This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Jennie Pappas. Jennie began dancing at the age of two taking a mom and daughter ballet class in her hometown. She trained intensively at Elite Danceworx (Markham) in Russian classical ballet, jazz, tap, acro, contemporary and modern. One of her greatest accomplishments is working with Emmy nominated choreographers Mia Michaels and Stacey Tookey assisting them with choreography for So You Think You Can Dance Canada (CTV).
Jennie currently stars as “Chloe” on Family Channel’s hit TV series “The Next Step”, returning for its third season in Canada, and airing all over the world in countries like Australia, United States, Italy, Croatia and the United Kingdom. Jennie was thrilled to be a part of “TNS Live On Stage” an interactive, dance show which toured Nationwide this winter. In support of bullying prevention week, Jennie hosted Family Channel’s annual Stand UP! rally at select schools across Canada. Recently, Jennie had the opportunity to branch into a new show as a lead actress on Mission: 4Count (YTV/Tricon Films).
Find out what Jennie had to say in this week’s feature…
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Jennie: My very first dance class was a mom and daughter ballet class at the age of two. I remember wanting to go into the class on my own and being the only one in the class who didn’t start crying. I was always a very energetic kid. So being put in dance class, I was able to meet kids who were just as energetic as me!
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Jennie: I remember making up dances in the basement of my house to Spice Girls songs. I used to make up dance shows and make my family attend my Spice Girls dance show! I can also remember blasting a Britney Spears album on my boombox in my room and singing into my hair brush. Recently I’ve began to choreograph more professionally at several dance studios across the GTA.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Jennie: The best piece of advice I’ve ever received in dance was to believe in myself. I’ve adopted this philosophy in freestyle… If you believe in your movement and you are committed, people will watch you and understand you. You could be doing the simplest steps, but if you’re doing them with conviction, no one will tell you that you’re wrong. I’ll also bet that everyone’s eyes will be on you.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Jennie: My choreography process is usually very organic. I need the perfect song. Once I’ve found a piece of music that fits, my choreographic path makes itself. I’ve also learned that the piece will often never turn out exactly the way you want it to in your head. What works best for me is to be open to suggestions and options. Go with the flow!
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Jennie: My biggest influences are definitely my peers. Seeing dancers and artists in the Toronto dance industry is really something special. There are so many unique dancers and individuals in T.O. that the dance industry is ever evolving and pushes each artist to be evolving too. I also look up to my dance teacher, Dawn Rappitt. She was the first one to offer me the opportunities to choreograph and to learn from so many teachers from Toronto, Los Angeles and New York which really helped shape me into the dancer/choreographer I am today.
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Jennie: I absolutely love working with Bree Wasylenko. She is one of the hardest working people I know, and she really pushes herself to be great. I look up to and admire Bree very much. She is so versatile and is so passionate about whatever she is working on and she is able to spread that with whoever she is working with.
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.)
Jennie: I had the opportunity to assist Mia Michaels and Stacey Tookey during So You Think You Can Dance Canada for Seasons 2, 3 and 4. They are both so creative and artistic individuals. They were both able to push me to my limits and get the most out of the as an assistant. I was also able to flex some of my choreographic muscles and help create some movement with them. It was such an incredible experience and once I will learn from for the rest of my life.
Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?
Jennie: I believe that Toronto dancers are extremely hard working. Since there aren’t many big dance opportunities in Toronto, each dancer is hungry. It’s refreshing to walk into an audition room where everyone wants the chance to dance and show off their talents. It pushes each dancer to be their absolute best.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Jennie: As I mentioned before, the best piece of advice I’ve ever received was to believe in myself. Take every class, every opportunity, every chance to dance and complete them with conviction. If you believe in yourself, people will believe in you too. Also, remember that casting is subjective. On a different day, with different dancers, a different casting panel, the outcome could be completely different. Believe in what you do, you’ll do it!
Nikki: Any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share with T.D.O.T.?
Jennie: I am partnered with On The Floor (directed by Mitchell Jackson and Lisa Hupe) working on competitions and events, all in support in SickKids Hospital in Toronto. They are working hard to provide unique and fun opportunities and events to the SickKids Hospital like Game Nights, SickKids Prom and Karaoke parties.
THANK YOU JENNIE FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE AND PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO
WATCH JENNIE SHOW OFF HER SKILLS IN THIS SOLO…