Day 329 - Jenna (1st person I approached)
November 25, 2014 - Jenna was sitting at a small table drinking a smoothie and looking at her phone. I made my way toward her, to ask if she would chat with me for my project. She smiled in agreement, until she realized I wanted to take her picture.
“Uhm, okay, I just came from a training session at the gym. I’ll put a hat on, if that’s alright?” That seemed like a reasonable request.
“I was born in Burin, Newfoundland,” she started.
“We lived in Marystown (Newfoundland and Labrador), which isn’t far from Burin. It’s maybe a fifteen minute drive. It’s like a suburb, but it’s actually a small town itself.”
Jenna is an only child.
“I never asked for a brother or sister. I liked it being just my father, mother and me. I love our little family. The three of us are very close” she said.
“When I was four years old, my Dad was working in Fort McMurray, in Alberta and so we moved there. My cousins lived in the house next door, and they were around my age. I always had other kids to play with.”
Jenna started taking dance classes at the age of four.
“I was in a swimming class. My mother was talking with another mom there, and the other mom said that her daughter was talking this particular dance class. My Mom wanted me to try different things, so that I could decide what it was I wanted to do. I started in that class and just kept going,” she said.
Jenna went to one elementary school.
“I enjoyed school. I did well and was always on the honour roll. Once I moved into high-school, my interest went down. I was generally a good kid. I mean, I went to my fair share of parties and I saw certain things, but I always had dance class early on Saturday and Sunday morning, so I didn’t go crazy or anything. It just didn’t appeal to me,” she said. Jenna was more interested in dance classes than school or homework.
“I didn’t do much homework. My mother says she can’t ever remember me bringing home a book from school. I read all the time in my own time and books I wanted to read, but I wasn’t into school. I just didn’t see that anything was relevant to what I was interested in. Looking back, I know I could have applied myself a lot more. Doesn’t everyone feel that way, though?”
Weekends, family trips and vacations were usually centred around Jenna’s involvement in competitive dance. “My mom and I have always had honest and open communication. We each tell the other what we need. There was always a lot of mothers backstage at the dance competitions. I always told my mom ‘I know you’re here for me, please don’t come back stage. I’m in my own headspace and I’ll see you after the competition. It worked well for both of us,” she told me.
After graduating from high-school last year, Jenna moved out to Vancouver (British Columbia).
“I moved out here to join a dance company. It’s pre-professional, so that means I don’t get paid to dance. As a matter of fact, I pay to attend. We dance (four times) a week, and there’s a big show at the end of the year. A good friend of mine from elementary school was moving out here at the same time I was. Her and I became roommates. I stayed to attend the dance company for a second year. My friend that I had moved here with needed to be closer to her school. Another girl that I went to high school with was living here. We didn’t hang around in school, but we knew each other. She moved in and we’ve become best friends,” she said.
“I have a part-time job (in retail) to help pay the bills.”
I asked Jenna if she was a good dancer.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot from being here and working with this dance company. It’s all about learning and developing. I’m certainly more comfortable and a lot more confident than I’ve ever been. Yeah, I’m a good dancer,” she said. Jenna then gave a slow slight smile and told me
“I’ve never said that to anyone before. I’m a good dancer.” I told her it was exciting for me. to be the first person she said that to. I also suggested she remember this feeling, when it gets tough in the times ahead.
As for her future, Jenna is considering going back to school.
“I know it’s ironic considering everything I just told you. But I’m thinking of going into education. I just love little kids. I think I’d like to be a teacher. It’s only four years in university. That’s not long,” she added.
“I’m just not sure if I’d stay here (Vancouver) for school, or go back to Alberta. I miss my Mom. We’re best friends and it’s hard to be away from my parents. I could save some money and focus on my studies if I was at home. On the other hand, there’s not much happening with dance in Fort McMurray,” she said.
“I can’t imagine my life without dancing. It’s where I feel the best and happiest, when I’m dancing.”
Before we had stared to chat, Jenna had completed her first personal training session at a nearby fitness club.
“It was so demanding and drained me. I had to come and just sit down, have a something to drink and rest for a bit before I go home,” she told me.
“It’s my grandfather’s birthday coming up and he loves to travel. There’s about ten family members, including my parents and I, going on a trip. We’re all going with him to the Dominican (Republic) in April to celebrate. It will be a big family vacation. I’ve always been comfortable with my body, and I don’t want to change anything. That’s why I’ve started training at the gym. I’m starting now, so I can stay where I want to be, when we hit the beach.” #notastranger