Archive | June, 2012

TANYA KARN

25 Jun

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Tanya Karn. Tanya has been dancing for 18 years, and has trained under an endless array of professional dancers and choreographers. She has achieved recognition and training from teachers such as Luther Brown, Blake McGrath, Brian Friedman, Mia Michaels, Wade Robson, Tabitha and Napoleon, and many other talented professionals. Along with her extensive dance training, she also has had four years of vocal training and plenty of acting experience throughout her life. In the past couple years, she has been expanding her horizons and working as an assistant and dance teacher at studios across the province, and has received recognition as a choreographer. Her first solo piece awarded her the title of “Dancer of the Year 2009” at the American Dance Awards. Since then, she has continued to work as a freelance choreographer, receiving many awards and recognition for her work.

Tanya began her professional dance career at the age of 15, when she performed in the Skye Sweetnam music video “Human”, working closely with choreographer Luther Brown. From there, she received a role as a principal dancer in the Disney release of Camp Rock 2 starring Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers. Since then, she has danced in an array of movies, television shows, commercials and music videos. She has also worked with many artists and actors including Ludacris, Shawn Desman, Ashley Tisdale, Tegan and Sara, Deborah Cox, Fefe Dobson, Kreesha Turner, Aleesia, Cascada, Blake McGrath and many more! Her latest jobs include her appearance as a Cyclone Cheerleader in two episodes of the television series “Hellcats”, spending a month in Vancouver and expanding her dance experiences. She also appeared as a dancer in the new television series “The L.A. Complex” currently airing on Much Music. Tanya even had the amazing opportunity to dance for Anjulie at many shows and televised events, most recently at the Juno Music Awards! Currently, she is dancing for new and upcoming artist Victoria Duffield, and has performed at many of her live shows across Canada. Look for Tanya in Victora’s music videos “Shut Up and Dance” “Feel” and “Break my Heart”!

Recently, Tanya has completed her third year at Wilfrid Laurier University and is one year away from receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology. She balances her schooling with her teaching, choreography and professional career. Through it all, she has gained plenty of dance experience with the extensive training she has received, and is always excited to pass on her knowledge and her passion for the arts to the next generation of dancers!

Bio provided by Tanya

Follow Tanya on twitter @tanya_karn

Find out what Tanya had to say in this week’s shout out…

 

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

Tanya: I started dancing when I was only two years old, so I don’t have too many memories from back then! I do remember one of my first performances though. I was on stage in a red fairy tutu with a matching wand performing a ballet routine. I remember that there was an assistant on stage to help us remember the routine, but I never looked at her once for help. That’s because my mom used to watch my ballet classes and write down my routines, then practice them with me at home so that I could remember them on my own. That probably helped me learn how to pick up choreography, so thanks mom!

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

Tanya:  Let’s Get Loud, by Jennifer Lopez. I can remember pushing the coffee table aside in my living room, flipping my shirt up to make a half top, undoing the entire sides of my tear-away pants and shimmying my shoulders around the room! That was my first crack at it, and I sure hope I’ve improved since then!

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

Tanya:  You are the only person in the room. No one else is watching, no one else is judging. Just let go of your inhibitions. Clear your mind, and let the music control your body and inspire your movement. When you get to that place, where you have no thoughts and are completely engulfed in the music, that feeling is indescribable. 

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

Tanya: I find choreography much easier and more productive if I am inspired by something. Whether it is another dancer, another piece of choreography, a particular idea, a life experience, or even something spontaneous, any sort of inspiration really contributes to a great piece of choreography.

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

Tanya:  There are many dancers that I have learned from in the industry, but I have a few mentors in particular. Tatiana Parker is a talented and successful Toronto dancer that has been my mentor since I first began working professionally. I was 15 and new to the industry, and she took me under her wing and was very warm and welcoming. Since then, I have looked up to her as a dancer and as a person, and she has taught me so much. I strive to be like her, and watching her dance truly inspires me.

My other influence is my younger sister, Julie Karn. She has always been my best friend, and is also an extremely talented dancer. She may only be 16, but her dancing is far beyond her years. She has already been in four music videos, and balances school and soccer on top of her dance training and professional work. Her talent is unbelievable, and I am always trying to learn from her. Her bubbly and selfless personality is also a trait that I admire, and I hope that one day I can see the world as she does, and dance the way that she does. My sister is both my biggest influence and my biggest inspiration in dance and in life, and I love her so much!

