This week’s Dancer/Choreographer feature goes to Sagine Semajuste, better known as ‘GG’ in the dance industry. Sagine was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada and began her dance training in ballet and modern. She was later introduced to hip-hop through Culture Shock Ottawa. However, it was her love for Musical Theatre that lead her to New York City, where she was accepted and graduated from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA).
As a professional dancer, Sagine earned her first movie credit in Disney’s “Frenemies”. She was also a ‘Soul Stone’ on the CTS TV series “God Rocks”. Having opened for various artists including SWV, Mya, Jason Derulo, Mario and Machel Montano; she has also danced for both American and Canadian artists, such as Janelle Monae, Marianas Trench (2013 MMVA’S), Massari, Kim Davis, Farahri and has been featured in many dance videos including “Gone” by Melanie Durrant, “Body Work” by Tegan and Sara and “All You Need” by Jacksoul (released after Haydain Neale’s untimely death).
She is also an up and coming actress who shortly after becoming full ACTRA, landed her first principal movie role, a principal role on CW’s “Backpackers” and a recurring role on Showcase’s “Lost Girl”; all within a few weeks of each other. Her TV Commercial credits include Lava Life, Get Cracking, Kinect, OB Tampons, OLG Mega Dice Lottery, Bell, Staples, Lean Cuisine, Gain, Nissan and Ford.
Her Musical Theatre credits include Hairspray, Dreamgirls, A Chorus Line and Guys & Dolls. She starred in “Joy In The Morning”, written and directed by Robin Givens, alongside Jazmin Lewis, the legendary Ms. Angela Winbush and Juno award winner Divine Brown. She also played the lead role in Ntozake Shange’s (For Colored Girls…playwright) theatrical work “The Photograph”.
As a print model, Sagine has done a National Print Campaign for TD Bank and Bud Lite Lime. As well as an advertising campaign for Paradigm ear-buds.
Off stage, Sagine loves to write and is currently involved in several different projects soon to be released later this year.
The Possibilities are Endless…
Bio Provided by Sagine
Find out what Sagine had to say in this week’s feature…
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Sagine: Ever since I could walk, I was dancing to Kompa (Haiti’s national music) with my Daddy, two stepping to Lionel Richie and grooving to MJ:)
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Sagine: You Bring Me Joy by Mary J. Blige 🙂
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Sagine: I’ve struggled with this myself a lot, still do at times. I would always say “I hate freestyling”. Anytime I knew I had to do it for an audition or in front of a class, I would tense up and try to avoid it at all cost. It’s a mental game and you have to rid yourself of all negative thoughts and just dance. It’s definitely a challenge but when you’re truly in the moment and feel connected, it’s an indescribable feeling.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Sagine: When I do choreograph, I need to be connected to the music 100%. My background is in Musical Theatre, so I also always need my pieces to have a message or tell a specific story.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Sagine: My biggest influences are individuals that personified the word ‘Entertainer’. Such as Josephine Baker, Eartha Kitt, Bob Fosse, Gene Kelly, Gregory Hines, Debbie Allen, Tina Turner, Michael and Janet Jackson.
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Sagine: I could never name just one. I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with many gifted Toronto choreographers. I thank them all for allowing me to be a part of their artistry and visions 🙂
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.)
Sagine: I recently work with Rhapsody James in Montreal for her Motivating Excellence program and it was honestly life changing. I was also blessed with this opportunity during a very difficult and confusing time in my life. I was left exposed and forced to deal with things right there in the room. She reminded me of the reasons why I started to dance, why I loved to dance and what was holding me back. Her passion and drive was/is infectious. The type of energy you want around you daily. I truly thank God for that experience and can’t wait for us to cross paths again.
Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?
Sagine: Toronto Dancers are always ready and willing to dedicate all of their time and efforts to any new project, show or company. They’re also very encouraging towards each other.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Sagine: I think it’s really important for Toronto dancers/artists to remember to be versatile, business oriented and to do the research. Plan out your career of choice. You can’t just dance. Discover your other skill sets and remember they are what sets you apart. You have to understand that you’re a brand and that you’re responsible for marketing yourself. It’s not always easy but it’s the way of today’s world. Lastly, but most importantly…be willing to take risks. The industry will demand a lot from you, you can’t allow fear to hinder your growth.