Archive | April, 2011

DANNY DAVALOS

25 Apr

This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Danny Davalos Born in Puerto Rico Raised in Mexico City, Toronto resident for 11 years and counting. Danny found his passion for dance at a very early age mimicking the movements of the late great Michael Jackson. His mother took note and brought him to audition for the National Ballet of Mexico. After intense auditions he was accepted into the program at young age. Ballet was not Danny’s main focus he wanted to Dance like Michael Jackson and continued keeping himself up to date with the latest moves. In the year 2000 Danny made the move to Toronto and continued training in Dance. He soon began working and training with Choreographer Luther Brown and Do Dat Entertainment. With hard work and dedication he’s had the opportunity to perform at many events and Dance for artists worldwide; touring Europe with Shawn Desman whom he still performs with today along side his Do Dat Family Mark, Tuch and Jungle. Believing that “Everyone has Rhythm! You just have to discover it,” he founded O.I.P. Dance Centre (O.I.P. ->>> One Immigrant Productions) in Oct 2005. O.I.P. Dance Centre provides Toronto Dancers with weekly Drop In classes and guest workshops taught by leading industry professionals as well as providing beginner classes for those less experienced. Danny is consistently immersed in Dance running a studio and Dance Company as well as continuing to be a working Dancer, Choreographer, Artistic Director and Instructor. Always on the Go, See What Danny had to say in this weeks shout out 🙂

Bio written by Nikki



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

Danny: I was 7years old, I was watching Michael Jackson on TV and I was trying to imitate his moves…..my mom saw me doing this and took me to the National Ballet school in Mexico and a few days later I was dancing doing Ballet!! lol, at the time I hated it. All I wanted to do was dance like Michael.

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


Danny: It was around 1996 or 97′ it’s called “Baila Baila” by a Puerto Rican Artist named Chayanne, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I think it was a horrible choreography but at the time it was like I was doing the Grammy opening or something like that. I was just exited I was given the opportunity. But I learned a huge lesson “I learned that I need to say no when I’m not ready to do a gig…….and I wasn’t ready for that gig for sure”

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

Danny: Just to let go, to listen to the music you are dancing to and enjoy every moment of that ride. If you can free style you can dance. A good teacher and a good choreographer design their routines by a personal style. The counts and the technique come after you feel the song and understand when to hit when to pause when to live in the music. Free style is the key to a lot of things in dance!!!!

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

Danny: A good song!!!! That makes me want to Dance and create. Making steps just to teach or to show I can choreograph a song just because I have to is lying to my peers and my students. It needs to come from your heart and soul and from what inspires you. In my case listening to a song I like and that makes me want to bust a move would get me in that zone; and when that doesn’t work I do what Luther Brown told me once “close your eyes and picture your self dancing on stage with MJ” (it works every single time)

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

Danny: With out a DOUBT Luther Brown. He showed me how to believe in me, he taught me some of the best choreography in my life and he became an unconditional friend to me. He is more than the biggest influence to me he is one of my best friends and my mentor. I still learn so much from him and he still fixes my FACE when it needs to be fixed. I love the guy!!

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

Danny: I would have to mention 3, Tuch, Mark and Jungle, those were the first people I danced with when I came to Canada and over the years we’ve learned so much from each other. So now when I work with them its a great experience not just because we understand so well at a professional level but we do listen to music the same way and we share the same passion for the art of dance and performance. Its not just a working experience it becomes a learning experience with your best friends.

Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?

Danny: Shawn Desman, hands down. He is one of the friendliest funniest and most humble artist I’ve work with. He was a dancer before he became a recording artist, he was actually a dancer with Do Dat and Luther Brown so he understands dancing and dancers; the friendship we had developed over the years can’t compare to anything else. He treats us with respect and he values what we bring to the performances and more than

Nikki: What Benefits and Challenges do you find owning 1 of the Top
Studio’s offering training from Industry professionals in Toronto?

Danny: Well I am not sure if Its one the the top dance studios in Toronto, thanks for putting it UP that high. The real benefit to me is being able to provide quality training to dancers. I am a dancer before a choreographer and before a business owner, so as a dancer I do appreciate having a good class a good teacher and great training to be able to achieve my dreams as a Professional working Dancer. Its a benefit to me when I know 20, 30, 50 or a 100 dancers leave OIP Dance Centre every day feeling like they benefit them self’s by coming that day.