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

Tanya:  Luther Brown. He may do the majority of his work in LA now, but he started off here in Toronto. My very first professional job was for Luther when I was 15 years old, when he hired me to dance in a music video for Skye Sweetnam. Luther was the one who took me in and gave me a chance in the industry. Working on that job helped me meet other dancers and exposed me to the Toronto dance scene. To this day, I am thankful to still work for him on other projects. Luther is an extremely talented choreographer, and I have learned a lot from him over the past 5 years. Working with him is also fun; rehearsals and shoots are productive, but he also creates a positive atmosphere because he really loves what he does. He’s a kind and genuine person, and never fails to inspire me. I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to work with him, and I look forward to future experiences!  

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

Tanya:  Victoria Duffield. I have been working with her since her first music video was recorded in August 2011, and have watched her grow throughout her other music videos and live shows. She has easily been my favourite artist to work with as a dancer for many reasons. Victoria is an extremely talented artist; she’s only 17 and she is an accomplished singer, dancer and actress. I admire how she is able to balance her progressive success with her schooling in Vancouver. On top of her raw talent, she is one of the most genuine and humble people I have ever met. She had a #1 video on Much Music, and still remains so down to earth and friendly to anyone she encounters. She has really kept her head on straight even with all of the changes and success she is experiencing in her life, and I know she will never change. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know her and work with Victoria, and I am so blessed to have a friend like her!

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Tanya:  Currently, I am still dancing for Victoria Duffield. I will be performing in many live shows for her throughout the summer and we’ve started rehearsals for her cross-Canada tour in the Fall. Be sure to check out her new music video “Break My Heart” that I recently danced in under Luther Brown! I am also teaching at various locations around the province.

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Tanya:  Obviously Toronto dancers are extremely talented. There is so much diversity in this city it is unreal. The more I think I have finally tapped into all streams of the dance industry here, the more I seem to discover even more streams. There is so much talent in Toronto, and I find that to be very inspiring. On top of that, I find that the majority of Toronto dancers are genuine and not as selfish as opposed to other places around the world. Canadians are well-known for our friendliness, and the fact that we genuinely want to dance. We all have just have a common love for dance, and that really brings the community together.

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

Tanya:  Get to class! Dance classes in Toronto are a great place to meet other dancers and expose yourself to the industry’s top and current choreographers. Networking yourself and making connections is extremely important to work in the industry. It’s also a great place to learn, and expand your repertoire. Toronto dancers and choreographers have a lot to teach, both dance skills and lessons from life experiences, so getting in the studio and learning what they have to offer is extremely beneficial to working and training in the dance industry in Toronto. Be humble, and remember that you can learn something from everyone, whether it’s good or bad!

THANK YOU TANYA FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE AND PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO

CHECK OUT TANYA’S DANCE REEL…

TANYA DANCING IN VICTORIA DUFFIELD’S “FEEL”

TANYA GET’S HER WORK OUT ON IN MORGAN PAGE FT TEGAN & SARA  “BODYWORK”

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OFILIO PORTILLO

18 Jun

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Ofilio Portillo. Notorious for his versatility, Ofilio aka “Sinbadinho” has acquired a considerable amount of experience in the television, entertainment and Theatre industries. He’s worked for artists such as: Nelly Furtado, Cascada, Kreesha Turner, Feist, Thunderheist, Danny Fernandes, Jully Black, Cory Lee, Shawn Desman and Dr Draw among others. Movie credits include Turn The Beat Around, Camp Rock II featuring The Jonas Brothers, Cobu 3D and as actor on You Got Served/Beat The World and the upcoming blockbuster Resident Evil Retribution He can be seen in commercials for WarChild & Virgin Mobile and has performed live for : Canada’s Got Talent, Bench clothing and GM Canada.

As founder of Gadfly, he produced and directed 2 Contemporary Urban Dance full evening production: Unbearable Prospect (2008) and Klorofyl (2011). His work has been commissioned for Dance Weekend 2011 and presented at Ted Talks Toronto, Luminato, Nuit Blanche, Toronto and Montreal Fringe, Break Beats & Culture, and International Dance Day. Also, he has contributed to organizations such as Keep-A-Breast, Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists, Sick Kids and Rethink Breast Cancer. Ofilio is the founder of yearly events the Toronto Urban Dance Symposium, Gadfly Anniversary and the street dance training program: ProFRESHional . This experienced individual has showcased his craft in major cities worldwide. Now, he has set out to establish Street Dance as a legitimate art form and promote its cross-cultural movement.

