Jacob Jonas is Tired of Dancers Being Judged By Their Paychecks
Matthew Brush, Courtesy Jonas
When we named Jacob Jonas one of our "25 to Watch" two years ago, he was turning heads with his innovative #CamerasandDancers Instameet series and the high-profile collaborations it earned him. #CamerasandDancers is still going strong—in fact a few months back Jonas celebrated his 50th meet—as is Jonas' savvy social media presence. But let us not forget that Jonas also has a sleek L.A.-based contemporary dance company which has also made exciting leaps in the past few years, performing in increasingly impressive venues—including Beverly Hills' Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, where they are currently the company-in-residence—as Jonas continues to refine his dynamic choreography.
What is the most common misconception about dancers?
How their economic worth determines their value. The people I know that enter this medium do it to grow, inspire, connect and share. Not for a paycheck.
What other career would you like to try?
I would be interested in architecture. I enjoy looking at architecture and thinking about physical spaces. How people and nature coexist with these spaces and how to manipulate light and scale. I think this would be the closest thing to choreography but using materials instead of bodies.
Instagram. I enjoy seeing the unique perspectives of the world from all my friends. I mainly follow photographers and culture outlets so it is a great form of inspiration. I also enjoy sharing my photos and receiving support and feedback.
Who is the person you most want to dance with—living or dead?
Lloyd Newson or Jim Carrey.
What's the first item on your bucket list?
Spend time in Ireland. I watched a film called Ondine that featured the south of the country and I would love to spend a month or two there.
What's your go-to crosstraining routine?
In the summers, I swim a mile in the ocean every Saturday morning. During the rest of the year, I enjoy going to the gym, weight training and playing basketball. Basketball is especially fun for me as it has the same physical demand as dance without the creative expectations.
What's the worst advice you've ever received?
I had a teacher who told me to stick to street dance when choreographing as that was how I started dancing. The teacher had his MFA, and assumed his degree meant his experience was greater than mine. I held on to this advice for a few years until I met my mentor Donald Byrd who helped introduce other vocabularies into my work. Oftentimes, people who you think are teaching you can be hurting you.
If you could relive one performance, what would it be?
Performing on the Venice Beach Boardwalk where I first started as a street performer.
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)
Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.
Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.
I'd been a professional dancer for five years when I realized the pain I'd been feeling in my hip and down my sciatic nerve was not going away. I had been treating it for two years as we dancers do—with regular visits to my masseuse, physical therapy, baths, ice and lots of Aleve—but I never stopped dancing. It finally dawned on me that if I kept going at the speed I was going (which was, well, speedy), the pain would only get more severe and unrelenting, and I might never dance again.
I told myself I'd take two months off, and all would be better.
That first morning when I woke up at 10 am, I had no idea what to do with myself. My life until that moment had been dictated by class and rehearsal, every hour accounted for. How should I fill the huge swath of time ahead of me?