Archive | November, 2011


28 Nov
This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Vanessa Young. Vanessa has been a performer for her entire life, and currently holds a Diploma in Dance and a Certificate in Performing Arts. In the past 6 years this 25 year old powerhouse has become a “Global Dance Citizen”, training and performing in Mexico, Europe, USA and Australia where she has just finished producing her first large-scale show.
Her performance credits include shows with The Chic-A-Boom Room, Canadian Showgirlz Dance Company, The Dolls, DivaGirl, Superfly Entertainment and more. Recently, you may have seen her in the online reality series Jaclife (Canwest) featured on
She has choreographed for such artists as T-Nile, The Midway State, DJ Havana Brown, Chris Willis and Addictiv and is currently a managing partner of Beso Entertainment based out of Toronto.  She is also the Entertainment and Booking Agent for DivaGirl Entertainment (
As a producer Vanessa has worked on multiple stage shows in the past 2 years and continues to build her own projects. She took an interest in Production last year when an injury forced her to re-evaluate being in the dance industry. “This role we put ourselves in as dancers is very strenuous on the body and mind. So when you’re forced to sit on the sidelines for a while you take that time to reflect. It made me realize that this industry is my home and my calling. Be it performing, creating, producing or directing, it’s my passion and goal to motivate young performers to be in the arts. Now I just want to learn more and grow as an artist and an individual.”
Bio provided by Vanessa
Find out what Vanessa had to say in this weeks shout out… 

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

Vanessa: I actually didn’t start dancing until later in life. I got started in acting at about 10 but didn’t take dance seriously until my last year of high school. It started with a teen hip hop class that turned into me spending every night at the studio doing more classes. By the time I graduated I knew Acting had to be put on the back burner because I was so in love with dance. I ended up skipping out on the theatre programs I had always planned to go to, and studied Dance instead at Grant MacEwan College!


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

Vanessa: Britney Spears- Overprotected! It was some girly dance we did for a showcase.


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

Vanessa: PRACTICE! Dancers are always putting time and money and effort into classes. But one of your strongest strengths will always be your unique style. Turning on some music and forcing yourself to freestyle triggers you brain and body to connect more easily. You can find tricks that you like, your own rhythm and so much more in those sessions. Podium dancing once I was old enough was one of the greatest gigs I ever had to increase my stamina, flow and use of my body. I once did Podium for a casino where we would have 5 hour shifts. Now that was a way to push my limits!


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

Vanessa: Well I always freestyle before I choreograph. Just to get into the flow of what I am doing, and to warm up my mind/body connection. Some choreographers really need to be inspired by music. I’m the opposite. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the song I am working  with I hit a “writers block”. That’s when I will turn on a totally different song and try out what I already have to it. It breaks up the flow you may have been stuck on and ends up making my choreography more diverse. Once I have done a few 8 counts to the different music, I will go back to what I was working with and it always feels fresh again.


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

Vanessa: There are so many! Because I work in the business side of dance I have mentors that are all over the map. Here in Toronto I currently work with Laura Furtado (DivaGirl) and Carla Catherwood (CMC Entertainment) on The Chic-A-Boom Room. These two ladies are amazing at what they do and how they do it. When I am around them I always feel like I am learning so much both as a dancer and as a Producer. I also have a big spot in the heart for Errol Prince Cenita (Trick Nasty Crew) who is based in Brisbane, Australia. He heads up a studio out there called Fresh Elements that is teaching the true history and proper basics of Hip Hop. Working with someone who has so much knowledge of the business and the lowest ego I’ve ever seen is such an honour. His students are the future of Hip Hop and yet have a respect and desire to keep the old styles alive. The world needs more teachers like him.


Nikki: What made you decide to move from Calgary to Toronto?

Vanessa: Toronto is just such a hub when it comes to the arts. You can find everything here! The training is incomparable and working in a “scene” where you get to know the people in your industry has so much benefit. Your career becomes like a snowball effect, where each person you meet and every gig you do leads to the next and the next. Plus the weather is just so much nicer 😉


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

Vanessa: I love the work I have done with Carla Catherwood. She is just such a powerhouse of talent. I always feel like she pushes me to get better and work harder, but while supporting me at the same time. I also love the way she empowers a whole room full of women by mixing her style, humour and excitement into her classes. As a choreographer she has a good eye for pieces that entertain and entice the senses. She is definitely one of my favorites in TO right now.


