Born in Stouffville, Canada, Jessica Burrows graduated from Canada's National Ballet School and danced with The National Ballet of Canada before joining Hong Kong Ballet (HKB) in 2010. She was promoted to Coryphée in 2015, joined Boston Ballet in 2017 and returned to HKB in 2019. She was named Soloist in 2021.
With HKB, Burrows has danced the featured roles of Big Swan and Pas de Quatre in John Meehan’s Swan Lake, Beauty Fairy in Cynthia Harvey’s The Sleeping Beauty, Russian Doll, French Doll and Egyptian Doll in Terence Kohler’s The Nutcracker, Kitri’s Friend in Nina Ananiashvili’s Don Quixote, Olympe in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias and First Twin in Septime Webre’s Peter Pan. She also performed in works by Marius Petipa, George Balanchine, Rudi van Dantzig, Jiří Kylián, Ronald Hynd, Alexei Ratmansky, Jorma Elo, Pär Isberg, Wang Xin Peng, Natalie Weir and Kinsun Chan, among others. With Boston Ballet, she performed principal and soloist roles in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker, William Forsythe’s Pas Parts and Sage Humphries’ YOU, to name a few. Her choreographic works include Swan in the Abyss (2014, co-choreographed with Sarah Yeung), Variation (2018) and Variation in Sneakers (2019).
Burrows danced in Natalia Makarova's Giselle during exchange performances with The Royal Swedish Ballet in 2013.
1. Why did you start dancing?
I started dancing before I knew what dancing was. My parents always played music in our home when I was a toddler, and I just started to move to it. I eventually started putting on shows for my family and friends when they came to visit, so my parents thought I might enjoy taking dance classes. They enrolled me in the local school, and the more I learned the more I loved dancing.
2. What was the first ballet you ever performed?
The first ballet I performed as a paid professional was Balanchine’s Symphony in C. The company (National Ballet of Canada) needed to hire some extra dancers, and they pulled me from school. This ballet will always be one of my favourites.
3. What is the most challenging ballet you have danced, and what made it so challenging?
Different ballets offer different challenges. I have been so fortunate to have danced many challenging roles. However, the most challenging role I have danced is probably in William Forsythe's Pas Parts. It wasn’t so much the actual choreography that was the most challenging but working with Forsythe himself. He makes an effort to challenge each individual artist, everyday, every performance. His art demands growth. He redefined musicality for me and taught me the art of ‘practicing performance’. He challenged me to never give the same performance twice, and I found so much more within myself to give to my audience. The process of working with him has forever changed me as an artist.
4. If you could have one more talent, what would it be?
I wish I played instruments. Hopefully someday. Maybe when I retire.
5. What would you be if you were not a dancer?
I am currently a certified mat Pilates instructor, and I love teaching ballet. I am also currently doing my Bachelor in Health Science at Northeastern University. So I would be definitely doing something related to the health and wellness of athletes and dancers.
6. What are your hobbies?
I like to hike, and I love to travel!
7. If you can have a super power, what could it be?
I would want to be able to be invisible.
8. Who is your favourite dancer who has inspired you?
Honestly the biggest inspiration for me is my colleagues, past and present. Being in a ballet company surrounded by incredible athletes and artists is what inspires me daily.