December 2020: Shantel Grasdal
Who is Shantel Grasdal in a sentence?
I am a driven, hardworking artist, who is always trying to level up in my abilities and knowledge of movement.
Tell us a bit about your work and practice.
Currently, I am a part of three companies that have had to adapt in extensive ways due to COVID; Untitled, run by Prince Nii Engmann, which is based here in Vancouver and focuses on creating more authenticity within the YVR Hip Hop/commercial industry; Overryde, run by Chris Bonus, also based here in Vancouver and focuses on creating individuality in freestyle/movement; and Motus, run by Diana Matos, who is based in Los Angeles. The main goals are to elevate each international member, create unique worldwide content, and continue to follow the creative force that pulses within all of us.
How long have you been dancing?
Short answer is 20+ years. As a Cuban immigrant, I like to say that I have been dancing since I was born as Dance is a major part of our culture from the moment we are able to walk. The whole family participates in dance as ways to gather and reconnect. It is more than just the 1,2,3, – it is our cultural way of being and expressing.
How does dance fit into your life currently?
Training in dance is a major part of what I do daily. With the lack of work in our industry due to COVID, I am a firm believer that every artist should be utilizing his/her extra free time to grow their artistry/technique. Not only that, it is one of the few things that you can do on your own (or with a safe small amount of people) as an outlet to deal with all the frustration that has come up during this time.
How would you describe dance’s impact on your life?
Dance has impacted me in such an amazing way. Movement has provided me with an outlet for all emotions, and as a natural way of creating euphoria. This has created a motivation that has transferred into a strong work ethic that can be applied to every aspect of my life now. Another outcome that I have always appreciated is the sense of community dance creates. Knowing you are among like-minded people who are also taking risks and participating in the arts creates such a strong connection and bond.
What three core values drive your engagement with dance?
1. Growth/development 2. Freedom of expression through movement 3. Music
Do you have a particular practice that you carry out each day or have you implemented new practices as a way of adapting to the current climate?
My new daily practices have included yoga, or some form of stretch to make sure that my body is protected during this downtime, and also some sort of freestyle/improv to ensure my body is staying connected to music, movement, and culture.
What would you say are the most significant benefits for you in being a Dance Centre member?
The Dance Centre has become even more important during covid times. There is a lack of spaces that we can utilize for our artistry in a safe way during covid. They provide rental spaces that maintain a healthy environment and have controls in place, making safe artistic practice possible.
Interested in becoming a Dance Centre Member? Learn more here
Photo credits: Jared Jamison Outten.