The challenge is keeping the quality of those classes up to the expectations of the dancers that come and spend their money for a good class and good training. We do appreciate everybody that comes in day and night to dance and train and my obligation is to give them the best Teachers and the best classes I can provide but It could be very challenging to get all those talented teachers under the same roof.
Keeping the quality of classes and training to a high level every day week and month is the REAL CHALLENGE.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Danny: I’m always working on something LOL, it seams like I can’t ever stay still. I have a bunch of projects with OIP developing right now but I don’t want to get in to many details until they are close to being a reality. But I can tell you I’m also working in Developing an artist named Christian TY, great singer great performer with a lot of potential. Wait to see what he can do. I think he is going to be a BIG
ONE!!!

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess that dancers from other
parts of the Country and States may not?

Danny: Toronto dancers don’t take things for granted. Over the last 11 years I’ve learn that Toronto dancers are very passionate and in love with what they do. I’ve travelled and worked in many countries a lot of places take gigs for granted because they have a million other ones lined up for them; This is great but I think a Dancer loses its edge when they lose their hunger. In the case of Toronto, we do not have as many gigs lined up so when we do get a job were not just doing our best but we cherish it and never take one second of that gig for granted because the next one might be far away.

Nikki: Any advice for emerging Dancers and Choreographers working/training
in Toronto?


Danny: PATIENCE!!!!! Patience for everything. Without it, Dancers/Choreographers get frustrated because they don’t get a gig they’ll stop dancing, if they get rejected a million times they will stop Dancing. PATIENCE for the ones TEACHING and CHOREOGRAPHING after one or two years of drop in classes. A doctor doesn’t perform heart surgery after 2 years of med school. The more we learn the better we get, the more we train the better we get, the more we understand we need to learn before we can dance or teach the more we are going to understand our responsibility to this amazing art and industry. We have to be patient before quitting dance because we are rejected at a 100 auditions, we have to be Patient before we teach or choreograph without being prepared to do so, we are only bringing the Toronto Dance level lower and lower. If we are patient everything will work out at the end and we will have our chance to shine! Sky is the limit, just be PATIENT!!!

THANK YOU DANNY FOR BEING A PART OF T.D.O.T. XO

Check Out some of Danny’s Work……

CHOREOGRAPHY 2010 BAZAAR HEROES EDITION


DANNY’S CLASSES AT OIP DANCE CENTRE

Do Dat Entertainment Fam Jam From Left to Right Tuch, Jungle, Shawn Desman, Danny and Mark

KAREEM BYFIELD

18 Apr

This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Kareem Byfield. I met Kareem over 10 years ago when we attended the same High School for the Arts majoring in their Dance Program. I was aware of his Passion at 14 it does not surprise me to see all the amazing things he’s continued to do into his adulthood. Kareem is disciplined in Hip Hop, Tap, Street Jazz and Modern. Although he was given the opportunities to train he believes and I quote “Its all about the soul and passion that drives the person. That speaks louder and stronger then any years of training ever will to me.” Turning his passion into a Dance Career that spans over 18 years, Kareem has 14 years of teaching and choreography experience as well as being a qualified adjudicator across Canada. He founded his own company Grace N Style in order to teach his students and he is co owner of the Company JKS with his business partner Stephan Dickson. Kareem’s recent venture into writing and poetry has brought forth the release of his book Poems, Stories & Thoughts of an Adult Mind NOW AVAILABLE on line. Its an honour to shout out one of my fellow Cawthra Dance Majors and give credit where its due. Kareem continues to pursue different projects to inspire and keep the arts alive in the GTA. Check out what Kareem had to say in this weeks shout out!!

Bio written by Nikki

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

Kareem: I can remember the first Tap class I took when I was about 7 or 8 years old. The girls were mean but I survived and made dance into a career.

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

Kareem: One of the earliest songs I can remember choreographing to was a Michael Jackson song. I believe it was “Off the Wall”.

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

Kareem: Anyone can Freestyle. Anyone can dance. My advice would be stay true to yourself and connect with the music!

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

Kareem: To get in the zone all I need is to be inspired. Once the inspiration hits me, stopping is not an option!

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

Kareem: I am influenced by many people. If you have a good heart and passion for what you do than chances are you’ve influenced me in one way or another.

