Jasmine Ellis graduated from the School in 2007, and her classmates included many who have gone on to pursue active dance careers, including Emily Law, Lilia Leon, Kate Stashko, Brodie Stevenson, and Naishi Wang; Jasmine still works periodically with Brodie.
She says, “I love the School, and I’m really happy I came here. Having seen and experienced other schools, I really appreciate the fact that I was seen here by my teachers, and was not able to hide from them. I’m very good at hiding; in other institutions I could have gotten away with it, but not here!”
After her time at the School, she stayed in Toronto for the summer, dancing with William Yong and his company Zata Omm, and with Dusk Dances. Then in the fall, she decamped to Europe, and spent a year at Codarts in Rotterdam.
She used her time at Codarts to make a multitude of dance connections, and has mined all of these, building herself a very impressive career as a performer, filmmaker, and choreographer. She is based in Europe – currently in Munich – but works regularly in Holland and other European countries. In the summer of 2016, she worked as an emerging choreographer at Springboard Danse in Montreal, and held a choreographic creation residency with Montreal-based Le Broke Lab.
To emerging dancers, she says that there are many different paths available to graduates. Only a couple of her classmates ended up in companies, but many of them now have significant dance careers via other routes. When Jasmine was starting out, she “danced in everything” – student work, apprenticing to groups, always looking for new networks and new styles. She went to ‘selective’ auditions, when she was confident that she had some connection with the choreographer’s style already. As she says, often a company is required to have an open audition, even though they may have already filled the position, but the audition is a chance for the choreographer to see who’s out there, and who’s interested in working with them. She says, “You must be present for people to see you; it’s a game of persistence, and still being interested in what we do 10 years later.” She says her casual disposition gave her staying power, which is crucial, and helped her find less traveled paths to get where she wanted to be. She says, “I work insanely hard – but efficiently.” Now she is at the point where she has danced in a new production almost every month for the past year. As a Canadian working in Europe, Jasmine says that North American dancers are still the ones European choreographers look for if they want technique; we have a great reputation as dancers with solid training.
Since moving nine years ago, Jasmine typically has done a project every year with Random Collision, a company in Groningen, in the north of Holland. The company brings her to the city and houses her for the length of the project, which recently has involved collaborations with professors from the University of Groningen. Working with academics who head various programs at the university, Jasmine finds herself engaged intellectually as well as physically; she says there is a lot more creativity in academia than she had imagined! She has worked with “collections of the ultimate academic nerds” on scientific studies of how contemporary dance communicates; art changes social behaviour – but exactly how?
Jasmine has always had a love for dance-film; in her final year at the School, her project for the Choreographic Workshop was a black/white film, which she made with Michael Pierro, a DOP (director of photography) from Ryerson University. In her subsequent film work, she always uses a DOP to take full advantage of their valuable skill set. She has on occasion done commercial video work, which pays very well, and for which she needs to be very adaptable.
Jasmine is the Artistic Director of Bad Posture Productions, a dance film company which has already produced 11 dance films; these have been shown in film festivals worldwide. One of her films was presented by the Goethe-Institut at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, and promoted as contemporary German art; ironically, the film featured three Canadian dancers based in Berlin! However, as Jasmine says, if you’re based in Germany, you will be recognized as a German artist.
Three years ago, after she moved from Berlin to Munich, she realized that there was something of a void in the way of ongoing professional level training for the city’s dance community, so she organized, with Katrin Schafitel, a regular drop-in class, rather like GMD in Toronto, called Munich DancePAT (professional affordable training). Unlike the situation in Toronto, however, in Munich, Jasmine has connected with a large organization, Tanztendenz E.v. München, which gives her free studio space for the classes. Jasmine curates the program, with a different teacher each month, from various countries.
Born in Canada to a couple of hippies, Jasmine Ellis spent her formative years homeschooling and running around the farm with her sisters. Time with the local theatre company turned into a stint as a child actor in film and television, taking her as far as Australia. Missing movement, Ellis moved to Toronto and started to dance. And dance it was.
A graduate of Etobicoke School of the Arts, The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, and Codarts Rotterdam Conservatory, Ellis has worked professionally in dance as a performer and choreographer since 2006. She has performed for companies like Dorky Park – Costanza Marcas (DE); Random Collison (NL); Zata Omm – William Yong (CA); Satellit Produktion – David Russo (DE); the Bavarian State Opera (Bayerische Staatsoper) (DE); and for many choreographers including Edan Gorlicki (NL), Ido Batash (IS), Anna Reiti (HG), Audrey Bergeron (CA), and Brodie Stevenson (CA).
Her own creations are often collaborative, sometimes for stage and often for camera. Bringing together dance and the camera always seemed irresistible and in 2010 Ellis founded Bad Posture Productions (BPP), a small independent Berlin-based idea dedicated to making contemporary dance films. She has choreographed, directed, and supported other makers. Some of their stand-out films include: Plan B (2011), Informatie (2013), and Method of Loci (2013). Her creations have toured the world, won awards, and been hated: all the things important in a thriving body of artwork.
In 2015 Ellis performed in two premieres: Jephta’s daughter at the Bayerische Staatsoper – a contemporary piece by Saar Magal, and Hiatus by Satellit Producktion. She also toured with the production Ego Trip by Anna Reti and Ido Batash.
Bad Posture Production international film tours include: Method of Loci (Canada, USA, Mexico, Sweden, France, Brazil, Argentina, Italy) and Informatie (Spain, Canada, USA, Japan). 2015 saw the creation of the new short film Uturn, directed by Ellis for choreographer David Russo in association with Dom zu Unserer Lieben Frau (Cathedral of Our Dear Lady) of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising; as well as the on-stage video installation for the Tanzperformance Island of Only Oneland by Moritz Ostruschnjak at the Schwere Rieter Theater in Munich.
Recent work in 2016:
August – performing in new creation Bloodline, by Munich based choreographer Johannes Härtl.
July – choreographic residency with Montreal based Le Broke Lab.
June – choreographed and presented Relent at Place des Arts, Montreal, as part of Springboard Danse Montreal’s Emerging Choreographer’s program. The piece with 16 dancers investigated events of contagious conversions disorder and posed the question: when is it just easier to join? Presented the duet Lila at Place des Arts in Montreal, as part of Springboard Danse Montreal‘s Emerging Choreographer’s program. The duet investigated intrusion of privacy between two people in a public space.
April – curated and performed in I AM REAL LIFE, a live performance of art creation in Munich, Germany at Schwere Reiter Theater, featuring five dancers, a sketch artist, a musician, a writer, and a photographer co-creating in a 60 minute performance. – What is it you see? What do you think you see? What do you relate to? What evokes what? What remains?
Performed in the premiere and is touring The Players by Edan Gorlicki; forthcoming shows in the Netherlands and Germany. (7 years dancing for this choreographer). Click here to watch the trailer.
February – residency and creation in collaboration with Katrin Schafitel titled Placebo as part of Tanztendenz München eV’s open studios.
More on Jasmine at her website: www.jasminellis.com