the first solo i performed as an adult.

the year was 2010.

I had signed up to perform in an uncurated variety show in Brooklyn that gave everyone 5 minutes on stage to do their thing.

i was kicking myself for signing up.

What was I thinking? I had only just gotten back into lightly dancing, I hadn’t been on stage in YEARS, and wasn’t I busy enough?

[face palm... before the emoji existed]

The countdown towards the show date ticked away, and I had somehow managed to not. prepare. anything. Procrastination at its finest.

finally, i booked studio space 2 days before the show date, and started moving to a song that i had been listening to and loving.

(Side note: Go figure, it was a Rachel Platten song before she became a pop star… I had seen her perform at a wine bar on the Upper West Side in 2009 and started following her then. Here’s a vintage Rachel Platten video of the song I dug up on YouTube if you’re curious!)

I freaked out at first. Where do I start in the choreography process? My artsy friend Anula suggested I start with what I know. So I did. I started with the first moves of All That Jazz and then let it evolve from there.

long story short, i succeeded in making up a dance.

And I ended up including a monologue in the beginning about the pressure of being the only daughter of an Italian father who thought everything you did was AH-FRICKIN-MAZING (impression of Gerry included) and how this show was my opportunity “to suck at something.”

I pretty much took my own fears of sucking at something (this thing called performing a solo dance piece) and made it into the point of the whole thing. I believe I even started the dance, fell down on purpose, and then asked the tech guy to restart the music so that I could start again. (the Flashdance influence runs deep.)

Seven years later, and I’m still making up dances. The process has gotten easier and more natural, and much less procrastination takes place. The dances have led me to people, places, and things that I care deeply about. (I’m really glad I didn’t listen to the voice in my head that told me to stop.)

the reasons why i share this are three-fold:

  1. I think it’s healthy to give yourself an opportunity to suck at something. The point of art-making isn’t always to be the standard “best,” it’s to be YOU.

  2. Just in case you’ve ever felt alone in making a commitment and then hating yourself for doing it and then being worried you’ll make a fool of yourself, you’re DEFINITELY not alone!

  3. This story came to the top of my mind as I’ve been registering people for the YCDA Solo Immersion (i.e. the program that guides you in taking what’s in YOUR heart and soul and turning it into your own solo dance piece). And so I felt compelled to share it here.

I hope it inspires you to move forward with the creative dreams stirring in your soul - even if you’ve been procrastinating, even if the only person who choreographs to your music is some random girl in Brooklyn (ahem, Rachel P, you’ve come a long way!), even if all the doubts creep up on you.

there’s a reason something is compelling you to create.

And in this crazy world, we need more creative souls making a positive impact on the world.

Do your thing.

to whatever is stirring in your soul,

Jess sig.png

p.s. This won’t apply to everyone, but if YOU are reading this and feel a stirring in your soul towards specifically creating a solo dance piece that takes your truth and turns it into art that can be witnessed and shared, please join me at the next Solo Immersion by clicking HERE!