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

Kareem: My business partner, Stephan Dickson. Great energy and full of joy for what he does. Its contagious. Also, My brother, Shawn Byfield. We share similar visions which makes working together on projects a joy!

Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?

Kareem: Oh wow, umm, Chris Rouse (musician) would be one of my favorites. We’ve known each other for years and I have never met someone so humble and grateful towards people and life. Good people are rare and I have been blessed with being able to work with the best of them.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Kareem: Current Projects.
The release of my book; Poems, Stories & Thoughts of an Adult Mind, available online now at

Hosting my 7th showcase in the city of Mississauga. Details online soon at

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess that dancers from other parts of the Country and States may not?

Kareem: Toronto dancers possess great talent and a lot of potential. From my travels, I know first hand that unity is a key factor. As long as Toronto dancers can keep that and continue the support and love for one another than greatness will shine for all.

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

Kareem: Emerging dancers/ choreographers. You have to get out there and take classes with as many people as you can. Don’t get stuck or trapped in one place. What makes dance so beautiful is that it is universal. Everyone has something they can teach you so don’t be shy. Go out and experience DANCE for what it really is. It’s a language for all! Remember, it is the one who is afraid to try that will get stuck and left behind.

THANK YOU SO MUCH KAREEM FOR BEING A PART OF T.D.O.T. XO

Check out Kareem’s classes

NATALIE LYONS

11 Apr

This Weeks Dancer/ Choreographer shout out goes to Natalie Lyons. Born in Nova Scotia raised in Halifax. Natalie made the journey to Toronto right after high school to pursue her education at the University of Toronto as well as expand her Dance opportunities training with different Choreographers. In 2006 she auditioned for Do Dat Entertainment and began performing at many events from Toronto to L.A under the direction of Luther Brown. She continued to take different classes and workshops in Toronto. Having the drive and Passion Natalie decided to move to L.A 3 years ago to take her Dance Career even further. After being inspired at a workshop in Toronto she started learning how to Krump under the direction of Miss Prissy and LiL C. Natalie’s had a great start to her career, having had the opportunity to Dance on the Nickelodeon show The Fresh Beat Band, perform in live stage shows and music video’s with Nelly Furtado and Timbaland, Usher, Divine Brown,Willow Smith, Big Boi Feat Mary J Blige and more. Natalie has toured Canada and performed at Many events as well as land a Sony Camera Print Ad along side Canadian Artist Keisha Chante. In 2009 Natalie returned to Toronto to audition for the second season of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Hitting a high point in her career Natalie made the Top 20, coming into the competition as the Female Hip Hop and Krump Dancer from Nova Scotia. Natalie showed her audience that she was capable of being more than just a Hip Hop dancer performing in different genres and making it to Top 14. Natalie continues to enjoy her new home in L.A training with some of the industries finest as well as teaching kids once a week. Although her Dance career has brought her to L.A she got her jump start here in Toronto. Check Out what Natalie had to say in this weeks shout out.

Bio written by Nikki

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

Natalie: The first thing I remember is dancing in the ballet class my mom put me in . When I was 3 years old, we had to dance “across the floor” pretending to be a butterfly.

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

Natalie: I think it was to the backstreet boys, tlc, or spice girls- Can’t remember which was first

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

Natalie: If you want to be a good freestyler, you have to turn on different songs, whether you know them or not, and listen to all the beats, try to work with different rhythms and even by using the basics of hip hop, try to create different moves. Try for at least an hour a day.

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

Natalie: Finding the right song is important, Sometimes I get in the zone when I don’t think about trying to be in the zone, like when I’m at home in the kitchen cooking while listening to some bomb.com jams.

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

Natalie: I have many… though Luther Brown is a huge influence. He has that real east coast ‘ flava flav ‘. Miss Prissy and L’il C have definitely inspired me to want to get into Krump. Artists from Janet to MJ, Missy Elliott , Chris Brown and Ciara make me super inspired to learn the styles they use.

Nikki: Being from Halifax what made you make the move to Toronto?

Natalie: Halifax is a great place to get the proper foundation as a dancer, but if you want to be a working dancer, I knew I had to get out. I wanted to learn real hip hop, more of it, and I wasn’t going to settle for anything but the best.

Nikki: What was it like being a contestant on season 2 of So You Think You Can Dance Canada?

