Archive | August, 2012

LUA SHAYENNE

27 Aug

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Lua Shayenne. ‘We write our stories with the medium of the body, unearth a beginning, middle and end through movement and infuse them with raw emotions and explosive live percussion.’
LUA SHAYENNE & CO. presents contemporary and traditional African dance works that explore current subject matters with the aim to be a vehicle for spiritual and social progress. Choreographer and founder, Lua Shayenne draws on the aesthetics and values of traditional African dance and culture to create dance pieces that seek to upset and challenge multiple conventions and stereotypes.
LUA SHAYENNE & CO. promotes community development as well as cross-cultural exchange and collaboration with national and international artists. Since its inception, the company has been gaining recognition by performing in Canada’s major venues and festivals such as Enwave Theatre, Afrofest, Irie Festival, Kuumba and more.

Bio provided by Lua.

Website  www.luashayenne.com
Blog www.luashayenne.wordpress.com

Here’s what Lua had to say in this week’s shout out…

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

Lua: My mom says I was 9 months old!

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

Lua: Youssou N’dour.

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

Lua: I have a hard time with it so I’d say practice, practice when no one is watching and you’ll get better at it

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

Lua: An empty dance studio, a story to work with and inspiring music

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

Lua: Debbie Wilson

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

Lua: Debbie Wilson, Esie Mensah

Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why? (It does not have to be a pop star any type of artist that a Dancer would work with i.e.; another Dancer, Choreographer, Musician etc.)

Lua: The dancers I work with. They are fabulous and very supportive: Miranda Liverpool, Natasha Phanor, Allyson Trunzer, Gigi Soleone, Esie Mensah

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Lua: I’m presenting my production Ocotber 11 to 14 at the Lower Ossington Theatre.

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRESS RELEASE

Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?

Lua: Tenacity

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

Lua: Become great at what you do. It’s a tough world out there.

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

WATCH THE TRAILER FOR DEPARTURE 00:00

SANTEE SMITH

20 Aug

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Santee Smith. Santee is from the Mohawk Nation and calls Six Nations, Ontario her home. She is the founding Artistic Director/Choreographer for Kaha:wi Dance Theatre. One of Canada’s most exciting choreographers Santee has propelled her company to international acclaim.  An innovative creator and avid collaborator her dance work resonates deeply with audiences.

Smith’s formal training occurred at Canada’s National Ballet School. She holds Kinesiology and Psychology degrees from McMaster University and a Master’s Degree in Dance from York University. Her first choreographic commission was for The Gift, a National Film Board documentary in 1996. Santee’s choreographic works include: Kaha:wi, Midwinter Dreaming (Dancer’s Dancing commission), Here On Earth, The Threshing Floor (co-choreography), Sacred Spring, A Constellation of Bones, A Story Before Time, A Soldier’s Tale (produced by Theatre Aquarius), Tripped Up Blues (Canada Dance Festival commission), Susuriwka – willow bridge, The Creator’s Game, Star Dreamer (Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre commission), Medicine Bear and TransMigration.

Smith has been awarded Ontario Arts Council’s K.M. Hunter Award for Dance, Canada Council’s Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for most outstanding mid-career artist in the field of dance as well as receiving the first John Hobday Award for outstanding achievement in the field of arts management.

A sought after teacher/lecturer Santee taught at: York University, George Washington University, University of New Mexico, Waseda University (Japan), and Benemeritus & Autonomous University of Puebla (Mexico) among others. In 2009, Santee launched KDT’s Aboriginal Dance Training program, a one-of-a-kind curriculum combining western-based, traditional and contemporary indigenous dance forms and alternative physical training techniques.

Bio provided by Santee

 www.kahawidance.org

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Find out what Santee had to say in this week’s feature…

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

Santee:  Actually, I don’t remember the first time I started dancing, I was too young.  My parents say that as soon as I heard music, I’d fall into a kind of trance.  I’d be lost in dance so much so that I’d get angry when they turned off the music.  I think I really started out as a choreographer!  Mostly I was entertaining my ill grandmother and her friends.  My official dance training in R.A.D. Ballet started at the age of three after two accidents equalled a broken femur and ankle.  The doctors recommended I do something to strengthen my legs and so my parents put me in Ballet.  I don’t remember my first class but I probably loved it because I continued Ballet for fifteen years. Six of those years were spent at Canada’s National Ballet School.

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

Santee: Earliest memory…wow that’s a hard one.  I think it was “Hi Ho Hi Ho” from Disney’s “Cinderella” soundtrack but I don’t remember the steps…I believe I was marching!  At the National Ballet School we would hang around in the studio in the evenings dancing and putting on skits.  I fondly recall creating to “Stray Cat Strut” by the Stray Cats…I still love that tune.

