The The University of British Columbia graduate may be Vancouver’s only dancing accountant. Read her interview.
B.Seed : Thanks for being on Bright Seed Blog Jenny, choreographer, dancer, cheerleader, teacher, accountant. You were very serious about acting back around 2004. You attended the William Davis Centre for Actors Study, i believe. Were you interested in doing that as a career? Has it helped you as a dancer/choreographer?
Jenny : I first fell in love with acting because I required the emotional growth. At that point I was fresh out of university, and had a very narrow emotional range both in my dancing and my real life. Studying at the William Davis Centre helped me see that an interesting artist will also have a wide emotional spectrum to play with. I did pursue acting for a short time, but ultimately my primary artistic identity is that of a dancer.
B.Seed : Currently you are a Choreographer for the Canadian Football League BC Lions’s Felions Dance Team. You were also a cheerleader for them in/after college right? do you still cheer?
Jenny : I danced for the BC Lions Felions dance team from 2003 to 2005 and was fortunate enough to act as Dance Captain during that time. My first season with the team was during my final year of studies at the University of British Columbia, and then I continued for two years afterwards.
Now, I am the choreographer for the Felions, so I get to continue my passion for the CFL dance culture in that way.
B.Seed : The Grey Cup Festival, a week-long event before the Canadian Football League championship game. It’s similar to Super Bowl week in the U.S. and the game is at BC Place in Vancouver. Are the Felions planning anything special?
Jenny : The Felions will be performing at a variety of events throughout the 3 day celebration, including concerts, live performances and fan rallys. For detailed performance info visit: http://www.102greycupfestival.ca/
B.Seed : You also work as an accountant in Vancouver and for the last couple of years did stints as Facilitator Mentor and Online Facilitator for the newly formed Chartered Professional Accountants Canada(CPA). How does/will CPA help accountants in Canada?
Jenny : I am currently a Facilitator and Mentor with the CPA Professional Education Program. My work there fosters the development of accountants working towards their professional accounting designation. It also helps maintain the stringent standards which have helped the CPA become the pre-eminent accounting designation in Canada.
Vancouver, CA award-winning choreographer Jenny Duffy
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B.Seed : “I’ve danced since I was four. It’s like there’s a compelling force in your heart that just makes you jump out of bed in the morning. It’s like a force of nature.” You seem to have a presence, a “showmanship” in front of the camera-I can see it in your videos. Is this something you picked up at acting school? something you talk about with your students/clients?
Jenny : I definitely owe my showmanship to my dance and acting background. In university I was involved in public speaking and was often selected to speak during group presentations. I have been back to speak with the business students at the University of British Columbia on several occasions about my unique career trajectory. What I have found is that speaking is easy if you are passionate about the topic.
B.Seed : The Arbutus Club Jr. Company youth dance ensemble. This is at the landmark Arbutus club in Vancouver right? How did this come about for you?
Jenny : I am now in my 18th season at the historic Arbutus Club. It was the first place to hire me and give me my own teaching slot. I was so nervous during my interview, but the Artistic Director Marlene Hershfield took a liking to me…and I have been there ever since! I founded the Jr. Company as way to inspire young dancers to take their work beyond classroom studies and share with the community. They perform around the city for various charity events and competitions.
B.Seed : University of British Colombia Entrance Scholarship awarded by the Norman Mackenzie Scholarship Fund. What were your grades like coming out of high school? was choreography your focus?
Jenny : I was in the top 3% of my graduating class coming out of high school, earning straight A’s every year from Grade 8 to 12. During my senior year, I was very focused on my studies…but I also didn’t want to give up dance. So I did a very unconventional thing and left my childhood dance studio and began teaching and training on my own at Vancouver’s Harbour Dance Centre. During that year I was being flown to Penticton and Kelowna to choreograph competition routines, teaching the Arbutus Club, and then studying my calculus as I prepared for provincial exams. Looking back now, I don’t know how I did it!
B.Seed : Peace Arch Performing Arts. The Arch has a long history with many great events associated or performed in/around it. This was important to you right?
Jenny : The Peach Arch Performing Arts society is a well-established non-profit that gives scholarships to emerging artists. I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from them in my senior year, which I used to purchase my first set of professional headshots photographs.
B.Seed : The Vancouver Academy of Dance, founded 18 years ago by accomplished dance professional, Anabel Ho who has performed, taught, and choreographed throughout Canada, the U.S.A, United Kingdom, Europe, and Asia. Is this something you would like to do, teach internationally, or have you done this?
Jenny : To be honest, I am a bit of a homebody and I find travelling somewhat tiring. My homebase is in Vancouver, BC for now, but who knows what the future holds?
B.Seed : Intro ‘Pussy Cat Doll’ Hip Hop classes. How many sessions does one need before they are “hip rolling” “ribcage rolling” and “isolating”?
Pussycat doll hip hop at Harbour Dance Centre Vancouver, CA.
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Jenny : It depends on the student. Typically I find that adults and teens can pick up isolations and body rolls much more quickly, because their gross and fine motor skills are fully developed. A child of 6 however still sees the torso as one unit and has a difficult time separating the ribcage from the hips and moving them in isolation.
B.Seed : Seven Tyrants Theatre Society’s setting for the 2010 third chapter of “The China Tea Deal” was Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, named Canadian Garden Tourism Garden of the Year for 2012. You had a part in this production, I believe. This was a lot of fun right? Are you still doing theatre?
Jenny : In this interactive play, guests were first welcomed into The Scholar’s Home, and treated to a song and dance performance by yours truly. I sang in Cantonese (what a challenge!) and performed a short fan dance. The play was staged in the historic Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Gardens. It was a true honor to have performed in such a beautiful venue.
B.Seed : You also had a part in the 4 part CBC/BBC documentary “Wild Canada: The Nature Of Things”. Where can I go to see this today – or am I too late?
Jenny : This historic documentary, which was narrated by David Suzuki is available in DVD format online. You can also visit the CBC website for some fantastic behind the scenes footage!
B.Seed : Artistic Director, Onyx Dance co, Fine Arts Administrator, Vancouver Academy of Dance, instructor Dance for Television/Film Actors, VanArts, all this going on now. I know health is an important part of your dance instruction. Do you set a specific time aside for rest/sleep?
Jenny : I fiercely guard my sleep! Typically I need about 6 to 7 hours of sleep if I am to perform well the next day. I also live with chronic pelvic pain, so managing my stress levels, sleep and diet are extremely important. I found this challenging at first, but now it is just a way of life for me.
B.Seed : So what is next for Jenny Duffy in 2015? any special plans?
Jenny : I will be working on a dance film project where I will work with breast cancer survivors. We will explore the impact dance can have on how a woman re-connects to her feminine self in the wake of cancer, which can sometimes claim one or both breasts. I have been brainstorming this project for several years now, so I am excited to see it come to fruition.
B.Seed : Thanks for being here. Anything you wold like to say to our readers?
Jenny : Dance belongs to every human being. It’s one of the most universal human experiences that people from all cultures can share. During times of celebration, people dance. During times of mourning, people dance. It unites us all, so get out there and enjoy it! Whether it is in the studio, the club, or even in your kitchen.