In its eighth season, the annual Next Stage Theatre Festival (NSTF) has featured just three dance shows.
Toronto dancer/choreographer Jasmyn Fyffe has appeared in two of them, including last year when she performed in Jack Your Body, a street dance performance.
Her acclaimed dance show, Pulse, is making its Toronto premiere at this year’s festival that ends on January 18. It’s the only dance show in the event.
“I am really honoured that they chose my show,” Fyffe told Share. “When you realize there has been very few dance shows in the city’s largest winter theatre festival, that means a lot to me and it’s really awesome. The show has performed in Montreal, Brooklyn and even North Bay, but having it produced in my hometown for the first time is a thrilling experience. The show has grown so much since its debut performance and I am happy to be sharing it with my family and friends for the first time.”
Inspired by her Barbadian-born parents, Pulse reveals Fyffe’s love for 60s and 70s soul music and her unique contemporary dance style.
“I grew up listening to Percy Sledge, Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye just to name a few,” she said. “I just went back to my childhood memories and the music I grew up with as a child. My parents used to have house parties and I went with them to dinners and dances where this music was played. I still have those images in my mind. There is a James Brown section in the show that’s inspired by my father who saw him perform live before I was born. I have memories of the stories my dad told me of that performance. I also like to create very physical dance works which are energizing for the audience and the dancers. It’s a mixture of all of those things that make up the show.”
Starting as a commission for Dance Ontario’s Dance Weekend in 2012, Pulse won the Frankie Bouge d’Ici Award for outstanding choreography at the 2013 Montreal Fringe Festival.
Fyffe, who has performed in the touring musical UMOJA and danced with Grammy award-winning artist Nelly Furtado, said her cast of dancers are talented and multi-dimensional.
“There are two new dancers and an apprentice who will be in the show with us at the NSTF,” she said. “There has not been a high turnover of dancers since we premiered the work two years ago in Montreal. I love dancers with energy and vibes who are interested in my work. I am interested in dancers who want to work with me because they enjoy the work that I do. In selecting dancers, I look for a certain kind of physicality and versatility because different things come out of me as I have a very versatile dance background. So whatever comes out, I just need dancers to be able to interpret that.”
It’s not surprising that Fyffe has embraced the arts with a passion as her parents allowed her and older brothers Jeremyah and Jeff Gibbons to artistically express themselves at a young age.
“I played the piano, saxophone and clarinet and sang in church,” said Fyffe, who graduated from Oakwood Collegiate Institute and York University and founded Jasmin Fyffe Dance eight years ago. “Our parents took us to jazz festivals, museums and the theatre. That exposure allowed me to appreciate the arts.”
Jeremyah Gibbons is a composer, arranger, music content consultant and artist manager and Jeff Gibbons is an actor.
Last February, Fyffe performed at the opening of Hard Candy Fitness, a chain of gyms owned by Madonna, who is the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century.
Hard Candy features its signature “Addicted to Sweat” cardio-dance workouts which Madonna, age 56, took part in at the opening.
“She’s the biggest superstar that I have ever been close to and it was quite an extraordinary experience,” said Fyffe, who teaches a class weekly at the gym. “She did everything we did and more and that was really inspiring for me. Her fitness level for her age is something to behold. We were all in a room dancing with her and the energy and vibe within that space was like nothing I have ever been part of. I will never forget that experience.”
Pulse plays at the Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst Street.
Advance tickets can be obtained by calling (416) 966-1062 or online at www.fringetoronto.com.
The ticket price is $15.