Jessica Ruhlin

@jessicaruhlin

Bodies Never Lie – Blog

EP 68: Jessica Ruhlin (autogenrated)

[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it. Episode is 68. 

[00:00:11] Okay, let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Jessica Ruhlin. Are you ready for this Jess? 

[00:00:19]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:00:19] I’m definitely ready. 

[00:00:22] Dane Reis: [00:00:22] Jessica began her dance training in st. Louis, Missouri, and continued her studies  . On scholarship at Interlochen arts Academy and earned a BA in dance pedagogy from Butler university in 2008. . She has dance professionally with classical and contemporary ballet companies and is performed in a wide array of commercial dance, including as a backup dancer for a Rita Franklin and comedian Hannibal BRS. 

[00:00:48] Graduating from NYU Steinhardt dance education program with a masters of art in May, 2018. She is an . International teacher and artist having studied, performed and taught in Russia, Uganda, Spain, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Barbados beyond her career as a performer teacher and choreographer, she is also an arts writer covering dance performance and visual arts in New York establishment, such as the Joyce, the met and the. 

[00:01:16] Whitney museum of American art. She currently works as  resident ballet mistress with urban assembly high school for the performing arts through the New York department of education teaches ballet in medical clinics, specializing in dementia care. And as a teaching artist with a New York city ballet. 

[00:01:34] She has been a type one diabetic since I diagnosis at the age of 15, when a doctor told her to quote, find a new hobby. Jessica that is a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, fill in the gaps, who you are, and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry. 

[00:01:57]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:01:57] Okay, well, thank you for having me Dane. So, um, my name is Jessica, but it’s interesting. Most people end up calling me, Jess. It’s sort of my litmus test for friends is I always introduce myself as Jessica and I. Usually find that the people that I’m just sort of intended to be friends with in life, just sort of naturally gravitate towards calling me just so feel free to call me that. 

[00:02:21] For the rest of our 

[00:02:22] Dane Reis: [00:02:22] Great. It’s my wife’s 

[00:02:23] wife’s name. So it’s easy. 

[00:02:25] Jessica Ruhlin: [00:02:25] Yeah, exactly. Uh, so I’m from the Midwest. I’m from st. Louis and I’ve been living in New York city for about four years now. Um, And I, uh, I’m really passionate about teaching what I would kind of consider. Uh, the outsiders of ballet, um, people that generally tend not to think of themselves as dancers. I work with a lot of senior citizens. I really love teaching beginners. I love going into elementary schools. Um, and I often find that. 

[00:02:56]This sort of quality, this feeling of being sort of a misfit in the world of being a performance artist is really not restricted to someone’s age someone’s ability or even experienced level this, I mean, I find this quality. And sometimes the most promising of pre-professional students as well. So. 

[00:03:15] Just making everyone feel welcome. And at home in a dance studio in their body sharing, uh, a physical space with others. Ah, that’s really what I’m passionate about in my work. 

[00:03:26]Dane Reis: [00:03:26] I love that. And that’s so important because so often people , get caught up in the idea that you have to be on Broadway. You have to be a star, you have to be doing this professionally or whatever it might be, but there’s so much that can come from the arts and from dancing that we can express that can fulfill us and really round out our lives as people. 

[00:03:47]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:03:47] Oh, definitely. I mean, there’s, there are so many incredible benefits that come from an arts experience. Um, from a dance, from a movement experience. I mean, We all use our bodies to communicate whether you’re interviewing for a job or going on a date or,  experiencing any sort of confrontation. It’s really an important skill to have mastery over the body. And also, I think it works the other way around where often. 

[00:04:15] The body tells us a lot of things too. Like, there’s this great field with somatics going on right now? Where if people learn to sort of pay attention to the sensations of their body, they can have a better understanding of. Their emotional experiences and either make positive changes for them or sort of track patterns. So it’s a really, I think dance is a really important thing for everybody to learn for everybody to study for their own wellbeing. And also it’s just fun. 

