Tag Archives: Contemporary Dance

Unveiling Jessica Chen (Artistic Director)

Meet Jessica Chen...

if I could have a superpower... I would fly

my first production

Q:  Where are you from?  A:  I was raised in Hacienda Heights, California.  I started school in Taiwan.  I grew up in Santa Barbara at UCSB.  I found my life in New York, New York

Q:  What is your favorite ice cream?  A:  Mint Chip and Mocha

Q:  What is one interesting fact about you?  A:  I sailed around the world when I was 19 and on my adventures I rented a moped for $8 in Vietnam, went sky-diving in South Africa, spent two days in a hut in India and went to a futbol match in Rio.

Q:  How did you start dancing?  A:  My parents forced me to go to Saturday Chinese School and I fought them until I found the dance classes there, where I was introduced to Chinese Folk dance.

Q:  What inspires you?  A:  Beautiful things catch my eye.   Great music can shift my mood.  I pay attention and what I see and hear inspire me.

Q:  Who is your ‘artist crush’?  A:  Michael Jackson, despite everything else he moved and inspired people to be dancers and singers

Q:  Top three people you want to dance for.  A:  Larry Keigwin, Madonna, Benjamin Levy (people that move people and will move me)

Q: How do you prepare on the day of a performance?  A:  I make sure I sleep well (which is sometimes hard because of the excitement), eat a good breakfast, check to see if I have everything I need for the performance, warm up and most importantly breathe and focus my energy.

Q:  Besides dance, what do you do?  A:  I love to travel and find adventure.  I am also fascinated with photography and fashion.

Q: What is your favorite saying? (Example; everything happens for a reason?)   A:  Be clear for what you ask for.

Q: What advice do you have for up and coming dancers in NYC?  A:  Make your own rules and just be authentic in what you do.  You never know what a choreographer is looking for, so just be true to yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself.  Be conscious of the choices you make, the people you associate yourself with and even the people you work for.  Don’t dance or take a job for the fame or reputation, take it because it will help you grow as an artist.

Photo by: Quinn Batson

*’ Unveil the Cast’ is a weekly blog entry that tells the story of one of our cast members.  Learn about the mask they created as well as their hobbies and interests and how long they have been a fierce dancer.  Be sure to buy a ticket to our show and do not miss this opportunity to see us in action!

Unveil the Cast: Jessica Chen

Meet ‘Silver Lining.’  Just like my name, I tend to find the silver lining in many situations.  I see the best in people (which can be a good thing, but also a bad things sometimes).                                                                                                                

Purple is the royal color and my favorite color.  It represents my good luck.  I have had a very blessed life, with many adventures and journeys along the way.  The black dots represent a dab of darkness that follows me around.  They are there because I would never describe my life to be perfect or trouble free.        

The rhinestones that come from my right eye and continue to expand represent all the beauty I see in the world.  One of my precious gifts in this world is the ability to create beautiful things…..

Click here to SPONSOR ‘SILVER LINING’  http://www.jchenproject.com/J_Chen_Project/Support.html

*’ Unveil the Cast’ is a weekly blog entry that tells the story of one of our cast members.  Learn about the mask they created as well as their hobbies and interests and how long they have been a fierce dancer.  Be sure to buy a ticket to our show and do not miss this opportunity to see us in action!

Unveil the Cast: Misato Hayashi

Meet ‘Mother Earth.’  Her creator is our Rehearsal Director, Misato Hayashi.  Misato travelled from Kyoto, Japan three years ago to join the dance community in NYC.  This March, her country was hit by a massive tsunami and several earthquakes.  This shook her to her core and she was forced to reevaluate her life and what she wants to make of it…

She has created ‘Mother Earth,’ which is dedicated to her country, Japan.  The blue represents the ocean.  The green represents the earth.  She is currently celebrating getting accepted for her Artist Visa to stay in the US.  She plans to continue her life as a dancer and use that gift to make a difference in the world.

“For me, it’s not about dancing for a big company on a big stage necessarily.  I want to give back to my community.  I want to tell stories through dance.  I want to find more ways to express myself.  I want to inspire others to do the same…”

Click here to SPONSOR ‘MOTHER EARTH’  http://www.jchenproject.com/J_Chen_Project/Support.html

*’ Unveil the Cast’ is a weekly blog entry that tells the story of one of our cast members.  Learn about the mask they created as well as their hobbies and interests and how long they have been a fierce dancer.  Be sure to buy a ticket to our show and do not miss this opportunity to see us in action!

Unveil the Cast: Flannery Houston

Meet ‘Flo.’  I have a tendency to go where the winds may take me.  Flo has a lot of material that was placed in a way to signify a flow of energy almost as the currents in a stream.  

I also feel like the strawberry mark on the right side of my face is a defining physical characteristic that helped shape me as a person.  It always made me feel unique as a child.  Sometimes that was a good things, sometimes that was not….

