Dancer to Dancer

The Dirt with Jessica Tong

Jessica Tong in Mats Ek's Casi-Casa

The dancers of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago are known for their powerful stage presence and stylistic range. Jessica Tong exemplifies all that and more. She trained at The Ballet School in Salt Lake City, UT, and then at University of Utah, where she was a member of Utah Ballet. She danced with BalletMet, Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech and Hubbard Street 2 before joining HSDC in 2007. In 2009, Tong was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch,” and she continues to impress audiences in the Windy City and beyond. This month, catch Tong in HSDC’s Spring Series (a collaboration with San Francisco’s Alonzo King LINES Ballet), March 14–17 at the Harris Theater in Chicago, and read on for The Dirt.

Full name: Jessica Yuen-Yung Tong. My mom told me my middle name means "gentle ferocity."

Must see TV show: "Freaks and Geeks." So underrated in its time.

Favorite movie: Clue. A movie based on a board game! I probably can quote the entire movie.

Biggest guilty pleasure: Donuts!

Favorite food: Mushrooms

Something most people don’t know about you: I am obsessed with rubber stamps. I have a large collection and use them to personalize homemade crafts.

If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be? I would be the proprietor of a bed and breakfast.

One thing you can’t live without: A good cup of coffee

Favorite city in the world: Chicago

Who would play you in a movie? My friend and former HSDC dancer, Robyn Mineko Williams. She does really good impressions of me.

What are your pet peeves? I have a lot of them! Just please don’t call me “dude” or “man.”

What’s your dream role? I have no idea. I like to enter new pieces without specific expectations, but I often end up falling in love again and again.

What’s the strangest thing in your dance bag? A child-sized Hello Kitty fork, spoon and chopsticks set.

Do you have a pre-performance ritual? I repeat a chant, “It’s too late to scream and yell, so get out there and dance like…” um, “heck.”

What’s your most embarrassing onstage moment? Four words: banana yellow crop top.

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Photos by Erin Baiano

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