This weeks Dancer/ Choreographer shout out goes to Kay Ann Ward. I’ve had the pleasure of working with this talented Lady on a couple shows over the past few years. 3 words I would personally use to describe her is Driven, Focused and Organized. Along with being a dope dancer/choreographer, Kay Ann is Can Fit certified, runs her own website and blog, does workshops, classes, shows producing and directing. I had a chance to find out her dance background. Where she started, Where she’s at and Where she’s going. Here’s what she had to say…….
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you you started dancing and feeling passionate about it?
Kay Ann: I don’t remember exactly, but a very good memory I have is being in my grandmothers living room, and I was listening to my moms music, it was Billy Ocean, Michael Jackson, Michael Bolton and some reggae music, and I was moving and having a good time. I was singing the songs..I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved the way I felt, I was breathing hard, and jumping all over the place. That I think was one of my 1st encounters with movement and music. I didn’t know what dance was at that time I was 9 or 10 years old, I just knew that what I was doing made me feel good, so I did it all the time, when no one was looking..lol..I think my grandmother and mother had an idea, so they let me be.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Kay Ann: I made up made up my 1st dance in grade 5. It was to Michael Jackson “Bad” I didn’t know I was choreographing, I just put moves together, I called it, “Making up a dance.” It was me and 2 or 3 other girls. We were a hot mess lol. We performed in front of the school. We had no idea what we were doing, but we had fun. After that, I made up many routines in my room. I was not very confident about dancing when I was younger, so I did a lot of dancing in my room, by myself, in front of the mirror and majority of the songs were from Michael Jackson..he his amazing.
Nikki: What advice can you give to dancers when it comes to free styling?
Kay Ann: Dancing is movement and movement is free and full of life. Let go of what you think is the right or wrong way of moving and dance. Dance not to get attention, dance for you, when you dance freely and with passion, that shines and radiates. And that will make people look. Get to know your body, what it could do, and the only way to do this, is to give yourself permission to go to that creative place, a place that’s non judgmental. Dance with your close friends, take a improv dance class. Think outside the box, be unconventional, and move.
Nikki: What does it take for you to get in the zone when it comes to choreography?
Kay Ann: For me, I was brought up freestyling before I stepped foot in a dance studio.
So when I choreograph, I like to freestyle. Sometimes I choreograph on the spot, because its a natural process, the moves come naturally. Sometimes I play the music and dance, I record myself, go back and learn the moves I choreographed. Or I freestyle, cut and paste..lol..so I do something, do it again, and add on, or put the move somewhere else in the choreography. Overall I like to be comfortable, with myself and the dancers, this opens up for more creativity to come. I watch how people move naturally, and that inspires me to turn that movement into a choreographed piece. Sometimes I see pictures in my head, and I create the choreographed piece from the pictures. Emotions and a story are important to me. Every movement is an emotion and a story. So when I choreograph its important that there is a connection. Dancing is telling a story..so I like to be as clear as possible with what it is I’m saying, even if its something far fetched, politically incorrect or sexy sexy sexy:) the movement has to say it. So to add it up my zone is freestyle, observing people, visualizing and story telling to bring choreography to life.
Nikki: Name some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Kay Ann: Here’s who comes to my mind. And they are in no particular order, These choreographers inspire me for different reasons, and I like the work they put out.
Laurieann Gibson (Boom Kack)
Trevor (Baby Boyz ent)
Jerome Robbins (West side story)
People (Because we move everyday, and by watching, I’m constantly inspired to create)
Nikki: What projects are you working on right now?
Kay Ann: I’m teaching a workshop this week Friday February 11 and 18th 2011 for female dancers and women looking to learn and dance in a professional environment. Its called Lady BOLD dance workshop. (PROMO VIDEO http://vimeo.com/19216997 ) I’m currently working with the Baby Boyz dance group for an upcoming production at Harbourfront centre. I’m planning a showcase called Night of Essence, The theme for the 1st showcase is called “Ladies Edition” This show will feature the elite ladies who choreograph. Plus there are amazing specialty acts I’m looking at having. 2 years ago I choreographed a intimate and interactive cabaret show called the Alter Ego..I’m super excited because its coming back later this year. I can’t wait. There are other projects, that have not been confirmed, so I’m excited about now. I’m blessed, and thankful for everything.
Nikki: What qualities do you think Toronto Dancers possess that dancers from other parts of the Country and States don’t?
Kay Ann: I think we are extremely diverse..our culture is so rich, we bring a wicked ass soup to the table..
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers in Toronto?
Kay Ann: 6 tips for dancers to practice daily check the link…. http://kayannward.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/6-tips-for-dancers-to-practice/
BIG THANK YOU TO KAY ANN FOR BEING A PART OF T.D.O.T. XO