Bio provided by Ofilio

www.Gadfly.ca

Follow on Twitter @GadflyFam & @Sinbadinho

Find out what Ofilio had to say in this week’s shout out…

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

Ofilio: Yep. 18 years old. Rappers performed at my high school and had some dancers with them. I asked them if they taught break because I wanted to try something athletic. Previous to that I was all into sports, played Soccer since I was a little baby like most latinos and trained in Martial Arts for 12 years or so. Also, I was annoyed by most music back then and had no idea what “being on the beat meant”. Anyhow, back to our story. I went to one of their classes and it was a setup! There was no Breakdancing. One person teaching 40 People. They were only doing choreography and on some song that kept saying “Thong to-Thong to Thong”. Only one thing made me wanna try it: All 40 people in there were girls. As a side note the instructor is Angelo Ameur who now runs the one studio responsible for the explosion of Street Dance in Montreal: Urban-Element. I did Hip Hop choreo for several months until I met Montreal’s best All-Style Dancer dancer before the term even existed, Marvin Baptiste, and became a big fan of Natasha Jean-Bart with her Bboy crew Flow Rock. I learned a lot of foundations from these people in different styles but only got hungry when a legend came to teach workshops in Montreal. When I met that man, he had over a decade of training in Ballet, Tap, Popping, Locking, Waacking, Hip Hop and god knows what else. At that workshop most professional dancers from Montreal came and we all got schooled. We all felt like beginners. That machine could perform choreo with that kind of musicality that makes you have “One-i-And-Heu-Two-i-And-heu-Three..” nightmares. He could freestyle from Hip Hop to House to Waacking like a dj would switch tracks. He would go from Fred Astaire-like footwork into a 7-turns pirouettes and continue like nothing. His name was Brian “Footwork” Green. Apolonia and I figured NY dancers were on some other Super-saiyan level of dancing. From that point on we decided to go to New York every month to take his classes at Broadway Dance Centre and attend the legendary monthly House Dance Conference. Only then I can say that I really started dancing.

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

Ofilio: Whouuuuuu. Can’t forget that for anything in the world. Me and some chick called Apolonia decided to enter a Hip Hop competition called Hip Hop 4 Ever. I had never put two moves together in my life. The competition featured all the big studios in the city and most groups had 8 to 15 dancers in it. I still don’t know where we found the guts to do it but after crying out of surprise for simply making the preliminary cut we managed to make it to the finals and finish 2nd. As a result my first choreography was on Justin Timberlake – Cry Me a River and Shawn Desman’s Shook (inspired by Luther Brown’s job on the music video and the way Mark Samuels, Tre Armstrong, Tuch, Kwame and Shawn murdered that dancing)

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

Ofilio: Take classes or watch videos and session with people whom YOU like how they move. Absorb whatever moves, fundamentals, tricks, concepts, flows, and characters you can from them BUT then tweak, remix, and combine anything that feels good so that you can create your own stuff. The most important thing is to just do it.. freestyle when you like a song, freestyle when you hate it, freestyle when you’re inspired, freestyle when you’re lazy, simply freestyle everyday.

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

Ofilio: I just need a good track that comes from the guts like my man Dr. Draw does 24/7. He did the soundtrack for our last production Klorofyl. To put steps together is easy but to choreograph something that has a story, statement and personality.. it needs a gutsy track.

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

Ofilio: The person who taught me the most and I still learn a lot from is Apolonia Velasquez. Doesn’t matter if I think my freestyle, performance or choreography get better, she smokes everybody I know and myself included. That’s why we co-teach, so we keep learning. Aside from her, Luther Brown was a big mentor. I learned a lot on every level: choreography, leadership, loyalty and to work hard passed your limitations.

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

Ofilio: Apolonia, hands down. My favorite ones are Linda Garneau, Siona Jackson and too many more to name them..

Nikki: Your originally from Montreal, Canada. What made you make the move to Toronto?

Ofilio: That’s easy! It was all the fault of these guys for being too good at what they were doing: Tuch, Mark Samuels, Kwame and Luther Brown.

Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?(Could be another Dancer, choreographer, musician etc. Doesn’t have to be from Toronto).

