Jul 31, 2023

Meet Your Teachers: Rowan Janusiak & Tess Collins

Get ready to dance Ann Arbor & San Diego 💦

New classes, new teachers, new cities: dance artists Rowan Janusiak (Ann Arbor, MI) and Tess Collins (San Diego, CA) are gearing up to start Dance Church communities in their home cities. Meet Rowan and Tess–and vibe on their recent music obsessions–here on the blog, before you meet them on the dance floor for the weird, embodied, sparkly magic they’ll each bring. 

🐸 Rowan Janusiak (they/them) is a drag artist, a dancemaker, a magician with makeup and a bespoke creator of performance fits and fashion. Fun facts: they are also a twin (born on Christmas Day) and a traveler, recently back to Michigan from an extended trek in the EU. We chatted about dance and teaching and all things playful and pleasurable. 

☞ You are so multifaceted in your creative work: drag, makeup, dance, fashion… Is there a central philosophy or creative question that ties all these practices together, for you?

🐸 Rowan: I love creating work that stimulates audiences to question societal standards imposed around pleasure and play. I find we allow for an indulgence of emotional transparency and vulnerability while immersed in the things we love. Art (and community) are places where we can heal our inner child and let our wildest desires run free. As a queer artist, these things are really important to me.

☞ It sounds like artmaking and community-building are deeply intertwined for you. 

🐸 Rowan: For sure. I predominately build community through activism and art-making. I have developed my strongest relationships sweating it out in the dance studio or at a drag show. I hope to reach communities that don’t always feel welcomed in dance spaces. I want to create a safe haven for outsiders. I love doing this work in a dance class, like Dance Church, and I also think it’s important to make changes to our spaces in other ways; when I’m not teaching or performing, I also work for Embody Dance Conference, a new convention focused on prioritizing mental health and diversity, equity, and inclusion in youth dance spaces.

☞ You’re really bringing the Dance Church mission of “dance is for Every Body” to your work as an artist and teacher. We can’t wait to feel this with you on the dance floor! What else inspires your teaching?

🐸 Rowan: When teaching, I love to activate a space that creates room for self-exploration and discovery. I love to watch the wheels turn behind my collaborators' eyes. I hope to create a space that transcends beyond dance and movement and allows for self-actualization and expression. I plan for a prioritization of pleasure, play, and all-around increased vibrations. I also have a degree in Exercise Science, so I definitely bring that to the table too. 

☞ Yesssss to pleasure, play and vibrations. On that note, can you share a few songs that are inspiring you these days? What can we expect to hear in your Dance Church playlists?

🐸 Rowan: Last Thursday I performed a drag number to Rush by Troy Sivan at a show run by young drag community in Ann Arbor. I was very excited about that event (catch the next one soon 😉). And I love that song! I’m also super into Remi Wolf’s Liz - Live at Electric Lady and Peter McPolan’s Digital Silence right now.

☞ Definitely let us know about your next drag show! We also can’t wait to take class with you. When is your first Dance Church class in Ann Arbor, and where can we find it?

🐸 Rowan: For sure! I’ll be teaching Dance Church at The Phoenix Center (220 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI). Catch my first class in mid-August!

👽 For Tess Collins (she/her) everything connects back to movement. Tess is a traveler who spent five years living out of a backpack, dancing with artists and teaching different communities on several continents. Now she’s in San Diego, where she manages a movement therapy space, leads yoga, teaches Dance Church, and buys flowers for strangers.

☞ Okay, before we start talking about dance and art and teaching, can you share just a couple things about you as a human? 

👽 Tess: I spend my free time in nature, I secretly like to learn languages (I like to think of it as vocal/mouth choreography), I'm active in sustainability and I'm super minimal. I don't own a TV or even a couch (more room for rollin’ around). 

☞ Community through generosity and beauty. Love that. How else do you build community in San Diego?

👽 Tess: I'm definitely a "face-to-face" heart-to-heart type of connector. I believe people are most powerful and potent when our attention is in our body (aka raw, curious, and truthful). I participate in and learn from different movement communities in the area: contact improvers, Feldenkrais and somatic experiencing, my yoga students, the martial arts and boxing crew, our climbing community, and people I collaborate with for dance projects.

☞ It sounds like your Dance Church classes will have people of all movement backgrounds, which is so cool. 

👽 Tess: My main passion currently is promoting the idea that we're ALL dancers – if you have a body, you're a dancer. No training needed to groove. 

☞ It will be so exciting to take your Dance Church classes alongside folks from all these communities. What can we expect to be dancing to, in a Tess-curated DC class?

👽 Tess: Here are three songs I’ve been loving lately: 

☞ When is your first Dance Church class?

Stay tuned for late August or early September! I’m still working to secure a space and time, but San Diego Dance Church is about to happen.

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