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ANDREW KYRZYK

9 Apr

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Andrew Kyrzyk.  Born and raised in Winnipeg, Canada, Andrew  has been a part of the entertainment industry since the age of 5. He is an award winning dancer who has extensively trained both competitively and professionally in ballet, contemporary, jazz, modern, hip hop, jazz funk, tap, ballroom and musical theatre. Andrew has won numerous awards in Canada and the United States. He has danced for artists such as Shawn Mendes, Deborah Cox, Capital Cities & Serena Ryder and has also danced in numerous commercials, industrials, gala events, & charity functions for Cineplex, MAC Cosmetics, Sephora, L’Oréal, Pan Am Games, & World Pride to name a few. You can see Andrew on TV Networks such as Family Channel, YTV, Disney, FX, STARZ, & Space TV. Although film is his forté, he never stays off the stage for too long. He’s danced in musicals such as Dance Legends, Cats, & “Dancer” a musical choreographed by Stacey Tookey. Most recently, Andrew was a lead dancer in Disney’s ZOMBIES which recently aired on the Disney Channel. Alongside his dance career he has begun his journey as a choreographer. He has choreographed pieces for Team Canada, various music videos as well as choreographed award winning competitive routines. Andrew is grateful to have been the associate choreographer of the first two seasons of the Family & Disney Channel show “Backstage” alongside JJ Moore. He loves to share his passion and knowledge with fellow dancers and students and is continuously thriving for new experiences.

Bio provided by Andrew

 

 

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Facebook: Andrew Kyrzyk
Instagram: @princekyrzyk

 

Check out what Andrew had to say in this week’s shout out…

Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?

Andrew: I used to watch myself dance in the reflection of my oven at home. After witnessing how much I enjoyed doing this, my parents put me in musical theatre classes at age 5. This is when my love for dance truly began.

 

Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)

Andrew: The first song that comes to mind is “Hit Me Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears. I owned all of her concert tours on DVD (or maybe VHS at that point) and I would watch them over and over until I learned all the moves. I would get my inspiration to choreograph from the moves that I saw on those tours.

 

Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?

Andrew: My best advice for free styling in an authentic way is to allow the music to move your body. The second you notice any thought process happening prior to the movement, slow down, take a few deep breaths and start again. By practicing this, the result will be movement that is authentic and true to YOU. Like any muscle, your brain also has to be trained. If you don’t break old habits, they will continue to strengthen. On a separate note, if you are free styling for an audition or for a job, do your research so you know what is being asked of you. In this case, the movement may not be authentic to YOU, but remember, it is a JOB. That being said, when it comes to free styling don’t be hard on yourself, it’s just dance!

 

Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?

Andrew: This one really depends on if I’m choreographing for myself or for someone else. If I am choreographing simply for me, it is typically because I feel a deep connection to a piece of music and need to create something out of what I feel. In this case, I am already in the zone prior to starting. If I am hired to choreograph for someone/something else, I also find inspiration in the music first. Next, if my favourite tie-dye shirt isn’t already on, I put it on. Then, I will put on my headphones & I usually find myself staring at a point in space, visualizing the movement happening in and around me. From this place, I start to set the movement.

 

Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?

Andrew: Brian Friedman, Yanis Marshall, Blake McGrath, Travis Wall, Cora Kozaris & Ross Wirtanen.

 

Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?

Andrew: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Caroline Torti & Bree Wasylenko because I feel that they are both very efficient, a pleasure to work with & such lovely people. I’ve also enjoyed working with Steph Rutherford, Scott Fordham & Jeff Dimitriou. They have all taught me a lot about professionalism, artistry & work ethic.

 

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.)

Andrew: Jade Whitney. Whether I am dancing her choreography, dancing to one of her songs, or collaborating with her, I always grow from the experience & learn a ton. I think she has so much to offer & I’m grateful to work with & learn from her often. She is a true artist.

 

Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?

Andrew: I believe that Toronto dancers possess hunger & drive. Since we don’t live in Los Angeles and have as many opportunities, when the opportunities do come to Toronto, the dancers fight extra hard to be seen, book the job & deliver.

 

Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?

Andrew: First thing I would say is that authenticity is key. I think it’s very important to stay true to yourself while being open to new experiences. Don’t peg yourself as a certain type of dancer right off the bat (contemporary, hip hop, etc). The more styles you can do, the more versatile you are, the more jobs you will book. Find a mentor. Find someone who you can assist/work under; someone who can show you the ropes. This will help you get connected & see the ins and outs of the industry. Lastly, remember that professionalism & being a good person are always most important!

 

Nikki: Any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share with T.D.O.T. ?

Andrew: Although it is not upcoming, I would love to promote Disney’s ZOMBIES which recently aired on the Disney Channel. It is a brand new Disney Channel Original Movie that I had the privilege to be a lead dancer in as well as the dance double for the lead character, Zed. It’s a movie musical about being authentic & true to who you are, just like I spoke a lot about in this interview. Hope you enjoy!

THANK YOU ANDREW FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO

CHECK OUT ANDREW’S REEL

 

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HAYLEY PAONE

12 Mar

It’s always nice to catch up with past features and see what they have been up to since we last featured them. This week we caught up with Hayley Paone, who was first featured in 2012. 6 years have gone by let’s see what this talented Dancer/Choreographer has been up to.

