When walking into BFan’s studio on a weekday afternoon you will most likely see a class going on. BFan’s newest company dancer, Jocelyn Wright, teaches Monday’s class. After giving praise to the young dancers as they finished up, she grabbed her water bottle and a salad. Jocelyn has a cool, calm and collected vibe about her. She is incredibly easy-going and showed great excitement for being a new company dancer at BFan.
Q&A WITH JOCELYN
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. It’s a little itty-bitty town in rural Northeastern Pennsylvania. I lived there throughout high school until I was 18, and then I got a job dancing with Atlanta Ballet, so I moved to Georgia. After that I got a job dancing in Pittsburgh for three years. Next, I got a job in New York and, where I lived in Brooklyn.
Wow, New York, what was that like?
I loved it! It was amazing. Brooklyn is my favorite bureau of New York City and I danced in Manhattan. I am really familiar with New York since it is only three hours from where I grew up. I was definitely different living there than it was visiting, but I loved it.
Where did you move after Brooklyn?
I moved here to Eugene from Brooklyn in May. I miss a lot about New York but I am so excited to be in Eugene. The landscape is so diverse. I feel like I don’t have to choose what I want to be into. It’s nice because I have been exclusively in big cities for the past eight years.
At what age did you start dancing?
Three. My mom decided to put me into dance. I didn’t do ballet for the first couple years of my training. I did a lot of acrobatics and jazz. I didn’t like ballet at all really; I thought it was really boring. I didn’t think it was hard. This is all really hilarious to me now that I pursued a career in it. Starting out I was definitely not one of those girls who wanted to be a princess ballerina. I ended up training, and it became my entire life. I fell in love with it, and then I didn’t love it for a while, then I loved it. I trained at an incredible rigorous school that was one of the best schools in the country. It was phenomenal but they were harsh and didn’t understand that people sometimes get burnt out. It was my life, entirely. So I left.
Where did you train after that?
I had been training with a coach named Erin Stiefel, whom I would definitely consider my mentor and the reason I became a professional. I had been training with her this whole time but she only offered classes twice a week, so once I left the school I just started privately training with her every single day. It was fewer hours, but obviously the quality was way higher because I was the only one in the room. So I trained with her for the last two years of high school. Then I went to the Atlanta Ballet Summer Program—and at the end of the summer program, they offered me a job for the season. I had a great time living there in Atlanta.
What is your favorite thing about dancing?
Whenever I am performing, I feel a true energy connection between the audience and myself, like we really are having a communication that I can feel going back and forth even though we are not speaking. I really like feeling like I can portray feelings and emotions and say things through movement and my body. I also love the feeling after a performance when you have exerted every ounce of energy that you can muster, and you just feel like a rung-out dishrag, but you’re flooded with endorphins.
Who is your inspiration?
Erin Stieple, my mentor—she just was one of the most amazing people I have ever met. One of the most dedicated, hardworking, obsessive, borderline crazy (laughs) people ever. She is really inspiring to me because she had an amazing career from a very young age and her career was cut short because of a mistake a partner made that ended up giving her a career-ending injury. I think it is incredible that she has still put into dancing as much she has. I don’t have the confidence that I would be able to carry on the way she did. After all of that, she was just so in love with dancing that it was as if nothing else mattered. I want her now, as a teacher, to have the credibility to say, “I am an incredible teacher. My students have become professionals.”
If you could perform anywhere in the world where would it be?
The Netherlands, I have never been but my favorite company in the world is there, Netherlands Dance Theater. I have just heard unbelievable things about the Netherlands, from every person who I have talked to about it. It has so much history. It is stunning beautiful in its architecture and its landscape. The arts are very supported there also. I would love to dance somewhere where the arts were as respected as other things. People there will go out to the ballet for entertainment rather than the movies.
What has been your most unforgettable moment on stage?
(Laughing) During The Nutcracker, where all of the snow is falling, the snow was pieces of hole-punched plastic bags. I was sweating to death and breathing heavily, but I couldn’t open my mouth so my nose was going crazy and I had a piece of the plastic over one nostril and every single time I would breath it would stick back to my nose. It was almost kind of scary because I thought it was going to stick up into my nose. It was just way too much snow, and it was being dumped down on us. The girl behind me was like, “What is this? A blizzard?” but we had to act like everything was perfect. I guess overall the dialogue that happens on stage sometimes is just amazing.
What are you most excited for working with BFan?
I am most excited about the fact that for all of our productions we collaborate with other artists in the area, and that is something that is unparalleled. Most companies maybe do one show a year with an orchestra. I think the fact that this company makes it such a priority to collaborate with other artists helps contribute to the fact that Eugene has such a wonderful arts presence for its size. People care about the arts here, and it is important for them to think that not only are they going to see the ballet company, but they are also going to see the orchestra or this band or that singer. It brings the arts together. Also, I have never done touring with any other company, so I am excited for that!