Makenna Martinez on Finding Vulnerability and Connection


17-year-old Makenna Martinez is a grade 11 dancer at Cawthra Park Secondary School. Having left the world of competitive dance two years ago to join CCDT's company, Maks shares the welcome challenges of being an ever-evolving performing artist and the joy of finding her dance family at CCDT.

What influenced and/or inspired you to audition for the company?

The rigidity of competition dance had become repetitive and uninspiring. After seeing CCDT's May show in my grade 9 year, I was introduced to a different world of dance and immediately knew it was were I needed to be.

Is there a particular piece you are most excited to be a part of this season?

I am most excited to be a part of Nicole Caruana's piece [Lacrimosa]. I was really captivated by Nicole's style of dance and original choreography. I have never worked with a small cast and I love how it creates a different sense of unity in a performance environment.

What is your favourite piece you have performed with CCDT? Why is it exceptional to you?

My favourite piece would be that infinite feeling by Alyssa Martin. It allows me to be my goofy self but in front of a public audience, and not many people get to see that side of me except for my close friends, so it feels like a more vulnerable and genuine piece.

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

Going from a competitive studio to CCDT was a challenging step into my dance career. At first I was really nervous to start at CCDT, but the dancers made my transition simple and I quickly felt like I truly belonged among them. However, in terms of my school life becoming a full time member of the company, it became a necessity that I learned to manage my time wisely and effectively.

Are there any artists you have worked with at CCDT who have been greatly influential on your training and/or growth as a dancer and artist?

There are many choreographers that have influenced me to explore more of who I am as a dancer, and I would say that Hanna Kiel has had a great influence on me. When I started the creative process for A Day of Light I was very nervous to work with Hanna, but she allowed me to be more confident as a dancer by dancing for myself rather than someone else.

Another choreographer that has helped me to grow as a dancer is Colin Connor, in his ability to elevate even the most basic movements. This approach to dancing was a new and inventive opportunity for me to explore movement through a new lens.

What do you enjoy most about touring?

It is an incredible privilege and opportunity for me and the company to be able to share our passion for our art form. Being able to reach such a wide audience of people through touring is unbelievable. It is such a great feeling knowing that you are inspiring many people who come to watch you perform.

How do you do your best to balance the training and performance demands of CCDT with school, family commitments, and the rest of your life?

Although it can feel like sometimes I never stop, the most important thing in balancing dance with the rest of my life is prioritizing the things I care about. When it is someone or something I really care about, no matter how much time I spend at the studio I can always get what I need to done.

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?

I think that constantly performing has helped me to gain more confidence when I present any of my work outside of dance. I've learned that you have to be vulnerable in order to own what you have.

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

Something that people might not know about little old me is that I have my own YouTube channel. I love to vlog my crazy busy weeks as a high school company member. Make sure to like and subscribe! ;)

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

Someone who inspires me as a dancer would be David Norsworthy. His unique approach to movement encourages me to push the boundaries of dance and expand my knowledge as an artist. I have had the opportunity to work with him on various occasions over the years and I am so grateful for the knowledge that he has been able to instill in me as a dancer.

Someone who inspires me as a person is my friend Madison MacArthur. She is always inspiring me to make everyday a great day and to make the best of every situation.

What are you totally obsessed with these days?

Bubble tea and Rex Orange County. Preferably at the same time. I literally can't get enough.

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

I would want them to know the amazing environment they will be immersing themselves in. By joining the CCDT company you become a part of an incredibly creative and supportive family that will help you to grow as a dancer and person. It's a great experience, and just enjoy what you do in the class.

One of Maks' favourite quotes:

Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.

- Brené Brown

Top photo by Francesca Chudnoff; lower photo by David Hou of Makenna with Dana Martin-Wylie in Sephardic Songs choreographed by Carol Anderson.

Maks performs throughout CCDT's spring season in works by choreographers including Hanna Kiel, Roderick George, and Nicole Caruana. Get your tickets to see her dance in our production of Light Years at Toronto's Fleck Dance Theatre, May 24-25.

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