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George Brown Dance (GBD) Spotlight: Bethany Pethick

The George Brown Dance (GBD) Ensemble provides an opportunity for students to gain valuable performance experience. Students work with select alumni choreographers to produce new and challenging works. These works make up the repertoire for IN HäUS, GBD’s annual open house.

We had the opportunity to talk to Bethany Pethick about her experience as a George Brown Dance graduate and her recent transition from student to choreographer.

Bethany grew up in Lindsay, ON, and began her training in R.A.D ballet and I.S.T.D modern at the age of two. At seven years she discovered her love for musical theatre, contemporary, and jazz through competitive dance. Bethany recently graduated George Brown College’s Dance Performance program with honours, as well as receiving the Faculty and Modern Dance Awards. At George Brown she had the pleasure of working with many established instructors and choreographers such as Cindy Macedo, Derek Sangster, Hanna Kiel, Ryan Lee, Louis Laberge-Côté, and Tina Fushell. Over the years, she has taken part in many workshops and programs such as Fresh Dance, Sundance, OIP Dance Intensive, and most recently Kenny Pearl’s Emerging Artist Intensive where she had the privilege of working with credited choreographers Darryl Tracy and Tori Mehaffey.

George Brown Dance is a partnership between Canada’s Ballet Jörgen and George Brown College. This partnership makes it possible to offer students exceptional dance training. Was this a factor in choosing this program?

GBD offers both classical and contemporary dance and I was in the contemporary program. As a dancer who wants to dance all the time, GBD is “the dream”. Students get to dance pretty much all day, which allows you to spend valuable time training and practicing. I knew how important ballet was for fundamental dance training and we received this training daily. Students are also trained in contemporary, jazz dance, vocals, acting, composition and choreography. The program targets every point of the spectrum of dance you will need to become a professional.

Can you explain your experience working on IN HäUS as a student and then as a choreographer?

As a student, IN HäUS was an exciting opportunity to perform and work with an alumni choreographer. This process allows students to network with alumni and may lead to future performance opportunities. I’ve recently been asked to travel to Savannah, Georgia to film a dance which is based on Ensemble choreography.

In the summer, GBD opens applications for alumni to apply to be IN HäUS choreographers and this year I was selected. At first, I was nervous knowing I would need to lead an entire room of dancers but over time it became easier. Ensemble is the perfect environment for recent graduates to begin choreography because it feels like home. GBD provides rehearsal space, technical equipment and anything else we need to produce a professional performance.

Can you tell us about your piece you are working on with the students?

My In HäUS piece is still in progress. It is based on the theme of communication and the frustrations that come along with miscommunication. I struggle a lot with communicating my thoughts and ideas and there are many others with greater communication boundaries. When I auditioned the students, I was looking for dancers whom I could trust to be creative and open-minded. Great things can happen when a choreographer trusts their dancers. I’ve yet to name the piece. I’m following the old rule you learn in English class; don’t title the paper until you’ve finished writing it!

Written by Brittany Brooks.