Natasha Powell

Natasha Powell is a Toronto native who has been working in the dance industry for 17 years.

Her soulful approach to movement that transcends genre can be seen and felt in her dancing, choreography, and teachings. No stranger to the stage, Natasha has collaborated and created over 20 dance works for live performance. As the founder, artistic director, and choreographer for her company HOLLA JAZZ, she created the award-winning show FLOOR’D – the company’s first full-length production, presenting historical jazz dances in a new light. The production was nominated for 4 Dora Mavor Moore Awards (including Outstanding Original Choreography by Powell, and Outstanding Production) winner of the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble, and named one of top 10 dance shows of the recent decade by NOW Magazine.

Inspired by social dances such as jazz, hip hop, and house dance, Natasha shares her love for movement through teaching dance classes and workshops in Toronto and across Canada. She helps individuals find their personal groove, make breakthroughs in their dancing, and ultimately experience joy in their bodies.

About Holla Jazz
Holla Jazz is an award-winning dance company based in Toronto that explores soulful and funky approaches to jazz dance. The Holla Jazz experience is marked by their cool and contemporary way of producing fresh dance works, all while inspiring a lasting love and appreciation for jazz dance and music. The company’s inaugural production, FLOOR’D, garnered a Dora Mavor Moore Award for their Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble.

Established in 2016 by Artistic Director Natasha Powell, Holla Jazz was founded as a forum for developing and presenting artists that work and improvise together, to create harmonious and transformative experiences. The company aims to reinvigorate jazz dance with its sister dances including hip hop and house, as innovative and important vehicles for expression, while showcasing freedom and one’s own identity through the spirit of jazz.

What does jazz dance look like?

This is a question I’m often asked by folks who are familiar with jazz music, but perhaps have never come across people moving to these rhythms.

If we understand jazz music as a cultural expression characterized by complex harmonies, syncopated rhythms, and (most importantly) improvisation, then we can see those same characteristics in this African-American vernacular dance form. To witness the embodiment of jazz music is to see polyrhythms, swing in the steps, a soulful and rhythmic pulse, and again, improvisation.

Jazz dance is also a reflection of cultural memory – a delivery system for Africans that were enslaved to the United States, who had to find ways to keep and/or adapt West African traditions while being forced to work on plantations, socializing in dance halls, and performing on vaudeville circuits.

Since founding Holla Jazz in 2016, it has been inspiring to witness the dancers work through their relationship to this dance style that has such a deep, and complex history. Throughout the years, I have also collaborated with Toronto-based photographers who have brilliantly captured the qualities of jazz dance, as presented in these photographs, of the exceptional dancers I get to work with. Featuring the dancers captured in a rehearsal hall, in a studio, and in performance, my hope is that these images evoke what is possible when the complex harmonies and swinging rhythms of jazz music, connect to our dancing souls.

– Natasha Powell, Co-Curator