100% DANCE founder and dancer Jess Innes is on a mission to ensure we as a nation are not only moving but also enjoying it - as we all know the key to a successful exercise regime that you will actually stick to is finding something you love and that can be easily incorporated into your lifestyle!
Jess Innes is the founder and creative director of 100% DANCE, a Sydney-based studio which teaches commercial dance to over 300 students weekly in the styles of Hip hop, Jazz, Contemporary and more. She is also an instructor at the esteemed Sydney Dance Company and frequently teaches workshops around Australia. Jess' expansive list of choreography and live performance achievements include opening for Iggy Azalea, TV work for NETFLIX "Motown Magic", "The Morning Show", "Hardball" and NRL Australia. She has also created commercial content for "Love Island", The Kyle and Jacqui O show, KFC, Startrack Express and a multitude of other Australian brands.
Question: What is 100% DANCE?
Jess Innes: 100% Dance is a Sydney based dance studio which I founded in 2007 to share my passion for dance. We offer classes in commercial dance to over 300 students weekly in the styles of Hip hop, Jazz, Contemporary and more.
Question: What inspired the creation of 100% DANCE?
Jess Innes: I was in the process of studying a Bachelor of Arts at University and when thinking about my career options, I knew I had to have dance a part of my life. I already had a huge passion for teaching dance and wanted more of an outlet to continue doing that, so I created a business name, got all of the necessary insurance and paperwork, rented a local hall for an hour a week and advertised my first dance class. I was only 19 years old and started with just one class per week - we now have 35 classes weekly, our own premise and a wonderful team of staff.
Question: Who or what inspired your passion for dancing?
Jess Innes: My movement is inspired by music. I love all genres of music whether it's hip hop, classical, jazz or pop and I also play the drums and piano so really enjoy finding interesting sounds and rhythms in a piece of music that I can channel into my choreography.
Question: Can you share your earliest dance memory, with us?
Jess Innes: I was three years old and attending my first dance class where we were learning a dance to "How much is that doggy in the window". I was wearing these little jiffies that my mum had stuck sequins on and I spent the whole class distracted by my shiny shoes! I would like to think I'm a more disciplined dancer now... although I still love a bit of bling!
Question: Why should we add dance to our exercise regime?
Jess Innes: Dance is not only incredible for technique, posture, flexibility and coordination but it is SO much fun! As well as being good for your body it is also good for your mind and wellbeing. When we dance, our body produces chemicals called endorphins that create feelings of happiness and help alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression.
Question: How can we add dancing to our exercise regime?
Jess Innes: Book in for a class at your local dance studio, a beginner class is a great place to start to learn the foundations OR just put some tunes on and start moving around in your lounge room! Pick your favourite dance jam and see if you can dance nonstop for the whole song - I guarantee you'll work up a sweat!
Question: Are you surprised that dance has been scientifically proven to release more endorphins than regular physical exercise?
Jess Innes: Dance has brought me so much joy so I am really not surprised that it's the best way to get those happy juices flowing. Dancing allows us to express our emotions with our bodies so it can be a great way to let it all out when words just aren't enough. When I dance, I feel a state of flow with mind and body where I am present in the moment and focused on what I'm doing which takes my mind away from any worries niggling at me.
Question: Can you share with us the four dance moves that work out the entire body?
Jess Innes: I am a huge fan of old school hip hop and this style always results in a good workout! My personal faves are - "The Running Man", "Biz Markie", "Cabbage Patch" and "The Wop"! Search these moves on YouTube as there's some great tutorials or pop into a hip hop class to learn the foundations!
Question: What's a typical day like, for you?
Jess Innes: I'm a little bit nocturnal as most of my dance work takes place later in the day so I do love a sleep in! Once I'm up, I always ensure I get out in nature each day so a walk, workout in the park or even just sitting in my garden with a cuppa has me feeling energised and like I'm not spending all day inside [as dancers can spend a lot of time inside a studio!] I always make time to work on some choreography, plan for classes and respond to all 100% DANCE enquiries. Then, of an afternoon/evening I am either teaching dance classes, rehearsing for shows, performing in shows or taking classes myself to continue to evolve and diversify my training.
Question: What's next for you and 100% DANCE?
Jess Innes: My great passion is choreography and I've been lucky enough to have some amazing opportunities to choreograph for music videos, television, live shows and events. This has inspired me to expand our services at 100% DANCE to include "100% ENTERTAINMENT" where we offer creative direction, dancers and choreography to bring any concept to life! Make sure to follow us on social media so you can see what's next!
Interview by Brooke Hunter