We joyously continue our Adapting to Uncertainty Series this week with a quick conversation with Jessica Roseman. Eagle eyed readers might have noticed a photograph of her in the background of last week's interview with Kim Holman. Her Nourish project invites people into her creative practice and often utilizes some unexpected public spaces. If you are lucky, you can catch Jess in action at 6 Faneuil Hall Square Boston, MA, 02109 today from 6 - 7:30PM. And if you go, say hello to karen Krolak or Nicole Harris and share your response to the performance. For more information, click here
karen: During the pandemic you began building the Nourish project. I know that there is lots of information about that on your website but I am wondering what was different about how it developed compared to things you built pre-pandemic?
Jessica Roseman: Pre-pandemic, my dances were experimental questions. I focused on understanding my choreographic vision - how do I want to present myself? What excites me? What themes and vocabularies serve me best? (Why) is it even important to make dances?
Coming back to choreography after years of healing from trauma, I was examining choreographic approaches to pleasure, searching for ways to make myself - and others - feel better through dance. I was gathering tools, questioning every step and result along the way. My dances were testing the waters of my own vulnerability and creative capacity. Time and money-wise, I invested in my own self interest without worrying too much about expense, results, or exposure.
During the pressure cooker conditions of the pandemic, it became necessary to use this line of choreographic inquiry as a means to process, heal, and to actively use my voice for change. I had an immediate need for connection, and to stake a claim in my art and my community. My work, the same approach and content, became at once more political. I invested in building a sustainable career, and built my business in the process
kK: One of my favorite parts of the land acknowledgements that you share at the start of Nourish workshops is how they encourage me to reflect on the specific site where we are dancing. You are going to be performing for Now +There at Faneuil Hall on August 16, 6pm How has that location influenced your thinking? What sort of research have you done there?
JR: Boston is steeped in colonial history which typically does not tell the whole story. There are tons of historic maps, exhibits, books, tours, and websites about the layered history of Faneuil Hall. Boston’s wealthiest merchant of the time, Peter Faneuil, who built the meeting house, had a significant role in the slave trade.
Farmers from inland, including from what is now called Lexington Community Farm (where I am Artist in Residence), brought their produce to sell in the Faneuil building. As ever, I found it challenging to process an inclusive land acknowledgement of that place without getting swept away by the sheer volume of information from a capitalistic, white supremacist perspective.
To defy the confines of the colonialism, I am generating my own narrative from my personal connections to Faneuil Hall, and particularly my values for the present:
kK: You have been in residence at Bearnstow last week and previously at Subcircle in Biddeford. How do these weeks away reframe your investigations into the specificity of site where you are presenting work? How do they serve your larger creative practice?
JR: I was born in Maine, and spent many magical summers visiting here as a child. Subcircle and Bearnstow's subsidized Maine residencies bring me back to my childhood self while directly supporting my growth as a choreographer. I feel so affirmed as an artist to be welcomed into their amazing spaces. I have come to rely on time away from my regular parenting routine. I also just love dancing among the plants and trees which each facility environmentally protects. In nature, I deepen my understanding of the good in the world, and my purpose in it. I reset my sense of time and space. I breathe deeper, and become more grounded. I take experimental new risks. In residency, I experience a cyclical process of nourishment in relation to the land, which feeds my creative practice. Thanks to Bearnstow and Subcircle, I become fortified to delve into politically challenging places like Boston’s Dock Square, and to make louder, more complex work.