This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to another personal fave La Toya Robinson. La Toya aka MsToya Robinson, has been dancing since she was able to walk. She was put into dance by her parents when she was just 3 years old and has been dancing ever since! Technically trained in ballet, tap, jazz and gymnastics, she competed across North America with one of Canada’s top dance studio, Canadian Dance Company. Travelling to America’s top dance competition in South Carolina, MsToya and her studio won many championship titles and appeared on various TV shows. With the support of her parents, MsToya excelled at dance, but also in the world of sports. Playing baseball, volleyball, basketball and running track, she was named MVP in high school and played on many winning teams! Her love of sports continued past high schools as she ventured on to work with almost all the major sports teams in Toronto. Starting in 2002, she was a dancer/cheerleader for the Toronto Blue Jays J-Cru, dancing at home games and pumping up the crowd during innings. For 3 seasons from 2002-2005, she was a part of the Toronto Raptors Dance Pak, dancing at all home games, doing charity work in the community and even travelling to El Paso, Texas and Newfoundland for some preseason games! In 2008 and 2009, MsToya worked with the Toronto Argonauts cheerleaders choreographing routines performed on field at the games and the CFL Grey Cup weekend. This past year, MsToya has had the opportunity to work with the Toronto Rock Lacrosse team cheerleaders choreographing game day routines for them!
MsToya has also worked with the most sought after video director Little X, dancing in videos such as “Pon Di Replay” by Rihanna, Keisha Chante’s “Bad Boy”, and Mario’s “Let Me Love You”. In 2006, she performed with R&B singer Massari at the JUNO awards in Halifax and the Canadian Urban Music Awards in Toronto. Dancing for Massari she has had the opportunity to travel and see the world while doing what she loves. They have toured all over Europe, Australia, North Africa and the Middle East. In 2007, MsToya was one of two dancers chosen to perform alongside Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas at the Much Music Video Awards in Toronto. In 2008, she performed with Akon, Kardinal Offishall and Flo Rida at the MMVA’s again and finally in 2009, with the Black Eyed Peas! Recently she’s appeared on major network programs like So You Think You Can Dance Canada assisting head judge Tre Armstrong and Choreographer/judge Luther Brown. As well as dancing for Divine Brown at the 2011 CityTV New Years Eve Bash!MsToya will be teaching a Jazz Funk workshop next Tues July 26th at the National Ballet School. Check out what she had to say in this weeks shout out.
Bio provided by MsToya
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
MsToya: Yes!!! I was 3 or 4 and I did a ballet number to “How Much is that Doggy in the Window” LOL!! I was so excited, for the performance I had my little pound puppy on stage with me. I remember my mom yelling at me to smile, and my dance teacher dragging me off stage at the end.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
MsToya: The earliest memory would have to be when my brother and I would put together dance routines to all Milli Vanilli songs and pretend we were them. We would put on concerts and perform them for our family at get togethers and my dad would spin the records…Yes, I said records LOL! I wish I could find those tapes!
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
MsToya: I find it easier when you don’t think about it. Just let the music move you and try not to force it! What helps me is putting my iPod on shuffle and freestyling to whatever comes trying to feel the mood and musicality of each song.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
MsToya: It’s waaaaaay easier for me to get in the zone to choreograph when I’m feeling the track. I like falling to sleep with the track playing and when I wake up the ideas and moves are flowing. This often happens late at night and I end up waking out of my sleep and filming my ideas and going back to bed…Meh, works for me! Ha
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
MsToya: I would have to say that 2 of my biggest influences are the studio directors/teachers at the studio I grew up at, Canadian Dance Company. Dawn and Allain Lupien taught me all the basics in and outside of dance that has helped me get to where I am today. As disciplinarians they taught me how to hone my passion for dance and performing through hard work, perseverance and determination. The hours upon hours of dance rehearsals and living at the studio have definitely paid off and I’m grateful for them both!
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
MsToya: I looove working with Jae Blaze and Luther Brown!! They definitely have a passion, style, energy and vision in their work that I find inspiring. They have done so much for the dance industry in Toronto as well, you gotta love it!
Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?
MsToya: Artists that have are hands on and passionate with their show are definitely artists that are fun to work with. I enjoy working with Massari a lot. Have been with him since 2005 and he is always evolving and is such a hard worker. Not to mention I’ve been able to travel the world to places I’ve never heard of and do what I love doing…performing!
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
MsToya: Right now, I’m working with a few local artists on creating their stage shows as well as teaching more workshops around Toronto! I will be heading overseas to teach at the end of the summer, so I’m excited about that!
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?
MsToya: I think Toronto dancers have a drive and determination like no other. We know how hard it can be since jobs can be few and far between and when crossing over to the States Canadians are so successful because they don’t take anything for granted!
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
MsToya: You really have to put the time in and train, invest, develop and love your craft. Look at every situation as a learning experience. You have to love what you do and work hard at it. Know your worth and don’t settle for anything less! 🙂
THANK YOU MsTOYA FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO
CHECK THE VIDEO FOR MSTOYA’S WORKSHOP ……
WATCH MSTOYA BRING SOME DANCEHALL FLAVA TO MONTREAL…..