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

Vanessa: The one and only Pastel Supernova. She is an absolute superstar on so many levels. She has such a love for what she does and it always shows when you work with her. I love when an artist has more than one title too! Pastel is a singer, dancer, choreographer, model, pin-up and business woman! She is a true inspiration to dancers who haven’t yet figured out how to brand themselves!


Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Vanessa: Speaking of Pastel, I am about to Co-Produce a new show with her based around her Love Letters series. The show is a cabaret style night that celebrates the love of beauty, class and the inescapable power of a Lady. We are auditioning for 10 dancers at the end of this month and aim to have to show in February! I also currently work with The Chic-A-Boom Room which holds bi-monthly cabaret shows that showcase the ladies of Carla Catherwood’s Nuvo-Burlesque! Those are just a couple of the projects I am working with these days but I am also performing in shows, hosting a weekly Open Mic Night at the Double Deuce Saloon and mentoring a handful of young artists right now both in the dance and music industry! But hey, if you’re not busy, you’re bored!


Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Vanessa: Passion, hunger and gratitude. Like I said earlier, Toronto is a hub for the arts. Therefore you get a lot of new artists always coming to Toronto and it keeps the ones who have been here awhile, on their toes! In a city where there is always someone a step behind you wanting your place, the dancers that are working are full of passion for what they do, hunger for the jobs they want and gratitude for each piece that makes them one step closer to achieving their goals.


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

Vanessa: My 3 keys to being a success in this industry are:

1- Network! If you want people to know your name then you better keep telling it to them! Dancers are always astounded when I have a business card. But why shouldn’t you have one? You are your own business. Getting a card out there is simple and effective! It can say “Performing Artist” and include any specialties you have. Or just simply your contact info and a photo. is a great website for ordering cheap cards that you can design yourself!

2- Find your own work! Utilize the Facebook era we live in and get involved in groups, pages, discussions that may lead you to auditions and castings! Spend an hour a day searching for jobs and emailing potential clients/employers and I guarantee you will be working enough to pay your bills. The best part about being contracted is you are always free to keep searching for more work! Use social media and job sites to find opportunities for yourself and to get your name out there.

3- Drop the ego! No matter how high up your working or what gig you get you should remember that the dance scene is like a family. It needs love, support, encouragement and unity to work. No one likes working with someone who has an attitude or believes they are better than someone else. Always be polite and professional, learn from mistakes and be reliable. These are reasons why you will be hired next time without even auditioning. Don’t forget that word gets around either. Having an attitude with one choreographer may cost you your reputation with many others.

Now get out there and hustle!!



21 Nov
This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Apolonia Valesquez. She is a passionate dancer, choreographer and educator whose drive has brought her to major cities worldwide. Originally from Montreal, now residing in Toronto. Her fulfilling dance journey began at an early age. Renowned for her performance, freestyle and choreography skills, she stands out by her distinctive energy and her refined professional work ethic. Making her an established versatile dancer, her dance repertoire has evolved and grown immensely through the years. Her expertise on emerging street dances such as HOUSE and WAACKING, along with her extensive training in Hip Hop, Ballet, Contemporary, Afro Brazilian and Folkloric dancing make her an exceptional sought after artist.  Apolonia can be seen as a principal dancer on tv shows Scare Tactics and in commercials for So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Staple and Dove and featured Actor for Wal Mart, Virgin Mobile, Nike and Bell. She has performed at the Much Music Video Awards and worked for artists such as Katy Perry, Massari, Eva Avila, Rochester, Jully Black, Shawn Desman, Cory Lee and Thunderheist. As a co-artistic director of Gadfly, her work has been commissioned for Dance Weekend and presented at Ted Talks Toronto, Luminato, Toronto and Montreal Fringe and Nuit Blanche. Also, she has contributed to organizations such as “Keep-A-Breast”, “The Speech and Stuttering Institute” and “Rethink Breast Cancer.” She has also the co-founder of the Toronto Urban Dance Symposium, Skills & Souls Series and Gadfly Anniversary. She is thankful to have learned and exchanged with some of the most trust worthy dancers and choreographers out there, and is eager to share her knowledge and savoir-faire with others.
Bio Provided by Apolonia

Find out What Apolonia had to say in this weeks shout out……


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

Apolonia: Not that I particularly remember, but VHS and pictures don’t lie… I have been dancing since I was a baby and was not shy to do it at any time, anywhere, in front of anyone so people say. Sometimes I wish I still had that same freedom with no inhibitions. I took my first creative movement class when I was 4 years old and have been training and performing ever since.