Click here to SPONSOR ‘FLOW’  http://www.jchenproject.com/J_Chen_Project/Support.html

*’ Unveil the Cast’ is a weekly blog entry that tells the story of one of our cast members.  Learn about the mask they created as well as their hobbies and interests and how long they have been a fierce dancer.  Be sure to buy a ticket to our show and do not miss this opportunity to see us in action!

Unveiling Rie Hatanaka

Meet Rie

Q:  Where are you from?  A:  Im from Mie, Japan.

Q:  What is your favorite ice cream?  A: Strawberry Ice cream!!!

Q:  How did you start dancing?  A: I went to see my friend’s ballet performance when I was 5 years old and I wanted to wear the pretty costume so after the show I told my mother that I want to start dance.

Q:  What inspires you?  A: Being around People!!

Q:  Who is your ‘artist crush’?  A: Sylvie Guillem! I watched documentary TV when I was little and I was shocked how strong she is!!

Q:  Top three people you want to dance for.  A: Complexitions,  Darrell Grand Moultrie, Lion King

Q: How do you prepare on the day of a performance?  A: Take ballet class and relax.

Q:  Besides dance, what do you do?  A: I do babysit, teach, bake, handicrafts and go crazy with my friends:)

Q: What is your favorite saying? (Example; everything happens for a reason?)    A: “Just smile!”

Q: What advice do you have for up and coming dancers in NYC?  A: I know its not easy life but go for it!! You have to follow your dream!!:)

*’ Unveil the Cast’ is a weekly blog entry that tells the story of one of our cast members.  Learn about the mask they created as well as their hobbies and interests and how long they have been a fierce dancer.  Be sure to buy a ticket to our show and do not miss this opportunity to see us in action!

Unveil the Cast: Rie Hatanaka

Meet ‘Erica.’  Erica is my second name that I made.  I use that name when I order food and I use it as a secret name.  When I put my mask on I take on another personality and another side of me comes out.  I feel like I can express myself more behind my mask.

Click here to SPONSOR ‘ERICA’  http://www.jchenproject.com/J_Chen_Project/Support.html

*’ Unveil the Cast’ is a weekly blog entry that tells the story of one of our cast members.  Learn about the mask they created as well as their hobbies and interests and how long they have been a fierce dancer.  Be sure to buy a ticket to our show and do not miss this opportunity to see us in action!

Unveiling Brendan Drake

Meet Brendan Drake

Q:  Where are you from?  A: Born and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts

Q:  What is your favorite ice cream?  A: Cherry Garcia from Ben and Jerry’s

Q:  How did you start dancing?  A: I started taking tap dance classes when I was about 11. Moved on to jazz and modern in high school and eventually made my way to a ballet class in college.

Q:  What inspires you?  A: Individuality and confidence. Anyone who can create something and stand by it no matter how risky is OK in my book

Q:  Who is your ‘artist crush’?  A: Eiko and Koma. If you haven’t seen their work, its surreal. Also, Sheryl Murakami. She teaches street jazz at Broadway Dance Center and I’ve never taken her class but I’m obsessed with her YouTube Channel

Q:  Top three people you want to dance for.  A: Bill T Jones, Susan Marshall, Doug Elkins

Q: How do you prepare on the day of a performance?  A: Lots of rest, a ballet barre or maybe yoga. Although this is New York so there’s a good chance that on the day of a performance I’ll have a million things to do before my call.

Q:  Besides dance, what do you do?  A: I’m getting back into painting again. I used to be really into it until I went to college but I’m back in the habit.

Q:  What is a good story that describes your personality?  A: I was on vacation in Ireland with my family when I was very little (about 3 or 4). My mom and dad kept telling me to pose for the camera. I thought they were saying “toes for the camera,” so there are now all these photos of me in front of these old Irish castles jetting my leg out to show my toes. It basically looks like I’m doing a layback, so I consider it fate that I’m now a professional dancer.

Q: What is your favorite saying? (Example; everything happens for a reason?)    A: not really into sayings but I’m a firm believer in karma.

Q: What advice do you have for up and coming dancers in NYC?  A: do your research and know your strengths! There are a lot of dancers in this city and every one of them has the potential to become a commodity but you have to know who you are and what you can bring to the arts world. you also have to know where you fit in as a dancer and find a way to become apart of that community.

*’ Unveil the Cast’ is a weekly blog entry that tells the story of one of our cast members.  Learn about the mask they created as well as their hobbies and interests and how long they have been a fierce dancer.  Be sure to buy a ticket to our show and do not miss this opportunity to see us in action!

Unveil the Cast: Brendan Drake

Meet ‘Instinct.’  I choose to keep all the activity of the mesh coming from the upper right side of the brain, mostly because I tend to ‘live in my head.’  I am a bit of an escapist and I am very much a right brain thinker.  

