Born and raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., jenna beardsley is an artist engaging movement, sound, social mediums, and video in Brooklyn, NY (located on the lands of the Munsee Lenape and Canarsie people). jenna attended Virginia Commonwealth University’s Dance and Choreography department, graduating amidst the COVID-19 crisis in May 2020 with honors, holding both an Outstanding Choreographer award and the Bobby Chandler Award for Theatre. During their time at VCU, jenna studied from the likes of Scott Putman, Autumn Proctor, Eric Rivera, Trebien Pollard, Jenna Riegel, Andreé Zachery, MK Abadoo, and Dr. Gaynell Sherrod, along with many other valued guest artists and faculty. Additionally, jenna has deepened their performance research through a multitude of workshops and intensives including Sidra Bell’s MODULE, both Kristopher K.Q. Pourzal’s i, abject: queer objectives, or the art of ma(s)king dances and his virtual MELT re(treat), American Dance Festival, and Johnnie Cruise Mercer’s Homecoming Residency. jenna has performed professionally with the likes of Michelle Thompson Ulerich, Era Dance Co, Eric Rivera, and Sinclair Ogaga Emoghene, and their choreographic work has premiered around the DMV, most notably at Dance Place's Exquisite Frame showcase in the fall of 2020 and Richmond Dance Festival in the summer of 2021. Currently, jenna is a creative fellow with TheRedProjectNYC, under the direction of Johnnie Cruise Mercer, a mentee with MICHIYAYA Dance, a teacher of theatre and community practices in the NYC public schools through Ping Chong + Company, and teacher of movement at various local venues. jenna is a multifaceted dance and arts professional synthesizing their many passions alongside and in conversation with their arts community.
As a choreographer, jenna creates performance work that centers the queer, trans experience in reflection, joy, ecstasy, and abundance. They synthesize experimental influences from all spheres of art, music, fashion, philosophy, culture, and personal experience to create work that is investigative, curious, and intuitive. jenna curates utopic environments that invite people into dreamlike, fantastical spaces of suspended time to experience community, inquiry, and ecstasy. The personal, the historical, and the political converge and inform the creation process, inspired by both philosophical texts and the embodied experience that animate them. jenna deconstructs and recontextualizes theories and experiences into alternate, meditative spaces that dream of collective futures.
Working in a style that prioritizes process, jenna constantly evolves and extrapolates the self as a microcosm of the larger collective consciousness. Trance, repetition, time tracking, long duration change and evolution studies, and improvisational experiences are utilized to create loops in time and timelessness, making the act and product of creation both reflective and futuristic. bodies call on memories in non-linear fashions, collapsing the past, future, and the in betweens into the present moment.
jenna also enjoys baking for their friends, spending time outside, playing childhood video games, starting but never finishing many drawings in various journals, wandering, and driving long distances with really loud music playing
i am an artist engaging the mediums that have been poured into me: dance and movement, media and film, text and poetry. like most artists, i am always in-process of discovering my own interests and constantly evolving what my work hopes to accomplish. my work tends to be influenced by my love of philosophy, collaboration, community, culture, and experimentation in tandem with my queer experience. thematically, i work around subjects of transition, death, rebirth, and human relations. recent works have aimed to extrapolate and encode sociopolitical dynamics into performative, experiential environments that audiences are invited to be inside of through the use of lighting, acting, writing, and audience participation. inspired by texts like “Queer Phenomenology” by Sara Ahmed, philosophical theories serve as catalysts to create audience-engaging and thought provoking collaborative works. i use tools of nuance and coding to bring these philosophies to life in the space. structure, atmosphere, and activation of (alternative) space are prioritized. while i work in the body, i combine many mediums to set up events where people encounter stimulation and provocation on many levels. my works aim to be ever-evolving and unpredictable. i hope to curate performances as communal gatherings, and am interested in performance as a tool for joyful community organizing and justice efforts.
within the process of creation, i am interested in using practices of improvisation, choreographic games, theoretical embodiment, and world-making. the audience's engagement is a critical aspect of the work, as well as collaboration with other artists involved. the process of creating is highly fluid between myself, the performers, and the audience.
with the birth of a new era following 2020, my work has developed a branch of intense self-study. using myself as the subject, i have instituted a series of performative experiments that test and question my own limits, habits, and ideas over time. i am doing this through a combination of filming and photographing myself, experimenting with hyper-focusing on certain aspects of daily routine and micro moments of everyday beauty. the aim of this experiment is to cultivate a performative persona that lives online as its own entity.
ARTIST STATEMENT IN POETICS:
my body is a vessel, my experiences are a frame, my histories are an illumination, my dreams are a wellspring. i work inside my body and in conversation with other bodies. i am a child of the internet and see little separation between media and myself. at the same time i am a child of the south, raised inside of greenery and sprawling landscapes that taught my mind how to settle. i am a romanticist in all senses and seek expansion from all my experiences. i feel bold and curious and enlivened by questioning, i strive to never feel that i know. i want only to be seen on the outskirts, in the unfolding, at the edges, in bypass. i wonder at the why and find myself often in awe of the how. i am soft and failing and delighting in it.
my work is influenced by the integration of philosophy, collaboration, community, culture, and experimentation in tandem with my experiences of my own body in dissonance. i am interested in the ways that performance serves as a vessel for collective feeling, knowing, sensing, and transcending. i often work with political, radical, and philosophical texts and work through a process of encoding in order to engage audiences with certain ideas and theories through performance. structure, atmosphere, and activation of space are prioritized; i combine many mediums to create events where people encounter stimulation and provocation on many levels, often working in sensory overload and contradiction. i want my work to be fun and flirty and full of hot girl shit while also encouraging community bonds, transcendence, and deep reflection. i believe that performances have immense power for organizing and justice efforts and see performance as a tool to unlock empathy.
thematically, i often work with questions around death, life, rebirth, time, and transition. my experiences as a queer person have afforded me a mode of inhabiting these universal truths that is alternative to the normative american model; i am obsessed with death, and obsessed with life; obsessed with the past and obsessed with the future; recognizing these are all meaningless binaries and the truth of it all is i am obsessed with the experience of everything; i think often of space time collapsing and finding myself at the middle of the expanse. i hope to capture this feeling in performance and find methods of suspending time and reality for audiences.