Ofilio: Dr. Draw! Genius, Rock star, Prodigy.. you name it, he is everything while being a great guy who supports a lot of causes. Andrew “Pyro” Chung, Mariano Abarca and Graeme Guthrie. They’re the street dancers with the the most versatility and solid work ethic in this city. On the other hand, Kojo “Tuch” Mayne, Mark Samuels, Simone Bell, Latoya Robinson and Apolonia are the most unique and under-utilized Hip Hop dancers I know. All these artists and any artist I hired to work with Gadfly have skills that match their personality and I would create a show just around them any day.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Ofilio: Yes! Producing 2 more productions before spring 2013. Also pushing for people to VOTE for our show Klorofyl for Audience Choice Dora Award. I want it for the 15+ artists that went out of their way to contribute to give life to a show that paid justice to street dance culture and brought it somewhere new. Also, coming up is TUDS, a two day festival, showcasing Canadian street dance companies and the first professional street dance battle to happen in Canada (Yep competitors will finally get paid).

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Ofilio: Personality and hunger.

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

Ofilio: Check all the dance organizations that already exist. They offer a lot of tools and resources that can become great shortcuts and save many headaches: Dance Ontario, CADA, CDA, DTRC, DUO. Most importantly, don’t wait for the green light or blame circumstances. Take responsibility of your actions and decisions, even those that you don’t take. Be-A-Man!

THANK YOU OFILIO FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XOXO

CHECK OUT THE KLOROFYL TRAILER

CHRISTINA DE LA CRUZ

11 Jun

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Christina De La Cruz. Christina has been dancing for as long as she can remember. Starting with traditional Hawaiian Hula dancing at the tender age of 3, most of her childhood was spent performing at community events and charity shows. She studied tap for 6 years at the Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre, eventually earning a scholarship in her final years. Her first introduction to Hip Hop dance was at the Cabbagetown Youth Centre, where she joined an elite crew of dancers from the St. Jamestown and Regent Park Area who entered many competitions in the GTA as well as traveling to Boston, Albany, Orlando and Rochester to compete against North America’s top teams. Graduating high school with cheerleading, regional hip hop titles and jazz experience under her belt, she joined the OIP Dance Company where she grew immensely. This allowed her to work with choreographers like Danny Davalos and Heather Leslie (artistic directors of OIP DC 2010), Rob Rich, Tre Armstrong, Mark Samuels, Jungle, Tuch, Leon Blackwood, Lenny de la Pena, Shabba-Doo, Romeo Casellas, Shameka Blake, and Scott Fordham. Since then, she has had the privilege to work with artists like Ludacris, Anjulie, Trish, Fito Blanco, Kitana, and Ray Robinson; recently performing on stages all over the GTA, Ottawa, New York City, Los Angeles and Cancun. Today, she enjoys working with well-known choreographers and talented dancers young and old. She considers a strong work ethic and a humble mentality two of dancer’s greatest tools for success in this industry.

Bio provided by Christina

Follow Christina on Twitter @Dela_Christina

Find out what Christina had to say in this week’s shout out…

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

Christina: I don’t remember exactly when, but I started by performing Hawaiian Hula in the Filipino “debut” circuit as early as three. My mom had this whole costume that she made by hand, grass skirt, little coconut bra… etc. My signature routine was “pearly shells”. I still know the song by heart!

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

Christina: I remember learning a little of choreography from the Are You That Somebody video by Aaliyah (choreographed by Fatima Robinson) and when it got too hard to pick up, I would make up the little breaks between what I did know. Apparently I was a little remixer in training! But seriously, that was such an amazing video at the time, and showed edginess that other 90s artists weren’t really daring enough to try. The Latin-inspired break near the end made me want to be a salsa dancer!

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

Christina: I’m probably the last person you should ask for advice when it comes to freestyling, because it’s something I’ve yet to wrap my brain around. Like any dancer who started in a more choreography-centric environment, I’ve got a long road ahead of me in learning my craft’s history and getting to know my body. The best thing I could say is to be you. Musicality and technique is very important and I’m trying to help advocate this running wave of dancers educating themselves, but sacrificing your personality (while dancing) at the cost of hitting every single beat or showing off your vast dance vocabulary doesn’t appeal to me as a spectator. The freestylers I look up to and admire are ones who can mix their fundamentals with the song at hand in an exciting way but still remain true to their own movement.

