FEATURE- Amy Wright

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Amy Wright.  

Since her professional beginning in 1995 Amy Wright has become one of Canada’s most in demand Choreographers.  Her work includes feature films, movies of the week, television series, reality TV, commercials and stage musicals, including Canada’s prestigious SHAW FESTIVAL. Amy is the Casting Director, Choreographer and a Producer for the sensational television series The Next Step watched by millions around the world.

Amy Wright makes her career by choreographing and casting projects viewed by International audiences. Highlights include season one of So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Crimson Peak with Tom Hiddleston, directed by Guillermo Del Toro (Feature Film), Emmy and Golden Globe winner Grey Gardens (HBO) with stars Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, and Canada’s prestigious SHAW FESTIVAL. 

Over the years, Amy has been fortunate to work with some of the hottest stars in the business: Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Hedley, LeAnn Rimes, Will Ferrell, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Mia Wasikowska, Jason Priestly, Colin Farrell, Molly Shannon, Alyssa Milano, Lauren Holly, Colin Mochrie, Hilary Duff and a movie produced by Britney Spears.  Amy has choreographed eleven Academy Award Winners/Nominees:  Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Sissy Spacek, Richard Dreyfuss, Peter O’Toole, Joan Plowright, Jeremy Irons, Virginia Madsen, Helen Mirren, Ellen Page and Jessica Lange!

With an eye always open to new talent, Amy has cast hundreds of dancers for a variety of projects ranging from television’s The Next Step, to Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (Feature Film) and the American Girl movie-of-the-week Isabelle Dances Into the Spotlight.  She loves watching young talent shine while adjudicating across Canada and teaching dancers of all ages at various workshops and conventions. 

Bio provided by Amy.

 

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Instagram: @amywrightdance
Facebook page: Amy Wright
 
Check out what Amy had to say in this week’s feature…

 

Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?

Amy: I started dance training when I was about 3 or 4 years old with Dot Blakeley Dance Studio in Simcoe, Ontario. Dot is the mother of Dawn Lupien who now owns and runs Canadian Dance Company with her husband Allain and all of their children. At DBDS I took baby ballet.  My parents tell me that sometimes loved it and sometimes I hid in the closet and didnt want to go! I am sure happy that my parents persevered and took me to class!  

 

Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory) 

Amy: Actually, when I was super young, my very first dances were freestyle around my living room and in the school talent show.  The very first song I remember making up moves to was “Birthday” by The Beatles and I performed that solo in my grade one talent show.  The choreography was mainly head banging and pumps turns.   

In high school I started choreographing cheerleading routines for my team.   At that time I thought I was just making moves up with my friends but since then I have learned how valuable that time was for me. Cheerleading choreography reflects the strengths of the team while using patterns, inventive spacing and transitions and use of levels. 

Professionally, the first time I was hired as a choreographer was for the musical CRAZY FOR YOU which would have been the first time someone paid me! And the song would have been I GOT RHYTHM.   Following that a Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercial with…cheerleaders!  And then it grows from there.

 

Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?

Amy: Don’t over do it – throwing every move in doesn’t make sense and you can get lost and just look like a crazy dancer. Take your time, breathe, and if something feels nice, indulge in the movement. Try to let the music affect you and share how IT makes you move. Practise by dancing in in your bedroom or a studio alone to every style of music from Classical to Rock to EDM so that your movement is a reflection of the music.

 

Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?

Amy: Most often making up dances is my dream job so I am always into it. BUT, on THE NEXT STEP there are SOOOO many dances in one season that there is that one dance every year that feels IMPOSSIBLE to create. Usually after weeks of rehearsal and shooting and the writers add one more dance in to a script and my brain is blown. Luckily on TNS I have an amazing associate – Melissa JJ Moore, Rachel Ross, Damien Lavergne, and Tanya Karn have all filled the role – and they help. Plus the dancers are a dream and are ALWAYS inspiring. The Next Step averages 3-4 dances/dance moments per episode so in a season where we are shooting 26 episodes that is about 75-100 dances!

 

Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?

Amy: I grew up watching every dance film that I could. I was influenced by Fred and Ginger, Gene Kelly, Bob Fosse, Busby Berkeley, Jerome Robbins. It was when I was in theatre school I met Susan Stroman who is a big inspiration for me. And now I am in love with the way Travis Wall tells a story. I am truly inspired by story telling through movement.

 

Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?

Amy: On THE NEXT STEP some of the cast are now choreographing which is super cool. I love hiring them and giving their creativity that little nudge. We also hire real dance studios to perform in our “competitive” shows/episodes. Greater Toronto dance studios like Canadian Dance Company, Joanne Chapman School of Dance, Elite DanceWorx and Rythum Plus are all super inspiring when it comes to choreography.

 

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.)

Amy: My favorite artists are truly TNS cast. They are beyond brilliant and are a DREAM to work with. They are unstoppable. I have loved working with Drew Barrymore, Jessica Lange and Woody Harrelson — OH and let’s not forget TOM HIDDLESTON!!! He was lovely to dance with, truly lovely and he didn’t stop till it was perfect.

 

Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?

Amy: Toronto dancers possess perseverance and a kindness towards community.

 

 

Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?

Amy: Don’t stop training. Train with as many different choreographers and in as many different styles as possible. Allow yourself to make mistakes in class and grow from them! STOP caring so much about being in an IG class video. You can go to class and not be the best and you will actually become better for it. Dancers don’t stop learning so always persevere and push beyond. AND take other classes like acting and singing to make yourself even more employable.

 
 

Nikki: Any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share with T.D.O.T. ?

Amy: I have recently been working on KILLJOYS (Syfy Network) and ANNE with an E (CBC and Netflix) which will likely both air a year from now!  That’s the joy of television , everything  takes so long before airing.  THE NEXT STEP Season 6, that we shot in summer 2017, will air this spring and it might very well become my favourite season.    

For people wanting to audition and know what I am up to, please keep your eyes on my Instagram and Facebook pages for info on upcoming auditions and workshops. I love to see as many dancers as I can when I am hiring so I do like to share information as often as possible.

 

 

THANK YOU AMY FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE AND PASSION WITH T.D.O.T.  XO

CHECK OUT AMY’S DEMO REEL

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