This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Jade Whitney. Jade a Toronto-born artist has been dancing both professionally and competitively from a young age. She has received extensive training at Vlad’s Dance Company in a variety of styles including contemporary, hip-hop, ballet, jazz, acro and tap. She has trained and worked with many choreographers including Scott Fordham, Luther Brown, Jeff Dimitrou, Michael Riccio, Caroline Torti, Vlad, Peter Chu, Teddy Forance, Hani Abaza and Linda Garneau to name a few. Jade is a graduate of Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, where she majored in dance and vocal music. Jade has attended various summer training programs at institutions such as the Quinte Ballet School of Canada and the Ailey School in NYC.
Jade’s film/television credits include The Strain directed by Guillermo del Toro and choreographed by Roberto Campanella, Aaliyah: Princess of R&B choreographed by Luther Brown, YTV’s The Next Star (Seasons 6 -7) choreographed by Michael Riccio, the BravoFact film Song for Torah, Christmas Parade, and Bomb Girls. Jade has danced for artists such as Deborah Cox, Blake McGrath, Aleesia, Shad, Bobby Bazini, the Smashing Satellites, and Rich Kidd. Jade has danced for corporations such as MAC Cosmetics, General Motors, TD Bank, Staples the Lion’s Club International and Lia Sophia. She has performed live at the World Pride 2014 Closing Ceremony, the One Year Launch of the 2015 Pan-Am Games, Dare to Wear Love, and the Canadian National Exhibition. She has also danced in Toronto-based companies such as, Bridge To Artists, Rutherford Movement Exchange and Artistic Edge Dance Company. In 2013, Jade co-directed and choreographed a show entitled Fill Up & Get Out with Emma Portner. She also directed and choreographed a short dance film to Taylor Swift’s We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, which has received over 111,000 YouTube views worldwide and counting. In 2013, Jade received “3rd Overall High Score Solo” at the American Dance Awards Nationals in New York City. In 2014, she received the “Young Choreographer Award” at the ADA regionals in Toronto (2014). Jade’s hard work, passion and determination will drive her to continue successfully in the entertainment industry and she is beyond excited for where her career will take her!
Bio provided by Jade
Connect with Jade on Facebook: jadewhitneyy
Find out what Jade had to say in this week’s Feature…
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Jade: I started dancing at a Chinese school when I was two years old but I quit a few years later to focus on singing. When I was 11 years old, I was singing at a talent competition and I watched a girl perform a tap solo. I quickly decided that I wanted to become a tap dancer and enrolled in classes. Sadly, tap dance did not turn out to be my calling (although I enjoyed learning) but as I started to train in jazz, ballet and hip-hop, I fell in love.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Jade: My friends and I loved to put on shows for our parents to watch in my living room (costume changes and all). I remember making up a dance to “Baby Got Back”; I would pay to see a video of that now! Once I started taking choreography a bit more seriously, I believe the first song I used was “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye. I will honestly never get sick of that song, the lyrics and musicality are just too good.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Jade: For your own personal exploration, I would say: get out of your mind and let the music take over. When I improvise, I don’t feel like I’m dancing to the music. I feel like the music is inside of me. It’s the best feeling in the world. I try not to think too much because thoughts can be loud and can cloud out the details of the music. Let the music do the narrating and really try to zone into it. However, if I were free styling at a commercial audition, I would pay more attention to what the casting directors are looking for, depending on the job.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Jade: I am heavily influenced by the music. I listen to the song over and over; sometimes I start by free styling to it. If there are lyrics, I may use them to influence my movement. I try to mimic how the artist is singing or how the music sounds. Each time I choreograph, I try to use different strategies in order to create different movement than what I’ve done before. I think it’s important for a choreographer to continuously try new things and challenge their previous work. I try to explore new movement as much as I can.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Jade: I love Dana Foglia’s work. Her fusion of contemporary and hip-hop is so unique, I would love to have the chance to work with her one day. I saw her show in NYC a few summers ago and my jaw was on the floor. Another would probably be Neil Schwartz. I took his class for the first time this year at Broadway Dance Centre and was blown away. His choreography is my favourite to dance and his musicality is incredible. Others influences of mine include Hani Abaza, Teddy Forance, Tatiana Parker, Erica Sobol, Emma Portner, Mishay Petronelli, and Kyle Hanagami to name a few!