Honesty and a true love for the art form have always guided Hayley on the right path in her professional dance career. Paone sticking to her roots has established a place for her craft in her local district as Artistic Director and Owner of iNhayle Dance Company, where she provides a unique dance education for young artists in a nurturing company tone environment. Reaching a wider scale, she is a sought-after adjudicator and teacher across Canada. Hayley is a faculty member for Dance Attack Canada”, “The Audience Dance Conventionsand a mentor and judge for Young Creators Challenge

Hayley shares her unconventional and affective teaching methods working with many sought after professional dancers to help them cultivate in the industry. Her sister Company iNproductions Choreography & Entertainmentprovides casting and performance opportunities as well as mentoring for pre-professional & professional artists from the industry.

Paones work has been showcased at the Toronto Fringe Festival, Choreographers Ball, Dance Attacks Student Expo & VIP showcase and many more.

Hayley will be directing the next iNproductions show which will be presented in the fall of 2018 featuring talented Choreographers and Core Cast members. She is currently a faculty member teaching Contemporary at the world-famous dance Centre “The Millenium Dance Complex” new to the Toronto community. Hayley is known for her raw movement quality and intention-based approach specializing in contemporary and improvisation. She is fueled to create from life experiences and has been able to restate many of these moments with the dancers she works with today.

Bio provided by Hayley.

HAYLEY 2

Instagram @hayleypaone

hayleypaone.dance@gmail.com

Twitter : @HayleyPaone

 iNhayle Dance Company info 

www.inhayle.com

Twitter @iNhayle  

Instagram @inhayledancecompany

Facebook – iNhayleDance

www.inhayle.com 

Checkout what Hayley’s been up to…

Nikki: Name 1 of your biggest accomplishments in 2017?

Hayley: I would have to say hands down becoming a Faculty member at the World Famous dance Centre “Millenium Dance Complex Toronto” I have always wanted to teach a class at the facility in Los Angeles so as soon as I saw the opportunity arise in Toronto I made that a goal for myself to share my art and teaching with those who are seeking a professional career in dance. I feel so grateful and have no words to express how lucky I am to teach a weekly contemporary class every Tuesday at MDC Toronto and be surrounded by so many talented artists.

Another accomplishment I am very proud of is the launch of my newest company “iNproductions CHOREOGRAPHY AND ENTERTAINMENT”. I just directed a collaborative project called iNtegrated PARTS which was a collection of Local Choreographers and Dancers showcasing their work in Hamilton. Our next Show will be June 24th in Hamilton, but we will be doing one in Toronto as well details will be announced soon so I’m excited about it!

 

Nikki: What is the biggest lesson you have learned as a Dancer/Choreographer since we last featured you?

Hayley:  I reread my last feature because I was curious to see how I’ve evolved and if the same things drive me and influence my work…. I believe for me the greatest lesson I’ve learnt has less to do about dance and more to do about Character and integrity. In our industry loyalty is not an easy thing to come by…. I’ve realized that just because it’s important to me it doesn’t mean it is to others.   My beliefs and how I treat others and what I would do in a situation is not necessarily what I should expect from other people. When it comes down to it I’ve learned that I need to put myself first because its naturally part of who I am to put others ahead of me.  If you don’t look out for yourself no one else will.

 

Nikki: What sort of challenges did you face transitioning from Dancer/Choreographer to producer and Dance company/studio owner?

Hayley: The biggest challenge for me was learning the business side of it all. I am an artist at heart and I’m extremely passionate and stubborn about my work so for me a huge learning curve was to take my emotions out of certain situations and start to look at it in black and white.

I still have trouble with this and I think I always will as I’m very emotional when it comes to my craft. The danger is I care so deeply that it fogs up my clear judgment and that can get in the way of business decisions and how things operate.

As an Entrepreneur I have made a lot of sacrifices in my life just to make everything work and be successful. I’m very lucky for the support I have from all of my friends and family and mentors in the industry. I’ve learnt part of being a business owner and being the boss is understanding that a lot of the time it takes number one priority and you have to be so in love with what you do and be ok with that. I’m always trying to find a balance but it’s a constant battle.

 

Nikki: Being where you are now in your Dance career what advice do you have for the next generation of Dancers/Choreographers?

Hayley: Never change who you are at the core for anyone or for anything. It will always come back to bite you in the ass. A true artist will never be happy or satisfied by compromising or caving so stick to your guns. I also think it’s so important be ok with people not liking or loving something you do. If you love it that’s what should matter the most. This may be common sense but “PUT THE WORK IN” nothing will come to you just because you think you’re talented or deserving of it …. you must remember there is always someone working harder than you who’s also talented. The beauty is NO ONE is going to do it like you, so stay authentic and honest in whatever you put out there. Do not compare yourself to others and Focus on what you want.

 

Nikki: Are there any upcoming projects, shows or classes for 2018 you would like to share/promote to the T.D.O.T. network?

Hayley: iNproductions Events to come…

Professional Development Workshop – Date TBA

 Summer Program and Production to follow in the Fall 2018- Date TBA

iNtegrated PARTS Show

June 24th at the Zoetic Theatre (Submission Dates and Details will be released soon)

Our team @inproductions1 is so excited to announce our newest project iNtegrated PARTS. 

Twitter: @iNproductions01

 On June 24th we will present a one hour showcase held at The Zoetic Theatre revealing both established and aspiring Choreographers Work as well as special guest performances. If you are looking for more exposure and simply want to share ART with the community this is for you! We welcome all freelance choreographers who would like to share work in a professional setting and non- competitive vibe. This event is open to all genres. 

