Archive | November, 2012


19 Nov

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Megan Trainer. With a natural groove and passion for music and rhythm Megan was born to dance and entertain. Starting off with training in ballet, jazz, and tap at Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet it disciplined her to a great foundation of dance. After only a few years of training she was scouted at the young age of 8 years old for her first professional dance role with Disney. From there the determination and passion only solidified and to this day grows stronger for Megan’s unequaled love for performing and creating movement.  Along the way she has had the opportunity to work with and learn from Canada’s top urban contemporary companies such as RUBBERBANDance Group, the 605 Collective and GadFly to name a few. Expanding beyond the urban contemporary creative processes you will find her alongside some of the top recording artists and hit TV shows. Megan has had the privilege to work alongside Bruno Mars, Michael Buble, Dragonette, Ciara, Ashley Tisdale, Anjulie and more. Not only does her passion lay working with artists in the industry and onscreen but her career has led her on stage countless times. Megan has recently returned from guest teaching and performing for International Dance Week in Guadalajara, Mexico, a tour across Canada with a national Road Show Gala and performing for Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Week. Having developed a unique style Megan has a lot to offer and will continue to push her own versatility to its fullest potential. Her recent passion has been to fuse together her unique version of break dance and contemporary. Constantly inspired by her peers and dancers in the industry the desire to push the envelope and develop her unique style is never ending.

Bio provided by Megan

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

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

Megan: I started dancing at the age of 4, I don’t recall my dance classes from that point in my life. When I was 6 I did my first ever dance routine on stage to Michael Jackson’s – Will You Be There. I remember being on stage and not really know what was going on but loving every minute!

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

Megan: Hands down was the Backstreet Boys. They were such a huge inspiration and excitement for me when I was growing up. I felt so cool listening and dancing in my room to their music. Still do! My best friend and myself put together a little routine to their hit “Everybody” and preformed it for our grade 4 talent show.

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

Megan: Do what comes naturally and be yourself! If you are to ever to really try and analyze what you are doing, I think in some aspects in can have a reverse effect on how your freestyle unfolds. It will hold you back from your full potential when you over think your movement.

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

Megan: Great music! If it naturally has me busting a move in my seat then its a winner and choreography will flow easier if I connect with the music.

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

Megan: I have many different influences in the Dance Industry, each influence is completely different and inspires me for a different reason than the other. To name a few; Anne Plamondon, Emmanuelle Le Phan,  Lyle Beniga. They all leave me memorized after studying their movement and work!

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

Megan: This is a hard question! I have been fortunate to work with many amazing Toronto Choreographers; one of the qualities that I appreciate the most is that they bring out the best in you. They continually push you and the growth is tremendous! So I am very thankful for them all and don’t think I could narrow it down to one. To name a few that I have been thankful to work alongside more than once are Ofilio and Apolonia (GadFly) and Scott Fordham.  Each bring out a different side in me to the fullest potential and they won’t take anything but your best. It is an amazing quality I love being surrounded by.

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.)

Megan: Anne Plamondon. She is an incredible artist and leaves me speechless everytime! Being in the studio under her direction and watching her perform has had a huge impact on my way of being, thinking and moving. She inspires me beyond words and she is just amazing to be in the presence of. She inspires and teaches you how to move in ways you never thought possible. Also her continuous development of her individual craft is so unbelievably motivating and encouraging that I am in awe of and can only dream that one day I could move even half of how she can!! In my own way of course ;).

Nikki: What keeps you coming back to live, perform and train in Toronto?

Megan: The hustle and energy! Toronto has such an amazing energy, you can feel the hunger and drive the dancers have here. They bring such a positive mentality to continually strive to be a better you.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Megan: I have been fortunate to be coming from a few contracts in Vancouver and now in Toronto. But a continuous project I have is always working on myself. Prepping whats next, staying updated and pushing for my dreams. Thats the biggest project of them all!

Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?

Megan: Passion! Nothing compares to Toronto Dancers. They bring this hustle and desire for more, which creates an amazing environment to be surrounded in. It is positive and it makes you motivated to continue developing your craft as a dancer.

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

Megan: To absorb from many different sources. Toronto has such a great diversity that is available for both training and performing. The resources you need, are here and with that the best advice I can give would be to push yourself out of your comfort zone. That allows for the most growth and confidence and will no doubt assist you to your full potential!!



5 Nov

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Tina Nicolaidis. Tina is one of Toronto’s most popular dance experts with a specialty in Ballet/Jazz & Latin dance. Tina is the co-founder and Artistic Director of City Dance Corps, one of Toronto’s leading dance schools that just celebrated its tenth year of business. She has been featured in numerous television shows and magazines including, Much Music, Fashion Magazine, Maclean’s, National Post, CBC’s “Living in Toronto”, Rogers “Toronto Living”, Elle Magazine, and CH TV to name a few. She has been a dance judge for international level Latin dance competitions and American reality TV shows such as Instant Beauty Pageant. As a dance advocate, she produces and sponsors an annual charity showcase, “Talent Defined” which features Toronto’s up and coming dance companies and choreographers.  Tina also gained recognition for training lead actor Jake Simons for his role as the original “Johnny Castle” in North America’s fastest selling premier stage production of Dirty Dancing. As a choreographer, her most recent accomplishments include choreographing Nelly Furtado’s ‘Mi Plan’ concert tour for 2011.  Currently she is a board member for DanceOntario and contributes to local columns such as Want To Dance website sponsored by the National Ballet of Canada as a Salsa dance expert where she brings some thought provoking and educational topics on dance to the forefront.

