We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessie Lee Thorne and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessie Lee, why did you pursue a creative career?
Honestly, I do not think I consciously chose to pursue an artistic/creative career. Art and dance and poetry were all just there for me when I needed it. And truly that is still how I try to keep it. I do not ever want to be forced to make art, or forced to make a type of art. To me, that feels more like torture. And I know torture is a bold word, but art has always been something out of necessity rather than just something to do for fun. Whether I needed to escape my home, my family, my thoughts – or dive into my questions, my mind, my curiosities, art was the one thing that made sense. I do it because I need it. I do it for the process and the journey. Creating has always been the way I communicate best. Creating is something that helps me understand my self better. When I look back at the pieces I have created, the subjects all tend to put my most inner thoughts and insecurities on blast, without me even knowing it’s happening. I remember about two years ago, I made this piece called “Girl,” which basically is about a young girl having an identity crisis. Throughout the piece we watch this girl go through her diary trying to understand her sexuality, as well as her battles with femininity and coming out to her family. After seeing this piece, my mother asked me if I had originally forgotten to invite her to the show for a reason. She thought this was such a personal piece (with small hints of anger towards the mother of the main character), that maybe I didn’t want her to see it. This was a very interesting response to get. Later I realized that all my works are about my internal struggles – the ones that were impossible for me to express normally. I seem to only be able to do it through my art. And this is why I continue to create. Why I have to create. Because it really is a way of communication for me. Truly at points, my only way of communication.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Looking back on my journey, which truly feels like it has just begun, I see so many lessons and challenges. I think the most important obstacle I have faced is myself. My fears and doubts have been my biggest hurdle. As each job or opportunity came, it felt as if the beginning was always tainted by doubts and judgments. This took me down, but once I got passed those, I was able to explore, research, and create without a stutter. It took time and many realizations as well as lots of internal work to undo this pattern. The biggest realization I had was that nobody else has experienced exactly what I have. If I take my experiences in this world and create with this knowledge, then I can’t go wrong. I realized if I was fully me, nobody could do the job better because nobody can come from the same angle I come from. And this, was the most freeing realization.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Wow! What a question! There are so many incredible people that I have to thank for helping me along my journey. First, I have to give a huge shoutout to my parents for giving me the freedom as a kid to explore every possible avenue. Without this freedom I would have not been able to experience half of what has led me to the artist and human I am today. I would like to give a huge shoutout to the following: Brandy Thilesen for being the one who made me fall in love with dance, Terry Bixler for sharing knowledge that led to the clearest understanding and awareness of my body in motion, Michael Figueroa for helping me find myself, my brother for always inspiring me to do more, Walter Matteini and Ina Broeckx for giving me my first company job and for helping bring the artist inside me out into my dancing, Micaela Taylor for her incredible movement language which has completely changed that way I move, Damien Jalet, Omar Carrum, and Claudia Lavista for introducing me to floorwork, and LajaMartin for making me fall in love with floor work again. I could name for hours everyone else who has affected me on my journey, but I will just say a general thank you to everyone who believed in me as a dancer and choreographer.
Zach Kemper Megan Guise Photography Nick Gonzalez