Past Events


Do Not Go Gentle

“Do no go Gentle”

by Jacob Henss


by Hannah Price

Featuring choreography by

Hannah Price, Hanna Pierce,  Josiah Gundersen, and Jacob Henss

Sponsored by 

Sports Medicine & Training, Jordan Henss, and Jacob Henss

View Show Program

A text about “Do not go Gentle”

written by Betsy Brandt

With Do not go Gentle, Henss strives to “better understand the world around us, how we fit inside of it, and how we may aid it.” How can performance address problematic pasts, safely occupy and amplify our precarious present, and ideate new futures? What does it mean to make a dance in the summer of 2020? 

These questions drove the creation process of Do not go Gentle, but also remain embedded and open-ended in its final iteration. Dancers move with urgency and hesitation as if trying to simultaneously shake off something old and tentatively try on something new. The “shake-off” ranges from ecstasy to exorcism. The piece opens with a solo that could happen at the end of either a very bad day or a very good one. Either way, something substantial is coming up, coming off, and coming out.

In contrast, there are moments of tender experimentation. Dancers balance and sway, their floating limbs tasting the currents of the surrounding air. Fragmented questions go unanswered. They teeter, and that suspension never fully resolves.

The ambiguity is balanced by a more compositionally ornate structure than Henss has explored to date. The piece consists mainly of solos framed by complimentary group phrases, tableaus, or tasks. We see a deconstructed parade of dance tropes—pompom squads, kick lines, and the ubiquitous “5, 6, 7, 8.” Everything is overtly juxtaposed, one thing after another. The musical collage is obsessively structured, braiding pop anthems and cringy nostalgia with spoken text and ambient drones. The pop songs are used without irony. It is uncomfortable.

Henss makes dances that usually need to be last in the program so the crew has time to clean up the water, hair, tequila, or garbage. Things ooze and smear, and everyone goes home afterward for a (probably cold) shower. Not here. These dancers wear masks. They don’t touch, except for one duet performed by sisters. Without giving away the ending, there is no messy after-scape. They don’t end up ruined and ravaged but perched and precarious. As the lights fade, I think, “Maybe they are finally just…ready. Prepared, somehow, for whatever steps need to happen next.” 

In the summer of 2020, many of us were overwhelmed by the paralyzing grief of a global pandemic and the urgency to address our city and country’s legacies of violence against Black bodies; some next steps are clear. The white supremacy embedded in contemporary dance education and production models, evidenced here in the lack of diversity in the cast, must be more intentionally dismantled. Dance artists and audiences must boldly pivot resources to better care for each other amidst the economic, physical, and emotional risks of the pandemic. Do not go Gentle reminds us that this is messy work. Our discomfort is suspended, jarring, complex, and emphatically unresolved.

Photo credit: Emma Bright


Weigh Station

“Fragmented Dreamscapes”

by Josiah Gundersen

“Harbored Weight”

by Jacob Henss

View Live Show Recording Here

Produced by

Jacob Henss

Featuring choreography by

Josiah Gundersen and Jacob Henss

Sponsored and Hosted by 

Sports Medicine & Training

View Show Program

A text about “Harbored Weight”

written by Betsy Brandt

As the piece begins, sheer jumpsuits hang over the performance space. They look like a monochrome jester’s motley with their black and white color-blocked fabrics. Beyond the whisps of historical formalism suggested by the costumes, the piece itself is another kind of motley, defined by its incongruous juxtapositions, exaggerations, and contrasts. But like in the acts of the Shakespearean fool, the ridiculousness is a vehicle for something else. In this chaotic choreographic world, we find somber reflection, critique, and tenderness. How do we calculate loss? How do we carry the weight? 

The piece is a collage. Snippets and shards of different elements, overlapping at the edges, never really add up to a cohesive message or story. Instead, they feel like a series of attempts—to gather, to carry, to mourn, to celebrate, to cobble together a collective ritual that will help these people figure out what happens next. What can these voices say? Here, sad whale songs morph into operatic arias and back again, set against a chorus of something that sounds like a mashup of beatboxing and a coughing fit. As the dancers lapse back into silence, Henss quietly inflates a baby pool. Breath, amid an ongoing global health pandemic and acts of institutional and political violence, resonates with uncomfortable and undeniable urgency.

