Ayi Jihu is known for many things but what she has at her core is dancing. If you go back to her village in Leibo China and mention her name everyone will tell you about the ‘Little girl who was always dancing and singing’ She has been dancing ever since she could walk and whenever she dances people pay attention.
Now Ayi Jihu is about to take her dancing to another level as she partners up with ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Dancer, Choreographer and Director Ryan Jenkins. As well his amazing talent as a dancer and Choreographer, Ryan is also a Trailblazer and it was his exploits working with Vietnamese Musical theatre that played as large a role as his undoubted dancing abilities in bringing these two together. After many years of searching for the right person to help her develop her dancing style further Ayi Jihu has finally found someone who understands her, ‘Gets her’ and whom she feels could help take performance to the next level.
Ryan’s resume is impressive, From X Factor to Grease, working with legends like Michael Flatley and Molly Molloy he is a man in great demand. He is also a man with his eyes firmly set East and the new opportunities it brings for him to expand globally.
“I love working with Asian dancers and artist. I just love their whole approach to things and it seems they like me too. When I was approached by Ayi Jihu’s management I did my homework on her and I thought wow! This girl is something else! As hectic as my schedule is with all I have to do, including the Dream Idols who are blowing up right now. I had to work with her, She inspires me. When we first met It was at a nightclub in Cambridge and I thought ok, let me see what she is really made of, so I whisked her away onto the dance floor and put her through some moves right away. Nothing I did phased her, she just made it all look so easy and I knew then I had someone a bit special. The best dancers make it look simple. Of course with someone like Ayi there is much more going on than just dance. She has so many things about to happen and so I will be working on her new promo videos, live shows as well as helping her with her movie debut in As Blue As the Sky where she will be dancing and singing. It’s all very exciting stuff and we are both excited about what we are about to develop.”
Around the world and especially in China Ayi Jihu is famed for style of dancing. Some call it proactive and sensual, most just drop their jaws in disbelif. Along with her style of lyrics and her independent status in Asia it has made her a controversial figure, an artist that seems to polarize opinion. ‘I’m like marmite’ she says. ‘People either love me or wanna kill me, but thank god most people seem to be cool with what I do and how I do it, even if they do not quite get it.’
2013 is looking like being a special year for Ayi Jihu. She has spent most of 2012 preparing for it. “My new album will be coming out in 2013. It will be my first album for a while and I know a lot of people are waiting to see how I am going to come next. What is Ayi Jihu gonna do now? I am also blessed to be working on some film projects, TV projects both in the West and China nothing too grand but they are important steps for me. Yeah it’s all about 2013 for me and I have been working like a dog to be ready for it all. I face many challenges and I pray I can rise to them all.”
“Finding Ryan Jenkins has been a godsend for me. I have had some great Choreographers in the past like Taz, and they helped me get to where I am now, but I wanted to develop in another way and I needed someone who understood where I was trying to go. I looked at Ryan’s work, and was impressed all around. I loved his understanding of Asia and how we think, move and express ourselves. I love the way he gets the Grimmy RnB and Dancehall stuff that I love to do so much and can mix it with contemporary dance. Ryan just gets me and we get on so well, too well sometimes we are a crazy pair when we are together. I am so happy about this. I know I have been driving my whole team crazy with finding the right person for this. I can see them all breathing a collective sigh of relief, but I knew what I wanted and it had to be the right person otherwise, what’s the point?”
Shlepp CEO Stevie Eagle E see’s this as a significant move for Ayi. “We are very fussy here at Shlepp and the process of finding the right people to develop your artist is never an easy one when you are not dazzled by either reputation or money. We are searching for integrity, character, talent and understanding. Ryan Jenkins means we now pretty much have our core artist development team in place for 2013 which is a key year for us and Ayi. Ayi is moving fast,constantly wanting to try new things and push herself and she has been very fussy about filling this position. ’It is important that the artist is happy’, some would say it is key, but at Shlepp we think differently. We think it is important that the team is happy and the team is very happy with Ryan Jenkins. He brings a lot to the table and will play a significant role in the development of Ayi Jihu along with JR Skeete and the rest of the Artist development team. Everyone is looking forward to what these two will come up with as together they have great chemistry. We have a lot going on over the next few months and I can now confidently say we are ready”.