Mr. Hammel was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and soon after, his family re-located to Desoto, Kansas. As a child, it was clear he had an aptitude for acrobatics so his family enrolled him in Gymnastics classes at the age of 7 years. When he was 10 years old, his family re-located to sunny South Florida where he continued studying Gymnastics at Margate's International School of Gymnastics and later at Gold Coast Gymnastics here in the Palm Beaches. At both schools, he competed in local and statewide competitions where he won many awards including Florida State All-Around Championship. A severe foot injury at age 13 halted any further high impact athletics for several years until completely healed. It was in this period, Jesse discovered the excitement of Opera Theater. Over the next few years, he performed chorus roles in such renown Operas as
"Madame Butterfly", "Pagliacci", "Il Travatore", "Gianni Schicci", "Tosca", and his favorite, "Carmen". It was in the Opera that Jesse was to have his first professional experiences in the Theater.
In 1990, when he was cleared for high-impact movement, Jesse began an intensive 2 year full-scholarship with the Academy of Ballet Florida. Artistic Director Marie Hale and Ballet Mistress Claudia Cravey, along with Megan Mackey, Stacey Smith and Esther Bello-Meyer, directly supervised his tutelage. In this period, Mr. Hammel also attendend Houston Ballet Academy Summer Intensives on full-scholarship and paid stipend with Clara Cravey and Steve Brule. After this dynamic 2 year pre-professional preparation, Marie Hale awarded Jesse with a professional apprenticeship with Ballet Florida. During this 2 year period, Mr. Hammel performed and nationally toured with the Company in such Ballets as Marie Hale's multi-million dollar production of "The Nutcracker", Vicente Nebrada's "Romeo and Juliet" and "Firebird", Norbert Vesac's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", John Butler's "Carmina Burana", Val Caniparoli's "Lady of the Camillias", as well as several appearances within the Academy.
Enjoy a brief slide show of Mr. Hammel's
extensive dance career.
Here's an Interview with
Cristina Plotkin (2009) from the Series
Straight from the Heart