A lot of people ask me what exactly it is I do. Like, with my life.
Their confusion stems from the narrow and biased peek that social media offers – according to which, I'm dancing or doing something dance-related alldayeveryday.
But I'm sure you know (at least, I hope you do) – not all that glitters is gold.
I work full-time as a writer. Monday through Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. People forget that, as fun and casual as STEEZY seems, it is a company. And everyone on our small team puts in mad work to keep it running. For extra income, I take on dance gigs (not with an agency, but through friends / networks) that sometimes require for me to travel.
That's the gist of what I do – summed up in a few run-on sentences. Dance, and write about dance.
I'm aware that my "jobs," as difficult as they are to manage at times, are unique blessings. Not a lot of people get to say that their two passions merge to create a career where they feed each other's growth.
In fact, whenever I talk to dancers about their struggles, I notice a universal, repeating motif:
– Loving dance so much, but not necessarily seeing a sustainable, lucrative career that can come out of it as a dancer alone. Everyone's looking for ways to serve the community using a talent that complements (videography, event planning, running a studio, etc.) that will allow them to keep dance in their lives without making it their life. I hate the cheesiness of this word, but what we're all seeking.. is synergy.
In this sense, I'm aware of how fortunate I am. And in the same breath, I'm thankful that I can also create opportunities for others who have similar goals as I do. Our dance community is in an awkward pubescent phase of development where all the talent and potential – the ammo – is there. But it's niche. Still slightly underground. And we all wanna pull the trigger to make something of it while preserving its authenticity.
The best part of anything I do is the people. That was, is, and will always remain true for anything in my life. And when I meet dancers with this burning passion to create, share, serve, and grow – damn. I fall in love with them, their energy, and our entire community as a whole. It drives me to do everything I can to help their mission come to life.
So yeah. I'm blessed. There's a shit ton of behind-the-scenes work and sacrifice that only I see in my own life. But this is exactly why I don't advertise those harder times – How could I complain about my lack of sleep or creative roadblocks when everyone around me is so hungry? Working towards something unimaginably huge and rewarding together? I'm just humbled to share the appetite.
Not to mention, who wants to see the ugly fine-print of someone's life on Instagram?
That's what blogs are for :)
I was in the East Coast for 10 days in September – the first 4 days were for a gig (in Connecticut, like wtf lol) then my friends and I used the rest of the time as a vacation.
Here's a media-rich recap of my trip!
On show day, we were killing time waiting for the band to do their sound check...
And we got bored. So we danced to the sound check. Badly.
If you didn't know, another big passion of mine is makeup!
Any chance I get to do my own or my friends', I freakin take.
Follow my makeup Insta if you don't hate my face <333
After being glammed up and pampered, I went to bed and woke up the next morning with a reality check:
You Ain't Shit, Jessie.
Since all of us were splitting to different lodging plans for the rest of the week, we used our first day free / last day together to explore Times Square!
No matter what trendy new food places NY has, Halal Guys will always be my first stop.
The next night (?) I don't know. What are days. Time isn't real; it doesn't matter.
Some night after that, Noe wanted to go to a club. Badly.
Now, Idk/Idc what people perceive me as, but I'm reeeeally not a club/bar/party-kinda girl. I hate drinking and find most of those environments unstimulating and unsanitary.
But somehow... I was the most turnt that night.
The most sober, yet most turnt. Jeez.
We all split ways, but I was staying with Noe at an AirBnB in Queens.
Instead of sightseeing and fooding around, our itinerary consisted of dance classes we wanted to take. Of course.
Our first stop was Ken's class at Peridance.
FIRST West Coast / East Coast discrepancy note: The class prices.
As we were registering, the front lady said "That's $20."
My spoiled LA-class-taking-brain assumed that was for both of us.
I said "Oh, I got a 20. Noe, you wanna Venmo me?"
"No, thats $20.. each."
So yeah. We opted out of the 3 classes we were gonna take the next day in order to not be broke. But the class we took from Ken that night was worth every dime.
We went out to eat, drink, and be merry afterwards at a nearby restaurant whose name I do not remember but burrito I definitely do. Worth the $20, though? Debatable. I coulda taken another class!
This is the prime example of what I love about dance and the dancers in the community.
I knew maybe like 2 people in here to start, and we end up laughing and sharing stories by the end of the night.
Hope to see you soon, too! Make a trip to LA and I'll be sure to reciprocate the same warm welcome :)
Since we weren't taking classes the next day, I decided to dress like a girl.
