Jess Harper '02
Lecturer of Dance, LMU, Chapman University, LBCC
"LMU Dance is like the perfect deep tissue massage, a warm blanket, a hard-core ropes course, a roller coaster of emotions, and a yummy dessert that is good for you, preparing you to be a better you. You just can't get enough! At least I can't. I keep coming back for more."
Currently Jess teaches and works at LMU, Chapman University, LBCC, School of Dance and Music, and the Yoga Loft. She also directs her company JESS HARPER & Dancers and still dances professionally, performing mostly with KAIROS Dance Co, under the direction of Hazel Clarke. Jess has shared her work not only throughout Los Angeles, but also in Santa Barbara, Monterey, and Salt Lake City, Utah, and aims to continue to share her creativity and her love through dance and film.
In March of 2017 JESS HARPER & Dancers put on a full-length work, DDD: An Evening of Dance, Desire & Delirium at Highways Performance Space. Due to the considerable success of this project, Jess plans to produce and direct another full-length work in the near future.
Why did you want to be a lion?
I chose LMU's Dance Program because of the awesome cohesive vibe within the department, the diverse faculty, and curriculum offered. I felt at home, welcomed, and cared for immediately, especially by Judy Scalin, who was department chair at the time. All faculty members were on board to support growth and opportunity. The department still has that unified family-feel today, thanks to the leadership of department chair Damon Rago, the versatile faculty, and the makeup of the students. That is why the Dance Program is so appealing. The variety of curriculum offered, from specific pedagogy within techniques and genres, to faculty and student shows, creates an attraction not only for dance majors and minors, but for non-majors as well. It is very diverse and welcoming to all.
What was it like being a part of LMU Dance?
LMU exposed me to TONGUE, a professional modern dance company under the direction of Stephanie Gilliand, where I worked as an apprentice while an undergrad, and then danced professionally for three years after graduating. While dancing in TONGUE, we won a Lester Horton Award for Best Performance in a Company (2004). Later, four of us from TONGUE would found METHOD, a contemporary modern dance company under the direction of Bradley Michaud. METHOD won a Lester Horton Award for Best Performance in a Company (2008), and I was nominated for Best Female Artist. LMU paved my career path and gave me the opportunity to create such amazing bonds and lifelong friends. I am forever grateful and will always consider LMU my home. LMU was truly instrumental in my career as a professional dancer, choreographer, educator, and human being.