This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Matt Marr. Matt, a Canadian Dancer and aspiring Actor, worked his way into becoming a successful professional dancer based out of Los Angeles. Since his first performances back in his home town Saint John, New Brunswick, Matt became recognized amongst his community for his notable stage presence and instinctive performing abilities. Matt went on to collect numerous titles, trophies, awards and scholarships for his talent including numerous full scholarships to Paris, Los Angeles and New York. Matt also studied at the National Ballet School Summer Program for a semester.
Since starting his professional career, Matt has worked in many facets of the industry. Most notably, Matt danced on the television shows ‘Glee’, ‘Russell Peters Christmas Special’, ‘Warehouse 13’, ‘Bombgirls’, ‘The Marilyn Dennis Show’, ‘Breakfast Television’, numerous industrials (LG, GMC, Bell, Mac, etc) has stepped into the musical theatre world performing in the world premiere of ‘Summer In The City’ directed by ‘Randy Johnson’, also the director of the Mike Tysons ‘Undisputed Truth’ Show in Vegas at the Stage West Theatre in Calgary, has danced for artist’s PSY, Tyler Medeiros, Lil’ Twist, Deborah Cox, Fefe Dobson, Aleesia, Shawn Desman. Matt will be one of the dancers on the up and coming Zumba Game for Wii, and has also modeled, walking the runway of Toronto’s Alternative Fashion Week and on-print for the clothing company Open Heart. Matt is also a dance Educator and Judge, teaching and judging for conventions Internationally, including ‘In the Streetz’ (USA), ‘Dancer’s Inc’ (USA), ‘National Ballet Summer Program’ ‘Dance Canada’, ‘IDance’, ‘5678’, and ‘DanceQuest’. He teaches at Workshops and Intensives independently all over North America.
Most notably to date, Matt will be appearing as ‘Danny’, a lead role in the upcoming Dance Feature Film “East Side Story” Produced by David Winters (currently in Post-Production, release unofficially in November 2013) which will feature American and Canadian SYTYCD’s top All-Stars, Runner-ups and Winners as actors. Matt made his way into the Top 3 spot of the fourth and final season of So You Think You Can Dance Canada, getting the opportunity to work with world-renowned choreographers including Luther Brown, Stacey Tookey, Steve Bolton, Sho-Tyme, Melissa Williams, Sean Cheesman, Sabrina Matthews, Maria Torres, Tony and Melanie, Sergio Trujillo, Blake McGrath, and Jean-Marc Genereux. Matt learned and performed new styles including Argentenian Tango, Cha-Cha, Quickstep, Hustle, Jive, and Bollywood. It was the experience of a lifetime, and has shot him to the top of his game instilling confidence in his own personal style of dance. It was educational, motivational and has opened so many doors in his young career.
Bio provided by Matt
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Matt: I was 3 when my parents first put me in dance. I was a really crazy kid and had a lot of energy, and they didn’t have anything else at the time to involve me in and have me do to burn energy, so they put me in dance class. Little did any of us know that it would become my passion, and career.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Matt: I honestly don’t! I have been creating to dances for as long as I can remember, and so there isn’t one in particular that stands out as my first, but I always like choreographing to different styles of music and music that aren’t always my first pick. It’s fun to challenge myself and create movement to songs that I wouldn’t first think to choose.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Matt: Let go. Ignore the voice in the back of your head that’s screaming every negative thought at you. That’s the voice that inhibits you from growing, and acheiving your personal best. Start to think differently in those nervous moments before you have to freestyle that are positive and confident. Just changing the way you think about something, will change the way you dance altogether. Don’t ever be afraid to try movements you’ve never done before in classes and in safe settings, but if you are freestyling at an audition, make sure to only pull out your best.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Matt: It’s always a process that doesn’t come to me when I need it to the most. Choreography is a very organic process for me, nothing can force me to pull out my creative best, it just has to come, and when it comes, I have to stop everything I’m doing and use my brain when it’s working.. Also sometimes, when I’m under extreme pressure, my best work comes out. I find I have to really be digging a certain piece of music, and be alone in order to choreograph.
Nikki: What made you move from New Brunswick to Toronto?
Matt: I moved from New Brunswick to Toronto because I knew that if my career was going to start, I would have to move to the city where I would be introduced to Toronto dancers, choreographers, casting directors, agents, etc. It was frustrating living in New Brunswick and not feeling like I had any more opportunities that were going to allow me to grow. I worked at Tim Hortons for 6 months in Fredericton, NB, saved every penny, all my tips, and took that chunk of money and moved off to Toronto, allowing me to live before I started working and making money in the city. It was risky, but sometimes the best decisions I’ve made were the riskiest. I look forward to helping build the Maritime Dance Community, and pushing other promising dancers from the area get introduced to the Toronto industry and start working the same way I did.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Matt: I’m really inspired by dancers from generations ago, I really liked what they were doing with their careers. Patrick Swayze, transitioning from a successful dancer into having a very successful acting career, and Fred Astaire, having been one of the most influencial tappers, is especially influencial for someone like me who loves tap and is sad to see the craft become less and less popular in today’s dance world. More recent influences include Linda Garneau, who I think is an absolutely brilliant choreographer, thinker, and jazz instructor, as well as Kim Gingras, who is really out there right now showing Canadians how it’s done =)
Nikki: Name a Canadian Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Matt: Sean Cheesman! I had such a great time working with Sean during SYTYCDC. Not only is he a great choreographer, but a great person as well.
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.)
Matt: Right now, especially because it was the most recent, I had a lot of fun working with PSY at the MMVA’s. He is such an energetic artist, and really brings humility into what can be an all too serious industry.
Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?
Matt: Determination. Strong Hip Hop and strong contemporary technique. It’s really refreshing to see Toronto at the high caliber that it’s at. It is definitely representing Canada as our leading dance center, and other major dance centers have taken notice!
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Matt: Work with everyone. Go to conventions, travel, focus, build your resume and keep yourself up to date. Build community, keep positive, take advantage of every opportunity and never stop LEARNING.