Archive | September, 2011


26 Sep
This Weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Julia Harnett. Julia is a dynamic powerhouse who began dancing and acting at the age of four. Originally from Kelowna, British Columbia, Julia began taking her first dance steps in ballet (RAD), jazz, highland, contemporary, and hip hop. Julia was also involved heavily in the drama department of her high school as well as in the community, and appeared in performances such as West Side Story and The Nutcracker.
Upon her high school graduation, Julia travelled to Osaka, Japan to further her studies in ballet and choreography. Julia was also offered dance positions on both Disney Cruise Lines, and Carnival Cruise Lines. After six months of performing at sea, Julia pursued her studies at both Ryerson University, The University of Calgary, and the School of Alberta Ballet. Julia’s love for travel also allowed her to train extensively in New York, L.A., and Jackson, Mississippi.
Julia ventured into the world of ballroom dance five years ago, and has since been an avid competitor in the championship level Latin circuit. “Ballroom has taught me a deeper understanding of the connection between two individuals. The synchronization of body rhythms is something dancers of all styles could benefit from.”
Julia shares her love for dance by performing, teaching and choreographing at various studios and events throughout Canada, and hopes to inspire the next generation of dancers through her passionate approach to the arts.
Bio Provided by Julia

Find out what Julia had to say in this weeks shout out…..

Nikki:Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Julia: I first started dancing at the age of four.  I remember hating bodysuits and tights…So dull…however, at a very young age I was drawn to classical music…thinking back, it seems kind of strange…
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Julia: The first song I choreographed to was  “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s Pocahontas.  I remember trying my hardest to interpret every single word in the lyrics.   How ridiculous I must have looked in competition!   Words like “can,” “with,” and “the,” all had their own movements… I’ve learned to laugh at myself. 
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?  
Julia: The most creative movements are usually made by mistake…so don’t be afraid to make mistakes…  I try to envision myself in my living room at home, and the familiarity helps release all artistic inhibitions.  
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Julia: Big headphones and a huge music playlist, depending on the choreography, I also like to draw from various martial arts styles and nature for inspiration. However, if I’m really stuck, a glass of merlot usually helps too lol.  
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?  
Julia: I would have to say that Jean Marc Genereux has really encouraged me to reach my full potential in Latin. He coaches me part time, and I feel so blessed to be able to work with him.  
Nikki: Being from British Columbia what made you decide to spend time in Toronto training and for how long did you live here?
Julia: I grew up as a ballet dancer in beautiful Kelowna BC. After graduating from high school, I was given the opportunity to train on full scholarship at a prestigious ballet school in Osaka, Japan.  When I returned to Canada, I felt that if I wanted to further my dance career and become more versatile, I would have to relocate to either Vancouver or Toronto…Toronto won. I trained my butt off for several months as well as auditioned for numerous shows, art’s schools and cruise lines. I was offered dance contracts on both Disney and Carnival Cruise lines, as well as acceptance into Ryerson University’s dance program.  I lived in Toronto for two years before my heart called me back to ballet.  I ended up moving to Calgary to further my studies at the University of Calgary, and joined the Pre Professional ballet program at the School of Alberta Ballet…I found ballroom dance two years after that.  
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Julia: I’ve never met a Toronto choreographer that I didn’t enjoy working with…they are all amazing!  Love Luther Brown though! 
Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?  
Julia: The ballroom world is a little bit different in the sense that we have our own dance celebrities.  I have been fortunate enough to work with the legendary Maria Manusova in Brooklyn, New York. Maria is the type of artist that I strive to emulate. She was one of the most dynamic, captivating, and charismatic dancers I’ve ever seen.  She was, and is dance purity. If you’ve never heard of these women, get on YouTube!
Nikki: What was it like being part of So You Think You Can Dance season 3??  
Julia: SYTYCDC was truly a special highlight of my dance career.   I was super proud of being the very first mom (my son Jaelen just turned 6!!!) on any SYTYCD stage to make it to the Top 22 finalists.    From the producers, to the choreographers, to my fellow dancers, I will be forever grateful for their motivation and inspiration.  This experience has brought me more opportunities than I could ever imagine, and has also exposed me to other elements of the entertainment industry that I have been actively pursuing! 
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects? 
Julia: Yes! What a busy year it has been! The summer was filled with extensive training in NYC, performances, teaching workshops and summer schools in Calgary, as well as venturing into the world of TV and film. I’ve recently booked several TV commercials for CTV and Shaw TV, and am hoping to expand my entertainment career through my acting and vocal training.  I will be dancing in an opera performance in Calgary in the next few days, as well as preparing for three upcoming ballroom competitions this fall.  One of the main competitions is Jean Marc Genereux’s Rocky Mountain Dancesport Grand Prix. This event is not only a ballroom event, but also a dance convention as well.  This year, Sean Cheesmen, and several other SYTYCD Canada alumni (including our latest winner, Jordan!) will be teaching! I’ m so proud to be a part of this amazing family. 
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess? 
Julia: Toronto dancers are dreamers and realists at the same time!   They follow their hearts; yet listen to their minds… 
Toronto dancers are resilient…. not only do they bounce back from tough situations; they bounce back ten times stronger!
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Julia:Never lose your originality.  Never stop learning. Learn how to take feedback without feeling defensive. Once you can do this, your artistry will elevate!


