This week’s Dancer Choreographer shout out goes to Alexandra Crenian. In 2005, Alexandra left her home in Saskatchewan to experience big city life in Toronto, Canada. It wasn’t long until she was thrown into the dance scene and fell in love with all of its possibilities. Alexandra has since danced all over the world; China, Singapore, Japan, Lebanon, Greece, Sweden and the USA. She is featured in Much Music commercials and the Family Channel, as well as ‘Skittles’ Candy, Dr. Pepper and IMAX commercials.
Alexandra has danced for artists: Shawn Desman, Bridgit Mendler, Naughty by Nature, Rob Base, Young MC, Ludacris, Sugarhill Gang, Mia Martina, Aleesia, Cory Lee, Shiloh, Veronica, Alexisonfire and toured internationally with Massari.
Alexandra has numerous live shows under her belt, and has been seen acting and dancing on television shows (SKINS Mtv, Electric Circus, The Best Years) and in feature films (Hairspray, Breakaway, My Bloody Bachelorette and Martin Short Goes Home.)
The most memorable, live-televised performance to date? Alexandra dancing for
Lady Gaga during her infamous performances at the Much Music Video Awards in 2009 and again in 2011.
Alexandra is constantly traveling, teaching workshops and performing internationally. She has recently co-choreographed RENT the Musical in Toronto. Her love for dance is infectious, as it is felt by everyone who has the opportunity to meet her.
Bio provided by Alexandra
Follow Alexandra on Twitter :@alexcrenian
Alexandra on Instagram: alexcrenian
Alexandra’s Agent: Parent Management
Find out what Alexandra had to say in this week’s feature….
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Alexandra: Don’t all babies start dancing automatically when they hear music? It’s just the most natural reaction… I definitely don’t remember that.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Alexandra: I’m going to say it was probably to something from Grease, my dad used to watch that movie with me every weekend. My choreography was definitely not on par, it was before I even knew I what that word even meant.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Alexandra: Listen to the music. Really, actively listen.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Alexandra: I just turn on the music, start to freestyle, and take it from there. The music gives me all the answers I need: from concept to feel to transitions. In the rare event that I’m doing a piece without music, I use the breath as the rhythm and the theme of the show to pull me through.
Nikki: You moved to Toronto from Saskatchewan in 2005. What was your reason for moving here?
Alexandra: I initially moved to Toronto to attend University majoring in Psychology. I didn’t start dancing until I moved here, instantly fell in Love and haven’t stopped training and dancing since.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Alexandra: Wow, this is a difficult one.
My influences aren’t even confined to the Dance industry or people. Music really inspires me, Film really inspires me, Clothing inspires me… come to think of it, even the weather or something weird my cat does can inspire me into a random dance session regardless of where I am.
Watching Marilyn Monroe in ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ or ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business,’ Or Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire in ‘Funny Face.’ Liza Minelli in ‘Cabaret’ or Shirley McClaine in ‘Sweet Charity.’ I’m a huge Fosse fan, after seeing him do the ‘Snake in the Grass,’ and knowing how Michael Jackson was a hugely influenced by Fosse. I love watching films from the 1950’s, whether musicals or not, they show an incredible amount of work ethic, multiple one-shot full on dance numbers and so much of our history.
Artists: Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, James Brown, Prince, TLC, Missy Elliot, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears.. I’m just going to stop before I name every artist on my iPod.
That being said, I’m obsessed with Youtubing footage: from watching SOUL TRAIN footage to 1940’s social dances… actually by writing all of this I am realizing I may be addicted to watching footage. It is amazing to see the growth of dance, sometimes I’ll watch a clip from a Jitterbug competition and I’ll see the influence it has given other genres of dance. I love watching ballroom or salsa footage, or watching a dance documentary like PINA or a dance movie like BILLY ELLIOT or DIRTY DANCING… Dance is so incredible. We have an endless supply of inspiration, not only in film and music, but in books as well. Reading about dance and the reason it has changed/grown (because music is constantly evolving.) Reading about who influenced what and why is one of the most interesting, inspiring things. The more I learn about dance, the more I feel like I need to find out. To understand why I move or the dances I’m teaching is an integral part of why I love dancing in the first place. There is so much to learn!
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Alexandra: I am going to name a few, but I wish I could name even more.
I love working with Miles Faber: together, we recently finished choreographing RENT the Musical at Lower Ossington Theatre. RENT has been absolutely one of my favourite and most rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on. Thanks Miles.
Carla Catherwood is another person I adore working for, what an amazing woman she is! Here is a link of a class she and I choreographed and taught together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkL9v9mPhHE&list=FLR5omDu5yElqFM0LVxZtiQA
JoJo Zolina, just watching him dance gives me goosebumps.
Toya Robinson, she is probably the person I’ve worked with the most since I’ve lived in Toronto (8 years). I did my first music video with her in 2006, in 2009, she sent me a Facebook message with the information for a Lady Gaga audition… I would not have booked that gig had she not shared the audition info with me. We’ve traveled Canada, Greece and Lebanon together for dance. Next week I get to work with her too! She is such an amazing person and choreographer.
Shawn Bracke, Eryn Waltman, Leon Blackwood, Shawn Byfield, Amy Wright, Melissa Moore, Mayhem’s Finest, Bo Lam, Emily Einsman, Melissa Mitro
There are so many more people I want to name, and others that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to work with…. I am so looking forward to getting the chance! The list could be pages long!
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.)
Alexandra: Well, Since I named more than one person in the last answer… I’ll say all of those people for the choreographers/dancers.
I really love and enjoy all the performing artists I’ve gotten to work with:
Lagy Gaga, Massari, Shawn Desman, Naughty by Nature, Sugarhill Gang, Cory Lee, Brigit Mendler, Alexisonfire, Shiloh, Aleesia, Veronica, Ludacris and Mia Martina to name a few.
It is amazing to meet and watch all the people involved in making a music video or a film! The amount of work that goes into a two-minute scene is incredible, it’s almost unbelievable. Every person, from lighting, sound, director of photography, director, boom operator, make up artists, catering, editing, continuity specialist to wardrobe and set designers make the project come to life. The film crew are the people who keep you looking good. Without them, we can’t do our jobs properly.
I truly love and respect the people I work with who are passionate about their work. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to do what we love!
Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?
Alexandra: Toronto dancers are absolutely thirsty for knowledge. We definitely give it our all in auditions and performances!
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Alexandra: Work hard, don’t judge and be kind. Actions speak louder than words.
Nikki: Any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share with T.D.O.T. ?
Alexandra: If you’d like to see RENT at Lower Ossington Theatre, it is on until June 2nd. Get tickets here:
Check out the classes of the choreographers I mentioned, you won’t be disappointed.
Look out for a feature film I’m in: My Bloody bachelorette (release date TBA):
Watch out for Miscellum Dance Collective, recently launched in Toronto:
THANK YOU ALEXANDRA FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO
CHECK OUT ALEXANDRA’S DANCE REEL…