Choreographer’s Corner: Inside Trolley Dances with Jean Isaacs

Heading into the 14th Annual Trolley Dances, our fearless leader, Jean Isaacs wanted to share a little bit about her choreographic process this year.  Jean Isaacs is the Artistic Director of the San Diego Dance Theater and the originator of the annual site-specific project Trolley Dances. For ticket and performance information visit: This year, she is working with a group of community dancers to build her piece.  This glimpse into Jean’s creative process greatly speaks to the nature of the Trolley Dances choreographic experience.

To sit down and speak about what I am doing for Trolley Dances is hard, because I usually work with so little reflective time. I think I was better at that when I was younger, but now it seems I am running out of time to think…

We ended up with a good site and a concept that developed when I did not get permission to use the Pink Palace Doggie Grooming Studio on the corner in La Mesa. In the audition I selected nearly all guy dancers, thinking I would have that site… Can you imagine 10 guys trying to hold down a poodle for bathing and he keeps wiggling away… haha! So now, I have Tough Guys Wear Pink, a eulogy to that lost opportunity to crack up the audiences for Trolley Dances. The hardest part is converting this group of sweethearts into tough guys… They are such lovely guys and dancers, but the energy gets lost out there in the vast space that is our site, so on Saturday we go into the studio to recapture the harshness that is a typical worker’s world.

We do get some enthusiasm from the security guard, Rosie, who thinks we should apply for America’s Got Talent!!! We only have 4 more rehearsals and a ways to go to finish and polish this dance. We are now at the stage where the “guys” have to develop their tough characters, bringing in appropriate clothing- work clothes and tools and other accoutrements for inspiration. Let’s see what they come up with tomorrow?

Steve Baker is helping shape the score and we are designing the music at night in Steve’s studio so there is really very little time off to relax, whew!!!

Come see Tough Guys Wear Pink by Jean Isaacs and the rest of Trolley Dances!

September 29 & 30 and October 6 & 7
2 hour tours leave every hour from 10 am – 3 pm.
6 Tours Daily – On the hour: 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3
Starts at Grossmont Transit Center, La Mesa
Tickets are available at:

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