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Mar 3, 2020

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Jenelle Figgins — an award-winning dancer, choreographer, and teacher, who is using her talents to help engage with schools and outreach to communities. Figgins, who currently dances for the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, uses her platform for good through teaching both domestically and internationally and through community outreach and dance advocacy. Her passion for choreography has also led her to produce original performances in partnership with schools through the United States. Recently, Jenelle was honored to take part in the NYC Dance Project, alongside her twin sister Samantha.

Jenelle is all too familiar with the grind of a professional dance career and has learned through her own trials that mental toughness, in many ways, supersedes physical toughness. On the podcast, Jenelle opens up about her struggles with bipolar disorder but discusses how she, personally, gets mentally ready for the grind of her career, day in and day out. Figgins also describes the joy of dancing alongside her twin sister, how her dance career started, the struggles of dancing in extreme altitude, and a myriad of other topics.  

Moving Quotes:

“There has to be peace on the inside in order for there to be chaos happening all around you."

“Having a strong mental stability is what definitely contributes to you having a long-lasting dance career. You have to have tough skin… But it propels your artistry when you’re able to tap into your sensitivity and make that a strength."

“My struggles are my greatest teachers."

“I always want to be able to do exactly what I want to do — to be passionate in my art — but also to develop myself as an artist for the things that I’m going to do later."

“In the moments where you have great sadness or great pain — those are the moments that you have the most access to who you really are and the things that you really need to learn. There’s only so much development you can make when you’re in a happy place."

“[My twin sister and I] have both had things that we have no control over, but what we do have control over is how we treat each other and how we support each other in the things that could hold us back but, in reality, propel us forward."

Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

4:10: Jenelle discusses the challenges of training and dancing in Aspen, at an extremely high altitude.

5:27: Jenelle describes the mental toughness that’s necessary to maintain a professional dance career, even beyond the physical toll that dance takes on the body.

8:10: Figgins explains how she personally prepares herself mentally to cope with the oft-chaotic professional dance lifestyle.

12:30: Jenelle explains how she landed at the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and why the company holds a special place in her heart.

18:05: Figgins shares about her experience taking part in the NYC Dance Project.

21:35: Jenelle discusses how she has made her journey in dance alongside her twin sister, Samantha, and how going it side-by-side with her has been an incredible blessing and advantage.

25:46: Jenelle describes what she is most proud of as a dancer and artist.

27:32: Figgins retells an extremely low point for her when she first moved to Aspen but explains how our struggles are often our greatest teachers.

32:01: Jenelle discusses her own personal goals within dance, including producing more choreographed works and using arts to benefit communities.

Bullet List of Resources – 

Jenelle Figgins