A Letter from George Brown Dance Associate Director: Derek Sangster

Irma Villafuerte, Chris Knowles, Cynthia Macedo, Derek Sangster & Kathy Le; Photo by Casey Spector
Irma Villafuerte, Chris Knowles, Cynthia Macedo, Derek Sangster & Kathy Le; Photo by Casey Spector

As the completion of my 12th year as Associate Director of George Brown Dance is in sight, I am taking a moment to look back and reflect on the evolution and growth of our programs.

We have made changes throughout the years, both big and small, as we grow and continue to lead in both industry standards and expectations. The success of our unique programs and the dancers we graduate is due to the commitment and tireless efforts of our faculty. I am privileged to work alongside so many dedicated, committed and knowledgeable teachers, all of whom are professionals in their respective fields. As a collective, our strengths derive from our common goals of work integrity and student success.

We are now entering our most intensive and exciting time for each program. The creative team for UNLEASHED 2024 is a testament to the community we build, nurture and are a part of. This years’ group is very symbolic and special to me.

I once again have the opportunity to work closely with Cynthia Macedo as she creates a new work. Cindy and I have been work colleagues for many years, and (in my opinion) are extremely complimentary to each others’ teaching practices. Cindy has always been a stalwart confidant and someone whom I appreciate for both professional practice and opinion.

Chris Knowles (Dance Performance Graduate 2012) and Irma Villafuerte (Dance Performance Graduate 2016) are this years’ Guest Artists. How wonderful that I have been here long enough to now see the success of our graduates come full circle. Both of these artists have continued to make their own way after graduation, finding success in the many aspects this dance community offers. This homecoming has given our present students an insight into what is possible.

Finally, Kathy Le will not only have a co-choreography credit in UNLEASHED 2024, but will be acting Stage Manager. Kathy began at GBD as a student in the Dance Preparation Program, successfully moving on and completing our two year Dance Performance Program (2022). Kathy then continued in a mentorship year, a unique program Hanna Kiel and myself created with her company Human Body Expression. Taking full advantage of her mentorship time, Kathy not only performed and created new works, but learned so many other skills. She found herself as Stage Manager for the recent cross country tour of Canada’s own Rock Bottom Movement. Kathy will be taking the helm in stage managing UNLEASHED 2024, and I know I will be in the most capable hands.

Last and certainly not least, I would be remiss to not acknowledge GBD Program Coordinator Kia Kotsanis. Without her, I would probably not be here after 12 years. Both her personal and professional support have guided many of my difficult decisions. Kia has always been a stead-fast barometer for me, and for this relationship of trust and respect, I will be forever grateful.

I hope you can join us for UNLEASHED 2024. The program promises to be a wonderful evening of dance, and is a testament to our breadth and strength.

Yours in dance,

Derek J. Sangster
George Brown Dance Associate Director

Photo by Edwin Luk


This show offers all students pre-professional performance and production experience, and is the highlight of our season at George Brown Dance! This year, Unleashed will be premiering works by George Brown Dance Alumni, guest choreographers Christopher Knowles and Irma Villafuerte. The show will also feature remounts from In Häus 2023 by George Brown Dance Alumni Kathy Le, Miah Lewis, Mari Budgey and Emma Lum-Gerry

April 17, 18, 19
Winchester Theatre