Anna Collins recently made her runway debut at New York Fashion Week. While home in Toronto, she works as a dedicated ballet teacher. A friend of VSP, Anna stopped by to talk about her passion for dance, her entry into modelling, and gives us her top picks from our spring/summer collection.
There is a climate for change in many creative industries right now. How does it feel to be entering the modelling industry at this moment in time?
I think now more than ever I constantly have to remind myself to stay true to me. That industry can lack morals a lot of the time. I know as long as I stay authentically me—and avoid being pressured to act or be a certain way—I'm doing my best and I think that will lead to change if everyone begins staying true to themselves, not conforming to fashion or model norms.
Ballet is a very traditional and technical form of dance. Why ballet?
I think I chose ballet because it was one of the only things that made me feel safe as a kid and now for that matter. My life is very unstructured with no rules, and ballet’s the complete opposite and I find comfort in that. There is so much to think about in ballet so you don't physically have time to be anxious. The dance studio was one of the only places I didn't feel anxious in. It's basically a form of meditation for me and the only place I feel truly present.
What message do you try to convey to your students?
I’ve realized the impact every single word adults have on children and adolescents. I do not take this responsibility lightly. I'm constantly trying to create a safe environment where my dancers feel challenged but also nurtured. I teach coming from a feminist philosophy and a lot of dance can be related to that so hopefully my students can carry that into their lives. A studio environment is such an intimate setting and [I] appreciate how vulnerable my students are when they go for something and don't always succeed the first try. I always say, I'd rather see you make big mistakes than not try at all. Everyone hopefully at least has one teacher they cherish the memory of and have taught them something, and I hope I can be that teacher for my kids. leaving my students with an appreciation for themselves and others.
Is it true that you can read ballet, like music notes?
Yes! It's called Benesh Notation and was developed by Rudolph Benesh and became official in 1963. It has five lines like a music score and is fascinating.
What are you looking to achieve in the near future?
I have a hard time looking into the future but I just want to achieve good mental health and learn how to take care of myself more.
Photography: Aurora Shields