CAREER SPOTLIGHT

JANUARY SPOTLIGHT

JANESSA CLARK 

When you were 20 what were you working on and what were you working towards? 

Wow, let me think back! When I was 20 I was in school at Arizona State University in the dance department. I was being exposed to so many new artists and dance styles, other forms such as Capoeira and Tai Chi...it was incredible. My brain was like a sponge absorbing as much kinetic information as I could. I was working towards a deeper self-listening, there was a lot of noise to sift through, and I was figuring out how to articulate my embodied experiences choreographically.  I discovered video art, noise art, sculpture, poetry, Buddhist Philosophy. It was right around that time that I really considered how intertwined all the disciplines are, how we are informed and shaped by history and the natural world. I remember hearing the word 'neuroplasticity' for the first time and getting excited. I was learning about myself. I can't remember exactly else what I was working TOWARDS but I was definitely working THROUGH. 
 

What is one thing that you feel helped the most in building the career you have now? 

I moved to New York right after undergrad and threw myself into taking classes at a bunch of studios, going to every show I could afford to, and making friends with the dancers and other artists I was encountering. Honestly, having a solid, supportive network is key to developing. Actually, a lot of the artists I met my first 5 years out of school are people I still have strong bonds with today. I showed my work in WIP showings and tried to open myself up to constructive criticism. It is a tough haul getting started and I applied to everything I could. I also was really into the moving image and just started playing around with video in my work. I wasn't really any good at it when I started but I just kept trying to learn skills and pick up info on the way. I think having tenacity is important, that drive to get yourself in there and to stay inspired and nourished. Hmm, so I guess that makes three things that have helped: a good network of collaborators/friends/peers, the will to experiment (and maybe fail a bit or a lot), and the drive to keep going. 
 

What advice do you have for college dance students? 

Try as many dance forms as you can, read, read, READ, get to know student artists and professors in other disciplines/departments- explore their views on art making. I think a big thing is to acknowledge, and in time perhaps welcome, the idea that failure is part of the process. Not every technique class will be the best one, not every piece you choreograph will be a masterpiece, not every performance will be one for the books, but through all that 'doing' you will really find you. One of my most beloved professors during undergrad was Amy Chavasse. I learned so much from her and on the last day of her visiting artist appointment she said something to me that I have never forgotten. So I think I am going to respectfully borrow that and send it forth to you: 

Be Brave, Be Kind, and Never Conform. 

Website: http://www.janessaclark.com/ 

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