We are excited to feature our Instructor of the month, Sarah Hodkinson. Sarah has been teaching dance classes for kids here at Playocity for several months now and there’s no doubt that we feel lucky to have her onboard. Since she began teaching dance, yoga, creative movement, and acting programs, we’ve received nothing but praise for her stellar work. Now, our partners are requesting Sarah to come back and teach more programs across multiple locations. We are beyond thrilled to receive such wonderful requests!
Sarah is a Toronto-based performer who has more than 20 years of experience under her belt. She has worked in various industries, including theatre, TV, and film.
As a passionate performer and instructor, Sarah started with ballet when she was five years old. From there, she branched out and started exploring other styles of dance in her teens, including jazz, modern, and hip hop. Around the age of 15, Sarah started facilitating dance classes for kids.
In high school, she got into choreography and started helping with musicals and dance shows. She further honed her acting skills by taking part in school plays and at a local theatre in town.
“I’m from a small town and always dreamt of moving to Toronto to pursue acting and dance,” shares Sarah. Her high school drama teachers also played a big role in her development as they encouraged young Sarah to pursue her dreams.
Sarah obtained her Intermediate from the Royal Academy of Dance, and she is trained in the Cecchetti method, musical theater, contemporary, jazz, and hip hop.
When she moved to Toronto, Sarah got into the Randolph College for Performing Arts. Staying true to her dreams of pursuing TV and film, she got an agent, and from there, Sarah went to numerous auditions and participated in various productions, ranging from TV shows to short films and commercials. Her journey led her to a new path, where she discovered her love for writing and producing her own films. In fact, some of the short films that Sarah produced have been screened across the country. In addition, Sarah has also acted in principal roles for short films featured in prestigious film festivals such as the Canada Shorts Film Festival and the HollyShorts Film Festival.
But Sarah’s journey wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
“It sounds easy to describe it this way, but this has taken my whole life working hard, staying focused, and getting up every time there’s a rejection, setback, or real life gets in the way. Being a performer has made me very resilient,” she shares.
Sarah’s talent and passion for performing runs in the family. Her grandmother was a ballet teacher trained by Betty Oliphant herself, who then encouraged Sarah’s grandmother to become a ballet teacher. Sarah’s grandmother also stayed true to her dreams, having started her own ballet school in Dryden, Ontario. What’s more, all of Sarah’s uncles took dance classes, and her father was such an excellent dancer that the National Ballet wanted him to be a part of their company.
Growing up, Sarah always wanted to be an actress. “I never thought I would be dancing or teaching. At this age, your body takes a toll. I’m grateful to do both,” she says. According to Sarah, her favorite thing about performing is being able to live and explore a different reality. The experience allows her to connect with something beyond herself, she just loves being on set or onstage and working with other creatives. Furthermore, she thinks that the energy of make-believe is nothing short of magic.
Today, Sarah is an integral part of Playocity, where she uses her talents, knowledge, and skills to teach learners about the transformative power of the performing arts. Embodying Playocity’s values and mission, Sarah is all about creating safe, engaging, and positive learning environments for students of all ages. Like her Playocity family, Sarah wants to help kids discover and explore their creativity and combine fun and learning to make a positive impact in their lives.
Sarah shares that her experience working with Playocity has been amazing and refreshing. “I feel seen and heard, and like many people, I have a lot on the go, and Playocity has only helped me make everything work.” She adds that she feels lucky to be able to teach kids while still being able to pursue her acting career.
Sarah knows that school can be tough for kids. Having been through the rigors of school herself, here’s her advice for kids who are having a tough time in school:
“Stick with it. There’s growth in finishing something. Try to find something to connect with at school – sports, arts, photography, student council. Remember, we don’t all learn the same, so try not to compare yourself to others and maybe get off social media. I couldn’t imagine having that when I was in school.”
Now, people might be surprised to know that Sarah is an introvert. We all know her as an upbeat, energetic, and enthusiastic teacher, and while she is incredibly passionate about what she does, she admits that it can drain her battery. So, she emphasizes recharging and learning the value of rest, something that she believes is not something that’s earned but is essential.
