In the second of our two interviews with dance alumni who are living and working in New York City, we catch up with Jesse Kovarsky (Study Abroad 2009 and Transitions 2011). Jesse has had a huge variety of performance work both in the UK and America since he graduated, including feature films, opera, immersive theatre and Broadway!
Jesse you’ve had a fantastic performing career since you left Trinity Laban. Can you talk us through what you’ve done?
After I graduated from Transitions (MA Dance Performance) I wanted to get some experience dancing in Europe before I returned to the US, so I stayed in the UK on a post study visa and was then later sponsored by Punchdrunk Theatre Company. I’d always wanted to work with Punchdrunk as I really admire their work and was lucky enough to get cast in The Drowned Man. It was a really great show to be part of – creative, challenging and fulfilling.
My first job after graduating was in the film Anna Karenina which was a great experience just having left Trinity Laban. I then performed with the English National Opera in The Death of Klinghoffer and Carmen, and then returned to the Laban Theatre with Junk Ensemble which was such a privilege to come back.
When I returned to the US I worked again with Punchdrunk, and I reprised my role in The Death of Klinghoffer at The Metropolitan Opera House. Then in 2016 I was cast as the Fiddler in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway which was choreographed by Hofesh Shechter. This was a great experience and I loved working with Hofesh.
And what have you been doing more recently?
After Fiddler I performed in Seeing You, which was an immersive theatre show that ran off Broadway. The show was choreographed by Ryan Heffington who has choreographed music videos, for TV and worked with artists like Sia and FKA Twigs.
I’m also currently Associate Choreographer for musical The Band’s Visit which has just transferred to Broadway.
You were an undergraduate student at Skidmore College in New York, how did you then come to study at Trinity Laban?
I started dance at Skidmore College and we studied Laban theory and technique. I really wanted to study abroad for a semester and so went to Trinity Laban on a Study Abroad programme. During that time I saw a dramatic improvement in my technique and was interested in doing more, so I auditioned for Transitions Dance Company and was accepted. I feel very privileged to have received a Leverhulme Arts Scholarship to support my studies.
What was it like coming to Trinity Laban as an international student?
I felt supported. It was great to be around different people from different parts of the world with different perspectives, and we trained and grew together. I loved living in London too, that’s where I formed my identity as a young adult.
How did your time at Trinity Laban prepare you for your career?
Trinity Laban prepared me as a practitioner of dance and as a performer, and it reinforced my sense of critical thinking. Importantly I was allowed to create my identity as a dancer, to find my own voice and form my own style. This has enabled me to know what to say yes and no to, to be able to say what I want and to find my own niche in my career.
And finally what advice do you have for current students?
Take as many classes as possible and absorb the system you are part of – take advantage of it and suck it dry. You need to be relevant and understand what is going on in dance, what inspires you, who you want to work with, so educate yourself and see everything you can.
And importantly don’t be afraid to make mistakes and fail and find yourself through that.