25-year old old Alexandria DiFazio has been dancing almost all her life. From the age of three, she immersed herself in all forms at dance at Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts – from Russian Classical Ballet and modern to jazz, musical theatre, hip hop, tap, and flamenco. She has also studied both classical voice and piano at HCA for several years. A graduate of York University’s dance program, Alexandria is now an instructor at the Conservatory – bringing her love and passion for dance to Adult Beginner Contemporary class on Wednesday evenings.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your history with Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts?
I began dancing at HCA back when the studio was located on Ferguson Street, with training in ballet. As my technique – any my ankles – became stronger. I bought my first pair of pointe shoes and danced a little closer to the sky. As HCA focuses on technique and passion, rather than dancing in a competitive nature, I completed all of my examinations from the Primary levels to the Intermediate/Pre-Elementary levels with Distinction. I feel that all the training I received in preparation for these examinations transformed me into a stronger, more disciplined dancer. I danced at HCA all the way up until I graduate high school, studying at York University and completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours in Dance. The program was challenging – physically, mentally, and emotionally – but my years at the Conservatory helped prepare me. My strong technique, dedication, and level of discipline set me apart from most dancers in the program.
How have you seen HCA change and grown over the years that you’ve been here?
I have watched young dancers at HCA who are now senior students. I remember watching the painting of the beautiful ladies above the front desk come to life. I remember the artist [Alexander Dzuybko] allowing my older brother to climb up and paint a small portion of it. I remember walking up the flight of stairs above the third floor studio, as it used to be an attic that held beautiful costumes from The Nutcracker and past performance. I have seen HCA grow into a studio that offers classes in all areas of the arts, expanding to provide instruction in music, dance, drama, visual arts, and musical theatre as well as field trip programming for local school boards The Conservatory plays a large role in community arts education, implementing the Culture for Kids After School Arts Program through its sister nonprofit; I participated in this initiative as a dance instructor. It has been an amazing experience to see so many positive changes happen in one place throughout my lifetime.
What’s your favourite Conservatory memory?
I have so many amazing memories from my countless years at the Conservatory – from classes, to examinations, recitals, quick changes, and performing in The Nutracker – but there is one specific memory that will always stand out in my mind. Vitek held auditions for any dancer who wished to perform a solo, duet, or trio featuring their own choreography at the year end recital. When I was 8 years old (still one year too young), I decided to audition for the very first time. I choreographed a ballet solo to Enya’s Only Time, and I would always practice in front of my mom to get a second option. She was always so great at telling me what looked good. On the audition day, I remember being ridiculously nervous. There were about 40 dancers in total who show up for the audition, many of them much older than me. When my name was called, I walked to my starting position and danced my hear out. Once auditions were complete, all the dancers waited in the front foyer for the results. I was ecstatic to hear that I was successful and it quickly sunk in that I would have the chance to perform my solo at the year end recital. That was just the beginning for me. Every year after that, I performed a solo in either ballet or jazz style, with my signature sparkly custom-made costumes.
What impact has your time at HCA had on you? In your role as instructor, what impact do you hope to have on your students?
Without the experiences I gained and training I received here, I would not be where I am today. I learned the discipline, resilience, and strength to become a well-rounded dancer and person. I was given endless support and guidance from my teachers who helped me realize my potential. As an instructor, I strive to have a positive impact on my students. I hope that they will leave my class feeling good about themselves and proud of the work they do. I want each of my students to feel safe in the classroom so that they can ask questions and take risks without feeling judged. Finally, I wish nothing but wonderful experiences for my students, just as I had during my time as a student at HCA.
What other projects are you working on right now? What’s next on the horizon?
This is my third season as a member of Hamilton Tiger-Cats Cheerleaders and my first season as Captain. I absolutely love being part of this team. I get to dance and perform in front of 25,000 fans at every home game and choreograph dances that are performed centre-field. I also completed a Bachelor of Education in Music-Vocal from Brock University and just recently got accepted onto the Occassional Teacher List with HWCDSB, so I am looking forward to this new chapter in life.
Any words that you’d like to add?
The Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts was my first outlet to express myself in the most beautiful way. I am thankful to Vitek for giving me so many opportunities and for continuing to be supportive of my plans for the future. HCA is the place where it all started – the place that helped me learn and grow; the place that gave me opportunity, amazing friendships, and even better experiences; the place that opened my eyes and allowed me to witness my potential as an artist; the place that gave me the confidence and strength needed to succeed in this sometimes not-so-kind industry; and the place that helped me realize I was born to dance.