Archive | May, 2011

JORDAN WASHINGTON

30 May

This Weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Jordan Washington. Jordan began dancing at a young age often finding himself imitating the moves from Artist’s like Michael Jackson, AAliyah, TLC and more. Born in Windsor, Ontario Jordan began stepping at the age of 10 soon after he found himself creating the routines to be performed. In 2004 Jordan decided to make the move to the big city of Toronto for School. Once here he quickly plunged into the Dance scene joining Black Ice a STEP Team at York University. He began choreographing for them in 2005 and has gone on to perform at some major events and shows for Grey Cup, Bravo Fact, Much Music, Spring Bling and more. Jordan continued to train with many different choreographers in the city, but credits Lenny Dela Pena for taking him under his wing and helping him to grow as a Dancer, Performer and Choreographer. In Feb 2010 Jordan joined hundreds and thousands of others in Beautiful British Columbia where he choreographed and performed for SAMSUNG the official sponsors of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Once returning to Toronto, Jordan made the decision to take his Dreams even further moving to New York City in October of last year. Jordan continues to expand his knowledge and movement of Dance taking part in many classes in NYC ranging from Popping to Ballet. Wishing him nothing but success My Vancouver Earl’s Toblerone chocolate brownie buddy lol check out what Jordan had to say in this weeks shout out.

Bio written by Nikki

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

Jordan: I’m not sure if its the first time I danced but I remember learning the thriller routine top to bottom when I was like 5 or 6! It was hard though cause I was TERRIFIED of the zombies lol

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

Jordan: I do! In fourth grade I choreographed a step for a school play I was in called ‘On The Right Track’.

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

Jordan: Just go for it! And practice your freestyles! There’s nothing worse than feeling unprepared to freestyle because its essentially you being yourself! Taking different classes (eg. Popping, waving, locking, house) will diversify your freestyle as well!

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

Jordan: I just have to feel inspired! Inspiration comes at weird times for me I guess cause I usually choreograph on the subway or at the laundry mat! I also like having someone shadow me or vibe with me so that they can catch things I may forget.

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

Jordan: Definitely Lenny Len and Luther Brown! Lenny’s been training me since I began to take dance seriously as a career. His passion for teaching and endless creativity is mind blowing. And what Luther has done for dance in not only Canada but worldwide is just amazing. There is NO ONE like Luther in this world. I feel blessed every time I’m in either one of their classes, there’s really no better feeling.

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

Jordan: I haven’t had a bad experience with a Toronto choreographer yet so I would say all of them!

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

Jordan: I recently worked with Chach and had a blast! Choreographing I had a lot of freedom and her music was easy to dance to because I really enjoy it!

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Jordan: Right now, I’m currently working on my Choreography Reel and continuing to take classes and expand my knowledge of Dance and Choroegraphy.

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

Jordan: I think Toronto dancers have a certain understanding when we dance. It makes the difference between doing dance moves and dancing.

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

Jordan: Just make sure your in it because you love it! Your feelings will be hurt, but you gotta keep going! Your the only one holding you back!

BIG THANK YOU TO JORDAN FOR BEING PART OF T.D.O.T. XO

WATCH JORDAN’S DEMO REEL……

CLASS WITH JORDAN W………
CLICK THE LINK TO WATCH JORDAN AND SOME TORONTO DANCERS THROW DOWN AT NYC CARNIVAL

BLAKE McGRATH

23 May

This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Blake McGrath. Growing up in the same city I met this feisty young man when we attended the cities High School for the Regional Arts Dance program. Being blessed with the talent, drive and energy having exceptional technique and training it is no surprise he’s done great things with his Dance career. Moving to L.A pretty much out of high school, by the age of 21 he performed with Pop Legends like Madonna, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, and many more. Blake gained national recognition for appearing as a contestant on the premiere season of So You Think You Can Dance (USA) and MTV’s “Dance Life” produced by Jennifer Lopez. He continues to teach and inspire through his current endeavours having co-ownership of the company Coastal Dance Rage, one of the world’s leading dance conventions featuring world renowned Choreographers. In Oct 2007 CTV announced the Canadian version of SYTYCD Blake joined the cast as an alternating judge and choreographer. His skills and direct knowledge of the competition adds a great flare to the panel of judges as well as creating some memorable pieces for the Top 20 Dancers and their audiences. Growing up constantly being involved in music he took it 1 step further signing a record deal in 2010 with Universal Music Canada, debuting his first album “Time to Move” in Nov of last year. The video’s for his first 3 singles The Night , Relax and Stage Fright feature visually stunning choreography paired with amazing Dancers some of which hail from Toronto. You can catch Blake at this years 2011 MMVA’s his video Relax, which was Artistically directed and choreographed by Mia Michaels was nominated for video of the year. Gearing up to kick off the 4th season of So You Think You Can Dance Canada find out what Blake had to say in this weeks shout out…..

