George Brown Dance P105 studentsBethany Pethick

Elise Tigges is the first dancer to be selected as Valedictorian for the George Brown College Centre for Arts, Design & Information Technology, so to celebrate her honour we sat down with Elise to talk about her time at George Brown, and hear what she has to say to aspiring artists!

Tell us about yourself! How did you start dancing and what brought you to George Brown Dance?

I completed the Summer Intensive Program here at Canada’s Ballet Jörgen, and when I asked about the full-time programs they said I could do the Dance Performance Preparation (P101) program, so I decided to put university off and come to Toronto. I ended up staying 2 more years to do the Dance Performance (P105) program and I just graduated from that in April. I did the classical stream but I think now my focus is going more to contemporary and modern.

Over the last 3 years how do you think the program has prepared you for the future as a dancer?

I came in with this very clear idea of what I wanted and where I thought I would end up and that’s definitely not what happened. I never really considered contemporary or modern, I enjoyed it but it was just kind of on the back-burner. Choreography terrified me before I started the 2 year program, but after finishing Hanna Kiel’s composition class it’s actually one of my favourite things to do. I’d like to explore choreography and come back for the In Haus Program, and to explore my own creative realm.

What was your favourite part of the dance program?

I think my favourite part is the opportunities that I’ve gotten out of it, the program does a really good job of bringing in artists from the community for us to work with. In my first year I worked with Sharon Moore, which was very eye-opening because it just wasn’t something that I was used to. I also enjoyed working with Ryan Lee and Nicola Pantin. I participated in the Nutcracker Youth Education Program, and it was fun to be a rehearsal director for younger dancers. The opportunities I got from the program being paired with the company gave me a really positive aspect.

What are some of the most important themes that you wanted to touch on in your speech? Any wisdom you wanted to pass along to other graduates and new students?

I took a quote from Derek [Sangster], from a conversation we had in my first year, when he said “trust the process” and it was a very defining conversation for me. I want to tell other students this message, to trust this process that you’re on; whatever happens is happening for a reason and you might not end up where you expect to be, but that’s probably where you should be.

So what’s next for you?

That’s a good question, I don’t know! I’m staying in Toronto, I’ve decided that it’s easier to start building a career somewhere where I already have a network. And then I would love to choreograph and come back for In Haus in the fall. I’m doing a show in a few weeks with a bunch of other graduates, which is exciting. And then keep training. I’m going to be chaperoning and hopefully coming back to do nutcracker in the fall. And then just kind of see what happens, I’d love to travel and explore dance in other parts of the world. I currently work at The Dance Current and work there as an intern, and that’s had a lot of really wicked opportunities, so I think just continuing to work there and see what happens with that.

Learn more about the George Brown Dance program here.

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