Jennifer Wootton Mascall

Jennifer Wootton Mascall, modern dance choreographer, performer, and teacher (born at Winnipeg 11 Dec 1952).
Jennifer Wootton Mascall, modern dance choreographer, performer, and teacher (born at Winnipeg 11 Dec 1952).

Mascall, Jennifer

Jennifer Wootton Mascall, modern dance choreographer, performer, and teacher (born at Winnipeg 11 Dec 1952). Jennifer Mascall graduated with a dance major from York University in 1974, and subsequently studied with many modern dance teachers in Canada and the US, among them Twyla Tharp and Merce Cunningham. She performed with Douglas Dunn's Lazy Madge company in New York (1977-78), took part in the first Canadian National Choreographic Seminar in 1978 and worked as an independent dancer/choreographer in Canada before joining the Paula Ross Dancers in Vancouver in 1980, concurrently maintaining her solo activities in Canada, Europe and Scandinavia.

In 1982 she co-founded Vancouver-based EDAM (Experimental Dance and Music) and created numerous works for the troupe until launching her own company, Mascall Dance, at the 1989 International Festival of New Dance in Montréal. At the 1989 Canada Dance Festival she initiated an interdisciplinary improvisation showcase, the Nijinsky Gibber Jazz Club, which appears intermittently in Canada and elsewhere. Her choreography consistently challenges accepted notions of dance, offering audiences movement that ranges from the minimalist to the absurdist, often richly theatrical. She won Canada's Clifford E. Lee choreographic award and first prize in the Ann O'Connor awards at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1981, the CANADA COUNCIL's Jacqueline Lemieux award in 1982, a DORA AWARD award in 1983 and a JESSIE AWARD (Vancouver theatre) award in 1987.

Mascall has created commissions for organizations as diverse as DANCEMAKERS, WINNIPEG'S CONTEMPORARY DANCERS, the Expo 86 World Festival and the World Council of Churches, and continues to challenge audiences and other dance artists with her often disconcerting mix of intellect and vision, thought and theatre. Important creations of the late 1990s include The Lesson, an exploration, through the metaphor of the dance class, of what happens when a dancer is denied sight or hearing (filmed in 1995 and subsequently screened across Canada) and the 1998 production, The Brutal Telling (now titled Traces of Emily Carr). Inspired by the life of British Columbia painter and writer Emily CARR, and intended to address Carr's creation of her public persona as much as her paintings, it was accompanied by a commissioned score of 10 new songs by Vancouver singer/songwriter Veda Hille. Since its premiere Traces of Emily Carr has toured extensively across Canada and abroad.

Since the millennium Jennifer Wootton Mascall has continued to collaborate with artists in other mediums and to create experimental site-specific work. In 2002 she created Housewerk, which featured multiple, simultaneous performances in the rooms of a stately home. That year she began presenting Homewerk, performances of movement and spoken word drawn from residencies in elementary schools.

In 2009 Mascall premiered The White Spider as part of the Vancouver Cultural Olympiad. The work is inspired by mountaineer Heinrich Harrer's account of his 1938 ascent of the North Face of the Eiger Pass in Switzerland and the failed attempts by climbers since.

Jennifer Wootton Mascall is a sought-after teacher and is a certified practitioner of Body-Mind Centering™.