This week’s Dancer/Choreographer feature goes to Tea Haraga. Tea grew up in a small town Chilliwack, British Columbia dedicating her life to competitive dance from a young age. She competed and trained with an outstanding dance family, reaping awards and scholarships provincially, nationally and in the United States as a young dancer. Stepping her feet into the professional world, she quickly realized that the entertainment arts are her absolute passion… and her gypsy jet setting life took off! Her life so far has been full of adventure… artistic development… and an ever growing determination for success in her pursuits. Her colorful career has lead her to experience and work in commercial dancing, modelling, choreographing, photography, videography, styling, and artistic directing. Her recent endeavors involve ventures into the music industry… involving recording and creating a brand of herself as a musical performer, and her creative collection of artists close by her side.
A few of Tea`s Career Highlights include:
Nelly Furtado, Ke$ha, Disney`s Girl vs. Monster, Mariana`s Trench, Anjulie Alive Tour, Big Time Rush, Sucker Punch, So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Canadian Radio Music Awards, Toronto Fashion Week, Vancouver Fashion Week, Toronto`s Choreographers Ball, Samsung, Classified, Canada`s Wonderland Brock Zanrosso, Vancouver Nightlife Award Winner (House of La Douche), Maxim, Mario, International Salsa Festival, HMV.
Bio provided by Tea.
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Tea: I was 8 years old! My parents enrolled me in a local Dance Studio called Centre Stage. I started off doing Ballet and Jazz, and then as I got older I started getting more serious competitively with Dance 🙂
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Tea: I was fresh out of Highschool and thought I would try it out. I actually never thought choreographing would be a thing I would enjoy and pursue, but I quickly realized I had a natural comfort and passion in the art of creating movement… and began to pursue professional choreographing and artistic creating.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Tea: Learn how to soak in the music and environment quickly, to portray your personality effectively to the audience or judges (If this was in a workshop or audition scenario). I strongly believe in showing originality, musicality, and a strong emotional presence in free styling situations. Dancers who learn how to relax and have fun during a stressful audition or situation, are very enjoyable to watch… but also giving some real FIERCENESS (not relaxing too much ;))
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Tea: Honestly, I am someone who gets inspired from almost anything and anyone… and then from there, when I have a moment to sit in a studio (or sometimes on the subway/bedroom when I am in the mood :p) I start visually putting themes… with choreography… to stories… to music, and so on! Oh… and then the extravagant costumes and props I also attract myself to, haha. I feel like I am always creating and in that mind set everyday almost, especially because I am very consistently inspired in my life right now. Just give me a couple espressos and Ill come up with a production show for you LOL. My friends are very inspiring and creative too, which help a lot! We are always bouncing off ideas for shows, videos, etc.!
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Tea: Wow…. Im going to say I have A LOT! And I feel like throughout my whole life it is ever changing who is more influencing and inspiring to me. I have bounced around to different cities across North America for years now, so my surrounding dance peers are always changing… but some icons that are always catching my eye in the “Industry” are… Mia Michaels, Ian Eastwood, Wade Robson, ugh! I just have so many that I love! In Toronto… Scott Fordham was one of the first Choreographers that was very influential in my career for sure.
Nikki: What made you decide to move to Toronto?
Tea: Well, I heard it just was filled with a different and more explosive dance/art culture… more opportunities… just more everything really! I am from a very small town in British Columbia so it was time for me to get outta there! I thought Toronto would help me expand my career and let me indulge in my inspirations, which it has greatly! I LOVE TORONTO!
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Tea: This is probably biased, but my best friend/partner Ross Wirtanen is someone who I thoroughly experience pure joy working with currently. We collaborate together… we think too much a like… and we have a good balance of being serious and getting work done, to having some laughs too! (Ummm sometimes too many laughs, but we somehow turn our jokes into real choreography most of the time?! Haha… if you’ve seen our work, you will understand)
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.)
Tea: I love working with Musicians. I have had so much joy on artist development projects… where I have had the opportunity to help create the visual experience for a signed Musician. Usually that includes choreography for the Live shows or music videos… styling and overall appearance of the artist… production input for future endeavors into their project, and so on! Just pretty much coming up with ideas and creating for artists to develop popularity in the indie or pop culture involved world 🙂
Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?
Tea: I fully recognized the real HUNGER the Toronto Dancers possess when I first got here. People want to pursue an adventure into the theatre/live world… or open a studio… or just become a unicorn… they make it happen here! Like almost ASAP! Its so fast pace and go go go… which I really appreciate and admire! I LOOOOOOVEEEE Toronto dancers!!! So much talent and beauty!!!
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Tea: Just be real…. be yourself… don’t be afraid to take chances and make mistakes! Be special… be a NICE and GENEROUS person… and ALWAYS dream big and don’t look back. Only look up to and take advice from happy dancers/choreographers…and people who are on the way to obtain success or who ARE successful in your eyes! Don’t listen to people who have failed and are negative, they clearly didn’t do the right things to achieve their goals. Look at who you surround yourself with…. and enjoy the struggle! 🙂
Nikki: Any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share with the T.D.O.T. network?
Tea: YES! 🙂 I am co directing/starring in a crazy messed up/fantastical show called Marina Antoinette! It is going to be a one night only, Marie Antoinette themed experience… filled with blood, guts, sex, and drama. Live music… an incredibly talented cast of dancers, cake, liquor, actors, aerialists, ugh… just a whole lot of everything haha! We cant wait to put this on for the community, it will be a good time! November 3rd at the Mod Club!
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