Spot LA sent me an email and asked me if I wanted to attend an improv called “Oxytocin” hosted by Jacob Jonas The Company. Me, being a beginning starved dancer in LA of course I said yes right away. I decided to get there early as I mostly do when going anywhere, I arrived at Los Angeles Ballet Center a half hour early, no one was at the welcome desk and when I asked the woman in charge upstairs where the session would be she gave me directions to studio 3, which was the wrong studio as I quickly found out because no one was there. I looked on the Facebook post and found the very important detail "enter through the side door on Stoner Ave.". Ops! When I got there, everyone was welcoming. It wasn't the typical hostile, nervous environment where you feel everyone's walls up; there were genuine smiles, chill music already playing people with their shoes on (yes, on the studio floor), cookies, and everyone sprawled out on the floor. I started stretching and warming up. I go over to Jill Wilson (JJTC manager) probably 3 times to ask her questions: 'How late does this go till?' "Whenever. You can just leave whenever you want." 'Can we take pictures and videos?' "Yes! Of course! Please do!" I chat with her for a short second before it starts about how long she's been dancing for (since she was a wee little one around 3, mostly Ballet and Jazz).
‘Is it starting? Did we start? Is it time? Is there an introduction..? What's happening..? I like this song, this is funky, I'm just gonna dance...’ Everyone is stretching and warming up and slowly things progress into dancing, the energy builds and we all slowly migrate towards each other until most of us are intertwined, flipping, balancing, falling, catching, pulling, leaning. We all morphed into what felt like, at moments, a genuine performance piece. Endless layers of movement, we all felt each other as if we were one. The photographer, Carl Shrawder, was our loving audience, the one with the power to solidify the moments forever. He was with us, part of us as he moved in, through, around and out of all of it confidently perusing the moments he saw.
When things started to slow down, some started to stretch and group in soft chatters, I took a moment to introduce myself to my first contact improv partner of the night who set me free with his assertive spirit. I wanted to thank him for giving me the most electric and beautiful improv experience, to my surprise (however, I somehow feel like I already knew) this man was Jacob Jonas.
How long have you been dancing?
I started dancing around 13, but didn't take it seriously until around 16.
How long has the company been around for?
We started last January. We combine contemporary ballet, breakdancing, and circus arts.
What do you like to do in LA?
I skateboard mostly and I go to the beach a lot.
Are you from LA?
Born and raised in Santa Monica. I couldn't go anywhere else as I love the ocean.
Will your company do any traveling?
We premiered our first full length show last year in NY at Alvin Ailey theater. We will be performing at Jacob's Pillow Inside/Out Festival in late July, we have that to look forward to. We will also be traveling to Vancouver and Chicago in the coming months.
The energy died pretty fast from there, we were done after two songs. When the last song stopped, Jacob gathered everyone in a circle. He thanked us all for coming out and asked us to describe how we feel, but instead of doing the usual "let's go clockwise" routine, he let us volunteer who would speak first. Marissa started, which if you met her you would guess she would go first: she's a fun spitfire woman who may be small, but she's muscular, full of energy, and has a beautiful heart. Marissa Labog is one of JJTC dancers, she described the night and how she felt, in how we pretty much all wanted to describe it. She described how everyone's energy level started low, whether from the heat or exhaustion from the week and that she enjoyed that we were all on that same level, that she was able to let go even though she would describe herself as a "control freak", that we all complimented, and supported each other, yet everyone was different.