This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Amanda Cleghorn. Born to perform and entertain, Amanda took her first dance steps at the age of three. For fifteen years she trained extensively in ballet and pointe, modern, lyrical/contemporary, jazz, hip hop, tap, musical theatre, acro, and lifting and partnering. Amanda began her training at JoAnne Chapman School of Dance in Mississauga, Ontario where she gained a solid foundation in technique. She furthered her training at Vlad’s Dance Company in Markham, Ontario for one year, and then at Performing Dance Arts (PDA) in Woodbridge, Ontario for six years. Amanda attributes her entry into the professional dance industry to PDA, owing much of her success to the studio.
In June 2009, Amanda graduated as a dance major from the arts program at Cawthra Park Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario. Some of her many accomplishments in the competitive dance world include winning Dancer of the Year and The George Lon Memorial Award 2008/09 at American Dance Awards. She has had the opportunity to assist renowned choreographers such as Tyce Diorio, Stacey Tookey and Mia Michaels at national dance conventions, for So You Think You Can Dance Canada (SYTYCDC) Season 2 and 4 and for the American version of So You Think You Can Dance Season 8.
While Amanda found tremendous success in competitive dance, she now continues to work professionally. You may have seen her as a “Camp Star” hip-hop dancer in the Disney Family Channel movie, Camp Rock 2 – The Final Jam choreographed by Rosero McCoy and Chuck Maldonado from Stomp the Yard. You can also see her as a hip-hop dancer in the major feature film Honey, starring Jessica Alba, choreographed by Luther Brown and Laurie Ann Gibson. Amanda was a principal dancer in the promo-commercial for Season 1 of SYTYCDC choreographed by Blake McGrath, and again one of four dancers in the promo-commercial for Season 4 choreographed by Mia Michaels. Amanda was a featured dancer in recording artist Cascada’s newest music videos, “Au Revoir” and “San Francisco” choreographed by Luther Brown. She danced in the ABC Family’s Christmas movie “Desperately Seeking Santa,” in a major feature film “Cobu 3D” choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon D’Umo, and in an episode of hit tv shows such as “Nikita” choreographed by Roberto Campanella and “The LA Complex” choreographed by Jeff Dimitriou. Amanda has also had the chance to dance on stage with Deborah Cox and Kellylee Evans for the opening performance of the Gemini’s 2011.
Most notably, Amanda appeared on SYTYCDC Season 3, finishing in the Top 2 as Canada’s favourite female dancer. Her appearance on the show gained her the privilege of working with choreographers such as Tony Meredith and Melanie LePatin, Jean Marc Genereux, Sergio Trujillo, Melissa Williams, Bill T. Jones, Longinus Fernandes, Gustavo Vargas, Sabrina Matthews, Sean Cheesman and Sho-Tyme. In addition to strengthening her core dance genres, she learned new types of dance including the tango, cha cha, salsa, quick step, house, afro-jazz, broadway and bollywood. Amanda describes the show as ‘an experience of a lifetime.’ She plans on continuing to push towards a productive career in dance, as well as in acting and singing. The entertainment industry is where she belongs; her love for all forms of art is second to none. Amanda truly lives for an audience, to perform on stage and in front of the camera.
Bio Provided By Amanda
Find out what Amanda had to say in this weeks shout out…
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Amanda: Yess!!! One thing I do remember when I was younger was all the crazy facial expressions I made on stage. I was in love with performing and entertaining everyone 24/7. I was definitely far from being a shy dancer and I loved to be the centre of attention. My place to shine was on stage and nothing was better than that!!!!
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your
Amanda: Of course when I was younger, like any other young dancer, I always loved making up my own dances and shows to perform in front of my family. Most of which was probably improv at the time lol, but the first time I formally choreographed was in high school. I was a part of a Dance Repertoire and it was a group choreographed piece to the song “Bleeding Love” by Boyce Avenue. Looking back now, I would’ve definitely made a few changes lol.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling
Amanda: A lot of dancers are scared of free styling and I must admit I was to when I was younger. It definitely isn’t as easy as it looks and there’s so much to learn from it. Once you realize that there’s no right or wrong way to free style you learn to love it. It really helps shape a new way for you to move. Just be in the moment and trust yourself. Let your body take over and see what you can discover. Don’t worry about what you look like or how good it looks to others. Sometimes it might not feel good and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means that you’re discovering a new way of moving. If you want to explore different movement you have to be okay with letting go. I’ve learned that It’s okay to make mistakes or do new things that you’ve never done before because that’s how you grow. I think it’s a lot more beneficial for someone to go way past their comfort zone than to coast their way and go back to what they always know. Dive into it head first without thinking about it.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Amanda: Inspiration. I’ve got to love the song I’m choreographing to and want to dance to it. If the music inspires me the movement comes so much easier and it’s that much more enjoyable to choreograph.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Amanda: There are a lot of great figures in the dance industry that I look up to. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some world renowned choreographers that have made an impact on the dancer I am today. Mia Michaels, Stacey Tookey and Tyce Diorio are a few choreographers that I’ve have the chance to work with and I admire. They’re such amazing assets to the dance industry and their work has added a whole new level to dance. Of course there are choreographers that I’m a huge fan of that I haven’t necessarily worked with. Wade Robson, Sonya Tayeh and Travis Wall to name a few. One person that really led me to pursue a dance career is my dance teacher Danny Poland. His dedication, energy and charisma has influenced me to push myself in everything I do. He’s one person that has always believed in the best for me. There are also so many brilliant dancers that I get so inspired watching. We’re so lucky to have sources like Youtube that allow us to watch dancers and their performances across the world!!!