19 Sep
This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Dwayne Gulston. Dwayne best known as “Boneless” in the Toronto entertainment industry and has made a name for himself due to his abstract dance flexibility. His trendsetting and innovative ideas have brought a unique challenge to current and upcoming dancers. Not only is he a multi-talented dancer, but he also a rising actor.
Gulston has had leading roles in films such as “How She Move” featuring Tre Armstrong and Keisha Cole, “A Raisin in the Sun” featuring P. Diddy, “Redemption” featuring Jamie Foxx, and most recently “Camp Rock” featuring the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato.
Gulston’s top-quality abilities have also privileged him to work with (but not limited to) celebrities such as: Sean Paul, Xzibit, Our Lady Peace, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Keisha Chante, Kreesha Turner, Omarion, Mario and Kardinal Offishall.
Gulston, who is a phenomenal and original dancer, has also had the opportunity to work with choreographer’s such as: Showtyme (Gwen Stefanie), Hi-Hat (Missy Elliot), and Canadian born, Tenisha Scott (Sean Paul), Jae Blaze (Nelly Furtado & Fergie), Tré Armstrong, and Luther Brown.
Determined, Gulston has been able to give back to his local community by inspiring young dancers in the making. His outstanding and positive attitude has enabled him to show dancers to stay true to themselves. Gulston who was born and raised on the Island of Trinidad and Tobago has done nothing but what he loves best, DANCE! Coming to Toronto, Canada, at the young age of six, Gulston knew nothing of where he belonged. He was able to express himself through the free movement of dancing. Only as a young adolescent was he able to connect with others of the same passion, which is when he joined the School of Mayhem. After a couple of years, a few of the dancers broke off into the well-known dance crew, Mayhem’s Finest. This crew of fine dancers is known in Toronto as one of the most successful and talented dance crews. Gulston truly knows that dancing will always be part of his life’s adventure!
After 4 years of auditioning Dwayne achieved his goal after 4 years and made it to the Top 20 for So You Think you Can Dance Canada’s final season. Although he didn’t win the competition, it was an achievement which taught him there is always something bigger, better and newer to discover. It has inspired him to push himself above and beyond, which is now what he hopes to share with everyone! As Gulston would say, “Keep pressing forward and never look back!”


Find out What Dwayne had to say in this weeks shout out…….

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


Dwayne: The first time I started dancing was in Trinidad, where I was born, like in my moms belly lol. I can’t even remember the first time! My mom and my grand mother always told me I was a hyper child and I was always moving, jumping, and throwing myself around when ever I would hear music.


