When life gets her down, dancing makes Hannah Cam feel better about everything that’s going on.
It’s a stress relief for her. If she’s feeling overwhelmed, she comes down to Spectrum City Dance studio and the movements and the rhythm calm her.
Dance has been in her life since birth, the 20-year-old said. “Right from when I could start walking, my mom said I’ve always been dancing everywhere.”
At the age of three, she started dance classes at Spectrum, where she has been ever since — first as a student and now as an instructor.
Cam excelled in dance as a student before graduating from Spectrum two years ago.
“When she was with us, she was one of the top performers,” said Ella Ferland, the artistic director at Spectrum.
Cam was a regular winner at the BC Annual Dance Competition in Prince Rupert. The three-day event attracts hundreds of dancers every year, who compete for awards and more than $50,000 in cash prizes.
The archives only go back to 2012, but Cam has won honours, such as Prince Rupert’s most promising dancer aged 13-18, a top-three finalist for Senior Performer of the Year, first-place in lyrical solo, third in classical ballet solo, second in jazz solo and second in jazz/lyrical duet, along with Emily Jack.
She also won the $1,000 Knights of Columbus scholarship for the arts in Terrace when she was a senior, which some consider more difficult to do.
Dancing is important to Cam, who plans to pursue a career in the sport. While she is an instructor right now, she sees herself as more of a performer.
“I might dance on a cruise ship for a little bit or even Broadway or possibly commercials or movies,” she said.
Cam is currently attending different auditions in other towns, trying to get herself out there so she can maximize her chances of dancing opportunities.
After she finished high school, Cam studied at The Source Dance Company, a semi-professional training and performance company in Vancouver. She spent two years there, training and teaching.
She transitioned from there into an instructor role at Spectrum this fall, a decision Ferland is loving so far.
“Because she’s just back from Vancouver and she’s been working with so many choreographers, she’s at the cutting edge of what’s going on right now. She’s an excellent example to her students,” she said.
Although performing is Cam’s ultimate goal, she is thoroughly enjoying teaching aspiring dancers.
“Honestly, I love it. The kids really bring out my energy and I like it a lot,” she said.
The studio keeps her busy. The instructor teaches classes seven days a week, which is exhausting but rewarding for her.
“It helps get me out of bed in the morning. It keeps me active and I just like being around kids. They always keep me happy,” Cam said.
Dance isn’t just a job for her — it’s a big part of everything she does.
“When a song comes on, I automatically think about what I can do with that song. There’s always movements going on in my head and I try to figure out a dance,” she said.
High school was a busy time for Cam. Besides dance, the athlete also played volleyball, basketball and badminton. It was a balancing act for her, but it was always about dance.
Cam, who was born and raised in Prince Rupert, was one of the teachers at the 21st Annual Associated Dance Arts for Professional Teachers (A.D.A.P.T.) workshop Spectrum held this past weekend. This was her first time teaching a workshop after participating in it since she was a kid.
She taught hip-hop class at the workshop, which hasn’t historically included the genre. It’s her hip-hop skills that are the reason she was asked to do this, Ferland said.
“She’s a fabulous hip-hop teacher. Hannah is a good all-around dancer but she’s got really strong hip-hop skills and is very comfortable,” Ferland said.
Including a Rupert product like Cam in Spectrum will bring a different aspect the workshop hasn’t had before.
“It shows Rupert kids that there’s life after Grade 12 if you want to dance. They’re inspired by her youth and they’re inspired by her passion, her technical ability and presence,” Ferland said.
When you first meet Cam, she might strike you as a shy person but just wait until she starts either teaching or dancing, and that’s when she’s in her element, Ferland said.
“She just comes alive when she’s teaching and I think that’s just what happens when you love to dance.”
The teaching and the classes are great and she enjoys it, but the reason for it all comes back to one thing for Cam.
“It’s performing on stage for me. I always look forward to being on stage and just performing. That’s my favourite thing about dance.”