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

Apolonia: Oh yes I do! It was Salt-N-Pepa – Whatta Man. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 11 years old at a summer camp and there was a lip sync performance contest and somehow I ended up choreographing the piece. There we were, 4 girls, in a one piece outfit, sunglasses and heels… choreo, patterns, runway walk, attitude, we thought we were superstars… and we won! We were so happy. The grand prize was a Mr Freeze haha.


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

Apolonia: This is a tricky one because it is very personal and I feel like we never reach our full potential, there is always something to learn or improve. But I would say, even before thinking about the actual movement, to get a good connection with the music, its subtleties and variations. So a free style shouldn’t look the same on a different piece of music. I would also say, aside from getting as much knowledge as possible and to study different styles of movement, by definition, free styling shouldn’t be about sets but about interpreting the music. So focus on creating your own way of moving using the techniques that you know.


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

Apolonia: It absolutely takes music that inspires me and makes me move a certain way right away. I think I also work well under pressure so usually having a deadline and that adrenaline makes my body and brain work more efficiently.


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

Apolonia: I honestly have so many and from different styles. I get inspired from anything or anyone that moves me and makes me feel something. I like things that are challenging and that I usually can’t do myself.


Nikki: Being from Montreal what made you decide to live in Toronto?

Apolonia: Well at first, 5 years ago, I only came to Toronto for the summer to train with no other plans in mind… and here I am… I never went back. I fell in love with the people first and foremost, with the city and with the opportunities that were offered to me. Today, I consider it my home and am so happy to have stayed and have had the chance to meet and work with amazing people.


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

Apolonia: I think this is a little obvious… you can all say awwww. Ofilio Portillo of course, the other Artistic Director of our company Gadfly. I love working with him for many personal reasons as you know, but on a professional level, he is an extremely talented artist whose creativity has no limits. I think my work is pretty decent but when we combine our brains, what comes out is something else. His work ethics and grand vision have definitely made me grow and get me out of my own comfortable world.


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

Apolonia: I have many because most have been amazing to work with but because of the circumstances I would say Katy Perry. I had a blast working with her for the Much Music Video Awards. Working with Sho Tyme as a choreographer and the other dancers involved made this experience even more memorable.


Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects? 

Apolonia: With my company Gadfly, we are presenting our new production Klorofyl. It has been a few months of preparation but are now excited to bring it to the audience. It will be presented in the NextSteps Series at Harbourfront Centre from November 24-27 at the Fleck Dance Theatre. I am blessed to work with such a talented cast. We are also organizing the second edition of the Toronto Urban Dance Symposium on November 26 also at Harbourfront Centre. Our goal is to bring Toronto’s Urban dance community together to adopt new ideas and adapt to this ever changing culture and the new opportunities in the Canadian industry. The artists on the panels are unbelievable and they will all be under one roof. We are excited to offer limited free registration. All information for both events can be found on our website at


Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Apolonia: Attitude, personality, style, skills and passion.


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

Apolonia: Keep your eyes and ears open to new knowledge and opportunities. We are in this together, support and learn from each other. Do things that make you uncomfortable. Challenge yourself.




