The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance
Jesse Kile BFA '98
Jesse Kile graduated from the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at CalArts with a BFA in 1998. She then ran off on Phish tour for the next 6 years, where she developed a nasty rock and roll habit and was known on the scene as the groupie who couldn’t get had. Not satisfied with watching musicians being the only rock stars, Jesse got it in her head to legitimize her groupie antics by founding Groovehoops, a glam rock hoop circus. Groovehoops spent 5 outrageous years touring the US with rock bands like the String Cheese Incident. Sound Tribe Sector Nine, The Brazilian Girls, George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic. Just to name a few (and because she can’t remember the rest!).
After the grueling Groovehoops schedule tweaked her body as well her mind, Jesse retired from the scene. She now enjoys using her neuroceptors for wholesome pursuits like producing the beautiful film-work by Bec Stupak of Honeygun Labs. As well as being the Dance Mama for boogie genius Malcolm Stuart.
Jesse spent the summer of ’08 acting in Ang Lee’s upcoming feature “Taking Woodstock”. She plays a similar character like the one she used to be when she was on Phish tour. Like the hoop, it all comes back full circle.
What brought you to CalArts?
I graduated from Orange County High School of the Arts. It was a natural progression from there to CalArts. Looking back, it was the only path I could’ve chosen. Most of the faculty at the arts high school were somehow connected to CalArts and they guided me “home” where I belonged.
How has your CalArts educations been relevant to your professional path?
100% of what I have always done professionally comes from my education at CalArts. This sounds like an advertisement, but it’s true. I work in a lot of different realms in NYC artistically and my education qualifies me for that. Whether I’m directing, producing, writing, acting, staging or, of course, dancing, I feel confident in the decisions I make because CalArts geared me up to call the shots.
What advice would you give to our current or perspective students?
CalArts can feel like a Dionysian paradise, but it’s not. You’re there to work. The party vibe at school can be uber interesting, but other students don’t have to rely on their bodies as much as the dance majors. I guess I’m saying party lightly. Never let it distract you from your art. Also, I can’t stress enough how much the faculty will influence you, so soak it up. They’re like parents, at times what they say may bum you out but in the end, they’re always right.
On the set of "Taking Woodstock"
CalArts is unique in that it houses the Schools of Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater as well as the Division of Library and Informational Resources under one roof. As a student, how did you engage with other members of the CalArts community and how did it influence your art making?
I was and am a super collaborator. I learned at CalArts that my real talent is in working with others on their art, making it better and helping them fulfill their vision.
I was really into checking out the music school and seeing what they were up to – and not just because that was where the cute boys were. One of the things I’m so grateful for is that CalArts gave me the ability to work with all kinds of music, with composers, and have actual knowledgeable input. They taught me a lot more than just how to count.
Another thing I was really into was animation. I became a fan of the School of Film/Video. I am now the producer for an amazing filmmaker who is also a motion graphics animator and I know how she does her thing. It was never foreign for me to work in this medium due to the education I received from being around animators.
I still study Buddhism after taking a Zen and Art classes. So you could say I kinda picked up a religion at school as well.
I was in the CalArts comedy improv group for two years. I was the first non-theater major to join. Christyne Lawson made me audition to help practice getting over an unreasonable fear for auditions. The big surprise was that I got into the group. It was a harrowing two years. I don’t think anything has made me feel more electrified and vomitous at the same time. Comedy improv taught me to put the balls to the wall and go for it. The experience with the group served me well, it gave me the courage to make a complete ass of myself in the hope of turning out some good work. This experience helped me quell my fears and now I enjoy auditions.
With Director Ang Lee
How did the School of Dance fulfill your need to forge a career in dance?
CalArts really equips you with the ability to have DIY company and make it first class. I founded a glam rock circus several years ago, called Groovehoops. We started out with no cash and quickly became a cult hit in NYC. The whole thing was totally hippie-rigged and silly. But people loved us and thought we were way fancier than we really were. We produced a light show (thanks DK!!!) and designed and constructed some super rad costumes. We handmade our cirque gear, booked our own shows, made our own website, wrote our own contracts, etc. We were shameless self-promoters, which I think is something I had picked up at school. There is so much to see at CalArts that you really have to rally people to see your work sometimes. I never felt we needed help achieving success outside of ourselves. Groovehoops was a self-contained entity. Looking back on it now it seemed quite easy. Oh yeah, we were self-taught in our cirque craft as well.
Now I’m the Jiminy Cricket for my favorite dancer/ choreographer/ artist Malcolm Stuart. I help guide him through his career and I try to hand down to him my experience and education from CalArts. He makes me so proud to be able to assist in his development as an artist!
How did the technique classes prepare you for the physical demands of a career in dance?
The dance faculty ingrained technique so deep into my very being that I no longer have to take class. When I dance I still have all my chops! Though I wish I worked even harder back then so now I’d have even more chops to rest my laurels on!!!
I also left school with the belief that I am capable of creating my own movement technique, which I did with the hoops.
How did the other curricular courses (composition, dance history, anatomy, etc) inform you about the world of dance and how did it prepare you to move forward with your ideas and personal voice?
I’m a dance history nerd. I totally love all those old school stories. It’s our heritage as dancers. I’m always going back and referring vintage work, like Alwin Nikolai and the Ballet Russes. Those were some far out artists breaking rules. They had a radical outlook. I could daydream about them forever.
I’ve been known to teach a little Pilates here and there (30 hrs a week for 10 years) so the anatomy was really handy.
I’m not a talented choreographer, I learned that in composition class! I am however, a bad-ass rehearsal director. I espeacially love staging work and editing other choreographers work.
How has the technical production requirements of the program informed the way you communicate about your work?
I am completely at ease with tech crews. I rarely find it a challenge to communicate my needs in production with them. Also, if I’m not lucky enough to have a crew I know how to fake it like I do. I learned how to stage a production top to bottom on a shoestring budget and make it look slick. Again, this was something I learned at CalArts.
CalArts has a strong mentoring system for each student. How did you find the guidance and support of your mentor as a student? Have you had the opportunity to mentor young artist in your career?
I am so used to needing a mentor that I keep collecting them. I now have Celia Costas as my production mentor, Michael Hausman as my assistant director mentor, Kathleen Chopin as my acting mentor, and Joshua White as my everything mentor. I’m sooo lucky. It may not be the healthiest thing -but I was very concerned with impressing my mentor at school. Now I’m very concerned with impressing my current mentors, it’s a device I use to kick my own ass into achieving better work than I thought possible. I urge students to continue to source out mentors after school, you never stop needing them.
Do you continue to work or correspond with any CalArtians?
I’m in touch with a bunch of CalArtians. I work with some, and I socialize with some. I continue to have relationships with CalArtians to this day!
Artwork by Bec Stupak, featuring Jesse Kile as the Mushroom Princess far right
Current position in occupation
Producer, Honeygun Labs
Assistant Director, Colorwheel
Any other degrees or certifications that you have earned?
Links for this Artist:
Amanda Lepore,Cotton Candy
Directed by Bec Stupak, Produced by Jesse Kile
Barbie's 50th Runway Show
A film by Ang Lee
Actress, EarthLight Player
August 14th 2009
Return to webpage: www.calarts.edu