This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to George Absi. Pursuant to his long time love for the arts and more specifically for dance, George has been a professional dancer for over ten years. He has been training in all genres, Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Tap and contemporary. He was born and raised in Ottawa, ON where he did most of his training which includes A.D.A.P.T and R.AD. After his training, George moved to Toronto to pursue his career as a professional dancer. He first landed a job working on a cruise ship. Soon after he landed jobs like dancing for International Artist PSY, Deborah Cox, Kreesha Turner, Fefe Dobson, Aleesia and Classified just to name a few. George performed and appeared on several T.V shows and commercials; this past year he appeared on Breakfast Television, Toronto International Film Festival, he acted on the T.V hit show Party Mama’s Season 4 and “Threads” a short film as a news anchor. He appeared on Cineplex commercials and Tim Horton’s Web Commercials. Over the years, he also danced contemporary Jazz and Hip Hop for various independent shows such as Pandora’s Box Choreographer Shamika Blake, Limitless Choreographer Scott Fordham and Notre Dame De Paris Chorographer’s Vlad and Linda Garneau to name a few. Recently he danced in a motion picture movie named “FULLOUT” airing this year on the Family Channel. George is an now the Artistic Director and Choreographer of T.D.C Entertainment catering to main event functions and corporate events such as The Luminato Festival, The Teddy Bear and The Bell Celebrity Gala. George was also nominated for his work for The Star Alliance Awards for best outstanding choreography for special events. He performed at Toronto Choreographer’s Ball for various choreographers including Leon Blackwood, Scott Fordham, Julia Cratchley, Shavar Blackwood and more. These days you can catch George teaching drop in classes at the Underground Dance Centre in the heart of downtown Toronto. George believes that with hard work and determination you can conquer anything in life.
Bio provided by George
Follow George on Instagram: @georgeabsi
Follow George on Twitter: @joujouabsi
Check out what George had to say in this week’s feature…
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
George: This may seem silly, but I was dancing as soon I was born. I barely ever sat still and always wanted to dance. I vividly remember always wanting to dance to the song “Jump” by Kris Kross. I would make my mom or dad play it constantly and I would obviously be wearing my clothes backwards, simply because it was the thing to do back then. I started professionally dancing at a dance studio in Ottawa, Greta Leeming Studio of Dance at the age of thirteen, and the rest is history.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
George: My very first song I choreographed to was “All That Jazz” from the Broadway hit musical “Chicago”. It was my first year of high school and I was asked to put together a piece for the year end Fashion show of the decades. I had dancers from various studios in Ottawa, and it was the only time we all danced together as a group aside from competing against each other at competitions. The experiences and the memories we made were unforgettable. It was full out choreography filled with high kicks, turns, jazz hands and old school jazz walks across the stage. I will never forget it.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to Free styling?
George: Free Styling is a form of confidence-boosting, self-expression and is usually a huge challenge for most dancers. My advice for dancers would be to dance to your highest potential, dance like no one is watching, always keep your audience engaged and most importantly, be confident in what you do. Never try something for the first time, that’s what class is for. At times use some sparse choreography as a very loose outline for the improvisation.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
George: Getting in the zone is a routine for me. The ambience and my surroundings are very important. Getting in the zone means having a connection with the music. I listen to the song over and over again to get all my ideas out. Then I start playing around with choreography. At times when I set a piece, I would have my little black book with a hint of sparkles to write down to create formation and images.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
George: My biggest influences in the Dance industry would have to be choreographers Brian Friedman, Yanis Marshall and Miguel Zarate. Just this past year I had the privilege to take class from Yanis and it was incredible. The feeling of letting go and dancing full out is the best feeling. All three choreographers influence me every day. They’ve allowed me to be who I am as a dancer and person. Never to hold back give it your all any chance you get. I have yet to take class from Miguel Zarate, but it’s indeed on my bucket list of 2015!
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
George: I absolutely love working with many choreographers in Toronto. Jeff Dimtrou is one choreographer I can say I worked with and learned so much from. His unique style and his positive surroundings are untouched. His way of teaching and getting his vision to come across is a process that I love to be a part of. I also can’t go on without mentioning choreographer Leon Blackwood. I’ve had the privilege working many jobs for Leon, and every single one turns out beautifully and even more powerful than the previous job. I’ve learned so much from Leon and I am happy to say I look up to him with tremendous respect.
Nikki: Name one of your favourite artists to work with and why? (It does not have to be a pop star. Any type of artist that a Dancer would work with i.e.; another Dancer, Choreographer, Musician etc.)
George: My all time favourite artist to work for is Miss Deborah Cox. Growing up I would always listen to her music. This past year I was honoured to dance for her live at The World Pride Festivities here in Toronto thanks to choreographer Scott Fordham. I will never forget rehearsing with her and having her sing live every run thru. She sounded and looked absolutely beautiful. Always very nice to her dancers and thanked us over and over again. It was a dream come true and I will never forget that feeling.
Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?
George: Determination, Drive, motivation, encouragement, fire, hard work are just a few qualities I believe Toronto Dancers possess. Everyone is simply different but we all want the same thing. It’s up to you to make it happen with your personal qualities. When you find yourself you will find others.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
George: Know your worth! When I first moved to Toronto I wanted to do everything possible even if I had to sacrifice my pay. To be honest, that’s how you have to get your foot in the door. However nowadays, emerging dancers are very well trained and are stepping into the industry a lot quicker than before. Therefore, dancers are willing to do high profile jobs for little or no pay. You are worth more! A non paying job to get known or recognized is when your choreographer isn’t getting paid or it’s for a good cause. Dancers must know that with great training and fantastic technique does not come great work ethic. You need to be considerable in all areas. Treat one another as you would like to be treated. Finally, dance from your heart. If it’s not coming from a good place your audience will see right thru you.
Nikki: Any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share with T.D.O.T.?
George: I am now currently choreographing and working as Artistic Director of T.D.C Entertainment, under the direction of Vanessa Engle. I create pieces to suit and capture to any high profile event. Also, I was recently part of a motion picture movie named “FULLOUT” dancing airing this year on the Family Channel. I teach drop in classes at THE UNDERGROUND DANCE CENTRE at the heart of downtown Toronto. (Wednesdays 9:30-11 HEELS, Thursdays 12:30-2 HEELS, 5:30-6:30 CONTEMPORARY and 6:30- 8 JAZZ/FUNK class) I also teach at the Annex Dance Academy choreographing for competition season 2015 in all genres i.e Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop and Musical Theatre.
THANK YOU GEORGE FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO
CHECK OUT GEORGE’S CLASSES AT THE UNDERGROUND AND PERFORMING FOR LEON BLACKWOOD AT TORONTO’S ORIGINAL CHOREOGRAPHERS BALL