Editor’s Note: For many of us, Jessie’s name is a fairly familiar one. She’s finishing her MFA in dance at the University of Maryland, is an active class goer and art seer in the DC metro area, and has done her fair share of teaching and showing work these last few years. So when she approached Dance Exchange about partnering for an internship through her school, we were excited to talk about possibilities. Jessie will be spending some of her weeks at Dance Exchange from now until the middle of May, and we decided it best to sit down and have a chat to get to know her better. Here’s that chat so that you, too, can know Jessie Laurita-Spanglet.
-Matthew Cumbie, Resident Artist
MC: Tell me about yourself. What are you doing with your life right now?
JLS: Currently I am in my third year of an MFA in dance program at the University of Maryland. Last semester I presented my MFA thesis concert which was a site-adaptive work in four sections that used text and movement to explore physical habit. The work looked at where our habits come from, how physical habits are connected to emotional habits, when a habit has become unnecessary, and the residue that habit leaves behind. This semester, I am very excited to be traveling to Cholula, Mexico to teach, learn and present parts of my thesis concert at the Performatica festival.
MC: What were you doing before all of that?
JLS: Before starting work on my MFA, I was living in the cozy town Charlottesville, VA where I was working as a full time Pilates teacher and helping people of all ages work towards greater ease and efficiency in their movement. In Charlottesville, I had the great pleasure of dancing for Katharine Birdsall and The Zen Monkey Project, as well as creating and presenting work of my own at The McGuffey Arts Center.
MC: What drew you to Dance Exchange?
JLS: I was introduced to the Dance Exchange through Stephanie Miracle, and felt an immediate affinity towards the place, its pedagogy and community practices, and the people who come here to work with dance in this particular way.
MC: What are you looking forward to in your time here?
JLS: Much of my internship here at the Dance Exchange will be geared towards planning and helping to facilitate Dance Exchange’s New Hampshire Ave project. The New Hampshire Ave project is a city-wide initiative to revitalize and make accessible a particular stretch of New Hampshire Avenue. The Dance Exchange will be facilitating engagement workshops, doing Moving Field Guides, and leading a Teen Leadership Institute in an effort to facilitate community and participation in the life that is already taking place on New Hampshire Avenue. I am very excited to witness and get inside of the way in which the Dance Exchange takes its facilitation and movement tools and uses them in a community.
MC: What else is on your horizon?
JLS: This spring I have the great pleasure of being a local choreographer-in-residence here at the Dance Exchange. This means that I get to work in the Dance Exchange studios to create a new work that will be taken through a Critical Response Process on April 17th as part of the HOME series. In addition to my work at the Dance Exchange, I am dancing for the lovely Sarah Beth Oppenheim in her new work It’s Not Here, Either which will premiere April 5th and 6th in Northern Va.
MC: And she’s getting married, folks! Sounds like a full and fantastic spring. Be sure to check back often, as Jessie will be doing some blogging over the next few months! See what she, and DX, are up to here in Takoma Park and out in the world.