Dancer Janvier finds peace in north, readies for solo work

Dance has taken Flin Flonner Kristy Janvier around the world and back. Now, she is sharing her experience with her hometown.

Janvier began dancing when she was nine years old with the Flin Flon Dance Academy, known today as the Northern Lights Dance Academy.

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Janvier was born and raised in Flin Flon, and is of Dene (English River First Nation) and European descent. Like many young dancers, dance was an extracurricular activity for Janvier, something that consumed her heart and imagination, but was never considered a viable career option until someone introduced her to the possibility.

“When I was in high school, there was a teacher who came in from Thompson once a week. Her name was Kelly Waterman and she would do dance exams. So, I began to take exams with her,” said Janvier.

These exams would put her on a path she did not expect, a path where a wonderful world synonymous with magic brought her dreams to life.

“I didn’t know you could work in the arts. I was going to become an accountant. I was set to go to the University of Saskatchewan. I was 17 and my dance teacher mentioned an audition in Saskatoon to work for Disney,” said Janvier.

“So I went and totally messed up on the dance, but I kept smiling. So, they pulled me aside and offered me this other job for Tokyo Disneyland. There I was, off to Tokyo at the age of 18.”

Janvier said her worldview was limited because of the era.

“It was the ‘90s, the Internet was new,” she said, laughing. “I didn’t even know what was possible.”

As it turned out, the world was full of possibilities. Her dance career took her far from her northern Manitoban home. Beginning at Disney, Janvier worked as a commercial performer in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, New York City and on cruise ships in the Caribbean over a 16-year span.

Janvier said living in parts of the world so foreign from her own northern upbringing broadened her perspective of the world.

“Anywhere I went I could find connections in the arts. Arts communities are always accepting of new people,” she said.

Janvier said she recognized that sense of community from her hometown, and was able to connect with people by sharing the story of Flin Flon.

“Each step was a life lesson along the way. People love the name and the story of Flin Flon. It sounds like a magical place,” she said.

Living the life of a professional performer has allowed Janvier to see, hear and feel experiences she could have never anticipated. However, life on the road can take its toll.

“It’s a bit hard because I’m constantly living out of a suitcase. People will say ‘You’re living the dream,’ but it’s exhausting because you can never fully unpack,” said Janvier.

“In 2015, I was getting really burnt out by commercial entertainment and so I began searching for other forms of dance.”

Janvier returned home and began blending her experiences and training into work here in Flin Flon. She currently teaches yoga at the Eagle Rose Healing Lodge and participates in retreats. It’s not your traditional yoga practice.

“I incorporate contact improvisation, gaga and somatic therapy movement,” said Janvier.

“My latest yoga training is called ‘embodied flow,’ which incorporates yoga body and mind centering, body therapy, and free movement.”

Janvier said her dream for the future is to have a home base from which she can still travel for her performances. This, however, is an ongoing process.

“I feel like since coming back [to Flin Flon], there are more circles opening up. There’s the yoga community, the arts community, or the women’s circle in town. The teachers have invited me into their circle and to opportunities with the schools, so it’s been nice,” said Janvier.

For the time being, the road still calls Janvier. Next month, she’ll be at the Banff Arts Centre for rehearsals with the Indigenous dance company Dancers of Damelahamid. Following that, she’ll travel to Edmonton to perform her solo work entitled First Floor at a dance festival called Nextfest. Then she will return to Banff for a three-week residency.

Come July, Janvier has been accepted for a creative residency in British Columbia, before touring with Dancers of Damelahamid in September.

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