Dance feeds my soul and gives me hope.

Jenn Doan

Jenn Doan - Producer/Dancer

Ok… so it sounds kinda cheezeballz at first but let me explain why I need dance in my life.

Movement and performance creation has always been with me since a young age. I was really expressive with my creativity and always quite kinesthetic and physical. In Grade 6 I remember being inspired by a movie on tv so i decided to write up a whole play on my own time and performed it with a friend for the whole class. I would also always go the extra mile when we were asked to write book reports in Language arts class.  I would create a whole performance instead of write a “report.” I also remember creating every kind of club possible like a cooking club, a sewing club, an animal club, a Fear Street club… My friend and I would organize field trips and events for all our clubs.

I did not start dance classes until Grade 12 but what really planted the seed for dance was discovering underground rave parties in gr. 10.  I started going to them a lot and mostly sober but I would dance so long and so hard that people would approach and ask me what kind of “E” I dropped. They wouldn’t believe when I told them I was sober. The rave environment really nurtured me to move freely and creatively.  Dancing until 8 in the morning was just such a cathartic experience. Sometime I would wake up with black bruising under my toes nails from the way I was dancing “shrug.* Being physically active was essential for me and still is. I come from a very aggressive family (being Vietnamese) which meant that I also have a lot of fire and aggression inside of me. The need to move and expend high amounts of energy is a way for me to diffuse that fire.  If I don’t that energy eats me up inside.  I was a Muay Thai Kickboxer for 5 years and even trained to go into the ring for a few full on competitive fights… crazy kicks, punches, elbows, knees, all of it. I loved it and I really kicked some ass.

I entered into university to study Business because I was hella ambitious and wanted to make a lot of money. A lot. I would drive and dream of becoming a CEO. I wanted to bathe in money!  In the first year I also decided to take a drama class which was new territory. I was really artistic in elementary school but after that I become very academic taking all my maths, sciences, and all of that. I actually didn’t take any arts courses at all until dance in grade 12.  After year one I got accepted into Business school early because of a really high GPA.  Then in the second year, first semester,  I failed all my classes except an intro ballet dance class that I was taking. I failed everything because my parents were going through an incredibly intense and chaotic divorce that summer while I was also running my own full on College Pro Painting business with 8 employees. I was only 18 and the emotional stress was too great for me to even understand. My system shut down and I became so depressed for half a year. All I did was stay out until 6am getting high with my friends. Everyday. I was a total bum and was filled with anger and resentment.  After that I took a few more dance classes and it was the only thing that i wanted to do. It gave me some kind of hope and motivation. I kept taking more classes and slowly I came out of depression.  I started taking courses to get into Kinesiology and also my first intro contemporary dance class. BAM! That was it. Screw business, screw kinesiology. I found it. It was contemporary dance.  My fire came back and I was determined to move to the top again. I was always ambitious and driven so dance fueled this but it also gave me a chance to nurture and challenge the creativity that I always had but forgot about when I was more concerned about all the nice things money could buy me.

Why contemporary dance? It allows me to be exactly who I am and what I need to express.  It allows me to define my own unique style.  Not to say that technical training is not necessary.
I did not have crazy technical training since I was young so my body was different from a “trained”dancer but I was still very connected to my body and choreography and improvisation came natural to me. It made sense and I loved it so much right away. Didn’t need anytime to get comfortable. I didn’t have to conform to a very specific form or style. I knew immediately that I would be a creator. I didn’t care as much about being someone else’s dancer. I wanted and needed to create.

Jenn Doan - Dancer

SOOO… I was reaffirmed once again just recently that dance was necessary for me. After I fractured my fifth metatarsal during our Duck Wife dance rock opera tour in the summer of 2010, I took a year break from any kind of creating / dancing.   I was  very low and felt like smelly nasty crap about myself. I felt really lost about my life.  I was going through  an identity crises like Melina and also struggling financially because I was traveling to much to have any kind of job at home and no longer had any projects ahead to pay me. I felt like such a failure and was so full of self-pity and worthlessness. It was a ROUGH year. Then just last October, my friend Ian Ferrier asked me to perform at a poets festival in Montreal. I went into the studio for 5 weeks with my boyfriend / artistic partner to create a new sci-fi dance rock opera. We performed it again at a huge artists’ expo before I headed to Calgary to produce inlayers. People from all walks of life responded overwhelmingly positive to the work.  I remember sitting in a cab filled with euphoria. I was sooo high from the performance. For 2 days, I was so happy and joyful and calm and carefree.  I told my boyfriend that this is it. This is what feeds my soul. This is what I was put here to do. To inspire people with my passion for dance and music. From over a year of feeling so dull and lifeless, I finally felt life inside me again.


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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