[00:04:46] Dane Reis: [00:04:46] Yeah, absolutely. And I love that you said that. We’re discovering that if you can listen to your body and tap into that, that you can really discover kind of what you’re feeling, your, where your emotions are lying. And I remember being at the Boston conservatory and doing a class there. And we were talking quite literally about that, where different parts of our bodies hold different emotions in different, very specific types of emotions in different parts of our bodies. And I remember. 

[00:05:15] People pressing on different parts of, uh, my classmates bodies, uh, or mine, and the amount of emotion that just Wells up instantly. And you didn’t even realize was sitting there. All this tension that gets built up emotional tension is built up physically. It’s it’s really quite crazy.

[00:05:32]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:05:32] Oh, definitely earlier this year, I was actually part of a research team that was studying, um, where trauma lives in the body. And we did exactly what you’re talking about, um, particularly within sort of like the hip flexors and the psoas muscle. And we would just do sort of like massage techniques and some stretching and people would just start. Crying like unprompted. So it is, it’s just amazing how much memory is stored in our physicality and how much you can rewrite that story by really, and truly dancing it out, moving it out.

[00:06:06] Dane Reis: [00:06:06] Yeah, I love that. And , I’m so happy that that is something that you are taking on and that is part of your life. And let’s move on to this next section. And Jess, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone.

[00:06:22]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:06:22] Oh, my gosh. Dang. I have to admit, I have a little bit of an issue with this. 

[00:06:29] Question. Because. I also, I do love a good quote. I’m right there with you. Um, but. I also just sort of feel like there’s so much talk in the world already. And. You know, it’s such a funny issue for me. Who has like, you know, I have a side job as a, as a writer. But I have such a. An interesting relationship with words,  I think because I’ve done a bit of studying on linguistics and I appreciate how much words.  Are symbols. Um, and they’re so open for interpretation. You know, you can say one thing it’s, I mean, everybody has experienced this where you send a text. And somebody takes it to be not quite the tone that you’re intending. 

[00:07:16] We’ve all been there. So I don’t know why. I just, I have a hard time placing too much stock with wards. If there something that I know has been edited and sort of crafted and sort of filtered the way that everybody kind of does with an Instagram page now. Um, but I, I do always come back to one thing that I remember very strongly. Um, my dad was probably one of the continues to be, uh, one of the strongest influences in my life. And I remember once we were out on a camping trip together, my dad was very into nature and we were in a canoe and he wanted to go around the perimeter of the Lake instead of going to the center It’s the most beautiful. He wanted to go around the shoreline so that we could collect all the trash in the litter that. Thrown into this beautiful Lake. And I remember asking him like, well, why are we doing this? , you know, we could have a better experience by going out into the middle. And my dad said, It’s better to leave the world better than when you found it. And that is something I think that has always, always really stuck with me. And I think that when it comes to things like quotes, I just appreciate so much. Maybe it’s because I’m a dancer and I value movement so much, but I really appreciate when somebody says something and I can see it. Backed up or physicalized with an action and that day with my dad and that canoe picking up trash from the Lake, um, you could really see the world becoming more beautiful. So I think, I think that’s one that really sticks with me.

[00:08:57] Dane Reis: [00:08:57] Yeah, I love that. And you’re so right. We, we live in a world of memes and one off phrases and it makes us feel better for two seconds, but there’s a big difference. between. Just saying things because they sound good in a moment. Are you kind of agree with them versus saying something and truly believing in it and. Walking the walk. Wonderful.

[00:09:21]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:09:21] I also think it’s so interesting too. How, um, in some languages, there, there are certain things that are just so. Sacred that they don’t even have words necessarily to translate to that experience, the things that are supposed to be unspoken. Uh, and sometimes I feel that way about things that I value the most. I mean, I think that if you ask people what is truth or what is love, or even for me, what meaning does dance have in your life? It’s really hard to find the words to describe the things that have the most significance. Um, I’m not really sure why that is, but it’s hard not to go into. Into the cliches and it’s almost like some things are really just left to be experienced and not described.

