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The Story Behind the Person: Jasmin Reville, Dance, Dance, Dance


by Jonathan van Bilsen


Many of you have attended the theatres in North Durham, especially the old Town Hall 1873, in Port Perry. There have been some fantastic productions over the years, including many musicals.

I always enjoy the performances and quite often take some of the background functions, like choreography and dancing, for granted. I suppose, unless something is noticeably wrong, quite frequently this hidden talent goes unnoticed.

I was fortunate to meet with Jasmin Reville, one of the leading choreographers of this area, and someone who opened my eyes to the ‘behind the scene’ talent, and work that we are fortunate to be privy to.

Jasmin was born in Port Perry and I asked her how she got into dance in the first place? “I have an older sister,” she began. “She was taking dance and I was so intrigued, I begged my parents to let me do it as well.”

Jasmin comes from a musical family. Along with her sister’s dance talent, her mother, an accomplished pianist, took up the cello recently, and now plays in the Durham Chamber Orchestra. I did ask if her father was musically inclined and the answer was, after a hesitation, “He has many other wonderful skills.”

I asked if ballet was where Jasmin started her dance career, and essentially it was. “I was very young and I am sure the first year or so was a movement class, which branched into a specific genre. Because I was third born, there are not a lot of pictures of me. I can’t be too sure.” I laughed at Jasmin’s explanation. Her terrific sense of humour immediately became evident.

Many children take dance at an early age, but most do it as a pastime or a form of exercise. Few make it a lifelong career, and I wondered how Jasmin made that work. She explained, when she was at a local dance company in Port Perry, a representative of the National Ballet School of Canada came to do a workshop at the local academy.

Jasmin must have impressed him, because he suggested she do an audition for the program. That was her kick-start into a more serious approach to dance. “If it wasn’t for that day, I would probably never have entered the field.”

The audition went well and when she finished elementary school, instead of attending Port Perry High, Jasmin went to ballet school in Toronto, and later in Belleville. Interestingly, it was a boarding school where like-minded students lived full time. The program was divided between academic  subjects and dance instruction. The trauma of living away from home at an early age, was surpassed by Jasmin’s desire to want to do it. “It was a very positive experience for me. I love to dance, and I was surrounded by individuals with the same interest.”

The curriculum was divided into two halves. From 8 until 12 it was dedicated to the core subjects; math, English, etc. but from noon on, it was dance, dance, dance until well past 7 p.m. Dance counted as credits, so it was a tremendous amount of hard work and great dedication.

It sounded very regimented and very aggressive, but Jasmin explained, “If you attend a regular school and want to pursue dance, you have to do that in the evenings and weekends.” The benefit of having it all combined made sense, and was certainly an advantage to her education.

Most of the focus was on elements of ballet, such as character and repertoire, but they added other elements, including contemporary dance.

“I recall once they brought in a hip hop teacher and we tried, but my goodness, ballet dancers doing hip hop was bad,” she laughed, as she reminisced about the experience.

I did ask if her feet were sore when she first started, as I have always imagined standing on your toes to be painful. Jasmin explained, you grow into it, and like anything you do, it becomes easier with time and experience.

Jasmin choreographs many of the musicals performed by the Scugog Choral Society, now known as SCS Musicals. The production usually has a specific style and a director determines what is to take place in a scene. Making the chorography happen, in such a way it fits seamlessly into the entire performance, is a challenge. One that Jasmin Reville has certainly mastered.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jasmin for an interview for my talk show, which aired a few months ago. To see the entire episode, and to watch Jasmin dance, visit YouTube or Rogerstv.com and search for The Jonathan van Bilsen Show. I am sure you will enjoy watching this artistic dancer perform and chat about her story behind the person.


Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. His show, ‘The Jonathan van Bilsen Show’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube, features many of the people included in this column.

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