Jenny Geska is featured in this edition of Dance Spotlight! Jenny lives in North Carolina, and is a choreographer and performer with the NC Brazilian Arts Project. She was nominated by Victor Hernandez Jr. Victor said, “Jenny is doing wonderful things in the dance community and has helped bring the community together for a cause to fight cancer.” Check out some fun facts about Jenny including her most proud dance moment, and her involvement with the annual non-profit dance congress that raises money to fight cancer, BailaCura.
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What (or who) originally inspired you to try Samba? What are your first memories of latin dancing?
My history with Samba and dance is definitely a unique one. I started training in dance at the age of two, and found myself always wanting to try new things and train in new styles. I trained all through college and found myself teaching ballroom. However, shortly thereafter, I felt like something was missing. I remember bringing my students to a salsa club one night and I felt an immediate connection. I wanted nothing more than to transition and start diving into the roots of latin dance, and the more street-style forms of the dances I had been learning about. This also led me to start diving deeper into the Brazilian dances, and it was at this time that Brazilian Samba REALLY spoke to me.
Describe a moment in your dance life that made you feel proud?
Finishing Carnaval in Brazil for the first time was by far the most proud moment I have had in dance. It was a goal that I had, but never really believed that I would actually accomplish it, yet, I found myself there crying my eyeballs out with joy that it had actually happened.
Social Dance Pet Peeve: (Hygiene, No connection, People who teach while dancing, etc)
Definitely no connection. When someone is too busy worrying about who is watching them or where the camera is than the person they are dancing with.
You posted on Facebook, “I was not born into Samba, but the relationship I have with it, it brings me home.” What did you mean by that quote and why is Samba so important to you?
I love that you chose this quote! Samba is a dance that was born out of the resistance of oppression and slavery that happened after the West African slave trade. It has evolved and has been influenced along the way to it’s current state, but those are the roots. I will never live this life, or understand just how much it means to these people, but being in Brazil to train and learn about the history of Samba was the most eye opening experience I have ever had. It is like I had finally found the connection between dance and the soul, and how it should really feel.
You recently launched JennyGeska.com. Can you talk a bit about that website and what you’d like to accomplish?
JennyGeska.com is really a landing page for all of the parts of me. Throughout my own journey – the ups and downs, the awful moments of struggle – I learned so much. I learned how to make my life easier, full of passion, and how to reach for the things I want in life, no matter how high. I hope that this website will inspire others to do the same, and to share my life with them in the meantime.
Can you talk about your work with BailaCura and the goals for the event?
One of my best friends, a dancer, was diagnosed with cancer years ago and, thank God, he was able to be treated successfully. He found the dance community to be so supportive and healing throughout his time of difficulty. When we sat down and talked, he wanted nothing more than to give back to the community and the idea of BailaCura was born to help raise money for children’s cancer research and pediatric care. As the current Artistic Director, I spend time organizing our amazing artists, workshops, and shows for this event. We also work year round to be as involved as possible with our beneficiaries. Our goal is to continue to grow as a festival and as an overall fundraising organization within our community, and to maybe even branch out to other communities one day.
What are your current favorite songs to dance to? Top two or three.
- Salsa – “Buscando La Verdad” by Ricky Campanelli & Jimmy Bosch
- Zouk – “Promises” by Andain
- “Curtindo a Vida (Ao Vivo)” by Bom Gosto
Favorite dance video you’d like to share?
This was truly a memorable salsa – Carlos was a phenomenal lead and his musicality was insane.