#CouncilSpotlight: Jocelyn Todd

Jenna Brown

The Ottawa Arts Council supports artists and arts organizations through leadership, guidance and the provision of opportunities to advance our local creative potential.

Our series #CouncilSpotlight presents stories and experiences of Arts Council members and art award recipients.

Jocelyn Todd received the Corel Endoment Fund in 2015

Where are you from?

Born and bred in Ottawa.

How did you get involved in the Ottawa arts community?

My journey into the world of art started with my dad who was head of the design team at the National Gallery for all of my childhood and teen years. My sister and I got the chance to roam the halls (and the curatorial wings) there whenever we liked. I love contemporary art, poetry and music, but was always the most fascinated with movement and expressing through the body in performance. I studied ballet for many years at the Nepean Creative Arts Centre and eventually enrolled at The School of Dance in New Edinburgh in their Contemporary Dance Diploma Program and have been performing, creating and presenting since 2012 in Ottawa and elsewhere.

Since 2015, myself, and some incredible women from this community also founded a yearly dance show that features local-made contemporary dance—Dark Horse Dance Projects—so I get the chance to interact with local artists and artists from outside Ottawa through that platform, which has been such a blessing.

How would you describe your artistic practice/discipline?

It falls under contemporary dance. Movement based performance.

What impact has your involvement with the arts/the Ottawa arts community had on your life?

It's such a pleasure to be involved in contemporary dance in this city as a choreographer, occasionally a teacher, and a presenter. The scene has almost all women at the head of it and I find that dynamic really inspiring and collaborative. The community continues to expand and get larger, but it still feels very personal. The friends I have made through dance and art in Ottawa—we’re bonded for life. Of course, it’s not hard to bond with other dancers that you work with when you spend weeks and weeks in the studio glued together, up close and personal and sweating all over each other! And those up close, collaborative and interpersonal aspects of dance are very important to me both for creating meaningful work and for just plain loving the artistic process!

Is there a specific moment/situation in your art career that you remember fondly?

I think all of them. Even the bad ones in retrospect.

Do you have any advice for artists in the Ottawa community or artists in general?

Art is intuition manifested. Trust your intuition and it will work for you and your art.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently very grateful to be at Ottawa Dance Directive working on a new creation with four fabulous dancers!

What was it like to receive an award from the Ottawa Arts Council? How do you think it will impact your career?

That was fantastic. I received the award on behalf of Dark Horse Dance Projects (www.darkhorsedanceprojects.com) in 2015, our inaugural year. We were so happy to receive the support of the Ottawa Arts Council because that year we were just running a pilot season and everyone was working for free. The award helped us with some financial headaches and actually allowed us to pay our artists a small honorarium in the end which was very satisfying. That season allowed us a springboard from which to expand this festival and now we are going into our fifth season of giving local contemporary dance artists the chance to create and present new work through our platform! This gives us no end of joy! Stay tuned for the 2019 edition happening the first week of September!