15 Nov
This Weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out is Dedicated to Jenna Morrison.
Dancer. Yoga instructor. Friend. Angel. “IN LOVING MEMORY”
Jenn Goodwin is from Burlington Ontario, where she fell out of a window of a speeding car and walked away, grew up playing with Barbie, listening to Black Sabbath, hosting make out parties in her parents’ basement, and falling in love weekly. With all due respect, she ached to get out.
She received a BFA at Concordia University in Contemporary Dance with a minor in Video, and was at once thrilled and horrified by the amount of rolling around on the floor. Inspired by story telling, humour, discomfort, beauty, back stage, fragility, pop culture and raw energy, her dance work has been performed all over Canada, as well as New York City, Amsterdam, Australia and Brussels. In 2006 & 2008, she was nominated for the KM Hunter Award in dance.
She has choreographed for stage, galleries, film, music videos, commercials and directs her own short dance films. Her film work has been shown in festivals in Canada, NYC and Europe and have been broadcast on City TV, CTV, Channel 4(UK) . TV Madrid and the Sundance Channel.
She has taught classes and/or been a speaker at venues from universities to grade schools to art galleries to community centres.
She and Sarah Doucet started Stutter Dance together and their work has been shown in NYC, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and throughout Ontario.  She was one half of The Movement Movement  with Jessica Rose– which is a movement ….about movement. They invited the public to 5k runs through art galleries and museums. She is part of the group MORTIFIED with Camilla Singh.  Adopting the format of a band to encompass a range of activities, MORTIFIED create a sound experience through movement and mayhem through tap dancing, cheerleading and drumming. Their first public performance will be in April 2012 as part of HATCH at Harbourfront Centre.
She has programmed art and performances for The Drake Hotel, Harbourfront Centre and presently the City of Toronto for Nuit Blanche.
She is also currently working on her first documentary about Back Up Dancers with collaborators Shelly Hong and Kathleen Smith, as well as a dance/video project with Jeremy Mimnagh at Gallery TPW in Toronto.
She lives in Toronto with her amazing husband Neville Quinlan and her 2 beautiful children Peter (2.5yrs) and Sam (6months) and both are crying as she writes this…  gotta go, The End 
Bio provided by Jenn


Check out what Jenn had to say in this weeks shout out…

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

Jenn: I remember a ballet class when I was 6 that I thought was too slow paced. I wasn’t ready for that level of discipline yet, I still needed to run around and pretend I was a bunny or something I think. I started jazz shortly after that and it was more my speed at the time. Combining my desire to be a bunny- I became a jazz bunny. Later I had neighbors who kind of took me under their dance wing. They were huge MJ fans, as was I. We would spend hours in their basement listening to Michael & Diana Ross (Upside Down!) They said – we are going to teach you how to really dance. I remember them shaking their heads.. noooo, ya gotta bend your knees! move your hips. I was pretty stiff.


Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Jenn: I choreographed little numbers for friends, family, teachers, classmates.. who ever would watch really. I think I was desperate for an audience! Olivia Newton John. Lets Get Physical.. was one. And a bunch of things from Grease. I wore that record out, I had to buy it twice. Also Styx. Mr. Roboto was a pretty impressive choreography. Ha! Though I think my version of the robot at the time was pretty lame.
Then I had to audition for Concordia University and I auditioned by videotape. I choreographed a piece to a Blondie song. Atomic. Great song. Terrible dance, it was awful. I was wearing a 1 piece bright green unitard and doing a lot of jazz runs in circles.  I hope that VHS tape is rotting somewhere right now.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Jenn: Freestyling is not really part of what I do- unless I’m at home dancing or at a club dancing (which sadly is pretty rare these days,)
When I used to freestyle more if I was really givin’ it, I liked to bust out the worm every once and awhile. One of my favorite moves. I split a pair of pants doing it once though, ya gotta dress for the worm! Sometimes I have what my husband calls ‘the one woman dance party’. He Dj’s, I dance. He goes to bed. I keep dancing.
Improvising is more what I would say I use in creation during rehearsal. For myself and the dancers I work with, when improv’ing I hope for honesty, risk, curiosity, play. Maybe it translates to Freestyling too.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Jenn: A lot of my dance works start with writing, reading and thinking actually. I always like the quote from Jonathan Burrows (ex-soloist with The Royal Ballet in London, formed his own company in 1988) ‘Thinking is doing’ . It’s a simple reminder for me to slow down and think about what I want to say, emote, experience, explore and create and don’t take that process and time for granted.  And that laying on the studio floor and thinking is ok, guilt free! I start to collect images, ideas, songs, articles on the theme, issue, or subject I am interested in. Once I have a few things to riff off and inspire me, I go into the studio (or alternate space… sometimes home/park/gallery/street depending on where I think I may show the work) and start exploring deeper in the body. Though sometimes a good song comes on or an idea hits or I just start moving a bit and voila.. the zone.  
I also get in the zone by working with great dancers who are inspiring. Once in the studio, working with dancers who are generous, dedicated, kind, open and professional helps to feed my own curiosity and creativity.  I often work more as a director and really rely a lot on the dancers. I give tasks, actions, bring ideas, images etc for us to work with, They will often improvise and bring these ideas to life and I will put it together in a way that makes sense for me and the project.
PS: A good resource: Twyla Tharp’s A Creative Habit- a book for inspiration, ruts, tools, resources.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?

Jenn: Mostly it is the dancers and choreographers I have been lucky enough to work with or along side. Nicola Pantin, Sarah Doucet, Justine Chambers, Heidi Strauss, Sioned Watkins, to name only a few.

Films like Flashdance, Grease, shows like Fame (Debbie Allan!), Solid Gold, In Living Color and Rosie Perez influenced me a lot growing up.
Later I was really impressed with La La Human Steps. Coming from a small town and seeing work like that- I was blown away by the physicality and the use of pop culture references. I had never seen anything like it.
I really like Ballet C de la B, DV8, Animals of Distinction, Darryl Hoskins and I like seeing what is happening on music stages… I am really digging Santi Gold’s dancers.
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Jenn: I don’t do a lot of dancing for other people, I would actually like to more. But I like
Val Calam, she is original, curious & hilarious. Sasha Ivanochko- refined yet raw, hardcore & heart wrenching work. Ame Henderson/Public Recordings- More of an academic & conceptual sensibility that is still pretty new here in Toronto.
Sylvie Bouchard- Choreographer/dancer and also Producer of Dusk Dances- It can be great to have dancers and choreographers as producers sometimes as
they really understand both sides of the role. Long Live Dusk Dances!
I’m really liking choreographers like Tina Fushell and Kate Franklin, Alicia Grant & Cara Spooner. There are some really fun and provocative collaborations going on that I think are very innovative & exciting.
With Nova Bhattacharya I had the opportunity to dance for Mika Kurosawa (Japan) and Dana Gingras which were both incredibly inspiring. I have never had to move so slow and strange as with Mika.  And due to language barriers the direction she gave was pretty hilarious – good! Bad! Yes! No! More! Less! AHH!  Ohhh!  And I love how Dana works with the floor, release & every day gestures.
Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?
Jenn: There are so many, but right now I would say
Zoja Smutny- biggest laugh I know and a very generous and sincere artist.
Neville Quinlan- singer/songwriter of NQ Arbuckle (and my husband) who has the ability to realize every day mundane things into beautiful and memorable moments and memories through writing and performance, He also has this ability to yell profanities at his audience and they still dance and sing along, I love that. I have used one of his songs in a film and the band has made music for me before.
Lisa Gabriele, a writer who always inspires me and feeds me with her writing, humour, friendship and anecdotes.  She lets me steal her stuff sometimes.
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Jenn: Mortified- a collaboration with artist/curator Camilla Singh. We are working with tap dancing, cheer leading and drumming as the foundation for our work. Show is April 2011 at Harbourfront centre as part of HATCH. It’s our first project together and I am loving working with her. A lot of our inspiration comes from music, metal in particular.
A dance /video project at Gallery TPW- collaborating with Jeremy Mimnagh- an amazing photographer, video and sound artist
Look Back- A dancing documentary. A documentary about back up dancers and the genre itself. Collaborating with Kathleen Smith /Hellhound Productions and Shelly Hong.
Motherhood. An ongoing beautiful and challenging ‘project’ that has changed my life, who I am and how I work. (and sleep !)
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?
Jenn: Courage and determination, Generosity and an amazing work ethic. Hardest working people I know. Sometimes to a fault. A lot of dancers are over worked and underpaid.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Jenn: Good collaborations. Value them, they are special and hard to find.
Don’t get bogged down in the administration of everything. Keep the joy in what you do even though a lot of what you do may be scheduling, budgeting, grant writing, organizing etc… ugh. Don’t put the creative last.
Be your own role model.. value the paths other follow but make your own.


Stink from jennyg on Vimeo.


