10 questions with...Jenni Wren

1. What was your inspiration to start dancing?

Honestly, it was originally to keep fit. In my late teens I had started putting on some weight and knowing that I build muscle easily (e.g. digging the veg plot would make me look like Popeye). I wasn’t keen on starting an aerobics class, which was the trend at the time, so my friend suggested trying a contemporary class. I had been champion Roller-Skater for Scotland as a kid and so this appealed to me more. One class and I was hooked.

2. Tell us one thing that has stayed with your from your dance training?

One thing, that’s hard. I am me, individual, we are all different, can do different things and that not one is better than the other. Utilise what you do best and work hard at the things that you feel you don’t do so well – if you want to improve on those things that is. Be yourself.

3. What are you currently doing?

I’m currently in mid process of research and development for a new creative work called “6 Feet, 3 Shoes”, a multicultural dance piece rooted in traditional arts creating a synthesis of Spanish and Scottish traditional dance. It will be accompanied by new composed/live music and storytelling which explores the themes of friendship and celebrations thereof; meeting-points between people, cultures, histories, ages and the festivity of life through dance and the traditional arts, its venues and its communities.

The project reflects the traditional artistic upbringings of the company's collaborating artists and their experiences of merging cultures, heritage and style. Dance will be the main focus; its relationship with music, percussive rhythm, counting, footwork, storytelling, language, history, personal stories, folk songs, music and chants.

Equal to the development of our artistic work is the associated activities such as developing our community, education and participation programme, continuing to work with our established partners whilst building upon engaging new partners, reaching new communities and working with new participants.

4. What motivates you?

I’m not quite sure – again its many things. I guess there is an urge to say something, present an idea, provoke thought, share experiences, motivate others, nurture, explore, find, feed myself and my artistry, feed others in their personal journey’s, change lives. I guess at the heart of my endeavours at the moment is the intention to make a difference to people’s lives and to make sure our work reaches and benefits communities in areas that are least well connected or least able to access resources, where I believe we can have the greatest impact.

Apart from being a dancer/teacher and choreographer, I’m also a physical therapist specialising in treating dancers. I’m motivated to do this having experienced chronic injury during my career. I am a bit of a geek about the dancing body and over the years have studied different therapies and techniques which allow me to work with my clients to facilitate ranges of movement and reductions of pain and injury. They can then better understand their dancing bodies, how to re-programme the software of the motor control centre following injury and in general have the body working in best possible conditions to have a longer career.

5. What has been the most memorable moment in your career to date?

Performing in the high security state prison in Cordoba, Spain where the inmates never see dance or anything like it. Seeing a room full of men who had done despicable things, being brought to tears through our work, standing up in mass to applaud us and wanting to tell us things, meet us and thank us. It really was a moving moment.

6. What advice would you give to young people considering a career in dance?

It’s not an easy path to take. You must be 100% certain you want to do it as it's hard work, the training is hard and then just when you feel like you have achieved something you have to learn how to operate within the professional world. It’s not glamorous and its forever changing. You can’t expect anything. If you are going to go for it, truly in your heart GO FOR IT!

7. What are the challenges for dance artists working in the north?

The biggest challenge is getting work actually in the north. Sometimes the work is elsewhere so I travel a lot.

8. What are the rewards?

A career in dance has many rewards, some instant, some more cycle long term based. You meet an abundance of friends and find yourself with places to stay all over the world. Here in dance, you find yourself, (like it or not), you grow as an individual, you can give something back to the world whilst at the same time gaining things for yourself. Money isn’t always the reward, but we get by (lol).

9. What's next?

I am about to leap into year 2 of my 3 year plan with “6 Feet, 3 Shoes” on both the artistic and participation elements.

10. Who would you like to be stuck on a desert island with?

My mum for sure but if she couldn’t make it, I’d settle for Ian Rodley from DAZL. ;-)

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CYP Dance Network North 

Northern School of Contemporary Dance

98 Chapeltown Road


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© 2019 by Gail Ferrin on behalf of the CYP Dance Network North.