Mikaela Orford finished her second year of our Professional Training Program in May of this year, and on our Gala Awards evening, she was presented with the 2015 Kathryn Ash Scholarship, a merit-based award given to a deserving student going into their final year of study. It is made possible by donations to the Kathryn Ash Scholarship Fund and is the equivalent to one-half of one year’s tuition. The final decision was made by a panel of senior faculty, staff, and Board members.
In their deliberations, the panel commended Mikaela’s beautifully written application, and found her writing to reveal a maturity in her artistic voice. She impressed them with her thoughtfulness, curiosity, and openness to all that is before her. The panel also remarked on her approach to embracing the many possibilities in her future, as well as an ability to synthesize that information to forge a clear path that utilizes her strengths in a unique way. Faculty members note that she is an exceptional and compelling dancer with a big, bold, and fearless physicality. She is focused, determined, dedicated; she dances with energy, commitment, and intelligence, as well as being a pleasure to teach.
Mikaela was born in Burnaby, British Columbia, and began her dance training just before her fourth birthday. She spent the next 14 years training and competing with group dances as well as solos. From 2010-2011 (during Mikaela’s Grade 10 year in high school), she was elected co-director of the school dance company. Outside of school, Mikaela danced with the semi-professional jazz company “BODY”, directed by Christie Lee Manning. In the summer of 2013, after graduation, she travelled to the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance for a summer program based on Gaga modern technique.
Mikaela says: “I began my education at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre in September of 2013. Looking back on how much I have already experienced, that truly feels like a lifetime ago. I came into the School with a reasonably strong technical base but I soon realized that in order to grow I needed to let go of past conclusions that inhibited further possibilities. I began making room for new ideas, propositions and suggestions by accepting my ignorance and moving past it. The fact that I don’t know everything just makes me really excited to keep learning from all the sources I am exposed to.
I will consider myself a student for the rest of my life, since there will always be something more to learn. My career and education leading up to this point in my life has been nothing but me taking hold of every experience and exposure, allowing me to evolve even further as an artist. It excites me that even after all these years I keep progressing and finding new things to enhance. It makes me wonder about how much more I can discover and accomplish.”