Amanda Cleghorn, 15, is a leggy lyrical dancer who seems as comfortable performing soaring split leaps and fast à la seconde turns as she does being tossed into the rafters by her partner. In The First Time, one of 16 dances Amanda took to Co. Dance Nationals in Orlando this past summer with her Toronto-based studio Performing Dance Arts, she stood out from the rest.
In this amorous duet with Ethan Lafleur, Amanda, clad in white chiffon, floated through tender lifts, speedy chainées and even an onstage kiss that garnered approving hollers from the audience. “In the dance, [Ethan and I are] thinking about acting [like we] love each other,” says Amanda, adding that once onstage, she concentrated more on feeling the dance than worrying about technical aspects. “I just felt free.”
During comp season, Amanda dances every day after school and on weekends, up to 20 hours a week. To keep up with her schoolwork, she uses her lunch periods and time spent commuting to the studio to complete assignments. To young competitors, she offers this advice: “Everyone wants to win, but don’t think about first place. Think about doing your best and doing better than you did [last time.]”
Fast Facts Age: 15 Studio: Performing Dance Arts Location: Woodbridge, Ontario (suburb of Toronto) ’06 Awards: Senior Performance of the Year, Senior Duo/Trio Class Actions: Trains in jazz, tap, lyrical, ballet, acro, hip hop and partnering Comp History: Amanda has been competing since age 6, in such events as Starpower, Dance Masters of America and American Dance Alliance.