In conversation with Janeyce Guerrier, dance champion

Janeyce Guerrier

Could you tell me about your childhood? Where were you born? Is there anything about your childhood that stands out for you? Helped form who you are today? Your parents, friends, school?

I was born in Ottawa. Something that really stood out to me during my childhood was the close relationship that I had with my family. That type of environment provided support, love and trust, which are very important aspects in a child’s life. They also gave me the confidence to try out new things and help discover what I liked to do, that’s how I stumbled upon dance. School, on the other hand, gave me the discipline that would actually contribute to my discipline as not only a student, but also as a dancer, which is more important than we think.

Did you face any significant challenges growing up? If so, how did you overcome them?

A major challenge that I faced growing up was undoubtedly my struggle to express myself and my opinions without the fear of angering or hurting others. This is what led to me being a quieter person. I overcame it through the years of training in dance, which not only allowed me to express myself through movement, but also to express myself as an individual. Dance encouraged me to push my own limits and step out of my comfort zone.

You are very involved in dance. When did your interest in dance begin? Can you tell us about the Centre d’Excellence Artistique de l’Ontario? Have you received any awards or prizes for your dance performances?

My interest in dance began when I was in the 5th grade, I was always eager to perform in the school talent and christmas shows. When I got to De la Salle, I started to take dance classes outside of school to obtain the proper training for the auditions of the Centre d’Excellence Artistique de l’Ontario. This art program in French-speaking Ontario, aims to provide a solid training for students who are considering pursuing their studies for a professional artistic career. Students will have daily classes in their specific art form (ex: dance, orchestra, theater, vocals, literacy, etc), they will have many performances throughout the year, as well as master classes and national/international trips. At the end of the year, we compete in what is called le Prix d’Excellence, when all the programs will perform their pieces and compete for the top 3 spots. The dance program has won numerous times.

How do you combine your school work with your dance schedule?

It took me a long time to understand the importance of managing my time. To be able to maintain my grades and stay an honor roll student, I had to start doing my school work during lunch, when I get home and when I get to school in the morning. Although, this can sometimes become a little hectic, I still make sure that I get enough sleep and have the time to relax so that I can give my full energy to dance as well. I take the time to ensure that my dance schedule and school work do not collide and if they do, I will take the initiative to ask my school teachers or my dance teacher for help in managing my assignments and their deadlines.

You have travelled through Europe and other countries as part of your dance training. Do you see any difference between dance in those places and here in Canada?

One thing that I noticed while traveling Europe, was that dance played a big role in their culture. It was nice to see the amount of dance studios and prestigious dance schools/academies there were. Most of the biggest and world-renowned choreographers and professors are found in Europe, which brings endless opportunities to get the best training in the world. Also, because a lot of contemporary and modern dance was developed in Europe, it is more popular and more studied rather than commercial dance, which usually has a larger audience in Canada. Needless to say, although Europe does carry more options, Canada has numerous reputable dance schools, universities and colleges that I am looking forward to auditioning to in the foreseeable future.

What are your favourite subjects in school?

My favourite subjects in school are math and biology. From the time I was little, I have always loved working with numbers, analysing math problems and being able to solve them. Furthermore, biology has always interested me, especially human anatomy and the study of genetics. I like biology because it teaches me about the living organisms around me and tells me about nature and how things function in the world that we live in. Human anatomy is also very useful when it comes to dance.

Do you have any hobbies or pastimes?

My hobby is to create choreography for myself or for my Hip Hop dance team at my school. It helps me grow as an artist by discovering new movement and expand my creativity.

What has been your biggest achievement and what was your biggest challenge? In your work, family life, social life, other?

My biggest achievement was being able to dance alongside Kash Powell, who is a famous Jazz Funk choreographer and teacher, during a dance workshop in London, England. It was really cool for a professional dancer to notice me and let me do his choreography alongside him. My biggest challenge is finding the balance between my social life and my studies/dance. Since I accord so much importance to my education in dance and academics, I usually have little or no time to hang out with my friends outside of school because I am normally busy.

If you had to live your life all over again, is there anything you would do differently?

If I had to live my life all over again, something that I would’ve done differently is start taking dance classes a lot earlier in my life, because it would’ve been to my advantage to understand the basis of techniques from an earlier age instead of later. It’s generally very hard for a dancer to start learning the basics in their teenage years, dancers usually start at age 6-8, so this means that you have to devote a lot of time and energy to train to get the level required at your age.

Finally, do you have a message for readers of Black Ottawa Scene?

My message to the readers of Black Ottawa Scene, is that although it may seem that hard work doesn’t pay off, it does. I have learned that it took a long time to see the results or expectations that I was hoping for, but along the way, I grew as a dancer and a person, because of the perseverance and eagerness to want to fully implicate myself in the art form. I’ve had many amazing opportunities that have encouraged me to meet new people in the dance community, explore my creativity and travel outside of Ottawa to see what the rest of the world had to offer. There is still so many more things I would like to do in my future career, so I will keep working extremely hard to achieve my goals as a dancer.

Janeyce in a dance scene

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