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Artist Spotlight: Jennifer Dick

Jennifer Dick was born and raised in St. John’s, NL and is now a Toronto-based professional dancer, teacher, choreographer and academic. Jennifer is currently engrossed in many archival projects and has just finished working on DanceWorks, Dance Ontario and Can Dance Network's archival materials as well as work on DCD’s newly launched digital platform DCD Discover!

1. Is there a piece of art you are drawing from/inspired by?

Bernardine Evaristo’s book Girl, Woman, Other ... For me, it was a revelation in writing style because of how it emulated thinking. I loved the lack of punctuation and chunking of descriptive language that laid bare the circumstances of these friends and families through time. You can open the book anywhere and jump into a character’s life.

2. What have been your biggest challenges and inspirations creating during the past 2 years?

The challenges my family and I have faced during this time have also been balanced by the onset of new possibilities. Lockdown and quarantine became “residencies” to focus on things that “if the world stopped” I would have the time to do just. For example, my downstairs neighbours have a grand piano in their apartment and my little workstation is directly above it. During the first lockdown we couldn’t see each other so we made a lockdown duet. Marija would improvise on the piano below and I would improvise movement above. We recorded ourselves and the plan is to get together and reflect on that period of time.

I also found that Zoom altered the limitations set by geography and time and space. Dance has always been nomadic and I feel that the virtual is just one more space that dance now exists in. I’ve been able to teach and take classes in places and with people not possible before the pandemic. For instance, I am dramaturge for Sebastiàn Oreamuno, a PhD candidate in the Dance Studies program at York. Sebastiàn and I were able to continue our somatic process using Zoom and it opened new ways of seeing and collaborating that have been sustaining us throughout the pandemic.

3. Has the experience from the past 2 years created new patterns in your life, new routines? If so, what are they?

Yes. Brené Brown has been a big presence. She has helped me to keep my focus and be with my anxieties when I feel the pressures of systemic sameness trying to reiterate itself.

This time has also given me the chance to embody new patterns and live the changes. My approach to attending to things has changed. And, to acknowledge, when someone asks, that I am simultaneously okay and not okay.

In this pandemic I’ve also had to ask for help–something I was not good at before the pandemic. This has allowed me to reorient care and self-care in light of the impacts of global social justice movements which have helped us understand that, yes, we are in this together, but very differently. The effect has been to rethink and focus on where to put my time and energy. There have been, and there still are, a lot of uncomfortable moments, but I’m better at listening and making space for what’s coming up.

4. What are some comfort foods that have soothed your soul during the pandemic?

I do like to cook and bake. My go to these days is a coconut curry and brown rice dish.

Follow the instructions on the rice package to get perfect rice but add some butter to the water to boil.

Saute onions gently. Let them sweat a little then add chopped garlic.

If you like to eat meat like chicken, add it and cover on low until tenderly cooked. If it’s an all veg meal, add frozen sweet peas and or edamame at the end. You can add more butter and crisp the edges if you like. Go to the fridge and grab all the must-go items; especially those veggies in the crisper you’ve been ignoring. Chop and add them to sauté. Add curry paste: about 1 tablespoon-ish. Also add a little water or broth but be careful not to drown it. Stir occasionally.

At this point I have to have the rule not to leave the kitchen or leave my food unattended because I tend to get distracted doing something else and then the food gets burnt or dried…So, my advice is don’t leave the kitchen until you’ve added a can of coconut milk and have stirred it in. Then you can leave it on low until the flavours all come together and everyone’s ready to eat.

5. What are you looking forward to? Dream projects, projects in the making, a good soup tonight, warmer weather?

Walking with friends through the woods and ending up at a pond for a swim. There’s probably a fire in there somewhere too.

6. Any past, current work, or work in progress you'd like us to share in lieu of a classic bio

I’m working on something called Embodied Archive Curation. EAC is a mode of inquiry to contextualize what a dancer brings to the archive of choreography, beyond what is considered performance. It’s a way of looking at the many hats we wear as dancers in order to sustain a career, and asks the questions: what is a dancer? And, what does a dancer do?

Website coming soon…


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