14 May

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Jennifer Aucoin. Jennifer is a full-time salsa instructor, choreographer and event organizer. She is the founder and director of STEPS Dance Studio, artistic director for Steps Dance Company and co-founder of the Women’s Salsa Retreat.   She is the organizer of the annual Six Degrees Salsa Competition in Toronto, one of the most prestigious salsa competitions in Canada. Jennifer has represented Canada on the judging panel for the World Salsa Championships televised on ESPN for the past four years and has judged competitions in Puerto Rico, Ecuador, New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami, Detroit, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. 

Jennifer is the organizer of the annual Canada Salsa Congress, an international salsa festival that takes place in Toronto every October. This 4-day extravaganza is the largest salsa event in Canada and features nightly performances by dance companies from all over the world and daily salsa workshops given by world-renowned instructors. This year marks the 10 year anniversary of the Canada Salsa Congress and will take place October 4-8, 2012 at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.
Jennifer is also co-founder of Discover Dance Canada, an organization which teaches Latin Dance to elementary and high school students.  This program was born with the mission to build confidence, self-esteem and cultural awareness in children and teens through Latin Dance in the school curriculum.
Jennifer has been involved in dance and the performing arts her entire life and has extensive training in gymnastics, ballet, flamenco, Argentine tango and, of course, salsa. To keep progressive, she continues to travel extensively to learn from the world’s best dancers and instructors, and has attended dozens of salsa congresses in Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, New York, Colombia, Ecuador, Miami, Zurich, Amsterdam, Washington, Boston, Detroit, Ottawa and Montreal. Jennifer also teaches salsa workshops internationally and has taught in Puerto Rico, Holland, Ecuador, Washington, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Detroit, Montreal and Ottawa.
Bio provided by Jennifer
Find out what Jennifer had to say in this week’s shout out…
Nikki:Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Jennifer: I first started dancing with my sister and cousins when I was really young – 4 or 5 years old.  I then did gymnastics for 10 years then ballet for 10 years.  The first time I ever danced Salsa was on vacation in the Dominican Republic – and that got me hooked to a lifetime career of teaching Latin Dance.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your 
earliest memory)
Jennifer: Actually first song I remember choreographing to was Help Me Rhonda by the Beach Boys with my cousin when I was probably 6 years old.  First salsa song I remember choreographing to for a group routine was Ran Kan Kan in 1999.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free 
Jennifer: I think the best advice I can give to other dancers for free styling is to let your love and enjoyment of the dance show in your free styling.  Let your inhibitions go and remember why dancing brings you joy and that no one is judging you more harshly than you judge yourself so have fun!
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you? 
Jennifer: I need a song that I really like and I usually prefer to choreograph with another person so that we can bounce ideas off one another.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry? 
Jennifer: In the Dance industry, Alvin Ailey and their amazing choreographies and in the Salsa industry – Tito Ortos and Tamara Livolsi and Billy Fajardo and Katie Marlowe for their professionalism and integrity and creativity.
Nikki:Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Jennifer: I love choreographing with Angelo De Torres who works for Steps Dance Studio because we magically are able to choreograph really quickly and painlessly together.
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects? 
Jennifer: Working on organizing the 10 year anniversary of the Canada Salsa Congress coming up this October as well as teaching more workshops in elementary and high schools through Discover Dance Canada

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Jennifer: I think Toronto dancers have a great ability to use and reference techniques and movements from all different genres of dance because we are such a culturally diverse city.




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