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Jaedyn Richards On Change and Challenge

Jaedyn Richards attends St. Augustine Catholic High School as a Grade 9 student, and joined CCDT this past September for her first year in the company. She shares her reflections on leaving the world of competitive dance, and approaching change and challenge with determination and excitement instead of fear.

What influenced and/or inspired you to audition for the company? My friends and I knew about CCDT from a member of the company who used to dance at our old competition studio, but my ballet teacher was the one who pushed me to audition for CCDT's summer program, SunDance. When I auditioned for SunDance the thought of being in the full company didn't even cross my mind, but then I got a callback, and now, here I am.

Briefly describe your history dancing with CCDT. Last summer was my first time at SunDance and I was terrified. I only knew one person in the company from my previous studio but even then, we weren't that close. I thought no one was going to talk to me and I was just overall very scared, but that was the complete opposite of what I experienced. All the staff, teachers, and dancers were so welcoming, I felt like I was already part of a family. SunDance broke me out of my shell and allowed me to be my full self around all the company members.

Is there a particular piece you are most excited to be a part of this season? The piece I am most excited to perform is probably that infinite feeling choreographed by Alyssa Martin. I came from a competition studio where I had been doing a lot of the same type and style of dancing for a very long time, so coming to CCDT has exposed me to a lot of different ways that choreographers interpret their way of dancing. In that infinite feeling there's a lot of talking, which is something I had never seen in the dance world. I'd never done it before which makes it a challenge but it also makes me excited to perform something very different from what I have always been doing.

What was the adjustment to CCDT's schedule and studio dynamic like for you, having recently come from another studio?

My old studio was definitely not as far as CCDT is, so the travel has been farther and it takes longer to get there with traffic. Also at my old studio, I was there probably 4 times a week with no weekend rehearsals, but at CCDT I'm here 6 days a week including 16 hours on the weekends. The hours of training have definitely made a significant change in my normal life and school life because I realize managing my time is now very important, and being here at CCDT helps me to do that. When I first came to CCDT I was very nervous about the whole situation but now I feel I have a special bond with all the dancers here.

What skills do you think your training, performing, and overall experience with CCDT have given you that are transferable to other aspects of your life?

Definitely time management. I feel as though if I weren't a dancer I would not be able to manage my time wisely at all with my school work. Being a dancer at CCDT is time consuming, so that helps me to be able to manage the rest of the things in my life right.

What's something interesting about you most people don't know?

I am left-handed when I write, but I like doing everything on my right side for dance.

Who is someone who regularly inspires you as a dancer/artist/creator/human being?

For me it's definitely all the other dancers in the company. I am one of the youngest so I really enjoy dancing with all of them because I truly look up to each and every one of them. They inspire me to become a better dancer.

What are you totally obsessed with these days?

Recently I really have been enjoying eating dried mangoes for some reason.

Share one of your favourite personal memories about your time with CCDT.

Probably the whole WinterSong week. Even though it was a lot of hours at the theatre and a lot of shows, it was something new and exciting for me. I feel as a whole group we created a lot of memories there and it was also my very first WinterSong, so it is definitely something I won't forget.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about auditioning for CCDT?

Don't be nervous because dancing is about having fun and no one is here to judge you.

One of Jaedyn's favourite quotes:

I trust that everything happens for a reason, even if we are not wise enough to see it.

— Oprah Winfrey

Top photo of Hanna Kiel's A Day of Light taken by David Hou. Lower photo by Francesca Chudnoff.

Jaedyn will grace stages across Ontario throughout CCDT's spring season in works by choreographers including Hanna Kiel, Apolonia Velasquez, Alyssa Martin, and Roderick George. Come see our touring production Teasing Gravity at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre on April 5th at 7pm, and don't miss our home season production Light Years at Toronto's Fleck Dance Theatre, May 24-25.

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