Courtney "French" Ffrench

BIOGRAPHY

COURTNEY “FRENCH” FFRENCH WAS BORN IN KINGSTON, JAMAICA. EARLY ON HE WATCHED HIS COUSIN’S BALLET CLASSES WHEN SHE WAS BABYSITTING HIM, ALTHOUGH “I WASN’T REALLY INTERESTED IN THAT.” BUT WHEN HE 12-YEARS OLD, HE SAW THE HUSTLE AS IT WAS PERFORMED BY JOHN TRAVOLTA IN SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, WHICH INTERESTED HIM GREATLY. ONCE HE PERFECTED HIS PERSONALIZED VERSION OF THE DANCE, THE SOMEWHAT INTROVERTED FFRENCH WON A DANCE CONTEST AT SCHOOL. “SO FROM 12 ON, I PRETTY MUCH DANCED EVERY DAY, EVEN WITHOUT MUSIC.”

HE CAME TO THE STATES IN 1984 -- AND SUFFERED MAJOR CULTURE SHOCK. IN ORDER TO DRAW THE SHY COURTNEY OUT OF HIS SHELL, ANOTHER COUSIN TOOK HIM TO CLUB ZANZIBAR, WHERE DJ TONY HUMPHRIES WAS SPINNING. THEN FFRENCH WENT TO THE TUNNEL. HE FLOURISHED IN THE VIBRANT NYC HOUSE DANCE/MUSIC SCENE, WHERE HIP HOP, HOUSE, VOGUING, AND DANCES INFLUENCED BY SALSA/ MERENGUE, THE HUSTLE, MARTIAL ARTS AND AFRICAN CLASSICISM EXISTED SIDE BY SIDE. HE FELT FREE TO BLEND MULTIPLE STYLES, RANGING FROM POPULAR-MUSIC VIDEOS (MICHAEL JACKSON, PAULA ABDUL) TO AFRICAN TO HOUSE DANCING STYLES OF OTHER GREAT HOUSE DANCERS, LIKE BRAVO LAFORTUNE, RON BROWN (A CONCERT-DANCE CHOREOGRAPHER AND CLUB DANCER) AND KEITH “SHADES” WILLIAMS. THE RESULT WAS FFRENCH’S ECLECTIC, UNIQUE STYLE, UNLIKE ANY OTHER IN THE HOUSE-DANCE SCENE, AS IS SEEN IN CHECK YOUR BODY AT THE DOOR. 

FFRENCH BEGAN PURSUING HIS BA IN MEDIA ARTS FROM CUNY/ QUEENS COLLEGE, WHICH HE RECEIVED, AND HE WORKED WITH “FORCES OF NATURE DANCE COMPANY,” RE-CONNECTING HIMSELF TO HIS AFRO-CARIBBEAN ROOTS.  IN 1997 FFRENCH FOUNDED HISVISSI DANCE COMPANY. CHOREOGRAPHICALLY, HE MAINTAINS THE SAME ECLECTICISM AS IN HIS HOUSE DANCING, WEAVING AFRICAN TRADITIONAL DANCE, FREESTYLE CLUB VARIATIONS, CONTEMPORARY MODERN DANCE INTO “A SPIRITUAL LOCK OF EXPRESSION AND EMOTION.”

National Diversity Awards 2018 Nominee

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