7 Nov
This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Moses Asher Christen Layco. A native of Winnipeg, MB, Moses now trains and resides between Vancouver, BC and Toronto, ON. Trained in all styles of dance with contemporary, jazz, and hip hop being his forte.  Moses Started dance at the age of 19 and has continued his passion for the art and never looked back. He continues to inspire others encouraging everyone that it’s never too late to start.
Moses has worked and trained closely with some of the most influential and sought after entertainers and choreographers in the business. Christina Woodard, Chris Dupre, Eddie Garcia, Blake McGrath, Paul Becker, Kelly Konno, RJ Durell, Luther Brown, and Nico Archambault to name a few.
You may also recognize him as one of Canada’s top 22 dancers on the final season of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. He has worked as a featured dancer and actor in such films as Nickelodeon’s Spectacular, Rags, The Good Life, and hit TV shows such as ABC’s new fall series Once Upon A Time, CW’s Hellcats, as well as HBO’s series of the L Word. He has also danced on board the Freedom of the Seas with Royal Caribbean Cruise and their production of Marquee-Once Upon a Time and danced the night away at the Pacific National Exhibition’s production of Rolling Thunder.
Having completed a year with one of Vancouver’s most established companies, The Source, under director Joanne Pesusich, Moses continues to train, as he believes you can never stop growing and learning as an artist. He is currently working out of Toronto with Dancer/Choreographer Eryn Waltman and the company Conteur on the much anticipated show “State of Mind”.
Bio provided by Moses.
Follow Moses on Twitter: @MosesAChristen

Check out what Moses had to say in this weeks shout out…

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

Moses: Do I Ever! The first time I started dancing was when I was 19. At the time I was a third year full time student in a Pre-Professional Law program at the University of Winnipeg. I was asked by a good friend to participate in a variety show for charity at one of the local theatres. I agreed to do so and thought it would be quite humorous if I re-enacted and performed the audition scene Julia Stiles did in the movie “Save The Last Dance”. At this point dance was something I loved to do for fun, I had no formal training and that was made apparent when Nicole Owens, who is now a dear friend and the President of Dance Manitoba, approached me after my performance to see where I trained. To her surprise I had told her I never danced a day in my life, and suggested I look into it, at least recreationally. I then enrolled myself at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet for a few months, before I became full time student at The Shelley Shearer School of Dance. I would drop my studies shortly after to pursue a career in what started off as a hobby. It was huge sacrifice, and quite the struggle, but never has there been a day where I regretted the decision I made to dance.


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

Moses: The first song I ever choreographed to was Aaliyah’s “Try Again”. The video intrigued me to come up with my own choreography and teach it to some friends- where I would later enter it into a local debutant dance competition. Again with no formal training under my belt, we tied for first!


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

Moses: Free Styling for me was one of the hardest things I ever had to learn. Understanding that there was no wrong way of moving. I pride myself as one of those people who never cared what other people thought about me, so why did I let the opinions of others get the best of me? Especially in what I love to do most. We are our biggest critics when it comes to our art, and it’s not always easy stepping out of that comfort zone. But once you do, wow, the possibilities.


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

Moses: It’s finding that one piece of music that matches the mood you’re in. I find that when that piece of music falls into your lap, it takes over your mind, body, and soul that you can’t help but move and create.


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

Moses: Some of my most recent influences I’d have to say would be working with the judges and choreographers on So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Their continued support through all the years I auditioned to the injury I sustained on the show after finally making the top 22, the wisdom they shared helped mold the dancer I am today and I couldn’t be more thankful. Special shout out to Jean Marc, Tre, Luther, and Blake for always believing in me. I also have credit all the amazing dancers and teachers who believed in me at what’s considered an older age to start dancing- Nicole Owens, Mary Pidlaski, Sofia Costantini, Shelley Shearer, Eryn Hyman, Kim Sato, Joanne Pesusich- just to name a few. On top of that all the choreographers and assistants that I have had the pleasure of working on several sets with from Kelly Konno, RJ Durell, Jeff Dimitriou, and Paul Becker, the list could go on and on. I am just so humbled and honoured to have had worked with as many talented and inspiring people in the business so far and I am genuinely excited to see what’s next for me.


Nikki: Being from Winnipeg what made you decide to spend time living in Toronto? 

