María Isabel Salgado © Cylla von Tiedemann


Just a few months away from graduation, third year student and soon-to-be graduate María Isabel Salgado is looking forward to completing the program. She is a fantastic dancer and, without doubt, has huge potential.  She is hardworking and dedicated, and is looking forward to the future. We recently met up with María Isabel to reflect on her time at the School, and to find out what’s next!

What was your dance background before coming to the School? Why did you choose to study here?

I danced for many years at a musical theatre academy back home in Colombia. I started to focus more on dance when they opened a university program for performing arts. Soon after, I met Juana María Galindo Torres (2014 grad) – I really admired her training. Knowing that Juana María was a graduate of the School, and seeing online that the program was affordable for me, everything just made sense. After auditioning unsuccessfully my first time, I decided to try the Summer Intensive program; after that, I auditioned a second time, and was accepted. Then my life changed completely in one month!

As you are coming up to your final few months before graduation, do you have any thoughts about your time here at the School?

What comes to mind for me is the work ethic – how much you have to challenge yourself as a performer, and how intensely the faculty works to provide us with a full understanding of the profession. They also focus to ensure we are taking care of our bodies.

When looking back at how I danced before I came to the School, it’s not just the basics of my body that have changed, but it’s also about having a presence, and feeling that I now have the ability to learn anything. I feel I have a strong base to go out and learn whatever I want, because I have the basic physical and mental tools I need to pick up new techniques and choreography. The School prepares you to be ready to react to anything, and it’s that readiness in the body and in the mind that is so characteristic of this school.

What’s next for you?

For now, I will be returning to Colombia to be with my family and to work on a new project. We have an older home that we want to transform into a cultural space. My brother is a potter, so he wants to have a space to create, and I would love to have a space to train, and perhaps have my own small company. Besides that, I would like to dance with a company, and teach some dance classes. I would also like to finish my Bachelor of Performing Arts from Pontifical Xavierian University (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana), which I started before coming to Canada!

If I return to Canada in the future, it would be to further my education, and complete something like a Master’s degree.

What are some of your favourite pieces/performances from your time at the School?

María Isabel Salgado in Haley Dimeck’s The Hidden Revealed © Cassidy Clemmer

When speaking about pieces I’ve performed in, the semester I enjoyed the most was when we worked with both Jennifer Dallas and David Norsworthy. They both have training backgrounds that really relate to the way I move, similar to things I’ve done back home, like somatics, Viewpoints, improvisation. That has really stuck with me.

In terms of performances I’ve attended, all the works of Crystal Pite were amazing to see. Same thing goes for Hofesh Shechter, Les 7 Doigts, and Batsheva Dance Company. I knew that Batsheva existed, but that’s it – I didn’t know about Hofesh or Les 7 Doigts. These are all names that I didn’t know before coming here, so for me to see works like these was mind-blowing!

But for me, all of those performances were a combination of things I knew before, and then things that I was currently learning, all mixed together to make something beautiful.

The Performance Series at the School is really wonderful. As an artist, you know it’s important to watch shows, but sometimes you make excuses and say that you have rehearsal, or that you have other things to do. But having that ticket in your hand, and having to decide what night you’re going to attend, really makes a difference – and it is so valuable.

Do you have some advice, or anything to say to prospective students?

This is not a school that you can judge easily in a day or two.

I’ve seen students that have decided this was not the school for them, and they go elsewhere. There were moments in my first year where I asked myself “is this really my thing?” But now that I’m finishing the program, I realize the value of this education. Just because certain moments may seem repetitive, or like you are getting stuck in a routine – that’s not a bad thing! Technique takes time to develop. This is a place that requires patience, and a lot of listening.

Any final thoughts?

I just want to say how much I appreciate opportunities like Coffee House and Choreographic Workshop. I’m really grateful because not many schools provide students with a platform to present their work, with feedback.

In first year, I was speaking with one of my classmates about Coffee House. She didn’t want to present anything and was asking me why so many students were presenting work. I remember telling her: “When we graduate, we’re not going to have the opportunity to use a professional theatre with a lighting designer, and a stage manager, for free.” After we had that talk, I really understood the value of the project, and realized that the program is giving us this free space to explore – it is so valuable.

We wish María Isabel all the best as she completes her final two months here at the School! Be sure to catch her and her third year classmates in ACCELERATION 2020 (March 18-21), and MOMENTUM 2020 (April 30, May 1, 2 & 7-9).