(Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect Jasmin’s preference of using her married name, Taylor, professionally.)
By SAMANTHA SMYLIE
Jasmin Taylor, a Hyde Park native, is one of 38 dancers and choreographers across the globe to be selected to study with world-renowned Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in Israel in their Dance Journey Program for five months in 2020.
Taylor is a dancer, choreographer, singer and songwriter who has trained, danced and worked in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C. and Western Europe. She had the opportunity to work with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Cashmere Cat, Chance the Rapper and Jamila Woods. Just 24 years old, Jasmin Taylor’s career has taken her around the United States and abroad, but her home is Hyde Park.
Taylor was born at the University of Chicago’s Medical Center and attended Bret Harte for Kindergarten, Murray Language Academy from first to sixth grade, Kenwood’s Academic Center for seventh and eighth grade and went to Whitney Young for High School.
While growing up, dance was a piece of her life, she started dancing when she was 7 years old — “I was naturally a mover and always dancing in front of the refrigerator and stuff. My mom has always been big on extracurriculars, so she put me in dance.” She studied at places like Chicago’s Multicultural Dance Center with Homer Bryant, she danced in high school and worked for Afterschool Matters.
When speaking of who inspires her as dancer, she mentions the greats – Josephine Baker, Dorothy Dandridge, Martha Graham – but she says, “I’m a big fan of a lot of people that aren’t in dance that informed my philosophy on life, which informs dance for me.”
She looks to Black women like her mother, four sisters, women on the South Side of Chicago and from the South, since her grandparents moved to Chicago and Indiana from Arkansas and Mississippi.
The central theme that guides her work is vulnerability, she says: “All of my work is about vulnerability, love and interdependence; things that I think people shy away from and why people are sad and angry and upset with their lives and with other people and isolate themselves.
“I’m really, really clear that vulnerability is my strength and connecting with people and getting them to see the things that we share inside that aren’t depression, anxiety, and sadness that we also all have joy, love, peace and healing within is something that’s always consistently going to be in my work.”
She’ll be taking that experience with her to Israel to dance with the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. The program holds auditions abroad, in the US and by video submission. Taylor was asked to audition in London in April, and within a week she found out she was accepted. She first auditioned for the program four years ago, she is excited to show that her work and growth for the past four years have paid off.
Taylor looks forward to her training in Israel where she will be learning Hebrew, dancing for 60 hours a week and will create an original choreographic work.
“I’m looking forward to the cultural and spiritual growth that I’ll experience there,” she said, “and just immersing myself in a new place in the world that is spiritually really important to me. I’m excited to be in a structure where I’m dancing 45 to 60 hours a week, learning Hebrew, to eat and to just be there. I’m excited about all of it.”
As a full-time freelance artist, being able to dance everyday would allow Taylor more time to hone and cultivate her craft. While Taylor is preparing to leave the Chicago in February, she is crowdfunding for additional money.
Her goal is to reach $2,500 to pay for a flight to Israel and additional supplies. However, she hopes to exceed her goal to budget for an emergency, transportation costs, bills in Chicago and any additional items she might need while living abroad. Her GoFundMe campaign is: www.gofundme.com/f/quotif-you-want-to-go-far-go-togetherquot