WinterSong embodies both tradition and reinvigoration for its veteran dancers

Company dancer Dana Martin-Wylie discusses the fast approach of and preparations for another WinterSong, one of her last productions with CCDT since joining as a Young Apprentice at age 9.

Dana Martin-Wylie (foreground) with the cast of Santee Smith's Star Dreamer in rehearsal.

The cooling temperatures, final rehearsals, and poinsettias that litter the studio can only mean one thing. That’s right folks, WinterSong is just around the corner! With less than a week until the rest of the Company and I hit the stage of the Fleck Dance Theatre, I am more than ecstatic to be performing in yet another production of WinterSong - dances for a sacred season. This year, however, is accompanied with an underlying feeling of sadness, as it is my last year at CCDT. Knowing this will make these upcoming performances extra special for me and a number of the other dancers who will also be graduating in the spring.

As this is my sixth year being a part of WinterSong, I have become accustomed to the daily routine during show week. This usually involves an 8 a.m. call time to the theatre followed by an hour and fifteen minute warm up on stage with the entire Company. After warm up we have around an hour to get ready for the show. This involves doing our hair and makeup, and setting any costumes for quick changes (for dancers performing in pieces back-to-back). Although I am very familiar with these theatre routines, this year there are a few differences, one of these being the new dancers that have just joined the Company. It is always so exciting and inspiring to get the opportunity to dance with other young artists. The energy and artistry that every single one of my colleagues brings to the dances is truly incredible and I am so thrilled that I am able to share the stage with them!

Another difference this season is that I am now one of the oldest dancers in the Company. This role comes with certain expectations and new responsibilities such as helping the new CCDT Company members with any questions that they may have about the upcoming week of shows.

The cast of Star Dreamer in rehearsal.

As I mentioned, this year marks my last WinterSong with the company. Although I have performed some of the dances that are in this year’s show countless times, I know that I will miss the indescribable feelings of joy and accomplishment that they bring to me. I am extremely excited to perform Santee Smith’s Star Dreamer for the first time this year. This piece is definitely one of my favourites, and has been ever since I saw my sister [CCDT alumna Ellis Martin-Wylie] perform it in 2012, when I was still a Core Apprentice. Since then I hoped that if I was ever in the Company I would get the chance to perform it.

Although there are many emotions I am experiencing, none of them compare to how excited and proud I am to be sharing the stage with the most beautiful and inspiring artists (that I get to call my best friends) in the upcoming week. WinterSong and CCDT have been a huge part of my life for the past several years and I am so grateful that I get to spend another year doing exactly what I love to do. Trust me when I say that everyone involved in this production has put a tremendous amount of love and dedication into it. With that said, I hope you will come see us so we can share our hard work and passion with you!

WinterSong - dances for a sacred season runs December 8-9, 2017 at Fleck Dance Theatre. Click here for info and tickets.

Dana Martin-Wylie is a grade 12 student at Malvern Collegiate Institute. Having moved through CCDT's YAP, Core, and Apprentice programs, this is her second season as a full Company member.

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