What sparked your interest in working within the world of dance?
I’m a passionate advocate for dance: the huge power of cultural exchanges through dance to inspire, define and change communities for the better. It is vital that dance continues to establish its place in the art world, and in order to accomplish this, dancers must be supported throughout their career. A career in dance is challenging—there’s no doubt about that—and each dancer’s career will be different.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
One of my first projects after I finished my masters in Dance Movement Therapy in the U.K. I created a project with an organization called Knowles Centre that offers support to at-risk youth.
It was a 12 week artist residency project at Knowles Centre and their first dance project ever. Young people had the opportunity to learn, rehearse and perform a contemporary dance with professional dance artists.
I have created similar projects within Vancouver, most notably in partnership with Ballet BC and our DanceXpress program.
Working together as a group, using contemporary dance as a language to communicate and learn more about one another, we identified a concept that had significance to participants and this became the basis for the choreography. The concept informed and inspired the choreographic choices, ultimately creating a dance work that was meaningful and relevant to the participants – becoming their dance and their message.
You’ve experienced your own transition out of dance performance. What was the most difficult part of that transition? The most rewarding?
One of the last times I was on stage performing was when I was pregnant with my 4th child. I kept thinking how lucky I was to have been part of that work by Stephanie Ballard and a tribute to my mentor Rachel Browne (the founder of Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers). With each performance I’ve been part of, I’ve been extremely grateful to the artists who I shared the creative process with. I will always be grateful for their generosity and gifts of artistry.
Transitioning from performance has allowed me to shift my perception. To view the bigger picture—not just me or the work—but dance as an art form, and how it can be a vehicle for change in our society. Dance has a powerful role to play in the world; it can change lives and impact communities. I’m happy to be part of something bigger.
What excites you most about the dance community in Vancouver?
So much. It’s very diverse; I’m always amazed at how much is happening here in Vancouver. There are so many strong, established dance artists as well as many emerging artists pushing boundaries and breaking ground. In addition to companies and independent dance artists, training opportunities in Vancouver have grown exponentially over the past decade. This attracts dancers looking for post-secondary dance training and Vancouver can springboard a dancer’s career, especially in ballet, contemporary, hip hop and commercial styles of dance. It’s a really interesting place to be a dance artist right now, with a multitude of opportunities.
When you’re not actively contributing to the cultural community, what can you be found doing?
I have four amazing kids: Issabella, Mackenzie, Amelia and Kaende. They keep me “fairly” busy
We like to be active—riding our bikes, hiking, and family walks with our dog Duncan.We’re super lucky to live right by Kits Beach, so in the summer, we love to go for evening swims or spending the days at Kits Pool. Growing up in the prairies, I’m always blown away by the views… oceans and mountains are magnificent!
We also often head to my hometown, just outside of Winnipeg, where the kids get to have taste of the prairies. It’s great to be able to experience both worlds!
Nina Jane Patel, a Canadian dance artist based in Vancouver has traveled extensively and draws upon these experiences as inspiration. A graduate of Goldsmiths, University of London (M.A. Dance/Movement Therapy) and The School of Contemporary Dancers' Senior Professional Program (BA Hons) Nina, has danced as a company member with Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, as well Nina has performed an independent artist and presented her work across Canada and the U.K.
Nina Patel is a certified Dance Movement Therapist with the belief that dance has the power to change lives. Primarily, her therapeutic work has focused on groups—within at-risk youth centres, eating disorder clinics, public schools, the prison system and palliative care.
Experienced in administrative and artistic management, finance, strategy and business planning, organizational development, fundraising, producing, event management, building and facilities management, human resources, office and systems management, Nina has proven success transitioning within the dance field.
Recent work includes Outreach and Education Administration for Ballet BC, Festival Manager for Dancing on the Edge Festival, BC Manager for DTRC and Company Management for Mascall Dance.
Born in England, raised in Winnipeg and now considering herself a Vancouverite, Nina lives in Kitsilano with her husband and four beautiful children, Issabella, Mackenzie, Amelia and Kaeden.
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