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‘My determination is tested in daily training when I push myself to the limit.’

By Nancy Loucks-McSloy

Savhannah Crittenden is a performing artist and one of 10 youth worldwide to be accepted this year to Move With The Beat (MWTB) Academy, a prestigious circus school in Melbourne, Australia. She worked with academy director Meaghan Wegg, who has toured globally with the famous Cirque du Soleil, to prepare. The 18-year-old recent high-school graduate and member of Metropolitan United in London, Ont., started her training last August.

On getting started: The first time I saw Cirque du Soleil was a big top show in Toronto called “Kooza.” A ballerina brought me on stage, and I danced alongside her. Instantly, I knew I belonged on stage. I was fascinated by the delicate balance of poise and strength demonstrated by every artist. I started doing gymnastics when I was two years old, and when I was seven, I went to a camp at the National Circus School in Montreal [where she learned the basic techniques of cirque, a form of performing arts that uses circus techniques to tell a story]. Cirque was definitely for me.

On teaching others: I feel that I was put on earth to express my talents. I have a great passion for teaching this beautiful art form, and I had my own studio in London that allowed me to share my passion. I taught, in group and individual settings, 80 students from ages 4 to 40. I loved seeing the smiles on the faces of the audiences and children.

On church: My father is a minister, so I have always gone to church. I have danced in Christmas concerts since I was four and have always felt supported there. Metropolitan United even gave me space in the basement to run my own cirque studio. My church family has gone above and beyond anything I can imagine to support me. The studio space is maintained, office staff has helped with scheduling and other details, and everyone has promoted and attended my shows.

On MWTB Academy: I was scouted by MWTB at the 2016 cirque competitions in Grand Bend and Chatham, Ont. One evening after a long day of training, I found out that I had been accepted. I had a constant smile as I celebrated with family. I have worked hard for this, and my family has supported me.

I know that the two-year training will be the best in the world. I look forward to learning more about incorporating my personal and life experiences into my art form.

On hard work: This past summer, I trained for six hours each day and studied for two. Cirque takes form in many parts of my life, including training, seeing shows and attending expositions.

My determination has been tested in major ways many times, and is tested in daily training when I push myself to the limit. I have learned that I can use my inner strength when everything is hurting. 

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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