Q&A with Dancer/Choreographer Jasmyn Fyffe

Jasmyn Fyffe - dancer & choreographer

I've seen Jasmyn Fyffe dance as part of Kashedance and in her own choreographic work as Artistic Director of Jasmyn Fyffe Dance. I caught up recently with this busy Toronto artist for a little Q&A:

Q: How did you start as a dancer?
A: I started dancing when I was 6 years old taking mainly ballet and African-Caribbean. When I was 13 I stopped training and was more into sports, however I always danced in talents shows and other recreational/social dance events. When I was 19 and in my first year of study in the York University Kinesiology program I auditioned for the York dance program. The following year I began my pre professional training there. While dancing at York and having the opportunity to study different styles of modern dance, I realized I loved this genre of dance both creating and performing.  In my final year I decided to pursue my career as a dancer and choreographer. Pivotal teachers that I had in my training, at York and summer dance programs were Helen Jones, Darryl Tracey, Pat Minor, Carol Anderson, Milton Myers and Peggy Baker.  

Q: What drives your work as a dancer and choreographer? What is it that inspires you?
A: My gut drives my work.....the feelings in my gut. If I do not feel an inspiration right inside my gut I cannot create because I really believe in creating and dancing from the inside out.
I am inspired by the world around me, its intricacies and complexities and all that is peculiar about the creatures that inhabit this globe. I am also inspired by social and global issues and how they pertain to me as an artist and as a person. As a Black female contemporary choreographer, my life experiences and cultural influences find a voice in my work.

I have recently become very interested in how I move and create as a dancer/choreographer and I am developing my movement style based on what natural comes out of my body and not necessarily what I was taught to come out of my body. My ultimate goal as a choreographer is to inspire and leave a lasting impact on my audience and collaborators.

Q: What projects are you working on now?
A: I am thankful to have quite a few upcoming projects. I recently received funding from the Toronto arts council to go towards the remount and new creation of an excerpt of “Warfare” my most recent full length 70 min piece. I will be presenting the excerpt at Dance Ontario Dance Weekend on Jan 22 at 1:35pm.

Also, I am going to be working on a collaborative project for Black History Month with Senior Artist Director and choreographer Vivine Scarlett. The project is funded and supported through TD Bank Financial Group and is scheduled to be presented from Feb 17-19 2011 at the Winchester Street Theater.

In addition to this, I currently dance for an Afro-Brazilian company called the Dance Migration and our show “Os Elementos” will be on Dec 17 and 18 at the Fleck Dance Theatre.

I will be creating the beginning of a new duet for the show "This is Dance" curated by The Creative Republic. The show is happening on Jan 21 and 22 at the Winchester Street Theatre.

I recently premiered two new works, a solo "identity” at Fresh Blood 2010 and "Portrait(s)....beautified She” at the Women in Dance Showcase. Both of these works will be in development to be presented in my spring 2012 concert.

Q: Who inspires you as an artist?
A: I get really inspired when I watch  and experience  the work of some of  choreo- graphers that I greatly admire. Some of these include: Bill T Jones, Abdel Salaam, Camille Brown, Kyle Abraham, Sidra Bell and Andrea Miller.

I have many mentors and feel it has been so helpful and productive to have them. They are: Vivine Scarlett, Lucy Rupert, Karen Kaeja, Kevin Ormsby, Abdel Salaam, Camille Brown, William Yong, Bakari Lindsay, Cheryl Cutlip, Alana Urda and Randall Flinn. They have been there for me at different stages of my career and have helped shape me into the artist I am today.

Lastly, I thank God for his wonderful blessings everyday, my husband Jamaal, son Manoah and my parents for always supporting everything that I do.