Meet our Leg Uppers - Jessica Goodfellow

Photo: Martina Houdek

Photo: Martina Houdek

Name: Jess Goodfellow

Age: 22

Artistic Training/Skills: Ballet, Contemporary Dance, old school Jazz… Gaga?

Born: Albury-Wodonga

Grew up: Drummoyne, Sydney

Influences: Emma Portner, Marina Marscarell, Easton Blake, Erica Sobol, Natalie Bebko, Tobias Ellehammer, Caetlyn Watson, Teddy Tedholm, Aloun Marchal, Ohad Naharin, Sharon Eyal, Batsheva and their dancers, Michael Jackson, my mates Callum Mooney, Alice Robinson, Thomas name a few. HONOURABLE MENTION to Jacob Collier, who is a musician/alien. AND to the 'whatevering' work of Cyril Baldy and Tilman O’Donnell. 

You've recently come home from a huge journey, from Tel Aviv to Scotland and finally landing at IT DANSA company in Spain. What was the work you did with IT DANSA and where did it take you? 

ITDANSA is a junior company with an incredible, almost unbelievable array of repertory ranging from the original NDT work of Kylian and Duato and classic works of Naharin, to newer creations by Alexander Ekman, Akram Khan and Sidi Larbi. We were all delighted to perform these pieces and approached learning them with great respect and care. It was so special to feel the energy of an audience seeing these works for the first time. Nearly every show on our tour was sold out and received standing ovations, thanks to the repertory, providing us with the rare opportunity to relax and trust ourselves and the work. We toured throughout France, Switzerland and Germany for a total of three months, sometimes performing three times a day. It was insane. AND we got free towels. What more could you want.

Can you share any epiphanies you've found about creativity and self during your artist journey so far? What have been some of the pivotal lessons you've learnt during your training and early professional career?

One big realisation I made was that I couldn’t expect a sense of confidence to magically find me through more experience, or a name for myself in a bigger company. I would walk into auditions thinking everybody else seemed so certain, individual, and CONFIDENT, rendering my dance very apologetic and feeble as a response. I think 'confidence' is such a limiting concept and I had to realise that I would always feel its absence if I saw it as something I needed to FIND or earn. As soon as I stopped thinking about ‘confidence’, I started to notice I could just... do the thing, ya know? The mere fact that you have lived in a different body to everyone else provides you with a wealth of personal experiences, stories and rights to defend the character you've constructed. You should be happy with it. Maybe not proud, but at least forthright. And I think that ties in with sharing your stuff. One day I was looking through Emma Portner’s instagram, and thinking how grateful I was for the fact that she had publicised her work in progress; these tiny clips of her rehearsing made me want to move, made me feel like I could read her history. It made me wonder how something small I share could be the seed that inspires someone else to dance, and it would be selfish to keep that from people. If I could inspire ANYONE the way that Emma Portner did for me, that would be wicked alright. 

You've recently been inspired to expand your presentation and performance skills into other areas of media. What inspires you to continue developing as an artist, even though you're already quite accomplished in dance?

Dance will always be the thing in my bones, and where I feel at home. But I am studying media/communications and design at the moment, because I really want skills that cover the whole realm of entertainment, and help me to make my own stuff WELL. I feel limited in my capacity to connect with people through dance alone and want to integrate my passion for it with other mediums. I just love learning. And learning from my mates too. I feel stagnant if I’m not trying to improve, and I feel weak if I haven’t aligned myself with some kind of challenge that I’m set to fail. I have always learnt the most by being the worst dancer in the room. 

What is it about the creative process that you're developing that entices you?

Lately I’ve been trying to train in as many styles as I can because I believe that the more pathways I learn, the more chance I have at becoming infinite; less burdened by repetition and less warped by my classical training. Improvisation is the reason I dance. It has kept me sane during my training/work and I think it’s the truest form of dance there is, because you can incorporate everything from your physical history into it, whether it’s the pattern of your tooth brushing routine, or the feeling of a warm ocean DIP your body knows so well. The stream of consciousness you find freestyling (especially to the point of exhaustion) engenders such a meditative, emotional clearance for the body. Crystal Pite INGENIOUSLY said that "dance disappears almost at the moment of its manifestation”, and I would add that I reckon dance may well be the most authentic way of expressing yourself, as you are, exactly in one moment. Talk about not having words for a feeling. It just comes OUT man…. For me I think this love for improv connects with my love for music (more clichéd words have not been said). I wish to extend my skills to the point that I can embody music to the highest accuracy. It's impossible. No matter what your level of skill, music will always move you in the most innate way, and catch you in a better place afterwards. It's the SICKEST. Rhythm is everywhere! It connects us all! Maybe PEACE sounds like rhythm! Or feels like rhythm! Or moves like rhythm! Maybe peace is a dancer!

And aLSO, anything that makes me laugh is encouraged. I think that body language has a particular capacity to make fun of EVERYTHING at once, to make all humans seem small, and trivial, and relatable. Movement humour is so comprehensive and universal; it’s a language we all speak and read. My friend and I have been working on an improvisation device we call "horse technique". It is a subtle ode to the 'whatevering' concept by Cyril Baldy and Tilman O’Donnell (but we by no means claim association- they are geniuses), which we consider a deep and genuine research, simultaneously expressing an inherent sense of humour. We base it off the aim to "never get there" and to subvert our historical, learned movement patterns. This means interrupting our bodies with the dynamic, form and quality we are regularly discouraged from applying in "DANCE".

Andrew Batt-Rawden