OUR GOAL: The Show is open to the public we want to affect everyday people with the art we present on stage// We are looking for RAW, HONEST & UNIQUE WORK paired with a distinctive style and vibe in music selection and concept.  For Submission Details, show info/breakdown & perks please email our Creative Team: inhayleinproductions@gmail.com

For more details about these events and to register please email inhayleinproductions@gmail.com 

Catch Hayley Paone EVERY TUESDAY NIGHT Teaching Contemporary from 6PM-7PM at Millenium Dance Complex Toronto.

THANK YOU HAYLEY FOR GIVING US AN UPDATE ON WHAT YOU’VE BEEN UP TO XOXO

HAYLEY 1iNhayle Showcase stillHAYLEY 3inproductions_screen_logo (1)iNtegrated PARTS

 

AMY WRIGHT

5 Feb

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Amy Wright.  

Since her professional beginning in 1995 Amy Wright has become one of Canada’s most in demand Choreographers.  Her work includes feature films, movies of the week, television series, reality TV, commercials and stage musicals, including Canada’s prestigious SHAW FESTIVAL. Amy is the Casting Director, Choreographer and a Producer for the sensational television series The Next Step watched by millions around the world.

Amy Wright makes her career by choreographing and casting projects viewed by International audiences. Highlights include season one of So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Crimson Peak with Tom Hiddleston, directed by Guillermo Del Toro (Feature Film), Emmy and Golden Globe winner Grey Gardens (HBO) with stars Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, and Canada’s prestigious SHAW FESTIVAL. 

Over the years, Amy has been fortunate to work with some of the hottest stars in the business: Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Hedley, LeAnn Rimes, Will Ferrell, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Mia Wasikowska, Jason Priestly, Colin Farrell, Molly Shannon, Alyssa Milano, Lauren Holly, Colin Mochrie, Hilary Duff and a movie produced by Britney Spears.  Amy has choreographed eleven Academy Award Winners/Nominees:  Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Sissy Spacek, Richard Dreyfuss, Peter O’Toole, Joan Plowright, Jeremy Irons, Virginia Madsen, Helen Mirren, Ellen Page and Jessica Lange!

With an eye always open to new talent, Amy has cast hundreds of dancers for a variety of projects ranging from television’s The Next Step, to Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (Feature Film) and the American Girl movie-of-the-week Isabelle Dances Into the Spotlight.  She loves watching young talent shine while adjudicating across Canada and teaching dancers of all ages at various workshops and conventions. 

Bio provided by Amy.

 

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Instagram: @amywrightdance
Facebook page: Amy Wright
 
Check out what Amy had to say in this week’s feature…

 

Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?

Amy: I started dance training when I was about 3 or 4 years old with Dot Blakeley Dance Studio in Simcoe, Ontario. Dot is the mother of Dawn Lupien who now owns and runs Canadian Dance Company with her husband Allain and all of their children. At DBDS I took baby ballet.  My parents tell me that sometimes loved it and sometimes I hid in the closet and didnt want to go! I am sure happy that my parents persevered and took me to class!  

 

Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory) 

Amy: Actually, when I was super young, my very first dances were freestyle around my living room and in the school talent show.  The very first song I remember making up moves to was “Birthday” by The Beatles and I performed that solo in my grade one talent show.  The choreography was mainly head banging and pumps turns.   

In high school I started choreographing cheerleading routines for my team.   At that time I thought I was just making moves up with my friends but since then I have learned how valuable that time was for me. Cheerleading choreography reflects the strengths of the team while using patterns, inventive spacing and transitions and use of levels. 

Professionally, the first time I was hired as a choreographer was for the musical CRAZY FOR YOU which would have been the first time someone paid me! And the song would have been I GOT RHYTHM.   Following that a Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercial with…cheerleaders!  And then it grows from there.

 

Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?

Amy: Don’t over do it – throwing every move in doesn’t make sense and you can get lost and just look like a crazy dancer. Take your time, breathe, and if something feels nice, indulge in the movement. Try to let the music affect you and share how IT makes you move. Practise by dancing in in your bedroom or a studio alone to every style of music from Classical to Rock to EDM so that your movement is a reflection of the music.

 

Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?

Amy: Most often making up dances is my dream job so I am always into it. BUT, on THE NEXT STEP there are SOOOO many dances in one season that there is that one dance every year that feels IMPOSSIBLE to create. Usually after weeks of rehearsal and shooting and the writers add one more dance in to a script and my brain is blown. Luckily on TNS I have an amazing associate – Melissa JJ Moore, Rachel Ross, Damien Lavergne, and Tanya Karn have all filled the role – and they help. Plus the dancers are a dream and are ALWAYS inspiring. The Next Step averages 3-4 dances/dance moments per episode so in a season where we are shooting 26 episodes that is about 75-100 dances!

 

Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?

Amy: I grew up watching every dance film that I could. I was influenced by Fred and Ginger, Gene Kelly, Bob Fosse, Busby Berkeley, Jerome Robbins. It was when I was in theatre school I met Susan Stroman who is a big inspiration for me. And now I am in love with the way Travis Wall tells a story. I am truly inspired by story telling through movement.

 

Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?

