This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Natasha Powell. A Toronto native, Natasha is not only recognized as an extremely versatile and passionate artist, but more importantly, a soulful mover. Dance only started out as a summer activity that her mother enrolled her in, not knowing that Natasha was about to meet the love of her life at the age of 9 years old. Her training started in ballet, jazz, and tap, then branched out to street dance forms hip hop, house, waacking, and funk styles. Her extensive dance vocabulary stems from training across North America with some of the best in these forms. As a performer, select credits TV and film credits include Nickelodeon’s “Spectacular!”, HBO Series “The L Word”, and “Centre Stage 2”.
In 2008, Powell became co-Artistic Director and Choreographer of Toronto dance company Catalyst; a collective that is highly-respected for their creative, dynamic, and versatile story-telling methods, through the use of their highly diverse vocabulary in movement. They have performed and hosted dance workshops across the Greater Toronto Area. They are most known for their work in the Toronto Fringe Festival titled “The 5th Element” which received raving accolades from NOW Magazine, and other theatre reviewers, and was nominated as BEST DANCE PRODUCTION in the 2011 Broadway World Toronto Awards.
In 2011, she founded Soul Committed Productions, an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the vital core element in urban dance: soul. Through workshops, programming, and events, her aim is to foster, inspire, educate and build relationships between the artists and the people that support them.
Bio provided by Natasha
Check out Natasha’s website: natashapowell.com
Follow Natasha on Twitter @TashaPowell
Natasha on WordPress soulcommitted.wordpress.com
Find out what Natasha had to say in this week’s shout out….
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Natasha: Dance has always been a part of my life. I was exposed to it at first through all the house parties that my parents had. Then myself, my cousin, and nephew decided that we wanted to make up routines and show them to the family! After that my parents enrolled me in a dance summer camp, and that’s where it all began 🙂
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Natasha: Ah yes – The three of us decided to do a Michael Jackson tribute. So I choreographed a solo for myself to “Will You Be There”, and then we collaborated on choreographing a dance to “Black or White”. LOL! We had props, costuming, and even put together a program for the family to come downstairs to watch what we put together!
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Natasha: Just do it. I know it’s easier said than done, but the more you practice, session, go out to clubs and dance, is the more confident you will feel in your skin. Listen to music. A lot of different music Free style is essentially you having a conversation through dance, so tell us what your story is. If you’re being asked to free style in a particular genre, than learn it’s foundation, and find ways to make it your own. Be creative, and don’t think that you have to look like a certain person, be you.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Natasha: An idea, a question, or a theme. Once there’s something in my mind that I’m interested in exploring, then I turn to music to see what’s inspiring and motivating to me at the same time. Then at times it’s vice versa – I hear an amazing track that makes me what to do something with it.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Natasha: Girl there are too many to name. My first and biggest influence, is not in the dance industry, and they are my parents. I don’t know any couple that can burn a dance floor like they can. But my mom is the epitome of poise, class, hot swinging hips, and most importantly: soul. She is who I learned to be a lady from. On and off the dance floor.
In the industry it would be Alvin Ailey, Complexions Dance, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Debbie Allen, The Lockers, Elite Force, Dance Fusion, the entire MOP TOP family, Soul Train dancers, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robins, Crystal Pite, Nicholas Brothers, my Catalyst and DiscoLoveChild peeps
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Natasha: Janet L. Castillo – she has the ability to see the big picture at times that I could never see.
Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?(Could be another Dancer, choreographer, musician etc. Doesn’t have to be from Toronto)
Natasha: One of them right now is Jasmyn Fyffe. I’ve worked with quite few people who are super talented, but Jas possesses a quality that I highly value and rarely see: professionalism. There aren’t too many people who are reliable, communicate effectively, eager and willing, and overall just hard working. She is a joy to work with and a true professional.
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Natasha: I’ll be performing at the Harbourfront Centre’s Hot n Spicy Festival on July 22nd, and producing a dance workshop series called Higher Learning on July 28th. Higher Learning is dance workshop series dedicated to nurturing skills, and educating dancers about street dance. This first installation will be with Moncell Durden aka iLL Kozby from Philly. Education is something that is very important to me, and as new generations of dancers emerge, I feel it’s important for them to understand where street dance truly comes from.
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?
Natasha: Rawness, soul, diversity. Because Toronto is such a multi-cultural city we hone all the things that the city is.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Natasha: Listen to your heart, and your gut. Be professional (PLEASE), let go of your inhibitions. Realize your worth. You will have a lot people who will try to put you down and judge you (even your own friends and family), but stay strong and remember why it is that you dance. Once you know why you, everything else will happen in it’s due course. Being a dancer is like being in a relationship. It’s the longest roller coaster I’ve ever been on; scary, fun, all of the above. But at the end of the day, if you truly love it, you will survive.
THANK YOU NATASHA FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO