Introducing Andrew Clifton
Andrew Clifton is one of CCDT's newest company members, joining this season during his final year of high school as an Etobicoke School of the Arts dance major. Andrew comes to CCDT with years of dance in his past, and aspirations to continue his dance career for decades to come.
Andrew shared with us his excitement for this new chapter of his dance journey, what kept him on his feet during the pandemic lockdown, and what motivates him to excel as a dance artist.
Describe your history with CCDT.
This is my very first year being a dancer at CCDT. Last year, I auditioned to be a company member and was extremely excited when I received the letter that I was accepted as a full company member. Although this is not only my first year but the year of the pandemic, I have still made so many incredible friends and I feel that all of us are becoming a great big family. There is nothing better than walking into the building and being welcomed by all of my teachers and peers. A highlight from my time at CCDT would definitely be the company photoshoot! It was the most amazing experience and I feel that it really helped me grow as a dancer.
What was it like training and dancing from home during the lockdown earlier this year and through the summer? What helped you to stay positive and motivated during the tough times? How does it feel now to be back at the studio?
There were a few different struggles that came with dancing at home over the lockdown. At first, there was not much space at my home for both me and my sister to dance, but my parents made a great decision and moved out all of our furniture to give us a great space. Once we had our space complete, I was able to dance comfortably at home and really enjoyed every moment of it. SunDance was such an amazing experience for me and I felt that I learned so much over the three weeks. It was incredible to get to continue my training online and it was really nice to have something to look forward to over lockdown. Although I enjoyed taking classes online, there was nothing like the feeling of dancing in a studio again! I am so happy to be back to in-studio dancing and I wouldn't trade it for anything!
How else did you pass the time during our time apart? Did you develop any new hobbies or skills during your time in lockdown?
During lockdown, I finally learned how to drive! I had been terrified of getting behind the wheel for so long, but having so much time during lockdown, I finally did it. Now, driving is one of my favourite things to do in my spare time! I finally booked my G2 Test and hopefully will be able to drive myself to dance after the Christmas break.
This season is going to be very different as we experiment with alternative ways to work together and safely present dance to our audiences. What are you most enjoying and/or looking forward to?
Right now, my favourite thing to do at the studio is work on pieces of the CCDT repertoire. So far, we have worked on a few pieces and every time we learn a new one I get very excited. My favourite piece that we have worked on so far is Embers choreographed by Jera Wolfe. The choreography is my favourite style of movement and the music is so calming to dance to. Learning the repertoire helps me to improve with picking up choreography and teaches me to practice a variety of different styles of movement and intention. Looking into the next couple of months, I am really looking forward to working on Deborah's new film creation and just learning more repertoire!
Click to watch Andrew with his fellow 2020 CCDT Company
artists investigating an excerpt of Jera Wolfe's Embers.
Are there any choreographers, teachers, guest teachers or guest artists you have worked with at CCDT who have been greatly influential on your training and/or growth as a dancer and artist?
Every teacher at CCDT has done an excellent job at helping me to improve technically and helped me to train at a more intense level. Speaking of a few, Natasha Poon Woo has immensely helped me to improve over these last few months! She gives amazing corrections and the way that she teaches really sticks with me and allows me to understand and apply the correction right away. She is also very encouraging with her feedback and always gives great examples of how to fix them. Carmen Cairns has also been incredible and really helped me to notice the things I could improve on in ballet. She always helps you to apply your corrections and never gives up on it; even if you don't get it right away. After being at home for about 6 months, my technique definitely was not at the same level it had been before and I wouldn't have been able to bring it back to where it was if it weren't for all of my teachers.
What's a fun fact about you most people don't know?
I am obsessed with Harry Potter! I have watched the series fully through probably 25 times in the last few years.
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?
Along with all of the amazing technical training I am receiving at CCDT, I am learning many important things that I can use in my every day life. I am learning about commitment and time management; as well as improving my organizational skills and just an overall sense of memory while learning all of the choreography.
Who is someone who regularly inspires you as a dancer/artist/creator/human being?
Someone who inspires me regularly would have to be my parents! My mom was a dancer when she was a kid and even went to Cawthra Park Secondary School for dance. My dad, on the other hand, doesn't have a dancing bone in his body but still supports me in my passion. Both of my parents work incredibly hard for my sister and me and do anything for us to be happy. It inspires me every day to work my hardest for them and to try my hardest at all times. They do everything for me and all I can do to repay them is show my dedication to dance, my studies, and show my gratitude!
What are you obsessed with these days?
Along with Harry Potter, I am obsessed with watching old dance videos from when I was younger and watching episodes of Dance Moms, haha. I also love to put on music and come up with choreography!
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about auditioning for CCDT?
Do it!! It is one of the most amazing things that has happened to me! Just work your hardest and don't let yourself stress about anything! Enjoy it.
Share an inspirational quote that you live by.
"If you can dream it, you can do it" - Walt Disney
From left: Claire Finlayson, Andrew Clifton, and Kaiya Lee
Photos by Francesca Chudnoff