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

Santee:  Free styling to me means improvising, so basically it is being open to new movement language and becoming instinctive, non-judgmental of your moves, and of course, playful.  I enjoy guided improv as well which involves working with marker points such as images, context or theme or character. 

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

Santee:  Well, I wish I could get into the zone to choreograph exactly when it says so in my schedule.  Sometimes this does not work out so well.  Inspiration does at times seem fleeting and it is great when you are totally “on” and the work flows.  I am very visual and content driven so what helps me most is collecting as much stimuli: images, music, video, stories, words to feed myself and dance artists during the creation process.

I work best in shorter choreographic workshop phases since the workshops are intensive. This allows for time between each phase for contemplation, review and growth.  For me, allowing this time for development leads to a fully envisioned work.

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

Santee:  In my early years I admired three main ballerinas Karen Kain, Vanessa Harwood and Maria Tallchief.  At age 9 I sat front row centre watching Vanessa Harwood dance Swan Lake and was mesmerized, the next year I was on the same stage dancing in the Nutcracker with the National Ballet Company.

Today, I am inspired by the work of Artistic Directors and choreographic leaders: the late Pina Bausch (Tanztheater Wuppertal), Ushio Amagatsu (Sankai Juku), Ko Murobushi, Stephen Page (Bangarra Dance Theatre) and Lin Hwai-min (Cloud Gate Dance Company).  What draws me to these creators is their masterfully conceived and manifested vision for the work which is also reflected in the overall direction of their respective companies. 

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

Santee: I am the choreographer for my company so I do not often get a chance to work with other choreographers in Toronto.  I do enjoy the challenge of the collaboration process though.  Maybe there is a co-choreography coming up in the future?  I would be interested in a project that is compelling, imaginative and one that challenges me artistically.

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

Santee:  One of my favourite artists to work with is Raoul Trujillo.  He is a mentor, collaborator, performer and amazing human being.   As an artist he has worked with some of the greats in dance, theatre and film: Alwin Nikolais, Terrance Malick among others.  He has contributed to the work of contemporary dance expression in North America with American Indian Dance Theatre, The Aboriginal Dance Project at the Banff Centre for the Arts and through his own choreographic work. 

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Santee:  Right now I’m working on the North American Premiere of Susuriwka – willow bridge a co-produced with Yokohama Noh Theatre and Harbourfront Centre’s Planet IndigenUS Festival 2012.  It’s a total re-working of the production for the North American premiere on Aug 17 @7pm; Aug 18 @ 2pm and 7pm and Aug 19 @7pm.  Since 2009, Susuriwka – willow bridge has been an incredible journey of cultural exchange, discovery and creativity working with artists from Japan and Canada and within the Ainu and Onkwehonwe (Six Nations) communities.  http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/whatson/dance.cfm?id=3795

Kaha:wi Dance Theatre is holding our 4th Aboriginal Dance Training (ADT) program August 7-31 @ 400 Jarvis Street.  We have an amazing faculty and classes this year including: Toronto-based dancer, choreographer and teacher Louis Laberge-Côté teaching Contemporary dance; Japanese native, Mami Hata, teaching Ballet classes.  Guest teachers include internationally acclaimed Charles Koroneho (New Zealand), a performer and visual artist who will offer Muscle & Bone classes and KDT’s inaugural Choreographic Lab; Tesha Emarthle (Six Nations of the Grand River) leading classes in Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Social Dance and Powwow Styles, as well as virtuosic Hoop dancer, performer and choreographer Arik Pipestem (Tsuu T’ina Nation) teaching X-H-T (Extraordinary Hoop Technique), New York-based dancer and teacher, Jye Hwei Lin leading Gaga workshops (Gaga People USA); master class with Alejandro Ronceria.  There are spots still available, for more information please visit our ADT website:www.kahawidance.org/adt

Upcoming for me in 2012/2013: Guest speaking at the “dancing fugitive futures: dialogues with artists and thinkers” symposium at the Barbara Barker Center for Dance, at the Dance Program of the University of Minnesota; Kaha:wi documentary produced by Wabunganung Film Company, a sister company of Coptor Film to be aired on APTN and the Festival circuit; choreographing for Canada’s National Ballet School’s “Sharing Dance” project; remounting and touring KDT’s work for young audiences Medicine Bear; creation process for new work Mixed Evening Works featuring major musical collaborations with Tanya Tagaq and Faron Johns; new work celebrating the Onkwehonwe (Six Nations/Iroquois) contribution and impact for the War of 1812 which will be premiered at Toronto’s Fort York.

