Twenty-five year old Jacob Jonas has transformed himself from a teenage street performer to the founder and choreographer of his own dance company.
Jacob Jonas The Company, which performs at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on May 3, brings its unique style of movement fusing breakdancing, acrobatics, modern dance and contemporary ballet to the works “In a Room,” “One Pair Off” and “Obstacles,” which are on the program.
“What’s so great about my company is that I have artists with really different backgrounds,” says Jonas, who has sought out dancers with experience in parkour and acrobatics as well as ones who are conservatory-trained in ballet and modern dance. “I tell my stories using their experiences in dance.”
Drawing from his own life experiences when creating new work, Jonas is never at a loss for ideas. “Obstacles,” which is choreographed to music by Philip Glass, is about a friend’s journey with cystic fibrosis.
“She recently passed away, but she was part of the creative process,” Jonas explains. “The audience hears her voice along with the music.”
“In A Room On Broad St.” is about society’s competitive nature. “We compete with ourselves, others and time,” Jonas adds.
Jacob Jonas The Company presented its debut performance in 2014 at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, California. During the past four years dancers have performed at Jacob’s Pillow’s Inside/Out Festival, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
In 2017, the company began producing “To the Sea,” a free dance festival on the Santa Monica Pier featuring national and international artists.
As a street performer who still enjoys dancing out in the open, Jonas is drawn to creating very physically challenging movements that push dancers to their limits.
“My work is explosive and energetic,” he says. “I learned how to choreograph this way from working on the streets. You have to be dynamic if you want people to watch you.”