This week’s Dancer/Choreographer feature goes to Tamina Pollack-Paris. Tamina is a Toronto native whose love of dance began at the age of 2. It was at that time that it was discovered she loved to perform for the camera. By the time she was 8, she had received full scholarships at Toronto’s Interplay School of Dance where she received training in Hip-Hop, Jazz, Irish, Ballet and Modern. After receiving her first professional job with the Toronto Jr. Raptors Dance Pak at the age of 9, she leaped into the professional world of dance and hasn’t looked back since.
Tamina’s career highlights include: Season 1 of So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Top 16, TV and movie appearances on American Idol, X-Factor, Glee, Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventures starring Ashley Tisdale, Disney’s Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2-the Final Jam starring the Jonas Brothers, Frenemies, Turn the Beat Around, Sorority Wars and Hellcats. She has appeared in commercials for Stride gum, Zantac, Bell Mobility, The Government of Ontario and Tourism, High School Musical 2 and America’s Best Dance Crew 2. Tamina has also worked with artists such as Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Big Sean, Rye Rye, Outasight, Victoria Duffield, Keshia Chante, Aleesia, Danny Fernandes and Anjulie.
Currently, Tamina plays the role of “Tiffany” in the new tween Family Channel drama called “The Next Step”
The Next Step on Facebook: Tamina aka Tiffany
Coming soon! www.thegirlsclub.ca
Find out what Tamina had to say in this week’s feature…
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Tamina: My first memories of dancing were being in diapers doing the “bogel” and “butterfly” to SWV’s “I’m so into you”. Lucky for me I have this memory recorded on tape by my wonderful mother. Even at 2 years old it was clear that I couldn’t get enough of the camera, lol.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Tamina: The first song I remember choreographing to was actually my mother’s single called “I need someone”. Even to this day I can remember the musicality of it. I remember giving my mother steps to perform on stage and showing her how to walk like a model (unfortunately at that age my walk was a bit crooked, I was about 6 years old at this time). Looking back, I’m so happy that a lot of my first dance moments were caught on film. It’s so great to see where you started because it’s a representation of the rawest and purest form of your talent, and whenever I feel lost, it always helps me to feel grounded again.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Tamina: As a choreography-based dancer, I know all too well of the fear that comes with freestyling. By letting go and not being afraid of looking crazy, I recently have been able to let my natural dance vocabulary shine freely. My best advice when it comes to freestyling is to not think. Don’t think about what you’re going to do next, because when you’re thinking you’re no longer dancing. Don’t do what you feel people want to see, do what you feel your body wants to express. Sometimes the moments we feel the most ridiculous, actually end up being the best because our guards are let down
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Tamina: To get into the zone, I need the music to speak to me. I need to feel connected to the song in some way or another whether it be the beat, the lyrics, or what the song stands for. I need to find something inspiring in order to create movements that will hopefully to inspire others.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Tamina: WoW, there are so many people that I will be forever grateful to for taking a chance on me. I honestly feel I’ve learned something from each and every choreographer or dancer that I’ve met and worked with throughout my career. I take these lessons and try to pass them on to the next generation of Toronto Dancers to keep the legacy alive.
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Tamina: All of them! They are all so talented, I can’t narrow it down to one because each choreographer has a unique quality about them that I can appreciate and learn from
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.)
Tamina: I’d have to say one of my favourite choreographer’s is Fatima Robinson. It’s funny because I have yet to work with her, but just through learning her choreography from an audition I was truly inspired. There is just something about her movement. It is the epitome of elegance, sophistication and simplicity. That is something that I really admire about her work.
Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?
Tamina: Toronto Dancers are definitely some of the most talented dancers I’ve seen! I think that one thing that we all need to remember is to always keep learning. Never be afraid to diversify and deepen our dance vocabulary, even if it means stepping out of our comfort zone. Although we have a lot of talent here, we can never be too comfortable because that my friends is what I call “Plateau”- ing . Always find something new to tackle, that’s what’s so great about dance because there is always something new we can work on and challenge ourselves with.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Tamina: Do it because you love it. Everything else will follow. When it is your time, you will know. Be patient, Be professional and work hard 🙂
Nikki: What was it like being on the first season of so you think you can dance and currently starring on Family channel’s the Next Step?
Tamina: Being on the first season of So You Think You Can Dance Canada was definitely a life changing experience for me. Although I was already a professional dancer before being on the show, it was my first taste what it felt like to be in the spotlight. Usually dancers are behind artists or one of many within a company. But this was the first time where everything came down to what you brought to that stage. Yes it was an empowering feeling, but it was also extremely difficult because it meant that all the pressure was on you to either sink or swim. All and all I am definitely thankful for the experience because not only did it make me stronger as a person and performer, but it also taught me the importance of diversification and the advantages it gives you as a working dancer.
Being on the next step:
Landing a lead role on Family Channel’s “The Next Step” was definitely a huge step in my career as a performer. This was my first role on a series where not only would I be dancing, but I would be acting as well. Acting was always something I wanted to tap into, but just as with every other field, you have to put in the work and training in order to even think of being noticed on a professional level. So when word of the show came out, I was thrilled because not only would it give me the opportunity to work on my acting, but I could also combine my love for dance. What is also so great about the show is that we have the best cast around. Every time we’re on set it just feels like another day in the dance studio, vibe-ing and creating new things. I love it! We just finished taping season 2 and it’s going to be an awesome season so stay tuned!
Nikki: Any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share with T.D.O.T.?
Tamina: During my time back from LA, I’ve decided to create a small, tight knit training program called “The Girls Club”. The focus of this program is to promote growth not only through training and passing the knowledge I’ve gained throughout my years in the industry, but also through a sisterhood of support and community.
The girls and I have been working very hard this past month, and we have teamed up with a speakeasy called “The Libertine” to put on our debut show called “La Libertine… For the Night” is happening This Thursday at 10pm.
It’s a new spin on a live show, which I’d prefer to think of as an “experience”. Changing what would be normally perceived as a restaurant, into a platform for infinite possibilities! The music is going to be poppin, and the food is to die for! Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this unforgettable night.
For more information please check our event page:
Presenting The Girls Club. Now you can finally sit with us!!
THANK YOU TAMINA FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE AND PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO
CHECK OUR SOME FOOTAGE OF TAMINA as Tiffany on “The Next Step”…..
Check out Tamina featured in an Episode of the hit TV show Glee…
Tamina and Joey perform a Hip Hop routine on SYTYCDC Season 1…