This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Shakera Martin. Shakera is the artistic director for Carnival Spice and Everything Nice, an entertainment service aimed at showcasing Caribbean dance, beauty, food, and music. Born in Toronto, Ontario to West Indian parents, Shakera was exposed to music and dance at a very young age. She utilized the vibrant nature of the culture to enhance her own unique movement while developing her amazing stage presence through modeling and dancing in a variety of events, showcases, festivals and competitions.
Shakera enjoys sharing her radiant energy and Caribbean flare through dance and has had the pleasure of demonstrating this through Ryerson University’s Urban Hip Hop Union, the Toronto Marlies Dance Crew led by Amberley Waddell, Diva Girl Entertainment led by Laura Furtado and the Army of Sass Performance group led by Carla Catherwood. Shakera was recently featured as a dancer in commercials for CTV’s “Summer Festivals” and MuchMusic’s “That MUCH Closer” starring pop star Bridgit Mendler. She can also be seen dancing in music videos such as Dean Brody’s “Canadian Girls“, Melanie Fiona’s “Change the Record“, Delhi 2 Dublin’s “Turn up the Stereo“, Kardinal Offishal’s “WildN” and in “Benjamin” for Love and Hip Hop star Lore’l. Her live performance credits have also been for a wide range of clients including the Canadian Olympic Committee, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Scotiabank, Sony, and Jamaal Magloire’s Toronto Revellers.
Since earning an Occupational Health and Safety degree at Ryerson University, Shakera set out to promote the relationship between health, wellness and dance. She is currently a student in the Scholarship Dance Program presented by Lindsay Ritter Productions where she is committed to extensive training by some of Toronto’s top dance industry professionals. As she continues to expand her dance vocabulary to better her craft, she remains devoted to inspiring the world with her talent, spirit, and heart.
Bio provided by Shakera
Website – www.simplyshakera.com
Twitter – @SimplyShakera
Instagram – @SimplyShakera
YouTube – Shakera Martin
Find out what Shakera had to say in this week’s feature….
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Shakera: When I was younger my family and I would head to the Caribana parade. Back in those days the Jamaican folks would hang out along the lakeshore where the food was and wait until the reggae float passed by (ha!) One year in particular, I think was about three or four, the music was so sweet that I started dancing by myself and a crowd formed around me. A man randomly shouts out of the crowd, “Unno cyan mek di pickney dance fi free!!”, so he began collecting money from the audience and gave it all to my Mother on my behalf. My mom used that money and enrolled me in my first dance class.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Shakera: Absolutely, I cannot think of my exact age at the time, but I choreographed a duo routine to “A party ain’t a party” by Queen Pen for a beauty pageant.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Shakera: Listen to a few counts or beats before you start moving and shaking. This will give you a chance to connect with the song especially if you are unfamiliar with it. From there – let the music takeover! It will guide you toward the accents you should hit, the feelings you should emote to the audience, and of course the style of dance that would be most suitable. It will keep you from being the guy krumping to dancehall or the girl dishing out piqué turns to a Tupac track.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Shakera: Creating should be a natural thing. Therefore, what I usually do is freestyle to the song of choice, film it, and then select sections that speak to me most.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Jae Blaze: I was blessed to watch Jae go from mentoring an entire neighbourhood through dance to choreographing across the globe. I would often sneak out of summer camp in our Rec center to watch the rehearsals she was running with her team of outstanding dancers. Jae’s warm up regime is one of a kind; you would be sore for days but were so grateful for the discipline and strength you gained. Her choreography is also a great representation of our home and the people that lived there as the Jane and Sheppard community was filled with hard workers, innovators, and creative talent, One Love Joy!
Leon Blackwood: Ever since I was in grade eleven and Leon’s dance team beat mine in a high school competition, I knew he was going to do great things. (ha!) His musicality and creativity are gifts – so happy that he shares this with the dance community as both a teacher and choreographer.
Leah Totten: I only recently met Leah, but her story, energy, and unique dance style has left an everlasting imprint on me. I also appreciate her strength as a female dancer and the movement her vision has surged throughout the dance industry. #CapricornsRock
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Shakera: Whether it be their creative energy and support projected in the studio, initiation of work opportunities, or inclusion of me in past choreographic productions, each of these women at some point have been a positive force during my dance journey. In addition to that, they have all made amazing leaps in their own careers thus being great role models in the dance industry.
Jasmyne Fyffe, Amberley Waddell, Janet Castillo, Siona Jackson, Esie Mensah, Carla Catherwood, Neeks Money, and Lauren Lyn I thank you!
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.)
Shakera: This artist is someone I have yet to meet in person. Over the years, I have become a big lover of soca music, largely to the amazing singer and performer Machel Montano. Many who are not very familiar with this music genre know and love his songs! He headlined the first soca event I ever attended and the experience was out of this world. I definitely want to be apart of his future productions.
Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Have A Plan.
Nikki: Any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share with T.D.O.T.?
Shakera: Carnival Spice & Everything Nice will be launching via web in June so stay connected through www.carnivalspice.com or @CarnivalSpice on Twitter. It is going to be a beautiful and spicey summer! I hope to see everyone either June 21st, 22nd, or 23rd when Scholarship Dance Toronto will be “REVEALED”; it is going to be a spectacular showcase! Tickets can be ordered online at http://scholarshiptorontorevealed.eventbrite.ca/ Shout out to Lindsay Ritter and Krista Duncan who have put in so much work getting the show together! Xo
THANK YOU SHAKERA FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO
CHECK OUT SHAKERA AS THE LEAD DANCER IN DEAN BRODY’S “CANADIAN GIRLS”