Natasha Powell’s new dance Margarita premiers at Fall for Dance North festival

Natasha Powell

Natasha Powell isn’t worried.  The Toronto choreographer, dancer, and teacher has a little over four weeks to finish her new dance Margarita which gets its world premiere on September 30th.

“I am not worried” she told the Caribbean Camera. “I am about half finished. Navigating this has been a bit of challenge but I’d rather be fresh when we go on stage than stale, which can happen with an older (work).”

Margarita will be performed three times – September 30th, October 1st and 2nd as part Toronto’s premier international dance festival Fall for Dance North (FFDN). The annual festival is back with in-person programming after a 2-year Covid break. The eighth edition of the festival runs from September 17th to October 8th on various stages throughout the city.

Being a work in progress, Powell is a little bit short on details of what audiences can expect when the curtain goes up. She does say that the commissioned Margarita is inspired by the lives of chorus girls from the early 1920s. It was a dance form that started after the end of World One and heralded in the Jazz Age.

“Back in the day there would be a long line of women dancing on stage. Costumes, props and lighting were all part of the show,” she said. “With Margarita we will have five women on stage and five musicians performing an original score.”

Powell expects the dance to be about 30-minutes in length. It is one half of a double-bill for the evening show. Also performing with be Calgary’s Decidedly Jazz Danceworks.

Powell is a Toronto native with strong Caribbean roots. Her parents are from Grenada and Jamaica and when they arrived in Canada they settled in Jane and Finch. “We moved a bit. Scarborough and then Ajax where we were the first Black family. Now? We live in Etobicoke.”

Holla Jazz troupe

Growing up in a Caribbean home, dancing has always been in her life. As a dancer she has made appearances in film and television including the HBO Series The L Word, Nickelodeon movie Spectacular, and Centre Stage 2.

Her choreography and movement direction can be seen in the Lifetime biopic “The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel” as well as choreography for the Visual Jazz Album Tribute to Nat King Cole by jazz artist Ori Dagan.

She has been dancing professionally for 17 years. It is said that her soulful approach to movement can be seen in her dancing. In 2016, she founded her award-winning company, HOLLA JAZZ. The company’s mission is to reinvigorate jazz dance, as an innovative and important vehicle for expression, while showcasing freedom and one’s own identity through the spirit of jazz dance.

Her three festival performances will be held at the large Theatre of the Creative School (formerly the Ryerson Theatre) at Yonge and Gerrard Street. Want to meet Natasha Powell, audiences who attend the live performances at The Creative School will be invited to jump on the stage with the dancers and the musicians for some social dancing, immediately following each show!

Powell would like to tour her dance creation after the festival, but it isn’t going to happen for a while. The mother of a young son is expecting her second child, and if it is a girl, will her name be Margarita?