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


Dwayne: The First song I choreographed something to was Beastie Boys – Intergalactic for my talent show in grade 6 with my two best friends. At the time I didn’t know if it was break dancing or hip hop, I just did what ever looked cool lol lol  


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


Dwayne: My Personal advice to dancer when it come to free styling is to “BE YOUR SELF” it’s called “FREE STYLING” for a reason lol but …theres always a but.. know what your doing! Your still dancing or performing, you want to look awesome doing it. Even tho it’s called “free styling” there is still a dance behind it and a style, it could be poppin, hip hop, house, krump, jazz ,salsa, even ballroom, etc.. you have to know your history and basic moves so you can grow as a dancer. It’s very important with any style of dance to know your history, it can only make you a better dancer in the long run. 


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


Dwayne: For me getting in the zone to choreograph or even just dance is having positive people around me like my crew Mayhem’s Finest! I need to get hype and ready to go OFF! Also just good food and relaxing cause when I’m relaxed and I hear a wicked tune… that does it! My mind starts to ponder and my creative juice starts to “flow”


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


Dwayne: In the dance industry some of my biggest influences are Mr Wiggles, Michael Jackson, Gene Kelly, David Elsewhere, B Boy K-mel, Luther Brown, Lenny Len, Show-Tyme, Frank Boogie, Chris Brown… the list can go on but I’ll stop there. 


Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?Dwayne: WOW this is a tough question… I really don’t have a favourite choreographer that I have worked with in Toronto because I get along with everyone one I work with. In rehearsal it’s all love and good vibes. I learn from so many people and Teachers/ Choreographers it’s amazing! If I had to pick a name I would be lying :sNikki: Name one of your favourite artists to work with and why?Dwayne: So far in my career I have worked with many artists and I’m blessed… this might sound wired but I’m going to give it a shot. Working with So You Think You Can Dance Canada was very overwhelming for me. At this point in my career my Top 22 family of season 4, we were all artists on that stage. We got to showcase our passion to Canada or the world you could say. I think sometimes people forget that dancers are artists too. So my answer would be “Working with my Top 22 family on So You Think You Can Dance Canada Season 4”   Nikki: What was it like making it to the Top 22 for season 4 of So You Think You Can Dance Canada?Dwayne: Making it to the Top 22 for season 4 was a huge blessing for me. I put so much hard work into training and preparing myself mentally and physically for everything. Going though round after round. Seeing people get cut left, right and centre, then hearing those words “Boneless…. (dramatic pause), YOU IN OUR TOP 20!!” it was nuts. Just knowing you got something you always wanted or was dreaming for. No one can take away that feeling ever it was to crazy!!!! if you go online and look at my reaction it will explain everything lol 😀 The experience will always be “One In A Million” (Aaliyah) to be honest it’s really hard work to be on that show, you can ask any competitor, but nothing in life is easy. Everything you do is full out 24-7 but it’s a great experience because your living a dancer dream…well I think so. You get to meet some of the best choreographers in the world, you get to grow as a person and a dancer, meet a lot of new people, build a new family, New career  opportunities open up, and get celebrity treatment… the works! If you put the hard work in, it will pay off. ( Short story.. never thought I would meet “Mia Michaels” and I did, I was shocked but she thinks I’m amazing, how cool is that!! )     Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?Dwayne: Rodrigo Garcia from SYTYCDC S4 And I have our own Dance Workshop called “H.A.M” for kids of all ages who are interred in dance. We offer it to all “dance school” around Ontario. We mix two style of dance for one class. If interesting or want to know more information you can email
Also my brother (Tall Up) and I have our own business called “Mayhem Bros” We teach dance workshop all around the school board of Ontario in the Arts and Phys-ed department. If interested or want more information you can email us at


Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Dwayne: Qualities that I think Toronto dancer posses are..
1) We are passionate
2) Humble

3) Dope!
4) Hard Working
5) Fresh!
6) Creative
7) Open minded

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

Dwayne: My ultimate advice would be to… BE YOUR SELF!!!!! Keep an open mind. Get out of the box and KNOW YOUR DANCE HISTORY!! Your never to old to learn or train. ( Is Kesha Hip Hop? lol )



