Interview with Jessica: Dancing in Missoula

We think conversation is one of the most fun parts of language learning. On Thursdays, we switch languages and ask each other questions to learn more about Tuesday’s topic. Today, Rober interviews Jessica about her resolution to dance more. You can read Jessica’s original post about her dance and improv goals here.

Featured image courtesy of Neva Oliver

Rober: Do you prefer to teach or to take dance classes? Which of these is most interesting for you as a dancer?

Jessica: Up until recently I’ve preferred taking classes rather than teaching them, but in the last few years the idea of teaching has gotten more attractive. One thing I liked about teaching Pilates to individual clients was that I didn’t have to do a lot of preparation beyond thinking of a concept I wanted to work on. A dance class takes a lot more prep work in terms of coming up with phrases and picking music, and the thought of running a drop-in class where you don’t know who will come, is more intimidating. However, I do love teaching movement and teaching dance is a skill I would like to develop. I’ve taken a pretty wide variety of classes in the last few years and I’ve seen how many different ways there are to organize a class, so now it feels like a fun challenge.

Modern dance can vary tremendously and I’ve always struggled to describe it to people. (source)

R: How do you describe the type of dance you usually do? Do you like to dance any other types?

J: I don’t usually feel like I describe it very well. Modern dance developed in the early 20th century at least in part as a rejection to ballet’s set movement vocabulary and restrictive costumes. I think it’s difficult to understand modern dance without having at least some idea of what came before and what it is not. Similarly, the dance that you find in contemporary classes is heavily influenced by postmodernism, which, again, is defined by a rejection to the structures and artifice of the modern dance that came before. Really, the main thing that unites the type of dance classes I often come across is an attempt to push boundaries and break previous habits. It can be a little pretentious feeling, but it’s also really fun to explore on a theoretical level. As far as aesthetic, contemporary dance involves a lot of weight shifts, and level changes (i.e. moving down to the floor and back up). I’ve danced a lot of other types of dance over time. I really like taking ballet classes and in the last few years, Jacob and I have been into Lindy Hop.  

R: Does Missoula have any upcoming/recent events related to dance?

J: Yes, there are quite a few performances and social dances that take place on a regular basis. The day after I got back from New York, there was a film festival, curated and produced by Bare Bait Dance, Missoula’s only professional dance company. They accepted films from all over the world, and while about a third of the shorts were from the United States, there were several from other countries… the Netherlands, Canada, Spain, and others. I’m a big fan of dance for film because I think it adds a lot to dance to be able to add a concrete setting. In addition, dance films often feature a wider range of ages, bodies, and and dance styles than you would see in an average live dance concert.

The program for Kinetoscope doubled as a ballot to vote for your favorite film.

R: Where can you take dance classes in Missoula?

J: The pickings are pretty slim for adults if you’re looking for ballet or contemporary classes, just a few ballet classes and the Bare Bait company class. However, there are several other types of dance classes, such as West African, Argentine Tango, and Swing. There is one dance center owned by one of my dance teachers from high school. And there are several studios for kids and teens where adults sometimes take classes. Finally, the University of Montana has a strong dance program that sometimes offers classes for the community.

During a class at Mountain Dance Fest at the University this summer (source: Neva Oliver)

R: Do you have any other resolutions for this year apart from the dance ones?

J: I do, but my dance one is the most fleshed out now thanks to writing this week’s article! At the end of last year, I set up a metalsmithing workspace at my house, so one of my resolutions this year is to improve my jewelry making skills and sell some jewelry at local events. Another resolution, along the same lines as the dance one, is to work on improvising on the piano. I’ve played on and off since I was in middle school and while I’m ok at playing from sheet music, I would like to learn how to play in social settings so I could jam with other musicians.

The beginnings of my jewelry workspace

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