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Check out Faith Jensen-Ismay’s Artwork

Today we’d like to introduce you to Faith Jensen-Ismay.

Faith, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
My first experience in dance came shortly after a few traumatic life events: I was forced into a dance class in High School to fulfill PE requirements. Dance class became a refuge – a place to process, express, and be physical. It didn’t take long before I was interested in choreographing and teaching. I enrolled at Palomar College where I spent three years immersing myself into training: ballet, modern, jazz, performance and choreography. But it wasn’t until my husband encouraged me in 1986 to quit my full-time job, go back to school (SDSU), focus on training and see what happens. So, I did exactly that and within a year I had connected with Jean Isaacs and began my training with her and work with 3’s Co. & Dancers – thus, starting my professional career as a dancer.

I was fortunate to be dancing in SD during an era of intense training and workshops from artists from around the world. This allowed me to train and perform with artists in a variety of styles of modern dance which has helped develop an eclectic style. My diverse training and performance background lead to four very interesting opportunities: 1. Teach and choreograph for three decades at local colleges: SDSU, UCSD, Palomar College, SD City Colleges, currently at SD Mesa College. 2. Serving as the Executive/Artistic Director of Mojalet Dance Collective founded in 1991, Director since 1997. 3. Choreographer and Live Event Director for The Jumpitz (2007-2011), creating content for DVD, video, and tours domestically and internationally for Armed Forces Entertainment .4. in 2008, Mojalet opened a small black box theater in Rancho Bernardo thus beginning programs of developing emerging artists and serving our community as a presenting organization.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
As a dance choreographer, many things inspire me: music, visual designs in space, the vulnerability of human nature, making people smile, storytelling, and collaborating with others. In a great project, all those elements come together.

For people that have seen my work, and have followed Mojalet in depth, they find it hard to describe a specific style, or topic in choreography because the blend is unique. Perhaps because I have such a diverse life as an artist, teacher, mother, wife, and Christian who enjoys travel and diversity in theater, my inspiration varies; however, creating work with an ensemble has always been a strong thread.

I strive to create physical dance with integrity. Much of my work is about a sense of community, responsibility, often reflecting human nature, with a need for compassion, strength, and a sense of togetherness. Whether in history, current events, dreams, or day dreams, I often celebrate those ideas through the positive aspects of humanity, or sometimes the despair or longing for it. Sometimes I feel it’s expected to make dance about hard times, politics, or as my husband says, “work about the pain and suffering of the human condition”. Yes, they are important and dance can be an avenue to expose issues and inspire concepts of change, and I have created work like that; however, there are also many beautiful and positive things to create work about as well such as mercy, endurance, strength and beauty.

Do current events, local or global, affect your work and what you are focused on?
I do feel artists serve as an important role in society as they always have. I also believe it’s important for artists to reflect on a variety of topics exploring the various facets of life without sole focus on negative or painful events.

For me, I have found it imperative to create platforms for artists to express their views and for people to experience themes on an emotional level, but also create a space of relief from the stress of current events. Over the past five years, events have influenced me to create a series of work to include four major productions: THE MERCY TRILOGY- explores the endurance, strength and resilience of people around the world, and need for mercy and compassion; FINDING GROUND was inspired by the thousands of refugees displaced because of politics, religious beliefs, economic hardship, or natural disasters; ENCHANTED AND ENDANGERED expresses the need for environmental awareness and respect for nature; VIVA ITALIA was created as a whimsical celebration of opera music, Italian culture, and the joy of life – a much needed relief from world events and polarizing politics in our country.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Mojalet Dance Collective performs Sept. 8th at 7pm, and Sept. 9th at 2pm and 4:30 pm as part of the 2018 Summer Series at The Vine Theater before taking the work to Zurich, Switzerland for a three day Dance X-Change Festival under the direction of Elfi Schafer Schafroth. The Ensemble of 12 dancers will perform three big dances in the small, intimate space: The Mercy Trilogy, Moments, and excerpts from a new work Inevitable Acclimation. The Vine Theater is a small space with limited seating so pre-sale tickets are important as we sometimes are forces to turn people away. Mojalet is also quite active in community outreach through Arts for Learning performing for thousands of students each year.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Manuel Rotenberg, Christine Sionne, Elazar C. Harel, Deborah Heath.

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