Written by Elise Tigges, Communications Contributor.
Katie Couchie is a graduate of George Brown Dance’s Dance Performance Preparation program and Dance Performance program. She graduated at the beginning of the COVID pandemic but that hasn’t stopped her from diving into her career. After taking some time to find her footing following graduation, she has continued training with Peggy Baker Dance Projects and Proarte Danza, and recently worked with Red Sky Performance and was involved in a new film for Luminato Festival.
Read more below about Katie’s career since graduating!
The last time we chatted with you, you were getting set to graduate from P105 in Spring 2020. You shared that your goals were to pursue a career in dance. What has it been like to begin your career?
Starting my career has been very interesting, to say the least! Right before the pandemic started and my graduation, I was debating whether to do another year of school somewhere or start my career. But as you know, both of my options became impossible once we went into lockdown! I spent the first year of pandemic back home in Nipissing First Nation with my family. I mostly took the year off except for taking one ballet class a week at my home studio, BTS Corp in North Bay. Although I was really bummed that my first year out of college wasn’t what I dreamed it to be, I was still able to do things to help me out once dance jobs became available. I got some dance photos done by a local photographer, Morningstar Derosier, and commissioned my old modern teacher from GBD, Anisa Tejpar, to choreograph a solo for me. So, although starting my career was a very slow start, I feel like I was also very lucky to have given the chance to take my time getting all my audition material ready.
It’s been a wild couple of years with the pandemic. How have you kept up your training and stayed inspired during this time?
Fortunately, I was able to continue some training when I went back home at my home studio, BTS Corp on North Bay. I also tried my best to do online classes whenever my work schedule corresponded with dance classes. Classes with The Fifth were my favourite! I also did Kenny Pearl’s summer intensive virtually in July 2019 which gave me the great opportunity to work with Hanna Kiel more and develop my self-choreography skills a bit.
Staying inspired was hard, sometimes it felt like I was never going to return to a stage again and sometimes it still feels that way. At some points I felt like my only option was to walk away from dance and go back to school for a different career — something that could survive in a virtual world. But my parents are always the ones that reassure me to keep pushing. I am very lucky to have parents that support my dreams and career in the arts.
You have been back on stage performing recently. Can you share a little about those experiences and what it was like to return to the stage?
I have been very fortunate to work on some virtual projects and live projects! My first experience was in Peggy Baker’s RBC Emerging Artist ACTION LAB Program. This was a virtual program due to COVID, but we spent two weeks together on zoom creating solos on ourselves. I then got the amazing opportunity to be a part of Theatre Oculus’ 2021 Fringe Show, “Venus and Adonis”. I also did an Emerging Choreographers Program with The Banff Centre for the Arts led by Christopher House and a small video of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre!
Most of my summer though was spent training with Proarte Danza in their summer intensive which gave me the opportunity to perform on a stage for a live audience for the first time in 19 months! It was surreal and it honestly didn’t even feel real until after each show was done. It was kind of this weird “oh I just performed live again…that’s weird”.
In the fall I got to work with Red Sky Performance on a few projects like performing at the Beijing Olympic athlete kit launch and also be a part of the New Monuments film that came out on CBC Gem in October 2021 as a part of the Luminato Festival.
Most recently though I just came back from a trip to Calgary to film a project that’s coming out in February so I can’t say much about that! But this project is one of the most rewarding processes I’ve gotten to be a part of!
Now that you have been out of school for a couple of years, how do you feel that George Brown Dance prepared you to work professionally?
I look back on my time at GBD very fondly. I was able to meet some really amazing artists in the dance community through my time in school. I think that’s one of the best things about GBD, you really get to network and learn how to network. I also am very thankful for all my teachers and for the opportunity to still train intensely in classical ballet even though I desired a career in contemporary dance. GBD allowed me to really dig into different styles of dance. Once I graduated, I knew exactly what I wanted to do but was also grateful for the training in other styles.
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