[00:10:11] Dane Reis: [00:10:11] Absolutely. I love that. I love that. And let’s move on to the section here. And of course, Jess, you are an entertainment professional. I’m an entertainment professional. And I think that you’d agree. This industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally emotional industries in existence. And, you know, as well as I, that in order to create and have a successful career in this industry, like you’re having now takes a lot of dedication and hard work. And while yeah, there is an outrageous amount of fun and excitement doing what we do. There are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures. We are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. So tell us what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced? In your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it.

[00:11:07]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:11:07] That is such an important and great question. Um, and I would say for me, the biggest challenge that I have really faced over the duration of my.  professional career. And really, I think I noticed it began when I found out that I was diabetic when I was 15. Was the distinction between self confidence and self esteem. And I think that it’s really impossible to have. Self-esteem in the face of self doubt. But you can definitely. Still have doubt. Um, Even as a confident person. And I think that for me, I placed so much emphasis in what my physical capabilities were, how well I was doing in dance. And when you, when you put that power into an ability, I think that it’s very hard to be more stable in your sort of self image. With that it’s I mean, you know, as a, as a theater professional, or as a dance professional, You’re always  judging yourself by how you’re doing on a cast list or what kind of feedback you’re getting in the classroom or rehearsals. And it’s really hard, I think, to find.  your true value.

[00:12:22], when you’re so focused on what you can do. As opposed to, um, feeling like you deserve to be there. And I think for me, I was always. So filled with, um, sort of like a negativity in my head. I think more just questions. I think it began as a question and really turned. Negative. From the time of my diagnosis, because for me finding out that I was diabetic was really quite a shock. No one in my family. was diabetic. I grew up extremely healthy. I mean, I had perfect attendance in school. Um, many years in a row, I would just was never, never sick. I was never ill. I grew up having. Pretty good work ethic. Um, and so for me, before I was diagnosed, um, I mean, I was just, I was so ill for a really long time. And the thing with dances. It covers up the symptoms a lot. Um, so I was losing a lot of weight. I would have to sit down in class and I just remember there were a lot of teachers, a lot of my classmates. Who really thought, um, that I just wasn’t taking care of myself. They thought that I was anorexic because I was losing so much weight when really my body was just shutting down. And so for me to find out then that I was diabetic after having this theory, healthy lifestyle. Um, Turn me into a bit of a nihilist in a way where it sort of felt. A little bit of a, maybe a pity party, to be honest, the kind of, why me, um, where I had built my whole life to be healthy and strong, and it was just gone in a moment. And all of a sudden, I I’m taking four shots a day. And I’m responsible for maintaining my organ function. Um, and , I think I had a real struggle with adapting to that change. It was just very hard. Then when I, I felt kind of betrayed by my body. I felt like when I found out I was diabetic, that all of this work that I had done to become this accomplished young dancer. And having that gone so quickly. Um, I was just filled with so much self doubt where it was kind of a question of, , is it even worth trying to rebuild myself from this? Because it could be gone again for something else. And. , um, Sort of like the chaos of life, I suppose, was a hard thing for me. To deal with. And when you have that kind of. Emotion and self-doubt running through your internal space in your head. It’s really hard to go into a dance studio and have that sort of presence that is really necessary, even in the way that you train to be an artist where you want people. To look at you. You want that feedback. And I think that I went through a really long period where I didn’t feel deserving and I didn’t feel worthy. And I was so frustrated by. Having worked pretty hard up until pre diagnosis and, and then having to try and adjust that it was really hard to sort of shake the self doubt that it could all go away again. and feeling like I still deserve to be there. I think the industry has changed a lot now I hope, but when I was first dancing professionally, certainly, and even. In my days as a student, having diabetes was really looked at as a liability and as more of an obstacle than really it should have been. Um, but it made me really fearful of being my true, authentic self and saying, this is really something that’s part of me. I was always living in this fear that I was going to have to stop and check my blood sugar in the middle of rehearsal, which I think made me. Hate the diabetes again, even more. Um, Because it felt like I was living with this invisible disability and sort of like living with a secret and it made me feel more shameful about something that was already kind of hard for me. So I think,  being in the dance studio, going into my professional life, I was just still so clouded with. Not feeling secure about my health and about, um, About my worthiness to be there. And I think that really started changing for me, honestly, when I, when I started teaching. I think teaching is such a, an amazing thing, because it just really puts you in such direct contact with any insecurity that you might be having or any mask that you’re trying to live behind. Because I know that with some of my students, , I would want to encourage them come out to the front or, you know, go in the first group or dance with a little bit more confidence or enjoy yourself. Even you can tell when a student is. Not liking themselves when they dance. You know, , my side is called bodies, never lie. And I really believe that I can always tell when dancers are in the room and they just aren’t. Enjoying the process and enjoying being in their body. And I always, as a teacher, that more than technique, that is always what I wanted to affect change with my students. And I don’t think that honestly, I was really able to do that for myself and develop real self-esteem as opposed to just confidence in my abilities until I was teaching. And I could kind of see myself a little bit more. After looking at my students first. I think it’s really hard to, to look in the mirror, you know, to really, really look at yourself. Um, so it’s just easier to start by seeing yourself and others. And I think that that sort of increases a sense of empathy. That then you can internalize for yourself.   that the very long winded process, . And along winded explanation, but I think, I think that’s kind of how I, I was able to  dig myself out of that hole of self pity and really self doubt.

