Episode 2: Learning Through Movement With Jesse Danger, The Movement Creative, Podcast Transcribed

Here at MyloWrites, we’re huge believers in the power of movement. We’ve truly seen the positive impact of kinesthetic movement and how movement helps ingrain the learning process. That’s why we sat down with The Movement Creative founder and NYC Parkour Pioneer Jesse Danger. Jesse shares his words of wisdom about the learning process and how movement can challenge one to become better.

Jesse Danger is the founder of The Movement Creative, a nomadic movement studio in New York City that blends the ethos and practice of parkour with skills and lessons from other movement disciplines, including movnat, yoga, calisthenics, martial arts, dance, crossfit, and more.

“I was one of the first practitioners of parkour in the United States, finding the discipline in 2004. I immediately connected with the underlying philosophy of “be strong to be useful” and brought that into every aspect of my life. My vision as a teacher is to help others embrace and be comfortable with self-growth through perpetual self-challenge. I believe in being present to the challenges life presents to you and in being strong enough to create the mental, physical, social, and temporal environments that will help you positively grow.” Learn more about The Movement Creative at themovementcreative.com

You can listen the podcast here.

Here’s our podcast transcribed:

Jesse: [00:02:26] The movement created is a movement education company in New York City and my passion in it is to see how we can teach deeper things through movement.

Mya : [00:02:39] Q: Why did you start The Movement Creative.

Jesse: [00:02:42] We started The Movement Creative because we saw that New York City is incredibly disconnected from movement. We saw an opportunity to help people see how we could use the city to explore movement and to challenge ourselves.

Mya : [00:03:00] Q: When did you start doing parkour and how did you get into parkour?

Jesse: [00:03:10] I started doing parkour when I was 15. I saw some videos of some old French guys moving around, jumping off of rooftops, and I was inspired. I got all my friends in my neighborhood to start training with me. We formed a little group and we started training every day after school.

Mya: [00:03:39] You mentioned the other day when we were talking that you were that kind of child, that small child that didn’t move so gracefully, and now seeing you, people would be like “Are you kidding?!”

Q: Tell us about when you were younger, as it hard for you or tell us about kind of that transformation.

Jesse: [00:04:05] I had never really had it together to get the skills for team sports. Even in high school, I joined the track and I was the slowest kid on the track team. I think it’s just always taken me a lot longer to learn movement skills, but I feel that because of the way that I’ve learned how to learn them, I really know them once I know them.

[00:04:27] I’ve always been maybe more of a wild child, more into my my own pursuits, so I liked skateboarding and rock climbing and just monkeying around. Finding a discipline where I could continually push myself in and numerable capacities it was really exciting for me.

Mya : [00:04:53] Q: What are the benefits of parkour?

Jesse: [00:04:57] The biggest benefit that I’ve gotten from Parkour is an understanding that I have the tools that I need now to start to affect the change that I want to affect, whether that’s in me or in the world around me.

Mya : [00:05:12] Q: Has parkour make you more confident in your life?

Jesse: [00:05:16] Yeah. Parkour has absolutely helped me with my confidence. Parkour is constantly testing, exploring, pushing my limitations and once I taken a step away from just doing that mentally, I could do that emotionally, physically, socially.

Mya : [00:05:39] I know in your teaching, one of the big key elements of The Movement Creative is spatial awareness and teaching children and adults, students of parkour, students that work with you Movement about spatial awareness.

Q: What does it help in people (spatial awareness) and why is it important to learn about yourself?

Jesse: [00:06:09] Spatial awareness is that first sense outside of yourself. It’s paying attention to the world around you the people that are moving around you, what’s going on.

[00:06:23] Parkour, as a discipline of finding challenge in your environment, requires a higher and higher degree of an understanding of that environment. That understanding is his spatial awareness.

Mya : [00:06:38] Q: What challenges do you face as a teacher?

Jesse: [00:06:42] So many.

Mya : [00:06:45] Are there any specific challenge that has made you grow as a teacher?

Jesse: [00:06:54] A couple of the bigger challenges that we’ve taken on with Movement Creative are changing New York City’s relationship to the use of public space, and helping people to develop a healthier relationship with movement. We see that practices, even from a young age, develop patterns and habits and an understanding of movement and of the use of public space: the opportunity for challenge that inhibit potential and growth. And we see that by taking on these challenges, we’re able to push ourselves in smaller day to day matters knowing that we’re working towards that larger goal.

Mya : [00:07:40] And I want to get a little bit more into Jesse the teacher. I want to know about how you’ve grown you as a teacher. Think about maybe a student, whether it was teaching one of your students a really simple move but that make you think about that move in a different way.

Q: Give us an anecdote of what touched you as a teacher.

Jesse: [00:08:28] Last August, I went to South Africa with ‘Know Obstacles’. We had worked with a few schools in the tristate area here to raise money to develop water infrastructure for schools in South Africa. We were able to visit some of those schools, see the needs that they had and also we’ve got to move around with them. At one of those schools, we got to move with around 300 students after giving a presentation to a thousand of them. They spoke 12 different languages and English was none of their first language. We wanted to coach wanted to share what we loved.

[00:09:15] We saw that after 40 minutes, it looked the same as a session anywhere else. That’s where I really started to understand that movement really is our first language and with it we can connect with everybody.

Mya : [00:09:30] Q: Did that push you as a teacher when you went there?

