Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Giving thanks for HOME

Thank you to everyone who came out to last week's performance of HOMEbody!

Wow! What an audience! What a feeling of community!

A few folks reflected:

"beautiful & thought-provoking" ~MK

"This evening totally felt like a family reunion - in a really good way!" ~MS

"I realized how much I want to move my body more after watching you. I need to move more." ~KW

"Amazing talent" ~JY

"Now, several days after the performance, I couldn't sleep - my dog woke me up. But I remembered you said in your opening that our heartbeat is our own rhythm. I never thought I had rhythm, and I could never dance, but that really resonated with me. And as I was laying there, not sleeping, I focused on the rhythm of my heart. And... that helped." ~KW

"breathtaking" ~EC

"I feel understood, as if all that I've been trying to communicate it clear and validated." ~audience member who identified as "female, student, artist"

Original pic by Thomas Kay

This week, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, may you find (comfort in) HOME in your own ways!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Details for HOMEbody's Thursday performance

We’re looking forward to seeing you on Thursday! 

Included are some details regarding Alvernia University's Arts Series presentation of JCWK Dance Lab. Please give yourself some additional time for parking, if you’re traveling by car.  

What: Alvernia Arts Series presents JCWK Dance Lab's HOMEbodyWhere: Francis Hall Theatre (on Alvernia's Main Campus in Reading, PA)When: Thursday, November 21 at 7:30pm 

The performance runs approximately 70 minutes.


Parking and campus map:  

TicketsYou can still purchase tickets online by clicking here. Please arrive early to claim your will-call tickets if you purchased online. Tickets will also be available at the door.  
Seating is general admission. 

*HOMEbody is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

HOMEbody artist bios

In alphabetical order:

Laura Baehr, DPT & PhD candidate (Dance artist):  Laura Baehr is a movement artist, therapist and researcher who melds her interdisciplinary training in order to facilitate and inspire strength, confidence and quality of life through movement. Baehr earned her Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Temple University in 2019. She obtained her undergraduate dual degree in Dance and Neuroscience from Muhlenberg College. Currently, she is a graduate doctoral fellow at Drexel University studying the implications of chronic pain in individuals living with neurological conditions. Her performance background includes concert dance, mask work, and dance theatre. Her more recent collaborations are with Jessica Warchal-King and Caroline O'Brien. In addition to performance, she has taught in the Dance Department at Eastern University, the 2016 American College Dance Association annual conference, and is a Dance for Parkinson's Disease and Pilates instructor.

Jake Buczewski (Filmmaker): Jake Buczewski, a Reading native, is a visual artist, writer and filmmaker. He has a BA from Ithaca College in Communications with a concentration in screenwriting. At Ithaca, he wrote for ICTV. His films have been presented by KYL/D's InHale Performance Series in Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley Dance Exchange and Jill Haley.

Erin Coffey (Dance artist): Erin Coffey is from the Lehigh Valley, PA. She is a sophomore Fine & Performing Arts major with a Dance Concentration in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Widener University. Coffey has been training for 17 years with numerous dance schools and professional dance training programs including the Joffrey Ballet School, American Ballet Theater and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She has performed with the New York City Ballet, DeSales University Dance Program, Artistic Edge Dance Company and at various intensives as well as with other artistic directors. Coffey was a company member with Repertory Dance Theater and studied under Trinette Singleton, Jennifer Haltzman-Tracy and Lynn Wiender. Her choreography has been presented by Widener Dance Company where she is a class teacher, choreographer, and Event Coordinator. Coffey is honored to be continuing her dancing and artistic expressions with JCWK Dance Lab and incorporating this work into research at Widener University.

