My baby is a month old today. It splits all of my attention right now. I am a new mom, I am sure all new parents feel that. You want to protect this innocent being from heartache, all of the upside-down that is happening out there right now. It feels extra hard because I can’t give my attention fully to this incredible little one. The company I work for has made tough decisions based on the financial struggle. You read about dancers being laid off and seasons being finished early. With all these things that are canceled … it’s just finished, and done, and it’s so hard to find closure. We work hard as dancers. And then to have a performance canceled, to maybe never perform them, is difficult. It can be hard for dancers to be in a confined space and feel able to contribute and be fulfilled by what they are doing. It can be very trying. There are good things to come out of this too; this project, for example, and people finding greater accessibility to companies and dancers. I have been watching Hubbard classes. It has been amazing to see all of these people teaching and the scope of the community, how we can reach more people in any given moment, even though part of what we do is being in the room with each other, feeling each other’s energies. Everyone has Zoom on mute now and you can’t ask the class how everyone is feeling. Is this working? Not having the buzz you feel in the studio has been really challenging. On a personal level, you just feel so much hardship and sadness for a lot of the difficulties for arts organizations and others. When it hits so close to home it is really hard. I also want to protect my baby and be there for him and not try to feel this heavy sorrow all the time right now.
Jessica Tong (Rehearsal Director, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago) received her formal training at The Ballet School in Salt Lake City, Utah under Jan Clark Fugit, as well as at the University of Utah, where she was a member of Utah Ballet. Tong danced with BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio, Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech in New York, and Hubbard Street 2 before dancing with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago for 11 years. Jessica has performed in numerous works throughout her career, including pieces by Hubbard Street founder, Lou Conte, and contemporary greats Nacho Duato, Mats Ek, Jiri Kylian, and Ohad Naharin, to name a few. She has also originated roles in works by Aszure Barton, Alejandro Cerrudo, Jorma Elo, Penny Saunders, and Robyn Mineko Williams, among others. Named one of Dance Magazine’s Top 25 to Watch in 2009, Jessica served on the Dance Ambassador committee of Dance for Life for 4 years and has helped set works by Alejandro Cerrudo and Penny Saunders.