This Weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Annie Chen. Annie’s foundation for a career in Dance began at the age of 4 in her native of Taiwan. When she was 5 her family moved to Vancouver, BC before settling in Toronto at the age of 13. Annie continued to Dance at a recreational level attending classes once or twice a week. With her passion for Dance she auditioned for The Etobicoke School of Arts. She was accepted and began to train intensively in Contemporary and Ballet. Upon graduation she continued her Dance education at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Having been trained by some of Canada’s leading instructors it is no surprise that Annie has found a way to build a career in Dance. Now in her early 20’s she has found her self choreographing and performing for Canada’s up and coming Electro Pop group Candy Coated Killaz. She can also be seen in the Bravo Fact film Season’s of Change choreographed by Allen Kaeja.
Annie has been able to perform in live shows across the city working with some of Toronto’s most noted choreographers at major events like Canada’s Dance Festival, T-Pain’s concert, MMVA’s and The Choreographers Ball. She’s recently joined the Burlesque group “Nuvo” and continues to perform and train with many contemporary and hip hop choreographers. Proof that hard work and dedication pay off find out what Annie had to say in this weeks shout out.
Bio by Nikki
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Annie: I first started dancing when I was living in Taiwan at 4 years old. I remember sweating my butt off all the time and staining the beautiful tutus my mom would buy me for ballet class. Sorry MA!
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Annie: The first song I choreographed to was actually Christina Aguilera’s first album “What a Girl Wants” I was 13 years old and had just moved to Toronto from Vancouver and was really shy and didn’t know very many people yet so I would just jam out in my room whenever I had time.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Annie: JUST DO IT!! hahaha I use to black out when I had to freestyle at auditions. I came from a classical modern contemporary background so we never had to freestyle much in training. Don’t worry it gets much better!! Don’t beat yourself down if you don’t get it the first couple of times. Listen to your body and especially the music. Invite others into your world. It takes practice to get in the pocket. I would say if your a technical thinker then plan out a couple of moves that you like to do then at least you have a base to work with, and all you have to do is fill in the blanks. Also a big thing to remember is that you can’t do anything “wrong” as long as you believe what your doing is hype so will your audience.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Annie: It depends on what I feel that day. It could be a really dope piece of music or a really interesting idea or concept. What really gets me going is when I jam to my iPod when it’s put on shuffle. That way I don’t think too much I react by instinct because I don’t know what kind of music is coming up next and that’s where I believe the true authentic movements are created- from natural instincts.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Annie: wow…. there are so many people that inspire me in this industry its crazy! Definitely my fellow dancers I love seeing everyone grow and it pushes me and makes me want to be a better and stronger dancer.
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Annie: Although living in the States she is from Toronto! hahaha I recently had the chance to work with Laurie Ann Gibson for the Lady Gaga MMVA show. She is just so powerful and can give you Goosebumps just with her presence in the room. I would love to be able to read her mind. HAHA!
Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?
Annie: One of my favorite artists to work with would be a Toronto based band called Candy Coated Killahz.
They’re album just released in stores everywhere last week! I love working with them because they are just such outgoing and laid back people. They’re music and they’re overall image has a very quirky side to it which really interests me. I also had a lot of freedom and say when I was choreographing they’re songs which always makes the process more enjoyable.
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Annie: Currently I do have a couple things in line but my biggest project is ME. haha! I’ve just been rehearsing so much that I haven’t had time to really focus on developing myself and training myself the way I want as an artist. Before all this I danced for Lady Gaga at the MMVA, shot a music video for Candy Coated Killahz (which will be out soon), opened for T-Pain at one of his concerts in Barrie, performed on Much Music with the band that I am currently working with, worked with EMDT on a piece and is part of their company. Also numerous live shows such as Choreographer’s Ball, Pride, Canadian Music Festival, and working with Carla Catherwood on her Chic-a-Boom Room shows. It has been hectic!!
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?
Annie: I think that Toronto dancers possess true personality. We all express ourselves through movement differently and are all individuals (not factory made machines). I can’t think of one dancer who can be replaced by another and not change the dynamic or feel of whatever the choreography is.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Annie: Confidence is key!! If you don’t believe in yourself- you WILL get eaten alive. Network your butt off! So many jobs come from people you know, so make sure that your face is always present. Also be humble and have respect for one another as a dancer or choreographer. It’s still a dance community even though it doesn’t always seem that way. I believe that everyone should be accepting of one another and help each other out in any way that we can.
THANK YOU ANNIE FOR BEING PART OF T.D.O.T. XO
CHECK OUT ANNIE AND AND SOME OTHER TORONTO DANCERS PERFORMING AT THE CHOREOGRAPHER’S BALL……