There are gestures of care—intimate slow dances and tenderly arranged tableaus. The cast, diverse in age and background, gently (and sometimes clumsily) rotate through cycles of solos, duets, and groups. The moments of partnering are supportive, not heroic. Mutual support becomes communal empowerment as the dancers muster the collective energy they need for the splashy group sections. But, despite the sassy jazz steps and luscious layouts, these moments are also fleeting, and they soon settle back into familiar heaviness.

Let me end back at the beginning, with Henss performing a solo with a stool, balancing precariously, attempting soft feats of acrobatic extravagance. The red and blue fluorescent tubes that hang in the performance space rhyme with the white overhead emergency lights, the ones that stay on even when you flip off the light switch—a reminder that our emergencies persist. Sitting in the audience, surrounded by exercise equipment and examination tables, the real-world-ness of our context sits in amusing contrast to the theatrical illusions of Henss’s world. Like the jester’s performance, maybe that absurdity can help us sit with some heavier weights.

Photo credit: Emma Bright


Space Station

“Die Oper: Daisies and Daydreams”

by Jacob Henss

Produced by

Jacob Henss, Marissa Beccard, and Sports Medicine & Training Center

Featuring choreography by

L. Mattson, Kayt MacMaster, Ramona Orion, and Jacob Henss

Sponsored by

Sports Medicine & Training Center and Leverage Dance Theater

View Show Program

Space Station is a dance residency hosted each summer in the greater St. Louis area, featuring local St. Louis choreographers and performers. We strive to explore our world through experimental dance, hosted by Sports Medicine & Training Center, produced by Jacob Henss & Marissa Beccard, and sponsored by Sports Medicine & Training Center and Leverage Dance Theater. We then offer an opportunity to share it with the St. Louis community.

For our third summer residency, we have a triple bill featuring local choreographer Jacob Henss (St. Louis/Urbana, IL) and a duet collaboration with two St. Louis choreographers, L. Mattson and Ramona Orion. We have a special guest choreographer from Urbana, IL bringing her recent solo “hog ranch, hogwash, or putting lipstick on a pig,” Kayt MacMaster. She has collaborated with Josiah Gundersen, dancer, choreographer, and historian, on St. Louis history to incorporate into her choreographic work.

Photo credit: Emma Bright


Space Station '23

2023 Promo


by Jacob Henss

“I'm Thoreau Waiting”

by Jakki Kalogridis

“PITCHFORK, or The Great American Rodeo on the Corner of Grant and Wood”

by Will Brighton

Produced by

Jacob Henss and Robbie Van Nest

Featuring choreography by

Jakki Kalogridis, Will Brighton, Paige Van Nest, Nicole Kennett, and Jacob Henss

Sponsored by

Sports Medicine & Training Center

View Show Program

SPACE STATION is a dance residency hosted each
year in the greater St. Louis area featuring local St. Louis choreographers and performers. We strive to explore our world through experimental dance, and then to share it with the St. Louis community.

SPACE STATION 2023 was produced by Jacob Henss and Robbie Van Nest. This year we were hosted by Hope United Church of Christ and our sponsor, Sports Medicine & Training Center.

Featured 2023 Choreographers

Jakki Kalogridis

image of Choreographer Jakki Kalogridis

Jakki is a New Orleans-based choreographer, performer, visual artist, and writer. She holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Jakki worked as a professional costume designer for many years, creating work for private clients, dancers and choreographers, burlesque and drag performers, and award-winning musical artists. In 2016, she founded New Orleans Colorguard Arts, which offered programs teaching colorguard and dance through studio classes and workshops, a parading krewe, and stage recitals for local performers to showcase their talents.

Recent dance works include Untitled (Ode to a New Atlantis), a collaboration with composer Miles Hancock featuring dance students at UIUC; Elements, a dance and music film collaboration with choral director Kirsten Hedegaard; and Negative Space: a movement/sound installation with sound design by Kerrith Livengood.

Jakki’s current project, TANGENT SPACES: THE BOOK, THE GUIDE, THE RITUAL, is a multimedia trilogy experience that synthesizes her many interests in literature, philosophy, and science fiction.You can get a behind-the-scenes look at these and other works-in-progress at Jakki’s Patreon.

