Dancer Has Found Her Home

The’s a dancer, she’s a teacher, she’s a choreographer, actor, singer and performance artist.

She is dancing all over this town.

At the age of 24, Jessica Hickman has a wealth of skills and knowledge to share and teach in our northern community.

Originally from Calgary, where she began her dance training, Hickman has trained and performed internationally. She received a diploma in theatre from the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, B. C., and spent nine months performing in a dinner theatre production across Canada called Celebration.

She also spent two years in Sweden as part of an improvisational project involving 15 dancers from 15 different countries.

Hickman came up to the Yukon to perform as a cancan dancer at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s in Dawson City.

“It was a really good experience dancing in the show and I had fun working with the other dancers,” she says. “As a performer though, I wasn’t too thrilled with the “casino” atmosphere at Gertie’s and decided not to do the show again.

“I love Dawson, though … it is an amazing place. The Yukon is great.”

Coming to Whitehorse to work seemed like a natural fit for Hickman. She currently teaches musical theatre, jazz and ballet at Leaping Feats Creative Danceworks. She is also part of the Arts Ed-venture program, she is host for the Dance Gatherings held the last Saturday of each month at Alpine Bakery and she will be performing and creating a collaborative dance project through the Society of Yukon Independent Dancers Association (SYIDA).

“I am so busy,” she says. “In other places I have lived, it has always been hard to get jobs as a dancer. It’s a very competitive market. Here, I am not only getting asked to teach and choreograph, I’m performing also. I am so impressed with the arts community here. It really supports its artists.”

One of the next projects for Hickman is performing at the 2010 Winter Olympics. She, along with six male Yukon dancers and five female Yukon dancers (and a half spot for young Gracie Simpson-Fowler), will be part of a 30-minute show.

The dance portion of the show is called Yukon Urban Dance Ensemble (YUDE) and is choreographed by Lisa Stevens. Celia McBride is artistic director of the project.

The show will be performed at different venues throughout Vancouver during the games.

“I’m excited to perform in this show. The average age of the dancers is 17 and there is a nice young energy in the group.

“Fisher (AKA Michelle Fisher) and I are the only professional dancers performing, but we are really enjoying the mix of ages. It’ll be fun to perform in Vancouver, too.”

Performance isn’t the only part of dance that Hickman loves: “I wish I could open people up to movement meditation. I like to use dance as a healing technique, not just show the aesthetics of movement.

“Dance is an outlet for release and expression. It’s not just steps – not just checking out lines in the mirror. Movement is within us.”

She adds, “I guess we are lucky as dancers. Using our bodies is part of our lives. Non-dancers don’t necessarily feel the extension of movement that we, as dancers, feel.

“I want to be able to teach that to everyone.”

Hickman is planning on making the Yukon her home base indefinitely. She is happy to be part of the arts scene and enjoys her busy life.

“I am hooked on the Yukon. I love the arts community and Whitehorse should be proud of how well it supports its artists.”

Hickman has a few more projects up her sleeves, but she leaves us with this: “Rhythm is in our bones. Let’s get the energy going!”

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