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Amanda: There are so many great TO choreographers to work with! I love working with Luther Brown. He has such a great energy to feed off of and he knows how to work hard and have a good time in rehearsal. The first project that I got to work with Luther was in Honey in 2003 and I got to reconnect with him on SYTYCDC. It’s always great having Lu Brown back in Toronto!
Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?
Amanda: I’ve only had the chance to dance for a couple of artists, but my favourite artist that I’ve worked with this far is Cascada. I got to work with her in both her music videos for “San Francisco” and “Au Revoir”. Her personality is amazing and she’s such a nice person as well as a talented artist. I admire artists who are humble about their successes and are genuine and sincere to everyone no matter what. She was a real pleasure to work with.
Nikki: What was it like being the female winner for the 3rd season of SYTYCDC?
Amanda: It was incredible to say the least!!! I was honoured to be the female winner of Season 3. Everyone’s dream is to be a part of the show and to come out as Top female was even more than I ever imagined. I’m so thankful for having this experience because I not only learned so much about myself, but it was a great platform for me to start my dance career. It really proved to me and more how much I love dance and how much I can accomplish with a lot of determination and hard work. I got to meet so many talented choreographers and dancers that I have reconnected with in different jobs or events these past couple of years. This is one experience in my career that I will never forget. I have taken so much from this opportunity and I will continue to use what I learned from the show in everything I do from now on!
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Amanda: I’ve had so many amazing opportunities that followed after the show. I finished shooting a movie in the summer choreographed by So You Think You Can Dance’s Tabitha and Napoleon D’Umo called “Cobu 3D”. I also got the chance to work with them on the finale scene of “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked”. I danced in an ABC Family Channel Christmas Movie “Desperately Seeking Santa” with four other dancers and I was a dancer in one episode of “The L.A. Complex” choreographed by Jeff Dimitriou. I was in the Season 4 SYTYCDC Promo Commercial choreographed by Mia Michaels and I was a dancer in a workshop for a musical called “Dancer” choreographed by Stacey Tookey in Toronto. I assisted Sean Cheesman on the Russell Peters Christmas Special and I’ve had the chance to assist Mia Michaels, Stacey Tookey and Tyce Diorio at conventions. I performed at the ParaPan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico choreographed by Luther Brown and Linda Garneau. I performed with Howie D. from the Backstreet Boys and Aleesia at the CityTv New Years Eve Bash 2012 at Nathan Philips Square. To say I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve been given as a dancer is an understatement. I’ve been so lucky to be given all these incredible experiences and to be surrounded by such brilliant people!!!
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess that dancers from other parts of the Country and States may not?
Amanda: I think Toronto dancers have the hunger and desire to train, audition and work in the industry. The dance industry in Toronto has been getting better over the years, but no matter what, the states has always had a lot more to offer in terms of jobs for dancers. We’re not exposed to the amount of auditions or jobs that dancers in LA or NYC have on a daily basis which increases the pressure for us to book the jobs we do have in Toronto even more. That’s why I think we’re such hard workers and we train as much as we can, so that when the big opportunities do come to Toronto, we’re all prepared and ready to audition!!
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training
Amanda: Be willing to work as hard as you can to strengthen your art. Enjoy and learn from every job you do and make connections along the way. Of course you’ll have low moments in your career where you’re unsure of what you’re doing, but when you’re feeling like you’re at your lowest point, it only means that your career can skyrocket from there. Eventually all of your hard work will pay off and there will be a lot of generous people who will be willing to help you fulfill your career goals. All of it will eventually come together, you just have to put the work in to get the results you want! 🙂 It all starts with you believing in yourself and eventually the universe around you will make whatever it is happen.
THANK YOU AMANDA FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO
CHECKOUT AMANDA’S SYTYCDC MONTAGE……