This week’s Dancer/Choreographer feature goes out to Victoria Mehaffey aka Tori.
Victoria (Tori) Mehaffey is an emerging creator and dance artist from the city of Toronto with a BFA diploma from Ryerson University’s Dance Performance Program. She is the 2014 recipient of the Ryerson Theatre School’s Dance Performance Award and the Lawrence Gradus Choreographic Scholarship. This young artist was a nominee for the 2016 Dora Awards, Outstanding Female Performance in Dance, for Gadfly’s original creation – B8NUAR.
Tori Mehaffey currently performs for Toronto based dance companies; Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, Gadfly & ProArteDanza. She has/performs for artists such as James Kudelka, Laurence Lemieux, Roberto Campanella, Robert Glumbek, Hanna Kiel and co-artistic directors of Gadfly – Apolonia Valesquez and Ofilio Sinbadhinho. She has had the opportunity to perform original works by artists such as Guillaume Cote, co-artistic directors of MADBOOTS DANCE – Jonathan Campbell and Austin Diaz, Johannes Wieland, Victor Quijada and Bryan Arias.
With an interest in creating her own visions – Tori has most recently been in the stages of creative process to discover new ways of approaching physicality. Tori has had the opportunity to explore/showcase material with; ProArteDanza’s 2016 Apprenticeship Program, Canada’s Ballet Jorgen 2016 Movement Research Program, Ryerson University’s 2015 Emerging Artist Choreographic Lab Series, and The National Ballet of Canada’s 2015 Choreographic Workshop. Her interest in researching movement has lead her to study at places such as ImPulstanz, Vienna; Springboard Danse, Montreal; Henny Jurriens Foundation, Amsterdam; and RUBBERBANDance Group Intensives, Quebec. Tori is currently involved in the re-visit of James Kudelka’s “Love, Sex & Brahms” – with Coleman Lemiuex & Compagnie and is also in the process of creating a full length work on the second year students of Ryerson University’s Dance Performance Program.
Follow Victoria on Instagram: @torimehaffey
on Facebook: Tori Mehaffey
Check out what Tori had to say in this week’s feature…
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Victoria: I have been dancing since I was in diapers. My mother created her own dance studio in Markham, Ontario when I was about 2 years old. For as long as I can remember – I was either in the studio dancing or at home making up dances and recording them with my big sister, Becca.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Victoria: The first song that I remember choreographing to was “Eyes On Fire Remix” by Blue Foundation. A lot of people will recognize the original version of the song from the first “Twilight” movie soundtrack! It was a solo I had created when I was about 13/14 years old for an emerging artist event in Toronto – part of FRESH Dance Intensive! It is interesting to think about what type of music moves me choreographically now versus what moved me then.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Victoria: I am personally still in the midst of developing my own artistic voice within free-styling – however, the greatest piece of advice I could give would be to TAKE RISKS and TELL A STORY. The beautiful thing is that the tool box is bottomless when it comes to free-styling. The more you play with different textures and qualities of movement – the greater your personal vocabulary becomes and the more you learn to understand your instrument. You will never know the full potential of your body if you do not allow it to take on different ways of being.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Victoria: To get into the zone to choreograph – I simply listen to the music. I let the music help inform me. What does it make me feel? What does it make it want to say? What visions come into my mind when I sit and pay attention?
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Victoria: I would have to say my biggest influences in the dance industry are:
- The incredible Artist Anne Plamondon. Watching her dance is unlike anything I have ever experienced. She is such a powerful force to witness on stage and also to be present with in a studio setting. I had the privilege to learn from her at previous RUBBERBANDance Group summer programs – her intensity and passion for movement is undeniable. It was an inspiring experience to be able to learn from her and see her research her own instrument. She inspires me to continue researching the potential of my own body.
- The amazing performer/creator Bryan Arias. The things this artist is capable of doing with is body is astounding. Having the privilege to see him perform quite a number of times, see work he has personally created and having worked with him at Springboard Danse Montreal – this man is anything but ordinary. He inspires me to continuously investigate different ways of moving.
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Victoria: I enjoy working with all of the Toronto choreographers I have the opportunity to work with – because each individual helps me to reach my potential as an artist in very different ways. Each choreographer offers me an experience that allows my voice as an artist to grow in more directions than one.
Nikki: Name one of your favorite 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.)
Victoria: One of my favourite artists to work with is the renowned Evelyn Hart. This woman’s passion, dedication, energy and commitment to story telling is truly sensational to witness. Her ability to embody an emotion and make a fictional situation turn into a reality is exceptionally moving. I admire her love for this art form – it inspires me to always believe in my love for it too.
Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?
Victoria: I believe every dancer has their own personal unique quality to offer. I also believe that there are common qualities artists possess which coincide with what stage of their career they are at or what type of training they are involved in. For instance – the more experienced contemporary Toronto artists I have the privilege of working with are all self-assured, solution-oriented, and are highly in tune with connecting to another’s body. However, within these common qualities – each artist has their own personal set of qualities that they bring to the table – making them unique and different from the artist beside them.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Victoria: My advice for emerging dancers and choreographers in Toronto is to never stop discovering new ways of training BOTH your mind and body. There is always information to be learned – no matter what stage of your career you are at. So go to workshops of many natures, take classes, do things that inspire your body to research new pathways, network with the wise and the experienced, ask questions and don’t be afraid to express who you are and what you want.
Nikki: Are there any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share/promote to the T.D.O.T. network?
Victoria: A Few Events Coming Up To Check Out:
1. March 16th to 19th – Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie Presents; “Love, Sex & Brahms” – an original work by James Kudelka at The Betty Oliphant Theatre (Tickets/Times available @ www.colemanlemieux.com)
2. March 10th to March 19th – Ryerson University’s School of Performance Presents- “Choreographic Works 2017” – (Box Office Details @ firstname.lastname@example.org OR 416-979-5118)
3. March 11th to 24th – National Ballet of Canada Presents world premiere of “Pinocchio” at The Four Seasons Centre (Tickets Available @ – https://national.ballet.ca/Productions/2016-17-Season/Pinocchio)
4. March 17th – “Lost is Found presents: Chemistry” – created by Nigel Edwards – an exciting and inclusive dance event for artists of all genres (7:30pm @ Dancemakers – $10.00 Entry Fee)
5. March 14, 16, 21 – Modern contemporary class with the incredible Johanna Bergfelt (10:15am @ CCDT)
6. March 25th – “8 Works” – A mixed program showcasing the artistry of the 2016 Ryerson dance graduates – 8:00pm at Pia Bouman (Ticket Reservations: email@example.com)
7. April 1st – “April Fools; A multidisciplinary evening of performance art in the making” – 7:30pm at the Alumnae Theatre (Purchase Tickets at Door
THANK YOU VICTORIA FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO