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Jumpstart Profiles: Meet Jessica Morgan

Posted May 3rd, 2012

Photo by Enoch Chan.

This spring (May 31–June 2), at the Live Arts Studio, we (the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe) are launching our new performing arts program, Jumpstart, which showcases the work of six new (to us) artists from the region. Choreographer and dancer Jessica Morgan is bringing her solo  Dress and Disappearance—a dance inspired by ghosts, light, and a dress. We caught up to Jessica and asked her some questions about her life and work.

Live Arts: Why is your show titled Dress and Disappearance?

Jessica Morgan: Dress and Disappearance came largely from the dress, which is what inspired a large part of the world within the piece. To me the condition and quality of the dress represents the ephemeral surface of the feminine and contrasts with its darker depths, which can only be partially concealed. Trying to hide and expose these things at once during the piece is what drives it. I have had this dress for a long time in storage and in a sense it finally revealed its purpose to me.

LA: Where did you grow up?

JM: I grew up in New York City in Greenwich Village and later, Teaneck, New Jersey. Greenwich Village was a raw and vibrant place at the time, filled with musicians, break dancers, and bohemians. I was fortunate enough to go to a public school that strongly emphasized and encouraged artistic impulses. I am sure it shaped my interest in dance and art. Even though New York City was not considered the safest place at that time, I loved it there. Ironically, when I moved to the suburbs later, it was so quiet I was terrified!

LA: How did your interest grow in choreography?

JM: I had a great modern dance teacher in high school, Joanne Koob Brown, who had danced for such people as David Gordon. She exposed us to improvisation and the basics of composition. We even had a choreography workshop and did showings of the work we made. Boy did that fuel my fire for makings dances. It has continued since. RoseAnne Spradlin, a New York based choreographer has mentored me on and off since she was my advisor during Fresh Tracks in 2005. She is brilliant. She has provided me with a lot of feedback over the years and has been tremendously helpful to me. Her work has also been an inspiration to me as well as the work of Susan Rethorst and Luciana Achugar, who has also mentored me. Their work to me is so deeply, utterly female and that is something that has interested me again and again.

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