless transition, culminating in a sweeping, luscious flow that deeply connects body and mind through breath: a true moving meditation. This practice is nourishing for the physiology and the spirit.
My current research consists of inquiry-led embodied practice which is developed through improvisation, exploring auditory-tactile synesthesia and misophonia. This research informs my teaching practice of leading other practitioners through embodied investigation.
Jessie’s improvisation class explores aspects of synesthesia and misophonia through the form of scores which are devised to tune into the phenomenological experience of breathing and its vibrational resonance through the fascial network. This encourages a deep physiological letting go, a process that leads the dancer to render her fleshy body ‘accessible’ and ‘available’.
As the class progresses, the dancer takes the enlivened fleshy body into motion. She traces the reverberation of the body’s subtle energies throughout its various physical parts, pausing to hold attention in spaces which desire to be further explored, experientially building the body’s internal architecture by tracing its own resonance.
Finally, the work culminates by translating these ideas into working with a partner. It is through touch that the dancers encounter each other and carry on the previous research into larger moving. Emphasis is brought to attending to the moment-to-moment qualitative shifts of sensorial experience and to interrogating that experience by shifting intensity, connecting and disconnecting, and going with or resisting.