Alumni Feature: Belinda McGuire
Belinda McGuire's seven years dancing with CCDT were some of the richest in the Company's history, with highlights including the Keynote Performance at the 2000 Dance and the Child International conference (Regina, Saskatchewan), the 2002 two-week tour of Singapore and Malaysia, and the monumental collaborative work Souls, a full-length, inter-generational piece created and choreographed by Holly Small. Belinda performed leading roles in numerous works, showcasing her versatility in the movement of dancemakers such as Carol Anderson, Deborah Lundmark, Karen Kuzak, David Earle, and Danny Grossman, among many others. Belinda was the first CCDT alum to continue her dance education at the prestigious Juilliard School, and soon after became the second former CCDT member to join The Limón Company.
The Artistic Director of Belinda McGuire Dance Projects, Belinda is now a highly sought-after solo performer, choreographer, and teacher based in Brooklyn, NY. Her illustrious career has led her to be revered as "a tireless whirlwind" -Susan Walker, The Toronto Star; "Ravishing" -Paula Citron, The Dance Current; and "... a dancer whose beauty, presence and intensity reminds me of why dance has been the inescapable throughline of my life." -Martha Schabas, The Globe and Mail.
Briefly describe your history with CCDT.
I spent a year as a young apprentice in 1995/1996 (I was 11), then I joined the company from 1996-2002 when I graduated.
What have you been up to since leaving CCDT?
I studied at Juilliard, and went on to dance with Gallim, Doug Varone and Dancers, and The Limón Company. I started my own company doing mostly solo work and lots of collaborative projects. I teach a lot...!
What skills did you gain from your experiences at CCDT that have been useful and/or transferable since you have moved on?
Attention to detail, and appreciation of how that detail relates to the big picture. A sense of value for the qualitative things. Appreciation for deep physicalization as a way to gain understanding (ie. you don't need to sit down and think about things in order to know/understand more). Appreciation for cumulative efforts - both accumulating over time (regular practice can yield big change) and from multiple sources (ie. how we all worked together in order to grow artistically and as "mere" humans).
Did you have any favourite work(s) you performed during your time with CCDT? What made it the most fulfilling or memorable to you?
Serious Games [by David Earle], Les Belles Heures [by Carol Anderson], Doyne [Suite by Kim Frank], and Dancing Day [by Deborah Lundmark]. Each of those pieces were a landmark and a catalyst for me. One of the best feelings is to feel yourself changing. And I could feel it especially in the arena of those works.
Belinda McGuire & Kristen Foote in Arresting the Bayou by Karen Kuzak
pictured on an old school SCCDT brochure circa 2001
Dancers Nicholas Ruscica and Hannah Szeptycki in Incipit Vita Nova by Belinda McGuire, commissioned for CCDT's production of WinterSong 2014. Photo by David Hou.
Were there any choreographers, teachers, guest teachers or guest artists you worked with at CCDT who have been greatly influential on your training and/or growth as a dancer and artist?
Really it was the complement of all of them. As soon as I start mentioning one, I feel like I must mention three more and three more and three more. Donna Krasnow, though, might be at the root of it all, because she gave us so many vital tools to more fully unlock what the other artists and their work had to offer us.
Who is currently giving you inspiration?
It's a symphony. I can't call out one instrument.
Belinda in Sharon B. Moore's Anthem for the Living. Photo by Jubal Battisti.
How did you balance the training and performance demands of CCDT with school, family commitments, and the rest of your life?
Be fine not being everything all the time. On the dancing front, enjoy the rigor, and know that indulging in that isn't necessarily taking away from your academic pursuits. It is more obvious to me now than ever before that my brain works best when I'm moving. It's a great way to process life.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about auditioning for CCDT?
Enjoy what it feels like to move.
Closing remarks: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Show up. Be there, with people (once it's safe again!). Trust that you don't have to feel prepared for the thing in order to start doing it.
Visit the links below to learn more about Belinda and her work:
Facebook: Belinda McGuire Dance Projects