When she’s not teaching dance classes for kids or holding yoga, creative movement, and acting programs, Sarah loves to go hiking and just being out in nature. She also loves connecting with family and friends, as well as cooking good meals, and of course, getting plenty of rest. According to Sarah, if she could eat only one meal every day, she would love to have her mom’s tuna casserole.
Alanna and Alena, the co-founders and owners of Playocity, are currently participating in the Early Stage program facilitated by the Parkdale Centre of Innovation. Playocity is a women-led start-up company that was created in the midst of a pandemic. It is not an easy journey, especially during the current circumstance, so the opportunity to join the incubator could not present itself at a better time.
Parkdale Centre is a non-profit Incubator & Accelerator that was created to fill the accessibility and inclusivity gap to innovation, tech, and entrepreneurship, especially for underrepresented groups: women, newcomers, and those from low-income backgrounds. Playocity is honored to be a part of The Early Stage Program that supports entrepreneurs with a focus on preparing for user growth, team growth, revenue growth, and fundraising.
“We are so grateful for this opportunity to be a part of the Early Stage program and Parkdale Centre of Innovation ecosystem. It is very refreshing and inspiring to be able to learn and grow alongside like-minded individuals, entrepreneurs, and leaders, hear their stories, share ours, and just feel the support and encouragement from a group where everyone gets it – all the joys and challenges of running your own business.”
“For me, the Parkdale Program has been a fundamental part of my journey as a business owner in an ever-changing landscape. I think it is really wonderful to know that despite the pandemic, Parkdale Centre has continued to support innovation, create a non-judgmental space, and help business owners from a variety of industries.
A feeling of togetherness is of utmost importance right now – and you can feel that if you are part of the incubator program. Knowing that others are in the process of creating their own paths and dealing with similar challenges, can be very useful, and listening to the stories of others is comforting and uplifting. I think that the fusion of this type of environment with business basics is a fantastic way to retain important information that is essential to, I think, everyone’s success.”
An education in the arts empowers children and youth in so many important ways. It encourages self-expression, curiosity, innovation … and, of course, creativity. Now more than ever, this world needs creative thinkers. We need people who can imagine beautiful and radical possibilities for our future, and who have the courage to manifest those possibilities in the world around them: through song, dance, images, and through the relationships they forge with their peers. I look forward to helping my students cultivate these skills, so that they can move forward into this challenging year with hope, confidence, and kindness. – Mirka Loiselle
Thinking back to my school years, the happiest and most exciting memories are not associated with studying a multiplication table, or writing endless chemical equations. It’s the priceless experiences and discoveries born in the playground. It’s all the valuable lessons learned while making DIY costumes for a talent show, rehearsing choreography, or creating props for a school play. Today, more than ever, children need more opportunities to connect, collaborate, and have a feeling of togetherness. I believe our programs can help make a difference. Participation in fitness based activities and creative discovery will ultimately help kids to be more emotionally resilient and deal with many challenges they are faced with today. – Alena Tuchina
As adults, we are responding to this pandemic differently. Some of us with courage and compassion, and others with reasonable fear. I’m curious about what kids are thinking. If we can unearth their inner thoughts, we can help the next generation of leaders to become aware of uncertainty, and to respond with strength. Lively debates, “what if” scenarios, and multiple perspectives can foster empathy. Let’s give little humans an opportunity to have many thoughtful conversations about our current realities. – Orchid Chen
Extra-curricular programs and the arts are the reason I am the person I am today. As a professional dancer, I have realized through the pandemic that no matter where I am – I need to dance. Whether in my living room, an empty yet spacious Wal-Mart parking lot or a studio, dance is my fuel. It has been the bright spot in my day for the six months and having a moment to connect with other dancers sharing that same need for joy gives me so much energy. I have been fortunate enough to dance across the world and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that dance is a universal language that connects us all. It’s organizations like Playocity that we need more than ever right now, wherever you may find yourself. – Bailey Woodman