Paul Fejko (Composer): Provocative, Challenging and Iconoclastic, Paul Fejko has always been quite fond of extremes. He can often be found treading on the boundaries of accepted limits and traditions. Art is exploration and provocation; improvisation is a wonderful vehicle for both. He is often chastised for mixing improvisation into repertoire ('taking too many liberties'), but it seems a one way comment; never has there been a charge leveled against the reverse - adding repertoire to improvisation. Fej finds the pipe organ to be his favorite solo instrument. It can muster more power and subtlety than an entire orchestra while having a responsiveness impossible from a large group of people. He is constantly challenging (often to the point of annoyance!) people to shed their preconceived notions of the organ as merely an instrument of religion, and to realize that in the first half of this century almost every movie house and many concert halls had organs. A good pipe organ is a virtuoso instrument of vast capabilities. Fej divides his time among many endeavors, most notably with theater and dance as a composer and conductor, but also as a concert organist and pianist.   To this one must add his work as a sound and lighting designer, photographer (the covers of three of his  ARKAY releases - Incantation, Tyme's Escape and OUTBURST!), audio systems designer, auto mechanic and sometime sculptor (witness the cover of ‘On Making the Flowers Dance’ - designed by Fejko with flowers by Gretchen Ernest. As of this time, he has recorded 13 CDs of large European and American organs, covering a wide range of existing repertoire and his own improvisations. He has been the long-time musician at historic Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church in Philadelphia, PA and is a musician with the Dance and Theatre departments at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. In 2003 he founded and is now the Artistic Director of 'The Chester Performing Arts Project', a foundation dedicated to bringing world class performing arts to the formerly depressed industrial city of Chester, PA. His André Café Acoustique in Chester is becoming well known in the region. Fej is a product of The Curtis Institute of Music (class of '75) where he studied with Alexander McCurdy, Rudolf Serkin and Max Rudolf. His first taste of opera came at Curtis from Dino Yannapoulos - a long-time stage director at the Met in NY. In 1987, Dino commissioned an opera from Fejko - Matteo Falcone - for the Academy of  Vocal Arts in Philadelphia where Dino was Artistic Director at the time. A review of Matteo can be found on the Press/Reviews page at this site. After Curtis, he connected with renowned dance scholar and pedegogist Nadia Chilkovsky and became music director at her Philadelphia Dance Academy - a source of many well-known dancers from the 50's through the mid 70's. During this time, he spent summers at the famed Marlboro Music Festival. In 1980 he headed east to become a musician with Maurice Béjart's Ballet of the Twentieth Century in Brussels, Belgium. From there he headed south to become Music Director of The Ballet of Lyon in France. During much of the 80's his time was passed between these two positions, but not without many forays into Italy and Germany for work with other smaller theater and dance groups. There were also many various and sundry organ and piano concerts! Because of this he is now able to converse in five languages. Fej has won first prizes for improvisation in Lyon (1981) and San Anselmo, CA (1990). At their Atlanta convention in 1992, the American Guild of Organists awarded him a second prize.

Sarena Kabakoff (Dance artist): Sarena Kabakoff is a native of Reading, PA and started her dance training at Berks Ballet Theater. Throughout high school, she performed multiple times a year in BBT performances and dance festivals across the state. She went on to attend college at Temple University where she had the pleasure of performing with Megan Mizanty, Laura Katz, and Janis Brenner and Company. She also interned with Dance Therapist Teresa Benzwie to teach special needs children academics through movement. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2013, receiving the Benzwie Dance in Education grant for her extensive work with children. After college she went on to dance with Philadelphia based companies: Jenkintown Dance Company, PIMA group, and FRED Dance Company. She also taught dance at the Conservatory of Music and Dance, Jenkintown Dance Arts, Beth Jacobsen School of Dance, and Imhotep Charter School. Her passion for dance also carried her to do outreach programs, using dance/yoga as a vehicle for healing at Safe Harbor (a program for grieving children), and in the greater Cancer Support Community. In fall of 2017 she attended an Expressive Dance Therapy program entitled, “Tamalpa” in Northern California. Since then she has been touring her yoga/dance therapy workshop called “Unpacking the Body,” in and around the Philadelphia area, as well as dancing for the band, “The Retinas,” in their most recent music video. In addition, she started her own yoga studio entitled, “Sarenity Yoga,” and has been dancing with Netco Dance Company for the 2018-2019 season. Sarena is passionate about movement’s capability to heal, to show us the stories we’ve been hiding from, and to move us forward into our own inner light.

