The Dance Enthusiast Celebrates Black Choreographers:
"Dance is my medicine ... Dance is the fist with which I fight the sickening ignorance of prejudice. Instead of growing twisted like a gnarled tree inside myself, I am able to dance out my anger and frustration." Pearl Primus
MOVEMENT AS MEDICINE: Jessica Chen Redefines Broken
When Life Experiences Surpass the Endurance of Any Person,How Can Movement Heal?
MOVEMENT AS MEDICINE
Medicine is defined as “a substance or preparation used in treating disease” or “something that affects well-being.” (Merriam Webster Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/medicine) Movement has been a way to treat, rehabilitate, and support well-being for ages. There is an undeniable reverence, no matter the circumstance, for any survivor of trauma. And there are a number of artists whose rehabilitation, whose survival depended on movement.
MOVEMENT AS MEDICINE seeks to share these stories. -- emotional and physical traumas of dancers and non-dancers alike. This series offers portraits of the power of movement for survival, for artistry, and for medicine.
|Jessica Chen, Photo Bill Herbert|
JESSICA CHEN'S STORY
A CAREER SHIFTED BY TRAGEDY
Validation is often a question for artists. Jessica Chen’s work has been commissioned by the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai and spoken word artist Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai’s evening length show, “Formosa.” Her company, J CHEN PROJECT, born in 2008, performed at the DUMBO Dance Festival , Ars Nova’s ANT FEST , the Annual Asian American Cultural Festival of Long Island and participated in the JAZZduFUNK Residency in Shanghai, China as well as the Dancer’s Unlimited Residency in Honolulu, Hawaii.
However, in early 2012, Chen was still expecting a “major grant or commission to propel my company or to 'start' my choreographic career.” But in August of that year, Chen was propelled in a different direction.Swerving out of the way of an oncoming limousine, who was on the wrong side of the highway, Chen's Mini Cooper convertible flipped three times and landed upside down. Chen, severely injured, was immediately transported in a medical helicopter to the nearest hospital in Santa Barbara, California for brain surgery. She was then placed in a medically induced coma for thirteen days.
|Jessica Chen, Photo Vanessa Gonzalez- Bunster|
Jessica doesn’t remember the accident. She has fragmented memories of awakening from the coma, but she constantly received positive feedback from friends, family, and doctors alike. In fact, it seemed that her “physical lifestyle” allowed her body to heal much faster than expected. What was supposed to be weeks in the hospital’s rehabilitative facility ended up being only ten days. And on September 11, 2012 she moved on to a “transition home” when she began speech therapy to counter her short-term memory loss along with physical therapy.
How Never Was Broken , Chen's newest work, offered a "Path to Rehabilitation"
|Jessica Chen, Photo Carl McLarty|
Fast forward to February 2013. Chen, still with a limited range of motion, led her dancers through ten days of rehearsal “just to get everything out there.” They workshopped ideas that had developed in her brain and were part of her journals written during her rehabilitation. By May, she was performing with the dancers in a work- in -progress showing of her newest piece, Never Was Broken.
CONTINUALLY DISCOVERING THE BIGGER PICTURE
But Chen says, “The show must go on.” And go on she and her dancers will, Never was Broken: a dance through life and death and life’ will go up at the Salvatore Capezio Theater at Peridance on Saturday, September 21 at 8:30PM.
|Jessica Chen Paul Dimalanta|
Chen writes, “If this year has taught me anything it is that, no matter how broken a situation may look ‘being broken’ is only one-way to look at the bigger picture.And the bigger picture for J CHEN PROJECT is that we are proud to be a part of this supportive arts community...”