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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Project Dance

Project Dance took place this past weekend at Metro Hall Square. It was it's first year being presented in Toronto and I headed over to catch up with Toronto's Event Coordinator Jasmyn Fyffe to speak about the event.

JLC: This is the first year for Project Dance to be in Toronto so although it's really exciting, not a lot of people know much about it. Can you give us a brief deescription of when the project started, by whom, and what the main objectives are?

JF: The event started after 9/11 in New York by Chery Cutlip. The city was in shambles at the time and there was a need to bring the community back together. Cheryl felt that dance would be able to help in doing that and started Project Dance. The main objectives are to promote hope and healing through dance and to send a positive message to the community. Because of that focus, many church and christian groups are heavily involved.

JLC: Give us a breakdown of the price of the weekend and what it entails.

JF: The total cost for the weekend is $189.00 which is a great price taking into consideration all that is included.

Friday is the Registration where groups arrive and we have an EXPO where we give out broshures and sell merchandise. After that, a group dance is taught to everyone and this group dance is a routine that everyone performs every hour during our outdoor dance concert. Then some top dance dance companies put on a performance which included SM Dance Company, Doahl Company, Funk Soul Connection, and a Calgary company. To end off the weekend, is a musical concert that is inspirational and promotes hope and healing through gospel music.

Saturday we have a full outdoor dance concert where all groups showcase their work the whole day from 12-6pm. In the evening, there is a dinner where everyone can get together and network, share their ideas and thoughts.

Sunday morning everyone gets together to share stories and any inspirational thoughts they have experienced throughout the weekend. This is the last time everyone will be able to see each other because following that is the master dance class series.

JLC: What types of classes are taught at the master dance series?

JF: Because we're in Toronto, we really wanted to have classes that represent our diversity. The classes are in West African, Contemporary Aboriginal, Funk, Lyrical, Jazz and Lyrical. Each participant is able to choose 4 classes.

JLC: How did you get involved with Project Dance and get to be Event Coordinator?

JF: In 2006, I went for the first time to NY to Project Dance and loved it. I kept going every year and was curious to know when they were going to bring it to Toronto. I mentioned it to Cheryl then she asked me if I wanted to be the Event Coordinator for it in Toronto.

JLC: How do you think this event will affect Toronto and the dance community?

JF: I hope that it will bring it together. The dance scene here is spread out in terms of commercial, theatrical, undgeround etc. We are all separate from each other instead of coming together and supporting each other. Hopefully Project Dance will be able to bring us together.


Considering Jasmyn was 5 weeks to her pregnancy due date, she pulled off the event with ease with the help of the 'green team'. She stood at the front of the stage with a supportive and genuine smile swaying back and forth to many of the routines.

As the afternoon continued, the area started to fill up with curious onlookers, supporters, camera-takers, dancers of all ages and backgrounds. I got to catch some of the performances consisting of moving routines ranging from gospel, to west african, to hip hop, to lyrical, to contemporary. Through the stage performances and contagious positive atmosphere, the powerful message of Project Dance became clear. Let's hope that same message continues to spread across the city and the rest of the world.


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