[00:18:12]Dane Reis: [00:18:12] Yeah, I love that. And I love that you said. Empathy, because through your teaching and you went on an amazing journey and I love that. You discovered that it’s increased your empathy, it’s allowed you to really properly relate and connect with your students. And I think that’s so important. It’s such a very unique perspective on how to help others. Experienced dance, experience art, and to grow themselves and. Aye. I do not have diabetes, but I have one of my best friends growing up, uh, mid high school. He was diagnosed with type one diabetes and. I saw how much that really affected his life and hearing your story. There are so many parallels. He does dance, but he’s not a professional entertainer. But. 

[00:19:04] There are so many. Parallels that you just mentioned that I saw and experienced with him and did my best to help him through things as well. And  it’s absolutely challenging. Of course I. I can only sympathize with,  that experience. But it is amazing that you have come out the other side and you are being so positive and such a wonderful influence for so many people. And you have such a great perspective to offer. Everyone that you impact.

[00:19:32]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:19:32] Oh, thank you. I think the thing that, that I love the most about teaching, and I think the thing that I’m probably best at is really. It is kind of that being able to observe people for the experience. Like, I really feel like when I’m in a room with people I can see inside their head, um, I think that there are probably a lot of dance teachers out there that are. As good or better than me at fixing things with the body. But I feel like I really, I really try to look at  the soul, the being the head space that is filling an occupying that body, because I feel like that more than anything else. Shapes how a person moves, how they live within their body, how they take up space in the room. So I feel like for me, being able to see   the side of the person that maybe wants to hide. , I think that I’m, I’m pretty good at seeing that because I just remember being that person.

[00:20:28]Dane Reis: [00:20:28] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I love that. And let’s move on to this section now to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realized, yes, I am going to be an entertainer for living or maybe it was, yes, this is what I need to be doing in the entertainment industry. Tell us about that.

