An interview with SunDance faculty member Natasha Poon Woo

Natasha Poon Woo has been an amazing contributor to the CCDT community for many years. Beginning her training with CCDT, Natasha is now Rehearsal Director for the Company and a Limón Modern instructor with the School of CCDT. She brings many new faces to our community from her travels and studies abroad, including the Company's most recently commissioned guest choreographer Roderick George, whose new work RESET premiered as part of Alien Grace in May 2018. It is reasons like this why we value Natasha’s work so much in our school. She has brought energy, diversity, versatility and new experiences to the school and its students since coming to CCDT as a Young Apprentice 18 years ago.

Natasha will be teaching Modern Technique and Modern Repertoire to Program C during SunDance 2018. We sat down with Natasha to ask her about her time teaching and dancing at the intensive.

CCDT: What is your favourite part about teaching at SunDance?

NPW: I love how vibrant the young Program C dancers are. Throughout the year at CCDT I primarily instruct the Intermediate and Advanced levels of Limón modern, so SunDance gives me the opportunity to work with dancers in a different stage of training. The Program C dancers bring a different creativity and energy to the studio, and it is incredibly rewarding to get to work with them so intensively over three weeks and see such clear growth and improvement in each and every dancer.

CCDT: What do you find different from teaching at SunDance that is different from the regular dance season?

NPW: The intensity and focus of a summer program is an immensely beneficial difference. During the school year it is difficult for young dancers to train regularly in a particular technique or style of dance more than a few times a week, if that, especially with the diversity of training that most studios encourage. Having three consecutive five-day weeks in which the dancers take ballet and modern every day allows for them to make huge gains and improvements over a short amount of time. As a teacher it also allows you to get to know the students better and more quickly, since you are interacting with and training them nearly every day. In some ways it’s more exhausting, but the growth we see in each dancer is significant over a concentrated time period in comparison to the regular season of training.

Natasha with Program C in Modern Technique class. Photo by Drew Berry.

CCDT: How many years have you been teaching or attended SunDance?

NPW: My history with SunDance is a long one — I grew up training at CCDT, and actually discovered the Young Apprentice Program from my first time attending SunDance back in 2000. I did eight consecutive SunDances from then, all throughout my years as a CCDT dancer, and spent the two summers after that as an assistant teacher for Program C. I assisted various classes at SunDance from 2013-2015, and this summer will be my third year as modern technique and repertoire instructor for Program C.

CCDT: Best piece of advice you could give to new summer students?

NPW: Don’t be afraid! Embrace the new environment, make new friends, try new things... we are all here to learn and grow. Also, enjoy each moment — the three weeks really fly by, and next thing you know it’ll be over!

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