This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Justin Lopes. From Simcoe, Ontario As a young male dancer Justin has made his way to the professional circuit via hard work and determination. The strong supporters in his life have given him much strength and courage in every number he creates.
Justin has performed in productions such as, Conteur’s “State Of Mind”, Crazy for You, and Celtic Thunder’s Storm. He can also be seen in the Disney Movie “Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars” and on YTV’s Finale of The Next Star Seasons 3 and 4. He has also performed in Industrials such as LG Fashion Week, Bell Gala, Summer Rush, Toronto’s Interior Design Show, the Food Networks “Delicious Food Show”, and the Honda Gala. Justin was fortunate to have worked with Stacey Tookey last summer in the workshop of the new stage production “Dancer”. He has also had the pleasure of assisting choreographers on SYTYCDC.
He has been in music videos for artists such as Blake McGrath, Kai, and Shazelle. Justin toured with Blake McGrath earlier last year on his cross Canada tour, and has also performed for Blake in various shows. Justin has taught classes at various studios and Intensives, and has been invited to choreograph several pieces. In a short time, Justin has grown into a talented artist, and continues to pursue his craft, and always strives to grow as a performer and person.
Bio provided by Justin
Follow Justin on Twitter @justlopes
Find out what Justin had to say in this weeks shout out…
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Justin: My first recollection of myself dancing would be at family events when I was really young. I remember busting moves in the middle of the dance circles at my cousins weddings and other events. One of my cousins actually has a video of me, when I was 4 or 5, dancing AND lip syncing to a Spice Girls song. lol Other than the family fun I started taking Jazz classes when I was 9 or 10 at a small local studio.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Justin: The first thing I remember choreographing was probably when I got asked to sub a JR hiphop class back home when I was in Gr 10. Im pretty sure it was an attempt at a Krump combo to a J Squad song. HAH. My graduating year of high school I got asked to Choreograph a year end dance for the teaching faculty. This was my first legit full piece, and I used “U Cant Touch This”.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Justin: I’ve only started free styling these last few years since I’ve been up here training in TO. I used to hate free styling and I would get so nervous and awkward. Its only been since I’ve gotten more confident in my movement and not care about what i look like, that I’ve been comfortable to improv. Whether it be on my own, with friends, or on stage.
When it comes to improving, I like to think about making new interesting pictures and lines with my body. Forget about whats cool and what other people are doing; you won’t stand out and thats obviously not your own movement. Just be yourself, and let the music take you somewhere different every time.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Justin: I’m just recently getting more into choreography, but as for getting into the zone, I like getting into the song, and knowing how I’m going to draw and shade the piece of music. Sometimes free styling to the song a few times gets me inspired and gives me a clearer understanding of where I want to go.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Justin: I’ve had the privilege of working with and taking classes from a lot of dancers and choreographers in the industry, and have tried to take something away and learn from every one of them. I love how everyone is so unique and different. Some of my influences include fellow Canadians Stacey Tookey and Blake Mcgrath, whom I’ve had the privilege of working with. Other influences can range from Contemporary choreographers Travis Wall, Teddy Forance, Dee Caspary to others like Luther Brown, Gil Duldulao, and Wade Robson.
I am also very influenced by past and present teachers and choreographers whom I’ve been able to work with and train me on a day to day basis. They are the ones who have taught me to believe and never give up. To work hard and persevere and dance hard everyday, as if it were to be my last. You know who you are.
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Justin: I’ve had the privilege of working a lot with Blake these last few years. I think he’s one the funniest people on earth. Blake was a great person to work with because he’s so ambitious and always knew what he wanted to portray with his work. There was always a clear vision. I’d like to thank him for all of the opportunities he has given me, and wish him the best of luck with his future.
These last few months I’ve had the opportunity of working with Eryn Waltman on the starting of her contemporary company “Conteur”. It has been an amazing experience to say the least. To see her creative process come to life was and is an amazing thing to be a part of. I can’t thank her enough for letting me be part of her creative image.
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Justin: I’m currently working a contemporary company, Conteur. We had our first, amazing show last year. I can’t wait to start working on the next show! Working with this cast has been one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had! Thank you Eryn for letting me be apart of this amazing company!
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?
Justin: I think Toronto Dancers posses a great amount of passion and I believe that we are all real hard workers.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Justin:TRAIN and TAKE CLASS!! Nothing comes easy! You have to work hard and fight for what you want. Knowing that you’ve tried your hardest and gone as full out as you can is the best feeling at the end of the day. Dance everyday as if it were your last. Also, be humble. Don’t let an ego get in the way.
THANK YOU JUSTIN FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE AND PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO
CHECK OUT SOME FOOTAGE OF JUSTIN IN ACTION…