Bio written by Nikki

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

Blake: Yes, I started dancing at the age of 5- My mother put me in acrobatics class because she said I had so much energy.

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

Blake: No, but I was young – I remember always making up dances and have the family watch while I performed for them.

Nikki: What is your personal advice to Dancers when it comes to freestyling?

Blake: Just let everything go and dance from your spirit, let the music guide you.

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

Blake: I let the music inspire me- I go to a really deep place, That’s where the magic lies.

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

Blake: Brian friedman, Mia.

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

Blake: Luther Brown, He is so talented and I love his style, so funky and swaggeriffic .

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

Blake: Janet, she’s the sweetest woman and very humble. Janet taught me a lot about how to be an artist.

Nikki: Can you share some of your thoughts and experiences being a judge on So You Think You Can Dance Canada?

Blake: It has been an amazing experience. It’s unreal to see all the talent Canada has year after year. The talent definitely gets stronger year after year.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Blake: Yes! My new album, coming out worldwide in the winter, I’m extremely excited to show the world what I’ve created.

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

Blake: Toronto dancers are very versatile and classically trained.

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

Blake: My advice would be to work very hard- It takes your whole life to be a successful dancer, not just a few hours a day.

THANK YOU BLAKE FOR BEING A PART OF T.D.O.T. XOXO
THROW BACK TO BLAKES JOURNEY AS A CONTESTANT ON THE PREMIERE OF SYTYCD

CHECK OUT HIS 2011 MMVA NOMINATED VIDEO”RELAX”

MELANIE MAH

16 May

This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Melanie Mah. Melanie is a passionate and dedicated dancer from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. She began her ballet training at the age of 5 years old and has since then earned her Advanced Foundation from the Royal Academy of Dance (R.A.D.) with distinction and her Pre-Professional certification in Vaganova ballet. Melanie has studied jazz, lyrical, tap, and hip hop for 9 years as well, and has enjoyed much success as a dancer. In the summer of 2009, Melanie was a top 6 competitor on the second season of So You Think You Can Dance Canada where she got to work with choreographers such as Stacey Tookey, Lil C, Luther Brown, Gustavo Vargas, Sean Cheesman, and Jean-Marc Genereux to name a few. She also travelled across Canada on the SYTYCDC Season 2 Top 10 tour. Since SYTYCDC, Melanie has traveled with The PULSE dance convention and was Mia Michaels’ assistant for the 2010-2011 tour. She had the opportunity to assist Brian Friedman, Laurieann Gibson, Wade Robson, Dave Scott, Gil Duldulao, Tyce Diorio, Desmond Richardson, and Cris Judd with The PULSE classes, as well. She has also assisted Blake McGrath, Jean-Marc Genereux, and Mia Michaels with their choreography on So You Think You Can Dance Canada’s first and third season. In addition to her experience with assisting choreographers, she has worked for companies such as Coty Cosmetics, Mattel Inc., 19 Entertainment, DanseTV, and Disney, and has performed with artists such as Bass Hunter, Keshia Chante, Blake McGrath, Aleesia, Fefe Dobson, Katy Perry, and Kanye West for both live performances and music videos. Currently residing in Los Angeles, California continuing to train and pursue her career as a professional Dancer. Check Out what Melanie had to say in this weeks shout out.

Bio provided by Melanie



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

Melanie: I was 5 years old when I first started dancing. My mom put me in ballet class so I’d have good posture and hopefully gain some coordination… I was definitely that clumsy kid that tripped all over herself haha

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

Melanie: I remember choreographing to “Spice World” at a friend’s birthday party when I was probably 12 years old. We stayed up the whole night staging the piece, designing costumes, and lip syncing was obviously involved. It was a full out production!