In .00003 seconds I was hit with the realization that I shoulda sized up on the romper. Darnit.
!!! NOTE !!!
During our first outing in Times Square, I dropped my phone while attaching my fish-eye lens to the camera. TYPICAL.
It shattered the screen – which I honestly don't mind, but it also caused a lot of internal damage.
My phone basically kept turning off randomly, and needed to be jump-started with a charger. Then it'd die. I had like a 1 minute window of use each time it was on, if that at all.
I couldn't take as many photos as I wanted to. Which is why I'm stealing / linking to a lot of my friends' :)
As anxious as the phone situation made me, it also forced me to be more present in my company & environment.
Yeah. That's what I'll keep telling myself to assuage the pain of -$500 in my bank account from buying a new phone..
(This is also why I'm phoneless 'til Thursday. Boo.)
That day, we visited Ground Zero.
It was breathtaking. When we saw the memorial for the first time, we all instinctually fell silent.
We walked around some more and ended up in Central Park.
My Jesus-sandal clad feet were not happy, but I asked my new friend Justin (who was on GRaVy Babies in SoCal and is just starting his first semester at NYU!!) to do some dangerous parkour moves around the park. Why? So I can Snapchat "CENTRAL PARK-OUR" to entertain myself.
TYBG for making my phone hold out long enough to post that, and TYJustin for doing random crap for me.
Like, I'm not even try and play it cool. This is one of the dopest opportunities, by far, that I've ever had.
I love teaching. Yet the last time I taught was over a year ago.
After I moved to LA from San Diego, I discovered how easy - er, - doable it was to get teaching gigs up here. Which is good and bad.
(I sound more and more like a salty OG with each day that passes. But this, I stand by.)
I believe that teaching a class is a huge responsibility. People are paying money and have the expectation to walk away with something of value. Something more than a set of moves.
Taking classes in OC/LA, I feel like choreographers often teach a set of moves.*** And students walk away with a set of moves. And both parties are fine with it. Not only does the possibility of learning more not occur, it seems that that's what people want. For students: A cool video. New vocab of moves to imitate. For teachers: The self-gratifying feeling of saying "Come to my class." The applause after their solo. The delusion of being a semi-celebrity for 1.5 hours.
When did dance become about all these things.. that are not dance???
Like, I get it. it's glamorous. It strokes your ego. We all want our.. egos.. stroked.
But that's why I didn't want to partake in it. If I was going to teach, I really wanted to be able to give something more than choreography. I love dancing so much that I refused to water it down by claiming I'm an instructor but showing up more or less empty-handed with only a combo of moves that everyone would forget the next week.
That's why this class was so special to me. After a long ass hiatus from teaching and using my time and energy to learn, I felt so excited to share those things – and hoped that these dancers could learn from them as well.
Compound that with the fact that it's a different community with different nuances in intention:
The communities I've visited outside of Southern California have their unique culture and idiosyncrasies, but one thing always resonates the same – their hunger.
It felt so refreshing to have a group of people so eager to take in everything. Even through my nervousness, I felt comfortable knowing that we all wanted to grow, and grow together.
***There are several exceptions, of course! I'm not bad-mouthing everyone who teaches in LA lol.
9/7/2016 || Teachers. Sometimes they're never appreciated enough, but they deserve some of the most appreciation out of all the people you meet in your entire life. They provide you with knowledge, inspiration, and growth. They're a big factor in shaping you into the person you'll become in the future. So, never forget to show a teacher just how much you appreciate them because they're worth so much. To all the teachers that have aided me in my life so far... Thank you. As for today specifically, thank you @jessayeee for teaching today at @homnyc and sharing your wisdom and wonderful vibes with the east coast dancers. Can't wait until your next class! #365project #appreciation
High key lookin like trash next to Jessie lmao but gotta give her a shoutout 🙌🏻 I remember seeing you in high school and thinking you were way too cool for me but soon realized how genuine and talented of a dancer you are. Thank you for inspiring me all these years! You'll always be someone I aspire to be like, whether we're in SD or NYC ✈️ #jessiefromsteezy #hom
Every single dancer had this genuine hunger. A hunger that is hard to exist when resources are plentiful and everything is easy.
It's humbling, really. To know that I ain't shit. To see how much greatness there is in all these individual dancers across the country. To say to myself, "Damn, you need work harder."
People work their asses off and jump through hoops in order to dance. And their talent, drive, and positivity through it all is nothing short of infectious.
Thank you, East Coast dancers, for the kind of fire that I'd been yearning for.
I guess you could say it was...