Amy: On THE NEXT STEP some of the cast are now choreographing which is super cool. I love hiring them and giving their creativity that little nudge. We also hire real dance studios to perform in our “competitive” shows/episodes. Greater Toronto dance studios like Canadian Dance Company, Joanne Chapman School of Dance, Elite DanceWorx and Rythum Plus are all super inspiring when it comes to choreography.

 

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.)

Amy: My favorite artists are truly TNS cast. They are beyond brilliant and are a DREAM to work with. They are unstoppable. I have loved working with Drew Barrymore, Jessica Lange and Woody Harrelson — OH and let’s not forget TOM HIDDLESTON!!! He was lovely to dance with, truly lovely and he didn’t stop till it was perfect.

 

Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?

Amy: Toronto dancers possess perseverance and a kindness towards community.

 

 

Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?

Amy: Don’t stop training. Train with as many different choreographers and in as many different styles as possible. Allow yourself to make mistakes in class and grow from them! STOP caring so much about being in an IG class video. You can go to class and not be the best and you will actually become better for it. Dancers don’t stop learning so always persevere and push beyond. AND take other classes like acting and singing to make yourself even more employable.

 
 

Nikki: Any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share with T.D.O.T. ?

Amy: I have recently been working on KILLJOYS (Syfy Network) and ANNE with an E (CBC and Netflix) which will likely both air a year from now!  That’s the joy of television , everything  takes so long before airing.  THE NEXT STEP Season 6, that we shot in summer 2017, will air this spring and it might very well become my favourite season.    

For people wanting to audition and know what I am up to, please keep your eyes on my Instagram and Facebook pages for info on upcoming auditions and workshops. I love to see as many dancers as I can when I am hiring so I do like to share information as often as possible.

 

 

THANK YOU AMY FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE AND PASSION WITH T.D.O.T.  XO

CHECK OUT AMY’S DEMO REEL

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AKIRA UCHIDA

2 May

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Akira Uchida.  

The dance world is no stranger to the skill and artistry of Akira Uchida. Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Mr. Uchida made the move to Toronto at the young age of 18 and has since pursued a successful career as a dancer and choreographer. He is trained extensively in jazz, hip hop, contemporary, lyrical and ballet, and has numerous credits both commercially and theatrically. Mr. Uchida’s film and television credits include programs such as Canada’s Got Talent, Degrassi, The Next Star, The Strain, Over the Rainbow and Canada’s Smartest Person. He can be seen dancing in the Much Music promotional video for Sam Smith’s hit track “Stay With Me,” as well as in the Lifetime film “My Daughter Must Live.” Mr. Uchida’s credits also include multiple music videos for a-list artists such as Dragonette, Young Avz and Blake McGrath. He danced for the Canadian Opera Company in their rendition of “Don Quichotte” at the Four Seasons Centre. He recently worked with choreographer Stacey Tookey in a workshop for an upcoming musical called “Dancer”. As a choreographer, his credits include music videos for artists such as Lights, The Lovelocks and Tyler Shaw. In 2015, he was awarded the Audience Choice Award at the emerging choreographer’s showcase “Fresh Blood,” hosted by the Chimera Project. In the summer of 2016, Mr. Uchida was the choreographer for the upcoming indie film “Jazz Hands”, which is set to be released in 2017.  He was most recently chosen to present work as a finalist at the prestigious Capezio Ace Awards in NYC. He has taught at large scale conventions and workshops such as JUMP Dance Convention, 24 Seven Dance Convention and Canadian Dance Expo. Akira’s creativity as a choreographer is complimented by his passion for teaching. He continues to train, teach and choreograph through the Grand Toronto Area and his students have gone on to win numerous awards at various conventions and competitions. Every day, Akira Uchida continues to thrive and leave his mark on the world as a passionate, driven and innovative young artist.

Bio provided by Akira

Akira Uchida

Instagram: @akirauchida
Facebook page: @akirauchidachoreo
Twitter: @akirabuchida
 
Check out what Akira had to say in this week’s feature…
 

Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?

Akira: I started dancing at the age of three. My mom enrolled me in dance classes to develop fundamental coordination in preparation for hockey, of which the age of enrolment wasn’t until two years later. I loved dance so much that I stuck with it and never ended up in sports.

 

Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)

Akira: I’m not too sure if I can pinpoint the first song I ever choreographed to as I started exploring choreography at a very young age, purely for fun at the time. Me and my brother (Keanu Uchida) would make up dances and performances as kids, so I think it was always something we liked to do before we even knew how. I attended a performing arts high school in Ottawa where I lead an extracurricular dance program for middle school students. That was probably the first time I’ve choreographed on a larger scale.

 

Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?

Akira: I think it’s extremely important to know your body and become familiar with your movement in a safe space; exploring dance free of judgment and apart from other dance influences. I believe that there is always something to learn from other dancers, but improvisation can become recycled if one never comes to appreciate and understand their own body. Try not to overthink and let the movement come spontaneously and authentically. I’ve been fortunate enough to live alone for most of my time in Toronto – I’m always playing music, moving my body in new and bizarre ways, and have made discoveries that I probably wouldn’t have found with others. I do think it’s important to specify this was my unique path to creativity. What has worked for me may not be relevant to another dancer. That said, getting together with other dancers to create and share is more than often an awakening experience.

 

Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?

Akira: I usually engage in some sort of warm-up, varying in intensity depending on the day and how I’m feeling. This gets the energy and heat flowing and helps me mentally transition into the creation process. I enjoy listening to music that has recently inspired me and will occasionally shift into lapses of improvisation to further the warm-up. Once I feel prepared and awakened, I buckle down and begin to workshop choreography to my song of choice.

