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Dec 1, 2020

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra interviews Jessica Chen, Artistic Director of the J CHEN PROJECT, a 501c3 nonprofit modern dance company based out of New York City that uses movement as a vehicle to heal wounds, share stories, and better understand our human existence. Chen is a seasoned dancer with a wide variety of dance and choreography credits. She has choreographed works for some of the biggest stages, including the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the International Human Rights Arts Festival.

Jessica’s story is an incredible one, and her journey to where she is today has not been an easy road. In the not-so-distant past, Chen was involved in a near-fatal car crash, resulting in eight straight hours of brain surgery and thirteen days in a medically induced coma. However, Jessica fought back to the stage, and her time without use of her limbs forced her to reevaluate her life’s calling and priorities. On the podcast, Jessica retells this incredible story and discusses how she now uses lessons learned from this traumatic event to help others overcome hardships through the arts.


Moving Quotes:

“We’re all experiencing this now. Taking a pause can be scary, but it also has so many insights when you just take the time to just breathe and think and meditate in a way that doesn’t have any expectations. You’re just being still."

“Learning without the expectation of it becoming something is important because you’re using your creativity and your analytical skillsets."

“I want to be creative in how we see dance and how we structure artistic community. And I think it’s the time to do that — the time to go outside your box, to do something different, and not be afraid to fail."

“The journey of my choreography and dance and movement life is to communicate to the world. To be in the world and to process all of the craziness that I personally experience or that I see in the world. And to put it into art so that we can digest it and process it before we can talk about it."

“Dance has always been my way to communicate in the world — my way to be in the world."


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

3:38: Jessica discusses the J CHEN PROJECT, including the company’s purpose and some recent expansion.

5:42: Jessica explores the different “legs” of her company pre-pandemic.

11:24: Chen walks through her creative process when designing pieces for extremely diverse audiences.

14:37: Chen, who was involved in a near-fatal car crash, walks through her incredible story of rehabilitation and having to rediscover her life purpose while lying in a hospital bed.

23:00: Jessica explains the different means by which she discovered her life’s purpose and how learning is critical to success in any role or position.

26:19: Chen shares some wisdom on setting lofty goals then mapping out how to attain them.

28:59: Jessica looks into what’s next for her in each of her life’s callings, including having to pivot to adjust to the COVID-19 “new normal.”


Bullet List of Resources – 

Jessica Chen