Alumni Feature: Colleen Snell
Colleen Snell transitioned from a competitive dance studio to CCDT's Company at age 16, spending two years delving into modern and contemporary works and performing extensively across Ontario. While at CCDT she performed the works of esteemed Canadian choreographers including Sasha Ivanochko, Carol Anderson, Deborah Lundmark, Darryl Tracy and Heidi Strauss, and began to explore her own choreography at CCDT's 2006 CCDebuT Choreographic Workshop, produced by Donna Krasnow.
After high school and CCDT, Colleen furthered her dance studies first at LADMMI (now l’École de danse contemporaine de Montréal), followed by studies in the UK, where she completed a Masters Degree. Currently based in Mississauga/GTA, Colleen is now a passionate and active choreographer, dance educator, and performer. Her company Frog in Hand has gained recognition for its unique and innovative site-specific performance style, where she crafts experiences rooted in storytelling.
Briefly describe your history with CCDT.
I joined CCDT while in high school and trained with the company for two years. Highlights include making new and lasting friendships, learning the CCDT repertoire, touring, deepening my understanding of Limón and discovering my passion for improvisation with Lin Snelling.
What have you been up to since leaving CCDT?
I co-founded a dance-theatre company with my sister Noelle Hamlyn (Frog in Hand). I lived in Montreal and learned French. I also completed an MA in dance, combining choreography with martial arts to study empathy.
What skills did you gain from your experiences at CCDT that have been useful and/or transferable since you have moved on?
I gained so many skills and interests, but the first things that come to mind are organization, communication, self-expression, teamwork, work ethic and of course, creativity!
Did you have any favourite work(s) you performed during your time with CCDT? What made it the most fulfilling or memorable to you?
Musical Chairs comes to mind! It had a wonderful sense of humour, allowed us to be playful and taught us how to explore exciting characters. I always loved the way the children in the audience responded to the funny moments.
Colleen, in purple, performing Gerry Trentham's Musical Chairs on a CCDT tour of Teasing Gravity in 2006.
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?
Again, so many people come to mind - of course I've already mentioned Lin Snelling, but Donna Krasnow deeply influenced my understanding of dance technique, pedagogy and even anatomy. Darryl Tracy continues to inspire me with his online classes today!
Who is currently giving you inspiration?
The members of Frog in Hand's 2020 Summer Company are so inspiring. They are eleven wonderful, empathetic emerging artists under 30, and they possess a great passion for movement. They are also ready to engage in difficult conversations about the state of the arts and artists in these challenging times.
How did you balance the training and performance demands of CCDT with school, family commitments, and the rest of your life?
I made schedules, lists of things I needed to do and deadlines. I found ways to stay organized when balancing dance and school. It was hard, but taught me some great life skills and how to multitask.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about auditioning for CCDT?
Go for it! CCDT is a rigorous, thrilling and fun company - it's a beautiful way to invest in your dancing, but it's also a great opportunity to learn professional skills that will serve you in any career you choose.
Colleen, centre, performing in Frog in Hand's Creature (2016).
Colleen returns to the faculty of SunDance for the third time this summer, teaching Improvisation & Composition for CCDT's first-ever online intensive. Colleen has also been commissioned by CCDT to direct a new site-specific creation, premiering in May 2021, that will pay tribute to the legacy of repertoire by CCDT Artistic Director, Deborah Lundmark, and the Company's 40th Anniversary Season.
Visit the links and watch below to learn more about Colleen and Frog in Hand:
Stories in the Woods (Highlights)