 

Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?

Akira: Over the years, I think Teddy Forance and Dee Caspary have been my biggest influences. They both have incredibly unique ways of moving their bodies and connecting steps. I’ve always been drawn toward the fluidity in their choreography. It takes a significant amount of body awareness to connect movement so seamlessly and to adopt beyond-human dance qualities as they do with such passion and intent. Dee’s movement sits in the body in a completely different way than any other choreography I’ve ever done. His classes are always extremely mentally challenging, mainly because the movement pathways are so far from instinctual. However, when properly executed, his choreography gives you a feeling of accomplishment and exhilaration like no other. Teddy has always blown me away with the creative shapes, transitions and musical interpretations in his choreography. Watching him perform his own choreography is truly a unique experience.

 

Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?

Akira: I always love working with Bree Wasylenko and Caroline Torti of Collective Elite. You can always count on their rehearsal process to be efficient and organized. They are also extremely professional, talented and all-around great people, so working with them has only ever been a wonderful experience! I had the pleasure of working with them on a short dance film they choreographed and artistically directed called “Ruin”. It is a stunning piece of work featuring Jordan Clark, Justin Lopes, Devon Brown, Andrew Kyrzyk, Zenon Zubyk and myself. The full video is posted on Collective Elite’s Youtube channel.

 

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.)

Akira: One of my favourite artists to work with is Sydney McManus. She is currently in Montreal working with Rubberband Dance and consequently hasn’t been involved in my recent projects… nevertheless she is an incredible mover. Her deep understanding of body is apparent, as is the phenomenal range of texture in her movement. She always brings a positive attitude to the rehearsal process and her willingness to accept any challenge thrown at her is admirable and exemplary for any dancer looking to achieve high artistry.

 

Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?

Akira: I believe Toronto dancers are extremely versatile. You can often find Toronto dancers who are able to work and audition in many genres and subdivisions of work within the dance community. I think this is so wonderful and I hope this convention of versatility continues to thrive in the Toronto dance scene as I’m a firm believer that proficiency in each style of dance benefits all the others. However, I do believe Toronto dancers could hold training in the fundamentals of each respective dance style to a higher value. Don’t get me wrong – there is so much to be learned from taking different combination classes from a multitude of teachers! That being said, if you aren’t taking the time to learn the foundation of each dance style, you are likely to be missing out on a vast range of important knowledge in which resides the key to unlocking your true potential as an artist.

 

Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?

Akira: I would firstly stress the importance upholding a strict training regime. Though job opportunities can be few and far between and vary in frequency over the year, training will always ensure that you’re prepared when the right opportunity comes your way. I believe that it is important to inform yourself about the community, its members and contributors. Find out which dancers and choreographers are working in areas that feed your interests, go see as many performances as possible and constantly search for artists that you want to be surrounded with. A passionate, driven, yet humble mindset paired with the ability to seize opportunities as they present themselves will take you just about anywhere you’re looking to go!

 

Nikki: Are there any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share/promote to the T.D.O.T. network?

Akira: I just finished shooting a choreography video that is very special to me. The piece explores the mental states I consecutively experience as a choreographer during my creative process. I will be releasing the video sometime in the next month or so… The dancers featured in the video are Kelly Shaw, Amanda Donato, Chantelle Good, Paulina Macias, Aysia Ianiero, Dedra McDermott and Ashley Coulson. Stay tuned and be sure to check out my Facebook page/Youtube channel for the release!

 

THANK YOU AKIRA FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE AND PASSION WITH T.D.O.T.  XO

CHECK OUT SOME FOOTAGE AND CHOREOGRAPHY FROM AKIRA

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VICTORIA MEHAFFEY

14 Mar

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer feature goes out to Victoria Mehaffey aka Tori.

Victoria (Tori) Mehaffey is an emerging creator and dance artist from the city of Toronto with a BFA diploma from Ryerson University’s Dance Performance Program. She is the 2014 recipient of the Ryerson Theatre School’s Dance Performance Award and the Lawrence Gradus Choreographic Scholarship. This young artist was a nominee for the 2016 Dora Awards, Outstanding Female Performance in Dance, for Gadfly’s original creation – B8NUAR.

Tori Mehaffey currently performs for Toronto based dance companies; Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, Gadfly & ProArteDanza. She has/performs for artists such as James Kudelka, Laurence Lemieux, Roberto Campanella, Robert Glumbek, Hanna Kiel and co-artistic directors of Gadfly – Apolonia Valesquez and Ofilio Sinbadhinho. She has had the opportunity to perform original works by artists such as Guillaume Cote, co-artistic directors of MADBOOTS DANCE – Jonathan Campbell and Austin Diaz, Johannes Wieland, Victor Quijada and Bryan Arias.

With an interest in creating her own visions – Tori has most recently been in the stages of creative process to discover new ways of approaching physicality. Tori has had the opportunity to explore/showcase material with; ProArteDanza’s 2016 Apprenticeship Program, Canada’s Ballet Jorgen 2016 Movement Research Program, Ryerson University’s 2015 Emerging Artist Choreographic Lab Series, and The National Ballet of Canada’s 2015 Choreographic Workshop. Her interest in researching movement has lead her to study at places such as ImPulstanz, Vienna; Springboard Danse, Montreal; Henny Jurriens Foundation, Amsterdam; and RUBBERBANDance Group Intensives, Quebec. Tori is currently involved in the re-visit of James Kudelka’s “Love, Sex & Brahms” – with Coleman Lemiuex & Compagnie and is also in the process of creating a full length work on the second year students of Ryerson University’s Dance Performance Program.

