June 2021

Naissa Bjørn

Portrait of Naissa Bjørn

Based in London, Naissa Bjørn is an emerging movement artist, trained in contemporary dance and circus. His dance practice is heavily informed by his lived queer experience, and navigating the dance and performance world as a queer artist.

Naissa is currently researching the concept of things we perceive as jarring or wrong. The adjective ‘jarring’ refers to “a jarring sight, sound, or experience” that is “so different or unexpected that it has a strong and/or unpleasant effect on something or someone” (Cambridge English Dictionary, 2021). When we perceive something that is jarring, we are unaware of how to react because it causes shock. There is a few seconds after registering where we ‘instinctively’ decide whether to accept or reject our reaction to something jarring as good or bad. Is this really all instinctual or is it social conditioning? Is it truly jarring or are we just perceiving it as taboo and creating stigma to process the unknown?

This fascination with the wrong and jarring comes from his experience of conservatoire dance training and having the lived experience of a queer trans person. In techniques such as ballet, there are shapes and forms that are described as the right way to do classical technique; even in most dance techniques there is often an aesthetic that needs to be achieved for it to ‘look right’. In an attempt to the technique right, we often start by doing it ‘wrong’ as our bodies are learning an unfamiliar technique until we do it ‘right’ and it becomes familiar. Does the first attempt have to be discarded as something wrong? How can we value this movement and make it into something else, something beautiful and not rejected?

Naissa aims to use his jarring practice in two ways:

By looking at how we can create something where we keep the audience in a jarring emotion or state, where they cannot decide whether something looks wrong or right.

By understanding how we can put jarring movement on stage and instead evoke pleasure and display it as something the audience will find beautiful.

Part of his research is looking into the philosophy of aesthetics to truly understand where the physchology of right and wrong in art and movement comes from, and how to use this theory to spotlight the wrong as valuable and beautiful.

Naissa has been exploring this concept by documenting his own choreography on video, and editing it in a jarring way. These videos highlight the uncomfortable, the missed details and the imperfections in movement that are often viewed as aesthetically wrong and unimportant.

Through the method of ‘jarring’, Naissa responded to the Worlding space by creating a site-specific video, highlighting the ‘wrong’ in an attempt to portray it as ‘right’.


Photo credit: Gabriella Piccaluga.