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

Christina: It really depends. Sometimes I work best with songs I’ve known for ages so I really understand the artistry behind the instrumental and lyrics. Other times, a song being completely new to me pushes me to move in ways I’m not used to and creates a much more interesting product. I really enjoy choreographing with my dancing-life-partner (HAHA) Lakna Edi (together we make Deluxe), because our movement styles are so different, that we can just bounce off each other’s vibes. Our creative process is definitely really special.

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

Christina: Starting at a young age, I would look to 90s tap dancers, because that’s what I originally grew up doing. Savion Glover and Gregory Hines had such an effortlessly cool vibe to them. When I started learning about different genres of dance, strong powerful women like Martha Graham and Debbie Allen helped me understand that female dancers don’t have to be pretty and delicate and that we can be strong and athletic like men. Now my influences span from Toronto to half way across the world, from genre to genre. I don’t think I’ll ever have enough time to get into the dancers that inspire me and have inspired me in the past because I make it a point to learn from everyone I come across whether it is positive or negative.

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

Christina: I enjoy so many Toronto choreographers for so many reasons. Lenny de la Pena was my first exposure to hip hop dance, so I’ve got to thank him for helping me fall in love with the art form. Any time I work with Danny Davalos, he really teaches me about discipline as a dancer and pushes me to my limits which has helped me structure my mindset. Taking class with Leon Blackwood, Tatiana Parker and Tamina Pollack-Paris over the years has been incredible, just to start seeing difficult and complex choreography not as discouraging but more as a positive challenge. Scott Fordham has really helped me understand the professional aspect of being a dancer and the nature of the industry. It would be impossible to narrow it down to one choreographer because all of these people have shaped me in such different and unique ways.

Nikki: Name an Artist you enjoy working with and why? (Could be another Dancer, choreographer, musician etc. Doesn’t have to be from Toronto)

Christina: Recently I’ve developed an appreciation for working with artists who are still in the process of defining their style. There are obvious benefits from working with established artist who know what they want, but from choreographers on the come up like Leah Totten and Vanessa Li to break-through artists like Anjulie; there is something so special about being part of someone’s creative process and I feel lucky to have been part of these three ladies journeys to find themselves on their way to becoming the best artists they can be.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Christina: Right now, I’m trying to work on myself in a lot of areas. I’m very blessed to have some super cool people around me that are helping me refine my craft from the ground up. I’m very much living by the mentality right now that instead of pursuing success, that if I strive to be at the top of my game hopefully success will pursue me.

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Christina: I believe that above everything we are hungry. We aren’t always afforded the same quality or quantity of work that dancers in other cities are, so we train to be able to deserve the few opportunities when they do arrive. I also believe we are unique, but not in the way dancers from every city have a different vibe. I think Toronto dancers are not just afraid to be different from LA or NY Dancers for example, but we are also not afraid to be different from each other. It’s taken me to travel a little bit to understand how lucky we are to have a community that embraces our differences the way Toronto does.

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

Christina: Never lose your love for it! Take breaks when needed, travel, learn your history, eat well, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Know when to put your head down and work your ass off, and when to take a stand for what you’re worth.

THANK YOU CHRISTINA FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T.

 

CHECK OUT “DELAKS” pronounced “DELUXE”

Christine Wilson Photography

Christine Wilson Photography

ALANA RANDALL

4 Jun

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Alana Randall. Alana, a Toronto native, always knew she wanted to be a performer.  At the age of 3, dance was what started her love for performing.  Alana has competed in dance competitions all over the country and the U.S.  She has had the opportunities of dancing for many artists such as Bow Wow, Boomtang Boys, Neil Young, and Katy Perry, to name a few.  You may have also seen her dancing for the Toronto Raptors Dance Pak and the Toronto Argonauts on court or on the field.

Aside from dancing, in her early pre-teens, Alana became serious about acting and singing.  She had already been in numerous commercials, films and music videos – but that wasn’t enough for her.  So she put a hold on her career to further her education in performance.  After high school, she studied theatre performance for a year at Humber College and went on to study musical theatre at the Randolph Academy.  After graduation, she worked hard to build a name in this industry. As if all that education wasn’t enough, not too long ago, Alana graduated from the New York Film Academy studying Broadcast Journalism in New York City and lived there for a good while. She came back to Canada to do a show and has been booked solid ever since. Alana has been seen in commercials for McDonalds, Payless Shoes, Liberty Mutual, and CTV’s “So You Think You Can Dance Canada.