12 Sep
This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Rodrigo Basurto. Born and raised in Guadalajara Mexico, Rodrigo started dancing at the age of 4. In 1996, Rodrigo studied at the Opus Art and Talent Dance School for two years where he exceeded in many dance styles including breakdancing.  In 1999, he joined the popular breakdancing crew called “Family B-boys”, the reigning international champions for three consecutive years while competing internationally against the best in the world. During this time, Rodrigo gained experienced dancing with very talented artists and decided to further pursue his dancing career in Toronto, Canada.
Rodrigo specializes in Hip Hop and choreography, but also has many years of experience in contemporary hip-hop, breakdancing, salsa, acro, poppin, locking, and capoeira (brazilian martial arts). Over the years, Rodrigo has had the opportunity to work and train with some of the industries most sought after choreographers including Luther Brown, Laurie Ann Gibson, Leon Blackwood, Marty Kudelka, Nick Bass, Misha Gabriel, and Patrick Chang. Accomplishing a major milestone this year proving that hard work and dedication pay off Rodrigo joined the cast of So You Think You Can Dance Canada season 4.
Rodrigo has been teaching around the world since 2004 and recently created a Dance program geared towards young males called lil BBoys. Through this program he is able to contribute is experience and training by teaching aspiring young hip hop and breakdancers.
Find out what Rodrigo had to say in this weeks shout out…………
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Rodrigo: The first time I started dancing I was living in Mexico and I use to go to this all ages club in the afternoon after school and watch the BBoys battle each other. I wanted to learn so badly so that day after the club my friend and I started break dancing in the park and trying to do crazy stuff and after that day we didn’t stop rehearsing 5 to 6 a week sometimes 8 hrs a day.
Nikki:  Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Rodrigo: The first song I choreographed to was for a break dance duet and I used Curtis Blow (the breaks)
Nikki:  Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Rodrigo: Free styling is really important. It’s what sets u apart a Dancer, free style is a chance to express yourself by dance and show what u got and who you are and what you do and how do you do it!!!!
Nikki:  Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Rodrigo: Choreography for me is a special every time. When I have an idea in my head I cant wait to start working on it!! It takes lots of time and work to build your unique choreo style.
Nikki:  Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Rodrigo: So many people starting with MJ to Bob Fosse to Usher to Luther Brown, Nappy Tabs, Marty Kudelka, Misha Gabriel, Lyle Beniga…… So many people 🙂
Nikki:  Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Rodrigo: Luther Brown he is my mentor and the reason why I’m here!! Every time I work with him its always on a professional level no matter what u do with him he will bring you up a notch or two! He respects his dancers and that is really important as a leader. He loves what he does and he is just the best choreographer. 
Nikki:  Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?
Rodrigo: I loved working with lady gaga on the MMVA’s she was amazing and so professional. She is humble and passionate about what she does! It was a great experience and seeing how hard she worked made me work even harder to make the most out of every opportunity
Nikki:  What was it like being on So You Think You Can Dance Canada Season 4 and making it to the Top 20?
Rodrigo: Being part of season 4 SYTYCD Canada meant a lot to me it was a goal that I was aiming to achieve in my life and finally I did.  It made me realize where I am in dance, I’m just so grateful to say that I was chosen out of thousands to be part of an amazing group of Dancers in Canada. From where I came from to how I got there is just a great feeling of accomplishment.
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects? 
Rodrigo: Well right now I’m teaching a workshop called H.A.M. all over the Country. I will be heading to Mexico at the end of this year for a big project I can’t talk about just yet 😉  
Nikki: Name some qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?
Rodrigo:  Toronto dancers are so unique its really insane how every time we are in-group of dancer from all over the world people can usually point us out!!  They know Canada style were so versatile and humble 🙂 
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Rodrigo: Just work hard dancers keep training non-stop. There is always going to be someone better than you and the styles are always changing. For new choreographers keep working on your craft that is the only way to get better. The world of choreography is hard but keep going it’s like learning a new language it takes time.


Check out some of Rodrigo’s journey on SYTYCDC…….


