The week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Kate Knox. Originally from Stouffville, Ontario, Kate began dancing at 3. She trained at The Stouffville Dance Centre in ballet, tap and Graham technique under the direction of Michele Green, and later Deborah Radbourne. Upon entrance to the arts program formally known as Arts York at Unionville High school, Kate was introduced to jazz, musical theatre and hip hop, and was exposed to the world of competitive dance, although never competed. She continued her education at Ryerson University, earning her RAD Intermediate Vocational Exam and her B.F.A. in Performance Dance. During her time at the Ryerson Theatre School she had the opportunity to study and work with established dance artists such as Kenny Pearl, Robert Glumback, Darryl Tracy, Allen Kaeja, Derek Sangster and Christopher House. Kate has continued to hone her craft not only as a dancer, but as an actor and singer. She has delved into life as a showgirl after performing with Sophie Luxton at Second City in 2009. She is currently working with DivaGirl Entertainment and DivaGirl Fitness with Laura Furtado, Nuvo-Burlesque and Carla Catherwood, and Motus O Dance Theatre. Her choreography will be showcased as part of Kokus Production’s Toronto Fringe Festival show entitled “Numbers” July 6-15 at Factory Theatre, and can be found on stage with Nuvo-Burlesque’s Electronic Cabaret on June 8th at the Mod Club.
Select performance credits include: Love Letters (Pastel Supernova Enterprises) Iphigenia in Tauris (Canadian Opera Company), Circus Terrifico, Perspectives I, Carmina Burana (Motus O), Lagrima for Women in Dance (Melissa Nascimeto-So), Steam Heat: A Fosse Celebration, Titanic: The Musical, A Chorus Line, CATS (Curtain Call Players), Fever and Fever II (Sophie Luxton), Table Talk, Four Forces to Building Your Soul (for Dance Ontario Weekend 2010 and 2011 with City Dance Corps), A Glendale Christmas (Dodo Productions as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival 2009), Gameshow: The Musical (as part of Toronto Fringe and Best of the fest 2008)
Bio Provided by Kate.
Kate:I started ballet lessons when I was three in the gym of the elementary school down the street back when my family was in Markham. I remember the lady has long brown hair and at the time I thought she was the prettiest woman ever! If you ask my parents through they’ll likely tell you how I was dancing wedding entertainment by the time I could walk.
Nikki:Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Kate: Oh god! I was in fourth grade and it was a talent show and I choreographed my first ballet piece as a solo to “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Greig. I didn’t win, and I was pretty mercilessly mocked for choreographing to classical music instead of doing something off Dance Mix ’95 like everyone else. I was a big geek as a kid.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling.
Kate: There’s so much I want to say on this subject! I think the biggest one I can think of is give everyone one a reason to watch you. It doesn’t mean you have to pull out every trick in your back pocket. Sometimes all you have to do is stand or walk with a presence and people can’t take their eyes off you. One look and they could fall in love. The more you wear your heart on your sleeve as you dance, the more compelling you are, and no one can take that away from you or criticize it. Feel the music, listen to your body and let your love tell everyone who you are.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Kate: I’m a huge audiophile so music is a big drive for me. From that music I can usually get an emotion or a certain story I want to tell with it. Then I do my best to bring it to life the way I feel it. Sometimes I just like to let the music play and see what happens when I stop thinking and just move.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Kate: There are three women in the past year especially who have really helped me evolve as a dancer and re-affirm that this is what I want to do and where I want to be:
Laura Furtado really taught me the business side of the arts first hand and gave me the tools and encouragement to really make this a career without succumbing to a day job. She really is a self made woman and I’m constantly learning new skills and tricks and meeting new and fantastic entrepreneurs through her. She’s been my go-to as a role-model for women in business.
Carla Catherwood has really changed my dancing in a year and a half. She’s continued to push me. I never really saw myself as anything urban and through her I’ve found a whole other quality I loved to watch in other people but never really thought I was capable of. It’s really given a confidence to continue doing things that are out of my comfort zone and push myself as a dancer and technician.
Pastel Supernova is nothing short of a goddess. Working with her in Love Letters was the most emotional, exhausting, straining, trying, lovely, overwhelming and altering experience and I would be so lucky to do it all again. She really taught me not to be afraid of my passion and that vulnerability truly is the most important asset as an artist. She is an embodiment of staying true to who you are and what you want and putting your whole heart into it as you do it.
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Kate: There’s so many!! I loved my time with Darryl Tracy. He’s just a delightful person and a brilliant choreographer who really tests your brain as well as your body. I also really liked working with Melissa Nascimeto-So. She’s just a beautiful and bubbling energy and the time really seems to fly by with her.
Nikki: Name an Artist you enjoy working with and why?(Could be another Dancer, choreographer, musician etc. Doesn’t have to be from Toronto)
Kate: It’s not a single artist but I’m really enjoying this new time with the hip hop/urban dance community. There’s so much talent and creativity and everyone is incredibly loving and supportive. It’s a beautiful collective that’s so exciting and diverse. I still feel like a fish out of water sometimes, but I’m learning so much from everyone!
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Kate: I have a piece of my own choreography in Kokus Production’s Fringe piece called Numbers. It’s a contemporary duet between two main characters expression their longing of a time that was and heartache of what can never be. Show runs July 6-15 at Factory Theatre. Check out the Faceboook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/187228898027907/?ref=ts
We’re also in the last few rehearsals and touch ups for the next Chic-A-Boom Room at Mod Club called Electronic Cabaret. It’s going to be a very sexy show, a lot of great specticale and fantastic dancing with an Army of Sass of over 40 women. Show is one night only on June 8th, tickets are $20. You can check out the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/275247359220043/ and Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/nuvoburlesque
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?
Kate: Their dedication to their craft. Toronto dancers are die-hard and willing to put up with a lot of shit just to dance. Their work ethic is incomparable. I find their greatest strength is their greatest weakness, as sometimes there a people who take advantage of this beautiful dedication, and that’s just not right. This city has some absolutely amazing talent and artistry, and it always breaks my heart when I hear that that hard work haven’t paid off.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
– If you want it, you’ll make it happen. If you don’t you’ll make an excuse.
– Know your worth. You’re going to spend at least the first year working for peanuts if you’re lucky, but there comes a point in your career where you decide you’ve gone through the trenches enough and your talent and experience is valuable. When that time come, stand your ground on it. Treat your craft as any other tradesman does. You don’t hire a plumber to fix a leak and expect the service for free. You are providing a service. You are no different.
– Don’t allow other people’s definition of success to define you. It’s easy to get caught up on what other people are doing, especially with Facebook. Don’t think that their success is better than yours, or that it should all happen at the same time. It’s relative. Like my grandfather keeps telling me: It takes years to become an overnight success.