Moses: The opportunity is quite significant for a dancer when you compare what a city like Toronto has to offer when you come from a small big city like Winnipeg. It’s a tough decision to make for anyone to leave their hometown, where they know everything and everyone. Toronto is such a face paced city and is full of work for dancers. I quickly realized that I am no longer one of a handful of talented well established dancers, I am now one in a million, which for me is an absolutely amazing feeling to be in such great company. If there’s one piece of advice I can offer to any dancer thinking of relocating, is to never give up. The transition may be hard and stressful- but trust me when I say your hard work, dedication, and sacrifice will go a long way.


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

Moses: I recently have had quite a few opportunities to work with several choreographers based out of Toronto. I think most recent would be a project I am working on at the moment, with the amazing Eryn Waltman. She was the first dance class I took after I received word that I would no longer be participating on this seasons show (SYTYCDC) and if it wasn’t for that beautiful class, I wouldn’t of met her at that time, or heard of the audition she was having for her company, and might not have brought me back to Toronto as soon as I did. And now I am a part of a company that is pushing me to be stronger than I’ve ever had to be and challenging me in so many different ways, not only physically and emotionally, but also the movement quality challenges me to step out of the box. Eryn not only is a beautiful soul, but is a choreographic genius and I am so blessed to be a part of something that has such potential for a bright future.


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

Moses: I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many up and coming disney and nickelodeon stars it would be so hard to name just one. It is an amazing feeling to be surrounded by such young hard working talent- it definitely keeps me on my A Game!


Nikki: Can you share your SYTYCDC experience with T.D.O.T.?

Moses: My SYTYCDC experience was quite the roller coaster these past few seasons. From making top 40 two years in a row, to finally making it on this season, only to have it taken away over what for me was a minor injury, but for them a major liability. It was one of the hardest experiences to deal with. I decided to stay in Toronto a few weeks after I was told I would no longer be on the show, and I could never be alone- the thought of not being with my SYTYCD family was heart wrenching. When a dream as big as this is taken away from you, it’s hard to grasp that saying “everything happens for a reason”. But the decision to let me go was definitely a blessing in disguise. It not only gave my shoulder time to heal, but it opened so many opportunities I wouldn’t of been able to do had I been on the show.


This was the press release after the first taping of the show which goes into detail exactly how I was feeling when this was all going down:


“The last few days have been the toughest few I think I’ve ever had to deal with in some time now. I don’t remember the last time I felt so defeated and disappointed in myself or in a situation that was pretty much out of my control. I have been going through phases of sadness and gratitude… Sadness obviously because I find myself no longer in a competition that didn’t even begin for me… And gratitude in knowing the company that surrounds me really does care about me and my wellbeing. Where I was stubborn to notice and admit injury- you guys were there for me. I know right now all I feel like doing is blaming you guys for this disappointment, when I have no one to blame but myself for not giving my body the time to heal. It is also important to realize that not only am I looking out for my health and safety, but that of my partner- whom it would be unfair to put at risk. I have been through a lot in my life, sacrificed relationships with my family, but knowing how proud they are of me is what will get me through this. I will come out of this stronger than ever, and if the time and the place is right you will see my face in the top 20 again. I have been blessed with such an amazing opportunity to work with great dancers, choreographers, and an amazing production team. I leave the competition with a better sense of who I am and a huge drive to continue to live out my dream. This isn’t the last you’ll see of me.”” The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way”


Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Moses: I am currently working with choreographer Eryn Waltman and the company “Conteur” on the much anticipated show entitled “State of Mind”. ( Also working on this project are past SYTYCD competitors Caroline Torti, this seasons Melissa Mitro and Lindsay Leuschner.


Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess? 

Moses: Having been in Toronto now for just over a month I’ve gotten to know quite a few dancers. What I’ve noticed with almost all of them is that there is a hunger and a drive for success. There is an energy where everyone feeds off of each other, it’s almost like friendly competition, but pushing each other positively. I’ve been told that Toronto is a very face paced city when it comes to the industry, and I can see that now. I feel extremely blessed to be in such good company.


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

Moses: Toronto is not an easy city to transition into that’s for sure, but keeps an open mind and stay positive. No one said the road to success was going to be easy- it takes dedication, sacrifice, time etc. to achieve those goals we’ve set for ourselves. Stay true to who you are and stay humble- anything and everything is possible.