Friday, May 10, 2013

My First Dance: Susan Kendal Urbach

1. What was your first experience with dance?

My parents tell me that I always danced, music or no, I was dancin'! I used to put on a record and roll out a 5' x 5' chunk of orange shag carpeting in the living room (on top of the existing carpeting!) - my dance carpet - and just dance. ABBA and The Beatles figured prominently as accompaniment to my repertoire. 

2. Is there an early dance experience that stands out in your memory?
I started formal dance training when I was 7 years old with the Alberta Children's Creative Dance Theatre, an amazing program run by Joyce Boorman and Sally Carline. I remember being very proud of my long sleeved fuchsia bodysuit (I have red hair. I'll give you a moment to picture that combination ...) and that it was cold in the studio! I loved skipping, leaping and mirroring. I remember just loving, LOVING every moment in that class, it's the first time I remember losing myself yet being utterly present -- it's that juxtaposition that I still love about dancing today.

3. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger dancing self?
Not to worry so much about how you look! I always thought I was too big, I felt like I took up too much space, like I needed to apologise for my physical self. Now I own my body and my space much more, I am a lot more forgiving of myself and loving towards this body that has done so much work. A lot of my younger head-space was taken up with worry about my size and shape, which cause heartache, angst and a huge dearth of self confidence. 

4. How have you evolved as a dancer since that first experience with dance?
I have come to be very conscious about moving, very schooled in technique to the point where I have a strong base of ability that I can draw on without thinking about it too hard, which leads to real freedom as a mover and a movement maker. I am tremendously grateful for the amazing technical and creative training that I found along the way. And I love that I still take class, still learn, still evolve and still have the same joyful-abandon feeling when I dance that I had when I was wee - I've rediscovered that joy particularly of late.

5. Off the top of your head, what are five words that describe dance to you?
ephemeral | essential | filling | profound | metaphoric

Thank you for sharing, Susan!!

Susan Kendal is the choreographer of "Penumbra" (2010) which you can see at our show Departure May 16-18 at the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts in Barrie ON.

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