Jessica Madden Dance

Dancer - Choreographer - Educator

Jessica Madden (M.F.A.) was born and raised in Frederick, Maryland. She was first introduced to dance at the age of 8, and studied at Mid-Maryland Performing Arts Center from 1998-2008. In 2008, Jessica had the opportunity to attend Broadway Theatre Project, before heading to Slippery Rock University where she received dual degrees in Dance and Elementary Education. Upon graduation, Jessica moved to Chicago, where she worked for five years as a Teaching Artist for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in their Education, Youth, Community, and Adaptive Dance Programs. From 2017-2018, Jessica also had the privilege to expand her teaching to include Lookingglass Theatre and Chicago Ballet Arts. In May 2021, she received her Master's of Fine Arts degree in Dance, with an emphasis in Choreography, from The University of Iowa, where she also received an Iowa Arts Fellowship and Teaching Assistantship position within the Department of Dance. During her time at Iowa, she had the opportunity to create several new works, expand her creative research and practices, and to be a part of the process and presentation of works by Ailey Picasso, Stephanie Miracle, and Melinda Jean Myers, in both Iowa and Chicago.

Jessica is currently a Visiting Instructor in Dance at St. Lawrence University in Upstate New York.

Artist Statement (Excerpts)
As an artform based in the body, dance is uniquely situated to be a catalyst for human connection and empathy. Through the interrelatedness of our own corporeality, and the carriage of our common humanity and experience, it is my belief that the body itself can be a site of research, creation, and connection. The impetus of my work as an artist is to cultivate and promote such empathy and connection.

Looking to the body as a site of embodied memory and experience, my creative work and research investigates the role of personal narrative, specificity, and vulnerability in creating empathetic connection in both process and performance. Drawing on theory and research in the areas of phenomenology, corporeality, cognitive science, and embodied therapies, my creative process engages Authentic Movement (an improvisational movement practice) as a methodology of embodied reflection, response, and collaborative movement generation.

Research Interests
  • Processes of Recovery and Resilience
  • Empathy/Kinesthetic Empathy (and how to cultivate it), and its potential to catalyze human connection and social change.
  • Embodied Memory (as a source of movement generation).
  • Use of autobiographical narrative and text within dance performance.
  • Tactile elements as potential kinesthetic entry points for connection and empathetic engagement of audiences in performance.
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