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Santee:  There are so many amazing dancers working in Toronto.  I have had the pleasure of working with some super talented, generous and genuine artists.  I am amazed at the ability of independent dancers who can schedule and carve out their careers working with a number of companies and choreographers.  This requires a great deal of versatility and commitment as an artist.

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

Santee:  My advice to dancers is to seriously invest in training to maximize your body awareness, but most importantly as a means to understanding and reaching a fully embodied and expressed performance.  To me,dancing is not just about getting the steps, it is an interaction, experience, ritual.

For upcoming choreographers, I think its important to explore and continually invest in your own voice, vision and process.  Strive to continually discover and open the gateways to your source of creativity and imagination.  Find what it is you want to say and express with your work and know that every work is a journey, that every work has a life that can keep on maturing and deepening.

I’m a huge fan of life long learning so for both dancer and choreographers, I suggest creating opportunities to learn skills, new perspectives, techniques, approaches/methodologies and cultures.

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

Click this link to CHECK OUT SUSURIWKA WILLOW BRIDGE 

 

 

 

 

JEN MOORE

13 Aug

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Jen Moore. ABS Fit owner, Jennifer Moore is a professional acrobat/dancer with ABS Crew and knows what it takes to be in top physical shape. Combining her Can Fit Personal Training certification with her knowledge of acrobatics, aerial circus and dance she is able to provide a total body workout like no other program. 

Her dedication to fitness shows as she continues to train everyday for her performances with ABS Crew (www.absCrew.com) who’s main training focus is acrobatics, handbalancing, hip hop/breakdancing with many more talents. The group has worked on films, television shows and commercials in collaboration with performing on stages for live events all across North America and also internationally.
Jennifer lives by the belief that if by training your body correctly you will be able to do any skill that it is that you wish to achieve. Members of ABS Crew prove this by showing their versatility that they have from their intense training program that has allowed them to adapt easily to learning new skills. They pool their talents and amplify one another’s strengths to produce very innovative and unpredictable shows.
Her drive to succeed will motivate you to reach above and beyond your own goals giving you a restored physical body and a new outlook on life.

Bio provided by Jen

Facebook: ABS Fit

Facebook: ABS Crew

 Website: www.absCrew.com

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

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

Jen: When I was 4 my parents put me into a ballet class.

 

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

Jen: The first time I remember choreographing was to Mo Money Mo Problems by Biggie

 

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

Jen: My personal advice when it comes to free styling is “be diverse”. Always do something they won’t expect, you want to mix different dance styles with power tricks.

 

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

Jen: When getting in the zone to choreograph I need a great track and my headphones. 

 

Nikki: Your originally from Nova Scotia, What made you move to Toronto?

Jen: I moved to Toronto from Nova Scotia in 2007 to pursue a professional dance career. I wanted to retire from competitive cheerleading and wanted to dance but I knew that I wanted to somehow have the gymnastics and partner stunting mixed with the dancing.  When I found ABS Crew it was exactly what I was looking for, I have now been with the group for 4 years doing hip hop, breakdancing, acrobatics and handbalancing. I have also ventured into the aerial circus world with hoop and silks.

 

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

Jen: My biggest influences in the Dance industry are:
ABS Crew members Roshan Amendra, Wellesley Robertson, Maraino Abarca, Troy Feldman and Nick Robinson
Flavor Shop with Lenny Len

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

Jen: I enjoy choreographing with ABS Crew, since we work together so often we know what we are capable of. We pool our talents and amplify one another’s strengths to produce very innovative shows.

Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why? (It does not have to be a pop star any type of artist that a Dancer would work with i.e.; another Dancer, Choreographer, Musician etc.)

Jen: I enjoy working with too many groups to say just one…some of my favorite are:
Hit and Run Productions
Zacada Circus
A2D2
Circus Orange

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Jen:With ABS Crew, one of upcoming projects is the opening ceremonies for the Can Fit Pro International Fitness Conference and Trade Show. Coming in September, I will be teaching a Cirque Strength Muscle Conditioning Class and a Cardio Hip Hop Class at The Extension Room (www.extensionmethod.com) I also offer Personal Training sessions, one on one or duos. My program can be done anywhere; I teach exercises using your own bodyweight so there is no need for large weight machines. You can come to The Extension Room, I can come to your house/condo, or we can train outside. Email>>> absjmoore@gmail.com for more info.

 

Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?

Jen: I believe that Toronto Dancers possess a lot of heart and soul. They put everything into making their dreams come true.

