Interview by Jason Setnyk | Photo by Artsy Lens Photography
Akwesasne, Quebec – Feryn King, a gifted Kahnien’kehàka/Mohawk artist hailing from the vibrant community of Akwesasne, Quebec, has captivated audiences worldwide with her multifaceted artistic talents. With a name meaning ‘She makes the moon beautiful’ or ‘Bright Moon’ in the Kaníekeha language, Feryn has become a shining light in the realms of dance, visual art, and acrobatics, leaving an indelible mark in the world of performance art.
From a young age, Feryn’s curiosity led her to immerse herself in traditional dancing. As she grew older, her passion for movement expanded, and she began training in Modern, Contemporary, and expressionist dance forms. In 2015, Feryn took a leap of faith and enrolled in Centennial College’s Dance Performance program, emerging as a distinguished graduate in 2017.
Feryn’s artistry transcends borders, as she has become an internationally acclaimed dance performer and teacher. She is particularly renowned for her expertise in both traditional and fusion-style hoop dancing, a skill that has taken her across Canada, the United States, and even Europe as part of Cirque Du Soleil’s production, TOTEM. Her enchanting performances have touched the hearts of audiences worldwide, captivating them with her awe-inspiring talent and cultural richness.
Driven by her deep love for health and fitness, Feryn continues to expand her repertoire as an acrobatic performer in Aerial Lyra, adding a breathtaking element to her already dynamic artistic expression. Her unique blend of traditional and contemporary influences creates a mesmerizing experience that resonates with people worldwide.
Now, Feryn has embarked on a new journey as she travels to various schools in Ontario’s Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) as a Cultural Advisor, sharing her passion for dance with the youth. Through this initiative, Feryn aims to inspire the next generation, fostering an appreciation for cultural diversity and promoting the importance of self-expression through the arts.
As a Kahnien’kehàka/Mohawk artist, Feryn’s role as a Cultural Advisor carries immense significance. By sharing her knowledge and artistic expertise, she promotes a greater understanding and respect for Indigenous culture and traditions. Through dance, Feryn illuminates the rich tapestry of Indigenous history and celebrates the resilience and beauty of her community.
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – How do you prepare physically and mentally for a performance?
“In my younger years, I used to get extremely nervous before performing in front of crowds. But now that I’ve been dancing for so long, I’ve grown accustomed to dancing in front of hundreds of people that it doesn’t faze me anymore. I’m more excited to show the crowd what I’m capable of!
The only thing that makes me nervous sometimes is making a mistake like dropping a hoop or a hoop flying away from my reach where I can’t get it. I’ve made it a habit to practice the “difficult or a new routine” before stepping on stage.
In prep, I do a 5-minute warmup to get the blood pumping in my legs and arms, following a 10-minute stretch. Stretching before and after any physical activity is important to avoid injuries. Then I cleanse myself with sage moments before stepping on stage.”
2 – What inspired you to try hoop dancing and aerialism, and what do you enjoy most about these art forms?
“It was love at first sight. I was ten when I saw my first hoop dancer at the Akwesasne pow-wow. The dancer brought good medicine to the circle. The circle where all nations come together on Labour Day weekend and dance together. He danced with grace and fluidity, hoops moving effortlessly through his body. It was so magical, and it inspired me to learn. I finally had my chance to learn physically when I turned 13, and I have been dancing ever since.
My second love was when I recently came across Aerial a few years back on social media and thought it was the coolest thing ever. When I was recruited with Cirque Du Soleil in 2018, I had the chance to watch one of the artist train at headquarters in Montreal. I thought it was so mesmerizing! The artist’s strength and flexibility and how they were levitated off the ground looked so fearsome. I wanted that! It was so fascinating and motivating that it became one of the top things to learn. When I found out in town someone was opening an Aerial Studio; I didn’t hesitate to sign up for my first class at Sky Studio Fitness here in Cornwall. I’ve been going for over a year now and am deeply in love with the art.
What I love about both is the freedom to express yourself! It’s both a rush, and it’s exciting. One tells a story of evolution, and the other shows what the human can be capable of. Both have fierce elements. If I’m not on the ground, I’m up in the air.”
3 – Can you walk us through the creative process for developing a new dance routine?
“The creative process is always the fun part! The best part is that it is yours. I always start by looking for the best song and envision myself dancing to it. I try to embody it and feel it in my body and bones. Later, I study and dissect the music. I’ll do a count of 8 beats of the song and listen out for certain sounds that I could potentially dance perfectly for certain movements. My counting might not be the best; sometimes, I’ll go off the rails and get lost in the music- but my body would take over and feel the music. Those are the best dances.
My choreography always comes in puzzles and patches; eventually, all the pieces come together and are created into this beautiful structure. I choreograph most of my dances, and sometimes I’ll let the music take me, and I improvise. That is the beauty of dance itself.”
4 – How do you engage and connect with your audience during a performance, particularly those who may not be familiar with your style?
“Beforehand, I always make myself known about who I am and what I present to my audience. It’s important to inform my crowd of the deeper meaning behind my dances so they’re not confused about the art form. The hoop dance especially, because when people see a HOOP, “Hula Hoop” is the first thing to pop up in their minds. These are two different things, cultures with completely different backstories and histories. Both have different energies, but they are both beautiful to watch.”
5 – What advice do you have for aspiring dancers, and what do you hope to achieve in the future?
“My advice is always to finish what you start! No matter what is happening, even if it gets tough, you must keep going! Nothing seems to be happening now, but a door will eventually open for you. I hope I can always inspire those to go after their dreams and get out of their comfort zone to try something new.”
You can visit her website to book Corporate/Social Events and school visits.