“I am looking forward to dancing with everyone at NJDTE for the
SALSA MASQUERADE, during Hispanic Heritage Month and with one of my best friends and colleague from Ballet Hispanico, Rodney Hamilton.”
- Jessica Batten, NJDTE Alumna and 2021 Salsa Masquerade Guest Artist
JESSICA BATTEN: NJDTE ALUMNA
Jessica trained as a student with New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble under Nancy Turano and graduated cum Laude from SUNY Purchase in 2005. Following graduation, she danced professionally with NJDTE, Cedar Lake II, Connecticut Ballet, Bradley Shelver Contemporary Dance Theater, Ballet Hispanico of New York, Nimbus Dance Works, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and with The Metropolitan Opera Ballet; among many other companies and choreographers. Click HERE for more info
“NJDTE was my second home, my safe space to grow and learn, my place to connect with grown/professional artists.”
NJDTE is the place where formative relationships developed with my first love and passion, that is dance. I was given opportunities and responsibilities to develop my craft and technical skills. Additionally, it ignited my passion so fiercely that I was mentally, emotionally and physically able to confidently achieve my dreams pursuing dance as my life's mission and career. At NJDTE, I learned discipline, commitment, time management, how to communicate, and other organizational life skills that I apply in every layer of my life today. Most importantly, I learned respect for myself, for those that were leading me, and for the art form.
Jessica Batten and Clifford Williams in NJDTE’s Nutcracker
Can you describe your journey after graduating from NJDTE?
After NJDTE I went on to follow in Ms. Turano's footsteps and earned my BFA from SUNY Purchase, Conservatory of Dance. Immediately after graduation, I began my professional performance career dancing with companies such as Cedar Lake II, Ballet Hispanico, Nimbus Dance, Connecticut Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and The Metropolitan Opera Ballet- amongst many others. All throughout this time, I was invited and always graciously welcomed back to NJDTE as a Guest Artist in many roles including: the Sugar Plum Fairy in several Nutcrackers, as a teaching artist, coach, and rehearsal director for the school and Ensemble. I have never been a part of any organization for this long and this consistently, throughout my life. I am so thankful to Nancy Turano and NJDTE. Those experiences have helped me to become the person, artist, and educator that I am today.
Currently I am in my sixth year as the Director of Dance at The Putney School, a progressive boarding high school in southern Vermont that focuses on agriculture, sustainability, social justice, and the arts. I am responsible for greatly expanding and managing the program. I teach all technique classes (ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, improvisation) as well as choreograph works and commissioning new works with guest artists.
Work hard ♥ Be respectful ♥ Keep an open mind ♥ Take in everything that is shared with you ♥
Trust yourself ♥ Take care of yourself ♥ Have fun!
My love and admiration for the Hispanic cultures really blossomed while I was a company dancer with Ballet Hispanico in NYC. We were immersed in traditional Latin dances, music, culture, In addition to performing powerful repertoire representing Latin culture we also performed Viva Las Americas!, a educational lecture demonstration created for young people. We had the opportunity to tour all over the world and share the pride of the expansive Latin cultures and art forms as well as teach Latin Social Dance at many events. This allowed me to understand the heritage and traditions on a deeper level.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined.
-Henry David Thoreau
Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.
- Maya Angelou