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

Jen: My advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto would be:
Train your body, the more conditioned your body is, the easier it is to adapt to learning new skills.

 

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

CHECK OUT JEN’S REEL…

 

 

MITCHELL JACKSON

6 Aug

 

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes out to Mitchell Jackson.  Mitchell originally from Sudbury, Ontario attended Happiness is Dancing, a very well established dance studio in his hometown. Within two years of his competitive career Jackson won numerous awards including; Mr. DEA, Mr.Candance, and overall highest top score for Star Power Dance Competition, American Dance Awards and Dance Educators of America.  As a graduate from Sudbury Secondary School where he trained in jazz, ballet, hip-hop, contemporary and musical theatre, Mitchell developed a strong knowledge about the dance industry and decided to take his passion for the art form to the next level by moving to Toronto, Ontario where more opportunity would be available for this talented young man. Mitchell has impacted the Toronto dance community in a very short period of time. He continually trains with some of the most sought after teachers and choreographers as well as many major dance companies in the greater Toronto area. Jackson has trained for months at a time in Los Angeles and New York City with some of America’s top choreographers. As a performer his credits include, So You Think You Can Dance Canada Top 30 Male, CTV, Much Music’s Best Dance Crew, MTV News, Rogers TV, Breakfast Television, and back-up dancer for Amanda Cantora. His most recent credits include working with Shawn Desman appearing in his new music video “Night Like This/Electrik” choreographed by So You Think You Can Dance Canada judge Luther Brown. His film and television credits don’t stop there, Jackson just finished filming a pilot for a new MTV show entitled “The Penthouse” which is set to air in the new year. Mitchell teaches, choreograph’s and adjudicates for dance studios and competitions across North America and also had the opportunity to teach at one of the largest dance centres in the world, Millennium Dance Complex. Millennium which is located in Los Angeles is home to Choreographers such as Mia Michaels and Brian Friedman as well as celebrities such as Janet Jackson and Britney spears. Currently Mitch has been casted as Tim in “With Somebody Who Loves Me” (Manzo Produtcions) which is showing at Toronto Fringe Festival and the Tarragon Theatre. On stage credits also include: Toronto’s Bazaar 90’s Edition Showcase, Bazaar Stevie Wonder Edition and numerous Toronto’s Original Choreographers Ball working with an all-star cast of Canada’s top dancers.  Recently he choreographed and performed in the Miss Universe Canada Charity Event. Mitchell believes it is never too late to start dancing; he strives to be a role model and inspiration for students all over the world.

 Bio provided by Mitchell 

Follow: @MitchJacks

Subscribe on Youtube:  Mitchell Jackson Dance

Add to Facebook: MitchJacks 

 

Check out what Mitchell had to say in this week’s shout out…

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

Mitchell: Well, I always danced as a child and loved to move to music and always participated in school concerts but never took an actual dance class until I was 14. 

 

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

Mitchell: Besides making up dances with my friends and sisters when I was younger, the first song I ever choreographed to that I performed was Will Smith: “Will 2K” LOL!!!

 

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

Mitchell: Stick to your style but don’t be afraid to take risks! 

 

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

Mitchell: Going into a space that has no distractions.  Having a vision and playing with it and just letting my body move is when I can create my best work.  When I try to force it, I never get the product I want. 

 

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

Mitchell: I have to say one of my biggest influences in the dance industry is Dee Caspary.  He is such an inspirational artist and has kept himself grounded through in this crazy industry.

 

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

Mitchell: One of my favourite choreographers I love working with is Juliette Irons.  Her visions are so unique and she is constantly growing and changing her style which is very important when being a choreographer.  

 

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

Mitchell: As a dancer, one of my favourites has to be Bianca Melchior.  Her technique and style is amazing, and her work ethic is flawless. 

 

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Mitchell: I am working on a few videos right now that will be released before the end of the year.  I am also in a musical right now which is probably one of the best experiences I have ever had.  Taking up most of my time currently would be the dance competition and convention that I have opened with my best friend Lisa Hupe.  Very excited for the world to see what we have created, check out our website… onthefloor.ca 

 

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Mitchell: Toronto has the strongest and most driven dancers.  The talent is one of a kind and it is so beautiful to see how much everyone strives to make their way to the top.

 

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

Mitchell: The Toronto dance industry is feisty, and things definitely can get ugly.  It is important to stay grounded and know your crowd. The strongest advice I could give is take everyone’s class.  Stop worrying about what everyone thinks, cause at the end of the day the person in the most classes will be the person working the most.  Confidence is key.

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

 

CHECK OUT MITCHELL’S 3 PART REEL…