June 22, 2022
Volume 3 Issue 3
By: Jodie Jernigan
Reflecting on her early dance training, Meg Gourley says, “I really didn’t like [dance] for a long time.” It wasn’t until Gourley earned her pointe shoes and added more dance forms to her ballet training that she realized her deep love for the art of dance. With no pun intended, Gourley describes this formative experience as being “a real turning point” in her relationship with dance.
Originally from Conyers, Georgia, Gourley has been an integrated member of the Atlanta dance scene since her humble beginnings at age three. Having spent the summer before her senior year of high school dancing at prestigious intensives such as Governor’s Honors and Joffrey Ballet, Gourley graduated high school with the desire to pursue dance as a career. She found herself studying dance at the University of Georgia the following year, a program of which she speaks highly. “Being in a small dance program was great because I got to do everything. I know not every department can do that because there are so many dancers. I really got a special experience there,” she says.
Immediately following graduation, Gourley pursued her teaching certification through UGA’s P-12 Teaching Certification in Dance semester-long program. During her engagement with the program, she enjoyed her work as a student teacher at North Gwinnett High School. “It was wonderful! I had a wonderful first time teaching experience there,” says Gourley.
After completing her teaching certification, Gourley became a company member with the Atlanta-based contemporary dance company, Kit Modus. Gourley is in her fourth season with the company, having recently participated in the premiere of Christian Denice’s new work, Elapse, in May 2022.
Gourley speaks warmly of her time with Kit Modus, commending the company on their ability to safely continue artmaking despite the ongoing challenges arts organizations faced during the pandemic. “Kit Modus had the ability to dance outside, so we were able to have a full season,” says Gourley. “We wore masks and danced outside and were able to meet in a safe way. I’m thankful. I can’t say that enough.”
Having grown up plugged into the heartbeat of Atlanta dance, Gourly has a keen awareness of the vitality and vibrancy of the arts in this city. Beyond her work with Kit Modus, Gourley is constantly engaging in independent projects across Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Gourley recently appeared in Leo Briggs’ evening length work, Search History at 7 Stages this past April.
Gourley met Briggs through the ImmerseATL pre-professional training program overseen by Sarah Hillmer. Regarding Briggs’ process, Gourley says, “I think they have such an honest and clear voice that is interspersed with this great sense of humor and great energy and great understanding of their own vocabulary.”
Gourley also made an appearance as the shadow in Dana Sokolowski’s film, Who Sits Beside Us In the Bathtub, which premiered May 13 at Ambient Plus Studio in Atlanta. “It was incredible,” Gourley says, “not because I was in it. . . . I was gripped by it.”
Gourley’s genuine love for dance and immeasurable gratitude were palpable as she described how she manages her busy schedule. She reflects on the challenges that come with this balancing act. “Even though the day-to-day hustle of what we do can be exhausting, it’s so fulfilling to make work,” says Gourley. “I’m just so grateful that I get to dance everyday with such wonderful people and do important work. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Jodie Jernigan received her A.A. with an emphasis in dance from Florida State College at Jacksonville in 2020 before receiving her B.A. in Dance and B.A. in English from Brenau University in 2022. At FSCJ, Jodie danced with and managed their dance repertory company, danceWORKS. At Brenau, Jodie conceptualized and directed the annual cross-department dance on film showcase, “Poetry in Motion.” Her choreography has been selected to represent Brenau University at a variety of events and conferences, including the 2022 American College Dance Association Southeast Conference. Outside of academia, she served as an intern with Fly on a Wall in Atlanta, Georgia for their 2020-2021 season. In 2021, she was commissioned by Zoetic Dance Ensemble to create an independent dance film for their annual Mixtape Atlanta film festival. Jodie’s written work has been featured in Brenau University’s “Elixir” as well as having been presented at the 2022 Sigma Tau Delta convention. Jodie looks forward to continuing to become acquainted with the Atlanta dance community.