For the past 18 years, dance has been a central part of University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) student Natalie Emidio’s life. Emidio, a fourth-year criminology and sociology major, started dancing at the age of four. With her love for jazz and hip-hop music, artists such as Britney Spears, Julianne Hough, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, and the Royal Family dance crew became early inspirations that set Emidio off on her dance journey.
The innovative and engaging choreography of Stephen Boss and the Royal Family shaped Emidio’s style in hip hop, while an emphasis on performance quality was brought to her attention by Julianne Hough and Britney Spears. “Both women have the star quality and performance engagement that every dancer strives to have,” Emidio says.
With support from her mother, teachers, and friends, Emidio would join multiple teams throughout the years, including The Dance Corps, Centre Stage School of the Arts, and the CTK dance team before joining UTM’s only competitive dance team. “Once I stepped into the dance studio, I knew that this team would be a part of my future here at UTM,” she shares.
During her UTM Dance Team career, Emidio learned to deal with the ups and downs of competition with the support of her teammates, namely, her first year Captain Jayla Liebig, and her current team Co-Captain Kortni Kindree and Assistant Captain Sarah Gryniewski. “Without their support, I certainly would not be the leader or the dancer I am today and for that, I am eternally grateful,” Emidio says.
As captain, Emidio focuses on supporting her teammates by creating a positive and safe atmosphere that allows them to try new things and express their ideas. “As a Captain you are the backbone of your team and it is your job to build them up, set them up for success, and prepare them for the competition that lies ahead,” she reflects.
When asked about her future goals regarding dance, Emidio hopes to finish off her last season successfully. Success for Emidio “consists not of winning titles or trophies but of going out onto the stage and giving it our all.” For Emidio, Kindree, and many others on the 2023 UTM Dance Team, this will be the last competitive season of their lives. Despite some bittersweet feelings, Emidio is “thankful to end it with this team, at this school, with these amazing people.”
The UTM Dance Team not only allowed her to grow as both a student and leader, but also to connect with many new students in a network of like-minded individuals. Emidio describes how the support and motivation that comes with such a network is truly transformative, and encourages students to step outside their comfort zone, involving themselves in UTM sports.
“I know that it can be nerve-wracking to try out for a varsity team or to join intramural sports, but honestly it will change your university journey,” she shares. Emidio believes that each student has something to offer this community and that they should strive to lead teams or clubs of their own as captains or presidents. She advises, “Just be yourself, support those around you, and lead with compassion and I assure you that success will follow.”
The UTM Dance Team is looking forward to welcoming new members at their try-outs next September. You can keep up with upcoming events and audition information for the upcoming season at @utmdance on Instagram.