Monday, June 27, 2022

Hip Hop in Berks County

The Greater Reading Area Dance Exchange is a platform I've developed through JCWK Dance Lab. It's a show on BCTV.org where I interview local adult dancers, educate our viewers about different styles of dance in Berks County, reveal opportunities for adult dancers, and share the ways that dance can be a vehicle for non-violent, positive social change through conversation, curiosity, sharing, and play. It's also a Facebook page where I post any adult-based dance information I come across that's happening in Berks County. 

Last week I interviewed local Hip Hop artist, Richard Maldonado, Jr. I've known Richie for several years and I'm so grateful for his tenacious passion and commitment to community. Check it out: 



Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Make Some Noise

Today's National Tap Dance Day. 

But I don't feel like celebrating. 

Yesterday, the U.S. witnessed another elementary school shooting. 

Another. 

It feels more appropriate to scream, shout, make some noise. 

So maybe Tap Dancing. 

Metal on wood. 

...

Dancing won't stop bullets, but it does bring us together to create joy and build connections. Dance is wellness - mental and physical (May is mental health awareness month). Dancing shares out stories and develops empathy. 

We could all afford to dance a bit more these days. 

There are many ways to make noise. 

There are many was to be seen and heard. 





Friday, May 6, 2022

April Showers bring May Merch!

Happy May!

How are you? What is springing up in your world? 

Happy Small Business Week! I'm proud to be an artist/ entrepreneur. In this role, if you've been following along, I'm building a dancing world with Joy, Connection, and Wellness at the forefront of Kinesthetic storytelling to inspire non-violent, positive social change. 

The past two years have been rich with research, development, and relationship building. The that end, I've created The Greater Reading Area Dance Exchange on BCTV.org to bring awareness of dance for adults in Berks County, worked with several organizations on non-violence programming, and collaborated on several projects with local artists and performing arts organizations. I've also written and received several grants and am working with several local small business incubators. 

In the interest of sustainability, both from a business and environmental perspective, I've been looking into ways to create revenue to support JCWK Dance Lab's community engagement and professional performances. 

I've sprung up a store on Bonfire. The We Are StarDust line is an original creation that reflects my creative research over the past two years. I'll be continuing with this research in the coming months with another performance project and workshops that investigate the relationships between earthly bodies and celestial bodies. 

Would you help to support JCWK Dance Lab and join in the movement to create positive social change through We Are StarDust?

I've chosen Bonfire because they "source products from a group of vendors who are WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) certified and 100 percent 'sweat free'." I'm sure I'll learn a lot from this initial launch. More designs and adventures coming soon! 





Tuesday, May 3, 2022

#berks4peace in the news

 April 30th was a special day. 

I've written about my involvement with the Berks Youth Violence Prevention Committee. (My small role included creating a dance for a Random Act of Culture that was used for both the YWCA and the BYCPC; attending committee meetings for the past few months; teaching the dance at several pop ups, including in front of City Hall with the Mayor of Reading.)

The months of planning culminated in a walk and a ceremony. Quite a few news organizations documented the event. Click the links below to see the articles. 

In the Reading Eagle 

In Berks Weekly

On WFMZ

Thank you, Berks4Peace for allowing me to share joy, create connections, and build mental and physical wellness through dance!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

April Rain brings Blossoms of Dance

Hi, Friend. 

How are you? 

I hope that the spring holidays and opportunities for transformation are finding you inspired and connecting with yourself and those you love. 

It feels hard, sometimes. (There's a lot going on...) 

I've been cultivating sprouts of joy in my own small way through growing my community and connections through dance. It's sometimes challenging and not everyone understands my optimism, and that's okay. 

I'm hosting another episode of The Greater Reading Area Dance Exchange tonight at 6:30pm EST on BCTV.org. You can watch the live stream by clicking here at 6:30pm -->> click "watch now" -->> click BCTV.org. There's a lot blossoming, dance wise, around the Berks County community right now. In preparing this program, I was inspired by the tenacious endeavors of people who live within a few miles of me to use dance to create joy and build connections. To use dance as a vehicle for non-violent, positive social change. 

What is blossoming in your world? Please let me know. 

Take care!

Warmly,
Jessica

PS. You can watch previous episodes of The Greater Reading Area Dance Exchange on BCTV.org's YouTube channel by clicking here or catch the rerun schedule by checking out the program page, linked here.

