Find out what Shavar had to say in this week’s shout out…
Nikki:Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Shavar:I was living in Detroit, it was Grade 6 and I was at a school dance. It was the first time people noticed me. It was also the first time I felt alive.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Shavar: I Don’t actually remember the very first song but I do remember one of the first pieces I choreographed. It was Maxwell – This Woman’s Work. It was the first time I choreographed something so emotional and was able to fuse Urban and Contemporary dance together.
Nikki: Any advice you have for dancers when it comes to free-styling.
Shavar: Just let go. Let the music absorb you and follow its instructions. Don’t judge your freestyle it is a form of expression.
Nikki: What does it take for you to get into choreography mode.
Shavar: I have to really feel the song. It helps if I am going through something in my personal life that relates to the song. I also have to be in a comfortable environment. Studios don’t really work for me; I almost get the feeling like I’m forcing myself to create; some of my best work was created while traveling to a destination.
Nikki: Name some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Nikki: What was it like being a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance Canada Season 3?
Shavar: Hard!!! It took everything I had mentally and physically. There were times I wanted to give up, But I couldn’t because while the work was hard it pushed me to be a better and stronger person/dancer.
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Shavar: Life Goals!! I’m trying to get more involved with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). Inspiring kids there to follow their passions. There is so much talent in the upcoming generations. Not everyone has the opportunity to join in a dance studio.
I’m also trying to focus on establishing myself as a powerful creative force within the dance community.
In the future I would like to help create more opportunities for dancer/choreographers/teachers.
March 30th – Carla Catherwood Chic-A-Boom-Room
April 7th – Flash Mob for CBC on
April 20th – Co-Producing a show at Winchester Street Theatre (details coming soon)
Nikki: What qualities do you think Toronto Dancers possess that dancers from other parts of the Country and States don’t?
Shavar: I think that dancers from Toronto move with a unique sense of style and originality. There is a lot of talent here and people all over the world are starting to notice it thanks to people like Luther Brown of Do Dat and Steve Bolton of BluePrint who are making big movements in other countries. I think Toronto is definitely on the up and coming. Which is causing everyone to look this way.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Shavar: Respect yourself and your artistry. Make sure to demand that respect from others as well. Know your worth and don’t let anyone abuse your talents.
Try to avoid taking the same classes every week. Diversify yourself try different styles of dance. See what you can learn from one form of dance and how you can apply it in the classes you regularly take.
There is more to choreographing a piece than just picking a song you like and putting moves to it. Don’t neglect the important stuff
-A good CONCEPT “that makes sense”
-Proper WARDROBE “that fits the piece”
-ENERGY…. People should walking away with something after watching your piece, some kind of feeling whether it is angry, sad, happy or intimate. Whatever you’re trying to convey create energy and make it contagious.
-Casting… Very important! Choose the right people and place then in the right roles. Just because someone is a good dancer does not mean they are right for the piece. Think about your favorite movie and ask yourself if the movie would be the same if the actors were different or all the roles were switched.
-Love…. put your heart into it. Don’t do it just because you can….. unless the price is right *chuckle*
So You Think You Can Dance
HAVE FUN and don’t let the experience pass you by. Some of my best moments on that show where when I was just making the complete fool of myself.
Don’t avoid the camera!!!! It is your BEST friend give the producers lots and lots of footage so that when they are editing they have many moments to choose from. You need to make it so that the producers and crew cant see the show happening without you on it. People might HATE but let them at the end of the day You’re auditioning for a TV SHOW!!! With that being said don’t try too hard lol….. complete contradiction right? But what I mean is don’t force it. It should be natural.
If you’re training out side of your genre for the show, then don’t limit your self to taking classes. You need to put you self in real life situations. If you’re doing ballroom try taking what you’ve learned and going social dancing. The feeling is totally different and a lot closer to what you’re going to experience on the show. Ask your teachers if they are working on any shows and if you can understudy at their rehearsals. You need to not just learn about the style of dance but how to embody it.
Last but not least RESPECT the staff……. especially CHI!!! lol but really YES the Producer and Directors are important but they are not the only ones that make the show work. Everyone you meet has a hand in what happens on the show, and never forget that the producer is the one they are reporting to.
Thank You Shavar for being a part of T.D.O.T. XO
Watch his choreography: Dancers Shavar Blackwood, Irvin Washington and Matthew Cuff
Watch his So You Think You Can Dance Experience