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On the Ground

Finding Rhythm, Finding Soul: Q & A with Alexandra Clancy

By Denise Solleza
  • Clancy / Photo courtesy of Clancy
  • Alexandra Clancy / Photo courtesy of Clancy
  • Clancy / Photo courtesy of Clancy

Alexandra Clancy is tapping her way into the heart of the Vancouver dance community. She trained in various dance styles at Danzmode and, at her teacher’s urging, joined the Vancouver Tap Dance Society’s youth company, TapCo, where she developed an appreciation for the history and culture of tap. She co-founded Third Party, a tap dance company that aims to show that tap can be versatile and current while still incorporating and respecting its history and music. Clancy wants to share her struggles and triumph through dance. “Having self-worth,” she says, “is the most important thing to have, in not just in the dance industry but in any field. I learned to love myself for who I was in the moment and appreciate all I was and had to offer right then.”

What gives you inspiration?
Everything in my daily life gives me inspiration. I am inspired to create by personal experiences and stories, or by topics and themes that I find important to share with others. Sometimes if there is a topic that I want other people to know about, I am motivated to create a new piece of choreography to educate through dance. I am also constantly moved by music and writing. I also love seeing my friends, mentors and other artists creating and doing amazing things. The more other people are following their dreams, doing what they love and expressing themselves, the more it inspires me to continue to work hard and do what I love.

You choreographed and filmed a piece that was accepted into a film festival in Vancouver. Is dance film something you are deeply interested in?
Initially, I choreographed the piece for my friend Mackenzie Cardwell and myself. We had both gone through personal hardships and felt emotionally attached to the song and, later, the choreography and the dance. We wanted to apply for an upcoming show and needed to film the piece. We quickly filmed it for the application, but during that process we began to brainstorm a more extravagant concept video that would match the emotional intensity of the dance. I am fortunate to have many talented friends, and after reaching out to Perry Sieben, he helped the vision come to life. We found an incredible venue and filmed all day, then spent hours editing the piece. Another friend of mine, Bryn Kinders, ended up dancing in the video with me, and she brought an incredible energy and unique voice to the video. We then recorded our tap sounds at the Vancouver Public Library, and with the help of Rowan Tichenor we spent many tedious hours layering and editing the sound for our piece. Dance film had not been something I was originally interested in, but after being a part of the process, I absolutely love it. 

What projects are you working on right now?
I am grateful to perform with various bands in Vancouver right now, working with live musicians and dancing at different venues from bars to theatres. I hope to continue the connection between musicians and tap dancers and develop strong relationships in the music community because it is such an important part of tap dancing. I teach dance full-time but am also working on filming two dance concept videos with members of Third Party. Third Party is also hoping to premiere its full-length show in August of this year, and I am so happy to be in the studio with them as much as I can. I also am continuing a class I run every Sunday called Sunday Night Tap Experience (SNTE). SNTE is an incredible opportunity to come take class on a weekly basis and learn as both a student and teacher. It is based off on a similar concept-class begun by Sarah Reich in LA, which she has run since 2008. In our iteration, each week a different teacher comes in and teaches an hour tap class and shares whatever warm-ups, technique and choreography they wish. I hope to work on continuing to grow and bring together the tap dance community in Vancouver.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career thus far?
The biggest challenge I have faced thus far has been myself. Your own mind is incredibly powerful, and learning to work with it, not against it, has been my greatest challenge. The fear of being judged by others used to stop me from being myself as a dancer, and I didn’t have the confidence to share my voice as an individual. I was scared of sharing my choreography or improvising for fear of not being good enough. With our generation being so involved in social media, I was constantly seeing first-hand how talented the world was, and consequently, I thought I could never match up to them. It was not until I was able to see myself as enough that I was able to enter into the dance world successfully. Having self-worth is the most important thing to have, in not just the dance industry but in any field. I learned to love myself for who I was in the moment and appreciate all I was and had to offer right then. 

What’s next for you? What are your long-term goals?
I would love to, one day, dance on Broadway – more specifically, to dance in Mary Poppins. I also hope to be in a contemporary dance company and experience life as a full-time contemporary dancer. I dream of developing a tap dance company that puts on shows frequently and tours. And I hope to, one day, travel the world through tap dance. My long-term goals are very big goals and also very diverse from one another. I love so many things under the umbrella of dancing and would be grateful to do any dance-related opportunity. My goal is to continue to practise, learn and work hard and be ready for whatever opportunity comes my way, because I know it will be the right one for that time in my life. Great mentors have told me, and I always remember, ‘Stay humble and be ready.’

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