Chatting With Colleen Cassidy
Tell us about you!
I’m Colleen [laughs], I’m from Calgary. I’ve been back and forth between Vancouver and Calgary for the past 10 years. I came to Vancouver originally because there was more dance stuff here, but then I got hired working on cruise ships right away, so I danced on cruise ships for 7 years. Then, I started going to school online and moved back to Vancouver 2 years ago to finish my Bachelor of Science in Food, Nutrition and Health, which I’m finishing in December.
Thanks! My background is mostly jazz, tap, ballet, musical theatre, but then I fell in love with dancehall about three years ago, so I recently went to Jamaica to study with a bunch of crews down there and get more into street dancing styles.
Cool. What do you think of Jamaica?
I love Jamaica!
Yeah? What’s it like?
I guess what I love the most about it is the dance culture and the party situation is completely different. All the steps are created so that everyone, from age 2 to 92, can all dance along and dance together and I love that sort of unity of it. But also the level of competitiveness between crews, so they’re constantly bettering themselves. It was really nice to be in that environment, really inspiring.
Awesome. What do you bring from Jamaica into your classes?
I feel like even in jazz classes or whatever that I do, I love dancehall a lot so sometimes there will be some dancehall inspired movements in there. But I love the energy of that too, so that’s kind of an all styles thing, but I bring energy into all my classes...
Yeah no kidding! [both laugh] For someone who’s never been to your class what would you say?
I’d say you definitely get a cardio workout.
Um yeah! [both laugh]
I try to be pretty upbeat. Not always super fast paced but I do like to move and travel. [giggles]
And for someone who’s nervous, what do you suggest for them?
Don’t be nervous! I always break things down and move slow and it’s important for me that everyone gets everything. I hate the feeling of when I’m taking a class and get overwhelmed and don’t get it and I am in negative self talk mode. So ask questions if you don’t get something. It’s important to me that everyone leaves feeling positive and good.
Cool. You teach an open level jazz and an intermediate jazz as well. How different are they?
Open level I try to do more options, so that it is more beginner friendly. In the intermediate, if you are a beginner and just want a challenge I feel like it could cater to that, but I’m just going to move quicker through things and break things down a bit less, but obviously you can still break them down.
What do you think of iDance?
I love iDance! [laughs]. Everyone who comes here is super friendly and immediately from the first time that I subbed a class here I felt it, and now I’ve developed relationships with everyone. It’s nice because you feel like you’re coming to class but you’re also coming to have a social time with your friends! [laughs]
Yeah totally! Is that the staff or clients, or both?
I feel like it’s both. I was talking to Amanda about it when I was starting to teach here and she mentioned that’s important to her as well - to have people on her team who are like that. You can feel the energy when everyone connects.
Have you taught or taken any of the other classes?
I have taught dancehall a couple of times for Alyssa, I also subbed Bronwynn’s Heels and Feels class. I guess I’ve taken her class, I’m pretty sure...but I need to start taking more. I need to start taking hip hop because I need to step outside my comfort zone.
So where do you want to go with dance or your career? I know you mentioned you’re doing nutrition…?
That’s a hard question because I’m in such a transitional phase. I’m having a lot of fun teaching. Career wise I’m still not sure, I’m just having a good time with life right now. My push for my own growth is within dancehall. I think that it would be good for me to be taking hip hop classes because it’s just to keep growing whether I have career goals or not, and then you can have all the styles.
Definitely. And the nutrition? How do you like that?
I really like nutrition and think it’s a really important part of just...life. [laughs] And I think just having a good understanding of the foods that fuel us for not only exercise but also day to day life.
Are you pretty healthy with your meals?
I think yes, I used to be crazy healthy so now I don’t always feel like I’m not that healthy, but then when I think about it I realize I do eat really healthy. I have a nice balance.
Run me through a typical day of what you’d eat.
For breakfast I’d usually do a yogurt muesli or oatmeal with bananas and berries on it. If I’m home for lunch, I like more brunchie foods, so I’ll usually do a multigrain toast with peanut butter and a spinach mushroom omelette. For dinner is kind of a free for all [laughs]. I am vegetarian, I’ve been vegetarian for about 15 years. So maybe stir-fry, sometimes I go a bit less healthy there.
So where do you get your protein? Obviously from the yogurt, where else?
Yeah, I feel like people over consume protein a lot in North America, so people often think that that’s what vegetarians are missing, but according to Canada’s Food Guide, if you want to go off of that, you only need one to two servings of meat or meat alternatives a day, and two eggs covers that for a serving, and two tablespoons of peanut butter covers that second. So someone with a vegetarian diet, the bigger concern would probably be iron, because you need twice as much non-heme iron as heme iron, and your B12...and I don’t eat fish so Omega 3, 6, if I’m not eating nuts, but I try to eat more walnuts so I get more of that in there.
Do you ever have desserts or anything?
Yeah, I used to have a huge sweet tooth, now I’m more savoury. French fries would now be more of a vice. I don’t think of myself as eating that healthy, but actually I am. I used to never eat French fries and desserts, but now I would probably have something.
So what made you go vegetarian, was it a personal choice?
Yeah, I’m a really stubborn person. I stopped eating fish, I never ate fish because my favourite movie was the Little Mermaid and my dad thought it would be a good idea to show me the fish before we ate it. He thought I would think it was so cool but I burst into tears and was like, “What’s his name? Is it a flounder?” And then my mom was like, “Oh crap, now she’s never going to eat fish again.” And I didn’t, any time they had it I’d say no way. And then when I was 13, my sister lived on a farm so I was going to feed the pigs and chickens when I was there. At the end of the week they asked if I wanted to help catch the chickens. I asked what for and my niece said, “So we can take them to the slaughterhouse! Next time you eat chicken you can eat our chicken!” And I was like, “No! I’m never eating chicken again!” because I was this stubborn teenager, and I never ate chicken again, or any type of meat.
Do you ever miss it?
Maybe within the first year I did, but now I’ve spent more of my life being a vegetarian than a meat-eating human, omnivore I guess, so no.
Oh cool. Well that’s certainly an interesting bit of info about you! Any other things about you we should know? What is your favourite food by the way?
I’d say peanut butter, I think I said that in my intro video at iDance actually.
Peanut butter is the one thing that even if I don’t have any groceries in the house I can just eat it. And I prefer crunchie [laughs].
Do you get the super healthy all natural kind?
I get both, I usually have multiple jars at my house. Sometimes I’ll put natural on one side and sweet on the other so that it’s not too…[smacks her lips]. And what I’ve also started doing is, my mom always puts butter and peanut butter together which I don’t really like but I’ve been putting a thin layer of coconut oil and then peanut butter on top which is just a little extra and it’s a nice flavor too.