Learning to fly
Of all the arts, the most magical is theatrical dance. Using their body as both canvas and brush, dancers shape and sculpt movement and space, thrilling the imagination with their grace, precision, and beauty. After years of preparation, discipline, and technical training, those gifted with the prerequisite talent seem to be able to fly.
Andrea Hill, in her aerial silks/acrobatic routine for her 2019 Huntsville’s Got Talent performance, dazzled all those in attendance with just that – she flew, suspended above the stage, in an act of tremendous skill, stamina, and wonder.
Since the dawn of human history, formal dance has been a part of life across all cultures – from the ritual dancers of India and China, through to the emotional allure of ballet, and on to jazz and hip hop, dancers perform daring, gravity-defying leaps and feats of agility, all in joyous celebration of being alive. As with Andrea Hill’s poignant aerial silks act, onlookers can only respond with awe at our own earth-bound limbs.
Andrea’s love of dance began when she was eighteen months old. Her mother, Lynn Hill – ‘Miss Lynn’ as she is affectionately known as a dance teacher at the renowned Muskoka Dance Academy in Huntsville – was a professional dancer and magician’s assistant in her early performing life and, as Andrea recounts, not only an inspiration but a formative influence on her choice to pursue continued development in dance.
Her childhood and adolescence were filled with lessons and encouragement. As a result, she became a fully rounded dancer in all formats – tap, jazz, ballet, acro, and contemporary – all of which are taught to aspiring young dancers at the Huntsville studio. As she got older, particularly in her early teens, Andrea realized that not only did she enjoy the classes, she also relished the competition by which progress in dance is assessed. Around age thirteen she began to take dance more seriously as she gained more positive results. Entering Huntsville’s Got Talent at that age sparked her deepening interest. Although she didn’t win her first showing, the next year she won at age 14, which was really exciting.
Along with her bourgeoning competitive success, Andrea found herself in a community of like-minded artists that she describes as almost family. Surrounded by loving support and guided by teachers, including the owner of Muskoka Dance Academy, Sue Kirwin Campbell, who diligently safe-guarded her physical and mental well being, Andrea thrived. The physical demands on a student cannot be overlooked. Continual training and care are given to balance, flexibility, and strength, preparing a student for the rigors of live performance.
As her skills advanced, Andrea become more “addicted” to the possibilities of what she might accomplish and thus be able to do. Acrobatic arts became an intense passion for her. Not only does it teach the necessary stretching and warm-ups required for acrobatic movement but it also conditions a body to execute movement and posture that are exceedingly difficult and strenuous and, for the dancer, exhilarating.
Serious dance students establish fundamental regimens to protect and ensure their physical safety. Andrea has adopted and perfected the advanced Paula Morgan Technique, “a structured warm-up designed to achieve the best strength, flexibility, technique, movement, knowledge, and understanding of the body.” Andrea has followed these techniques her whole life and attributes to them her core abilities.
In 2019, Andrea Hill auditioned for and was accepted to Team Canada Dance, an internationally recognized competitive organization that accepts elite dancers to represent their country on the world stage. Dancers at this level are given the opportunity to work with some of the finest choreographers and compete at the highest levels of skill. Although the pandemic interrupted the team’s ability to compete live in Spain as scheduled, the team did submit video presentations in the summer of 2021 and Andrea brought home two gold medals for her participation in a small acro team and the larger acro team. It’s not only a stellar achievement in itself at her young age but a promising indication of future possibilities.
Andrea is not sure what form her future stage work will take but she has begun to study kinesiology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo this school year. Kinesiology is the science and study of the body in motion with emphasis on sports, dance, and work. Andrea believes this will give her the acumen to further teach dance or support dancers over her career.
Of course, with her advanced level of training and artistry, Andrea can pursue many attractive prospects once she finishes her degree. Continued professional performance, teaching or choreography are among a few of the choices she has. Given her love of dance and especially acrobatics, it is foreseeable that she might even chase down her dreams at Cirque du Soleil or other prestigious touring acts.
What makes Andrea’s story so exciting is that she put in the hard work and determination to achieve this level of success, and one can only imagine how high she may fly or where her wings will take her.
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