Jess makes dances to leverage the profound healing potential of human beings moving together, attending to space, time, and bodies, and deepening their relationships with each other and the world through the tenderness and vulnerability elicited by the creative process. Her movement research began in childhood with gymnastics and continues with dancemaking from various, shifting perspectives, and states of body~mind. Her dances are expressions of her engagement with paradox, contemplative and somatic practices, Integral Theory, Practice-as-Research, and reverence for works of those within whose lineages she moves. 

She has co-created several evening-length dances over the past 20 years with artists such as Deborah Hay, Sara Shelton Mann, Gabor Tompa, Guillermo Gomez-Pena’s La Postra Nostra, Leslie Seiters, LIVE, and throughout her 13-year collaboration with Eric Geiger. 

In 2021, Jess initiated Portal, a transborder dance experiment born on Zoom during the pandemic and continuing to grow IRL on both sides of the US-Mexico border. She now co-facilitates this platform for dances created through somatic and contemplative experimentation alongside Briseida López Inzunza, Miroslava Wilson Montoya, and Gizeh Muñiz Vengel. 

She has an MFA in Modern Dance with a focus on contact improvisation and creative process from the University of Utah (2008) and a BFA in Dance from California State University, Long Beach (2002). 

Intensive study with Deborah Hay in 2009 changed her life and continues to inspire her every move.  

She is a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) with the International Somatic Movement and Therapy Association (ISMETA) and is certified in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis through the Integrated Movement Studies Program (IMS, 2006) with primary teachers Peggy Hackney and Janice Meaden, Dance-Specific Pilates with Body Arts and Sciences, International (BASI, 2002) with Karen Clippinger and Rael Isocowitz, has studied Body-Mind Centering® (BMC®) with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and Amy Matthews, and will graduate from the BMC® Somatic Movement Educator Program at Moving Within with Mary Lou Seereiter in 2025/26. She has studied the Feldenkrais Method® with Seiters, Geiger, and Kristen Baum Wilcox and Alexander Technique with Marjean McKenna, Eileen Troberman, and Shelley Senter. 

After experiencing the shadow dynamics of horizontal, non-hierarchical group structures, she was inspired to pursue training in the facilitation of conflict as a creative process as well as leadership that cultivates healthy hierarchy through the integration of both top-down and bottom-up processes. Her certification in Integral Facilitation® (Ten Directions, 2019) with Diane Musho Hamilton, Rob McNamara, Cindy Lou Golin, Gabriel Wilson and Rebecca Ejo Colwell informs her work in the studio, within institutions, and throughout the community.In her role as a Professor of Dance at SDSU, Jess continues to learn through teaching (dancemaking, contact improvisation, embodied anatomy, somatics, making dances with students and mentoring their dancemaking processes), researching (somatic and contemplative practices in dancemaking as paths to healing and spiritual deepening), and working with the Prison Arts Collective to bring arts education to incarcerated participants.

See Life As a Modern Dancer Blog posts for other glimpses:

Studio Time/Practice Time

Artist Profile #151