Follow Jakki on Instagram @jakki_kalogridis for her latest creative adventures

Will Brighton

Image of choreographer Will Brighton

Will Brighton is a dancer, choreographer, and playwright based in St Louis, MO. Originally from Ann Arbor, MI, Will attended Western Michigan University (WMU), graduating in Spring 2020 with a B.F.A. in Dance and a B.A. in English: Creative Writing. While at WMU, Will performed in concerts alongside Taylor 2 and Peridance Contemporary Dance Company and was a member of WMU’s touring company, Western Dance Project, for its 2017-2018 season. In 2021 Will had the privilege of performing as a guest artist with Saint Louis Ballet in their production of Alice in Wonderland.

Will has performed works by notable choreographers, including Yin Yue, Christian Denice, Norbert de la Cruz III, Prince Lyons, Kirven Douthit-Boyd, Brian Enos, BAIRA, Joshua Peugh, Harrison McEldowny, Antony Tudor, George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, and many others. Will is entering his 4th season with The Big Muddy Dance Company in St Louis, MO, under the direction of Kirven Douthit-Boyd. In 2020, Will was selected as the winner of the Young Dancers Initiative’s Emerging Choreographer Project and was selected in 2021 as an Emerging Choreographer for Eisenhower Dance Detroit’s NewDANCEfest.

Paige Van Nest

Image of choreographer Paige Van Nest

Paige Van Nest is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, and began training at Arts in Motion School of Dance. She graduated from Webster University in 2019 with a BFA in Modern Dance and a Certificate in Entrepreneurship. Her training outside Webster University includes Nashville Ballet, The Big Muddy Dance Company, MADCO, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. In addition to performing with Leverage Dance Theater and MADCO, Paige has also performed in the KP Project and the SMTC summer residency projects with Jacob Henss. She looks forward to continuing her movement research in the St. Louis dance community.

Nicole Kennett

Image of choreographer Nicole Kennett

Nicole graduated from Webster University with a BFA in Dance. She was fortunate to study under Alica Graf, Betsy Brandt, Maggi Deuker, Beckah Reed, and Michael Uthoff. Nicole has enjoyed performing with Karlovsky & Company Dance as well as performing the works of Jose Limon and Cleo Parker Robinson. At Dance St. Louis, Nicole held the role of Education Coordinator, working with St. Louis area public schools to bring Dance Artist Residencies to classrooms, as well as writing educational materials. Most recently, Nicole had the pleasure of teaching the wonderful dancers at Grand Center Arts Academy as well as at Arts in Motion.

Jacob Henss

Image of choreographer Jacob Henss

Jacob Henss (he/him) is a dancer, producer, choreographer, and teacher primarily based in the Midwest. He has been an adjunct faculty member at Millikin University since 2020, where he was awarded outstanding adjunct faculty in 2023. Henss also is a Lecturer for the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign (UIUC) since 2022. He holds an MFA in Dance from UIUC (2019-22), where he was awarded the Vannie L. Sherry Memorial Award for best graduate performer in 2021 & 2022. He is also a graduate of Webster University (2013–17) with a BA in Dance and Music, where he was awarded dance honors and the emerging choreographer award.

Henss has performed with the Modern American Dance Company (MADCO), located in St. Louis, MO, where he was a MADCO2 founding member (2017–18) and later an apprentice for the leading company (2018–19). Post-graduation work includes becoming the producer and Artistic Director for Space Station Dance Residency, an organization dedicated to presenting experimental dance work in the greater St. Louis area. Henss has been fortunate to dance for such choreographers in his career such as Sara Hook, Tere O’Connor, Jennifer Monson, Roxane D’Orleans Juste, Ashley McQueen, Rebecca Nettl-Fiol, Omri Drumlevich (resetting a work by Ohad Naharin), Nejla Yatkins, Micheal Uthoff, Rachel Rizzuto, Kayt MacMasters, and now Jennifer Allen and Deke Weaver. 

Henss has also been in residency with St. Louis presenters such as Sports Medicine & Training Center, Webster University, MADCO2, Karlovsky and Company, Materializing and Activating Social Habitus (MARSH), and CommUnity Arts Festival.