 

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Follow Victoria on Instagram: @torimehaffey

on Facebook: Tori Mehaffey

 

Check out what Tori had to say in this week’s feature…

Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?

Victoria: I have been dancing since I was in diapers. My mother created her own dance studio in Markham, Ontario when I was about 2 years old. For as long as I can remember – I was either in the studio dancing or at home making up dances and recording them with my big sister, Becca.

 

Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)

Victoria: The first song that I remember choreographing to was “Eyes On Fire Remix” by Blue Foundation. A lot of people will recognize the original version of the song from the first “Twilight” movie soundtrack! It was a solo I had created when I was about 13/14 years old for an emerging artist event in Toronto – part of FRESH Dance Intensive! It is interesting to think about what type of music moves me choreographically now versus what moved me then. 

 

Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?

Victoria: I am personally still in the midst of developing my own artistic voice within free-styling – however, the greatest piece of advice I could give would be to TAKE RISKS and TELL A STORY. The beautiful thing is that the tool box is bottomless when it comes to free-styling. The more you play with different textures and qualities of movement – the greater your personal vocabulary becomes and the more you learn to understand your instrument. You will never know the full potential of your body if you do not allow it to take on different ways of being. 

Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?

Victoria: To get into the zone to choreograph – I simply listen to the music. I let the music help inform me. What does it make me feel? What does it make it want to say? What visions come into my mind when I sit and pay attention? 

 

Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?

Victoria: I would have to say my biggest influences in the dance industry are:  

  1. The incredible Artist Anne Plamondon. Watching her dance is unlike anything I have ever experienced. She is such a powerful force to witness on stage and also to be present with in a studio setting. I had the privilege to learn from her at previous RUBBERBANDance Group summer programs – her intensity and passion for movement is undeniable. It was an inspiring experience to be able to learn from her and see her research her own instrument. She inspires me to continue researching the potential of my own body. 
  1. The amazing performer/creator Bryan Arias. The things this artist is capable of doing with is body is astounding. Having the privilege to see him perform quite a number of times, see work he has personally created and having worked with him at Springboard Danse Montreal – this man is anything but ordinary. He inspires me to continuously investigate different ways of moving. 

 

Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?

Victoria: I enjoy working with all of the Toronto choreographers I have the opportunity to work with – because each individual helps me to reach my potential as an artist in very different ways. Each choreographer offers me an experience that allows my voice as an artist to grow in more directions than one. 

 

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.)

Victoria: One of my favourite artists to work with is the renowned Evelyn Hart. This woman’s passion, dedication, energy and commitment to story telling is truly sensational to witness. Her ability to embody an emotion and make a fictional situation turn into a reality is exceptionally moving.  I admire her love for this art form – it inspires me to always believe in my love for it too. 

 

Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?

Victoria: I believe every dancer has their own personal unique quality to offer. I also believe that there are common qualities artists possess which coincide with what stage of their career they are at or what type of training they are involved in. For instance – the more experienced contemporary Toronto artists I have the privilege of working with are all self-assured, solution-oriented, and are highly in tune with connecting to another’s body. However, within these common qualities – each artist has their own personal set of qualities that they bring to the table – making them unique and different from the artist beside them. 

 

Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?

Victoria: My advice for emerging dancers and choreographers in Toronto is to never stop discovering new ways of training BOTH your mind and body. There is always information to be learned – no matter what stage of your career you are at. So go to workshops of many natures, take classes, do things that inspire your body to research new pathways, network with the wise and the experienced, ask questions and don’t be afraid to express who you are and what you want. 

 

Nikki: Are there any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share/promote to the T.D.O.T. network?

Victoria: A Few Events Coming Up To Check Out:

1. March 16th to 19th – Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie Presents; “Love, Sex & Brahms” – an original work by James Kudelka at The Betty Oliphant Theatre (Tickets/Times available @ www.colemanlemieux.com)

2. March 10th to March 19th – Ryerson University’s School of Performance Presents- “Choreographic Works 2017” – (Box Office Details @ performanceinfo@ryerson.ca OR 416-979-5118)

3. March 11th to 24th – National Ballet of Canada Presents world premiere of “Pinocchio” at The Four Seasons Centre (Tickets Available @ – https://national.ballet.ca/Productions/2016-17-Season/Pinocchio)

4. March 17th  – “Lost is Found presents: Chemistry” – created by Nigel Edwards – an exciting and inclusive dance event for artists of all genres (7:30pm @ Dancemakers – $10.00 Entry Fee)

5. March 14, 16, 21 – Modern contemporary class with the incredible Johanna Bergfelt (10:15am @ CCDT)

6. March 25th – “8 Works” – A mixed program showcasing the artistry of the 2016 Ryerson dance graduates – 8:00pm at Pia Bouman (Ticket Reservations: irenaponizova@hotmail.com)

7. April 1st – “April Fools; A multidisciplinary evening of performance art in the making” – 7:30pm at the Alumnae Theatre (Purchase Tickets at Door

THANK YOU VICTORIA FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE & PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO

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CHRIS CLARKE

10 Jan

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer feature goes out to Chris Clarke.