[00:20:57] Jessica Ruhlin: [00:20:57] Okay. I mean, that’s such a, that’s such an interesting question because I think. As dancers and I’m sure a lot of other entertainers can relate to this. You start your, . Career and sort of  a professional mindset so early, I mean, . I became part of a,  a pre-professional company when I was nine, something like that. Um, yeah, and I mean, started going to dance four or five days a week by the time that I was eight or nine. And.  when I would see a lot of my, my school friends had more time for things like, you know, going to the mall or mostly just focusing on homework or maybe they played a sport or something like that. But. Just weren’t. Um, As serious about a hobby, if you want to call it that as I feel like I probably was, but because that was my world and I had lots of friends who were also in that world, that seemed very normal to me. And I just remember being a kid, sitting at my dance studio in st. Louis. Flipping through the pages of dance magazine and envisioning when I was eight,  what pose? Was I going to do when. The cover of dance magazine. Which is actually funny because I’ve only been in dance magazine once and I’m definitely  facing the back. I just sent copies to my family and say, that is definitely, that’s definitely me from the back. 

[00:22:20] Dane Reis: [00:22:20] But 

[00:22:20] definitely not what I envisioned when I 

[00:22:22] was nine. 

[00:22:23] Jessica Ruhlin: [00:22:23] Yeah. Exactly. But I just, I don’t remember. I really don’t remember ever thinking that I would do anything else. I think when I was a child, I had a brief period where I wanted to be a veterinarian. And then someone explained to me that that would mean taking care of sick animals than I realized I didn’t have the emotional wherewithal for that. So, I guess if I could pin it down really to one moment though, I think it would have to be. When I was 13, my pre-professional company was part of regional dance America, where. My studio and I think about 12 others from the Midwest are selected to come together for a dance conference where you get to take class together. Um, and sort of mingle and see what other companies are doing and what other students look like. And just, um, just sort of get together with dancers from around the country, which was , always just such a fun and an amazing experience. But on the first day that you’re there, there’s a big scholarship audition. And that year when I was 13, um, I won the biggest cash prize. And up to that point at my studio, I had never really received a lot of featured dance roles. I mean, I had done things like Clara in the Nutcracker or parts that. Required more acting because I actually did a lot of musical theater as a child. Um, and I think I’ve always been a very animated performer. I was a better performer than I was a technician coming into my life as a dancer. And I was also . In my company, I was the youngest one. So a lot of girls were , you know, technically stronger. Um, and so for me, that was kind of a turning point. Where after that? I think my teachers saw me in a different light. I think the other students and the other people in my company maybe saw me in a different light. And I think that. For myself, that was the first time. That I really felt like I was very singled out. Um, You know, in this huge group of amazing dancers from around the country. To have gotten that award. And that acknowledgement was the first time that I really remember thinking, Oh, I really am. Kind of good at this instead of just, I really liked doing it. And from that point on, um, I started getting a lot more featured roles at the company where I was dancing. So I think that was kind of the turning of the tide 

[00:24:47] Dane Reis: [00:24:47] Yeah. Yeah. I love that story.

[00:24:50] And. 

[00:24:51] Jessica Ruhlin: [00:24:51] I cried like a baby when I got the award, those so embarrassing. 

[00:24:56] In front of everyone, just like walking up to get this certificate, just balling.

[00:25:01] Dane Reis: [00:25:01] But I love that. That’s such a good story. And let’s piggyback on that question and talk about your number one book. That moment, walk us through that day, the auditions and call backs. If they happen to be a part of it, what was going on in your life? And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite? Booked it moment.