5 Sep
This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Shane Simpson. After four long years of tryouts for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE CANADA Shane Simpson’s spiritual good luck prayers, talent and smile have landed him in Season 4’s Top 22. Dancing around the house at the age of seven, Shane would imitate music videos in front of friends and family. With an obvious desire to dance, Shane’s mother signed him up for lessons and they’ve never looked back. Though trained primarily in jazz and contemporary, Shane trained at five different studios practicing hip-hop, acrobatics, lyrical, tap, ballet and modern. 

Shane says he would most like to follow in the dance steps of Gene Kelly. “He made a huge impact on not only the dance industry, but the whole entertainment industry. He was a dancer, choreographer, actor, singer, film director and producer. I would love to have all of those titles,” said Shane.

Working with notable performers including Lady Gaga, Jully Black, K-OS, and Lady Gaga’s notorious Canadian choreographer, Laurieann Gibson, Shane says his biggest accomplishment to date is making SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE CANADA’s Top 22. “Making Season 4’s Top 22 has showed me that hard work does pay off and I can do anything I put my mind to,” said Shane.

 Shane says he loves travelling and is extremely into fashion. This true Canadian is most comfortable dancing and hanging out when wearing his Roots sweat pants.
Bio provided by CTV
Be sure to tune in to CTV at 8PM EST tonight to watch Shane and 5 other Dancers hit the stage 1 last time to compete for the title of Canada’s favorite Dancer. *** Side note 4 of the Top 6 Dancers are from the Toronto area!!!! GO T.D.O.T. LOL

Find out what Shane had to say in this weeks shout out AND VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!!!


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

Shane: Yes I Do. It was when I was 7 years old. I had always watched music videos and talent competitions like Star Search with my family and just wanted to perform on stage. So I begged my mom to put me in dance and she did. Ever since then I’ve been dancing. 

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

Shane: Yes I do. Since I attended a performing arts high school, when I was a senior we had to create a group dance with the younger students. The song I used was Bob Marley’s- “Redemption Song”


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

Shane: Wow, Free styling is definitely not an easy thing to do! It’s taken me a really long time to become good at it (and I’m still not the best). If I had any advice give it would be to not over think while in your free style. Do what comes natural to your body. And as my mom always says “Practice Makes Perfect”


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

Shane: When it come time for me to choreograph I really like to listen to the music that I’m choreographing to so I can really get a sense of what kind of movement I’m going to use. From there on I usually just like make up phrases and fit them to the music.


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

Shane: That’s a hard one. There are so many big influences in the dance industry from artist to choreographers to dancers. But for me I would say Michael Jackson (event though he has passed), Janet Jackson, Gene Kelly, Mikhail Brayshnikov, Bob Fosse, and Alvin Ailey just to name a few.


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

Shane: There are honestly just so many amazing choreographers in Toronto! There is a couple that I love working with or even taking classes from. Leon Blackwood, Eryn Waltman, Steilo Calagias, and of course Luther Brown. The reason I say these Choreographers is because I find that regardless of the day of the week or size of the class I know when I work with these choreographers I will be challenged and gain a lot of knowledge just from one class. Also they are just such great people and very talented individuals.


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

Shane: I personally haven’t worked with that many artists but so far I would say working with Lady Gaga on the 2009MMVA’s was one of my favorite experiences. The reason being that She was so committed to her work. It’s such great feeling to know when the artist you’re working with is really committed to their own work because as a dancer it makes you work that much harder.


Nikki:  What is it like being on SYTYCD and making it to Canada’s Top 10?

Shane: It is an Awesome feeling!! To know that I have worked so hard over the past couple of years to make it on to SYTYCDCanada and now to be named Top 5 guys of season 4 is incredible. I don’t think there are enough words that could really explain how honored and blessed I am.


Nikki:  Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Shane: Toronto Dancers are committed, loyal, respectful, friendly, focused and all around Hard Workers! There is not one dancer I know from Toronto that does not deserve to be where they are now.


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

Shane: If there is any advice I can give to anyone it would be to never lose who you are, to always keep your head up and stay focused. But most importantly wither dancer of choreographer take class and stay creative!!



Watch some of the amazing routine’s Shane and his incredible partner’s have performed proving they definetly have what it takes to be Canada’s Favortie Dancer………VOTE!!!