Chris has 12 years experience as a Choreographer. Chris is the Choreographer and Artistic Director for Nexx Level Dance & Theatre Entertainment. Chris has experience as a teacher and choreographer in many competitive studios in the GTA and he has also been a judge at several competitions. 

Chris runs a successful dance and theatre company that continues to be the doorway for a large percentage of dancers to walk into Toronto’s dance industry and become stage ready for the world of dance. 

He specializes in performance training, technique building, and combines theatrics with execution. Chris has a unique brand of creative direction and concepts, while harnessing individuality and dancer development. 

chris-clarke

Nexx Level on Facebook

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@clarkechris1983

@chrisclarkechoreography

Check out what Chris had to say in this week’s feature…

Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?

Chris: I started dancing when I first saw Janet Jacksons “IF” on an episode of Much Music’s show called Xtendamix hosted by Master T. I was 10 at the time.

 

Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)

Chris: Of Course I do, it was “More Money More Problems” by Puff Daddy feat Mase and Notorious B.I.G for Cawthra Live, which was put on at our school Cawthra Park School of The Arts.

Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?

Chris: Don’t think just obey the music and let it come. Every freestyle is different because it’s about what the song is trying to say or how it makes you feel.

Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?

Chris: It takes the right frame of mind and the right song; I tend to choreograph on the spot so the song choice plays a large role in what I create or how much I feel like creating.

Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?

Chris: I will say that I wanted to name 3 biggest ones but I have to have 5 cause I can’t leave any of these people off the list, they are all necessary to me.

Wade Robson who I refer to as genius is everything to me, he embodies a certain universal way of movement that I definitely identified with from the first time I saw him dance. When you look at Slave 4 U you realize just how much he focuses on what the song is saying because he choreographed that to suit Britney perfectly.

Luther Brown is a big influence to me as he is a Jamaican Born Canadian Choreographer so I’m proud of that as I am born in Jamaican and now am Canadian now but more importantly he is one of the most distinct choreographers to ever create as he has so many signature ways of executing and his thoughts and creations are passionate original and amazing.

Tina Landon is brilliant to me when you look at Janet Jackson again you realize just how much Tina knew how to give Janet what she needed in order to shut it down video after video and performance after performance. Tina’s choreography is electric. It’s sexy, unapologetic, risqué, clean, sharp, and line driven.

Mark Samuels is a huge influence because he is a consummate professional and a master technician when it comes to execution. He represents everything a dancer would want from themselves, he’s humble but crazy talented. His choreography is just as amazing as his dancing which always blows me away.  He has been so many places and done so many things but still has such an amazing sense of self and who he is.

Bob Fosse is a huge inspiration to me; he is genius. Genius in the way he taught choreography and the lines and stylistic variables in his movement He literally designed a whole new way to move and although his style was created a long time ago it still remains relevant in so many dance forms today. There are so many artists who continue to use his style and influence as the template for great shows and amazing stage presence and delivery.

Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?

Chris: I really enjoy working with Leon Blackwood, especially now that we are grown people I see the gift he has and it constantly reminds me to push harder for more from myself and the dancers I work with the way he does.

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.)

Chris: I love working with Teineisha Richards, who danced in Rukus and now dances in my company. She continues to evolve so rapidly and I feel like she just gets better and better the more choreography I get to put on her. Funny enough, she is a recording artist now and the work we are doing on that inspires me also (so I guess that covers artist “pop star” lol).

Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?

Chris: Toronto dancers possess a worldly quality because of the diverse backgrounds of all these creative people. A lot of the time the trends don’t give credit to their origin but there are so many stylistic nuances that Toronto spear headed and then the entertainment world jumped on it and left us out of the Thank You’s lol. Toronto dancers are individual but universal at the same time.

Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?

Chris: This Dance thing isn’t about you, it’s about the ones that will need you to open doors for them and the ones that opened doors for you so that you can now fulfill the obligation and continue the work that was started way before any of us knew we loved this art form. When you strive forward be aware of that and find purpose in pushing for the bigger picture. Love this art and respect it and the people who made it available to you. I have so much respect for all those who did this before me, i.e. Luther Brown and DoDat, Jae Blaze, Rukus, Tanisha Scott, Shawn Byfield, and so many more.

Nikki: Are there any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share/promote to the T.D.O.T. network?

Chris: I have a piece in Choreographers Ball coming up on December 22, 2016 at the MOD Club Theatre and I have a Rihanna Show coming March 2017.

THANK YOU CHRIS FOR SHARING YOUR LOVE AND PASSION WITH T.D.O.T. XO
 
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What’s New – Latoya Webley

12 Apr Latoya Webley dancer toronto dance

We did our first feature on Latoya Webley 4 years ago. Dancing and training all over the world we are excited to feature this Talented Toronto Native again, to see what she’s been up to. With over 17 years in the business, it’s an honour to share her valuable advice and experience to up and coming talent looking to live out their dreams not only at home but abroad as well. We caught up with Latoya live from L.A 

A Toronto native of Jamaican descent, Latoya Webley has been dancing for more than 17 years and is recognized and known for being one of the best in her field. The extraordinary dancer has traveled the globe, bringing her preeminent dance talents and expertise to dance productions and workshops in her hometown Toronto, as well as in Japan, New York, Trinidad and Los Angeles. Latoya’s passion for dance and performing continued to grow as she began to explore and train in various styles of dance. To date Latoya’s style is a fusion of Hip-Hop, African, Dancehall, Soca and Street Jazz. Latoya’s formula of hard work and dedication to her craft has definitely paid off.