[00:25:23]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:25:23] Okay. I know I’m the worst. Your worst interview ever. I’m so difficult, but I have to, and I promise I’ll make them short because they are tied in for. Same reason. Um, so my first was actually my audition for the Louisville ballet company, which is where I went right out of college, which was extremely lucky. I graduated in 2008 in the middle of the. Economic crisis when no companies were hiring and Louisville is such a beautiful company. Um, so a bunch of my friends from Butler university, where in Indiana, we all piled in a car together. And drove down to Louisville. It was snowing. I remember. Parked in this giant snowbank. The side of the road. And went and I did this audition and. I just remember thinking that I was doing so terribly, just not dancing. Well, uh, I remember the. The person teaching the class was Uber Kern, who I believe is actually still the ballet master there. And he is an amazing teacher, but just does not pull any punches. And his classes are unbelievably hard. And I remember nearing the end of that class. I almost left in the middle of it because I was just thinking, I am not going to get this job with this beautiful company. I’m not doing well in this audition. And. , um, my friends and I, we were all sort of on that rigorous audition circuit, where we were still finishing senior year of college and, you know, doing our capstone projects. And for me, my honors thesis, and we were doing the ballet Jazelle and. Trying to do auditions around the country on top of it. And I was so close to almost just walking out of that audition. And I just remember in my head thinking. You know what I paid for this. Cause you still had to pay for auditions at that time, too. I paid for this audition. I’m going to finish the class and at least,  get a good workout. Or whatever was in my head and just have fun with it. And then I, I just remember getting that call on my answering machine. , , I think it was a couple of months later offering me a spot with the, with the company and it was just. It was just an unbelievable moment of, of. Perseverance. In a really positive way where , I was doubting myself and I chose to push through anyway. And I just loved dancing at Louisville. So I think that that was a really great moment for me. And then my second. My second favorite ish. Oh, say ish moment is kind of on the opposite. End of the spectrum from that where perseverance again pulled through, but it was because. Of an audition where I absolutely thought that I was going to get the job. . Uh, But I went, I traveled to New York for their audition. And it was, it was such a fun audition. It was ballet and jazz and sort of contemporary repertoire. It was a time in my life where I was moving a little bit away from only doing classical and contemporary the way that we did at Louisville. Just because that amount of point work was really hard for me. With my feet and diabetes. So I wanted to go to a company that had a little bit more jazz, a little bit more ballet shoes. So I auditioned for this one that I had researched and I was really excited about. Got to New York. Auditions were in the Ailey building. I mean, it was   such a wonderful experience. I loved the teachers, um, who were, , the directors of the company. And thought that I  nailed that audition. And it was one of those where they said, if they wanted to see you again for the call back, they would. They would let you know, and it would be the following day. And I remember I, I was staying actually with my roommate, my old roommate from high school. Um, And I ended up staying in New York for an extra three days because I kept waiting for that call. And I did not get it. And I was  devastated. I went back to Louisville kind of thinking, okay, I’m just going to start my teaching career because I was teaching at the Louisville ballet school and I really, really enjoyed it. and I wasn’t going to dance with the company again that year and I just kind of thought, well, I guess, I guess this is, I don’t know, world telling me that maybe I should. hang up the performance career. And. Something told me  to reach out to that company. And I sent them an email to saying, , did you have any follow up from me? I really enjoy the experience and their response was, Oh, we got you confused with somebody else at the audition. 

[00:29:58] And we accidentally invited the road. Girl. To come to New Jersey. For the call back instead of you, can you come back and re audition again? So immediately, I mean like two days later I was on a plane and  my dad and I went to New Jersey and. I really positioned for two days with this company. And at the end of the two days, they said, yes, we want you to come dance for us. And that was it. I went back to Louisville and packed up my apartment and moved to New Jersey after 

[00:30:32] Dane Reis: [00:30:32] Oh, my gosh, 

[00:30:34] Jessica Ruhlin: [00:30:34] So it works both ways. Just, you know, never give up. Yes.

[00:30:37] Dane Reis: [00:30:37] Absolutely. And I think, I mean, there’s something to be said for follow up. Wow. That’s wild.

[00:30:43]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:30:43] Yeah, I think there was just, I’m not sure if it’s just shows how conceited I was or if I just. I think I really just genuinely wanted the feedback because I really thought that I had done well in that 

[00:30:55] Dane Reis: [00:30:55] Yeah. You’re like,

[00:30:55] something’s not feeling right. I love that. That’s so good. And let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And look, it’s a crazy time. We are amidst this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?

