Holla Jazz – FLOOR’D


In Celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month, Holla Jazz Announces World Premiere of First Full-Length Work:

Toronto’s Vernacular Jazz Dance Company
Brings Infectious Funk of Centuries-Old Dance Tradition to New Era

TORONTO, ON – In lead up to International Jazz Day, Holla Jazz presents a soulful evening celebrating the centuries-old dance tradition of vernacular jazz with the world premiere of FLOORD, April 25 28, 2018 at the Winchester Street Theatre. Developed by artistic director and choreographer Natasha Powell in collaboration with the dancers and acclaimed musical director Gerald Heslop, this first full-length work by the company draws from the raw energy and improvisational spirit of jook. Harkening to the Black American dance halls of the emancipation era, seven dancers will groove blissfully alongside musicians to capture the imagination of a contemporary audience with the jook style.

“In many dance studios, jazz is often viewed as a dance form that blends Eurocentric styles, owing little to the origins of jazz and even less to jazz rhythms,” says Powell. “In FLOORD, Toronto audiences will come face-to-face with true vernacular jazz of the jook – dance halls that emerged within 19th century Black American communities also known as honky-tonks and after-hour joints. Rooted in West Africa, the jook gave rise to and rejuvenated many varied cultural traditions that can be traced all the way to modern hip-hop. FLOORD is a tribute to this history and continuum evoking the ebb and flow of bodies moving within the authentic jook house arena.”

In 2013, Powell embarked on a four-week residency in New York under the mentorship of renowned dance educator, ethnographer and embodied historian Moncell Durden. Over the course of her studies, Powell was compelled by Katrina Hazzard-Gordon’s book Jookin: The Rise of Social Dance Formation in African-American Culture. This book outlined the significant environments in which black social dances – the Charleston, the shimmy, Black Bottom, fish tail, and Suzy Q – were crystallized. Such styles will be encountered in FLOORD.

Born to a Grenadian mother and Jamaican father, Powell’s formative years were steeped in the social dance traditions of her Caribbean home, as well as ballet, modern jazz, tap, and hip hop. A veteran of film, television and stage, she has appeared in the HBO Series The L Word, the Nickelodeon move Spectacular!, and the dance movie Center Stage 2. Powell’s diverse dance company comprises of choreographers and performers of the stage, film, and television who are sought after the world over. Led by Powell, the Holla Jazz dancers include Caroline “Lady C” Fraser, Raoul Wilke, Miha Matevzic, Hollywood Jade, Ashley “Colours” Perez, Sarah Tumaliuan, and Tereka Tyler-Davis.

As audiences will discover in FLOORD, improvisation and propulsive movement are key components of vernacular jazz from which arise thrilling interactions between dancers and musicians. Powell developed the choreography of FLOORD working closely with the dancers and with Heslop, a veteran composer, arranger, director, instructor, and soloist. Heslop will lead seven jazz musicians who, live on stage amongst the dancers, will delight with an eclectic range of jazz including big band, funk and blues.

Tickets and info at: hollajazz.com

About Holla Jazz (hollajazz.com)
Through their soulful and funky approach to vernacular jazz dance, Holla Jazz presents engaging and entertaining performances, intriguing choreography, and dynamite collaborations. The Holla Jazz experience is marked by their cool and contemporary way of producing fresh dance works, all while inspiring a lasting love and appreciation for jazz dance and music.

Established in 2016 by Artistic Director Natasha Powell, Holla Jazz was founded as a forum for developing and presenting artists that work and improvise together, to create harmonious and transformative experiences through the spirit of jazz. Working with both live and recorded music, the company aims to reinvigorate jazz dance and its sister dances as innovative, important, and necessary vehicles for expression.

Dates: April 25—28 at 8pm
Ticket Prices: $30 Adults
$25 Artists, Students & Seniors
Address: Winchester Street Theatre
80 Winchester St., Toronto
Box Office: hollajazz.com

Download release here: PDF or WORD