Latoya has danced for some of the worlds #1 artists. Gracing the stage w/ Rihanna  (‘MTV Video Music Awards’, ‘Grammy Awards’, ‘Work’ & ‘Pon De Replay – Music Video’) 5th Harmony (2016 Latin Music Awards) Black Eyed Peas (‘Much Music Video Awards’ & ‘Japan MTV Awards’) No Doubt (‘iHeart Radio’) Elephant Man (‘BET Awards’) Ledisi (‘BET Awards’) Will Smith, Sean Paul, Drake, P. Diddy, Jill Scott, Flo Rida and Akon to name a few. Latoya has also toured with Shakira, JoJo, Jamie Fox, Kardinal Offishall and 50 Cent. Latoya has done both print and commercial works for Rihanna, So You Think You Can dance (Canada), The Discovery Chanel, Daffy’s Clothing, Miller Lite and Sony.

Latoya accredits her success to her supportive family and friends and all the amazing choreographers that have given her the opportunity to live, grow and shine on the stage… Tanisha Scott, HiHat, Fatima Robinson, Diana Webley, Luther Brown, Jae Blaze, Tina Landen and Adrian ‘Dubz’ Wiltshire.

 

Bio provided by Latoya

 

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Bloc LA Talent Agent/Latoya Webley

Follow Latoya on Instagram @toyaweb

&

Twitter @toyaweb

Check out what’s new with Latoya

Nikki: Name 1 of your biggest accomplishments for 2014-15?

Latoya: Wow, there are so many. With regards to dance and choreography I would have to say working w/ the LA Sparkids, the official kids dance team of the Los Angeles Sparks, a two-time WNBA championship winning franchise. This opportunity came through a close friend and dance colleague for many years, Brandee Evans. Brandee is the director/ head choreographer for the Sparkids dance team. I’ve always been a huge basketball fan and supporter for the WNBA period. So it really meant a lot to be able to be apart of such an integral part of the WNBA game, which is the halftime show. It was such an honour to choreograph and train these kids. Another highlight and what I would consider an accomplishment because it was on my bucket list of artist to work with was when I was hired to dance in Will Smith and Bomba Estereo’s “Feista (remix)” music video, choreographed by Jae Blaze. I grew up watching ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ and I have always been a fan of Will’s work. Will Smith is legendary dominating in the film and entertainment industry for decades.  The various dance styles (African/hip hop/dancehall) and the athleticism demanded in this routine made the experience even more exciting and worthwhile.

 

Nikki: What is the biggest lesson you have learned as a Dancer/Choreographer this past year?

Latoya: I would have to say the biggest lesson I’ve learnt in the past year is to always remain professional. You never know what this industry will throw your way because it’s ever changing and unpredictable. Its important to understand the only thing you are in control of is yourself and your actions. Choosing to remain professional in every situation tends to result in a outcome of respect.

 

Nikki: What sort of opportunities made you move from Toronto to L.A?

Latoya: I’ve been living in LA for almost 4 years now. I was living in NYC prior where fortunately for me the work was flowing and very consistent. I was on Shakira’s promo tour when I first had the opportunity to visit LA. It was a short trip during the winter but the weather in LA had me hooked. I also saw the vast amount of opportunities that were available in LA, so I decided to make the move. Knowing that a lot of the award shows like the Grammy’s, American Music Awards, Kids Choice Awards, MTV Video Awards and so many of my favourite TV shows were being filmed and cast out here was also a great incentive. To date I’ve had the opportunity to work on almost every award show, Thank God!

 

Nikki: What advice do you have for dancers looking to move or travel abroad to pursue dance?

Latoya: SAVE YOUR MONEY!!! If you get the opportunity to dance and travel the world don’t forget to save. There is life after and in between dance and you want to make sure you are secure, comfortable and prepared. If you’ve have never left your city to live elsewhere and pursue dance then take that leap of faith. You can’t want change but you’re unwilling to change what you are currently doing. I always said to myself, “At the end of the day if all fails, I can always go back home”

 

Nikki: What sort of challenges did you face being a Canadian Dancer working in L.A?

Latoya: Aside from going through the hassle of renewing my work visa every couple years I went through what most new dancers go through when moving to LA. What can be those uncomfortable moments of establishing yourself as a dancer and networking, trying to get to know the dancers and choreographers in LA. I surrounded myself w/ amazing friends that have supported me since I arrived to LA so I’m sure that has a lot to do w/ my positive experiences in LA.

 

Nikki: Are there any upcoming projects, shows or classes for 2016 you would like to share/promote to the T.D.O.T. network?

Latoya: Yes! I will be heading back to Toronto for Summer 2016. I will be setting up a few Master Workshops while I’m in town. I also have upcoming workshops throughout Japan later this year. I am also helping out again w/ the LA Sparkids dance team for the 2016 WNBA season, so please lookout for the halftime show if you’re in town. I will be working w/ Nike and A World Fit For Kids (non-profit) promoting dance, health and fitness. There is so much more in the works, please follow my social media for future updates. Thanks!

THANK YOU Latoya for sharing your experience! We wish you nothing but continued success XO

CHECK OUT LATOYA’S REEL

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