Kyleigh Kover (Dance artist): Kyleigh Kover is from Moorestown, NJ. She is a sophomore at Widener University studying Fine Arts in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Kyleigh started her dance education at the age of two as a ballerina, tap dancer, and eventually jazz dancer at The Dance Workshop in Maple Shade, NJ. She also studied at Danec Xperience in Mt. Laurel, NJ, where she added genres of hip hop, acrobatics, musical theater, modern, and point. Kyleigh joined the Dance Xperience Company and performed in numerous dance competitions, community service events, and at Disney World. She has received several dance awards for her performances and original choreography. Additionally, Kyleigh attended Rutgers Mason Gross Summer Senior Dance Conservatory. Studying with Jessica Warchal-King has given Kyleigh a new outlook on dance and she has enjoyed educating others on how dance is a high impact practice. Currently, Kyleigh is an assistant teacher at Dance Xperience, musical theater teacher/ choreography chair of the Widener Dance Company, and Co-Captain of the Widener Dance Team.

Colin Lang (Lighting/ Technical Director): Colin Lang is a Philadelphia-based designer. Lang has designed a number of shows throughout Berks County and the Lehigh Valley as well as a variety of shows in many professional, community, and educational facilities. He is a proud member of IATSE, the stage technicians union. Lang also does a variety of other designing, programming, and tinkering. Thanks to his family and girlfriend for all their support. 

Nathan Thomas, PhD (all things Theatre at Alvernia): Dr. Thomas has been the director of the Alvernia Theatre program since 2003. A professional actor and director, Thomas has directed about 80 projects large and small over the last 16 years. Those projects ranged from the Classics to American and world premiers. Thomas studied with Arkady Katz, People's Artist of the Soviet Union, at the Vakhtangov Theatre in Moscow, Russia. He has written a monthly column for "," an on-line arts journal for 20 years, serves as Literary Advisor to the award-winning Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (CSC). Thomas has played Tevye, Shylock, Prospero, and Lear. 

And me, Jessica C. Warchal-King. 

Pic by Thomas Kay

Friday, November 15, 2019

ICYMI - In the HOMEtown news

In case you missed it...

HOMEbody's been in the news this week.

In the announcement from the Berks Arts Council about the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts PA Partners in the Arts Grants... Click here to read more

And in a feature by Susan Pena in the Reading Eagle... Click here to read more. 

Thanks so much, Berks County, for the support!!

I look forward to sharing HOMEbody with you next week!

Excepts of HOMEbody performed in Bethlehem. Pic by Juliana Wall

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

HOMEmade Soup

I often think of my work as a collage or a soup. There's a lot that goes into the pot (or on the paper, or into the research and rehearsal process), but the ingredients meld and blend until sometimes they're not distinguishable as their own, but as the greater part of the whole. A little salt? You might not be able to taste it as salt inside of the soup, but you might notice a huge difference in the flavor once it's added (or when it's missing...).

Refer back to my earlier post about the Metaphorical Soup.

So... what's going into HOMEbody's HOMEmade soup? In no particular order, but very specific in choice:

1. Stories and stories and stories of home. Very personal stories from my dancers, stories from published authors, storytellers, and other mediums. For all of that in one place, click here. 

2. My dancers and the very specific way I've chosen them. I'm admitting a sort of bias here, which I feel important to acknowledge as a social researcher/ dance anthropologist/ person in 2019 America. All of my dancers are professionally trained and white; I know there's a disparity of ethnicity on stage. However, in order to move forward from this current moment in my artistic journey, I needed to reflect and tell MY story. I can't speak for or from any experiences that aren't my own. So, my dancers - albeit much younger than I am - are white and are professionally trained which might assume a certain level of socioeconomic status. The assumptions aren't necessarily or always true, but those are all aspects of these stories. There is a diversity of age on stage. I wanted and tried for a greater range, but life, schedules, time and travel got in the way. My limitations have informed the process.

3. Paul Fejko's music. Paul and I have been collaborating for almost 9 years in some form - from working together in the classroom to other professionally produced performances. He sometimes describes his music as the soundtrack of a horror movie. I think it's multilayered, nuanced, and demanding - reflective of the stories we carry in our bodies.

