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Introducing Mariah Fernandes

A gifted young dancer, 17-year-old Mariah Fernandes brings multi-faceted artistry and creativity to her new role as a member of CCDT's company. Her keen willingness to learn is just one of the many traits that keeps Mariah on the path to growing her physicality and artistic voice to new heights this season.

Describe your history with CCDT.

This is my first year with CCDT! I auditioned for the company earlier this year, and have now been happily dancing with the company for a few months. There have been many highs of my experience so far, but I think the company photoshoot was one of my favourites. From dressing up, to dancing on the rooftop, the day was SO much fun and something that I will always remember.

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?

Training from home through the lockdown definitely took some getting used to. I personally struggled the most with feeling like I couldn't feel the energies of other dancers through Zoom. That sense of energy created in a room full of dancers is one of my most favourite things about dance, so adjusting to being in my space alone was super difficult. I worked to keep myself in good spirits by really trying to seek gratitude and being extra grateful for the little things. Talking to friends, dancing on my own, and spending extra time with close family are a few things that helped me stay happy and healthy :) Coming back to the studio, especially as a new member of the company has felt so fresh and exciting. Even with masks, simply being able to laugh and share movement in a studio setting has been such a restoring process for me.

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 our time apart, I tried to incorporate some old hobbies back into my life that I lost touch with over the years. Growing up, in addition to dance, I loved the visual arts and spent most of my time drawing and painting. Similar to dance, drawing has always been a creative outlet for me so having some time over the last few months to reconnect with that side of art was really nice.

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?

I love learning repertoire so i'm really excited to see what WinterSong, virtually, is going to look like. I've watched multiple WinterSong performances over the years through Cawthra Park and although circumstances are obviously quite different, I am hopeful that our virtual take on the show will be just as memorable!

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

I've been pescatarian for almost a year now! I challenged myself in January of 2020 thinking it would be a week long "resolution", and have now fallen in love with cooking and the overall lifestyle.

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?

CCDT already, in such little time, has taught me a lot about the importance of confidence and believing in myself. Confidence is something that I think everyone struggles with at various times, but as dancers specifically, this is common as we are often so hard on ourselves. All of the encouragement and positivity at CCDT brings me so much joy, and has made me realize how important it is to simply seize the moment and dance with no hesitation :) This is something that I will take with me outside of dance, and will continue to remind myself of each time I fall into that common spiral of self-doubt.

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 faculty and guests have so genuinely been incredible to work with and learn from. Speaking of a guest teacher, working with Darryl Tracy over the last few weeks has been so much fun and has really helped me re-connect to my love for movement. His class environment feels super natural and freeing for the body and mind which is something I always appreciate, as it never fails to start my Sunday mornings on a positive note!

Click to watch Mariah (in the red long-sleeved shirt) dancing in one of Darryl Tracy's November company modern classes.

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

Throughout my life, my mom has always been my greatest inspiration. She sees each day as a new opportunity to spread love, share her wisdom and lift the spirits of those around her. She has been there to support me no matter the circumstance and has been my partner in crime for as long as I can remember. I feel so grateful for our relationship and all that she has taught me, and will forever look up to her as my role model.

What are you obsessed with these days?

Recently I've been obsessed with bubble tea!! Company members Joshua Vilim and Soraya Lee Wo had insisted I get bubble tea with them a few months back, and although I was skeptical, it has now become a slight obsession.

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

DO IT! I think the audition is such a good a good way to get comfortable with a more "high pressure" environment, and if you feel nervous in any way, try to remember that everyone in the room (including faculty!) simply want to see you succeed.

Share an inspirational quote that you live by.

Even though the journey is marked with unknowns, may you always remember all the ways you have grown."

Katie Wetmore and Mariah Fernandes

Photos by Francesca Chudnoff


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