Tuesday, September 27, 2022

What is "We Are StarDust"?

When was the last time you looked at the night sky? When was the last time you stood with the night and allowed the distant stars to reveal themselves to you? 

I am left in awe when I allow myself time to be present with the stars and their stories. 

I know, this isn't new. People have marveled at the stars as long as there have been people. What is new is that art, science, and technology invite us to experience the stars with an increased depth of understanding and wonder. 

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson reflected, "the atoms that make up the human body are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core... so that when I look up at the night sky, I know that yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us."

What if we treated each other with the same awe and wonder with which we stand in the night sky? What is we recognized the magnificence in our physical and social environments? 

We Are StarDust is the current research campaign of JCWK Dance Lab. It investigates the science that our human bodies are made of the same stuff as stars. Like stars, they (we) deserve respect, awe, and wonder. In reflection of this research, this campaign has several layers. 

  • Performance. I am leading a small ensemble of dance artists in researching the science and mythology of several star clusters. We have performed this work over the summer in collaboration with Reading Theater Project and the Reading Public Museum. We are performing again in November in Bethlehem, PA. Click here for upcoming events and more details. 
  • Education. I've led mindful movement workshops around Pennsylvania inspired by this research. 
  • Practice. I've created a graphic and merchandise to materialize the We Are StarDust campaign. Click here to order yours and share your magnificence. Remind yourself and those in your communities of your stellar connections. 
Find JCWK Dance Lab on the socials and share a pic of your own experience of We Are StarDust.
 

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Creatives as Entrepreneurs

Thank you, Berks Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts for recognizing that artists and creative people are also entrepreneurs!

JCWK Dance Lab is a recipient of the Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator Program. Stay tuned to see how we're growing and creating Joy, Connection, and Wellness through Kinesthetic stories in Berks County! 




Monday, August 15, 2022

Small Things with Great Love

 Do Small Things with Great Love. ~Mother Teresa



The above image is of JCWK Dance Lab artist Cady Monasmith. Someone caught this special moment of her performance as part of "In Nature's Studio," a collaborative performance produced by Reading Theater Project, JCWK Dance Lab, and the Reading Public Museum in July. I love how Cady looks so invested in exploring something so small. Her gaze and posture tell the story on an important, tiny, Something. 

As we begin the transition into the fall... with academic and event calendars quickly filling, I wonder, what are some of the small things (and the larger ones) to which you're being attentive? Transitions can often overwhelm us with the expectation of the next thing. This image of Cady reminds me that each small moment carries a gift of great love. 

Here are a few of the upcoming moments for JCWK Dance Lab:
  • Tuesday, August 16th JCWK Dance Lab celebrates the first anniversary of The Greater Reading Area Dance Exchange on BCTV.org. Click here to live-stream on Tuesday at 6:30pm or catch up on this and other episodes of G.R.A.D.E on BCTV.org's YouTube channel. 
  • Sunday, August 21st is another installation of "In Nature's Studio." This performance is inspired by the Reading Public Museum's exhibit "The Occult." Join us in the arboretum on Sunday from 5:30-7pm for a guided tour or explore on your own. Click here for more information. 
I'd love to be able to share these moments with you. 

What are some of the small things you're experiencing with great love as we begin this transition into fall? Let me know... 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

#NationalMoonDay

 It's National Moon Day. Today in 1969, NASA's Apollo 11 landed on the moon. 

A lot has changed since 1969. And a lot hasn't. 

The recent images from the James Webb Space Telescope released by NASA remind me how small our perception of space and time is. I'm also reminded of the power of a few people to make a difference. 

So, in honor of National Moon Day, I encourage all of us to look up, connect, find our joy, and to make positive waves of change by being our authentic selves. 





Friday, July 1, 2022

JCWK Dance Lab In Nature's Studio

 Save the dates! 

A next cast of JCWK Dance Lab will be dancing at the Reading Public Museum in collaboration with Reading Theater Project's In Nature's Studio. 

When: July 10 at 5:30pm 

Where: Reading Public Museum's Arboretum 

What: In Nature's Studio brings performing artists out from inside the theater to the beautiful Reading Public Museum Arboretum. Audiences may experience In Nature's Studio through a guided walk or on their own independent journey. Tickets are free, but donations on site are welcome. Reserve your guided walk time by clicking here. 

Read the press release here. 

Art work by Andrew Pochan





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!