Local Dancer Focus: Guelph Dance interviews Heather Finn

Heather Finn is a Guelph-based physiotherapist who is also a life-long dancer. She will be performing in Suzette Sherman’s new work “Falling into Footsteps” at the On the Stage performance, Saturday, June 3, at 8:00 pm. Suzette’s appearance with her company is a much-anticipated event, and hearing Heather speak of working with her makes it even more so! Tickets are available online at the River Run Center box office or by phoning 519-763-3000.

Rehearsal photos below by Ellen Snowball.


GD: Can you tell us more about your background in dance?

HF: I took my first dance class in a church basement in Elmira at age 3. I danced with Carolyn Zettel at her studio in Waterloo throughout my childhood years. In university, I studied at McMaster because I could balance my studies with my dance training. I took technique classes at the Centre for Dance, where I first met Janet Johnson, and became a member of the contemporary dance company. The company director Dave Wilson helped us to develop and share our own choreography both locally and at the American College Dance Festival. After I graduated I danced with Hamilton Dance Company (Hamilton) and Caroline Barriere Danse (Ottawa).

GD: What do you do when you’re not rehearsing or taking class?

HF: I have three children aged 6, 3, and 7 months, so life is full of little routine and rituals. I will soon return to my work as a physiotherapist, where I use manual therapy, acupuncture, Pilates, and core exercise to help my clients perform at their best, whether they are students, parents, runners or dancers. I serve on the Board of Directors for Guelph Dance and I’m a founding member of Healthy Dancer Canada.

GD: What brings you the greatest joy when you’re dancing?

HF: I love how dancing challenges my brain and my body simultaneously, so it requires me to live in the present moment. I love how dancing informs my work as a physiotherapist, giving me a “body of knowledge” I can’t acquire by studying an anatomy book. I love spending time with people who love to move. I love that I’ve been dancing my whole life and there is still more to learn, still room for improvement.

GD: Can you tell us about how special it is to be working with Suzette on this project?

HF: In class, Suzette is a window through which I can clearly see those dancers that danced before me. With this expertise she offers honest constructive feedback, and she is equally generous with her praise when she sees good work. While we have very different movement backgrounds, I love seeing how Suzette’s cues intersect with my own understanding of the body.

Working on “Falling into Footsteps” with Suzette has been an opportunity to challenge myself as a performer. Suzette dances with a depth that can fill you with joy or bring you to tears, as the situation demands. Since Suzette’s choreography has developed steadily over the course of a year, we have had the opportunity to work with her both on the structure of the piece (to complement the original music by Adam Bowman), the intent of each movement, and on the interactions with each other and with the audience.

GD: What does the dance community in Guelph mean to you?

HF: I moved to Guelph on a beautiful weekend in June 2010. I unpacked a few boxes and then walked over to Exhibition Park, just in time to see the In the Park series! Since then I’ve connected to the dance community in Guelph in many ways, taking classes at Dancetheatre David Earle, treating dancers at my clinic, working behind the scenes at Guelph Dance, and forming lasting friendships along the way.

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