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By Jordan Kriston
As a child growing up in Phoenix, Jordan Kriston, 30, looked up to her sister Micah, a dance artist and teacher. Kriston herself began studying dance in high school, and followed in her sister’s footsteps when she attended Arizona State University, where she earned a BFA in dance performance. After moving to New York, Kriston performed with Douglas Dunn, H.T. Chen, Dion Dong and others. She joined Pilobolus in 2010.
Growing up, I was always happy when I was in motion. I played sports my whole childhood. I had always liked to write and paint as well, so I decided to try out for the dance department when I got to college. Dance seemed to fuse my passions for movement and creativity.
As I went through college and was introduced to modern, ballet, dance history and theory, I began to fall in love. It thrilled me to learn about the human body and its capabilities. So after graduation, I moved to New York to pursue a career in dance. I didn’t know why I felt compelled to dance, though. I went through a phase where I felt it was selfish, that it came from an ego-driven desire to be in the spotlight. I knew I enjoyed performing, but I wasn’t convinced I was contributing to society. Still, I pressed on, determined to figure out why dance drew me.
One night I attended a Pilobolus performance. What I saw onstage struck me as beautiful, raw human behavior. It felt authentic, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Eventually, I landed a job with the company. After joining Pilobolus I began to have a clearer understanding of the gifts of dance, and why I loved doing it. Listening to audience members share how visceral their experiences had been after shows made me realize what I was doing was not selfish. I was helping people to feel and think about things. Because human movement is something everyone recognizes, it reaches people’s emotions. Whatever feelings the performers onstage are experiencing, many times audience members relate to that feeling somehow, and it stirs up emotions about their own lives or the world around them. This can start meaningful conversations and encourages communication.
Once I became aware of how generous dance could be, I started to discover even more reasons why I loved it. Dance has helped me understand myself by giving me a place to experience and express who I am. While performing, I can be uncensored and I know it’s safe and acceptable. Because dance happens live and disappears as soon as it is performed, it forces me to be present. I only have one chance, right now, to make something happen onstage and that excites me. Dance has also taught me about the power within human relationships. It allows me to share an experience with others and to accomplish something with them. I love being able to look into the other dancers’ eyes and feel that stripped-down connection built of vulnerability and trust.
Dance teaches me something new all the time…and for that I am exceptionally thankful.
Photo by Robert Whitman, Courtesy Pilobolus