INTERVIEW: Anna Collins
We love stumbling across talented, hard working babes and it seems the Collins family have got this situation down-pat. Anna Collins is an aspiring ballet teacher, studying dance full-time in Canada’s National Ballet School. She also happens to be the younger sister of another incredible artist, Petra Collins. After seeing Anna collaborate with Petra on a couple of beautiful projects, we decided we had to find out more about this talented 19 year old all-rounder in between her dancing, singing, modelling and being a strong, inspiring voice for girls in the blogosphere. We talk dream collabs, balancing work and play, strong female role models and of course, how we’d spend the day if we rocked up on her doorstep in Toronto.
OP: Hi Anna, thanks so much for taking time out of your schedule to speak with us, it really means a lot. So to get the ball rolling, you’re a bit of an “all-rounder” in the sense that we’ve seen you dancing, singing, modelling and sticking up for girls all over the world, all whilst killing the Instagram game and running a badass Tumblr. That sounds like hard work, how do you manage it all?
AC: Well first of all thank you. I'm a full-time student so it is really overwhelming managing my personal life/career stuff when I'm stressed out and dancing all the time at school. I think just the main thing that I try and do for myself is to always have something to look forward to, like my favourite thing in the world is to go for a walk in the park, so on my off time (usually Sunday) I refresh myself by taking walks with my dog. I also have anxiety so meditating helps me keep my cool. You gotta keep your sanity somehow.
OP: Dancing is obviously one of your greatest passions in life, tell us a little bit about how you got started and what’s next for you.
AC: I've been dancing my entire life. My mom put me and my sister into ballet classes when we were both like three years old. I just kept loving it more and more and couldn't see myself ever doing anything else with my life. Right now I'm really working on becoming a ballet teacher, I just finished two years at York University for Dance Education and just got accepted to Canada's National Ballet School for their teacher training program so in September I'm going to be in school six days a week and I couldn't be more excited. Outside of dancing, I'm also working on creating videos to give young girls advice because my tumblr questions have been piling up, and it's hard to type everything out and get to all of them. I think video is going to be a new medium that I will hopefully continue to work with.
OP: You recently starred in a video produced by your sister, Petra Collins. We’ve read somewhere that she always wanted to do a film featuring you dancing as the subject. What was it like working together on a project like that where you got to do what you love while your sister immortalised it on film?
AC: It was really intense and emotional. Petra hadn't really seen me dance in a long time because she now lives in New York and I don't have many dance recitals anymore. We were in amazing environments and I think it brought us even closer together. I love working with her and it was the first time we were doing "my" art. Petra used to be a dancer but got a bad knee injury so she kind of lives vicariously through me with my dancing and I think the entire process was very pivotal for both me and Petra. I finally got to see myself through Petra's eyes by how the film turned out.
OP: Are there any other joint projects between yourselves that we can look forward to seeing in the future?
AC: There will be some more videos of us in the near future so you'll just have to wait and find out..
OP: You run a pretty popular tumblr where you don’t shy away from answering questions. What’s the hardest part about giving people advice?
AC: I'd like to think that I'm a very empathetic person, I'm definitely extremely maternal even towards my best friends. I think the hardest thing when giving people advice is to try and not be bias and be really subjective. I put myself and other people's shoes all the time, but everyone has different experiences, everyone makes mistakes, and I'm hearing a brief story of someone having trouble so I don't know all the circumstances. I never rush into writing out my replies because I really need to think hard about how my words can effect someone before I post my advice.
OP: If you could collaborate with anyone on anything, who would it be and what would you like to get up to?
AC: Oh god that's such a hard question. I love road trips so I would definitely want to take another road trip from the East to the West Coast of America to visit my favourite place on earth, Big Surr with my boyfriend Fox and create images, dance films, and music. We would drive in his 70's Volkswagen bus and camp out everywhere we went. I think that would be pretty magical. Fox and I haven't really had a chance to do a road trip with each other yet.
OP: You recently finished your first year of college, what was it like? How did you find a balance between fostering your creative pursuits, managing school and keeping your friends, family and partner happy? It sounds like sheer madness to us!
AC: I'm going into my third year of university, but I remember the first year was the toughest. I didn't know anyone, and my commute was an hour which was rough considering I had to be at school by 7:45. I had a lot of trouble at first managing everything especially seeing my friends because I had so much work, I was always tired, and just didn't have time in general. I think the most important thing, which is the hardest, is to not procrastinate on things. I would have had so much more time if I just did my work when I was supposed to. As I'm getting older, and am used to school, I fit work in wherever I can, in between classes etc. Just making time in general for the important people in your life is crucial because especially for me, that's what keeps me inspired. My friends and boyfriend inspire me all the time. Luckily I live with my boyfriend so it's not difficult to make time for him because I see him when I get home, but we also make conscious effort to go places together, like grabbing dinner and walking together with our dog. Just simple things really make me happy. And luckily my creative persuit is what I'm doing in school right now.
OP: Lately you’ve been the unrequited subject of some not-so-fun “artistic” attention. How do you deal with artistic misinterpretation and blatant uncredited appropriation of your image?
AC: Well I hadn't dealt with something like that until Richard Prince. It was weird because I started to get a lot of offers from magazines and newspapers trying to get the 'scoop'. The media made everything about me "wanting money" when that's not something I wanted from Prince at all. I don't want money from a man who is colonizing off of women's images. I think the way I dealt with all of the misrepresentation was taking the power back and posting my thoughts on my social media pages. The whole situation was more of a life lesson, and inspired me to do more and keep making more of a change. Our society, and the art world really needs a serious intervention.
OP: For someone still so young, you seem to really have a firm grasp on who you are and deal some pretty solid advice to your followers. Is this the result of strong female influencers in your life or something you’ve worked hard on over time?
AC: For sure. I grew up in a pretty liberal household, and had strong female figures all through my life luckily. I have my mother and my sister who are both everything to me, who let me be who I wanted to be and dress how I wanted to dress. Growing up dancing I also had strong female dance teachers that really lead me to the path I am now. I hope that I can make a difference in at least one person's life. That's really my goal in life. Being 'myself' isn't always easy and being comfortable with who I am is/was the longest journey I've ever been on. Surrounding yourself with the right people, and people that you know are good for you is so crucial.
OP: Finally if Odd Pears turned up on your doorstep in Canada, what would we do and where would you take us for the day? Do you think we’d see bears? Drink maple syrup? Listen to Justin Bieber or Leonard Cohen? So many choices!
AC: Haha well there's so much to do! Toronto is a pretty fun/cultured city in my eyes. I think I would take you to my favourite park, Trinity Bellwoods, with my dog Freddy of course. We would walk along queen west, visit some shops, OBVIOUSLY get poutine from Poutini's, then make are way over to Kensington Market. In the evening I would take you to my boyfriend's show (because it seems like he has a show every night) to see his band Goodbye Honolulu perform. We would get drinks and dance into the night.
OP: Anna Collins, thank you so much for speaking to us. We wish you all the best for the future and will be following your creative pursuits and future exploits with great interest! Keep doing what you’re doing girl, we love it!