My name is Miranda Leavitt, and I not only work with Christifer Duxbury, owner and instructor at Christifer Duxbury Dance Collective, he's my closest friend.
I'm telling you this straight off because I want to be completely honest with you, dear readers. This was intended to be puff piece, light and professional, about a business I happen to love, in an industry that can be difficult to work in. I'm starting with full disclosure because, as I was writing this light and professional puff piece, it morphed into something more. More intense, more revealing, more personal than I intended it to be. I tried to stop it – reworked and rewrote the whole thing over and over again – but it won't be stopped. I'm not sure why it happened, except that the purpose, the mission of CDDC is closely tied to the history and friendship Christifer and I share.
You see, Christifer and I have been best friends for almost twenty years. I know the phrase seems infantile, but it is perfectly apt, and yet strangely inadequate. We've stretched the ties of juvenile dependence into mature self-reliance and support. We've kept in touch over great distances, re-bonding at every opportunity until our friendship has spanned almost two decades of elation, heartbreak, disappointment, chaos, and personal triumphs. All this has led to a present in which we work together as instructors, and best friends, on a personal mission to share passionate performance and safe, supportive, social dance environs with the amazing and beautiful city of Calgary.
The Beginning of an Era
We met in tenth grade. Christifer saw me perform in the school musical with his sister, and the first conversation we had was his invitation for me to audition for his newly formed singing group. Not join – audition. My first thought was, "Who does this guy think he is?" My second thought was, "This guy has some guts!" And every once in a while those thoughts still flash through my mind, usually when he proposes a new plan to bring low cost dance lessons to Calgary youth, or sends me the final script for our next ambitious community performance.
Even in high school, Christifer had a charisma and passion that was contagious. He shared his vision of a trio of singers with voices that would blend and harmonize perfectly, and I caught the spark of his dream. Apparently, I impressed the judges; beating out a sweet little redheaded girl in my home room, who had a powerhouse voice, for a prestigious spot in the group that had no name. We had no idea how to turn a trio of students into a performance group, and although we met every morning before school to rehearse, nothing much came out of that audition but a lifelong friendship. I wouldn't change it for the world!
Besides our own personal singing group, we performed together in after school theatre, dance productions with the scope of major theatricals, and choir. We learned the skills to bring our passion projects to life, often working late into the night. We helped and supported each other, not just us two, but everyone in our circle of influence. We invested sweat under hot lights, strained muscles, even broken bones, and were paid dividends in the joy of creation, attainment of a goal, and of course, applause from our adoring fans (re: our parents). These were the seeds, planted by nurturing mentors, faithful teachers, and supportive parents, that gave us the confidence to work, and keep trying, despite failure or discouragement.
Christifer nurtured those seeds from the very beginning:
He joined Young Canadians and performed at the Stampede and other venues for years. He continued to train, worked hard, and became a dance instructor at Dance Energy. There, he expanded his repertoire, cultivated his business acumen, and shared with me his goal of one day owning his own studio.
For me, those seeds lay dormant for a few years:
I moved away from this beautiful city and dove into the behind the scenes action: I went to school and started writing for film and theatre, I did some voice acting and worked at a small production studio. I sought creative pursuits at every turn, but always felt something was missing – until I started dancing again.
Lindy hop, east coast swing, balboa, blues, these styles became my outlet and the channel for my creativity. I took classes and went to the social dance events every weekend. I became a dance evangelist, inviting all my friends and throwing myself into my lessons. When I finally came to my senses and moved back to Calgary, I was fully primed for what came next.
A Haven for Creatives of All Types
Christifer had learned everything he could from the wonderful people at Dance Energy and started his own business as a dance instructor. I had moved back to Calgary and was a little bit at a loss creatively. He offered me a job. Trained me. Certified me as an instructor in Latin, Ballroom, and Swing, and pitchforked me into lessons with the most beautiful, talented, friendly, astounding group of students I've ever met!
From there he shared his vision of what CD Dance Collective would be: a haven for creatives of all types. An inclusive, comprehensive, unique training ground for anyone who wants to learn to dance and perform. Once again, just like twenty years ago, the spark of his dream found kindling within me and now we work together again. Already, it has found purchase in students all over the city who come to Bankview Community Center to train with Christifer, and learn who they are as dancers, and as creatives themselves.
Christifer Duxbury Dance Collective offers a supportive environment to nurture passion in raw beginners and seasoned performers. Every year, twice a year, we choreograph routines and offer students the opportunity to perform in themed showcases: these are ambitious dance productions that offer scope for character, pantomime, acting, and even vocal performance. Our focus is to shine the light on our students, and bring out the spark of passion that resides inside each and every one of us.
I firmly believe that you already carry within you everything you need to achieve your dreams. If you've ever thought about learning to dance, or performing in front of an audience, CD Dance Collective is the place to be to nurture the seeds of passion and become exactly who you want to become.
Within this article are links to classes for kids or adults, proven performers or hopeful beginners. It took me years to return to my creative roots and rediscover my passion for dance and performance again. Christifer brought it all back for me. I really hope you won't wait so long.