[00:31:18]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:31:18] You know, I love that question because I feel like my answer for it . Kind of answers all of the aspects of that question. With the project that I’m doing right now that I’m, I’m really actually very excited about. Um, so I, I had had sort of like a lot of plans for the summer, and it’s funny, like I was going to have this big show, this big, new ballet that was supposed to open. On May 1st and everything, as you know is just kind of. Sort of to be announced and on hold at the moment. So I’m kind of waiting to see where the cards are going to fall. Um, with regards to some of those opportunities. But in the meantime, It’s been really interesting for me. Um, I think sort of figuring out how dance can be more accessible to people. And I’ve really sort of been trying to take stock in, in what people are affected by and what people seem to be enjoying and paying attention to. And seeing how dance is existing in an accessible way in the digital realm has been really, really interesting to me. So I’m very lucky. I was hooked up with a couple of international collaborators and we’re working on a project that’s  tackling this idea of isolations and some of the questions about anxiety that are. That are coming for, I think for all people, but for artists, especially. Um, and so I’m going to tell you a little secret there. Do you know the artist Banksy?

[00:32:44]Dane Reis: [00:32:44] Of course. Yeah.

[00:32:45]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:32:45] So there’s one of his exhibits, which is a mobile. Delivery truck. It’s absolutely hideous. On the outside. Um, I mean, it looks like a murder van. It’s terrifying looking, but. He did this exhibit in it. That’s called mobile waterfall. Where. In the back of the truck, he created this  simulated nature environment. It’s just, just gorgeous. Um, it’s like a robotic butterfly and rainbows and a waterfall. And he would just drive around New York city and give people the opportunity to experience like this sort of reprieve with nature for just a moment of time. And that van, even though the exhibit was, I don’t know, 2012, 2013. That abandoned van is parked in front of my apartment. So I’m going to do a sort of like Renegade. Art project with this abandoned Banksy van. Um, And I’m, I’m really interested right now in sort of that. The correlation between. mankind or the human race and nature. And where are we? Where do we have control? Where do we have influence and effect? Um, so I’m kind of working on that at the moment. Um, And. I’m actually focusing on Um, I’m trying to sort of like mirror the experience of what I think a lot of us are dealing with in this quarantine where we’re sort of being isolated and there’s sort of this like breakdown of society that we’re seeing. And so I’m kind of mirroring that with, because I’m sort of a nature geek I’m like biology want to be, um, I’m basing that on the life stage of the butterfly when they’re in a Chrysalis. Which I’m not sure if you know, but when the butterfly goes , um, into that Chrysalis stage, And they’re in that sort of solid casing. What happens to a butterfly is they entirely liquefy, like everything, their brain, their eyes, everything gets broken down into a liquid and they completely reformed to turn into a butterfly before they come out. And I kind of, I know, I didn’t know that either actually, until I started researching. Very kind of gross, but fascinating. Fascinating process. And I kind of feel like, at least for me personally, and I think a lot of my friends that I’ve seen in, maybe, maybe others can relate to this. I hope they do. I kind of feel like that is a little bit, what society is going through right now. We’re we’re in this theory, isolated moment in time where. We’re keeping ourselves sort of protected inside in this way that we’re hoping that we can come out. Safer. Um, but we have to, we have to do a lot of breakdown before we get there. And I think. It’s really interesting because I’ve been speaking with a lot of scientists trying to research for this piece. And I keep asking all of them, you know, once the butterfly is sort of liquified and this whole thing is its entire structure is broken down.  how is it reforming? And nobody exactly knows it’s kind of a mystery that’s happening inside this Chrysalis casing. And I kind of feel like that’s where we are in society right now, where it’s really hard to know. What is going to come out of this? I mean, we’re all sort of like in the thick of it together. Um, but I. I really do believe with dance with the performing arts, with the industry. Maybe even with. Human kind in general, that when we come out of this, I really do think something new is going to be formed. And I, I truly believe it’s going to be beautiful, whatever it is. So. I’m excited to be a little small part of that. Hopefully with this. This little project and hopefully more to come.

[00:36:28]Dane Reis: [00:36:28] Yeah, I love that project. I also love the parallels that you’re creating and I love your insight. With how. We’re going to come out of this better rebuilt moving forward. I love that. 