Bio provided by Tina

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

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

Tina: My mom signed me up for a ballet class when I was three years old. My older sister, Estelle, was already signed up and I wanted to be part of that too.  So, although I was too young to remember my first class, I do remember being excited to put my hair in a bun and put on my pink tutu skirt.   I must have loved it because I stuck with the same ballet teacher till I was 19 years old!

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

Tina: I was about 16 years old and I had developed the habit of altering my ballet teacher’s choreography.  My teacher was completely inspiring about it, because instead of getting upset, she asked me if I just wanted to try to choreograph a dance on my own with my class. I was ecstatic and nervous. I choreographed a Tango Ballet to a track from Evita.  This was when Latin dancing and music started to become a huge influence on my training. Now I use my classical dance training and fuse it with Latin dance styles.  I love the energy, passion and dramatic feel that this creates.

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

Tina:  I’m a Latin dancer, and aside from choreographed performances, the dance is 100% freestyle. For me, it all starts with the music.  I’m always teaching musicality in my salsa classes because I truly believe that this is what should drive your creativity.  My advice would be to let your ears do some work before your feet do, and allow the music to guide you. This also takes practice! So lock yourself in a quiet room and let loose to your favourite song. When you stop worrying about what you look like, and let the music move you, you’ll discover your own style, and some unique moves in the process.

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

Tina: Being in the zone is one of the hardest things for me to do, but also one of the best feelings I can achieve.  I can describe it as this mental place where thoughts and images are whirling around in your head, and you fight hard to make sense of them, and when you finally do, you feel inspired and content that’s it’s come to fruition. It’s a major stress reliever too.  When you run a business and wear many hats, it’s difficult to set aside the time to not be the manager, the teacher, the administrator, the scheduler, the handy man, the IT girl etc, and just be a choreographer. So many times I’ll say, “pretend I’m not here” to my partners and staff in the studio, then I’ll be able to zone everyone out and focus on creating.  I feel movement fuels movement, so keeping the energy moving in the studio between myself, the dancers and the music, is key to a successful session.

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

Tina: My biggest influences are the dancers of the 40s and 50s, like Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly.  Salsa is a dance form influenced by many other genres, and the going back to where it started gives me so much inspiration.  I just love the grand sets, the technical dancing and the ability for these dancers to show perfection in one take. 

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

Tina: My ultimate favourite Toronto choreographers to work with are Siona Jackson, Ofilio and Apolonia of Gadfly.  With Siona, I can tap into my classical training and develop beautiful lines and edgy movements that compliment my Latin training. Siona has great energy and keeps ideas moving without any blocks. Her work is beautiful and aggressive at the same time. With Ofilio and Apolonia, they have such a gift for musicality, and working with them allows me to intensify the street side of Latin dancing and bring a whole new twist to an otherwise traditional style.  All three choreographers work outside of the box, and it’s thanks to them that City Dance Corps has produced some of its best 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.)

Tina: One of my favourite musical artists that I worked with was Nelly Furtado. She feels first and thinks later, which is an attribute that every great artist should have. Working with her on her South American tour was always a process of discovery and forced me to be as creative as I can be.

Nikki: What’s it like running a Dance Studio in Toronto

Tina: Running a dance studio is thrilling, exciting, challenging, stressful, inspiring and rewarding all at once.  City Dance Corps has over 40 members on staff including instructors, managers and receptionists. What keeps it moving like a well oiled machine are my partners Estelle and Jerome, our Youth Program Coordinator Melissa Nascimento-So, Elizabeth our studio manager and everyone on staff that makes it feel like a family.  Everyone is responsible for a sector of the business including our Studio Rentals, Corporate Accounts, Entertainment, Pre Professional Training Program, Youth Program, Latin Dance Companies, Adult Dance Program and our newest division, Dancewear and Footwear.  We work hard to create a welcoming, friendly and non competitive environment for all students walking in. So from the smallest dancer at 1 and a half years old, to the oldest dancer at 75 years old, we guarantee there will be a class that you love. 

You can join our dance family as well by following our updates on Twitter and Facebook.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Tina: There are always projects and events on the go that keeps our studio buzzing with energy and activity. City Dance Corps is hosting its 5th faculty showcase, The Inferno on November 10, 2012. It will be at the Al Green Theatre and there are two shows. Tickets are on sale here.  We are also working on a new Latin number that will be showcased at Harbourfront Centre’s ‘Dance Weekend’ for January 2013. We also have our 10th annual Holiday Party coming on December 15, 2012.  And if that doesn’t make us busy enough, we are just launching a new shoe company called Stella Valentina shoes, that will be all about Latin Ballroom shoes with style, flair and comfort.  Check for updates coming soon.

Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?

Tina: I believe Toronto dancers possess professionalism and no fear when it comes to trying new things, like concepts and styles, then bringing it to the stage.

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

Tina: Keep creating and keep pushing forward. Jobs just don’t fall into your lap, and most times you are responsible for creating your own success. So work hard, cherish your reputation, and never burn bridges because dance is a small world after all.