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”