photo by Melissa Bunni Elian, mural by Ananda Nahú
Larissa Velez-Jackson is a choreographer and hybrid artist who uses improvisation as a main tool for research and creation, focusing on personhood and the dancing/sound-making body. She employs a deep humor to grant audiences universal access to contemporary art's critical discourse. Of her 2010, critically acclaimed show at Danspace Project, the New York Times said, “Ms. Velez-Jackson demonstrates her own formidable presence as she bursts into the space… A choreographer who is not afraid of being (or showing) ugly onstage, she disarms her audiences with humor….” In 2011, she launched a song-and-dance collaboration with her husband, Jon Velez-Jackson, called Yackez, “The World's Most Loveable Musical Duo." For more info on Yackez visit www.yackez.com. She is also the Artistic Director of the LVJ Performance Co.
Velez-Jackson's works have been performed widely in New York City, including The Bushwick Starr, The Chocolate Factory, Roulette, Museum of Art and Design, Danspace Project, New Museum, American Realness Festival at Abrons Arts Center, and Martin E Segal Theater. In May 2014, LVJ performed an exciting mobile outdoor work, S.P.E.D. THE BX, with the support of Bronx non-profit, Pepatían and Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education. S.P.E.D. THE BX was a durational site-speciific work that culminated for an audience of 70 children and BRONXNET cable television. Later in 2014, LVJ premiered “Star Crap Method” at Chocolate Factory Theater. The piece was the culmination of three years of studio and stage research in LVJ’s improvisational performance practices for a cast of four people. The piece also featured lighting designer Kathy Kaufmann, who improvised the lighting design anew each performance. Talya Epstein, a member of the cast, was nominated for a 2015 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” award for her performance in “Star Crap Method”.
Velez-Jackson was a Movement Research Artist-in-Residence (2012-2013), a Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide artist-in-residence with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (2013), an El Museo Del Barrio Artist in Residence (2014-2015) and most recently a Live Feed artist-in-residence at New York Live Arts (2015-2016). In 2012 she attended the danceWEB Scholarship Program of Impulstanz Festival with the support of a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant.
Velez-Jackson teaches mind/body wellness and fitness classes, teaching at 92 St Y and West Side Y in Manhattan for twelve years, specializing in the older adult population. Larissa's private teaching includes Pilates, ballroom dance and Rasa Yoga. She premiered a full-length commission at New York Live Arts March 2017 that incorporates her multimedia collaborative, Yackez, their Queer dance ensemble and Velez-Jackson's inspiring older adult dance-aerobics students.
The year 2016, Velez-Jackson’s tenth year of making experimental dance, has fulfilled the famous Martha Graham adage “it takes ten years to make a dancer,” or in this case a choreographer. In 2016, LVJ was awarded the prestigious Foundation for Contemporary Art’s “Grant to Artists” award, a Gibney Dance Center DIP residency, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Process Space residency (for Yackez), Mount Tremper Arts Watershed residency (for Yackez), and was nominated for a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer. She has most recently been selected as a choreographic AIR at the historic Harkness Dance Center at 92Y 2017-18.
LVJ has been the Artistic Director of LVJ Performance Co. since 2010. With LVJ Performance Co. she has presented work under several different monikers, depending on the work. For educational outreach she has presented work as Star Particle Experimental Dance (S.P.E.D.) Her dance ensemble titles also include The Star Crap Dancers and Yackez Dancers.
Star Crap Dancers, Yackez Dancers + S.P.E.D. 2013-2016
Tyler Ashley, Laurie Berg, Lillie DeArmon, Talya Epstein, Miguel Angel Guzmán, Sarah Holcman, Raja Feather Kelly, Benjamin Kimitch, Monifa Kincaid, Joey Kipp, Abigail Levine, Caitlyn Marz, Stephen May, Marissa Perel, Antonio Ramos, Mary Read, Jon Velez-Jackson, Larissa Velez-Jackson, Stephanie Velez, Ashley R T Yergens
Star Crap Dancers 2011-2012
niv Acosta, Tyler James Ashley, Ben Asriel, Laurel Atwell, Talya Epstein, Lily Gold, Sarah Holcman, Larissa Velez-Jackson
LVJ Performance Co. 2010
Sarah Holcman, Andrea Johnston, Abigail Levine, Katy Pyle, Regina Rocke, Jon Velez-Jackson, Larissa Velez-Jackson