4. White costumes. White light is the absorption of all light colors. White is the color of the Women's Suffrage Movement.

5. Nov. 21st. November 19th is the internationally declared celebration of Women's Entrepreneurship.  Because of schedule conflicts, we couldn't have the performance ON Nov 19th, so we're celebrating a few days past. The Women's Entrepreneurship Summit in NYC is the previous week. But everyday is Women's Entrepreneurship Day!

6. Alvernia University in Reading, PA. I grew up in Reading and Alvernia has a deep history in my family. I'm honored to be sharing this challenging and exciting work in this place that has been both challenging and wonderful.

7. Jake Buczewski's video. Jake is not only a video storyteller, but he's also my cousin. And he's from Reading. He lends another perspective to my own challenges of growing up as an artist in a town that didn't always feel receptive. And he knows me as a family member, not just as a professional artist.

8. The movement vocabulary. Some of the movement has been generated from improvisational prompts. Some of the movement comes directly from codified dance techniques that I've studied. Some of the movement is in homage to people and other movement that lives in my memory and in my physicality.

9. A new way of relating to audience. We're trying something out.... you'll have to come to see what it is. Get tickets here. 

10. Performance practice, feedback, and photos from the journey. Each moment that the soup is tested and tasted, we get more information on how to enhance the recipe and flavor. Thanks to everyone who shared in these experiences at Widener University's Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities symposium in Chester, PA; Sarah Carlson/ DanceLink's presentation of Rising Tide in Bethlehem, PA; and KYL/D's InHale Performance Series in Philadelphia, PA!

pic by Juliana Wall

10. And your stories... you bring your own experiences as you witness the performance. What are the ingredients that you add to the soup?

Monday, November 11, 2019

Thank you for your service. Welcome home!

To all of those who have served our country...
To all of those who continue to serve...
To all of those who have served those who have served...

For all of the ways you have fought for our freedoms...
For all of the ways you continue to fight...
For the conversations you've challenged us to have...
For the conversations you've allowed us to have...
For the work that you ask us to do...

Thank you.

Welcome home.

This pic is moment from "Shed" which will be performed with HOMEbody at Alvernia University on Nov. 21st. Photo by Mike Hurwitz. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Looking at the language - HOMEbody

I've been very specific in thinking about the wording of this work.


1. A person who likes to stay at home, especially one who is perceived as unadventurous (from

2.  A person who enjoys the warmth and simple pleasures of life (from

3. One whose life centers on home (from

4. A person who likes spending time at home rather than going out with friends or traveling to different places (from


What does it mean to be at HOME in my BODY?

As a female and as a dancer, I've had expectations and stereotypes placed on my body for many, many years. Sometimes, these expectations are contradictory. Sometimes, they're unpleasant. Often, they're confusing and unrealistic.

As an educator, I've often heard women say things about their bodies that I've told myself. But I vehemently disagree with the negative self-talk. Would I say to someone else what I say to myself? Of course not! But why then, do I dishonor my own body with negative self-talk?

This process has also been a journey of exploring the layers of self-talk that women tell ourselves and how that impacts our ways of being in the world over time. I often still here my 18-year-old self make a judgement about my current self that I need to reframe. Through this work, I've been trying to find ways to model positive reflection and the honoring of all of the bodies of our bodies - our emotional bodies, our physical bodies, our mental bodies, our spiritual bodies - and find comfort in the learning and the growth that comes from being human.

So, I think it is radical to attempt to be at home in my body.

I think it is radical to declare that home can be adventurous and exciting.

I think it is radical to invest in our places of origin, especially if they're small and unassuming.

There is so much to unearth in the BODY that is HOME.

Moment during HOMEbody. Pic by Mike Hurwitz. 

Friday, November 1, 2019

A HOME by any other name...

HOME has so many layers and so many perspectives. 

In addition to digging through my own, and those of my communities, I've been researching how other people have published and researched HOME. 

Here's some of what I've found: 
(yes, I'm linking, but no, I don't get any profits if you click. I'm putting these out there so you, dear readers, can increase your perspectives and depth of knowledge. I've made a direct link when I could and otherwise, you're welcome to explore and/ or find other options for engagement.)