Jhia Louise Jackson is an artist, academic, and activist who regularly engages in interdisciplinary projects. Raised in the Bay Area, her early experiences cheerleading, dancing, and volunteering with youth who have chronic illnesses led her to earn her BA in Dance, Sociology, and Ethics from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. During this time, her costume design work, sociological research, commercial dance experiences, and contemporary dance training allowed her to lay the foundations for the multi-faceted career she now has. While earning her MS in Bioethics from Columbia University in the City of New York, she was a member of Joya Powell’s Movement of the People Dance Company and a performing collaborator in the work “Song and Dance You” which earned Joya the 2016 Bessie for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer. She is currently earning a PhD in Sociology at the University of California San Francisco where her studies center around issues of mortality.
She has presented work at diverse venues such as the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, the Salvatore Capezio Theater at Peridance, the San Francisco War Memorial. As the founder and director of j.habitus, her works leans towards visceral explorations and presentations of topics drawn from her academic and activist work. For example, “Ms. Mary” is a solo that has been performed at The Tank, an off-broadway theater in New York City, and at the UCSF library. The work uses an interview with an African-American OB/GYN and activist who also engaged in academic training at Columbia University and UCSF and involves research into the life, work, and legacy of Miss Mary Cooley, an African-American doula who facilitated the birth of over 1400 babies in the deep south during the time of segregation. Her performative works have been described as thought-provoking, emotionally moving, physically-charged, and filled with subtle intricacies. She regularly seeks ways to actively engage with her audience, whether that is giving audiences directorial power in the moment or through her online-based happenings, such as “28 Stimulations.”
As a collaborating artist, she often engages in both site-specific and theatrical works that utilize a variety of dance styles/techniques and choreographic tools. She has worked with artists such as: Melanie Kress, Holly Johnston, Raissa Simpson/Push Dance Company, RAWdance, Alexandra Pirici, Kim Epifano/Epiphany Dance Theater, BANDALOOP, Annie Kahane/Alive and Well Productions, and more. She is currently teaching and dancing with Claudine Naganuma’s company “dNaga dance” which will be performing at the World Parkinson’s Congress in Japan in June 2019 and working with Kendra Barnes of K*Star Productions on “Red Zone”, a new original work inspired by the residue of sexual assault. Her ongoing collaborative partnership with Elizabeth Mulkey on film and live performance works continually serves as an exciting incubator for experimentation, research, and discovery. She is also the founder of Emerging Black Bay Artists, a grassroots community by and for early to mid-career Black artists of all disciplines in the Bay Area to internally share opportunities and resources, as well as promote the work of EBBA members to the greater SF/Bay Area community.