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
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