This week we have an incredibly gifted and extraordinary soul to share with you! We are so excited for you to get to know our #FEMMEFEATUREFRIDAY, Amanda Donato. What makes this girl so special is her steadfast interest in the mystery and magic of life. Amanda is committed to cultivating her own inner growth, which allows her to be open to receiving the answers needed for any obstacle she faces. What we admire most about this amazing woman is how she welcomes change with open arms. She reminds us that when we are aware of the chaos we experience, we often look for solitude in the things we love to do which allows us to get to know ourselves on a deeper level.

It goes without saying that this girl is a stunning mover! Amanda has had the privilege of dancing for Helix Dance Project under the direction of Linda Garneau, as well as Gadfly under the direction of Apolonia & Ofilio and Bridge To Artists under the direction of Vlad Novitski. She has had the opportunity to work with some of the most esteemed choreographers in the Canadian dance industry including Cora Kozaris, Tiffany MacLachlan, and Caroline Torti. Amanda is also currently on faculty at The Underground Dance Centre and Millennium Dance Complex Toronto. When she’s not in the dance studio, you can without a doubt find Amanda in the yoga studio… Amanda is a Registered Yoga Teacher 250 HR and teaches weekly drop-in class at YogaTree, Pure Yoga and Afterglow Studios in Toronto. Additionally, Amanda holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Minor in Sociology from Ryerson University.

An artist through and through, Amanda has a kickass dedication to understanding and knowing the body and mind in order to be better at her craft. The thing we love most about her is how passionate she is to share her vast wealth of knowledge and skill to elevate other artists. We hope that Amanda inspires you to fearlessly follow your curiosity no matter where it may lead you. Not to doubt the voice that dares you to be different and to always question any label or expectation that society may have assumed for you. Amanda reminds us that change starts with us! When we find the confidence to go out into the world and say, “hello, this is me” without fear of being judged. Thank you Amanda for being transparently real!

Written by Alessia Rotino

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

You are such a beautiful mover! What do you love most about dance? How has it shaped you into the woman you are today?

I have this everlasting dialogue with dance that merges and intertwines with every other aspect of my life. I love that it keeps me connected... attuned... available. I love the impermanence of it all; the present is amplified, and the work ends up living like an echo. Dance is always saying: “You are in flux like I am... and strength is not stagnant.”

I think dance demands your full attention, and requires all of you. It is hard for me to identify aspects of myself that have not been touched or enhanced by it. My values are shaped by and tested by dance in all of its trials and tribulations... especially in my choice to pursue it professionally.

For instance, dance has contributed to my work ethic, resilience, empathy level, curiosity... the way I process information. It has influenced the way I personally connect to my female energy... and to others. This is ongoing...

When was the last time you felt you were being challenged mentally and spiritually? What was going through your head and how did you overcome it? What lesson did the experience teach you?

I am often feeling mentally and spiritually pushed. It has become this default state that I have learned to appreciate... and one that I actually find myself seeking when things plateau.

There is one slice of time that felt particularly challenging. I moved to Cairo, Egypt for 7 months in June 2017 on a contract as a dancer and assistant choreographer on a project. It taught me much - but was rather turbulent in its unfolding. In the midst of abundant conflict and emotional stress, I was constantly knocking down and rebuilding aspects of myself. Being away from home put a magnifying glass on all of this, and deep reflection was inevitable.

Countless lessons learned and my favorite is this: knowing your worth is everything - and integrity is a non-negotiable.

We love that you have so many artistic passions! Where do you find inspiration?

I find life to be very stimulating in itself. Finding inspiration in what one would consider the mundane or ordinary is a gift I have nourished over the years. Everything informs everything. The way cream expands and spirals in a clear cup of iced coffee. Or the way light bends. Ink on paper.

The body definitely inspires me. It is this impeccable, intelligent, intricate mechanism. And the brain, of course; it’s a universe. Music inspires me. Landscapes inspire me. Architecture inspires me. Space inspires me. Research methods inspire me. My many teachers and colleagues inspire me. New places inspire me (... so do old places). 

I could go on.

What changes do you hope to see for women in the future? What does female empowerment mean to you?

My first thought on this matter is always representation. I want female-identifying persons to be heard - without having to scream. I want female bodies and minds properly represented and celebrated in all mediums and fields. This is about equal and/or equitable accessibility and opportunity. 

On a more micro level, I want every human being to understand that their words carry a weight and a history. Everyday language has the ability to reinforce overarching differences and oppression in the subtlest ways - especially in the context of language surrounding the female mind and body. 

I see empowerment as less about authority and positions of power - and more about knowledge attained and applied. Female empowerment is about navigating the world in an intelligent, unapologetic way. It’s about standing your ground as an individual, and as a pivotal member of a larger collective. It’s about embracing your personal relationship with being female, and letting it ripple outward in all of its glory.

What’s your definition of a YGTGirl?

I consider a YGTGirl to be a wonderful force of a person. She is someone who moves and pursues her callings with a sense of conviction and honest confidence. In empowering others, she empowers herself (and vice versa).