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

Melanie: I’ve learned that freestyling is something you can’t try to control. If I start thinking about my freestyle, that’s when it becomes unnatural. I try my best to just tune out my other thoughts, focus on the music, and let my body take over… listening to the music is key!

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

Melanie: I’m inspired to choreograph to something when a song moves me in a certain way and makes me feel something, whether it’s the beat, the voice of the artist, or the lyrics. Once I’ve found that song, I like to listen to it over and over again so I get really familiar with the music. Then once I get into the studio I’ll just try freestyling to certain sections before I set anything.

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

Melanie: Some of my biggest influences in the dance industry are Brian Friedman and Mia Michaels. I have so much respect for both of them because they have established themselves as successful choreographers through hard work, passion, and determination. Both of them have changed me as a dancer since assisting them on The PULSE convention tour. They really pushed me to work harder than I ever had before (frequently to the point of puking) and by the end of the tour, I was a completely different dancer.

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

Melanie: I absolutely love working with Luther Brown. He’s always so focused and knows exactly what he wants. Whether it’s on set or in class he always pushes his dancers to the limit and his choreography is like no other!

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

Melanie: I really enjoyed working with Kanye West. Out of all the artists that I’ve worked with so far, he was the most involved with the dancers and the most interested in our work. He would literally sit at a desk during our rehearsals and watch as the choreographer (Yemi Akinyemi) created. Kanye had a huge say in a lot of our choreography and it was very inspiring to see him work. I definitely respect him so much more as an artist and as a person after working with him.

Nikki: What was it like being part of SYTYCDC Top 10 season 2?

Melanie: It was absolutely a dream come true. To this day, it seems surreal to me that the show happened because it all flew by so quickly. I’m so grateful for all the people I got to work with and all the lifelong friends I made on the show. I can’t begin to explain how much I learned on SYTYCDC and I can confidently say I would not be the same person or dancer without that experience.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Melanie: Since moving to LA in February, I’ve been working on a couple different projects: I worked on a Disney pilot, I performed for Kanye West at Coachella, and I also danced in Aleesia’s new music video. I’ve also been working with several choreographers in LA (Sean Cheesman, Gustavo Vargas, Chantal Robson) on their submissions for projects like Dancing With The Stars and the Britney Spears tour. Other than that I’ve been going to auditions, taking lots of class, and getting my face out there in the LA scene… loving every second of it!!

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

Melanie: I think Canadian dancers in general have a different drive than American dancers do. Especially in LA, you see a lot of dancers, who didn’t really have to work too hard to get here, take it for granted and not take advantage of every opportunity. Because Canadian dancers have to work their butts off to get there in the first place, being in LA is something that we won’t ever take for granted. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many hardworking and talented American dancers, but I definitely do believe Canadian dancers stand out from the crowd. Always proud to be a Canadian!

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

Melanie: Stay determined, hungry, and inspired. I think at the end of the day, your passion and your drive is what’s going to take you places. Technique and ability is just a product of that. Dancers need to constantly be inspired to take class and train every day if you’ve made the choice to have dance as the number one priority in your life. I also think it’s important for dancers/choreographers to realize that everyone has their own individual path. It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing in the dance industry and to feel like you’re a step behind from everyone else, but it’s important to stick to your own beliefs and have the confidence to focus on yourself. If you have the work ethic and passion it takes to get there… it’ll happen 🙂

BIG THANK YOU TO MELANIE FOR BEING A PART OF T.D.O.T. XO

Check out Mel’s SYTYCDC Journey…..

