Editor’s note: As the Juno Awards 2013 prepare to celebrate the best of Canadian music this weekend, Western Journalism students help us celebrate the best in Western Music. Read the full Music Issue.
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Miranda Wickett is convinced she was born to dance.
“I apparently came out of the womb with spirit fingers and a top hat,” she laughed.
The 28-year-old choreographer and dance teacher in the Don Wright Faculty of Music teaches a dance and rhythm class, blending tap, musical theatre, ballroom and Latin, all under music theory.
Wickett started taking dance lessons at 3, and had taken piano, violin and accordion lessons before she was 10. But above all else, Wickett felt a deep connection with dancing.
“I think there’s something innate in dance that allows you to express things you could never express through any particular language. There’s always a missing word you’re looking for you can dance but you can’t say,” she said.
She was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., into a musical family. Her mother is a high school music teacher; her father plays bass and guitar.
After studying music in Denmark in 2000 and 2001, Wickett studied Political Science at Western, graduating in 2006. That year, she began her own dance studio in London, and realized she wanted to make it her career.
When one of her friends was diagnosed with cancer at 21, Wickett saw how short life was.
“She was the spark for me to do it. If I didn’t do it now, when was I going to do it?” she said. “I thought, ‘I need to do what I love and that’s what I love. Why am I trying to fight it?’”
She went back to school and studied dance education at the University of Regina in 2011. But her education didn’t stop there; she’s currently working toward a masters in dance education through the University of North Carolina.
She is a choreographer at the Canadian Operatic Arts Academy (COAA), an education-based workshop centering on opera choreography. Wickett also works with elementary and secondary schools as a freelance dance educator.
“My passion is educating my students. My passion used to be being on stage, and now for some reason it has changed,” she said. “I love to see the bright lights go on to students’ faces or, you know, that little light bulb over their heads in the classroom.”
Sophie Roland, director of COAA, spoke of Wickett’s contagious love for teaching.
“Just being with Miranda is enough to create passion in the people that she works with,” she said. “She’s even had people don’t have to go to her class just ask, ‘Can I go? Can I please join?’ because the energy she puts into her teaching is motivation enough that people want to be next to that.”
While she says she is doing exactly what she loves right now, she hopes someday she’ll be able to teach at Western full-time.
“I love that I feel at home here,” she said. “I feel like I owe something to … the people that have come before me to continue to make a home for people like me.”