Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Jackie: I remember taking ballet when I was 4 or 5 with a former dancer with the kirov. I didnt’ have the natural flexibility or turn out of the other kids…..but she would clap rhthyms for us to mimic and clap back, and I was the best at that!! I also have a video somewhere of me very young dancing to the Muppet Family Christmas album’s ” Little Saint Nick”… I’m hamming it up to the camera doing the bit where you are surprised and amazed your own body is dancing! But I’m 10, it’s pretty funny.
Nikki: Do You remember the first song you choreographed to? ( Earliest Memory)
Jackie: Oh Yes!! Macavity from Cats, in my bedroom at age 8! We were doing Cats-On-Ice in my figure skating club at the time, but skating never was able to capture me like dancing. Professionally- it was a Madonna track for a comedic 80’s number in a show.
Nikki: Your personal advice for Dancers when it comes to freestyling?
Jackie: Really focus on the music and let it move you, rather than laying your moves on the music. It helps me, too, to tell a specific story, at least in your own mind. So for lyric- driven music, I really listen to the lyrics and character of the song. And if you find yourself go-going to techno at 3am wearing earplugs? Ive actually run an acting monologue in my head to the beat of the music and danced to that!! Does that make me a Dance nerd?
Nikki: Getting in the zone to Choreograph, What does it take for you?
Jackie: To Choreograph, I research the style ( if it is a specific request), and I think about the essence and purpose of the story or scene that the choreography needs to fit into and enhance. I also think about the theme and ” point of view” of the piece. I guess I treat choreographing the same as writing or directing. Once I have a story and a style, and I understand the bodies of the dancers performing it, I come up with the details…. but I need the why before the how. And I always focus on making the dancers themselves look great,. To get in the zone? A deadline!!!
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Jackie: I am generally influenced most by dancers I train with…Leigh Torlage who introduced me to Fosee in Montreal, The Harbour Dance Summer intensive Joanne P and Eric M and all the great teachers out in Vancouver. Calen Kurka at Broadway Dance in NYC. Here in Toronto to name just a few Faye Rauw, Siona Jackson, Mike Cota, Luther Brown, Lenny Len, Lisa Collins, Leon Blackwood, Tuch, Kevin Pugh, Michael Faigaux,m Jeremy Nasmith, Albana De Assis… the list is endless!! Allie Gelinas who fist believed in me as a Dancer. Gosh, I try to take something from everyone I work with! I can’t possibly list ’em all!!
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Jackie: Faye Rauw is Amazing. Everything looks great, feels great….she really respects everyone’s time and energy. And she always brings a gale force of positive energy and humour into rehearsal!!! She has a very generous spirit…I promise to print t-shirts that say ” Faye it til you make it!!” I need to get on that!!!
Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?
Jackie: I love working with actors who move and comedians actually! They are fearless, and story/comedy driven by nature. And I love working with dancers who have fun being funny!Comedy is all timing, and dancers have timing! 5 6 7 8!
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Jackie: Dance-wise this I am performing at the award-winning Carnegie Hall Comedy/Variety show (I’m the variety) and up in Barrie for the Theatre By the Bay Fundraiser doing the Cell Block Tango. Recently, choreo-wise, I just did the opening number of Second City’s “This Party’s A Riot”. On television, “Jackie’s School of Dance” is still airing and I just did choreo for a new kids music video to be launched in September.
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess that dancers from other parts of the Country and States may not?
Jackie: I feel like there is good collaboration here and a love of dance. Dancers here are always game to hit the stage and support each other’s projects that way. Like a farm community coming together to raise a barn! There is a lot of support here that way. I also think cross training here is encouraged, in different types of dance, and even performing arts in general. As a Jackie of all trades, I appreciate that. No one will tell you that if you are a dancer, you can’t write a screenplay!
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Jackie: Ballet, kids. Do it. LOL! I’m kidding…. (sort of). Actually, I think the best advice is just to train yourself to say YES! to any opportunity. If someone asks you to do it, and you can make it happen in your schedule, DO IT! You never know what golden learning or chance will come out of every opportunity. YES is a state of mind.
Check Out Jackie in this ING Flash Mob commercial
Watch Jackie get Fierce in this video clip