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Jade: There are too many great choreographers to choose from! I’ve worked with Scott Fordham on numerous occasions over the past year and I definitely would not be the dancer I am today if it weren’t for him. He has such a wide variety when it comes to his style of choreography and I am very grateful for how much he has pushed me out of my comfort zone. Mike Riccio and Caroline Torti are also two of my favourite choreographers that I had the chance to work with on the past two seasons of YTV’s The Next Star. They are both extremely professional and always such a pleasure to work with. Definitely one of my absolute favourite experiences to date! This past summer, I performed in Shavar Blackwood’s Euphoria and gained a lot from working with him. He is not only a great choreographer but also an outstanding teacher. He really takes the time to give individual feedback, which I think is so beneficial. I was also fortunate enough to work with Luther Brown on the film Aaliyah: Princess of R&B. I am so unbelievably grateful that I was able to learn from one of the best. His knowledge and choreography is incomparable and it was definitely an experience that I will never forget. Other Toronto Choreographers I have enjoyed working with immensely include Addy Chan, Jeff Dimitrou, Roberto Campanella, Julia Cratchley, Cora Kozaris, Akira Uchida, Stephanie Rutherford, and so many more!
Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why? (It does not have to be a pop star. Any type of artist that a Dancer would work with i.e.; another Dancer, Choreographer, Musician etc.)
Jade: I have danced in numerous shows for the Toronto-based company Bridge to Artists under the artistic direction of Vlad. He is a choreographer but above all he is an artist. I grew up training with him and have been heavily influenced by his creativity. I always feel like a new dancer after working with him. Another artist that I am so grateful to have worked with is Linda Garneau. There is no one like her; she is an extremely special human being with such valuable information to give. I think if anyone has the opportunity to work with either of them, they should grab it with both hands.
Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?
Jade: Toronto dancers are so hungry! It’s very inspiring to see the hard work these dancers put into their craft. It definitely pushes me to take class and never stop training. I think Toronto dancers are constantly trying to better themselves. I also feel a lot of support between the dancers and choreographers of Toronto, especially at events like Choreographer’s Ball and Fever After Dark. The dancers and choreographers around me continuously inspire me and I am so lucky to have begun my dance journey here.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Jade: Just don’t give up. I know this sounds somewhat obvious and cliché, but it’s the best advice I was ever given. You will experience failure and rejection before you reach your goals. You’ll only reach them if you keep pushing. You have to know that there is always room for improvement and that hard work pays off. You can’t book every job you audition for, but every time you receive a “no”, you are one step closer to a “yes”. There is so much more that goes into casting than your talent. Sometimes it works in your favour and sometimes it doesn’t Don’t beat yourself up… We are dancing because we love it. Remember that!
Nikki: Any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share with T.D.O.T.?
Jade: I am lucky enough to be a part of two upcoming TV shows this year. The first is The Strain, which is currently in the process of filming the second season. It plays on FX and is produced by Guillermo del Toro and Carleton Cuse and choreographed by Roberto Campanella. The second is The Drop, a new series premiering on Nickelodeon and YTV. It is produced by Tom Lynch, Steven DeNure, Anne Loi and Nick Cannon and choreographed by Addy Chan. Both feature the talented dancers of Toronto – you do not want to miss them! I will be teaching a beginner contemporary stretch/technique class at 6-7pm Monday nights at the Underground Dance Centre for dancers of all backgrounds, technically trained or not! I will also be subbing Int/Adv contemporary from time to time so keep an eye out!
THANK YOU JADE FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO
CHECK OUT JADES REEL
CONCEPT VIDEO CHOREOGRAPHED BY JADE