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Dance Revolution – Jacob Jonas

On Jacob Jonas’ resume, you’ll find accolades like “Semi-finalist in Paula Abdul’s “Live to Dance” competition, National Performing Artist of the Year award winner, a prestigious choreography mentorship as Artistic Director for Spectrum Dance theater and most impressively, owner of Jacob Jonas and Company, a 21st century company with a focus on creating dance both for a live audience and for the camera.

In 2014, Jacob Jonas and Company debuted its first full-length work at the Ailey Citigroup Theater and earned the company high praise through reviews in The New York Times and a mention in The Los Angeles Times’ “Best of 2014”. Since then, the company has partnered with the likes of Dance Camera West at the Palace Theater, United Talent Agency, the 2015 Arts Summit at Culver City Hall, Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Festival and this year, Jacob Jonas and Company self-produced five sold out evenings of the Side Door Series, for which the LA Times noted the company’s “explosive display of the company’s vitality and range.”

It is Jacob’s goal, through performance, collaboration, technology and education, to raise the consciousness of the art form of dance to be appreciated to its fullest capacity by society. A unique approach his company has taken is to employ the power of social media through an innovative and beautiful Instagram series he’s titled #CamerasandDancers.

Through this initiative, nineteen events have been held around the world, reaching millions of social enthusiasts. Recent co-hosts of #CamerasandDancers include the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), The Royal Ballet and Jacob’s Pillow along with the top users on Instagram with between 50,000 – 250,000 followers respectively. The trending tag #CamerasandDancers has been called “a revolutionary movement in contemporary art” and has been featured on Instagram’s blog, in the Los Angeles Times, ArtsBeatLA, and Newsworks.

Jacob Jonas and Company continues to leverage creative ways to express itself through unexpected forums, like the extensive and focused use of film, photography and social media to increase its artistic footprint and engage new and younger audiences. A task often seemingly impossible, but one the company excels at. We spoke to the creator to get a more in depth look at the process.

BASIC: Your list of collaborators is nothing short of impressive. What is your vetting process?

 There is no one ingredient. I believe in life you have to be two things a creator and a curator. You have to create ideas, create a team, and create a brand. As a curator, you need to bring people in to your life that inspire you and push you to grow and reach your fullest potential. Collaborations allow me to be both. Including different mediums and perspectives facilitates my vision and allows the end result to be unique and impactful. I am always on the lookout for new collaborations, working with down to earth people and brands that align with the vision and mission of Jacob Jonas The Company.

BASIC: Why was Instagram such an important platform for you?

Instagram is a dating app for creative people. I have met so many innovative and talented people through this platform that have become lifelong friends and collaborators. Anyone who has a large following on this platform is able to produce visually appealing content and understand how to build a brand and engage with an audience. That alone is respectable. I have learned by connecting with other influencers, I am connecting with other audiences and therefore making dance as a brand more visible- that is a big goal of mine.

BASIC: What would be a dream partnership for your company?

 There are so many brands and individuals I would want to align myself with. In this moment, a partnership with David Kelley of IDEO would be a dream. Innovation and social good are two directions I am heading towards to make the world more creative and inspired and to make dance more popular and accessible. I would want to work with David to find out how to bring dance and design-thinking together through education and the working world, making people more creatively confident.

BASIC: Do you plan to expand the company to other cities? Where are you looking?

 We have performed around North America and have collaborated with artists around the world. As our company grows, we plan to both self- produce work in Los Angeles continuing to build a home-based audience as well as begin to be presented around the world.

BASIC: Why is it important to you to reach a younger audience?

When most people think of dance, they either think of the commercially saturated industry or they think of the likes of Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, etc. There has rarely been a company in the recent years that has built a name as big as the aforementioned. I think it is because theaters are only presenting older companies which is only attracting older audiences. If you look at the music industry, festivals and awards shows- they are celebrating emerging artists alongside established ones and that in turn is attracting younger audiences. My goal is to have dance become more visible and the younger generation is a huge part of that. I will be producing a festival this spring break on the Santa Monica Pier similar to the music concerts with the intention to have younger crowds join. I also feel Instagram is helping expose younger audiences to significant dance companies around the world and I am helping to do that through an initiation I started called #CamerasandDancers.

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Photographer Aldo Chacon @alchaconphoto
Words by Abby Draper @abbydraper