Dr. Andrea Herzka

Hi there. My name is Jamuna Chiarini. I am a writer here at ArtsWatch and a dancer, choreographer, producer, and arts administrator. Did I leave anything out? Oh yes, I am also a stay-at-home mom, chauffeur, cook, chief pot washer, therapist, motivational speaker, etc., etc. My work as a dancer/choreographer and writer is as a freelancer, which means that all of my creative work is mixed in with everything else in my life, which makes it all kind of messy on a daily basis. This is what I want my art to reflect, my real life. I want my art to meet me where I am, in this very moment in time, not a fantasy of what I wish my life looked like.

I didn’t get to this “everything is one” zen moment alone, mind you. The last five years involved a lot of kicking and screaming and crying on my part, coaching from my mentor and dance teacher Linda K. Johnson, support from friends and family, a lot of watching and writing about dance, watching other people dance around me and seeing how they adapt, and thinking about the form, along with some plain old personal growth/investigation.

The Kitchen Sink choreographed by Jamuna Chiarini. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

The Kitchen Sink choreographed by Jamuna Chiarini. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

When I first got to Portland I was really frustrated because I couldn’t find like-minded dancers and choreographers to work with or take classes to from. I moved here five years ago from New Jersey (for the record I am from Berkeley, CA). My training was in ballet, Graham, Horton and Limón technique, all pretty traditional, which I didn’t see represented here (except for choreographer Josie Moseley who wasn’t making work anymore). This sent me into a panic as I really felt like I was coming to the end of this career that had never really flourished. I had had so many deeply bitter dance teachers in the past who were forced to stop dancing because of their age and injury, and this idea/image was alway looming over me.

To top it off, I was also in a lot of pain. Every time I danced I hurt from head to toe the next day. It was a really confusing and frustrating experience that I put off dealing with for a long time. It got to the point where I wasn’t dancing or moving at all, just a lot of sitting and feeling really really sad.

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