Much of the decor choice were impulsive as I tend to act on my first instincts in most situations.  One thing I noticed when I finished the plastering portion of the mask making was that the face seemed to naturally be smiling. =)

Click here to SPONSOR ‘INSTINCT’  http://www.jchenproject.com/J_Chen_Project/Support.html

*’ Unveil the Cast’ is a weekly blog entry that tells the story of one of our cast members.  Learn about the mask they created as well as their hobbies and interests and how long they have been a fierce dancer.  Be sure to buy a ticket to our show and do not miss this opportunity to see us in action!

Unveiling Bryant Henderson

Meet Bryant Henderson

Q:  Where are you from?  A:  Sylacauga, Alabama.  Home of Jim Nabors and the World’s Whitest Marble!

Q:  What is your favorite ice cream?  A:  I typically don’t like ice cream because it’s too cold, but on the rare occasion I eat some I prefer Blue Bell’s Cookies n’ Cream.

Q:  What is one interesting fact about you?  A:   I’m named after the famous college football coach, Paul William “Bear” Bryant, and appeared in People magazine for it.

Q:  How did you start dancing?  A:   My mother enrolled me in dance classes when I was 4 years old.  She continued taking me and eventually I couldn’t be pulled away from the studio.

Q:  What inspires you?  A:   My friends and family are my inspiration to continue pursuing my dreams of dancing.  I speak with them daily about the choices I’ve made in my life and why I am where I am.  Moreover, a huge part of what keeps me going is simply the desire to move and educate.  I aspire to be a college professor of dance and constantly yearn to educate and pass on my passion for and knowledge of my art form.

Q:  Who is your ‘artist crush’?  A:  Tyce Diorio

Q:  Top three people you want to dance for.  A:   MOMIX, River North Chicago, Paul Taylor

Q: How do you prepare on the day of a performance?  A:  Performance days are my favorite!  I’m most relaxed on the day of a show because I feel at “home” when I’m on the stage.  I get a good night’s rest the night before, and eat breakfast the morning of the show.  Once at the theatre, I do a warm-up by myself with my iPod in my ears relaxing to some easy listening.  Right before I enter the stage, I do some cardio to get my body hyped for the performance.

Q:  Besides dance, what do you do?  A:   Besides dance, I work as an Expert for Apple, Inc.  I have a passion for technology; especially its implementation in dance and performance.   I also enjoy getting lost in the city and finding new places to eat, run, and explore with friends.

Q:  What is a good story that describes your personality?  A:   When I was in NYC for the first time I regretfully had to visit the Emergency Room.  When I arrived, despite being in significant pain, I tried to remain calm and polite.  I checked in with the registration nurse using my “Yes Ma’am’s and No Thank you’s”!  After all the paper work was completed the nurse asked, “Just where are you from?” I said, “Alabama, why?”  She said, “Because no one ever comes in here with such a pleasant disposition and uses those manners!” I simply replied, “I’m just a southern boy!”

Q: What is your favorite saying? (Example; everything happens for a reason?)  A:  “It’s better to regret the things you have done, rather than regret the things you haven’t”

Q: What advice do you have for up and coming dancers in NYC?  A:  Persistency is the key!! Every dancer has heard “you’ll get a thousand No’s before you get one yes”.  This statement is so true.  You can’t get discouraged even after numerous cuts.  Continuously seek out performance, choreography, and teaching experiences even if it seems like something that might not be right up your ally.  Allow yourself to try something new.  Also, understandably it’s difficult to take class, go to rehearsals, audition, and work all at the same time.  Realize that rehearsals and auditions are often just as integral in maintaining your dancer physique as well as building you as a performance ready dancer.

*’ Unveil the Cast’ is a weekly blog entry that tells the story of one of our cast members.  Learn about the mask they created as well as their hobbies and interests and how long they have been a fierce dancer.  Be sure to buy a ticket to our show and do not miss this opportunity to see us in action!

Unveil the Cast: Bryant Henderson

Meet ‘Intrepid.’  Just like my personality, I wanted my mask to have bold and unique features.  I chose the silver base to give a clean pallet for my accented features to ‘pop’ off of.  The vibrant red that surrounds the eyes is a striking feature, besides the fact it’s one of my favorite colors.  

The black jewels as the headband represents strength and knowledge, because I consider myself as a valuable resource to my peers.  The silver jewels that line the cheeks are to show my softer sides and my bubbly personality.  Characteristics such as compassion, love, selflessness, and wit are represented by these.  

Finally the copper head piece…..  I was instantly drawn to it because it looks cool.  Simultaneously it mimicks my hairstyle and serves as a filter for ny thoughts and ideas.

Click here to SPONSOR ‘INTREPID’           http://www.jchenproject.com/J_Chen_Project/Support.html

*’ Unveil the Cast’ is a weekly blog entry that tells the story of one of our cast members.  Learn about the mask they created as well as their hobbies and interests and how long they have been a fierce dancer.  Be sure to buy a ticket to our show and do not miss this opportunity to see us in action!