Photo by Bearwalk Cinema | Jessie Jeanne Stinnett, Dancing with the Future

Jessie Jeanne Stinnett

2019-2020 Boston Dancemakers Resident

Company Statement

Under the co-artistic direction of Jessie Jeanne Stinnett and award winning Dutch-Israeli choreographer, Itzik Galili, Boston Dance Theater (BDT) is Boston’s first contemporary dance repertory company with international ties at the leadership level. With a commitment to presenting works of socio-political relevance, BDT matches the talents of Boston-based dancers with those of acclaimed global choreographers, broadening the scope of contemporary dance practice and performance in our city. BDT is a registered 501(c)3 tax-exempt charity as of 2019.

Company Story

We are interested in works which take risks by crossing cultural and interpersonal boundaries, and we engage artists whose artistic visions echo these values. As an organization dedicated to fostering cultural equity, we employ accessible creative processes and conversation-igniting product as conduits for disrupting opportunity gaps in our city. We aim to make contemporary dance available to historically underrepresented audiences both by connecting our international repertory to, and creating lasting relationships with respected, local cultural institutions, and holding low cost to no cost programming in underserved communities throughout Greater Boston.

Within the 2018-19 season, BDT appeared in performances at Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out, the Institute of Contemporary Art presented by Global Arts Live (formerly World Music / CRASHarts), Salem State University, Israeli Consulate to New England, Emmanuel Music, New Movement Collaborative at Green Street Studios, Dance for World Community at Jose Mateo Ballet Theater, FOGXFLOW at the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, and Aeronaut Brewery sponsored by WGBH.

BDT’s recent outreach activities include North Hill Retirement Community, Reading Public Library, Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library, Newton Senior Center, and Hibernian Hall in Roxbury. January 2020 will mark the sixth, bi-annual Immersion Project welcoming local, national, and international dancers to Boston to study intensively and create new choreography with BDT company members.

Tell us about your BCA artist residency project.

During this residency, I plan to develop an evening length work exploring the intersections of choreography, composition, improvisation, and molecular physics alongside Dr. Lawrence Pratt — Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. This work will center on the rising seawater levels around the Boston area, particularly at the ICA where tide heights are clearly visible. The work will merge my own artistic practices within BDT alongside Pratt’s research methods which include studies on deep ocean circulation with emphasis on overflows, and the mixing and stirring in the ocean from the standpoint of chaos theory. In a continued effort alongside my peers to bring dance into public spaces, I envision this project to result in a large scale performance including improvisation, set material, site specific aspects, and text with the ability to transpose from the stage, to the classroom, to the conference center, outside at environmental advocacy events, and beyond.

What inspires your work? How that is expressed in your process and/or in the work you are making?

In 2018, I was a collaborator on a dance+science project co-sponsored by Harvard’s Program of Evolutionary Dynamics and the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (Vienna): “Dancing With the Future”. Dancing with the Future hit a strong chord for me personally in considering the impact of my work as an artist on the world outside of my own discipline. This project centered about considering our own capacity for cooperation. The project revealed to me that scientists, dancers, and policymakers can successfully sit at the same table (or in the same theater or conference hall), tackle the same issues, and productively collaborate toward unearthing sustainable solutions. Those ideas inspired the groundwork for this continued partnership. I’m looking forward to carrying these ideas forward into this next iteration of collaboration with the science community.

What about your process is uniquely you?

Since participating in Dancing With the Future, I have spent a significant amount of time considering my own work as an artist and how that work can contribute to informing, bringing together, and building pathways for scientific consciousness within the communities where I live and work. I ask: What can artists do to contribute to a global effort to create sustainable practices that yield cooperation with the future? Why do we dance and what kind of impact does our dancing have on our environment, and ourselves?

Who does your art speak to? Are there communities you work within?

As a co-artistic director, entrepreneur, choreographer, and performing artist of BDT, I am turning to projects that are on the innovative cross-section between the arts, technology, and other disciplines because they have the most potential to have meaningful impact on the level of the creative team, audience, and beyond. I too, am searching for practices and partnerships for BDT that yield pathways for collective problem solving. This collaboration, which makes way for inquiry, the melding of arts and science, community building, and civic engagement, is the perfect springboard for these partnerships to take flight.

This project will mark BDT’s first collaboration with a specialist outside of the arts field as well as the first occasion that the company has made a work tackling environmental issues as subject matter. Additionally, we envision presenting this work largely to audiences in the science and environmental advocacy sectors who may not have much crossover with or prior knowledge of contemporary dance. Therefore, we will need to make dance that is not only clear and relevant to us, but also user friendly to these groups in our community.

Tell us about the most memorable/impactful piece that you have created.

In the past, I have found great success collaborating with artists in other disciplines to provide a new take on preexisting, unidisciplinary work. For example, in 2018, I paired with Emmanuel music to add dance to David Lang’s “little match girl passion”. The program, which was presented both at Emmanuel Church and Somerville’s Aeronaut brewery was identified as a performance with some of the most acclaimed singers and dancers in the United States by WBUR.

Tell us your biggest dance blooper moment.

BDT and I once toured to Brooklyn to perform in a shared program, but had to cut the performance short because a toilet on the upstairs floor had flooded and the production team was fearful that water would leak into the lighting rig and cause an electrical fire!