GBD Alumna, Elizabeth Snell on “Artists’ Play”


Keeping an open mind is what has kept Elizabeth Snell dancing well into a time when many have hung up their shoes.

A graduate of George Brown Dance in 1999, Elizabeth came to Toronto with the idea of what she wanted, but when that didn’t go as planned, she explains that her “path was very winding and unexpected.” Originally from Brandon, Manitoba, she chose George Brown based on a recommendation from Arnold Spohr, a past artistic director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and a teacher during her early dance years.

“[The program] was great because I got to take class with the Company and learn different choreographies from the Company”, she says, but the program also opened her eyes to the other opportunities within dance. “I was mostly heavy into ballet, and then I was introduced to a lot of different forms of dance here,” she explains, such as modern and jazz. As a program with various styles and the opportunity to be exposed to different teachers and choreographers, students will be, “in an environment which would help foster their creative growth and their technical growth.”

 “ask — is this helping me move forward into the direction that I want?”

“I think people have to be flexible”, Elizabeth says. Coming into the program with the idea of becoming a ballerina, in mind, created some negative feelings when she wasn’t reaching that one specific goal. She explains that, “the moment I opened my eyes to all of the other things that could happen, I became a much happier person.”

That flexibility and openness to learning led Elizabeth to a long career performing and teaching across Europe and exploring the combination of dance with different artistic disciplines. Now the Artistic Director of Artists’ Play in Toronto, Elizabeth has an wealth of knowledge on what it takes to be successful as a teacher and performer.

Coming into this program, you have to be prepared to put in the work. “A teacher is really excited about dancers that are positive and trying really hard,” she explains, stressing the importance of coming into each class prepared, and with a sense of determination and tenacity. This work ethic will help to set you up after school, too, as she says that, “I think directors, they’re going to gravitate towards dancers who are excited about learning.”

As a twenty-year-old, one of the things she wished she’d known was, “to keep a positive outlook and if you want it, to go forward and make the proper decisions that will help to get you want. So, every decision that you make”, she explains, “ask — is this helping me move forward into the direction that I want?”

It may not take you in the direction that you expected but Elizabeth says, “luckily I listened to different things that happened on my path and am still happily dancing.”

Written by Elise Tigges

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