Alumni Feature: Patricia Quevedo Henry
Patricia Quevedo Henry was an active and invaluable dancer with CCDT from 1987-1992, performing roles in some of the Company's most iconic repertoire by esteemed choreographers including Peggy Baker, Carol Anderson, and Danny Grossman. She was part of the Company's first international tour to the People's Republic of China in 1990: three weeks in Beijing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing, Qin Tao, and Shanghai hosted by “China’s Baryshnikov”, Zhou Gui Xin, and presented alongside such renowned troupes as the Peking Opera of Nanjing.
In the early 2000s Patricia was a member of CCDT's former sister company, TILT Sound+Motion, performing works by such choreographers as Lesandra Dodson, Robert Abubo, and Bill Coleman. She then became TILT's Associate Director alongside Artistic Director Deborah Lundmark.
With multiple undergraduate and graduate degrees under her belt, Patricia currently resides in Paris, France and works at the city's American Center for Art and Culture.
Briefly describe your history with CCDT.
I first started taking ballet classes with the school of CCDT at about 9 years old, when they were held at TDT's studios. Soon after, I had the immense pleasure of also taking modern and theatre classes (with the wonderful Janice Pomer) and began performing in the company's group pieces. The rest was a magical blur of tours across Ontario schools, performance seasons at Winchester Street Theatre and Premier Dance Theatre, summer festivals in Ottawa and Quebec, weekend studio life (endless Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays...) R.A.D ballet exams, all the way until I was about 15 or 16 years old. CCDT was a second family to me!
Briefly describe what you've been up to since leaving CCDT.
I earned a B.A. honours at UWO (London, Ontario), then a M.A. in Performance studies (Université Paris 8), and worked as Associate Director of CCDT's sister company, TILT Sound+Motion. After relocating to the Paris region, I continued working on dance projects under "Compagnie Propositions" from 2007-2017, all while pursuing a career in the cultural sector, with a focus on visual and performing arts production, administration, management and development, at the Canadian Cultural Center and the Hippocrène Foundation. In 2014, I went back to school to earn a Masters degree in cultural management at the Université de Dauphine (Paris) and have been a part of the team at the American Center for Art and Culture since 2015.
What skills did you gain from your experiences at CCDT that have been useful and/or transferable since you have moved on?
I can still hear Deborah's studio voice saying "Do it AGAIN!"
When you needed to make it from one end of the stage to the other in 4 counts, you just made it work!
Creative problem solving and team work.
How do you figure out the mechanics of making that impossible-looking group-lift work?
Empathy and listening.
Sensing your fellow dancers in the creative process, during rehearsals, on stage...really listening to a choreographer's vision, processing the information and working to bring it to life...it can lead to magic!
Did you have any favourite work(s) you performed during your time with CCDT? What made it the most fulfilling or memorable to you?
There are so many! Carol Anderson's "Sephardic Songs"...Danny Grossman's "National Spirit"... Deborah Lundmark's "Ceremony of Carols"... and Holly Small's "Attack of the Small Ones"... these are just a few that spring to mind.
Patricia Quevedo Henry (right) with Eddie Kastrau and Pam Grundy in Danny Grossman's National Spirit (1987).
Touring to China at 12 years old in 1990 was also an unbelievably enriching experience. I recall very cold theatres and studios, long bus rides, beautiful young Chinese dancer counterparts welcoming us with wide, warm smiles, thousands of bicycles in the cities, and street scenes so unfamiliar that it was like being in a parallel universe. A remarkable experience for a kid!
Were there any choreographers, teachers, guest teachers or guest artists you worked with at CCDT who have been greatly influential on your training and/or growth as a dancer and artist?
Claire Wooten, David Earle, Serge Bennathan, Peggy Baker, Janice Pomer, Bonnie Kim, Danny Grossman, Lin Snelling, Carol Anderson, Donna Krasnow, Deborah Lundmark...
Who is currently giving you inspiration?
Most recently, I've been closely following the work of Spanish choreographer Rocio Molina and the France-based dance duo Wang-Ramirez. My favourite filmmaker these days is Xavier Dolan, for so many reasons.
How did you balance the training and performance demands of CCDT with school, family commitments, and the rest of your life? Can you offer any advice for current CCDT members?
Stay focused! School work and academic commitments always came first when I was a young dancer at CCDT. That left all the right amount of time and energy for dance, dance, dance, which WAS my life then! Also, don't forget to look outside of dance to live other experiences and nurture other passions, which will nourish and enhance your dance practice.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about auditioning for CCDT?
Be ready to work your ass off! The time, energy and emotional commitment is high intensity, and the rewards are even higher!
Matthias Sperling and Patricia Quevedo Henry in Le Charme de l'Impossible by Peggy Baker (1992).
Closing remarks: Is there anything else you would like to share; other memories or advice, words to live by, show recommendations, future aspirations for your career, etc?
This generation's professional life will be LONG and there can be many versions and iterations of a dance career throughout your working years. I would advise young aspiring dance artists to build your artistic path at your own pace; seek out and surround yourself with inspiring peers and mentors; don't be afraid to step back and take stock of your accomplishments, failures and goals. You can always re-calibrate your trajectory while staying true to the essence of your professional and personal aspirations. It's a constant work in progress!
Learn more about Patricia's current endeavours by visiting www.americancenterparis.org.
Patricia's Headshot by Cordula Treml
Performance photos by Cylla von Tiedemann (for CCDT)