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Introducing Hannah Clifton

Hannah Clifton is a Grade 11 dancer at Etobicoke School of the Arts and a brand new member of CCDT's company this season. She shares her early takeaways from these first months of dancing with a contemporary repertoire company, from diving into new movement and honing her technique to forging meaningful connections with her fellow company members - whether it's dancing or watching movies together! - through Zoom.

Describe your history with CCDT.

This is my first year with CCDT. My first time at CCDT was the audition for the company, and I was over the moon when I found out that I was going to be a full company member. I have made so many friends that I feel like I have known for years. We even set up Zoom meetings after class sometimes and watch movies together. A highlight from my time at CCDT so far would be learning the repertoire. All of the pieces are so different from one another, which makes it really fun to learn!

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?

A challenge that occurred from dancing at home during the lockdown was the amount of space that my brother, Andrew and I had to dance in. At first it was very crammed, as we had all of our furniture out, but my parents moved all of the furniture, so that we could have a bigger space to dance in, which was very helpful. I was really happy that SunDance was still occurring online because it allowed me to do something that I love everyday and still connect with others through Zoom. What helped me to stay positive was the thought that we would eventually be back in the studios, which gave me something to look forward to. Even though dancing online was fun, dancing in the studio for the first time in months was the best feeling! This experience has taught me to never take dancing in a studio for granted again.

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 the lockdown, one thing that I did a lot of was reorganizing and decorating my room. I had so much time to deep clean my room, and I changed the look of my room all the time. I’ve always loved decorating, but the lockdown gave me so much time to find new ways to make my room an enjoyable space for me. It brought me a lot of joy!

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?

The thing that I am currently most enjoying is working on Alyssa Martin’s piece! Alyssa is such an amazing choreographer and I love working with her. The process for choreographing this piece has really pushed me out of my comfort zone and it has been such a fun and amazing experience! I am really looking forward to the WinterSong virtual watch party and overall just continuing to learn new works!

Watch Hannah dancing with the rest of the cast in an early rehearsal for STAR SEED, a new upcoming dance film choreographed and directed by Alyssa Martin.

What's a fun fact about you most people don't know?

I love going out to brunch, to a place called Cora’s! It is my all time favourite thing to do. I don’t quite know why, but something about it reminds me of my childhood and I love going with my friends.

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?

Although CCDT is helping me with improving my technique and finding new ways to interpret movement, they have also taught me how to persevere and manage my time, which are skills that are very useful in other aspects of my life.

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?

All of the teachers at CCDT are amazing. You can see that they really care about you and want you to be the best dancer that you can be. Natasha Poon Woo is an incredible teacher who has helped me improve so much. She gives great corrections and helps to apply them by showing demonstrations and giving ideas that you can visualize to help you. She gives off a great energy that you can feel when you step into her class, which makes me want to do better. Every teacher at CCDT is amazing and without them, I wouldn’t be improving.

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

Someone who inspires me as a dancer is Lucy Vallely. For years, she has been my idol and I hope that one day I will be able to take one of her classes in person. She is so different from many dancers that I see nowadays, and I think what I love most about her is that she stays true to herself. Her movement and technique are so flawless that it makes the best combination.

What are you obsessed with these days?

One thing that I am recently obsessed with is watching Christmas movies! Almost every single night when I get home I play a new Christmas movie. I don’t know why, but watching them makes me so happy and I’m so thrilled that the Christmas season is officially starting!

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

Just go for it!! No matter what the outcome is, the audition is a really great experience that you can learn from, and if you are nervous, think about how everyone wants you to do really well!

Share an inspirational quote that you live by.

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are too small.”

Hannah Clifton and Uma Roberts

Photos by Francesca Chudnoff


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