ARTIST PASS // JESSIE MCCALL

Jessie McCall is one of four female choreographers whose work is featured in Footnote New Zealand Dance’s NOW 2016 performance season, coming to Q for two nights only on the 15th and 16th of April.

Footnote’s annual NOW performance season is all about supporting the ideas of emerging dance-makers - giving them a platform to experiment and thrive.

Jessie McCall is a fan of glitter, documentaries and ‘80s music, and is the founder of All You Can Eat Productions. We asked Jessie about choreographing Your Own Personal Exister - a dance piece full of idolisation and pop-culture commentary.


If Your Own Personal Exister was a person, how would you describe them?

I think they'd be a rather fun friend to have. A little unrefined in some ways (they might say something inappropriate at a fancy dinner) but endearingly genuine, and they would certainly tell you if you had food on your face. Their music taste could get a little irritating on a long road trip.

You’re currently completing a graduate diploma in psychotherapy. Do you see an intersection between psychotherapy and dance?

Part of what had always drawn me to dance as a medium is its ability to address familiar personal experiences and the stories we tell ourselves from a new perspective. I think dance has a magical power to illuminate the connections between our own internal experiences and the way the world seems to work at large...often in strange a colourful ways. Psychotherapy is another quite different, but equally colourful and compelling, way to re-examine our own stories.

Your initial proposal for Footnote’s NOW season centred around birthday rituals. How has your concept evolved?

The original concept that I pitched for the work revolved around some of the strange aspects of celebrating ageing in the west, especially for children - with these extremely individualistic birthday party practices. The image of a cardboard Burger King crown, and the idea of it denoting a sort of extra-specialness of the birthday kid, seemed to stick with me with me and took the piece on a somewhat different track, exploring the notion of idealisation and how disconnecting that experience of exalting someone to super-human-dom can be for both the idol and the idoliser.

How did you choose the music for Your Own Personal Exister?

I seem to be unable to escape from cover songs - I love the experience of hearing something familiar pitted against something dissonant or simply unexpected. So I took songs that related to what I felt was going on in the piece in a fairly immediate and even superficial way, and then tried to subvert that a bit to see where the audience's own connections with those reworked tracks might take them. I also like that the soundscape is borderline tacky. Maybe not even borderline.

What do you find most interesting or inspiring as a choreographer?

Other people's big unweildly ideas, and their passion for them, in whatever discipline.

How would you describe Footnote New Zealand Dance to someone who isn’t familiar with them?

Risky and Talented.

Whose work are you most looking forward to seeing (aside from your own!) in NOW 2016?

What a trick question! I am genuinely stoked to be included in a programme with such brilliant women. I am excited to see Julia Harvie's work as I loved so much about Elephant Skin when I saw it in an earlier incarnation, and I'm excited to see what Sarah Knox has magic-ed up as she works in wonderful, mysterious ways. And I'm darned excited to see what Lucy Marinkovich is going to get up to this time with those tea cosy faces.

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