A scared, shy gift won’t be a gift of love, so I let my heart speak more than my brain.”
As the founder of The Chrysalis Creative and The Cocoon: Youth Empowerment Program, Jalisa inspires others through dance and practicing wellness. Her choreography sparks conversations on identity and memory. I caught up with Jalisa as we discussed her passion for dancing, the importance of self-care and wellness, and her creative business, The Chrysalis Creative.
How long have you been a dancer and what do you love most about it?
JR: “I’ve been dancing for 23 years. I consider dance to be a second language, a means for self-expression and a way to spark dialogue.”
How has dancing through language impacted your career?
JR: “Dance for me has been essential to my health and well-being. It has allowed me to work through tough topics and conflict. I use these same elements of dance when working with youth and adults to create work and explore the world around us.”
What is a typical day for you like?
JR: “There’s no such thing as a typical day for me at this point in my life! Three days a week, I work as a resident arts integration teaching artist in a language immersion school. When I’m not at the school, I model, I run a dance-based youth empowerment program. I’m a part of a company piece entitled Vessels that explores the Middle Passage and ancestral memory. Most weekends are either for self-care or burlesque performances!”
What are your passions and aspirations for 2019?
JR: “I aspire to master my own self care. My goals are to do the things that feed my spirit and reflect my joy. I am working on my meditative and spiritual practices. I am trying to write consistently, to create more things, and to work on my own financial wellness. I also want to learn how to swim this summer.”
What does the world need more of? Less of?
JR: “The world needs less stubbornness and closed-mindedness and needs more openness and willingness to learn and understand through difference.”
Has a mistake you made ever led you to success?
JR: “Plenty of mistakes are just lessons and blessings in disguise. All of my “mistakes” have been things that weren’t meant for me at the moment, or reflections of something I needed to learn.”
In your opinions, what are the most important factors about self-care?
JR: “Self-care needs to be about what feeds and supports your individual mind, body, and soul. What works for some won’t work for you, so it’s important to really listen to what you need, instead of what may be trendy or fun.”
Do you get nervous when you perform on stage?
JR: “I always get nervous! But to me, performing is a gift I give to the universe, so I want to make sure I’m giving the best gift I can to the world. A scared, shy gift won’t be a gift of love, so I let my heart speak more than my brain.”
Tell us more about The Chrysalis Creative.
JR: “The Chrysalis Creative is the collaborative of my creative endeavors outside of dance. Currently, it encompasses tarot readings and the body butter I make (Shea Butter Fly), but will also include jewelry, accessories, cards/stationary, and herbal concoctions for health and wellness.”
In moments of adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
JR: “I have to remember moments of stillness and breath. In moments of stillness, I can remember what is most important to me and for me, and how to best continue.”
About Jalisa Roberts
Jalisa Roberts is a writer, educator, Black Studies scholar, singer, and choreographer. With more than 20 years of dance experience locally and internationally, she has most recently trained in modern and African forms of dance at Swarthmore College, and explores how all of these different artistic interests live in one body and influence each other.
Much of Jalisa’s work explores how individuals relate to and influence groups, and how our narratives on similar events can differ greatly based on our individual experiences.
As dance has been an essential part of her identity and wellbeing, Jalisa’s mission is to use dance to create space for dialogue and change. Currently, she is a freelance artist, consultant, and educator in New Orleans and is the founder of The Cocoon: Youth Empowerment Program.