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.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:
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Dancers are naturally "in their heads" all the time—but not always in productive ways. Long days of receiving and applying corrections, taking class, and performing can get to even the most composed individuals. What should you do when you feel like your mind is just as busy as your rehearsal schedule? Try meditation. Dance Spirit turned to Adreanna Limbach, a head teacher at NYC-based meditation studio MNDFL, for a breakdown of this highly beneficial practice.
Liz Imperio teaching at Hollywood Vibe, Courtesy of Hollywood Vibe
It's an increasingly common scenario: A talented dancer wins big at a competition, is offered an assistantship with a famous faculty member, and ends up leaving her hometown studio to travel with a convention. Convention-hopping has obvious benefits. Every event generates new content for dancers to post on social media, gives them a better shot at ending up on their favorite choreographers' accounts, lets them learn from the best of the best, and helps them make valuable connections. "Traveling is a great way for dancers to gain admirers around the country," says Jen Jarnot, owner of Artistic Fusion Dance Academy in Thornton, CO. "That's something every dancer craves." So it's no surprise that weekend FOMO has been blazing through studios like wildfire.
But is this jet-setter lifestyle really the most effective road to take? Can weekends of dancing with top talent truly replace the bread and butter of daily work at your home studio? The answer, according to most industry experts, is no. We asked five pros to explain why.