This week’s Dancer/Choreographer feature goes to Stef Williams. Hard work, determination, and drive are what make this Toronto native a growing success in the entertainment industry. Stefanie’s professional dance career started in South Florida with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders. Her passion and ambition quickly took her to new heights not only in dance, but also in the commercial industry. She has worked with companies like VISA, MAC Cosmetics, ITT Tech and SoBe Fit Magazine.
In 2011, she was nominated “Ambassador of the Year” for The Dance For Life Foundation: “bringing together our artistic community onto a new platform for dancers to reach out and give back”. She also served on the adjudicator panel for the 2011 Toronto Argonaut Cheerleader Auditions where she shared her knowledge, expertise and thereafter choreography.
Stefanie currently resides in South Florida where she continues to pursue her professional dance career. Her recent credits include performing for FloRida, Pitbull’s 2013 New Years Eve concert, as well as two major Latin awards shows; Premios Juventud and Premios Lo Nuestro where she performed for artists Belinda, Elvis Crespo and Pitbull.
In the future Stefanie is looking to develop outreach programs to support youth in the arts and entertainment. She believes that with hard work, dedication, and perseverance you can achieve anything!
Bio provided by Stef
Follow @Stefdwill on Twitter
Stef on Instagram
Check out what Stef had to say in this week’s feature…
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Stef: My mom enrolled me in my first ballet class when I was about 5 or 6 and it only lasted about two years. My first memory of falling in love with dance was when I watched an American Music Awards performance by Janet Jackson. I remember looking at the screen in awe and thinking “I wanna do that!” From then on I was obsessed with teaching myself the choreography from MJ and Janet music videos.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Stef: I’ve always been a fan of Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson. In high school we had this lip-syncing/dancing contest and my friend and I did a medley of MJ songs. I believe we did Smooth Criminal, Billy Jean and Beat It. Definitely good times and great memories.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Stef: In my earlier years I use to be terrified of free styling because I was still discovering myself as a dancer. However, as time went on my confidence grew by taking multiple dance classes, attending auditions and more importantly practicing on my own. Free styling is all about allowing the music to take over your body, letting go, and knowing that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. Taking a wide variety of classes from different genres really helps with your dance vocabulary. Toronto has so much to offer as far as variety, so take advantage of that!
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Stef: I feel that I am still growing as a choreographer, but I have been fortunate enough to choreograph for several projects. The first thing I do when I have to choreograph is play the song, close my eyes, and I begin to formulate the movements in my head. Sometimes I also allow myself to freestyle to the song and I pull certain movements from that. There are times when I hit roadblocks and I have to take a break before re-visiting it. Choreography is a process and I’ve learned to be patient with myself because I am a bit of a perfectionist.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Stef: When I was growing up I looked up to Tina Landon of course because she choreographed for Janet Jackson at the time. Locally, Luther Brown and Jae Blaze heavily influenced me because their classes were some of the first ones I took outside of regular studio dancing. They also helped to pave the way for up and coming Toronto dancers and have managed to make a name for themselves in the industry. There are so many dancers and choreographers that I look up to: Mia Michaels, Sheryl Murakami, Sean Bankhead, Chuck Maldonado, Luam, Gigi Torres…the list can go on forever!
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Stef: There are quite a few talented choreographers in Toronto and it would be very difficult to narrow it down to just one. A few that stand out to me are Scott Fordham, Hollywood Jade, Tazz, and Latoya Robinson. All of these individuals have influenced me in some way or another and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with them. Toronto choreographers bring diversity to the table and not just the typical industry material you see on television. I enjoyed working with each person because they helped me to grow and develop in a variety of genres from jazz funk to burlesque to dancehall.
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.)
Stef: This is another tough question because I’ve worked with so many great artists. To me great artists are those that stay grounded and continue to pursue greatness despite their current successes. They take the time to rehearse so that their performance isn’t just great, but amazing. I really enjoy working with Pitbull because he is humble, takes the time to rehearse and understand staging and the movement throughout his performance. His energy on stage is undeniable and that’s what makes him a great performer.
Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?
Stef: I’ve had the opportunity to work with many talented individuals in different parts of the world. I feel that Toronto dancers are very passionate and hard-working. Believe it or not we have built up a great reputation for ourselves. Whenever I tell someone where I’m from they get excited because they know that great talent keeps coming out of our city.
Nikki: Any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share with T.D.O.T. ?
Stef: Currently Miami is in the middle of a huge event called the Winter Music Conference. I’ll be working some of the events doing promo work as well as dancing. I also have a few projects in the works for late March and April, but you’ll have to wait and see what those are 😉
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Stef: There is always room for improvement so get your butt into classes whenever you have a chance. Versatility is key in this industry so find the areas that you need to work on and take classes to improve. Stay humble and maintain a professional work ethic (e.g. arrive to rehearsals ON TIME, respond to your emails/txt msgs promptly etc.) Remember that rejection is a part of the industry so you cannot dwell on things that you cannot control. Lastly, know your worth! Make sure you do your research, read before signing contracts and know the terms before saying yes to a job.
THANK YOU STEF FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO
CHECK OUT STEF’S REEL…