© Anja Jadryschnikowa

Jasmyn Fyffe, who is creating a new work for our second year dancers, is a performer and choreographer, and the director of Jasmyn Fyffe Dance. She started dancing at age six, training in African-Caribbean dance and ballet. Then in high school she focused more on soccer, track and field, and basketball. But when she started training in dance again, she says she just couldn’t think of anything else she wanted to do as a profession, but dance and make dances.

Jasmyn’s formal training began at the Ontario School of Ballet and Interplay School of Ballet, and continued at the School of TDT, Ballet Creole, and York University, where she graduated with an Honours Double Major in dance and kinesiology in 2007.While studying at York, she discovered a love and passion for choreography and performance and decided to pursue this as her career. Upon graduation, she founded her company, Jasmyn Fyffe Dance.

We asked Jasmyn about the different dance forms she has explored. She says she has mainly concentrated on modern/contemporary dance, but also  trains in samba with Dance Migration and other urban styles including house, hip hop, and waacking, with the group Mix Mix Collective.

© Cylla von Tiedemann

We asked Jasmyn what was especially valuable to her in her dance studies: “My most recent and most impactful learning experiences have been two residencies in 2016. The first was in New York – three weeks of concentrated explorations with a group of international artists – and that set me up really well for the one I did in Berlin for a whole month, at a wonderful solo artist residency in Berlin called Lake Studios. I had a wonderful focused amount of time to question myself: What am I making? What comes out of my body if I go into the space and play? I was curious about what would happen if I had no deadline…. This way of working turned out to be a major shift for me.”

We spoke to Jasmyn about creating on dancers at the School, and she could not speak highly enough about the experience: “This job is a dream. I always want more time and space to develop an idea, especially on young budding artists; this commission really gives me that and I am so grateful. All the dancers are so talented, and they work so hard as a group. They all do their best to understand what I want/need; they bear with me; they take notes; and they also help me better understand how to direct, create and collaborate.  They have honestly been blowing my mind with their commitment and talent. This is a blessing and I give thanks.”

We asked Jasmyn what she finds most satisfying about her work as a choreographer: “It’s like being a scientist or a magician; I don’t know when the result will appear, and I’m not really sure what’s coming. Then moments start to make sense in a different way – the image starts to create itself…. It’s such a gift to be able to create. It is so healing and full of self-discovery. It’s such a satisfying feeling to get goosebumps when you’re moved by the artists inside your creation…. I hope to never lose those moments – when the work speaks to you in the deep way. When the artists take the work and make it their own, and take it somewhere you didn’t even see it going. It’s wonderful to see them remaining true to themselves while they create the magic.”

We asked whether she enjoys teaching: “I do. I mostly enjoy teaching process – teaching artists how to access what they already have – rather than just teaching steps and movements. Teaching a technique or choreography class is rewarding in many ways, but when I teach process, and work more with improvisational tools, I find it particularly satisfying to see the progress that each student makes.”

© Rob Rogers

When we asked Jasmyn for a highlight performance memory, she said she had many, but her most recent was last summer, in the SummerWorks Performance Festival: “It was my first solo show – an experience which was terrifying but awesome; and definitely the most liberating feeling I have ever had on stage. Me just being myself; so healing. The feedback from the audience and the experience I had with them made the SummerWorks show a highlight for me. It was really special and I am just figuring ways to continue to access that magic!”

Jasmyn has danced in several countries, and we asked her to tell us what she finds most satisfying about performing away from her home base. She says: “There’s a nervousness because your regulars are not there to support you – but there’s also a freedom inside of that; There’s a freshness about being in a new space, and a sense of honesty that happens without your usual friends and admirers to buoy you up – a renewed vitality. It’s exciting to give energy to people that you don’t know – a special experience.”

We asked Jasmyn if she had any thoughts to offer to our current students: “I would say: don’t doubt yourself; listen to your gut. Be authentically you. Listen to your body, inside of whatever improvisation you’re asked to do. Don’t worry about the end point, but be open to experience the process and journey.”

We look forward to seeing her new work for our second year dancers in IMPULSE 2017. To learn more about Jasmyn, go to: www.jasmynfyffe.com.