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 www.gadfly.ca


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.




  1. P.S Apple your "GIVING ME" A list!!! hahaha xoxo

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