“The school helped me build my relationship with my first mentor, I modeled my mentorship program from that idea because of how much it helped me.”
Students at GBD train with leading industry artists with a passion for helping the next generation of dancers advance the artform through their unique talents. Hanna Kiel is one GBD faculty member striving to help emerging choreographers find their path. For two years, Hanna has offered a mentorship relationship as part of her annual Choreographic Award given to a GBD P105 graduate selected from her second-year composition class. This year, Hanna has partnered with GBD to offer a comprehensive Composition Mentorship Program, including technique classes, composition classes, the opportunity to choreograph for the GBD Ensemble, and a personally designed program plan.
The idea for a mentorship program developed out of Hanna’s own student experience at Maindance School in Vancouver. “I was interested in becoming a choreographer when I finished school, but I didn’t know how to begin,” Hanna explains. She decided to apply for the school’s apprenticeship program to help her determine her next steps. “The school helped me build my relationship with my first mentor,” says Hanna. “I modeled my mentorship program from that idea because of how much it helped me.”
This year’s recipient of Hanna’s Choreographic Award and mentorship program is Alison Viegas. “Receiving the Choreographic Award meant the world to me because it gave me a sense of accomplishment and showed me that the work I put into composition class was recognizable, as was the progress that I made,” reflects Alison. “Throughout the year, I have learned a lot about what it means to be a choreographer, as well as the kind of choreographer that I am and the kind that I would like to be.”Alison’s outstanding work and passion for choreographic practice impressed Hanna. “She loves this artform,” says Hanna. “I know from my class that her style is already starting to take shape. She’s not interested in doing what other people do. That’s what I really like about her and why I want to help her develop as an artist.”
Hanna’s mentorship program will support Alison through a number of opportunities, including regular one-on-one meetings, exclusive invitations to observe her choreographic processes in her professional dancer rehearsals, and tickets to her company shows. “I wanted to offer something that will help for the long term,” Hanna shares. “This program is for someone who wants to be a creator, rather than a pure dancer.” The major component of the program is the opportunity for the dancer to design their own objectives. “My job is not to tell them what to do,” explains Hanna. “Part of this mentorship is the exercise of coming up with what they want now that school is over.”
“Everybody needs a mentor. I truly believe that.”
Reflecting on her plans for the mentorship program, Alison shares: “I hope to gain a more in-depth understanding of what makes a choreographer successful. Hanna has a very unique approach to choreographing that I am excited to learn more about. As I have just finished college, I am also excited to observe Hanna’s rehearsals and to see the difference between a school and professional setting when it comes to creating work. I am also planning on continuing to create my own work with Hanna’s guidance and input. I think that is what will help me learn the most about dance creation.”
Alison looks forward to working closely with Hanna, from whom she has already learned so much throughout her training at GBD: “Hanna always invites questioning and constantly asks me questions that often lead to me to learn new things about myself. What I am looking forward to most about this mentorship is being challenged to think in new ways, to explore my curiosity, and to continually evolve my own approach to creative process.”
For Hanna, this mentorship is part of a broader responsibility to build supportive inter-generational relationships among dance artists. “We have to nurture young dancers and creators for this artform to keep going,” she reflects. “Everybody needs a mentor. I truly believe that. I still have a lot of older mentors helping me at this moment, too.” As Hanna continues to give back from the fruits of her own mentorship relationships, she hopes that the emerging artists she works with will reach an even higher level of excellence on their dance journeys. “I’m very happy about where I am in my career. Because of that, I always tell students and younger artists that I want them to do even better than me. That’s something I wish for them.”
To learn more about the P105 Program and your path to a mentorship with Hanna Kiel, visit George Brown Dance.
Written by Victoria Campbell Windle, CBJ Communications Contributor.
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