As I prepare for this next challenge…

Jenn Doan

Jenn Doan - Producer/Dancer

Here it comes….after all this time of envisioning something in my mind, talking about it, building it up into this major undertaking… I am just 2 weeks away for inlayers – deuxieme partie.  This online interactive dance creation is a next step  up for me as a producer and a dancer.

As with most projects that I have been involved with in the last 4 years, I am always wearing several hats. I will be leading inlayers as the head producer and also one of the main dancers.  It is always challenging because I cannot put all of my focus on just one role. I am responsible for a lot of this project.  What I would love to do is just focus on being a dancer but I also love producing.  That is actually how inlayers started in 2009.  I wanted to just dance and not have to think about choreographing. I suggested to Taryn that I would help produce a show and she would choreograph on me and a few Montreal dancers.   I’m a little nervous because I haven’t been just an interpreter for a while.  I have been mostly choreographing and performing my own work.  It’s different to just interpret.   I also haven’t been training technically for a while.  I want to be strong as a dancer in this project. We also have an incredibly well trained cast. AMAZING. I am so excited to dance with everyone and it will challenge me.  I loved to be pushed when I dance for other people both physically and emotionally. I started dancing for Taryn in 2005 and I feel her approach is progressive.  I know she will push me.

Photo Credit: Glen Co

As a producer, I have 2 major responsibilities. Finances and Promotions. To find money for the project and to make sure as many people as possible know about the project.  I believe so strongly in paying artists.  Being paid to do something whether its your passion or not gives value to the person’s work.  Artists’ need to be valued more. We all complain about the lack of public funding and being poor artists… well I feel artists can start to change this by being more entrepreneurial and figuring out how to pay their fellow artists.

I have been working to find as many business sponsors to support the project as possible. This is something I do for every one of my productions  First with in-kind contributions to cover things such as rehearsal space, printing services, venue rentals, etc. Then of course, cash donations. This one is hard.  Asking people for money is really hard. I have to feel super confident and completely believe in what I am doing when I approach businesses otherwise why would anyone trust to give me a bunch of money.  I also have to be ok when people say NO to me. I’m not someone who takes no for an answer easily.  inlayers is also hosting 2 different fundraising events on January 14, an afternoon of DJ Yoga and and evening of a killer dance party.  Taryn and I are also leading an Artists’ Workshop Series in February.  Sooooooo many things to promote and organize. It often feels that the amount of emails I have to write daily is infinite.

After producing for Fringe Festivals for three years, marketing yourself shamelessly is absolutely necessary, otherwise no one comes to your show, you make no money, and no one sees the hard work you put into everything.  As the producer, I have to make sure all the artists involved learn to speak about the project and entice people to want to know more as well as spread the online aspect of inlayers like wildfire.

The success of this project and all its events depend so heavily on our promotional strategies. Production and marketing require immense creativity and entrepreneurial skills.

There are endless things to do to push inlayers further.  Endless, endless, endless… Everyday I have to work super efficiently and productively to get as much done and moving as possible.  I have produced and created projects before where I would be so mentally exhausted and strung out afterwards.  The consequences on my whole being was not healthy.   This time around though, I have to remember to give myself breaks and to relieve the expectations I set upon myself. I have super high expectations on myself and those I work with. I just can’t deal with mediocrity and I’m a perfectionist.

The biggest thing I have learned from creating and producing these dance projects is to remember is to practice  faith everyday.  To trust my own abilities and my intuition when I need to make decisions.  To trust the people I work with.  This process can be very unpredictable. Things may not always go as planned or desired but nonetheless…I know things work out in the end and I have to remember to trust the process and the results. No matter what this project will be successful. If anything it is already successful.

What I hope to achieve with this project is exactly what inlayers states as its mission… to open up the beautiful world of contemporary dance to the public. To let them see the work that us dance artists put into every time we endeavor to create contemporary dance.  Hopefully, this will educate people who feel “they just don’t get it” and to find a little more appreciation for it.  I am also hoping we get some awesome residencies and opportunities to perform the work at dance festivals! Like my great friend Melina Stinson says (also one of the inlayers dancers), performing is like jumping through fire with others.  That’s why we put all the hard work into these dance projects. So we can experience the most exciting and exhilarating thing ever…  to feel fully present and alive while in performance!


The artists of inlayers are asking for your support by donating to our online fundraiser. Though the project is underway with the support from Alberta Foundation for the Arts, this funding only covers 25% of the budget. The rest is up to our own efforts. Your donations will go to help pay the 8 involved artists for their full time contributions, hard work, and dedication during the 6 weeks of this project as well as additional creation and production costs.
Donate Now!

About Jenn Doan

Jenn Doan is a producer, choreographer, dancer, yoga teacher, and dance talk radio host based in Montreal, QC. She began her dance studies at the University of Calgary and while finishing a BFA in Contemporary Choreography at Concordia University in 2007, began to self-produce her own work, primarily within the Canadian Fringe Festivals, with a co-founded dance theater company called Inertia Productions. Currently, Jenn is the co-artistic director of Woo Me Myth, a dance rock opera (DRO) performance company. The company produced The Duck Wife (2010), an Inuit myth based DRO touring across Fringe Festivals in Canada and receiving audience acclaim throughout. The work won Best Ensemble Performance, Best of the Fest, nominated for Best English Production, and made Centaur Theater's Top Ten Productions of 2010. Jenn has collaborated on many creative projects with vocalists, composers, filmmakers, visual artists, and theater artists. She co-choreographed ADDICTED (2009) with House of Dangerkat touring to NYC and Europe, produced Transfigurations (2009) at Dancers' Studio West with spoken word artist Moe Clark, and both the 1st & 2nd installment of inlayers: an interactive online dance creation. Most productions have been self-supported and only two out of six with small public funding support. Jenn has been a guest speaker at YES Montreal's 2011 Artist Conference and Quebec Drama Federation's 2011 Artist Symposium speaking on topics of Alternative Fundraising for Artists and Diversity in the Arts.

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