Natalie: Being a contestant was a really big deal for me. Wasn’t expecting it at all. You get so much thrown at you at once which is great but very challenging. It’s like a roller coaster ride…Emotions are always up and down. But a great experience working with so many amazing choreographers. I learned a lot in a short amount of time.

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

Natalie: Luther Brown- His positive energy and motivation makes me want to fight for it. Expects nothing but the best.

Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?

Natalie: It would have to be Willow Smith. During the taping of her video shoot, her and her family were so welcoming and professional. No divas. They wanted to make sure we were comfortable in our outfits, and that they were our style. She cheered us on during freestyle section. Everything ran smoothly and on time. It’s nice because she was there to have fun, thats all that mattered. I love when I see kids, they’re never tainted by the industry.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Natalie: I teach 1 day a week + dance shows( learning from different choreographers) at the W hotel (Drais Nightclub) once a week.

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess that dancers from other parts of the Country and States may not?

Natalie: Better class etiquette

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

Natalie: Train from as many people as possible (research to get the proper training) , be well – rounded and stay focused.

THANK YOU NATALIE FOR BEING A PART OF T.D.O.T. XO

Check out some of Natalies Journey on So You Think You Can Dance Canada with her partner Danny.

KEEP ‘N’ IT REAL

4 Apr

This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to the future of Toronto Dance T.D.O.T. Young Bucks!! My first young buck shout out goes to Keep ‘N’ It Real (KIR). The Keep ‘N’ It Real Dance Troupe was started in 2000 by Yhulan Walters a child youth worker. She began her Arts and Entertainment initiative at the Toronto Parks and Recreation centre creating an after school program for girls in Jane and Finch.  Ms.Walters is committed to the community and helping youth achieve responsibility, acceptance and self-knowledge, through artistic expression.   Keep ‘N’ It Real began a summer program for kids ages 6-16 in 2008. The troupe currently has 3 main girls Tania 15 started 7 years ago, along with Ms. Walters she does the KIR choreography.  Shaii-Anna 14 has been with the Troupe for 6 years and Jessica 14 the youngest has been in the troupe for 4 years. KIR has performed at many major events like STOMP Urban Dance Competition, Won a $1000 dollar prize at the North York So You Think You Can Dance showcase and most recently they performed on the Juno’s red carpet affair with Shawn Desman and Danny Fernandes.  KIR has continued to gain recognition over the last 10 years having received several certificates and medals for their accomplishments and achievements. The girls still being in school continue to practice and work hard every Friday and Saturday.  Living by the motto that life begins with movement Ms. Walters feels their is no better way to express yourself then through grace, style and rhythm, Forever Keep ‘N’ It Real!! These young girls are making moves towards a bright future in the Professional working Dance world. Check out what these young bucks had to say in this weeks shout out.

Bio written by Nikki

             You Tube KeepNItRealTroupe



Nikki: Do you remember when you first starting feeling passionate about dance?


KIR: We began dancing in Elementary school practicing during all of our recesses


Nikki: What makes you enjoy Dancing and Choreographing?


KIR: We like to create our own Choreography in collaboration with Ms. Walters. We enjoy expressing ourselves through movements in our dances and we Keep IT Real!!!


Nikki: Do you want to be professional Dancers once you get a little older and are able to get out on your own?


KIR: We want to pursue dancing in the future and hopefully one day make it on to So You Think You Can Dance Canada. We would also like to own a Dance Studio and maybe go to L.A to expand our opportunities in Dance.


Nikki: What would you like to tell other young Dancers when it comes to free styling?


KIR: Keep it Clean, “Keep it Real“, Keep it Strong.


Nikki: Can you name some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?


KIR: Some of our biggest influences are JaeBlaze from Toronto. Chris Brown, Ciara and Aaliyah to name a few.


Nikki: What Toronto Choreographers have you worked with that continue to influence KIR?

KIR: Choreographer’s we have worked with that influence us are Tuch, Leon, Hollywood, Tazz and Busy Rated.


Nikki: Are you currently working on any Dance Projects?


KIR: We just did the Juno’s red carpet affair with Shawn Desman, we are working towards Stomp and the Just BGraphic Initiatives. Watch for us we may be coming to a community near you 🙂  We would like to say Peace Out and Keep it Real!!




Big Thank You To Ms. Walters, Tania, Shaii-Anna and Jessica for being part of T.D.O.T.  XO




Checkout Keep ‘N’ It Real at the Car show