This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Bree Wasylenko. Bree knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a performer. Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, she trained in many styles, including jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary, modern and hip hop. In order to pursue a career as a professional dancer, Bree knew that she couldn’t stay in Calgary – so in late 2007 she made the life-changing move to Toronto. Since then she has trained under some of the best in Canada, including Luther Brown and Linda Garneau. She was blessed to be a part of Linda’s renowned company, Helix Dance Project, in both the ’08 and ’09 seasons. She has also had the privilege of working with, and being an assistant to, Sean Cheesman and Clarence Ford on So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Seasons 1 and 2.
Bree has enjoyed many successes both on stage, and in front of the camera. She has done numerous industrials for Bell Mobility, Sears, RBC, Shoppers Drug Mart and LG, as well as dancing with and appearing in music videos for artists such as Shawn Desman, Keshia Chante, Aleesia, Kim Davis, Kreesha Turner, and many more. Her first feature film was “Turn the Beat Around”, choreographed by Tre Armstrong, and was also a featured dancer in the Family Channel TV show “Baxter”. Bree recently shot three movies over a two month period. She was a Reindeer Dancer in an as yet untitled ABC Family Channel Christmas movie. She then worked as Assistant Choreographer to Danny Teeson in the Disney movie, “Frenemies”. Bree’s latest movie was “COBU 3D”, which was choreographed by the one and only Nappytabs! She was also assistant choreographer to Valerie Moore in the “Back to School” Staples commercial and acted as the stand-in for star Heather Morris. All of the skills Bree acquired while doing these assistant choreography jobs came to good use when she choreographed the pilot episode of the new CTV legal drama “Stay With Me”, premiering this fall!
The highlight of Bree’s career thus far has been making the top 20 of Season 3 of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. She grew immensely as a dancer and performer, as well as making great new connections with the judges, choreographers, and her fellow dancers. Her dancehall routine became an internet phenomenon, being viewed millions of times all over the world. The routine was even featured in a segment on CNN, showing many clips of Bree on stage. So You Think You Can Dance Canada has opened many doors for Bree, and has proved to be an invaluable experience. She is looking forward to putting her newfound knowledge to good use, and cannot wait for what her career in the entertainment industry has in store!
Bio provided by Bree
Bree Wasylenko Website
Here’s what Bree had to say in this weeks shout out…..
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Bree: I think the first memory I have of me dancing involves shiny spandex bodysuits OVER neon bike shorts. I don’t remember what actual moves I was doing, just that I was the most colorful in the class. My parents have home movies of me dancing in the bath as early as one, and constantly putting on full out shows and productions (using my little sisters as props) in the living room.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Bree: Do I ever! It was Space Jam. In my best friends bedroom. I think I was 7. Neither of us were very good at the time, but for some reason our favorite move to put in was the splits (left, right, AND centre).
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Bree: I’m still trying to master the art of freestyle, so I don’t know if I’m the right person to be giving advice! I think just really listening to the music, and paying attention to what is being asked of you. If you’re in a hip hop audition and someone says “freestyle in your own genre”, if you’re a contemp dancer don’t do hip hop because that’s what you “think” they want to see! Always play to your strengths.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Bree: A great song, and some mood lighting! Those are the two biggest things. From there it’s just a matter of whether I’m having an on or off day. With practice I’m starting to have a lot more on days than off!
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Bree: Linda Garneau was a huge influence early on in my career. She taught me to hear music differently, control my movement, and what it meant to work my butt off in rehearsals! Now it’s my peers who have successful careers that I aim to emulate. People like Caroline Torti and Natalli Reznick, who are constantly working in film and television, as well as with international artists.
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Bree: I love love love love loooooove working with Steph Rutherford! Not only is she a great person and friend of mine, but her movement is so unique and very suited to the way that my body wants to move. Her choreography is strong, powerful, intricate, and quirky – what else could you want?!?
Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?
Bree: My favorite recording artist to work with by far is Shawn Desman. He is just such a warm, friendly, funny, and grateful person! Whenever I do videos or gigs with him I just feel like I’m working with a friend. More people should be like that!
Nikki: What was it like being part of SYTYCDC season 3’s Top 22?
Bree: Being a part of SYTYCD was such an amazing experience. To this day it has been the most difficult, yet rewarding thing I have ever done. In the few short weeks I was on the show I gained more knowledge of myself as a dancer and performer, and of this industry, than I have in the past three years. If you allow it, you grow at an exponential rate. I LOVED learning new genres and routines, and having only 4 days to master it and perform in front of the nation. What a rush!
Nikki: What made you make the move from Calgary to Toronto?
Bree: Growing up I loved dance, but didn’t think you could really make a career out of it. I always assumed I would just go to university, and lead a normal life. Then something clicked at 17 and I decided I wanted to be a professional dancer. Calgary has a wonderful underground arts scene, but people there dance for the love of it – not for a pay cheque. I debated between Vancouver and Toronto, but something about Toronto intrigued me just that tiny bit more. After high school I worked my butt off for a year and saved a ton of money, then made the leap! It was scary, but the best decision I’ve ever made. I couldn’t picture my life any other way! I am so unbelievably blessed to be able to wake up every day and do what I love.
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Bree: At the moment I’m mostly teaching summer workshops, but I just signed a contract with The Canadian Opera Company for one of their fall shows called Iphigenia in Taurus. My last year in high school I was in a youth modern/contemporary company in Calgary, but since then I’ve done mostly commercial work for film and television. This show is very contemporary and modern based, with a lot of “dance” acting involved. I haven’t had much desire to do these types of contracts, but in the audition I felt so uncomfortable that I knew if I was offered the job I had to take it! Feeling uncomfortable and scared presents a challenge, and if you can get over that fear you’ve conquered something and grown as a dancer, and hopefully a person as well.
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?
Bree: Toronto dancers are hungry, and know what they want. But also don’t always know how to get it. Which I think is what makes us such a strong and friendly community. We lean on each other for help and support, and are proud of friends when they are successful. It isn’t quite as cutthroat as bigger dance cities like LA and NY, but there’s still enough healthy competition that dancers don’t get complacent.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Bree: It takes so much hard work, concentration, and dedication to make it in this industry – so why waste even ONE ounce of that worrying about what other people are doing? If you don’t like someone’s choreography, don’t take their class. It’s that simple. Don’t sit around and bitch with your friends about how much they suck. People get where they are in this business by either working their butt off, or knowing how to play the game. It’s really easy to hate on people, but it seems that most of that hate stems from feeling like they’re getting work that they don’t deserve (and you do). So instead of wasting that negative energy on them, turn it into positive energy you can put back into yourself to help you succeed!
THANK YOU BREE FOR BEING PART OF T.D.O.T. XO
CHECK OUT BREE’S REEL…..
Bree Wasylenko REEL from Bree Wasylenko on Vimeo.
A SHORT DANCE FILM FEATURING AND CHOREOGRAPHED BY BREE AND DANNY