STEPHANIE RUTHERFORD

9 May

This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Stephanie Rutherford. Stephanie is known for her innovative, sincere and genuine movement quality. She has a huge passion for creating outside the box and coming up with concepts for choreography that remain true to her heart. Hailing originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba she has been a dancer since the age of three. For the last year and a half she has lived in Toronto, where she professionally dances, performs, teaches and choreographs in and throughout the industry. Recently she’s choreographed for such events as The Toronto’s Choreographers Ball, Women In Dance Showcase, City Dance Corps Showcase, The Bazaar “Movies Edition”, The Toronto Fringe Festival, Unrefined Company Show and has worked with various companies around the city. She’s started a new project of professionally filming and directing contemporary duets starring some incredible talent and is looking forward to getting profiled on MTV Canada for her choreography in mid May. She always eager to learn and evolve with no limitations. Check Out what Stephanie had to say in this weeks Shout out……

Bio provided by Stephanie

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


Stephanie: Yes! I was three years old and my sister taught me her tap routine from her recital. I think everyone was really surprised how quickly I picked it up.

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


Stephanie: Hmm… I believe I was 15 years old and choreographed an all boys jazz funk routine. (They were seven years old) I did a mash up from the album Justified by JT. I thought it was really cool at the time…. That is one video I will never post.

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


Stephanie: Follow your impulse and trust it!! You have to get out of your head when free styling, especially in contemporary. The beauty of contemporary freestyle is the human quality that is brought to it, not the tricks.


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


Stephanie: A beautiful song I can relate to in my personal life… and a dance studio with the lights off.


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


Stephanie: That’s hard to choose! I love watching the work of Wade Robson, Erica Sobol, Tessandra Chavez and so many more.

Nikki: What made you move from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Toronto, Ontario?

Stephanie: I spent a summer living and training in LA when I was 19 years old. From there, I was planning on moving to Toronto to pursue a career in dance and acting. Unfortunately my grandparents suddenly passed away when I returned from LA so I decided to spend the year with my family. It was a tough choice but a blessing in disguise because I started to focus on my choreography and that same year my 1st creation entitled “UNREFINED” was born. It was a show that raised awareness and funds for the Heart and Stroke foundation of Canada through the fusion of contemporary and jazz movement. With a cast of ten wonderful people, and two sold out performances I was able to create and direct emotional pieces that were inspired by my past of coping and dealing with family and friends who have been affected by heart and stroke disease. After a year of workshops, choreographing and school I finally made the move out east and it was the best choice I’ve ever made.



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


Stephanie: There are so many Toronto Choreographers who have been amazing to work with. Faye Rauw has stuck out to me as being a mentor and incredible choreographer. She has this mature and beautiful movement quality about her and I’ve been lucky to work with her a lot. Putting all of her crazy talent aside, she has a beautiful soul and has a hilarious personality!


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


Stephanie: Recently I choreographed a duet with Amanda Cleghorn and Kevin Howe. The artistry they brought to the rehearsal and final product was so inspiring.


Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?


Stephanie: I just finished a show and am auditioning for whatever comes my way! In terms of choreographing, I’ve been doing lots of freelance choreography for companies and individuals. I am shooting something with MTV Canada next week and I’m looking forward to it and getting excited!


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


Stephanie: Crazy technique. I believe Toronto has the most incredibly trained dancers. It can sometimes be intimidating!


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


Stephanie: Since I’m still emerging as a choreographer too, I must constantly remind myself that I have every right to be here. There will always be haters and judgments on your work, but that is the beauty of art. Don’t let anyone get in your head and please trust and believe in yourself with confidence. Make your mark and evolve with no limitations!!

THANK YOU STEPHANIE FOR BEING A PART OF T.D.O.T. XO
CHECK OUT STEPHANIE’S CHOREOGRAPHY…..

JACKIE ENGLISH

2 May
This Weeks Dancer/Choreographer Shout Out goes to Jackie English. Jackie is most widely known for her TV show “Jackie’s School Of Dance” on TVO Kids and has done hosting, sketch comedy and writing for TVO for over 7 years, including playing a robot named Artbot, and choreographing all the music videos and stage shows for the station. She also did assistant direction and choreography for “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding”, produced by David Mirvish at the Panasonic Theatre. Recently she choreographed the opening number to Second City’s Main stage show “This Party’s a Riot”. As a dancer her favourite recent credits are are CATS at the Stirling Festival Theatre, as well as I MOVE FORWARD at the Jane Mallet Theatre. Jackie continues to train in all styles at different studio’s within the GTA as well as continue as a working Dancer, Choreographer,Actor, Host and Writer. Check Out What Jackie had to say in this weeks Shout Out…..Bio written by Nikki

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

Jackie: I remember taking ballet when I was 4 or 5 with a former dancer with the kirov. I didnt’ have the natural flexibility or turn out of the other kids…..but she would clap rhthyms for us to mimic and clap back, and I was the best at that!! I also have a video somewhere of me very young dancing to the Muppet Family Christmas album’s ” Little Saint Nick”… I’m hamming it up to the camera doing the bit where you are surprised and amazed your own body is dancing! But I’m 10, it’s pretty funny.

