RAW turns 8 on March 12th! It’s been an incredible 8 years of discovering the most beautiful and brilliant art all around the world and giving those artists a platform to share their art with their community and beyond.
We are celebrating 8 years of RAW by sharing 8 success stories from our artists. Each day leading up to our 8th anniversary we are sharing a new story on our social media and in a blog post! Each story is so unique and epic, so we hope you enjoy reading each of them and are inspired by their creativity, hard work and persistence.
We were lucky enough to catch up with long time RAW artists Jacob & Jill! Since their first RAW performance Jacob and Jill have performed on larger than life stages and have used their opportunities and skill set to give back. We are so proud of them and love that we get to share their story with you in this Q&A.
1 What’s your story? Where did you begin and where are you now?
Jacob and I are co-founders of Jacob Jonas The Company (JJTC)- a nonprofit dance organization based in Los Angeles. We first met in middle school at our local dance studio and have been together for six and a half years. One of our first duets we’ve created was performed at RAW Hollywood in 2012. Through RAW we had the opportunity to be mentored by Donald Byrd- Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater. In 2014 we started Jacob Jonas The Company. JJTC creates work for live performance and the camera intersecting dance with science, fashion, architecture and technology. We have performed across the nation including at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out in Massachusetts, Scotiabank Dance Centre in Vancouver, and at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York City. Additionally, JJTC has hosted twenty-four #CamerasandDancers Insta-meets around the world in partnerships with leading cultural institutions such as J. Paul Getty Museum, The Royal Ballet, and DeYoung Museum among others.
2 When/how did you get involved with the RAW community? What was your first RAW show and how many shows have you done?
I found RAW Artists online the summer before moving across country for college and knew it would be a great platform for Jacob and I to perform. We created a duet, “Supporting the Journey”, and premiered this work at RAW Hollywood. I had been in Philly for about a month when Jacob called me and told me we were nominated for RAW Performing Artist of the Year. I flew home from school to participate in the Los Angeles Semi-Finals and we were thrilled to place as finalists and later be awarded as RAW Performing Artist of the Year for 2012. We performed at the RAWards in Downtown Los Angeles and still have our framed photo canvas on our office wall!
3 What was the hardest part of your journey and how did you overcome it?
The hardest part of the journey is patience. Nothing evolves in one day, but you have to put effort and energy into making it happen. We’ve overcome it by treating our art like a job; seeing our work as a brand. We get to work at 9am regardless of the day, building a schedule for ourselves and giving our craft devoted space and time. Through this we create opportunities for ourselves, which allow more opportunities to emerge through other outlets.
4 How do you define success?
When someone has a unique vision and works as hard as possible to make that vision go from being an idea in his/her head to an idea in real life and building a team and an audience that supports the vision.
5 Have you met anyone or got opportunities through RAW that have added to your story? How has your story changed due to these connections?
As part of our RAWard, we got the opportunity to meet with Choreographer/Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater, Donald Byrd. We had a one-hour meeting with him, which turned into a three-month mentorship with him and his company in Seattle. It changed both of our lives. It was here we truly learned about how a dance company functions- not just by participating in rehearsals, but also attending meetings, workshops and observing the day-to-day operations. When we were ready to build our own company, this foundation provided insight on where to start and where we could grow to. We are still very close with Donald and appreciate his guidance and mentorship deeply.
6 What are some of the highlights of your pursuit?
Problem solving has definitely been a highlight. Jacob and I were 21 and 19 years old when we started our company and through problem solving have built it to where it is today. We didn’t know exactly what we were doing (and sometimes still don’t), but we have a vision and a drive to make it happen. Through curiosity, questioning, and finding mentors to guide us, we do whatever it takes to make it happen. When looking back, its feels accomplishing to see the growth of our work, our company, and ourselves.
7 What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew 5 years ago or something that you think everyone pursuing a successful art career should hear?
Three things come to mind:
1 Less is more. You don’t have to say a lot to get your point across and furthermore, let your work speak for itself.
2 Build a solid infrastructure that supports your ideas. It will give you a consistent schedule and focus and allow your ideas to come to fruition.
3 All the research you do will come back to help you. Keep researching, discovering, and asking questions. The more you know, the more tools you have available.
It is amazing to see how you both have grown in the art of dance over the past 5 years and even more exicitng to hear about the drive and passion you both have for your art and your company! You have totally inspired us and we know you're continuing to inspire thousands of dancers & artists through Jacob Jonas The Company and your performances. Thank you for sharing your story and being a part of the RAW family. We can't wait to see what's next for you both.
Big thanks to Jill Wilson for answering the questions for this Q&A. Follow her on instagram.
You can see some of their performances on their Vimeo.