Jenny-Anne McCowan

After retiring from a 8 year career in international individual and group competition in Rhythmic Gymnastics Jenny-Anne began her career in dance and choreography in 1993 while pursuing her degree in Psychology and Political Science at McMaster University. Throughout university, Jenny-Anne continued a Rhythmic Gymnastic soloist and group performer in international festivals and large-scale mass routines. After joining the McMaster Dancers and in her first year of university, Jenny-Anne became inspired to create her own work with her first piece of choreography entitled “Safety” selected to represent McMaster at the Canadian University Dance Festival. That year she received the Hamilton Dance award for new choreography and went on to create over 50 group and solo works presented in Toronto, Lyon, London, Miami, Berlin and New York.

In 2002, Jenny-Anne received her Masters Degree in Dance History from York University where she developed her thesis on Dancing in the Rave Scene. Her thesis was an exploration of public momentum, the role of dance in subculture as a collective form of expression and communication using Laban Movement Notation as a documentation tool. Jenny-Anne continues to work with this aesthetic in her choreography, developing solos and works for small groups that allow for individual and improvisational expression within the context and confines of a larger whole. Her theories of public momentum and engagement are also integral to the large-scale public participatory work she and Thom Sokoloski undertake within their studio Thomas+Guinevere.

In 2004, Jenny-Anne decided to expand her career into Education and received her B. Ed from The University of Toronto.  Following her love of subcultures and with her newly acquired skills in education, Jenny-Anne joined the not-for-profit group Literacy through Hip Hop and designed a curriculum for urban youth that blends hip-hop and literacy, which is now being used across Canada, the U.S. and South America.

Through her degree in Education, Jenny-Anne became familiar with strategies of inclusion, motivation and team work and learned about their power in the classroom.  She combined  her new awareness and expertise in these strategies and added them to her aesthetic of ‘public momentum’.

In 2006, after working as the choreographer for Cirque Sublime and inspired to create an event to support a friend who suffered a severe spinal cord injury, ‘Raise’ became the first major project for her to explore her aesthetic of public momentum autonomously. As the Producer and Director, she motivated over 50 volunteer performers from circus; dance, music and the visual arts and 40 support staff to participate. She organized the entire site-specific work via e-mail, without scheduled rehearsals and accepting performance submissions as late as the night before allowing for an unpredictable, dynamic and spontaneous performance experience.

Since 2006, Jenny-Anne continues to develop her own dance and movement based works for specific sites and the stage and she has worked with Thom Sokoloski as the choreographer for several of his site specific performance projects including The Royal Flush at the Fallsview Casino, The River Peace and Un Nuit Chagall in 2010. On her own, she presented Bert and Tony’s Bloc party for Nuit Blanche and a solo entitled Constance Mayer in 2009, Currently, Jenny-Anne is in the conceptual stages of a new performance dance work inspired by the dance in subcultures.

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