09 Sep Emotion Through Dance | Jacob Jonas
What was your start as a dancer/choreographer?
At 13, I skated down to Venice Beach and saw the Calypso Tumblers perform on the boardwalk. I ended up touring busker festivals with them. After that, I wanted to study other forms of dance, and that led me to choreography.
What do you do?
Jacob Jonas, The Company specializes in dance, production, and arts education. We are collaborative, like-minded artists who produce emotionally charged performances, with the intention to encourage and not to compete. Our goals include making a larger presence in commercial branding for companies we admire, being a part of music videos and films, touring our own shows, opening up an academy in Los Angeles, and continuing to collaborate with artists across different mediums around the globe.
What inspires your work?
A combination of things: Firstly – real life experiences. I like to build my movement from things I can relate to and have experienced, especially the things in life that I question. I love to work spontaneously. Secondly – I am inspired by other artists like Thom Yorke, Banksy, Lloyd Newson, Mumford & Sons, Pina Bausch, Vidal Sassoon and Donald Byrd. It is not just about their work, but who they are as people. I enjoy watching them being interviewed, and seeing how they got to where they are and the lessons they have learned, or the struggles they’ve had along the way. I am also inspired through collaboration. I enjoy working with different artists and learning through the process.
What are you currently working on?
After launching my company in January 2014, we premiered our first full-length work in August in Los Angeles and New York City. We are currently raising funds to get this show on tour, as well as to begin creating a new show. I’m also independently working on a few short films.
What do you think of TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance?
It’s a platform for society to view dance but it doesn’t educate or expose the significant artists of this craft. To me, the show focuses on money and fame, sacrificing the quality of work being produced. The choreographers and contestants begin to idolize themselves in an effort to be famous, and therefore create one-dimensional work. They don’t teach the history of dance, and are focused on making themselves known, rather than the icons who made dance what it is. People like Merce Cunningham, Donald Byrd, Twyla Tharp, William Forsythe and Michael Peters, are therefore slowly disappearing in the minds of today’s youngest dancers. The next generation of students will crave fame rather than success. This affects their work ethic; some of the educational qualities that are so important include trust, collaboration, and encouragement, and these qualities are being underscored in favor of competitive nature. The competitive aspect of dance is becoming the commercial appeal, and therefore hurting concert dance companies. The funds to keep concert dance alive is getting harder to obtain because it lacks competition. Society is seeing the 90 second pieces on SYTYCD and isn’t taking the time to learn and understand works that concert dance companies create, which can be up to 30 minutes and can tackle deeper topics. Lastly, I believe the art of choreography includes room for exploration within the creative process, but most of the choreographers on this show create line for line –again, limiting the understanding the viewers have of dance. Continuing to celebrate shows like this isn’t sustainable for this art form.
What is your advice to aspiring dancers?
The best advice I can give is – do it because you love it. That should be the driving force for anything you do. Don’t crave fame, and only be the best you want to be. Educate and expose yourself to the best artists around and really learn your art form. Don’t limit yourself to a certain style, and remain as open-minded as possible.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to continue developing my company and work towards having many shows on tour, as well as directing feature films and documentaries.
AT A GLANCE
The bench at the end of the Santa Monica Pier
Favorite recording artists:
Mumford & Sons, Thom Yorke and Coldplay