This Weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out is Dedicated to Jenna Morrison.
Dancer. Yoga instructor. Friend. Angel. “IN LOVING MEMORY”
Jenn Goodwin is from Burlington Ontario, where she fell out of a window of a speeding car and walked away, grew up playing with Barbie, listening to Black Sabbath, hosting make out parties in her parents’ basement, and falling in love weekly. With all due respect, she ached to get out.
She received a BFA at Concordia University in Contemporary Dance with a minor in Video, and was at once thrilled and horrified by the amount of rolling around on the floor. Inspired by story telling, humour, discomfort, beauty, back stage, fragility, pop culture and raw energy, her dance work has been performed all over Canada, as well as New York City, Amsterdam, Australia and Brussels. In 2006 & 2008, she was nominated for the KM Hunter Award in dance.
She has choreographed for stage, galleries, film, music videos, commercials and directs her own short dance films. Her film work has been shown in festivals in Canada, NYC and Europe and have been broadcast on City TV, CTV, Channel 4(UK) . TV Madrid and the Sundance Channel.
She has taught classes and/or been a speaker at venues from universities to grade schools to art galleries to community centres.
She and Sarah Doucet started Stutter Dance together and their work has been shown in NYC, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and throughout Ontario. She was one half of The Movement Movement with Jessica Rose– which is a movement ….about movement. They invited the public to 5k runs through art galleries and museums. She is part of the group MORTIFIED with Camilla Singh. Adopting the format of a band to encompass a range of activities, MORTIFIED create a sound experience through movement and mayhem through tap dancing, cheerleading and drumming. Their first public performance will be in April 2012 as part of HATCH at Harbourfront Centre.
She has programmed art and performances for The Drake Hotel, Harbourfront Centre and presently the City of Toronto for Nuit Blanche.
She is also currently working on her first documentary about Back Up Dancers with collaborators Shelly Hong and Kathleen Smith, as well as a dance/video project with Jeremy Mimnagh at Gallery TPW in Toronto.
She lives in Toronto with her amazing husband Neville Quinlan and her 2 beautiful children Peter (2.5yrs) and Sam (6months) and both are crying as she writes this… gotta go, The End
Bio provided by Jenn
Check out what Jenn had to say in this weeks shout out…
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Jenn: I remember a ballet class when I was 6 that I thought was too slow paced. I wasn’t ready for that level of discipline yet, I still needed to run around and pretend I was a bunny or something I think. I started jazz shortly after that and it was more my speed at the time. Combining my desire to be a bunny- I became a jazz bunny. Later I had neighbors who kind of took me under their dance wing. They were huge MJ fans, as was I. We would spend hours in their basement listening to Michael & Diana Ross (Upside Down!) They said – we are going to teach you how to really dance. I remember them shaking their heads.. noooo, ya gotta bend your knees! move your hips. I was pretty stiff.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Jenn: I choreographed little numbers for friends, family, teachers, classmates.. who ever would watch really. I think I was desperate for an audience! Olivia Newton John. Lets Get Physical.. was one. And a bunch of things from Grease. I wore that record out, I had to buy it twice. Also Styx. Mr. Roboto was a pretty impressive choreography. Ha! Though I think my version of the robot at the time was pretty lame.
Then I had to audition for Concordia University and I auditioned by videotape. I choreographed a piece to a Blondie song. Atomic. Great song. Terrible dance, it was awful. I was wearing a 1 piece bright green unitard and doing a lot of jazz runs in circles. I hope that VHS tape is rotting somewhere right now.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Jenn: Freestyling is not really part of what I do- unless I’m at home dancing or at a club dancing (which sadly is pretty rare these days,)
When I used to freestyle more if I was really givin’ it, I liked to bust out the worm every once and awhile. One of my favorite moves. I split a pair of pants doing it once though, ya gotta dress for the worm! Sometimes I have what my husband calls ‘the one woman dance party’. He Dj’s, I dance. He goes to bed. I keep dancing.
Improvising is more what I would say I use in creation during rehearsal. For myself and the dancers I work with, when improv’ing I hope for honesty, risk, curiosity, play. Maybe it translates to Freestyling too.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Jenn: A lot of my dance works start with writing, reading and thinking actually. I always like the quote from Jonathan Burrows (ex-soloist with The Royal Ballet in London, formed his own company in 1988) ‘Thinking is doing’ . It’s a simple reminder for me to slow down and think about what I want to say, emote, experience, explore and create and don’t take that process and time for granted. And that laying on the studio floor and thinking is ok, guilt free! I start to collect images, ideas, songs, articles on the theme, issue, or subject I am interested in. Once I have a few things to riff off and inspire me, I go into the studio (or alternate space… sometimes home/park/gallery/street depending on where I think I may show the work) and start exploring deeper in the body. Though sometimes a good song comes on or an idea hits or I just start moving a bit and voila.. the zone.
