By Michele Wing
Mandy Clifford, Newburgh Free Academy dance teacher, has been dancing for as long as she can remember. Clifford’s dance students have gone on to perform in various productions, including “Hamilton.”
Clifford was born in a suburban town outside of Atlanta, Ga. As a child, Clifford’s mother said she needed an outlet for her energy. She’s been involved in training, performing, and teaching dance ever since.
Starting with ballet and tap, Clifford began competing at age 10, and continued through high school. Encouraged by her instructors to go into performing, Clifford set off for college at Marymount Manhattan to earn a degree in fine arts. While in college, she developed an interest in choreography. But after sustaining a knee injury, Clifford decided to pursue teaching.
“You can only dance when you’re young; those dance years are very competitive and the older you get the more difficult it is,” she said. Clifford continued dancing with a couple of companies and auditioned for parts, but her focus turned toward a career in choreography and teaching. “I have to say, I like it a whole lot more than performing. I like the crafting of it (a production), the building and creativity involved.” Clifford says she likes having a voice in what gets on stage, and having her vision unfold. She received a teaching certificate, and decided that “performing would be for fun, not for paying rent.”
Clifford started a cooperative student-teaching position at Julian Richmond School in New York City. Because of work commitments and having a rented apartment in Manhattan, she opted to attend college year-round, and was able to graduate a year early with a degree in dance performance and a minor in education and Spanish.
After getting her teaching certificate, Clifford decided to get her master’s in dance education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She obtained a master’s in education with a concentration in choreography.
Around that time, she married her husband, Don, whom she met while at school in NYC. The couple settled back in NYC.
To read the full article see the Feb., 10 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.