Jesse: [00:09:35] Yeah, that was just that was a huge push to develop my personal communication. And then also to think about what systems I could create to help people share that experience. One of the programs that I’m working on now is a digital movement challenge program where students in two different places learn movement, find challenges, and then share those challenges with students in another continent. They have to write subtitles for those challenges for them and give feedback, continue to develop that relationship through challenge and through a deeper understanding of their environments.

Mya : [00:10:21] That’s amazing trying to bridge all the communities to work together.

Q: What are the kinds of people that The Movement Creative attracts? Why do you think people are drawn to parkour? Is it a thrill that they want to try? You said you were skateboarded and you were a rock climbing or are only thrill seekers attracted to parkour? You’ve always said anyone can you parkour. Do you see a range of of people that are attracted to parkour and movement?

Jesse: [00:11:04] I think people that find themselves motivated by play and exploration connect really strongly with what we do.

Mya : [00:11:17] Q: Do you think parkour supports people in their everyday lives? And if, so how.

Jesse: [00:11:23] I think that the best way to answer that question is to say that everybody is doing parkour everyday. Parkour is getting from point-A to point-B, so that is wherever you are and whatever you’re trying to do, or wherever you’re trying to go. And it’s starting to look at that process as something that you can develop, make more efficient, understand better, be playful with, and be creative with. So if you’re trying to achieve a thing or get some place physically or mentally, then I would say that you’re doing parkour.

[00:11:56] On a purely physical level, there’s the development of your movement practice. Your movement practice is whatever you’re doing for 24 hours, whether that’s sleeping, or sitting, or whatever movement is incorporated into your day-to-day life, and finding ways to incorporate healthy, fun, exploration of movement into your day-to-day life is incredibly important.

Mya : [00:12:21] Q: What is the take away you want your students to carry with them after your lesson with you or a lesson that movement?

Jesse: [00:12:35] Well we hope that after every session our students have new ways to explore movement as well as a perspective around embracing challenge.

Mya : [00:12:47] You know here at MyloWrites, we have seen the gap students face with their writing. What gap were you looking to fill with creating Movement.

Jesse: [00:13:01] We see that students’ movement IQ goes down as we get older. We get more and more disconnected from our bodies and its potential. We really see us as incredibly functional organisms that are made to run, jump, climb, vault, swing, play and we believe in exploring those capacities to their fullest. We see that the less that happens, the smaller people’s physical world get. And we want to start expanding those.

Mya : [00:13:39] What is one of the most important thing you learned on your journey so far with The Movement Creative.

Jesse: [00:13:46] “If you want to go fast: go alone, if you want to go far: go together.”

Mya : [00:13:51] I want to come back to when I ask you the question of “when you were the childwho didn’t move so gracefully, and you felt that it took you a long time to figure out how your body moved.”

[00:14:03] And again, I reiterate, if anyone watches you do parkour, people would be like “What?! You didn’t move gracefully when you were younger?!”

Mya : [00:14:13] So what would you say to children and adults, really anyone out there who maybe doesn’t move gracefully in movement or maye doesn’t have movement come naturally to them.

Q: What would you say to them about that, in any aspect of their life. Not only movement but also all and other aspects of their life?

Jesse: [00:14:45] I would say the biggest thing you can do is be patient with yourself, no matter what pressures you feel from the outside world. Be patient with yourself and do your best to come from a place of joy, and creativity, and playfulness. If you can do that in all of your actions, you’ll build a deeper understanding of what you’re capable of in a way that’s free of judgment.

Mya : [00:15:16] Good advice to give to a lot of people.

And then I knew we touched on this because, of course, when I tell people I’m the mother of three boys who are parkour, they all look at me and they give me a big “sigh”.

Mya : [00:15:33] I asked you the other day, “How did your mom embrace this? For all those moms out there who have boys and girls who are interested in parkour, what would you say to all those moms and what did your mom say?

Jesse: [00:15:56] The biggest lesson that I got from my mom was that it was more important “who I was” and “how I did what I did” than “what it was that I was doing.

[00:16:07] If you want to train parkour in an incredibly dangerous, and reckless, and irresponsible way, you have every freedom to do that. But coming from a place of respect for yourself, for your environment, from a place of joy and playful creativity, I would say that it’s a fantastic thing and that my mom has slowly started to understand that as well (laughs).

Mya : [00:16:37] And just to reiterate, what my boys have said, which obviously has trickled down for you: “You train how your body moves and you train only to safe. You have respect for your body and the way it moves in space, so you never ever do anything to jeopardize that.

I know that comes from you. So I thank you for taking care of all three of my boys as they fly through the air!

[00:17:09] Q: Tell us what was your middle school writing experience like. Because we’re at MyloWrites, so we want to know what was your middle school experience like and then what was your middle school writing experience like ?

Jesse: [00:17:29] In middle school, I had a really hard time planning for writing. I always felt like I had great ideas and I didn’t know how to get them out or down.

Mya : [00:17:40] Yes, that is what we hear from everybody we talk to about writing. But you had so many ideas, right?! Of course.

Jesse: [00:17:50] Yeah.

Mya : [00:17:50] You’re just a creative, incredible person, so you had so many ideas but it was kind of “how do you organize them and how do you get them down on paper?”


Thanks for tuning into our podcast with Jesse.

Are you a learning specialist or an educational leader? We’d love to sit down and learn more about how you’re impacting the education community today. We’ll record and share it with the learning community via our podcast series!

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