I also get in the zone by working with great dancers who are inspiring. Once in the studio, working with dancers who are generous, dedicated, kind, open and professional helps to feed my own curiosity and creativity. I often work more as a director and really rely a lot on the dancers. I give tasks, actions, bring ideas, images etc for us to work with, They will often improvise and bring these ideas to life and I will put it together in a way that makes sense for me and the project.
PS: A good resource: Twyla Tharp’s A Creative Habit- a book for inspiration, ruts, tools, resources.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Jenn: Mostly it is the dancers and choreographers I have been lucky enough to work with or along side. Nicola Pantin, Sarah Doucet, Justine Chambers, Heidi Strauss, Sioned Watkins, to name only a few.
Films like Flashdance, Grease, shows like Fame (Debbie Allan!), Solid Gold, In Living Color and Rosie Perez influenced me a lot growing up.
Later I was really impressed with La La Human Steps. Coming from a small town and seeing work like that- I was blown away by the physicality and the use of pop culture references. I had never seen anything like it.
I really like Ballet C de la B, DV8, Animals of Distinction, Darryl Hoskins and I like seeing what is happening on music stages… I am really digging Santi Gold’s dancers.
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Jenn: I don’t do a lot of dancing for other people, I would actually like to more. But I like
Val Calam, she is original, curious & hilarious. Sasha Ivanochko- refined yet raw, hardcore & heart wrenching work. Ame Henderson/Public Recordings- More of an academic & conceptual sensibility that is still pretty new here in Toronto.
Sylvie Bouchard- Choreographer/dancer and also Producer of Dusk Dances- It can be great to have dancers and choreographers as producers sometimes as
they really understand both sides of the role. Long Live Dusk Dances!
I’m really liking choreographers like Tina Fushell and Kate Franklin, Alicia Grant & Cara Spooner. There are some really fun and provocative collaborations going on that I think are very innovative & exciting.
With Nova Bhattacharya I had the opportunity to dance for Mika Kurosawa (Japan) and Dana Gingras which were both incredibly inspiring. I have never had to move so slow and strange as with Mika. And due to language barriers the direction she gave was pretty hilarious – good! Bad! Yes! No! More! Less! AHH! Ohhh! And I love how Dana works with the floor, release & every day gestures.
Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?
Jenn: There are so many, but right now I would say
Zoja Smutny- biggest laugh I know and a very generous and sincere artist.
Neville Quinlan- singer/songwriter of NQ Arbuckle (and my husband) who has the ability to realize every day mundane things into beautiful and memorable moments and memories through writing and performance, He also has this ability to yell profanities at his audience and they still dance and sing along, I love that. I have used one of his songs in a film and the band has made music for me before.
Lisa Gabriele, a writer who always inspires me and feeds me with her writing, humour, friendship and anecdotes. She lets me steal her stuff sometimes.
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Jenn: Mortified- a collaboration with artist/curator Camilla Singh. We are working with tap dancing, cheer leading and drumming as the foundation for our work. Show is April 2011 at Harbourfront centre as part of HATCH. It’s our first project together and I am loving working with her. A lot of our inspiration comes from music, metal in particular.
A dance /video project at Gallery TPW- collaborating with Jeremy Mimnagh- an amazing photographer, video and sound artist
Look Back- A dancing documentary. A documentary about back up dancers and the genre itself. Collaborating with Kathleen Smith /Hellhound Productions and Shelly Hong.
Motherhood. An ongoing beautiful and challenging ‘project’ that has changed my life, who I am and how I work. (and sleep !)
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?
Jenn: Courage and determination, Generosity and an amazing work ethic. Hardest working people I know. Sometimes to a fault. A lot of dancers are over worked and underpaid.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Jenn: Good collaborations. Value them, they are special and hard to find.
Don’t get bogged down in the administration of everything. Keep the joy in what you do even though a lot of what you do may be scheduling, budgeting, grant writing, organizing etc… ugh. Don’t put the creative last.
Be your own role model.. value the paths other follow but make your own.
THANK YOU JENN FOR SHARING YOUR PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO
CHECK OUT SOME OF JENN’S CHOREOGRAPHY AND PERFORMANCE FOOTAGE….