P.P.S. In case you're interested in my own germinations...  In Feb and March, I continued sharing my We Are StarDust workshops with several communities, both in person and virtually. I've been working with Alvernia University's Dance Company on several projects that involve dance as service, including for Berks4Peace, which is a non-violence campaign in Berks. I led a pop-up dance in front of City Hall with the Mayor of Reading and several other community groups where we performed the dance I co-created last fall for the YWCA's Week without Violence. We'll be dancing again as part of the Berks for Peace event on April 30th, which concludes the National Youth Violence Prevention Week. April 29th is International Dance Day. Happy Dancing! 

A few pics of the excitement below....











Wednesday, February 23, 2022

#womencrushwednesday

 I'm thrilled to be working with these women on "Domino". 

The backstory: In November of 2021, Mikaela Krall approached me about choreographing a ballet-like dance to one of the songs on her upcoming album release. The dance would ultimately be a music-video. 

Reading Theater Project graciously accepted this piece in their 5-Minute Fringe and I'm thrilled to have the additional opportunities to learn from live performance for this work. 

This process is all new to me and its been an experience of growth, patience, and cooperation. I want to highlight the three women immediately involved in this piece:


Mikaela Krall is a songwriter, mix-engineer, music educator, and leader of the band Dipped. She writes, "at the age of 5, my dad taught me how to play the saxophone. Growing up learning clarinet, flute, guitar, and piano, I began to explore different genres and styles of music. I became invested in learning about recording technology and music composing... Along with my passion for composing, recording, and playing musical instruments, I made my regional musical theater debute as an actress during the Summer of 2019." Mikaela has recorded and produced an original album at the Visconti Studio in the UK and has worked on an MIDI Sprout Plant recording project with sound artist Civyiu Kkliu and Lebanon Valley College professor Dr. Robert Machado. Click here to hear Mikaela and Dipped's album Shadow.


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Cady R. Monasmith, BFA, MA, is a Certified Dancing Mindfulness Facilitator. Movement is a powerful way of speaking throughout bodies. Cady emphasizes change and choice through movement, awakening the conscious by letting the spirit dance in the flesh. Her use of interpretative movement helps individuals reflect their story of emotional pain, explore the past and bridge their experiences to their present self. Cady has helped her clients reconnect to their bodies by finding compassion, self-acceptance, and a sense of freedom and inner strength, as well as reintegrating physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual aspects into the client’s past experience with present meaning. Cady was given artistic guidance from Philadelphia artists, including Kun-Yang Lin, Jillian Harris, Ellie Goudie-Averill, and Laura Katz-Rizzo. Along with performing, Cady has presented nationally on the topic of mindfulness and dance as beneficial modalities for the older adult population, ranging from addiction disorders to physical rehabilitation. Cady has an M.A. in Clinical Counseling from Alvernia University. A Temple University alumna, Cady received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a secondary concentration in psychology. She is a Berks-County based therapist, integrating expressive arts with evidence-based therapeutic practice.


Genevieve O'Conner has danced ballet for fifteen years, and she will be graduating from DeSales University this May with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication and Theology. Over the years, she has danced a variety of roles, including a Spanish dancer and Marzipan dancer in Repertory Dance Theatre's Nutcracker and the titular role in Fredericksburg Ballet Center's Giselle. Genevieve is passionate about all things art and beauty and she is so honored and thrilled to be participating in Reading Theater Project's 5-Minute Fringe Festival! 




Tuesday, February 15, 2022

A full February

I've got a lot of excitement happening in the next few days. Will you join me? 

Tonight (Feb 15) at 6:30pm, I'm going behind the scenes with Reading Theater Project's 5 Minute Fringe Festival with The Greater Reading Area Dance Exchange on BCTV.org. You can watch it on the local stations if you're in the Berks County area, or you can watch the livestream by clicking here and then clicking "Watch Now" and then "BCTV.org". Or, you can check it out at your convenience on The Greater Reading Area Dance Exchange playlist on BCTV's YouTube page by clicking here. The G.R.A.D.E. is an outreach program by JCWK Dance Lab to bring awareness to dance opportunities for adults in Berks County. 

Feb 16 at 7pm, I'm leading a professional development workshop for the Pennsylvania Dance Education Organization. PaDEO is working hard to support educators and students of dance. Check them out - and their current movement to get a direct path to Dance Education Certification for K-12 teachers - by clicking here. 

Feb 20 at 1pm, Widener University is hosting the second workshop in a three-part series where I'm sharing my research and process. “We are StarDust" is free and open to the public. Please review Widener’s Covid policy before attending. Sign up here. 

Feb 24-27. Reading Theater Project's 5-Minute Fringe goes live! And I have a new piece in RTP's Fringe! I'm working with new friends and old on a ballet that will also evolve into a video. Click here for more details on tickets and event info for the Fringe!