A few years ago, Alana even gave film/TV acting a whirl and landed her first principal role playing the character of Maya in the MTV movie “MADE…The Movie”. After working on other TV/Film sets, she soon landed a principal role as a series regular on the CW hit TV series “Hellcats”, playing the character of Frankie. After the amazing experience of filming a full season, she knew that TV/Film was something that she wanted to pursue. Not to dismiss theatre, because this tiny triple threat of a performer will always be a theatre baby. Selected theatre credits include, “Vagina Monologues” (Jerry Orbach Theatre, NYC), “Hairspray” (Drayton Theatre), “High School Musical” as the role of Taylor McKessie (1st Canadian cast/Neptune/Drayton Theatre), “Footloose” as the role of Rusty ( Alumnae Theatre), “From Here To Africville” as the role of Eva Hattie (Factory Theatre). Alana will be a part of the cast of “The Wizard Of Oz” at the Ed Mirvish Theatre opening December 2012 and running until September 2013, followed by a North American tour. Alana feels truly blessed that she is able to do what she loves. She strives to inspire, be inspired, and create a strong impact on her audiences when she performs whether through movement, words, expression, or song.

Bio provided by Alana

Follow on Twitter @AlanaRandall

 


Find out what Alana had to say in this week’s shout out…

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

Alana: I don’t really remember when I first started dancing because I was only 3 years old, however I do remember the first time I really knew that I wanted to perform for the rest of my life. I was 7 years old and performed my first Jazz solo. I didn’t want to ever leave that stage and it was such an amazing feeling performing in front of a huge crowd and hearing them cheer for me!

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

Alana: I have a lot of memories of songs that I choreographed to. I think one memory that really sticks out at the moment was when I choreographed a Hip hop/Jazz piece to a mash-up of songs for an event called Carassauga. It was for a dance group when I was in High school. One of the songs in the mix was “Peaches ‘n’ Cream” by the group 112 which was popular at the time.

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

Alana: Relax, be free, and have fun. Feel every single bit of the music and let it translate through your body. Whatever you do, don’t over think your moves. Just go go go!

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

Alana: It takes raw emotion and getting to that place. I usually choreograph to music that speaks to me at the time.

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

Alana: Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and Paula Abdul where big influences for me while growing up. Right now, I’m a big fan of Mia Michaels choreography. There are so many that the list could go on forever! Lol

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

Alana: I really enjoy working with Jeff Dimitriou because he’s such a generous choreographer. And by that I mean he is so talented in his choreography and in knowing exactly what he wants with his vision, but he is also open to the dancers adding their own personal ‘swag’ might I say to the choreo and giving us some freedom. I’ve worked with him for a while now on projects such as Hellcats and L.A. Complex, so I’ve really gotten to know what an amazing person he is as well.

Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why? (Could be another Dancer, choreographer, musician etc. Doesn’t have to be from Toronto)

Alana: Out of all the artists I’d worked with throughout my career so far, I’d say that my favorite to work with would be Shantall Young Oneto. She is such a talented Latina singer and a genuinely beautiful woman inside and out. She has so much soul in her music and truly loves what she does and has inspired me as well as many others.

 Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Alana: Well I just got back from performing in the musical called HAIR which ran since April at The Grand Theatre in London Ontario. I have different projects up in the air for the summer. I’m starring in an independent short film called “A good man is hard to find” it premieres at the TIFF bell Lightbox theatre in Toronto on June 4th. In November I’ll be starting a contract with Mirvish Productions performing in the musical The Wizard Of Oz. It opens in December at the Ed Mirvish Theatre (formerly called The Canon) and will be in Toronto until September 2013. We will most likely head on a North American tour after that.

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Alana: Confidence, drive, flow, culture, creativity and edge. There’s just that extra something that has set us apart and has given us a name in the music and dance industry all over the world.

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

Alana: Train, audition, and take as many classes as you can by different choreographers. It is crucial for a dancer/choreographer to be ahead of the game and continue to learn and grow as an artist whether you’re working or not. It also keeps you in that circle so that your name gets out there. No matter how tough it gets in this industry, and trust me it can get really tough, don’t give up on what you love. Keep pushing harder. And I know that it’s easier said than done, but don’t compare yourself to other artists because everyone is unique in their own individual way, and each performer has something special to offer.

THANK YOU ALANA FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T.