Lola Rose Jenkins: Inspirations and Artistic Growth
Lola Rose Jenkins began her dance training as a student at The School of CCDT when she was 10 years old, and is now thriving in her third year as a full company member. Also a grade 11 Dance Major at Etobicoke School of the Arts, Lola speaks about her continued connections and inspirations within the dance community, and being pushed to discover new levels of artistic growth.
What influenced and/or inspired you to audition for the company?
I saw [CCDT's production of] Teasing Gravity when I was in grade 4 with my class, and I told my parents about how much I liked the show. I was always afraid to start new things so my parents enrolled me in modern classes at CCDT without me knowing. One day after school my mom picked me up and told me I had a dance class in an hour and I completely freaked out. I eventually calmed down and went to the class and I actually had fun. After taking the class for a couple weeks the teacher, Meredith Thompson, suggested that I audition for the Young Apprentice Program, so I did and 6 years later I'm in the company touring the show Teasing Gravity which I watched in the 4th grade.
I started with just taking one modern class and one ballet class a week at the studio, but as I went into the YAP program the schedule had more hours of dancing. I was in YAP for 1 year and then the Core Apprentice Program for 2, after that I was a company apprentice for 1 year, and I am currently in my 3rd year of being a company member.
Is there a particular piece you are most excited to be a part of this season? What makes it most exciting to you?
I think the spring show [Light Years] this year is one of my favourites. I'm not sure if I can pick just one piece to be most excited for. I'm really excited to perform our new work by Jennifer Archibald. Her fusion of classical ballet and hip hop aesthetics is challenging because you have to find the balance of hitting hard and being consistent with your technique. I also really like how the piece is very much in Jennifer's style but also has opportunities for the cast to show some of their individuality as movers.
Another piece I'm really excited to perform is Nicole Caruana's Lacrimosa. Her piece is so much fun to dance with it's fun and almost carefree energy while being very challenging and deceptively technical. With its satirical aspects, it's super fun to perform.
What is your favourite piece you have performed with CCDT? Why is it exceptional to you?
My favourite piece that I have performed is probably Petits rêves by Sylvie Bouchard. I think it's a combination of the process and the performance that made this piece stand out. Sylvie's process was super in depth and meticulous as she dove into this piece that was originally made in 2015. The original cast was with 3 women and 2 men but this year [WinterSong 2018] we had a cast with only women. This was special, and since Petits rêves is a dance about fire Sylvie said having female energy changed the type of fire the dance was about. With the remount Sylvie got to really develop each role so much more and as she would say, "find the dance that was already there". Performing this piece was so special because it really felt like the rest of the cast and I were in our own world and the audience was just getting to watch what happens to us as we explore and discover the different types of fire within and around us.
Are there any choreographers, teachers, guest teachers or guest artists you have worked with at CCDT who have been greatly influential on your training and/or growth as a dancer and artist?
A choreographer that has really pushed me is Jennifer Archibald. Her work is very demanding and requires your brain to be firing at 100%. She is only with us for short periods of time but even only after the course of a couple of days I can feel myself improving and growing as a dancer. She expects a lot from her dancers and it forces you to reach new levels in your dancing that you may not realize you were capable of.
Another teacher/choreographer that I hold very close to my heart is Alyssa Martin. Her work is so important to me as it reminds me that dance is supposed to be fun. The theatrical aspects of her work really pushed me and helped me with my confidence and stage presence. After performing her piece that infinite feeling for 3 years now I have a special place in my heart for her work.
What do you enjoy most about touring?
I think I love the idea that (hopefully) this will be similar to what my life will be like once I start dancing professionally. I also love being able to do the question and answer portions with the kids and see them get excited by certain pieces.
How do you do your best to balance the training and performance demands of CCDT with school, family commitments, and the rest of your life?
I have been with CCDT full time since grade 6 so honestly I wouldn't really know how to manage my time any differently. I definitely don't hang out with friends as much as other people, but then again, I do because I'm friends with everyone in the Company. Since dancing is what I love to do I really don't mind missing out on some things because of dance.
What's something interesting about you most people don't know?
I really like Star Wars, my brother and I have watched all of the movies and own the entire series on DVD.
What other hobbies or interests do you have outside of dance?
I really enjoy cooking! I have been vegan for a while now, so I love experimenting in the kitchen and finding new meals to make for myself.
Who is someone who regularly inspires you as a dancer/artist/creator/human being?
I literally fall in love with a new dancer every week because dance is so beautiful and versatile, but someone who I have been inspired by since grade 8 is Nicolette Coppola. She used to dance at CCDT and was my [Company] mentor for one year. I was so scared to be in the Company and be an apprentice and she was so kind to me and made it less scary to be with a bunch of 17-year-olds when I was 13. She is by far one of the most interesting movers I have ever seen. Watching her movement style and vocabulary evolve as she continues her training at university is so exciting to watch. I know she is going to achieve so much and I'm really excited for her.
Share one of your favourite personal memories about your time with CCDT.
When we all ran Hanna Kiel's piece A Day of Light for the first time. A lot of us cried a little, we were all so happy. That piece brings us all so much joy and will always have a special place in our hearts.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about auditioning for CCDT?
JUST DO IT!!! If you want to get a taste of being in a dance company and work with a bunch of choreographers this is definitely the place for you. The hardest part is just coming to the audition, once you are here it really isn't scary. We are all very nice, I promise!
A reminder from Lola: "We are deserving of love and happiness."
Top photo by Francesca Chudnoff. Performance photos by David Hou: 1) that infinite feeling by Alyssa Martin; 2) Against the Dark by Colin Connor
Don't miss your next chance to catch Lola on stage as part of CCDT's production of Light Years at Toronto's Fleck Dance Theatre, May 24-25. Lola will perform in two world premieres by New York choreographers Jennifer Archibald and Nicole Caruana, as well as in works by Roderick George and CCDT Artistic Director Deborah Lundmark.