Q & A with Jillian Godwin
April 6, 2016
Why do you dance?
Dancing is the best medium for me to express myself. I was always shy and slightly clumsy as a kid. My grandma told my mom to put me in a dance class, so she did and it took off from there.
If you hadn't been a dancer, what would you be doing?
I honestly have no idea what I would be doing if I wasn't a dancer. I started finding other hobbies I like later on in life, after I started my dance career. I possibly would've been a singer, but even that's a hard thing to do. Even harder than dancing. You don't even have to be that great of a singer to make it, it's all about your persona. Dancing at least you can find work if you're actively looking. I tend to have a lot of interests and it would be hard even now to focus all my energy on just one if I wasn't dancing.
What other exercise/physical training do you spend time with besides dance classes? How does that help?
I arrive at the studio every morning between 8 and 9am. I give myself a warm up - different every day according to what class we have. For ballet, I do turn out-based exercises, on modern days I do lots of lunges and squats. Every day I do lots of core work. When my muscles feel warmed up and I've broken a little bit of a sweat, I start stretching. (I can't tell you how many physical therapists tell you to warm up before stretching.) Either my own series or a little yoga. Outside the studio, I don't do much as I teach a lot, but I do gyrotonic every day and take a yoga class when I can. That has helped me be more connected to my body. Helping to find ease in movement while still working hard. And to become mindful of my spirituality and mentality.
What types of costumes are easiest to dance in? Describe your favorite costume you've ever danced in. Describe the most challenging/why.
Material that allows you to stretched in all directions is the best type of costume to dance in. I think my favorite costume to dance in is from Butterfly. It's a white flowy dress with pink trim. I wore it all summer in Oregon one year. I felt so beautiful and innocent. The most challenging? This is tough one as there have been many. Haha! I think the yellow and black costume from Toulouse Lautrec. It was bulky and I felt very uncomfortable, but it's part of the job. You have to be able to transport the audience into your world through the character you're portraying. It doesn't make a difference whether you love or hate the costume.
What inspires you when you're creating choreography? What is the biggest challenge for you in that process?
I am a music lover, so that is my number one inspiration when creating movement. I listen to a lot of music. I ponder how the music makes me feel, what images it stirs up, past experiences that could relate to the music. Movement usually doesn't happen inside my head - that's the biggest challenge. I have to be in the studio working with the dancers. Whenever I've tried to pre-plan choreography, I usually end up hating it. I try to see how each dancer moves, do movements that show off their strengths as well as some to challenge their bodies.
What is your favorite part of teaching dance? What's the biggest challenge? Where do you teach?
Oh I love teaching. I really do. I love seeing that spark ignite, that light bulb go off if you will, when you do or say something just the right way. It's tiring, but very rewarding on the inside and it's how I survive financially as a working professional dancer. It's challenging when you get students not into what you're doing or are seem forced to be there. It's like pulling teeth, trying to draw something out of them that may or may not be there. I teach all around the city as well as aerial yoga on the northwest side.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Oh goodness, I think the question is what isn't? I love junk food, I do. My middle name is sweet tooth. You name it, candy, cookies, chips, ice cream, beer, all the things that are "bad" for you basically. I don't indulge in those too often, but man. After a long week dancing, it's ok to eat a cookie or two. Double Chocolate chip is my favorite.
What one piece of advice would you give a student who wants to dance professionally?
Take all the classes you can. And not just one type of class, all kinds. You are not going to get hired knowing one dance style. You will get a lot of no's. You'll get a lot of "you're not this" and "you don't have that." Keep working on your weaknesses and strengths. Be a well-rounded artist. Never give up.