Nikki: Do You remember the first song you choreographed to? ( Earliest Memory)

Jackie: Oh Yes!! Macavity from Cats, in my bedroom at age 8! We were doing Cats-On-Ice in my figure skating club at the time, but skating never was able to capture me like dancing. Professionally- it was a Madonna track for a comedic 80’s number in a show.

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

Jackie: Really focus on the music and let it move you, rather than laying your moves on the music. It helps me, too, to tell a specific story, at least in your own mind. So for lyric- driven music, I really listen to the lyrics and character of the song. And if you find yourself go-going to techno at 3am wearing earplugs? Ive actually run an acting monologue in my head to the beat of the music and danced to that!! Does that make me a Dance nerd?

Nikki: Getting in the zone to Choreograph, What does it take for you?

Jackie: To Choreograph, I research the style ( if it is a specific request), and I think about the essence and purpose of the story or scene that the choreography needs to fit into and enhance. I also think about the theme and ” point of view” of the piece. I guess I treat choreographing the same as writing or directing. Once I have a story and a style, and I understand the bodies of the dancers performing it, I come up with the details…. but I need the why before the how. And I always focus on making the dancers themselves look great,. To get in the zone? A deadline!!!

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

Jackie: I am generally influenced most by dancers I train with…Leigh Torlage who introduced me to Fosee in Montreal, The Harbour Dance Summer intensive Joanne P and Eric M and all the great teachers out in Vancouver. Calen Kurka at Broadway Dance in NYC. Here in Toronto to name just a few Faye Rauw, Siona Jackson, Mike Cota, Luther Brown, Lenny Len, Lisa Collins, Leon Blackwood, Tuch, Kevin Pugh, Michael Faigaux,m Jeremy Nasmith, Albana De Assis… the list is endless!! Allie Gelinas who fist believed in me as a Dancer. Gosh, I try to take something from everyone I work with! I can’t possibly list ’em all!!

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

Jackie: Faye Rauw is Amazing. Everything looks great, feels great….she really respects everyone’s time and energy. And she always brings a gale force of positive energy and humour into rehearsal!!! She has a very generous spirit…I promise to print t-shirts that say ” Faye it til you make it!!” I need to get on that!!!

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

Jackie: I love working with actors who move and comedians actually! They are fearless, and story/comedy driven by nature. And I love working with dancers who have fun being funny!Comedy is all timing, and dancers have timing! 5 6 7 8!

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Jackie: Dance-wise this I am performing at the award-winning Carnegie Hall Comedy/Variety show (I’m the variety) and up in Barrie for the Theatre By the Bay Fundraiser doing the Cell Block Tango. Recently, choreo-wise, I just did the opening number of Second City’s “This Party’s A Riot”. On television, “Jackie’s School of Dance” is still airing and I just did choreo for a new kids music video to be launched in September.

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

Jackie: I feel like there is good collaboration here and a love of dance. Dancers here are always game to hit the stage and support each other’s projects that way. Like a farm community coming together to raise a barn! There is a lot of support here that way. I also think cross training here is encouraged, in different types of dance, and even performing arts in general. As a Jackie of all trades, I appreciate that. No one will tell you that if you are a dancer, you can’t write a screenplay!

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

Jackie: Ballet, kids. Do it. LOL! I’m kidding…. (sort of). Actually, I think the best advice is just to train yourself to say YES! to any opportunity. If someone asks you to do it, and you can make it happen in your schedule, DO IT! You never know what golden learning or chance will come out of every opportunity. YES is a state of mind.

THANK YOU JACKIE FOR BEING PART OF T.D.O.T. XO

Check Out Jackie in this ING Flash Mob commercial

Watch Jackie get Fierce in this video clip

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=79869842542&comments&set=t.880900327&type=1