After early ballet studies in Montréal with Les Ballets Russes and Eric Hyrst, she was attracted to mime, training under European masters Jerzy Grotowski in Poland and Étienne Decroux in France, and to two major Montréal mimes, Gilles Maheu (CARBONE 14) and Jean Asselin (Omnibus).
In 1981, attracted to the Japanese post-war dance form, butoh, Jocelyn Montpetit went to Japan to study with Min Tanaka for two months. This meeting changed her life. She became the first occidental to join Tanaka's company, Maijuku, touring internationally with it from 1981-84 and again 1989-90 when she danced Le Sacre du Printemps at the Paris Opera.
In 1984-85 she studied intensively with butoh founders Kazuo Ohno and Tatsumi Hijikate, returning often (1997-2003) for continued study with Ohno.
Back in Montréal in 1990, she founded Jocelyne Montpetit Danse. She then composed a suite of works influenced by her Japanese experience, including Les Cavalières du vent (1992), Lettre à un homme russe (1992), a solo presented among others at the Festival of Contemporary Dance of Volgograd in Russia, and the duets Luminare (1995) and La ligne invisible (1997).
Ten years after returning to Montréal, Montpetit created her most significant works: Transverbero (1998), Icône (1998) and À quoi rèvent les aveugles (1999), three solos with as many variations on the relationship between body and light, in which the body is divested of material existence to become a state of pure thought. Also, in 1998, her company, Jocelyne Montpetit Danse, began a series of exchange projects between Canada and Japan, aiming to make the essence of Japanese stage arts better known in her native country.
Montpetit has choreographed more than 20 works, mostly solos for herself, exploring the fragility of the human condition. At the same time, she followed a second career as a teacher of movement in different faculties at several institutions in Quebec and Japan: at the Canadian National Theatre School (Montréal) from 1996-2010; intermittently at the Université du Québec à Montréal from 1989 to 2009; and at 2 Tokyo universities, Waseda and Rikkyo. She headed the movement section at the latter from 1996 through 2007.
She has served on several juries in Montréal and Rome and has choreographed for film and theatre, notably for Pierre Falardeau's film Le Party.