You are reading excerpts from Andréa Spearman’s recorded conversation with Jessica Recinos.
10 in 10 theme music: Bright, upbeat pop music that you may hear in a teen-centered drama series.
[Theme music plays, then fades out slightly to play in the background of the introduction]
Andréa Spearman: Welcome to 10 in 10 with Andréa Spearman where we have short and lively dialogues with our local dance community.
As a proud Latina dancer/choreographer/teacher from San Francisco’s Excelsior neighborhood, Jessica Recinos has developed her own multidisciplinary dance style drawing from street dance forms such as Vogue hip hop and Afro Latin forms. She teaches at LINES, SF School for the Arts and “In the Community” dance program at SF Ballet. As founder and director of Rising Rhythm, Recinos works with both professional and young artists to choreograph works that respond to community issues and stories and lay the foundation for the future generation of cultural ambassadors. Find out more by following Rising Rhythm SF on Facebook.
[Theme music fades back in, then gradually fades out entirely as Andréa begins to speak]
Andréa: Who inspires you?
Jessica Recinos: That’s such a long list. I think the people who inspire me are the badass women that are leading social change here in the community. Specifically in the Mission. A lot of my mentors within artivism and activism have really shaped who I am within my artistic practice.
Andréa: What’s your secret spot in town?
Jessica: Ooo you jumped right in Andréa! Depends what decade of my life. I love my room, I think it’s great, it’s somewhere where I can have my own sanctuary. I have a bunch of secret spots with different people and different friends. So it can continue to be a secret.
Andréa: Aha! She said keep it a secret! Okay well what’s your favorite Bay Area institution?
Jessica: Growing up here in the city, having access to the cultural arts wasn’t something that I was able to have when I was a youth because my family couldn’t afford it. One institution I love is the Boys & Girls Club, because it does provide a lot of opportunity for youth and emerging artists to play around and see what they like. They allowed me the opportunity to create Rising Rhythm. Around 2011/2012, was where I started to really cultivate my artistic practice.
Andréa: Love it! This is an either/or question. Quick fast, dancing indoors or outdoors?
Jessica: I love the outdoors, I love community! I also love being safe.
Andréa: Safety first. Intricate costumes or all black?
Jessica: Honey give me all the glamour. Give me all the colors.
Andréa: I knew you were gonna say that! Haha I knew she was going to say she wants all the glitter, all the intricacies, all the ruffles and feathers, all that.
Jessica: Give me a train so I can use it as a prop. Give me everything.
Andréa: Well in that kind of flair, what’s your most recent favorite song that you like to dance to?
Jessica: You know, it’s completely opposite of what I just said. I’ve been listening to the Love Jones soundtrack. [Andréa: Oooooo] It’s really been getting me into my body, just loving myself. Slowing it down and getting a little bit more sensual. Accepting my body for what it is and my health and feeling beautiful.
Andréa: I’m here for that. Okay this one is situational: Another artist is delayed to the show, you have to take the stage to fill the gap. Do you freestyle to music or silence?
Jessica: Well I love freestyle, I love a dramatic moment. I think I probably could do it in silence. Because a part of my artistic practice is connecting to rhythm and the internal rhythm within your body. Sometimes recorded music could already lead your artistic vision in a certain way because of what has already been created. Within the silence, it’s an opportunity to create anything on the spot using your first instrument ever created, which is your body.
Andréa: (snaps 3 times) Snaps to that, I love that internal rhythm! What’s a piece of advice that has stayed with you over the years?
Jessica: There’s actually a mantra that I want to read because it is something that is very dear to me that I will always hold with me and I pass down to my students and colleagues. It goes:
“I focus on only the things I have total control over, my effort and my attitude.
I love what I do and I attack each day with joy and enthusiasm.
I dream big and I ignore the naysayers.
I am relentless and I will never give up on my dreams.
And I choose faith over fear.”
Andréa: I love that. I LOVE that. That’s fantastic. Kind of in that same strain of passing things on to your students, what’s a future goal or dream?
Jessica: The biggest thing that I focus on within Rising Rhythm is inclusivity, specifically I focus on providing a culture within my company where we discuss issues surrounding historical exploitation and cycles of oppression within Black and Brown communities. One of my biggest goals in the past three years has been creating the first woman of color-owned dance studio in the Excelsior District where I was born and raised.
Doing it in a different way, I focus on business education within dance entrepreneurship. A lot of times we have established or emerging artists paying each other to be in each other’s projects and then we have this amazing product. Then we are all in thousands of dollars in debt because of the project. Because we are not able to have sustainable wage within our career in the arts. I want to shift that narrative by investing in my own business education and mentorship. The biggest thing that I am teaching is that in order to fully teach and understand financial literacy, to a community we must be provided a livable wage to even play with or else it’s just knowledge and not something they are able to attain.
During my discussions with my business coaches and mentors, we discuss how a lot of the artists I know will have 2-5 jobs just to sustain their rent and bills. That leads to a lot of exhaustion and resentment towards the arts and it shouldn’t be like that. Within Rising Rhythm we are slowly shifting that narrative by investing in our own business education, mentorship, and connections to be able to financially invest in artists who will begin to flow in and out of our studio.
Andréa: So what haven’t we asked that you want people to know?
Jessica: We are gearing up to open up our studio [Andréa: YAY!] in January 2022. We are hiring three instructors for our pilot program, for our training course, practicing all these business education practices within it.
Andréa: The final final thing, show us your favorite dance move!
Jessica: That’s so hard because I practice so many different styles but Imma just give what I feel right now. I just like a lil head whip with a snap to keep me fresh and ready to go!
[Video transitions to show Jessica standing up in her home whipping her hair around in a circle 4 times and ending with a snap up to the sky. Theme music fades in]
Andréa: Thank you all for joining us again with 10 in 10 with Jessica Recinos representing Rising Rhythm SF. Bye! [Andréa and Jessica both wave at the camera]
If you’d like to get in touch with Jessica Recinos, please follow the links below.
This conversation appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of In Dance.
In Dance is a publication of Dancers’ Group.