[00:36:42]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:36:42] I hope though it’s an optimistic view probably. Based in science though, right?

[00:36:48] Dane Reis: [00:36:48] Exactly right. Exactly right. And it is time to move forward to one of my favorite sections of the interview. I call it the grease lightening round. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you ready?

[00:37:09]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:37:09] I’m ready. So like the ink blot test.

[00:37:11] Dane Reis: [00:37:11] Yep. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer? 

[00:37:17]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:37:17] Self-doubt.

[00:37:18]Dane Reis: [00:37:18] Second question. What was the best piece of advice you have ever received? 

[00:37:24]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:37:24] Trust your instincts. 

[00:37:25]Dane Reis: [00:37:25] Third question. What is something that is working for you right now? Or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause.

[00:37:35]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:37:35] Believing that you deserve to occupy space.

[00:37:39]Dane Reis: [00:37:39] Love it. Fourth question. What is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, a podcast, maybe a piece of technology that you found is helping your career right now.

[00:37:51]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:37:51] Having good people in my life to brainstorm with share ideas and always get encouragement and tell my stories of failure when they happen.

[00:38:01] Dane Reis: [00:38:01] I love it. Absolutely. We’re all humans and leaning on and leveraging the relationships in our lives is paramount to having a successful career. And I’d say life. 

[00:38:12]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:38:12] Definitely. 

[00:38:13] Dane Reis: [00:38:13] And the fifth question. If you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry, what would you do or not do? 

[00:38:30] Jessica Ruhlin: [00:38:30] Oh, that is, you’re speaking about like my absolute dream. Um, I definitely would do a lot of things differently because I had such a hard time taking care of my health. And that has been, um, the biggest problem for me now, even though mentally I’m in a really good space, I’m still dealing with a lot of, Physical repercussions of.  what comes from when self doubt turns into self harm. So I think for me, if I could go back in time and have not done some of those things or gotten the help that I needed a little bit earlier, That would make today a little bit better.

[00:39:05] Dane Reis: [00:39:05] Absolutely. And the last question. What is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in this industry? You’d like to leave with our listeners.

[00:39:18]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:39:18] I would say the most important thing is, how you handle mistakes. And being able to. Take yourself seriously enough to try again. But don’t take yourself so seriously that you don’t enjoy the mistakes as well.

[00:39:33]Dane Reis: [00:39:33] Absolutely. Yeah. There’s two sides to every coin, right? When you fail or you have a mistake. It’s okay for that to happen. But there’s also the things that you can learn from that as well. And to. Taking that entire experience and not get so tunnel visioned on only the negative things.

[00:39:52]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:39:52] Definitely. I think there’s such an important balance between being really serious and really focused and maintaining a sense of joy and a sense of humor in your work.

[00:40:00] Dane Reis: [00:40:00] Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more. And to wrap up this interview, it is time to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?

[00:40:14]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:40:14] Definitely. So you can find me on Instagram. I’m at Jessica Rulon and I’m doing a lot of. Um,  stretching videos, if anybody is hoping to reconnect with their body in a nice, gentle way. Um, Doing a lot of that sharing a lot of my artwork. I also do a lot of painting and drawing and I’m taking commissions for some of my work there. Um, I’m on Twitter at Jessica Ruhlin. I’m not very active though. And then I would say the best place to really connect with me also is through my blog bodies, never lie, which is Jess Ruhlin at WordPress. Um, dot com and that’s where I’m doing reviews and I’m doing some interviews with dance professionals as well on my site.

[00:40:57]Dane Reis: [00:40:57] Beautiful. And for everyone listening out there, I have put links to everything she just said in the description of this episode. Jess. Thank you so much for joining me today. You have had such an insightful outlook on this entire industry. Thank you for being here.

[00:41:14]Jessica Ruhlin: [00:41:14] Well, thank you. This was really fun.

[00:41:16]