(Note: PrettyBrownDancers.com apologizes to Jayda Perry for an extreme delay of her interview for Dancer of the Week.)
Jayda Perry is a proud Afro-Latina who was born and raised in Chicago and is 17 years old. She attends The Chicago High School for the Arts. (ChiArts) She began her dance training at age 5 at the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center (CMDC) where she continues to train, and is also a company member with the Hiplet Ballerinas. Besides dance, she also has a passion for singing, acting, and choreography. In 2017 she received the Rising Star Award from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). At this early stage of her career Jayda has modeled for Versace, performed with Jamila Woods, and has appeared on the TV show Empire.
Jayda was featured in the documentary Hiplet: Because We Can, where she also assisted in the choreography. She was fortunate to travel with Hiplet to perform in Hong Kong for their Lunar New Year Parade. Jayda has an interest in attending a performing arts college such as The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), where she would like to pursue her passions for singing, acting, and dancing as a future career. With her success, she hopes to give back and inspire others.
When did you began to dance?
I began to dance in 2007 at the age of 5. I attended the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center (CMDC) and still currently dance with them. Mr.Homer Bryant was my first dance teacher ever and his studio will always be home to me.
Tell us about your first dance performance
My first dance recital was pretty nerve wrecking, because I often worried about remembering my choreography. (That was always the challenge growing up.) Although I was young, I had a p serious mindset towards it. Considering that my dad was a professional dancer and my mom studied Hispanic folkloric dance I always wanted to inherit their skills and make something out of it.
What special performance skills do you have?
I think one my best skills is sending the appropriate energy of whatever I’m performing to the audience. I love to include them in what I’m feeling when I perform. I always want the audience to feel included in the Art that they’re witnessing, and experiencing. That’s one of the essential parts of performing. Not only do I dance for myself but I dance for others.
How do you prepare for a dance audition?
My high school (ChiArts) helped me prepare for auditions. For freshman and sophomores, there is an activity called “Mock Auditions” where we all put on numbers and run things as if it were a real audition. At the end of the mock audition, teachers will give us feedback on what to wear; how to prepare and how to be strategic when it comes to keeping up and making sure we’re really presenting our best. Before auditions, I always like to listen to energetic music that put me in a good mood. There’s nothing better than walking into an audition full of energy and good vibes.
How did you get introduced to Hiplet Ballet?
Growing up, I always watched the girls of the previous generations do Hiplet. I was never aware of what it was called, until I was around the age where I was strong enough to do it. I always thought it was just the older girls having fun on Friday nights in pointe class because it was free time, when really it was Hiplet. Mr.Homer would always tell me, “once you’re ankles are strong enough you’ll be able to do that one day”. I got on pointe at 11 years old and joined the Hiplet Class at 12 years old.
What is the best thing about dancing?
The best thing about dancing is being able to express myself without speaking. Sometimes it’s hard to express myself with the correct words when I feel a certain type of way, because my emotions can feel stronger than words can compare. With dancing I don’t have to worry about that, I can just move and give you energy, and with that you can get an idea of how I’m feeling.
What is the best advice you received?
I‘ve heard so many good things I can’t decide on just one statement. So here’s a series of quotes from my different teachers: “Don’t let your peers advise you on how to dance; leave all criticism to the professionals.” – “Don’t be so hard on yourself, progress takes time” – “If you see something you like about someone else, then take it and use it!” – “It doesn’t hurt to try” – “Just do it”.
How do you balance a dance career with your personal life?
Honestly, it’s hard to completely divide a dance life with a personal one. My dance life merges with my personal life. For example, most of my friends are dancers. It’s easier to not feel left out with things because we are all dancing. Before, it was always “sorry I have dance” or “I can’t, I have rehearsal”. When my friends and I want to hang out, we either go downtown, or taking a dance class together, like hip-hop or heels. (We like to do things that take us out of our comfort zone.) As long as we’re together that’s all that counts. Also, it’s important to take advantage of breaks. I take huge advantages of my school breaks, because investing time for myself is important considering I’m a busy bee. Dance is a lifestyle. I learned that you’re either all in or all out.
What are your future goals in dance?
I plan to become a professional dancer, in an established company that is diverse, and well rounded in multiple dance genres. I also would like to be able to travel through my dancing and experience the joys of other people and cultures around the world.
What advice would you give young girls starting in dance?
Start with ballet. It’s the foundation to everything. Once you have a solid ballet foundation you can accomplish any other technique. Also, don’t give up easily, the process of improving is going to be challenging because you have to put in the work. Whenever you wanna call quits just think back and remember what made you want to start dancing.